“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — I Thessalonians5:23. Men often speak of entire sanctification as though it were something so mysterious and incomprehensible that very few people know its real meaning. There are many theories of sanctification. No sane person can make an honest pretense of believing the Bible without believing in some sort of sanctification. According to Cruden’s Concordance the words, “sanctify,” “sanctified,” and “sanctification,” are found one hundred and sixty-four times in the Bible. Practically all religious people believe in some form or theory of sanctification. There are Six theories of sanctification. There is the theory that justification and sanctification are experienced simultaneously. Those who hold to this theory are often heard to say, “I got it all when I was converted.” Others believe sanctification is attained by growth? in grace. Some think it takes place in death. Many believe it takes place after death in purgatory. A few people believe it is imputed. The Holiness people have always believed that sanctification is an experience subsequent to regeneration, and conditioned upon entire consecration and faith and is the privilege of every believer. In our lesson we have three fundamental facts about entire sanctification. These are facts that should ever be emphasized in our preaching and our teaching. Let us notice them prayerfully.
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I. ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION IS A SECOND WORK OF GRACE
We do not need to go outside the letters of Paul to the Thessalonian Christians to discover this fact. The Church was in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thess. 1:1). The Church manifested works of faith. (I Thess. 1:3). The members of the church followed the Lord, had joy in the Holy Ghost, and were examples to others. (I Thess. 1:6-8). The membership of the church had received the Word of God. (I Thess. 2:12). The members loved each other, were no longer in darkness and rejoiced in the Lord. (I Thess. 4:9, 10) (chapter 5:16). They prayed, gave thanks, and refused to quench the Spirit. (I Thess. 5:17-22). They despised not prophesying, were rational, and abstained from all evil. Yet, Paul prayed earnestly and sincerely for these people to be sanctified wholly. If they were already in possession of the experience of sanctification, the prayer of Paul was mere mockery. Why should he pray for a people to receive a blessing that they had already received? And if they did not receive the experience of sanctification when they were converted, then the experience of sanctification comes as a second crisis to the soul. The only people who testify definitely to sanctification are those who receive it as a second work of grace. Truly this experience follows the application of the blood of Jesus in regeneration.
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II. ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION IS A DIVINE WORK
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” God is the originating cause of sanctification. Jude says, “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ and called. ” Holiness was God’s choice for His people before the morning stars sang together. God’s holiness is underived, but ours is derived from Him. He is the original source of holiness the fountain from which it flows. Before the foundation of the world was laid, the Lord caused our sanctification. (Eph. 1:4). Jesus is the meritorious cause of entire sanctification. This is true according to Hebrews12:13; and Eph. 5:25-27. Christ provided our sanctification on the cross of Calvary. As He hanged upon the cross His suffering was so intense that the earth trembled and shuddered in horror, as the sickening thud of the hammer floated over the sorrow-laden air. The sun in its strength and beauty refused to shine, and pulled sackcloth of darkness across its face. The moon looked cold and sad, and refused to look on the terrible scene. Every star receded to covering and the rocks were rent. The red-fingered, lurid lightning played around Golgotha’s brow, while Horeb split her granite ribs, and the cedars of Lebanon bowed and swayed with awful grief the earth heaved and broke its` heart, while mountains were convulsed in heart-breaking sorrow. The Holy Ghost is the efficient cause of our sanctification. (II Thess. 2:13); (Rom. 15:16).There can be no Scriptural sanctification without the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. On the day of Pentecost the Spirit descended upon the ancient disciples in tongues of fire. Jesus had been praying for their sanctification. Now, the heart-cry of Jesus is answered in the disciples being filled with the Holy Ghost. This same promise is unto us today! The blessed Spirit consumes sin — the sin of our disposition — the sinful nature. The Bible is the instrumental cause of our sanctification. Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them through thy truth: Thy word is truth.” Men would not know about the experience of Holiness were it not for the teaching of the Bible. The Bible is a discussion of Holiness — which is the hub of all doctrine. And finally, faith is the conditional cause of our holiness. (Acts 15:8, 9; Acts 26:28). There must be faith for the blessing. In the words of John Wesley, we should expect it by faith, expect it as you are, and expect now. Or expressing it in what might be termed, a short cut to theology, we would say –“God thought it. Jesus bought it. The Word taught it. The soul sought it. Faith brought it. The Spirit wrought it. The devil fought it. But I’ve got it.”
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III. ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION IS A THOROUGH WORK
Paul says, “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus.” There are three realms. All our activities, whether they be spiritual or natural, are performed in these realms. There is the realm of the spirit, the realm of the soul, and the realm of the body. Man is likened to a three-story building. There is the basement, the body. The second story is the soul, and the third story is the spirit. Thus the apostle is here praying for the threefold condition of man. Let us notice these three realms of man. First, there is the spirit. Our conscience is in the realm of the spirit, and a sanctified spirit means a sanctified conscience. The Spirit of the Lord purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Thus to possess a sanctified spirit we must have a purified conscience. How important to have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward man. To have a sanctified spirit, we must have a sanctified will. There are two departments to the human will: (1) There is the power to choose. “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” The Lord has put the power within us to make choices in life. We can accept the call of the Lord and become Christians, or we may reject the voice of the Spirit and be lost forever. (2) There is the power of determination. A soul will not go very far in salvation unless he is determined to go through regardless of what comes or goes. Secondly, we are to be sanctified in the soul. The soul is the seat of affections and understanding. This is the realm of imaginations, emotions, and tastes. Therefore, a sanctified soul means, sanctified affections. This is the realm of love, attachments, likes and dislikes. Thus, a sanctified soul means sanctified thoughts. No person is purer than his thoughts. Tell me what a man thinks today, and I will tell you what he will do tomorrow. Thinking is really talking to ourselves. A sanctified soul also means a sanctified taste. The taste of the mouth determines the kind of food taken into the body. The inner taste of the soul will determine the nature of nutriment that is taken into the moral and spiritual life. Oh, that our spiritual taste shall be cleansed and purified so that we will have an appetite for the right kind of soul food! When the taste is keen for the world, and the things of time, there is something wrong with the appetite within. Finally, the apostle prays for the body to be sanctified wholly. A sanctified body is controlled by the sanctified heart. The physical body is controlled by the Spirit of God within. Thus the body does not control the inward Spirit, but the inward Spirit should control the body. The sanctified body is fully dedicated to God and His service. Therefore, a sanctified body means a sanctified tongue. The tongue should be controlled by the inward Spirit of God. A sanctified body also means a person has sanctified eyes. It will enable the eyes to see in the direction of God’s will, and sincere service to dying humanity. He who has a sanctified body will have sanctified hands, that will handle sacred things with reverence and respect. Then, when the body is sanctified, it will produce sanctified ears. This means the ears will listen for the voice of the Lord. This means the full destruction of the old sinful self. Oh, the far-reaching blessing of entire sanctification! A sanctified spirit, embodying the conscience and the will. A sanctified soul, which purifies the affections, the thoughts, the desires, the emotions and the tastes. A sanctified body that is under the control of the indwelling Spirit of God. What an experience! It is a present privilege, a present necessity, and a present enjoyment. Are you in possession of this glorious experience? If you are not, thank God He calls you unto Holiness! Glorious provisions have been made for you to enjoy it. The Spirit of God urges and pleads with you to accept the truth, consecrate your all, and trust Him this moment to sanctify your soul.