Misconception Of Scriptural And Religious Terms
Much of the mental confusion and trouble existing in regard to the sanctified life arises, as suggested by the caption of this chapter, from ignorance of scriptural and religious terms. Take, for instance,
CONSECRATION AND SANCTIFICATION.
Here are two words different in appearance, different in meaning, with one referring to a duty of man, and the other to a work of God; and yet these words are being made to mean the same by multiplied thousands in the Church.
Joshua used the first in addressing the people of Israel: “Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the Lord.” Paul uses the other word in his letter to the Thessalonians: “And the God of peace sanctify you wholly.” Would that God’s servants kept them as clearly apart today as did the inspired Paul and Heaven-directed Joshua. Some of our hymnologists have failed to see the difference in the words, and so one writes:
Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord.
We can never sing that line without a mental protest; for God can no more do our consecrating than he can our repenting.
To give the reader an idea of how this confusion of definition and scriptural meaning exists, we give a quotation from one of the leading preachers and editors in our Southern Church as it appeared recently in a religious paper. Let the reader see for himself how two totally different things are confounded by a teacher in Israel. “I am a firm believer in the doctrine of sanctification, but God’s Word, if I read it aright, makes it an additional work of grace–an enlargement upon regeneration, in which soul, body, spirit, substance and all we have are placed upon God’s altar for time and eternity. This is the sanctification I find in God’s Word, profess and teach.”
The youngest preacher in the itinerancy could tell this prominent minister that the above is nothing in the world but an act of consecration, and that consecration is no more sanctification than repentance is regeneration.
The writer quoted from says that “sanctification is an additional work of grace;” this we agree to; but he makes that additional work of grace to be simply an act of consecration, of himself and substance. God’s work and God as a worker is completely left out. The man’s act is made thus to be sanctification, when the Scripture says that Christ is “made unto us sanctification,” and prays “the God of peace sanctify you.” One verse alone out of many destroys the reasoning of the brother, a verse in which Jesus speaks and lifts sanctification out of the hands of man altogether, and lodges it outside of the man and distinct from his gifts and consecration; here it is: “The altar sanctifieth the gift.”
Grace is never an act of man to God, but an act or work of God for and in man. So when we say that “sanctification is an additional work of grace,” that sentence alone separates sanctification from human consecration, and puts the sanctifying power where it belongs and where it only resides, viz., in God.
For years the writer thought that a perfect consecration was the last and highest act and the profoundest experience to be enjoyed by the soul. So he went on beclouded in this regard, calling Church members to the altar, getting them to reconsecrate themselves, and noticing that in a few hours or days the whole work needed to be done over again. The emotion was gone, and the close walk with God was not to be seen as had been promised. Stability, steadfastness, or–to use a word which is not, but ought to be, in the dictionary–stickability was lacking.
The two words “consecration” and “sanctification” had not separated from one another, but shone on as one. There are binary suns in the firmament that reach us as one, but under the telescope they come apart and shine as two. The trouble in both cases is distance. So when we drew near to God and allowed the Holy Spirit to arouse and enlarge the view of heavenly things, suddenly, sweetly, delightfully we saw the two words, which had been heretofore as one, come apart and shine as two. Immediately several important discoveries were made. One was that consecration is not the last act of the soul in receiving holiness, nor is it the highest act. Faith comes after consecration, and is not only a later act in point of time, but a higher, grander act of the soul. Wonderful and blessed as it is to see a man give up self and all to God, yet this itself is outstripped when the man steps out on God’s word and promise, and believes then and there that God makes him holy; that this blessing of purity that he had been s eeking all his life unavailingly by growth or works is wrought in him instantaneously by the power of the blood of Jesus. Before this the man as a consecrator could measure up to many Bible worthies, but now as a believer, without a helpful sign about him, he joins company with Abraham, who walked out into empty space on the naked promise of Almighty God.
Another discovery at this time was that, sweet as is the state of conscious consecration, there is for the child of God a far deeper and higher experience that lies beyond consecration; and that experience is sanctification, or the destruction of the “old man”.
Never shall we cease to thank God for these discoveries. They make a wonderful revolution in one’s life. The valley of Baca, which has already become a well, will be still further blessed and become the land of Beulah. The Bible is from that time a new book; the Saviour a complete and constant Saviour; the life is kept hid in the secret place; the heart runs over with praises all the time; and the soul is “full of glory and of God.”
O the difference between consecration and sanctification!
It is true that a sanctified man is a consecrated man, but it is equally true that there is many a consecrated person who is not sanctified, and does not even believe in it. The latter word is a larger word, and means much more than the other.
That it is a larger word and means more and is more is seen from the fact that we can be consecrated without being sanctified, but when sanctified we are always consecrated. The lesser is in the bosom of the greater. That they are different words is seen from the different treatment given to the persons professing them. The consecrated man is despised by the world, while the sanctified man is despised by the Church. The consecrated man is really popular in ecclesiastical circles, but the sanctified man in the same circles is regarded with sorrow, uneasiness, and disapproval. Great is the difference in the words and conditions.
It is true that the Bible says “Sanctify yourselves,” but the next verses show that an external cleansing mainly was referred to by Joshua, and not the work of God which we are now writing about in this book.
It is also true that Peter, writing to certain churches, exhorted them to “sanctify the Lord God” in their hearts. But here again something else is meant. Dr. Clarke says that it is simply an entreaty that these people should entertain just and proper ideas of God.
Let us sum up.
Consecration is the duty and act of man; sanctification is the second gracious work of God in the soul. Consecration is a blessed attitude; sanctification is a holy state.
The joy of consecration arises from the consciousness of doing right and having given all to God; the joy of sanctification springs from a perpetual sense of purity, the abiding of perfect love in the heart, and the constant indwelling of the Saviour in the soul.
These words are different. The proof is found in the dictionary, by our use of them, and by their use and the meaning allotted to them in the Word of God.
And yet these two words, that are so distinctive and refer to such different things in the spiritual life, are confounded by many, and made synonymous.
Take the first word. Peter exhorts us to “grow” in grace. According to all observation of vegetable life a shrub or tree has to be in something to grow. It cannot grow to another soil or to a distant locality. It simply grows in a soil in which it is already planted.
So with the child of God. He has been planted through regeneration in the spiritual life, and is then told by the apostle to “grow in” that grace and life. There is no exhortation in the passage to strive for another, higher and distinct blessing, but to grow in the grace in which he finds himself.
There are two spiritual localities, so to speak, in the religious life. One is regeneration and the other sanctification. It is not more impossible for a tree to transport itself by growth from one clime to another than it is for the soul by mere growth in grace to pass from the regenerate to the sanctified state.
The tree grows where it is planted, but it requires a human hand to transport it from one place to another. So does the soul grow in grace and knowledge, but it takes the divine power to lift it from the grace of regeneration and plant it deeply and firmly in the grace and life of sanctification.
While in the regenerated life we grow; and when advanced into the sanctified life we continue to grow in grace; and when translated to the skies, still in heaven we will keep on growing in grace and knowledge.
Growth is the duty of man, and so he is commanded to grow. But no amount of growth on our part can ever accomplish a work that is in itself divine. We can never by any number of growing processes introduce or push ourselves into a state that is purely in itself the result of divine power.
Regeneration is a divine work; sanctification is a divine work; and the transporting of our souls and bodies into heaven is also the work of God. We may lop off our sins and all see the improvement; but reformation and improvement is not regeneration; and so God at last has to lift us into the regenerate state. Then we can grow in grace so rapidly that many will observe and admire; but growth in grace is not sanctification, and hence God has to lift us again, and this time into holiness. Then we can grow holier all the time; but all the holiness in the world cannot bridge the distance between us and the stars, and so God has to lift us the third time, and this time from earth into heaven.
Here are the three gifts of God to man: “Pardon and holiness and heaven.” Growth in grace is commanded and expected in each state–growth for awhile in regeneration, growth for a lifetime in sanctification, and growth forever in heaven.
The second word is “Go.”
Paul uses it in Hebrews vi. 1: “Let us go on unto perfection.”
The perfection here mentioned does not mean that absolute perfection that men at once think of when they hear the word. It does not mean deliverance from mistakes and blunders. Nor does it mean perfect knowledge. That we will never have, even in heaven. A minister, lately writing against holiness, remarked that when Paul said, “as many of us as be perfect,” he referred to perfectness of knowledge. This the reader will feel at once is a mistake. We will be adding to our knowledge forever. The one perfection that the Bible speaks of is “perfect love.” The taking out of the unfriendly element or nature, inbred sin, secures this blessed condition. O how the writer rejoices that it is our privilege to possess this perfection of love, with its invariable concomitants, purity, peace, and joy!
It is to this that Paul says: “Let us go on unto.” He did not say, “Let us grow to it;” but “Let us go to it.” Everybody ought to know that we grow in one direction, and go in another. Growth is vertical; to go is a horizontal movement. They are never the same. We grow in grace, but we go on to another blessing God has waiting for us. It is a blessing and experience that has a locality and boundary lines.
Dr. Clarke says that a true rendering of the passage is: “Let us be borne on immediately into perfection.”
Be this as it may, growth in grace is a process, while to go on to perfect love is a performance. The first takes place insensibly; the second, in full consciousness of a great and gracious event. The first is gradual, running through the sweep of years; the other is momentary. The first never ceases, but goes on forever; while the other happens but once, and remains as an unchangeable blessing.
THE DEVIL; THE “OLD MAN.”
These names have been confounded and actually made synonymous by a number of people.
As stated in a preceding chapter, the devil is no man at all, but was once an angel in heaven; and angels are a different order of beings from human beings.
The devil is a fallen archangel; the “old man” is a fallen human nature. It is a bias or tendency to sin, planted in our race through the work of the devil. The devil is the father of the “old man;” the “old man” is the only begotten child of the devil.
The sinner has both the devil and the “old man” in him; the regenerated soul has only the “old man;” the sanctified man has neither. With him the devil is on the outside, the “old man” is dead, and the New Man reigns in the heart without a rival.
Regeneration casts out the devil, and he should stay out; sanctification destroys the “old man,” and he should stay dead.
The Bible never says, “Resist the ‘old man,’ or “Put off the devil;” but just the other way, “Resist the devil,” and “Put off the ‘old man.’ ” We cannot escape from the presence of Satan, but can from inbred sin.
That Satan, however, can resow his tares in a sanctified heart, both the Bible and life teach. If he could get into the pure heart of Adam in Eden, he can certainly obtain entrance into sanctified souls that are not watchful and obedient, and fail to keep under “the blood.” Then is it that the archenemy, taking unto himself seven other spirits, returns unto the house that had been swept and garnished after his ejection, and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
He who planted depravity in the heart of a pure man in the garden of Eden can sow it again in America in the soul of one who has been sanctified. The devil is not dead, though his children and species are slain all around him.
Alas that the garnished house can be devil-possessed again! Alas that the owner of the field of wheat should fall asleep, and the adversary, while he sleeps, should sow the tares of carnality once more! What a pity that, after having been delivered from an inheritance of evil, one would allow Satan to work directly in him, and reimpose what he had been graciously delivered from.
Regeneration cast out the hideous father, sanctification destroys the ugly son. May we live so that the devil will not reenter the soul and propagate his species, called the “old man”
SANCTIFICATION; ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.
It is true that holiness people make these two terms synonymous in their conversations, but do not in their mind. In the first part of this chapter we used simply the word “sanctification,” over against “consecration,” but this was for convenience and brevity’s sake. The Scripture recognizes a partial, and also a complete or entire sanctification. Just as the Bible tells of a state of love, and another of perfect love; of blessings and “the fullness of the blessing;” so does it teach that we can be sanctified in part, and again that we can be sanctified wholly.
This does not argue any imperfection or incompleteness upon the part of God, but it is rather a mark or indication of the progress or extent of his work. It must never be forgotten that the work of entire sanctification is an advanced movement, an appearance and victory upon a new field, a dealing with a different thing, and is not a repetition or going over of a former work.
Some people would degrade the blessing of holiness or entire sanctification into a mere reclamation. Reclamation from a backslidden state might itself be called a repetition of divine work; God doing his work over. But holiness, or entire sanctification, is God’s destruction of inbred sin, and his entrance into the heart as a perpetual indweller. This constitutes a distinct and different work, and so cannot be called reclamation, or a repeated work.
A recognition of this fact of partial and entire sanctification would clear up difficulties in the minds of many people, and put an end to countless paper and book controversies.
It is in recognition of this truth that Paul writes to the Corinthians, calling them “sanctified,” and yet immediately afterwards speaks of their carnality; and while he calls them “new creatures” in Christ Jesus, he bids them to “cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness.” The word “perfecting” means also accomplishing.
He also writes to the Thessalonians, whose faith had been spoken of abroad, and who were examples to all who believed in Macedonia and Achaia. He prays for them thus: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.”
The first fact of these Christians being called sanctified the opponents of holiness notice; but utterly neglect to mention the second fact of their not being wholly sanctified, and thus fail to draw the inevitable teaching and truth from the two facts put together. And so they say to us: “Why do you exhort us to be sanctified? All Christians are sanctified! Does not Paul in his Epistles write to the churches that they are sanctified?” Our reply is, Yes; but he does not call them wholly sanctified; on the contrary, he exhorts them to come on to this last-named blessing.
Regeneration is sanctification, but it is partial sanctification; not an imperfect sanctification, but partial in the sense of something still remaining in the soul that it is not in the province and power of regeneration to touch or remove. In the erection of a house there are two classes of workers. They have different tools and labor on different things. When the carpenter, painter, and bricklayer have ended their work, it is noticed that, while their job is complete, yet the house itself is not finished. After them come the glazier, upholsterer, and plumber. One class worked at one thing; the other, at something totally distinct and different. Each work was perfect in itself, but the house was not complete or perfect until both works had been done.
So, to perfect the spiritual house in which God will dwell, two works are needed. Both works are perfect in themselves, but they are directed at two different states of the soul, and effect two different results or conditions. The first is aimed at personal sin and guilt; the second, at inherited or inbred sin. The first result is partial sanctification; the second is entire sanctification. Not until inbred sin is taken out of one by the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire, and not until Christ enters the soul as a perpetual indweller at the same time, is the grace and blessing of entire sanctification realized. This scriptural truth is strangely confirmed in the Church today by the two different experiences of regenerated and sanctified people.
A BAPTISM; THE BAPTISM.
Here are two words that are just the same, but preceded by two smaller words that make them widely dissimilar in their meaning. Short and simple as are these preceding words, multitudes in the Church of Christ have not as yet distinguished between them, and until they do they will never enter into the most gracious blood-bought privilege and experience of the Christian life.
“A baptism” of the Holy Spirit is any sweet, powerful, uplifting blessing that a child of God receives during his religious life. They come in time of trouble, after great temptation, and also after prolonged seasons of prayer. There are many of these baptisms coming all along the Christian life. They cannot be numbered without difficulty. They ought to be so many that one could not count them. These are the gracious refreshings and renewals that the opposers of sanctification refer to when they say, in derision of our claiming the second blessing, that they have received a hundred or a thousand blessings. Such speeches show that, while they know what “a baptism” is, they do not understand what is meant by the term “the baptism.”
“The baptism” should come only once in the lifetime. Just as there is one regeneration, so should there be one sanctification or baptism of the Holy Ghost. In this sense there is “one baptism.”
“A baptism” of the Holy Ghost passes away in its effects upon the heart; “the baptism” remaining as a permanent gift and an abiding influence and power.
It was in reference to “the baptism” that Christ spoke when he directed his disciples to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power. A few days before they had received “a baptism,” when he breathed upon them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost;” but “the baptism” came for the first time to them on the day of Pentecost.
It was in regard to this grace or blessing that Paul asked the disciples at Ephesus if they had “received the Holy Ghost” since they had believed. And it is a pertinent and proper question still. It should be urged on every Christian. Not “Have ye received a baptism of the Spirit?” To this question each one should be able to answer: “Yes, thousands of times.” But here is the question: “Have ye received the baptism of the Holy Ghost?”