Perfect Love – By John Wood

Chapter 18

How A State Of Entire Sanctification May Be Retained

171. How may a state of entire sanctification be retained?

There are many who once enjoyed the blessing of perfect love who have now lost it. Some have received it several times, and, after all, are now without it. The conditions of retaining perfect love, like the conditions of retaining justification, are the same as those by which it was obtained; namely, a complete submission of the soul to God, and simple faith in Christ for present salvation. This submission and faith, graduated by increasing light and grace, must continue through life if perfect love be retained. To retain this grace; —

1. You must maintain a continuous, entire consecration — a complete self-abandonment to God. “The altar sanctifieth the gift;” and it is only when our all is upon the altar of consecration that we can be in a state of sanctification. No part of the price can ever be taken back if we would retain the witness of perfect love. Your consecration must continue complete, corresponding with increasing light, through all your life; and you will have occasion to watch yourself, and guard this point thoroughly. Keep yourself, your all, submitted to God.

2. To retain full salvation, you must continue to believe. “The just shall live by faith.” We are “kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.” As soon as people cease to believe, they lose the blessing; for “we stand by faith.” Sanctified Paul said: “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Faith is the vital bond between the renovated soul and God; and by it we are to abide in Christ, as the branch abides in the vine.

3. To retain the witness of the Spirit, and continue in the light of purity, you must confess it.

“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The fear of man often hinders people from this duty. This fear, which brings a snare, must be overcome. Many have resisted the Holy Spirit when they ought to have confessed the blessing; and in this way have lost it. Confessing entire sanctification does not exalt self; it humbles the soul, and gives glory to God. The call for clear witnesses and specific testimony for holiness, is more imperative in some places than in others, as in many places the witnesses for perfect love are very scarce and greatly needed. (See Section X.)

4. You must live constantly in the spirit of self-denial.

We must deny ourselves of everything sinful, and also of everything doubtful. “And he that doubteth is damned [condemned] if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Thousands have fallen by lawful things. It is not expedient for a sanctified soul to indulge in every gratification which is not expressly forbidden in Scripture. We are to “abstain from all appearance of evil.”

5. You must live in the spirit of watchfulness.

Watch over your heart, and keep it “with all diligence.” Watch over your lips, and be jealous of your tongue, and guard against a light and trifling spirit, by which multitudes have fallen into darkness and ruin. Watch for seasons of prayer and special communion with God. Watch for opportunities of doing and for receiving good. Watch against the allurements of the world, and against everything that is sensual, and has a tendency to lull the soul to sleep. Watch against temptations, and resist them in a moment — steadfast in the faith. “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

6. You must be faithful to the teachings and drawings of the Holy Spirit.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” We must follow the Spirit of God, let consequences be what they may. The Holy Spirit will remind you of duty; you must instantly obey. The Spirit is very easily grieved, and you must promptly attend to all his teachings, or you may in a moment forfeit full redemption. His chosen emblem is the tender dove, and it will take its flight if its gentle monitions be not heeded.

The Spirit teaches and guides mainly by illumination, and little by impressions. He throws light upon nature and providence, but especially upon the Scriptures and our minds, illuminating the sacred page and our path, leading us to truth and duty. His teaching always accords with the word, hence we are not to look for dreams, visions, or impressions; these may have served their purpose in the earlier and darker dispensation. We have now, the voice of the Spirit — the Bible. No measure of the Spirit can supersede the written word. We should never assume “wisdom above what is written.”

7. You must read the Holy Scriptures daily.

The word of God is the voice of the Spirit. It is grieved when the truth is neglected or disobeyed. The Bible is soul-food. Perfect love will require nourishment daily. If you do not feed it with Bible truth it will die. Holiness furnishes a strong appetite for spiritual aliment. Those who have been the clearest in perfect love are those who have paid the greatest attention and deference to the word of God. The Bible is a well of living water. You will need to draw water daily out of this well of salvation; you can never drink it dry. The Bible is your chart and compass, and you will have occasion to examine it daily.

8. To retain the blessing of perfect love, you must constantly aim at growing in grace.

There is no standing still in religion. If we are not advancing we are retrograding. Many people have lost the witness of the Spirit by not pressing after a greater fullness. Christian holiness secures the best possible preparation for growth in grace; and there are heights and depths, and lengths, and breadths of the love of God, to which we must be constantly aspiring. If we do not press after them, we shall be likely to go backward and lose what we have before attained.

John Wesley wrote to Adam Clarke: “Last week I had an excellent letter from Mrs. Pawson, a glorious WITNESS of full salvation, showing how impossible it is to retain pure love without growing therein.”

9. You must live constantly under a sense of the presence of God.

Always remember, “Thou, God, seest me!” You are watched and seen every moment by an eye a million times keener than the eyes of angels — the infinite eye of the all-seeing God. If you knew that a legion of angels were watching you every moment, how careful you would be to act aright! Remember you are always in God’s immediate presence.

10. You must lead a life of prayer.

You must be a man of prayer. Pray early in the morning, and, if possible, remain some time on your knees with God. This will prepare you for the day. Pray often, and then prayer will become a delight. Stay with God in prayer — stay until he melts you, and then stay when you are melted, and plead with him, and he will answer, and you will be transformed, renewed, and strengthened.

11. You must labor faithfully for the salvation of sinners.

It is the nature of’ perfect love to long for the salvation of souls; and if you do not go out with God for the salvation of men, your love will cool into apathy and indifference, and you will lose the evidence of entire sanctification altogether. When your heart yearns over sinners, go to God and pray; then go to sinners with manly sympathy, and you will find it an excellent means of grace t your soul. It will be a holy oil that will anoint you. You must also seek to lead saints into this grace.

Mr. Wesley says: “One great means of retaining what God has given, is to labor to bring others into this grace, and to profess it to all mankind.”

12. To retain it, you must oppose sin of every name and kind, without any compromise.

Like your Lord, you are to show it no quarter, at any time, or anywhere, either in or out of the church. In respect to sin and holiness, it is eternally true that “No man can serve two masters.” You must know no exceptions, either in high places or in low, in great things or little things, among enemies or friends. Your duty is plain –“ABSTAIN FROM ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL.”