Distinctions Between Purity And Maturity
“Purity is the result of a process of subtraction or removal of dross or moral defilement. Maturity results from addition, increase. The one is instantaneous, the other gradual. We are made pure; we grow mature. Purity bears the relation to growth and development 9f the graces of the Spirit in us, that health does to the growth of the physical being. As life and health are essential to normal physical growth and development, so spiritual life and health are necessary to normal spiritual growth and development.”
“The purified heart is a pure moral soil, in which all the virtues of the Spirit have an unobstructed growth. It is not necessary that faith, love, humility, and patience, should be mixed with some unbelief, anger, pride and impatience in order to their increase in volume and power.” — J. A. Wood
Bishop Taylor, in “Infancy and Manhood,” answering the inquiry, “Can we continue to grow in grace after we are made perfect in love,” said:
“Why not? Mind is improvable in its very nature, especially in a spiritual sense. Under suitable conditions it is continually expanding, and is expandable beyond any definable limits. The heart may be full of love today, but will expand and contain more tomorrow. If I could use the word of righteousness with some ‘skill’ before the heart was purged of unbelief and dead works, can I not acquire skill with greater facility now?
“When ‘soul and body’ are sanctified (purified) wholly and all the moral forces of the whole man are available to the Holy Spirit’s use, surely there must be the fruits of holiness up to the measure of his undivided capacity and increasing ever in proportion to the development of that capacity. There can be no limit to Christian attainment in this life if we maintain our right relation to God and I do not presume that there will be any limit to the development of glorified souls in heaven. Their progress will be onward forever! Eternally approximating the perfections of God in whose image we were made! Christian Perfection, instead of fixing a limit to Christian attainment is the grand preliminary basis for a rapid and felicitous growing up into Christ that will certainly go on to the close of our mortal struggle and probably will be as illimitable as eternity.”
Bishop Mallalieu writes in the same strain in his book, “The Fullness of the Blessing.”
“Unquestionably the Scriptures never anticipate the attainment of a religious experience which will preclude the idea of growth, and development. There is no rational ground for the assumption that maturity (purity) of the Spiritual life limits growth. In nature maturity implies that a condition has been reached where there is no further growth. Mature fruit remains in that condition for a brief time and then the processes of decay commence and dissolution takes place. Every tree and every plant that grows on the earth has a commencement of life and growth. The plant may reach maturity in a few days or the tree may take a hundred years, but when maturity is reached and maintained for a longer or shorter time, then decay results inevitably in death.
“In the case of Christian experience no such conditions exist. There is, and there can be no maturity that does not admit of further growth and increase. The maturity that is predicated of the plant, the tree, the human body, can not be predicated of the soul nor of its faculties and capabilities. The soul may advance, may increase in strength and scope of spiritual life from age to age as long as Eternity endures and this without contingency of decay and dissolution.
“It is evident that when the fullness of the blessing is enjoyed, then the conditions are such as to favor a continuous, harmonious and rapid growth, not only in strength of faith, and abundance of comfort, but in power to overcome temptation, and intelligently to follow the commands and imitate the example of the Lord Jesus Christ — Ever advancing, ever rising, ever growing, ever climbing loftier peaks of vision, they will go on from ‘glory to glory’, while eternal ages shall roll their endless rounds.”
Rev. Isaiah Ried, in “How They Grow,” a helpful volume, which contains more than most holiness books on “advancement after entire sanctification, gives some particulars of this growth:
1. Entire sanctification prepares for growth by removing the chief inward hindrances. As weeds in a growing crop hinder its growth, so the carnal mind hinders spiritual progress. With the existence of the carnal mind there is always more or less of mixed motives and mixed measures of grace and double mindedness. The inner man, desiring right, sees the existence of another law warring in his nature against his better self. Entire sanctification removes this inward trouble, so that the graces of the Spirit are unmixed in their quality and free in their movements. Growth then becomes natural, rapid, and in harmony with the normal order of the soul.
2. Growth in holiness is in measure not in kind. This is an important distinction to be observed. Many people who do not have the experience of heart cleansing think we teach that Christian perfection means “absolute perfection.” It is a mistake. God only is absolute. We are to have His kind of love and purity; but never His measure of these qualities. Entire sanctification is the end of separating sin from the soul. It reaches the state of the heart, and cleanses away the inherited sin. Beyond that the act of sanctifying cannot go. Growth goes forward continuously. The work of sanctifying (purifying) reaches an end and is complete. Sanctifying and growth cannot therefore be the same!
3. There is growth in knowledge. We are all undergraduates. We are in a state of progress as to all things to be learned which make for our peace. Increased light means wider range of experience, greater effectiveness in life’s practical duties, and higher octaves of enjoyment. Better acquaintance with Jesus brings sweeter and better realized companionship. Past victories bring renewed courage. Indeed all life’s ongoing, when abiding in the order of God, is an ascending scale. “It shines more and more unto the perfect day.” .
4. Growth in holiness is reasonable and possible, because all our powers are improvable and our capacities expansive. God made us that way. One of the most unreasonable and silly objections made to holiness is that while in the enjoyment of the blessing one “cannot grow anymore or learn anymore.” It is a libel on the nature that utters it. GOD MAKES NO GRACE THAT FETTERS THE SOUL IN ITS PROGRESS EITHER IN KNOWLEDGE OR IN LOVE! We do not know even yet what we shall be. We scarcely touch the shores of our possibilities. Growth of knowledge is to be perpetual, and grace must keep pace with it. The experience of all whollysanctified souls is that they never grew so fast in all their lives as since they entered into this grace. Their progress in the Divine life is marked, positive, radical, constant and permanent.”
J. A. Wood, in that excellent volume, “Mistakes Respecting Christian Holiness,” said:
“Spiritual life, moral purity, and Christian maturity are three prominent facts, distinct in Christian experience. Purity and maturity are often taught as incidental. This is an error, and a correct understanding of their distinction would save the church from much confusion and controversy respecting Christian Holiness. Spiritual life is received in regeneration. Moral purity is secured by the cleansing blood of Christ. Christian maturity is the result of growth, culture and development.
“Identifying Purity and maturity as the same makes serious confusion, and is the occasion of nearly all the objections made to instantaneous sanctification. Christian purity is a present privilege and duty, and differs from maturity which is largely a subsequent attainment, subject to the laws of growth, involving time and a progressive religious life. No one is converted or regenerated into a mature Christian, that being a question of growth and spiritual development. No one grows (by growth alone) into a state of purity, that is by faith, is instantaneous, and is wrought by the Holy Spirit, and the cleansing blood of Christ.
“Christian maturity is indefinite and comparative. There are ‘babes,’ ‘young men,’ and men full of age in a state of entire sanctification. There is a difference in entire sanctification in its beginning, in its infancy, and in its maturity as an advanced, established and confirmed state of purity. One just fully sanctified, and the other so grown and developed as to be rooted and grounded in love.
“This maturation is the process of advancement toward ‘the length, the breadth, the depth and height’ of devotion and love of God. It is, ‘giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.’ St. John notes the distinction as, ‘Little children’, ‘young men,’ and ‘fathers’ in the Christian life.
“Maturity can be predicated only of age, time, culture, discipline and growth, in which, after the heart is fully cleared, the process of enlightenment, enrichment, adornment and endowment with love and power may be carried forward more easily than ever before, as the destruction and death of sin gives free scope to a life of righteousness. Noting the foregoing plain distinctions relieves the subject of entire sanctification of difficulties which have perplexed many good men.”
The same writer said in “Mistakes Concerning Holiness”
“It is a mistake to teach that entire sanctification is an end of progress and that it excludes any further improvement. Sanctification is more than a negation of sin, it has an unlimited positive side, in which moral health promotes growth, strength and enlargement. A state of holiness cannot be retained without going forward — the conditions of retaining it being the conditions of progress.
“Sanctification does not put a finality to anything within the heart except the existence and practice of sin. Perfection in quality, as is the case in perfect love, does not exclude increase in quantity.
“The error we notice makes no distinction between the negative and the positive in the process of salvation. Sanctification includes both the destruction of sin and the life of righteousness — the destruction of the carnal nature and the growth of the Christian virtues. After love is made perfect it may abound more and more. Faith, love, humility, and patience may be perfect in kind, and yet increase in volume and power indefinitely.
“A state of holiness presents a constant incentive to apply the inward principles and affections of the state more and more to all details of life and perfection of character. After entire sanctification the graces of the Spirit are less impeded, and their growth becomes more rapid, uniform and steady, and the Holy Spirit has a better chance than before to enlighten and enrich with more and more of divine grace and power.”
“Voices on Holiness,” compiled by H. J. Bowman of Evangelical Church has the following:
“We should, however, distinguish between purity and maturity. There is considerable perplexity in the minds of many by not distinguishing between them. Maturity always requires time, purity may be realized instantaneously. Maturity implies growth, purity is not reached by growth merely. Purity may be reached now, as in Wesley’s time, within a few days after conversion He says: ‘Many at Macclesfield believed that the blood of Christ had cleansed them from all sin. Some said they received the blessing ten days, some seven, some four, some three days after they had found peace with God, and two of them the next day.’ But were they mature Christians — fathers in Christ. Maturity, or growth in grace, is in an important sense, a question of time; purity is not. A free and full salvation from all sin is the present and constant duty and privilege of all believers. This will secure a rapid, solid, constant growth in grace. There is growth’ in grace both before and after the experience of entire sanctification.”
J. A. Wood says: “The process of cleansing away and extirpating sin, is one thing, and a growth or maturity in grace is quite another. These two things should never be jumbled or confounded. God: never accomplished this in the soul by cleansing Power which it is the Province of growth in grace to per form. On the other hand, a growth in grace cannot effect that which is the work of creating cleansing power.”
After showing the Bible figures used to describe the destruction of the old man implied sudden and instantaneous action as “crucifixion”, mortification, “cutting off of a hand,” “plucking out of an eye,” “cleansing,” “sprinkling,” “purging,” he contrasts the process of growth or development:
“Not so with growth or development. This requires time. The child does not reach manhood, much less old age, in a moment. The acorn does not become the sturdy oak in a single day, or even a year. Nor does it cease to grow when it arrives at a certain age. The child of God does not develop from a babe in Christ to a father in Israel at once; but in the use of the means of grace he is blest, receives new strength, makes progress in the Divine life. We are to ‘come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’ We are not to remain babes, but to become young men, and fathers in Christ. Spiritual growth does not cease when we are wholly sanctified, but becomes more rapid than before. In development we see no attainment which admits of no further progress. Fathers in Christ still go forward, even to the end of their Christian career!
“New light is received, new strength is imparted, higher attainments are reached, greater fullness penetrates every avenue of our being, we are changed from glory to glory, and still the soul cries for new baptisms [anointings or refreshings would be better] of the Holy Ghost and of fire; for more of God, and for still greater progress in the Divine life. The soul drinks in more of the Divine nature, and yet asks for enlargement both of vessel and of fullness.”