For A Purpose
When God commands sinners to repent it is always for a definite purpose – that their sins may be forgiven, and he cannot consistently forgive sins unless there is real repentance. Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins.” Another day he said to the assembled multitude, “Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” We have shown in a previous chapter that repentance is no more the duty of a sinner than consecration is the duty of the child of God. And the consecration of the child of God is as truly for a definite purpose as is the repentance of the sinner. The sinner repents in order to be pardoned. The child of God consecrates in order to be entirely sanctified – completely conformed to the will and image of God. When we are entirely consecrated to God then he entirely sanctifies us, because it is impossible to conceive of any thing or person belonging wholly to God and being impure. He has no impurity in his possession. All that is his is free from sin.
This is the reason so many people consecrate and consecrate (as they think they do) and it amounts to nothing. They get no uplift in their experience, no victory. Their consecration amounts to nothing. They do not have heart-purity as the definite end and purpose of their consecration. We find that talk of consecration is very popular today, but talk about entire sanctification is very unpopular. It is very common to hear people say, “I am wholly the Lord’s, I am consecrated but I am not sanctified.” There seems to be a delight, a kind of glorying in what they have done, but a hesitation to say anything about what God has done. It is as much as to say, “I have done it all. God has not done his part.” Much of the talk about consecration is only self-glorification. This is the reason that consecration meetings are popular, while holiness meetings are unpopular. The carnal nature delights in what we do, but shrinks from that act of God whereby he makes us holy, because it means death to the old man. If the reader doubts this let him note carefully the testimonies he hears, how glibly the tongue will run over the term “consecration” and how it will hesitate at “sanctification,” though the former word is used but a few times in the word of God, while the latter is constantly found in its pages. The consecration of those who do not thereby seek to be entirely sanctified amounts to little.
We see in this light the mistake of those who consecrate only for a good feeling or emotion, or in order to be more successful workers. We sometimes hear it said of consecration, “I did that when I had my call to the ministry. I consecrated myself to the ministry.” That is another matter entirely. Many consecrations to the ministry are simply a yielding up of stubbornness and rebellion, a willingness henceforth to be obedient. But as we showed in Chapter VI, consecration is more than to do. It is to be and suffer also. God calls all men to consecrate in order to purity. He commands only a few to consecrate themselves to the special work of the ministry. When the seven deacons were chosen for their special work, they had already been entirely consecrated to God. They were men “full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.” Men may, and have been, consecrated to the ministry who were not consecrated to God. But a person who has once for all made a complete consecration of himself to God, and is then called to the minis try, recognizes the call to the ministry as only a part of the great final consecration he made at the beginning. We cannot see all the details, but as fast as God shows them we are to recognize them as part of the original contract, whether it be to be a preacher or fulfill the duties of a humble layman. The object of erecting an altar and placing a sacrifice upon it in ancient times was to have a fire upon it. All altars that have a true, complete sacrifice upon them draw fire from heaven. When the offering was wholly placed upon the altar at the dedication of the tabernacle then down came the fire upon it. So also at the dedication of Solomon’s temple. And so, too, when our consecration is complete. Of what use is an altar without fire and of what use a consecration that does not draw fire from heaven? If we have not yet received the fire, depend upon it the consecration is defective.