Sanctification An Absolute Necessity
There are multitudes of people who care not how much one may theorize and proclaim on the doctrine of holiness, so long as it is not urged as a positive necessity. They will even admit the teaching and train with the holiness people, providing the lines are not sharply drawn, and sanctification is presented merely as a privilege. But when sanctification is presented as an absolute necessity, and they are required to humble themselves, and give up their idols – their right eye and right hand sins — they refuse to pay the price and seek the experience.
This is exactly why some ministers who preach holiness never occasion offense, and utterly fail in bringing their people into the experience. They do not apply the truth, nor insist that it is a positive necessity; they present the experience merely as a privilege, hence their people feel that holiness is simply a sort of a fifth wheel to the wagon; an additional luxury, the acceptance of which is optional; and that the neglecting and even rejecting of the same would make no material difference.
While it is true that the experience of entire sanctification is a most luxurious experience, and a most exalted privilege, we would, nevertheless, insist that the command, “Be ye holy,” is imperative, and that holiness of heart is a positive necessity as a preparation for entering a holy heaven; that to neglect or reject this experience is disobedience and sin, and if persisted in will mean the loss of the soul.
It is true that God presented the land of Canaan to the Israelites as the land of promise, and evidently meant to induce them to go up and possess the land by giving to them the promise of the abundance of its fruit, and riches, and victories, rather than to speak of it as the land of commandment, and making it compulsory for them to go; yet, when they failed to go up and claim their inheritance, and stopped short of what God had presented as a privilege, God was “grieved,” and they were destroyed, and utterly perished in the wilderness. “I will, therefore, put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” (Jude 1:5.)
When the experience of sanctification is presented as a positive necessity it invariably awakens opposition on the part of formal and worldly church members, but truly regenerated and sincere hearts will seek and obtain the experience.
While emphasizing this necessity some have inquired, “Do you mean to say that no one will get to heaven but the holiness people?” We answer, “No one will get to heaven but holy people,” for God has made “the sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord,” the condition for entering a holy heaven.
Others have insisted that when God pardoned their sins, he saved them, and hence they could see no necessity for seeking another or subsequent experience.
It must ever be borne in mind that light is the measure of our accountability to God; that light, when rejected, becomes darkness; that the refusal to walk in the light God has given is disobedience, and disobedience is sin; and that sin will forfeit the blessing and favor of God. Hence there comes a time when a soul is under the necessity of becoming sanctified in order to remain justified.
One great and important truth that many justified souls seem to forget is, that the experience of justification must be maintained: that in obtaining pardon we do not obtain a through ticket, unconditional and non-forfeitable, for all time to come, regardless of our conduct.
In becoming a Christian every soul gives the pledge of obedience — a sort of promissory note for the future — and it is only while we obey and walk in the light, and keep His commandments that we retain our justified relationship to Him. No one can disobey God and retain His favor, however glorious or miraculous the experience of the past may have been. In order to maintain and retain the favor of God in justifying grace, we must welcome and walk in all the light that God gives us. It costs just as much, and more, to retain an experience, as it does to obtain it.
There is no standing still in Christian experience. We either advance or retrograde; we increase or decrease; we go forward or backward. The soul that walks in the clear light of justification will soon discover his need of something more than was received at the time of pardon. Even where the teaching of sanctification is not heard, the heart hunger of the regenerated soul has led many into the experience of sanctification, though they were not acquainted with the doctrine.
While we would admit that a truly justified soul cannot be lost, we insist that the soul cannot remain truly justified, and willfully neglect or reject the experience of entire sanctification.
But supposing that a person has been clearly justified, and has never received the light on sanctification, we must still believe that he cannot enter heaven without that work of sanctification which is “the act of divine grace whereby we are made holy.” In such a case we could only conclude, that because of their ignorance, and lack of opportunity they have the unconditional benefit of the atonement, and, like the infant, are cleansed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus before they enter heaven.
Not so with a soul to whom the light and revelation of God’s will has come. To such the promise is, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” In any case, without holiness no man shall see the Lord. “Let us, therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” (Heb. 4:1, 3:14.)