Paul Testified To Sanctification
It is urged by some that “Paul never said he was sanctified,” and, therefore, we should not confess such a experience. While we must admit that Paul never used that particular phrase with reference to his own experience, we would insist that he, nevertheless, did confess the experience, to which that phrase refers. It is not so much a matter of terms for which we are contending as it is the experience itself.
When Paul testified in Romans 8:2, that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death,” he unquestionably testified to the experience of entire sanctification. In the seventh chapter, while pointing out the weakness and failure of the law, he said, “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” This “law of sin” from which he was now made free, had no reference to sin as an act, but an inward heart condition, identical with the words, “sin that dwelleth in me,” and referred to nothing other than what we call “original sin;” and from this he now confesses deliverance “through Jesus Christ, our Lord,” saying that “what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” This is none other than the experience of sanctification.
Not only so, but in speaking of his intended visit to them, he said (Rom. 15:29), “I am sure that when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” The “fullness of the blessing of the gospel” includes the experience of entire sanctification. His testimony here indicates that he then had “the blessing,” and that he did not expect to lose it before he reached them.
In his letter to the Ephesians he urges that they should “Be filled with the Spirit,” 5:18; “the fullness of Christ,” 4:13; and “all the fullness of God,” 3:19. They were not to be “filled with the Spirit” and something else. To have this “fullness” implies the emptying and complete cleansing and purification of the heart from all sin. No man can be thus filled, and so have “the fullness of the blessing of the gospel” until he becomes emptied of self and sin. This is sanctification.
In his letter to the Galatians, he says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” The term, “crucified with Christ” cannot refer to regeneration, as that is the quickening of the Spirit; our sins are not crucified, but pardoned. Nor was it his physical self that was crucified. If the term “crucified with Christ,” signifies anything, it teaches that there is something within us that must die. In his letter to the Romans (6:6), he testifies, “Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.” “Our old man” does not refer to an act of sin, but to what we term “original sin,” which, in the nature of the case, cannot be pardoned, but must be “crucified” and “destroyed.” And this, he testifies, has taken place with him. To be thus “crucified with Christ” is none other than the experience of entire sanctification.
In his epistle to the Hebrews he testifies, “WE which have believed do enter into rest.” The term “we” surely includes himself. He speaks of it as a present tense experience. He had just said the Israelites “could not enter in because of unbelief,” referring to their failure to enter the land of Canaan. Every one who has made the “second crossing” and has found this “rest of faith,” knows that what Canaan meant to the children of Israel the experience of entire sanctification is to us. Some speak of it as the “rest of faith;” others as “soul rest;” and still others, in the language of Charles Wesley, as “that second rest.” The “rest” referred to is a present tense experience — “do enter unto rest” — and is obtained by faith. It could not have referred to the experience of pardon, as they already had that, but were now being urged on to something more, which he feared they might “come short of.” We mean to say the “rest” here referred to is none other than the experience of entire sanctification.
In his letter to the Philippians he testifies to the fact that he is pressing “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” and then adds, “Let US, therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded.” (3:14, 15.) While he disclaims resurrection perfection in verse 12, he does claim and testify to Christian perfection in verse 15. In saying, “Let US, therefore, as many as be perfect,” he surely included himself. We would insist that the term “perfect” here includes all that is meant by the term entire sanctification. That he believed (Christian) perfection attainable in this life is evident from the fact that he constantly urged it upon others; and in his first letter to the Corinthians (2:6), he said, “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect.” According to this he believed there were some folks who really had the blessing.
Speaking of the necessary qualifications of a bishop, among other things, he said, he “must be blameless, holy” (Titus 1:8), and testified to “pureness” concerning himself (II. Cor. 6:6), and said to the Thessalonians, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly and unblameably WE behaved ourselves among you.” (1. Thess. 2:10.) He could not have testified more definitely.
Would Paul urge upon others the importance of purity, holiness, sanctification and perfection and he himself not enjoy and confess the experience? Never; he was not that kind of a preacher.
Usually the last fight of the enemy is made on the question of testimony. First, it will be suggested that “there is no such experience;” when he loses that point, he will allow that there may be such an experience for others, but in view of your peculiar disposition and surroundings “such an experience is not for you.” After that battle has been fought and the individual obtains the experience, he will say, “Well, it’s all right, but you don’t have to be talking about it all the while; just live it, and people will know that you have got it.”
The enemy knows full well that the person who fails to testify definitely to the experience cannot long retain the experience. The failure to testify is within itself a victory for satan and defeat to the soul. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” “M-o-u-t-h” does not spell “life.” We must confess what God has wrought, first, to give God the glory; second, in order to communicate the knowledge of the experience to others; third, because the enemy does not want us to, and we cannot permit him to have the victory over us. Obedience in testimony brings renewed blessing to the heart, establishment in the faith, and victory over the adversary. “They overcame him (satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” (Rev. 12: 11.) Life and testimony are inseparably joined in the Scripture.