After Sanctification, What?
No experience however glorious should be regarded as a finality. One of the greatest dangers common to all Christians is that of resting in a past experience. Every experience God has given should simply be regarded as preparatory for something better farther on, and should be utilized as a stepping stone to higher altitudes of grace. There is positively no such thing as getting it all. “The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” After the heart has been purified and sanctified by the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire, there is now the proper heart condition for endless.
Growth in Grace
As a soul cannot grow into the grace of justification, for the simple reason that it is something God must do for us, so in like manner it is impossible to grow into sanctification, seeing that sanctification is a “divine act” — a something God must do in us. While it is impossible to grow into sanctification, there is a limitless, endless, boundless growth in grace after sanctification. “Onward” must ever be the watchword of all who would maintain a spiritual experience. Next station to stagnation is damnation. Sanctification, negatively stated, is not so much getting something we never had, as it is getting rid of some things we have always had. Purification may be said to be subtraction, while growth in grace is addition. We can never grow the impurities of carnality out of the heart, any more than we can grow weeds out of the garden. Indeed, sanctification is the necessary antecedent of growth in grace. Until the weeds have been removed from the garden, the suckers removed from the corn, and the useless branches from the vine, the growth of the vegetables, of the corn, and of the fruit is retarded and stinted. The experience common to the multitudes who have been sanctified has been that they grow more in grace in one month after the heart has been cleansed than they did previously in a year, or even in a number of years.
There are three things always essential to a symmetrical growth, namely, good health, proper food and sufficient exercise. Holiness is soul-health, spiritual wholeness or soundness. Sin is a malady — a soul disease. Perfect soul-health will give a keen spiritual relish or appetite for “the sincere milk,” and the “strong meat” of the Word, “that ye may grow thereby.” Being healthy and well fed, the soul is now in a condition to exercise itself “unto godliness,” and so it will “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” As the person thus goes forward and onward to know the Lord, he will have certain
Such is the divine program. “Many shall be purified and made white, and tried.” God will have a tried people. Earthly props and human dependencies will be swept away. It is one thing for us to trust God, but altogether another thing for us to come to the place where God can trust us. “Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts.” The weaning time of a child is usually a rather stormy period, and the child is apt to think itself greatly mistreated and abused. It invariably fails to understand why it should be thus dealt with; but the parent understands the wherefore. Not until in after years will the child understand. So to the sanctified soul, these seasons of peculiar testing — these providential hardships — will seem exceedingly mysterious and inexplicable, but in later years they will be recognized as great blessings; trials are simply blessings in disguise. Trials and testings are God’s challenge t o our faith to prove Him, and the divine method of enlarging us. Trials are growing pains. The loss of property, gross misrepresentations, fierce persecutions, mental perplexities, affliction, the thwarting of cherished ambitions, the going down in a seeming defeat in the effort to lead others into the experience, the blighting of pleasing prospects, and innumerable kindred blessings are all calculated to wean and detach the soul from the things of earth and teaching it the way of submission and faith, will develop the iron graces and unconquerable sinews of a holy character from which heroes and martyrs are made. Hence Peter says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” “Though for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of our faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried wit h fire, might e found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” The spirit of heaviness is perfectly compatible with the spirit of holiness; for of these same persons who are thus being tried he says, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I. Peter 1:5-7.) Trials and testings are the way to promotion. A tunnel is simply as short-cut to a destination. It is during these testing the soul learns to stand alone and walk by faith. “If we suffer we shall also reign with Him.” “joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” After the soul has thus had proper discipline and stood true, it is prepared for
We are saved to serve, and it now becomes our exalted privilege to become “laborers together with God.” Sanctification is not simply freedom from sin, but antagonism to sin. Having on the “whole armor” the individual is now prepared to stand in the battle’s front and “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” No longer does he go to battle as a conscript, who, being drafted, is compelled to go, but as a true and tried soldier, enthused with the perfect love of God, and with the fullness of the spirit in his heart; he is now prepared to “fight the good fight of faith,” being “a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use and prepared unto every good work.” Having been fully tested and found unswerving in his fidelity and undaunted in his courage, the Lord will see to it that doors of usefulness and opportunity will be opened to him, so that he will be “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Having been comforted himself, he is now prepared to comfort others by the same comfort wherewith he himself is comforted of God. The human method is, do in order to be; but the divine method is be in order to do. Be right and you’ll do right. When we remember that our faithful service on earth determines our rank in heaven — for reward is according to labor — we shall ever feel that no time must be wasted; and that not how little may I do and yet get to heaven, but how much may I do for my Master before I go to heaven, will be the attitude of the soul. Work will now become a luxury, and service a delight. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” (Dan. 12:3.)