Who are the Sanctified?
Who are the Sanctified?
“God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”
Sanctification is not a happy flight of feeling, not the work of an instant, but the work of a lifetime. If any one claims that the Lord has sanctified him, and made him holy, the proof of his claim to the blessing will be seen in the fruits of meekness, patience, long-suffering, truthfulness, and love. If the blessing that those who claim to be sanctified have received, leads them to rely upon some particular emotion, and they declare there is no need of searching the Scriptures that they may know God’s revealed will, then the supposed blessing is a counterfeit, for it leads its possessors to place value on their own unsanctified emotions and fancies, and to close their ears to the voice of God in his word. Why need those who claim they have had special manifestations of the Spirit, and the witness that their sins are all forgiven, conclude that they can lay the Bible aside, and from henceforth walk alone? When we ask those who claim to have been instantaneously sanctified, if they are searching the Scriptures as Jesus told them to do, to see if there is not additional truth for them to accept, they answer, “God makes known his will to us directly in special signs and revelations, and we can afford to lay the Bible aside.
There are thousands who are being deceived by trusting to some special emotion, and discarding the word of God. They are not building upon the only safe and sure foundation,—the word of God. A religion that is addressed to intelligent creatures will produce reasonable evidences of its genuineness, for there will be marked results in heart and character. The grace of Christ will be made manifest in their daily conduct. We may safely ask those who profess to be sanctified, Do the fruits of the Spirit appear in your life? Do you manifest the meekness and lowliness of Christ, and reveal the fact that you are learning daily in the school of Christ, shaping your life after the pattern of his unselfish life? The best evidence that any of us can have of our connection with the God of heaven is that we keep his commandments. The best proof of faith in Christ is distrust of self and dependence upon God. The only reliable proof of our abiding in Christ is to reflect his image. Just so far as we do this we give evidence that we are sanctified through the truth, for the truth is exemplified in our daily life.
There are thousands, yes, millions, who are making a mistake in their religious life. They make religion a thing independent of their life, of their thoughts and words, and daily actions. Their religion is a delusion of the senses. Their ideas and principles presented as sanctification are deceitful workings. Some speak of hearing voices and of seeing sights of a supernatural character; but there is no sign in their daily course of action that the Spirit of God has wrought a change in the natural heart, for they are carnal, at enmity with God’s law, and neither love God nor obey his commandments.
Nervous excitement in religious matters is no evidence that the Spirit of God is working upon the heart. We read of frenzied contortions of the body, of shrieking and screaming in the work of Satan upon the minds and bodies of men; but the word of God affords us no example of any such manifestations in connection with those upon whom he pours out his Spirit. It is clear that distempered fancies, wild outbursts, and contorted bodily exercises are the workings of the enemy. Yet many think that the disorder of the mind, which is intensified by the power of Satan, is a warrant that God is causing these deceived souls to act in so uncomely a manner. The whole spirit and tone of the Bible condemns men in acting without reason or intelligence. When the Spirit of God moves upon the heart, it causes the faithful, obedient child of God to act in a manner that will commend religion to the good judgment of sensible-minded men and women. The Spirit of God illuminates the mind with the word of God, and does not come as a substitute for the word. The Holy Spirit ever directs the believer to the word, and presents its passages to the mind, to reprove, correct, counsel, and comfort. It never leads its possessor to act in an unbecoming way, or to manifest extravagant and uncalled-for developments that bear not the least resemblance to that which is heavenly, and lower the standard of what is pure and undefiled religion in the minds of men.
There was nothing of this character found in the life or teachings of Jesus. All that is of heaven is pure, peaceable, refined, and ennobling, free from everything that is extravagant or fanatical in thought, word, or action. The religion of Christ bears the heavenly credentials, and when the heart has been impressed with the divine image, the soul is in harmony with all God’s commandments. But the sanctification that leads its possessors to refuse to study the Scriptures, and persuades them to believe they know it all, and that there is no advanced truth for them to accept, is of a spurious order. They are yet carnal, for it is the carnal mind that is “enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” They are deluded by the adversary of God and man. They have illusions, and a bewitching power is upon them as they cry out: “I am saved, I am saved. I cannot sin.” We only can distinguish the true from the false by the manifestation of the graces of the Spirit, which Christ has promised to implant in the heart.
Many who claim to be sanctified, who are yet breaking the commandments of God, and filled with enmity against God, are boldly presumptuous, and, while disobeying the words of Christ, yet dare to appropriate the promises given to the loyal and obedient. They have no right to one of the promises of God, because they do not fulfill the conditions upon which the promises are to be fulfilled. They will talk of faith and holiness when their foundation is built up of rotten timbers, and they are depending on their own self-righteousness. But their presumptuous assurance is not faith. They do not know what constitutes faith.
While there are many who lay claim to the promises of God while they are not fulfilling their conditions, there is another class who are humble and conscientious, but faint hearted, and they overlook the precious promises of God that are for their appropriation. They are continually in fear that Jesus does not love them. They walk in fear and trembling, and the hand of faith seems too feeble to reach up and grasp and hold the promises of God. They continually look to themselves to find an assurance that they are good enough to become the children of God. But to look to self is to look in the wrong direction. The parable of the Pharisee and the publican has forcible lessons for both these classes. The Pharisee is full of self-sufficiency, and rests in carnal security that he is saved, while the publican has a deep sense of his unworthiness, and stands afar off. He does not feel worthy to draw nigh to God, but smites upon his breast in self-condemnation, and will not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven to meet the eyes of the heart-searching God. His cry is one of soul agony, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Yet this was the one that Jesus himself declares went down to his house justified. But the Pharisee had no such divine favor. The publican looked away from himself, for he could see nothing there in which to trust for salvation. He felt the need of a physician, and his humble prayer was heard, while the prayer of the boasting Pharisee was an offense to God.
The promises contained in the seven beatitudes are not to be fulfilled to the one who feels self-sufficient, who turns from the Scriptures of revealed truth to a false theory, crying: “I am saved, I am saved. I cannot sin.” The precious promises of the beatitudes are for those who feel their poverty of spirit, to the true mourners, to the meek, to the peacemakers, to the pure in heart, to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. It is the weary and the heavy laden that Christ invites to come unto him, and to them his promise is sure, “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” But the rest comes in wearing Christ’s yoke, in bearing Christ’s burden.