James Smith, 1856
That man has fallen from God, and is consequently depraved and polluted, is a fact so clearly revealed in God's Word, and so evidently proved by his general conduct — that it cannot be denied, or even doubted by anyone who believes the inspiration of the Scriptures, or attends to what is passing around him. That in this state, man is totally unfit to enter heaven, or enjoy the presence of God on earth — is equally clear. Man has forfeited all right to happiness, and is destitute of all fitness for glory. He is a rebel up in arms against God — a sinful and polluted creature! His unfitness for heaven is radical, for he is entirely depraved, and the very core of his life is a fountain of impurity — for from within, out of the heart, proceeds all that is vile, debasing, and offensive to God — and only such evil things. Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is evil, only evil — evil from his youth — evil continually, Genesis 6:5; 8:21.
He is, in a word, just the opposite of what God made him; when he came out of the hand of his Maker . . .
he was holy — he is now depraved;
he was light — he is now darkness;
he was strong — he is now weakness;
he was love — he is now enmity against God;
he was in union with God — he is now separated from him;
he was pure — he is now dead in trespasses and sins!
O! fearful state! O! awful condition!
But is this the state of all people? It is! Of every one! Are there no exceptions? There are none! "For all are gone out of the way, they are together become filthy!" "There is none that does good — no, not one!" Psalm 14:1-3. Romans 3:10-18.
Then man's state by nature is really fearful, for he is . . .
the world's vassal,
and fit fuel for everlasting burnings.
Then heaven is closed against him, for "there shall never enter into it, anything that defiles;" and "without holiness no one shall see the Lord," Rev. 21:27; Hebrews 12:14.
Then there is no hope. Not from the law — or on the ground of anything a fallen creature can do; but there is hope in the gospel — on the ground of free and sovereign grace. God has devised and revealed a way by which . . .
sin can be pardoned,
the ungodly can be justified, and
the depraved and polluted can be sanctified.
He has set forth the Lord Jesus, that by him, whoever believes in him should not perish — but have everlasting life. He has graciously promised his Holy Spirit to those who ask him; and declared further, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you, and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws!" Ezekiel 36:26, 27. A man may be born again, or created anew in Christ Jesus; and except a man is born again — he can neither see, nor enter into the kingdom of God, John 3:3, 5.
This naturally leads us to the notice of our subject, which is SANCTIFICATION. By sanctification, is intended a separation from that which is evil, and being set apart for that which is good. It is not a change of place, circumstances, or state; but a change of nature. It has its origin in the gracious purpose of God, it is the fruit of his good pleasure, for it is his sovereignty that God sanctifies.
The saints are all sanctified by God the Father — that is, set apart to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and made fit for heaven by the influence and operations of the Holy Spirit; chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, Jude 1; 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
Sanctification flows from connection with our Lord Jesus Christ, who, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate, Hebrews 13:12. He, the sanctifying Head, sanctifies all of his members; and, together, they form one holy family, so that he is "not ashamed to call them brethren," Hebrews 2:11. He is made sanctification unto all who are in union with himself, 1 Corinthians 1:30.
But our personal and experimental sanctification, is produced only by the indwelling and operations of the Holy Spirit; and consists in our consecration to God and his service. It is the life of God in the soul. A new creation. A divine nature imparted. A resurrection from the dead. A new heart is given, a tender heart of flesh. The soul is melted in the fire of divine love, and molded afresh by the truth. Old things pass away, and all things become new.
The understanding is illuminated,
the conscience is quickened and cleansed,
the affections are spiritualized and elevated, and
the will is directed into a new channel, so that it chooses the things which are most excellent.
The work begins with the washing of regeneration, in which the soul passes from death to life; and is carried on by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, which continues to quicken and sustain it, Titus 3:5. The sanctified person is . . .
washed from the filth of sin,
cleansed from the guilt of sin,
and becomes devoted unto God.
The new nature which is imparted produces new sensations — from which flow, new desires, new fears, and new hopes. New motives influence the conduct, and new objects engage the attention.
The nature of SIN is discovered and hated,
the practice of sin is deplored and avoided,
the consequences of sin are feared,
and full salvation from sin is sought.
The ways of the Lord appear pleasant,
the time and talents are employed in his service,
the Bible becomes the daily companion,
the saints appear the excellent of the earth, and
the ordinances of the gospel yield profit and pleasure.
Jesus is now . . .
the object of faith,
the subject of meditation,
and appears altogether lovely.
No sanctified person ever thinks lightly either of sin or the Savior; but
the heart rests on his atonement,
the tongue pleads his name,
the soul thirsts for his grace, and
the whole person seeks shelter and safety in his perfect righteousness.
He is now trusted, loved, and obeyed. He is all in all.
The sanctified man generally enjoys prayer; but he feels that he must pray when he does not; for prayer is . . .
the vital breath of his soul,
the vent of his sorrows,
the expression of his desires,
and the utterance of his feelings.
He daily . . .
feels more and more his need of Jesus,
observes his numerous defects,
grieves over his departures from God,
repents of every sin, and
longs to be exactly like his dear Redeemer.
He often mourns because he sins against a God so gracious — and yet rejoices because he is saved in Jesus with an everlasting salvation. He can only maintain a peaceful, happy conscience by frequent application to the open fountain. Nor does he feel quite satisfied, unless he enjoys the witness of the Spirit in his heart. He walks with God, and habitually aims to please him. The bent of his mind is to spiritual things, and they become natural to him — he pursues, loves, and enjoys them.
Sanctification includes all the graces and fruits of the Spirit — as faith, hope, love, patience, humility, meekness, zeal, long-suffering, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, and temperance. It is the desire of the truly sanctified, to do the whole will of God from the heart, and to suffer all his sovereign will with resignation.
His pattern is the life of Jesus;
his rule is the precepts of the gospel;
and his aim is to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
He is spiritually minded. He lives upon Jesus, and lives to Jesus. As God's chosen child, holy and dearly loved — he longs to clothe himself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, Colossians 3:12, 13. His daily business is to "add to his faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." 2 Peter 1:5-7
He daily renounces all dependence on his doings and feelings, and rests on the finished work of Jesus alone, for his acceptance with God, and title to eternal life. To him . . .
the gospel, which proclaims a full and free salvation by faith alone — is good news;
holiness is the only element in which his soul enjoys health;
sin and sinners are a constant cause of grief; and
freedom from all impurity is the reigning desire of his heart.
He . . .
mortifies his members,
crucifies the flesh,
puts off the old man with his deeds,
and lives by faith on the Son of God.
Such is sanctification, as set forth in God's holy Word, and experienced by the Lord's people.
The AGENT in this great work is the Holy Spirit — to him, and to him alone, it is to be attributed. It is his office and work to sanctify; and all real sanctification is . . .
the effect of his indwelling,
the proof of his power, and
the display of his grace.
The Father's love chose us unto salvation;
the Son's blood redeemed us from damnation; and
the Spirit's power sanctifies and makes us fit for glory.
Thus the whole Godhead is manifested, engaged, and glorified, in our salvation: and Father, Son, and Spirit, are alike known, loved, believed, and adored.
Sanctification is evidently a principal end of all the purposes, promises, and operations of the glorious Jehovah.
We are chosen in Christ — that we might be holy, Ephesians 1:4.
We were redeemed by Jesus — to be "a peculiar people unto himself, zealous of good works," Titus 2:14.
We are "called with a holy calling," 2 Tim. 1:9.
And we are to be presented before our God at last, "holy, unblamable, and unreprovable in his sight," Colossians 1:22, Jude 24, 25.
We are now called . . .
"holy brethren," Hebrews 3:1;
"a holy priesthood," 1 Peter 2:5;
"holy and beloved," Colossians 3:12; and
the "holy temple of the Holy Spirit," 1 Cor. 3:17, 6:19.
"This is the will of God, even our sanctification," 1 Thessalonians 4:3; and until our sanctification is complete, and we exactly resemble the Lord Jesus Christ, in body, soul, and spirit — our salvation will not be finished, nor God's glorious purpose accomplished. We must be like him, for we are predestined to it: "we shall be like him — for we shall see him as he is," Romans 8:29. 1 John 3:2.
The temples of the Holy Spirit shall be thoroughly purified!
The bride, the Lamb's wife, shall be free from every spot, wrinkle, or any such thing!
The children of God shall be perfect — as their Father who is in heaven is perfect.
The INSTRUMENT by which this work is effected, is the Word of God, the truth as it is in Jesus. Hence he prayed, "Sanctify them through your truth, your Word is truth," John 17:17. Every doctrine, promise, precept, and narrative in God's Word — is of a sanctifying tendency; all teach us to . . .
cleave to the Lord, and
perfect holiness in his fear.
"By the Word of God we are begotten again," James 1:18; by the same incorruptible Word, we are preserved in the faith, 1 John 3:9; and it is said to work effectually in all those who believe, 1 Thessalonians 2:13. But it is the Word as believed, as pleaded at the throne of grace, as obeyed in the life, for without faith the Word will not profit. Hebrews 4:2. But by faith, it purifies the heart, Acts 15:9.
Afflictions and trials are often employed to teach us the value, use, and importance of the Word; and, in connection with the Word, they further our sanctification. Yes, believer, your sorrows, your troubles, your bereavements, are all necessary; they are . . .
to wean you from earth;
to raise your thoughts and affections to heaven;
and to urge you on your way to your Father's house!
They are but your Father's voice, saying "Arise and depart; for this is not your rest; because it is polluted!" Micah 2:10.
Our Father chastens us in love, not for his own pleasure — but for our profit; that we might be partakers of his holiness, Hebrews 12:10.
Let us therefore prize and use the gospel, seeking to know all that is included in the apostle's words, when he said, "But we all with open face beholding, as in a glass, the Lord's glory — are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit," 2 Corinthians 3:18.
The work of sanctification is PROGRESSIVE.
At first we see the new-born babe, "desiring the sincere milk of the Word, that he may grow thereby," 1 Peter 2:2.
Then the young man who is strong, and has overcome the wicked one, 1 John 2:14.
At length the father in Christ, who knows him who was from the beginning, 1 John 2:13.
There is "first the blade, then the head, and then the ripe grain on the head." Therefore we are exhorted to . . .
"grow in grace," 2 Peter 3:18;
"purge ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting holiness in the fear of God," 2 Corinthians 7:1;
"be filled with the Spirit," Ephesians 5:18; and
"to abound in the work of the Lord," 1 Corinthians 15:58.
John, speaking of the present privileges and bright prospects enjoyed by the saints, says, "And every one who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure," 1 John 2:3.
Progressive holiness is just this:
the more entire yielding of the understanding to God's Word;
the more hearty surrender of the will to God;
the more steady fixing of the affections on heavenly things;
and the more complete consecration of the entire person to the Lord's glory.
Who will say that he is completely sanctified? Rather, what believer will not readily acknowledge that there is in his heart and life — room for more seriousness, humility, zeal for God, thankfulness, prayerfulness, faith, hope, love, patience, and meekness? Surely every Christian will say, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect — but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:12-14
Reader, are you sanctified?
What are your views of SIN? Is it in your estimation, the abominable thing? What are your feelings towards sin? Do you hate it? Do you mourn over it? Do you confess it with sorrow before God? Do you turn away from it with disgust?
What think you of CHRIST? How do you feel toward him? What know you of fellowship with God? What is it makes heaven desirable to you? Is it the holiness of the place, employments, and society? Unless you . . .
prize the open fountain,
cling to Jesus as your only hope, and
pant for holiness as the sick man for health
— your sanctification is very doubtful!
Remember, no holiness — no heaven! You must be born again. You must be washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God — or you will be found "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity."
But we would not distress the weak believer, or wound the feeble-minded; and therefore we observe, that the most thoroughly sanctified, still feel the warfare within; the law in the members still wars against the law of the mind, and at times prevails. Corruption will work, Satan will tempt, and darkness at times gathers over the soul. The work of sanctification is not perfect, and at times it appears very feeble; but do not yield to fear, do not give way to despondency. The principles of grace are immortal, they must live, and shall overcome at the last. Seek more grace. Seek holiness. Seek it at the cross — at the throne of grace, from the God of all grace. Seek it by prayer — seek it by faith — seek it with hope. "The Lord will give grace," Psalm 84:11; he will give "more grace," James 4:6.
Let nothing satisfy you but holiness, or entire consecration to God.
Heaven requires it,
the law demands it,
atoning blood gives a title to it,
the promise secures it to every believing applicant,
the throne of grace is accessible, that we may seek it,
the Spirit works it,
trials deepen it,
and the resurrection will complete it.
Your heavenly Father is holy, and he says, "Be holy — for I am holy." "As he, therefore, who has called you is holy — so be holy in the whole of your conduct," 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
The more you are sanctified . . .
the deeper will be your humility,
the more vivid your views of sin, and
the stronger your confidence in God.
And yet, perhaps, while others are admiring the consistency of your life, and, it may be, even envying your attainments — you will be lying low before God, as the chief of sinners, and occasionally crying out, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" Romans 7:24.
For the nearer we are to the Lord . . .
the more vivid and painful our views of sin,
the stronger our desires after perfect holiness,
and the more we value and trust in the finished work of Jesus.
Then the mouth is shut, in point of boasting; but is opened wide to praise and pray.
Do not then be discouraged or mistaken — but pour out your heart before the Lord, and cry mightily to God.
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!" 1 Thessalonians 5:23.