God’s Word teaches:
That entire sanctification is a definite act of God’s grace, subsequent to the New Birth, by which the believer’s heart is purified and made holy. Works, struggle, or suppression cannot attain it progressively, but it is obtained by faith in the sanctifying blood of Jesus Christ. Holiness of life and purity of heart are central to Christian living – Luke 1:74,75; John 17:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:3,7,8; 5:22-24; Ephesians 5:25-27; Hebrews 2:11; 10:10,14; 13:11,12; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:14-16.
The doctrine of entire sanctification is central in the mind of the Godhead. The doctrine is at the hub or nucleus of Christian teaching. What then is the meaning of the word, Sanctification? Sanctification is an English word which means: to make sacred or holy; to set apart for holy or religious use; to make free from sin; to cleanse from moral corruption and pollution; the act of God’s grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to supreme love to God; to purify in order to prepare for divine service and for partaking of holy things; to free from the power of sin; being set free from the power of cancelled sin. A gracious work of the Holy Spirit, not of works, not of growth, not of death, not of purgatory. God has the ability to destroy sin. Sanctification is an operation of the Spirit of God on those who are already in Christ. They who are effectually called and regenerated having a new heart and a new spirit created in them need to be further sanctified through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, His word and His Spirit.
Sanctification is an instantaneous experience given to a believer to enable him cleave to God without the tendency to want to go astray or go away from the Lord. It is not a protracted or tedious process of growth. You do not grow INTO sanctification, but you can grow IN sanctification. We can never grow into what God must of necessity do for us. Again, sanctification is not brought about by death. To assume that is to say that death is no longer our last enemy to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26).
Neither are we cleansed from the original stain (the nature we brought into the world) through Water Baptism. Entire sanctification is not of works, but is the work of God, divinely wrought by the Holy Spirit. ‘Holiness’, ‘Perfection’ and ‘Sanctification’ are the definitive terms used interchangeably. Holiness means entire freedom from sin, wholeness, spiritual health, moral integrity and purity. Our health means the absence of sickness. Therefore, holiness means the absence of sin (Luke 1:74,75; Psalm 29:2; 93:5; 1 Peter 1:16; Hebrews 12:14). ‘Perfection’ means that which is not lacking in what it ought to have. The perfection, which God requires and accomplishes in those who earnestly ask in faith, is the purifying of our hearts; loving every believer as Christ loves us, and loving our neighbours as ourselves.
Nothing less than this is desirable and nothing more is required (Colossians 1:28). Entire sanctification is described as ‘clean heart’ or ‘pure heart’. This descriptive term shows the experience in a way one can understand in his heart (Psalm 24:3,4; Matthew 5:8). The Bible teaches us that all of God’s children can be like Jesus in separation from the world, in purity and in love. We must be inwardly pure and peaceful otherwise be left defeated. A blameless life is a life in which God sees nothing to condemn. We may not be blameless to our contemporaries, but we can be blameless before God. When God examines a
sanctified heart He finds all that is possessed to be in harmony with Himself. The heart of the sanctified is a throne on which God reigns without a rival; an empire wherein He exercises unchecked, undisputed dominion and authority.
How does the earnest seeker get sanctified? There must first be a definite separation and withdrawal from all sins and appearance of evil, immorality, and all unclean things (1 Thessalonians 5:22; 2 Corinthians 6:17; 2 Timothy 2:21). There must, secondly, be ENTIRE Consecration. This is giving ourselves unto God in a vivid manner. First, we give ALL we are to God. Here we no longer lay any claim on ourselves (Luke 9:60; Romans 12:1,2). Second, we give our body unto the glory of God, not for any selfish motive or purpose in view, but with the consideration and knowledge that we are bought with the precious blood of Jesus. Third, we give OURSELVES FOR SERVICE (John 13:12-17). We should not stress our being priests and kings unto God but also being servants. Here Jesus shows how to consecrate and dedicate ourselves for service. Washing the feet was the work of a slave. So, we must learn to do the meanest job in the midst of believers and not waiting for compliments. Fourth, we must die to self. “Verily, verily I say unto you, EXCEPT a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit….” (John 12:24,25). Consecration is coming before God with our past, present, future, personality, possession, wisdom, talents, intellect, money, influence,position in the family and in the church and dedicating all to God. We separate and dedicate ourselves to God, He readily willing to do His part and give us the definite experience of Entire Sanctification. This
is the operation of God, a definite act of God’s grace in a believer’s heart (Hebrews 2:11; 13:12,13).
By what means of grace does the believer get into this experience? The means of sanctification includes: a) The word of God (John 15:3); b) The blood of Jesus (Hebrews 13:12,13); c) Faith in the Lord (Acts 26:18); d) The Spirit of God, and e) God Himself (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We do not get sanctified by studying the word alone. We need to pray in faith. We must believe in its possibility before we can ask in faith. Also, we must realize that it is the will of God that we are made holy (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 1 John 5:14,15). Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. Holiness here is not just the judicial kind of holiness, but the practical holiness of which believers are partakers because they have surrendered their entire life unto God through Christ. This holiness does something in our hearts that makes us live right. We must desire it (Mark 11:24), and ask with a genuine burning desire.
What should be our response to this doctrine? The Bible teaches that all believers can be wholly sanctified (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We should not be guilty of taking away from the word. This teaching places a great and solemn responsibility upon all preachers of the word to teach this doctrine; be a partaker of the experience (1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:6), and endeavour to understand and know how to present it by study (2 Timothy 2:15; Titus 1:9; John 7:46); faithfully and effectively teach all
believers without fear or compromise, for in all things of the Spirit, we should not withhold or withdraw the truth from our congregation (2 Timothy 2:2). Let us encourage all believers to partake of the blessing. This gracious Christian experience could be kept all through life provided that the recipient keeps abiding in Christ, watching, and praying (John 15:4; Mark 13:32-35). Having been warned to hold fast that which is good, the only reasonable thing for the Sanctified Believer to do is to stop grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30,31); Refuse to relapse into bitterness and harshness of spirit, never engage in unprofitable conversation (Ephesians 5:3,4), unkind criticisms, evil speaking and fault finding, self indulgence and prejudice, impatience, indolence and negligence, uncontrolled temperament, self-dependence and self-management and interest in objects of temptation.
Why should any Christian doubt the possibility of complete deliverance from sin? Jesus should not be limited as a Saviour. Complete deliverance from sin is Christ’s purpose (Titus 2:11-15). The white lily grows up from mire, but with no dust on it. Christians can grow up in this dirty world yet without spot on their lives (Romans 12:1,2). It is our privilege to be totally separated from the evil of the world. It is a promise from God that we should be purged and sanctified. “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)