Sermon 434. Threefold Sanctification
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 9, 1862, BY REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Sanctified by God the Father." "Sanctified in Christ Jesus." Jude 1:1. 1 Corinthians 1:2. "Through sanctification of the Spirit" 1 Peter 1:2. MARK, Beloved, the union of the Three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. We believe that there is one God, and althoughwe rejoice to recognize the Trinity, yet it is ever most distinctly a Trinity in Unity. Our watch-word still is-"Hear O Israel,the LORD our God is one LORD." How unwisely do those young Believers talk, who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity-whothink of Christ as if He were the embodiment of everything that is lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severelyjust but destitute of kindness. And how foolish are those who magnify the decree of the Father, or the atonement of the Son, so as to depreciate the workof the Spirit. In deeds of Divine Grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act apart from the rest. They are as united intheir deeds as in their essence. In their love towards the chosen they are One, and in the actions which flow from that greatcentral source they are still undivided. Especially I would have you notice this in the case of sanctification. While we may, without the slightest mistake, speakof sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must take heed that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son hadno part in it. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Spirit, and of the Son. Still doesJehovah say, "Let Us make man in our Own image after Our likeness," and thus we are "Hs workmanship, created in Christ Jesusunto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them."
My Brethren, I beg you to notice and carefully consider the value which God sets upon real holiness, since the Three Personsare represented as co-working to produce a Church without "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Those men who despise holinessof heart are in direct conflict with God.Holiness is the architectural plan upon which God builds up His living temple. We read in Scripture of the "beauties ofholiness." Nothing is beautiful before God but that which is holy. All the glory of Lucifer, that son of the morning, couldnot screen him from Divine abhorrencewhen he had defiled himself by sin.
"Holy, Holy, Holy"-the continual cry of cherubim-is the loftiest song that a creature can offer, and the noblest that theDivine Being can accept. See then, He counts holiness to be His choice treasure. It is as the seal upon His heart and as thesignet upon His right hand. He could assoon cease to be, as cease to be holy, and sooner renounce the sovereignty of the world than tolerate anything in His presencecontrary to purity, righteousness and holiness. I pray you, you who profess to be followers of Christ, set a high value uponpurity of life and godliness ofconversation.
Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, but never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit which isyour meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. Yes, rather, prize it-prize it so heartily that you dread the veryappearance of evil. Prize it so that in yourmost ordinary actions you may be, "a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, showing forth the praises of Himwho has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
My design was to have entered at large upon the doctrine of sanctification this morning. I intended to use the word "sanctification"in the mode in which it is understood among theologians. For you must know that the term "sanctification" has a far narrowermeaning in bodies of divinity than it hasin Scripture. But in studying the subject I found myself lost in its ever-widening extent, so that I concluded to attemptless in the hope of efficiently doing more.
On some future occasion we will enter at length into the Spirit's work, but now I only call attention to the fact that sanctificationis treated in Scripture in various ways. I think we may do some service in illuminating the understanding of Believers, ifwe shall this morning draw their attentionnot to the theological but to the Scriptural uses of the term "sanctification," and show that, in God's Holy Word, it hasa much wider meaning than is accorded to it by systematic divines.
It has been well said that the Book of God, like the works of God, is not systematically arranged. How different is the freedomof nature from the orderly precision of the scientific museum! If you visit the British Museum you see all the animals thereplaced in cases according to their respectiveorders. You go into God's world and find dog and sheep, horse and cow, lion and vulture, elephant and ostrich roaming abroadas if no zoologist had ever ventured to arrange them in classes. The various rocks are not laid in order as the geologistdraws them in his books, nor are thestars marked off according to their magnitudes.
The order of Nature is variety. Science does but arrange and classify, so as to assist the memory. So systematic divines,when they come to deal with God's Word, find Scriptural truths put, not in order for the classroom, but for common life. Thesystematic divine is as useful as the analyticalchemist, or the anatomist, but still the Bible is not arranged as a body of divinity. It is a handbook to Heaven. It isa guide to eternity, meant for the man at the plow, as much as for the scholar at his table. It is a primer for babes, aswell as a classic for sages.
It is the humble, ignorant man's book, and though there are depths in it in which the elephant may swim, yet there are shallowswhere the lamb may wade. We bless God that He has not given us a body of divinity in which we might lose ourselves, but thatHe has given us His own Word, put into thevery best practical form for our daily use and edification.
It is a recognized truth among us, that the Old Testament very often helps us to understand the New, while the New also expoundsthe Old. With God's Word, self-interpretation is the best. "Diamond cut diamond" is a rule with a goldsmith-so must it bewith a Scriptural student. They who wouldknow best, God's Word, must study it in its own light.
I. Now, in the Old Testament we find the word "sanctify" very frequently, indeed, and it is used there in three senses. Letme call your attention to the first one. The word "sanctify" in the Old Testament frequently has the meaning of setting apartIt means the taking of something which was commonbefore, which might legitimately have been put to ordinary uses, and setting it apart for God's service, alone. It was thencalled sanctified or holy. Take, for instance, the passage in the 13th chapter of Exodus at the 2nd verse. "Sanctify untome all the first-born."
On account of the destruction of the first-born of Egypt, God claimed the first-born of men and the first-born of cattle tobe His. The tribe of Levi was set apart to be the representatives of the first-born, to stand before the Lord to ministerday and night in His tabernacle and in His temple.Those who were thus set apart to be priests and Levites were said to be sanctified. There is an earlier use of the termin the 2nd chapter of Genesis, at the 3rd verse. It is said, "And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because thatin it He had rested from all His workwhich God created and made."
It had been an ordinary portion of time before, but He set it apart for His own service, that on the seventh day man shoulddo no work for himself, but rest and serve his Maker. So in Leviticus 27:14, you read, "And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the Lord," etc., which wasmeant as a direction to devout Jews who set apart a house or field to be God's. Intending that either the produce of thefield or the occupation of the house should be wholly given either to God's priests or Levites, or in some other way set apartto holy uses.
Now, nothing was done to the house. There were no ceremonies. We do not read that it was cleansed or washed or sprinkled withblood. But the mere fact that it was set apart for God was considered to be a sanctification. So in the most notable of instancesin the Book of Exodus 29:44, we read thatGod said, "I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar," by which plainly enough was meant that Hewould set it apart to be His house, the special place of His abode, where between the wings of the cherubim the bright lightof the Shekinah might shine forth, theglorious evidence that the Lord God dwelt in the midst of His people.
To the same effect are such as the following: The sanctification of the altar, instruments and vessels, in Numbers 7:1, the setting apart of Eleazer the son of Abinadab, to keep the ark of the Lord while it was at Kirjathjearim, 1 Samuel 7:1, and the establishment of cities of refuge in Joshua20:7, where in the original we find that the word rendered "appointed" is the same which elsewhere is translated "sanctified."It plainly appears from the Old Testament that the word "sanctify" sometimes has the meaning simply, and only, of settingapart for holy uses.
This explains a text in John 10:36, "Say you of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, 'you blaspheme,' because I said I am the Son ofGod?" Jesus Christ there speaks of Himself as "sanctified" by His Father. Now He was not purged from sin, for He had none.Immaculatelyconceived, gloriously preserved from all touch or stain of evil, He needed no sanctifying work of the Spirit within Himto purge Him from dross or corruption. All that is here intended is that He was set apart. So in that notable and well knownpassage in John 17:19, "And for theirsakes I sancti- fy Myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth," by which, again, He meant only that Hegave Himself up especially to God's service-to be occupied only with His Father's business.
He could say, "It is My meat and My drink to do the will of Him that sent Me and to finish His work." Brethren, you understand,now, the text in Jude, "Sanctified by God the Father." Surely it means that God the Father has especially set apart His peopleor sanctified them. Not that God the Fatherworks operatively in the Believer's heart, although Paul tells us it is God that works in us to will and to do-that belongsimmediately and effectively to the Holy Spirit-but He in the decree of election separated unto Himself a people who were tobe sanctified toHimself forever and ever.
He, by the gift of His Son, redeemed for them, them from among men that they might be holy. And He by continually sendingforth the Spirit fulfils His Divine purpose that they should be a separate people sanctified from all the rest of mankind.In this sense every Christian is perfectly sanctifiedalready. We may speak of Believers as those who are sanctified by God the Father, that is to say, they are set apart. Theywere set apart before they were created, they were legally set apart by the purchase of Christ, they are manifestly and visiblyset apart by the effectualcalling of the Spirit of Divine Grace. They are, I say, in this sense, at all periods sanctified. And speaking of the workas it concerns God the Father, they are completely sanctified unto the Lord forever.
Is not this doctrine clear enough to you all? Leave the doctrine a moment, and let us look at it practically. Brothers andSisters, have we ever realized this Truth of God as we ought to do? When a vessel, cup, altar, or instrument was set apartfor Divine worship, it was never used for commonpurposes again. No man but the priest might drink out of the golden cup. The altar might not be trifled with. God's brazenlaver was not for ordinary washing. Even the tongs upon the altar and the snuffers for the lamps were never to be profanedfor any common purpose whatever.
What a suggestive and solemn fact is this! If you and I are sanctified by God the Father, we ought never to be used for anypurpose but for God. "What," you say, "not for ourselves?" My Brethren, not for ourselves. You are not your own. You are boughtwith a price. "But must we not work and earnour own bread?" Verily, you must, but still not with that as your object. You must still be "diligent in business, ferventin spirit, serving the Lord." Remember, if you are servants, you are to serve not with eye service as men-pleasers but servingthe Lord. If any man shall say "Ihave an occupation in which I cannot serve the Lord," leave it, you have no right in it.
But I think there is no calling in which man can be found, certainly no lawful calling, in which he may not be able to say,"Whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do, I do all to the glory of God." The Christian is no more a common man than was thealtar a common place. It is as great a sacrilegefor the Believer to live unto himself, or to live unto the world, as you and I could have profaned the most holy place,used the holy fire for our own kitchen, or the censer for common perfume, or the candlestick for our own chamber.
These things were God's-none might venture to appropriate them-and we are God's-and must be used only for Him. Oh, Christians,would that you could know this! You are Christ's men, God's men-servants of God through Jesus Christ. You are not to do yourown works. You are notto live for your own objects. You are to say at all times, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our LordJesus." You are practically to take this for your motto, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." I fear nine out often professing Christians have neverrecognized this fact. They think if they were to devote a partof their substance that would do, or a partof their time willsuffice.
Oh, Christ did not buy a partof you-Brothers and Sisters-Jesus Christ did not purchase a part of you! He bought allof you-body,soul and spirit-and He must have you, the whole man. Oh, if you are to be partly saved by Him and partly by yourselves, thenlive to yourselves.But if God has wholly set you apart to be vessels of mercy fitted for His use, do not rob the Lord! Treat not as commoncups those things which are as the bowls of the altar.
There is another practical thought here. It was a crime which brought destruction upon Babylon when Belshazzar in his drunkenfrolic cried, "Bring forth the cups of the Lord, the goodly spoil of the temple at Jerusalem." They brought the golden candlestickand there it stood flaming high in themidst of the marble hall. The despot, surrounded by his wives and his concubines, filled high the bowl with the foamingdraught, and bidding them pass round the cups of Jehovah, the heathen, the worshippers of idols, drank confusion to the Godof Heaven and earth.
In that moment, just as the sacred vessel touched the sacrilegious lips, a hand was seen mysteriously writing out his doom-"Youare weighed in the balances and found wanting." This was the crime which filled up the ephah of his sin. Now was the measureof his iniquity fully accomplished. Hehad used for lascivious and drunken purposes, vessels which belonged to Jehovah, the God of the whole earth. Oh, take heed,take heed, you that profess to be sanctified by the blood of the Covenant, that you reckon it not to be an unholy thing! Seeto it that you make not yourbodies which you profess to be set apart to God's service, slaves of sin, or your members servants of iniquity unto iniquity.Lest, O Professors, you should hear in that hour the voice of the recording angel as he cries, "You are weighed in the balancesand found wanting."
Be you clean, you that bear the vessels of the Lord. And you Beloved who hope that you are Christ's. and have a humble faithin Him this morning, see that you walk circumspectly, that by no means you prostitute to the service of sin that which wasset apart in the eternal Covenant of Grace to beGod's. alone. If you and I are tempted to sin, we must reply, No! Let another man do that, but I cannot. I am God's man.I am set apart for Him-how shall I do this great wickedness and sin against God? Let dedication enforce sanctification. Thinkof the dignity to which Godhas called you-Jehovah's vessels, set apart for the Master's use.
Far from you, far from you be everything which would make you impure. When Antiochus Epiphanes offered a sow on the altarof the Lord in the temple at Jerusalem, his awful death might have been easily foretold. Oh, how many there are who make ahigh profession who have offered unclean flesh uponthe altars of God! So many have made religion a stalking-horse to their own emolument, and espoused the faith to gain esteemand applause among men! What says the Lord concerning such? "Vengeance belongs unto Me, I will recompense says the Lord" (Heb. 10:30).
Their god was their belly. They gloried in their shame. They minded earthly things-and they die justly accursed. Spots arethey in your solemn feasts-wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. But, you Beloved, be notcarried away with the error of thewicked-keep yourselves unspotted from the world.
II. Secondly, in the Old Testament, the word "sanctify" is now and then used in another sense, one which I do not perceiveto be hinted at in our Biblical Encyclopedias, but which is needed to make the subject complete. The word "sanctify" is used,not only to signify that the thing is set apartfor holy uses but that it is to be regarded, treated, and declared as a holy thing. To give you an instance. There is apassage in Isaiah 8:13, which is to the point, when it is said-"Sanctify the Lord of Hosts, Himself."
You clearly perceive that the Lord does not need to be set apart for holy uses. And the Lord of Hosts needs not to be purified,for He is Holiness itself. It means adore and reverence the Lord-with fear and trembling approach His throne-regard Him asthe Holy One of Israel. But let megive you other instances. When Nadab and Abihu, as recorded in the tenth of Leviticus, offered sacrifice to God, and putstrange fire on the altar, the fire of the Lord went forth and consumed them. And this was the reason given-"I will be sanctifiedin them that come nearMe."
The Lord did not mean that He would be set apart, nor that He would be made holy by purification, but that He would be treatedand regarded as a most Holy Being with whom such liberties were not to be taken. And again in Numbers 20:12, on that unfortunate occasion when Moses lost his temper andsmote the rock twice, saying, "Hear now, you rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?" The Lord said that he shouldseethe promised land but should never enter it, the reason being-"Because you believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyesof the children of Israel."
By which He meant that Moses had not acted as to honor God's name among the people. A yet more familiar instance occurs inwhat is commonly called "The Lord's Prayer." "Our Father which are in Heaven, sanctified be Your name." The word "hallowed"is simply an English variation, the Greek is"sanctifiedbe Your name." Now we know that God's name does not need purifying, or setting apart-so that the sense here canonly be, "Let Your name be reverenced and adored throughout the whole earth and let men regard it as being a sacred and holything."
My beloved Brethren, have we not some light here concerning our second text-"Sanctified in Christ Jesus." If the word "sanctified"may mean "regarded as holy and treated as such," can you not see how in Christ Jesus the saints are regarded by God as beingholy and treated as such? Mark, we donot lay that down as being the onlymeaning of the text, for we shall have to show that another sense may be attached toit.
There are Brethren who have enlarged upon our being sanctified in Christ and have almost forgotten the work of the Spirit.Now, if they only speak of our being sanctified in Christ, in the sense of being treated as holy, in fact as being justified,we have no quarrel with them. But if they deny thework of the Spirit, they are guilty of deadly error. I have sometimes heard the term used, "imputed sanctification," whichis sheer absurdity. You cannot even use the term, "imputed justification." "Imputed righteousness" is correct enough and impliesa glorious doctrine.
But justification is not imputed, it is actually conferred. We are justified through the imputed righteousness of Christ,but as to being imputedly sanctified, no one who understands the use of language can so speak. The term is inaccurate andunscriptural. I know it is said that the Lord Jesus ismade of God unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. But this sanctification is not by imputation,nor does the text say so. Why, you might as readily prove imputed wisdom, or imputed redemptionby this text, as force it toteach imputed sanctification!
It is a fact that for the sake of what Jesus Christ did, God's people, though in themselves partially'sanctified and beingyet subject to sin, are for Christ's sake treated and regarded as if they were perfectly holy. But this, according to theologicaldefinitions, is rather justification thansanctification. It must, however, be admitted that the Scripture sometimes uses the word "sanctification" in such a manneras to make it tantamount to justification. This, however, we can clearly see, that God's people have access with boldnessto the Lord, because they are regardedthrough Christ as though they were perfectly holy.
Oh, Brethren, think of this for a moment. A holy God cannot have dealings with unholy men. A holy God-and is not Christ JesusGod?-cannot have communion with unholiness, and yet you and I are unholy. How, then, does Christ receive us to His bosom?How does His Father walk with us andfind Himself agreed? Because He views us, not in ourselves, but in our great federal Head, the Second Adam. He looks atus-
"Not as we were in Adam's fall, When sin and ruin covered all; But as we'll stand another day, Fairer than sun's meridian ray." He looks on the deeds of Christ as ours-on His perfect obedience and sinless life as ours,and thus we may sing in the language of Hart- " With your spotless garments on, Holy as the Holy One."
We may boldly enter into that which is within the veil, where no unholy thing may come, yet where we may venture because Godviews us as holy in Christ Jesus. This is a great and precious doctrine. But still, since the use of the term "sanctification"in any other sense than that in which it iscommonly employed as meaning the work of the Spirit, tends to foster confused notions and really does, I fear, lead someto despise the work of the Spirit of God, I think it is better in ordinary conversation between Christians to speak of sanctificationwithout confounding it withwhat is quite a distinct act, namely, justification through the imputed righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Yet, if we hear a Brother so talk, we must not be too severe upon him, as though he assuredly erred from the faith, for inScripture, the terms "sanctification" and "justification" are frequently used interchangeably and Christ's righteousness madethe subject matter of both works of Divine Grace.
III. We now come to the usual sense in which the word "sanctification" is employed. It means actually to purify or make holy.Not merely to set apart nor to account holy, but to make really and actually so in nature. You have the word in this sensein many places in the Old Testament. You will findit in Exodus 19:10, 11, 12. On the third day God was about to proclaim on the top of Sinai His Holy Law and the mandate went forth, "Sanctify the peopletoday and tomorrow," which sanctification consisted in certain outward deeds by which their bodies and clothes were put intoaclean state and their souls were brought into a reverential state of awe.
In the third of Joshua you find when the children of Israel were about to pass the Jordan, it was said, "Sanctify yourselves,for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." They were to prepare themselves to be beholders of a scene so august-whenJordan was driven back and the river wasutterly dried up before the feet of the priests of God. There was in this case an actual purification. Men in the old timeswere sprinkled with blood and thus sanctified from defilement and considered to be pure in the sight of God.
Now this is the sense in which we view our third text, "Sanctification through the Spirit," and this, I repeat, is the generalsense in which we understand it in common conversation among Christian men.
Sanctification beginsin regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man the new principle called the spirit, which is a thirdand higher nature, so that the believing man becomes body, soul and spirit. And in this he is distinct and distinguished fromall other men of the race of Adam. This work,which begins in regeneration, is carried on in two ways-by vivification and by mortification. That is, by giving life tothat which is good, and by sending death to that which is evil in the man. Mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh aresubdued and kept under. Andvivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlastinglife.
This is carried on every day in what we call perseverance, by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a graciousstate, and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God. And it culminates, or comes to perfection, in"Glory," when the soul, being thoroughly purged, iscaught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on High. Now, this work, though we commonly speak ofit as being the work of the Spirit, is quite as much the work of the Lord Jesus Christ as of the Spirit.
In looking for texts on the subject, I have been struck with the fact that where I found one verse speaking of it as the Spirit'swork, I found another in which it was treated as the work of Jesus Christ. I can well understand that my second text, "Sanctifiedin Christ Jesus," has as great afullness of meaning as the third, "Sanctification through the Spirit." Lend me your attention. I fear that not many of youwill be interested, except those of you who have a share in this precious work. Others may think the subject too dry for them.Oh that they may yet know howprecious to Believers is the purifying work of sanctification!
Sanctification is a work in us, not a work for us. It is a work in us and there are two agents-one is the Worker who worksthis sanctification effectually-that is the Spirit. And the other, the Agent, the efficacious means by which the Spirit worksthis sanctification-Jesus Christand His most precious blood. Suppose, to put it as plainly as we can, there is a garment which needs to be washed. Hereis a person to wash it, and there is a bath in which it is to be washed. The Person is the Holy Spirit but the bath is theprecious blood of Christ. It is strictlycorrect to speak of the Person cleansing, as being the Sanctifer-it is quite as accurate to speak of that which is in thebath and which makes it clean as being the Sanctifier, too.
Now, the Spirit of God sanctifies us. He works it effectively. But He sanctifies us through the blood of Christ, through thewater which flowed with the blood from Christ's side. To repeat my illustration-here is a garment which is black. A fuller,in order to make it white, uses niter andsoap, both the fuller and the soap are cleansers. So both the Holy Spirit and the atonement of Christ are Sanctifiers. Ithink that will be plain enough.
Let us enlarge upon the doctrine. The Spirit of God is the great Worker by whom we are cleansed. I shall not, this morning,quote the texts. Most of you have the "Baptist Confession of Faith," published by Passmore and Alabaster. And the "Catechism,"which are generally distributed among thefamilies of the Church. They will furnish you with abundance of texts on that subject, for this is a doctrine which is generallyreceived among us-that it is the Spirit of God who creates in us a new heart and a right spirit, according to the tenor ofthe Covenant-"A newheart will I give them and a right spirit will I put within them." "I will put My Spirit within them, and they shall walkin My ways."
He renews and changes the nature-turns the bias of the will-makes us seek after that which is good and right, so that everygood thing in us may be described as "the fruit of the Spirit." And all our virtues and all our Graces are efficiently workedin us by the Spirit of the livingGod. Never, I pray you, Brethren, never, never forget this! Oh, it will be an ill day for any Church when the members beginto think lightly of the work of the Holy Spirit within us! We delight to magnify the work of Christ for us, but we must notdepreciate the work of the blessedSpirit in us.
In the days of my venerable predecessor, Dr. Gill, who was in the opinion, even of ultra-Calvinists, sound to the core, thispernicious evil broke out in our Church. There were some who believed in what was, "Imputed Sanctification," and denied thework of the blessed Spirit. I was reading lastnight in our old Church Book, a note written there in the doctor's own handwriting, as the deliberate opinion of this Church-
"Agreed-That to deny the internal sanctification of the Spirit, as a principle of Divine Grace and holiness worked in theheart, or as consisting of Divine Grace communicated to and implanted in the soul, which, though but a begun work and as yetincomplete, is an abiding work of Grace andwill abide, notwithstanding all corruptions, temptations and snares, and be performed by the Author of it until the dayof Christ, when it will be the saints' meetness for eternal glory-is a grievous error, which highly reflects dishonor on theblessed Spirit and Hisoperations of Grace on the heart, is subversive of true religion and powerful godliness and renders persons unfit for Churchcommunion.
"Why, it is further agreed, that such persons who appear to have embraced this error be not admitted to the communion of thisChurch. And should any such who are members of it appear to have received it and continued in it, that they be forthwith excludedfrom it." Two members then presentdeclaring themselves to be of the opinion condemned in the above resolution and also a third person who was absent but whowas well known to have been under this awful delusion, were consequently excluded that evening.
No, more, a person of another Church who held the opinion thus condemned, was forbidden to commune at the Table, and his pastorat Kettering was written to upon the subject, warning him not to allow so great an errorist to remain in fellowship. The doctorthought the error to be so deadly that heused the pruning knife at once. He did not stop till it spread, but he cut off the very twigs. And this is one of the benefitsof Church discipline when we are enabled to carry it out under God-that it does nip error in the very bud-and thus those whoas yet are notinfected are kept from it by the blessed Providence of God through the instrumentality of the Church.
We have always held, and still hold and teach that the work of the Spirit in us, whereby we are conformed unto Christ's image,is as absolutely necessary for our salvation, as is the work of Jesus Christ, by which He cleanses us from our sins.
Pause here one moment and let me not distract your minds while I say that while the Spirit of God is said in Scripture tobe the Author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agent which must not be forgotten. "Sanctify them," said Christ, throughYour truth Your Word is truth." Young men of theBible Class, look up the passages of Scripture which prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God.You will find that there are very many. It is the Word of God which sanctifies the soul. The Spirit of God brings to our mindsthe commands and precepts anddoctrines of the Truths of God and applies them with power.
These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God's good pleasure. Howimportant, then, that the Truths of God should be preached. How necessary that you never tolerate a ministry which leavesout the great doctrines or the great precepts of theGospel. The Truth of God is the Sanctifier and if we do not hear the Truth, depend upon it, we shall not grow in sanctification.We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light untomy paths."
Do not say of such-and-such an error, "Oh, it is a mere matter of opinion." If it is a mere matter of opinion today, it willbe a matter of practice tomorrow. No man has an error of judgment, without sooner or later having an error in practice. Asevery grain of Truth is a grain of diamond dust,prize it all. Hold fast the Truths of God which you have received and which you have been taught. "Hold fast the form ofsound words." And in this day when articles are ridiculed, when creeds are despised-hold fast to that which you have receivedthat you may be found faithfulamong the faithless. For by so holding the Truth of God shall you be sanctified by the Spirit of God. The Agent, then, isthe Spirit of God working through the Truth.
But now let me bring you back to my old figure. In another sense we are sanctified through Christ Jesus, because it is Hisblood and the water which flowed from His side in which the Spirit washes our heart from the defilement and propensity ofsin. It is said of our Lord-"Christ also lovedthe Church and gave Himself for it. That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that Hemight present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing."
Remember again, "Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate." "He that sanctifiesand they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them Brethren." I say again, there arehundreds of texts of this kind. "You shallcall His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross ofour Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world."
In that memorable passage where Paul, struggling with corruption, exclaims, "Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliverme from the body of this death?"-the answer is not concerning the Holy Spirit. But he says, "I thank God through Jesus Christour Lord." Space forbids the multiplicationof texts. But there are many passages to the effect that our sanctification is the work of Jesus Christ. He is our Sanctifier,for He filled the sacred laver of regeneration in which we are washed, filled it with His blood and with the water which flowedfrom His side-and inthis, by the Holy Spirit, we are washed.
There is no being sanctified by the Law. The Spirit does not use legal precepts to sanctify us-there is no purification bymere dictates of morality-the Spirit of God does not use them. No, just as when Marah's waters were bitter, Moses, to makethem sweet, commanded them to take a treeand cast it into the waters, and they were sweet, so the Spirit of God, finding our natures bitter, takes the tree of Calvary,casts it into the stream, and everything is made pure. He finds us lepers, and to make us clean He dips the hyssop of faithin the precious blood andsprinkles it upon us and we are clean.
There is a mysterious efficacy in the blood of Christ not merely to make satisfaction for sin but to work the death of sin.The blood appears before God and He is well-pleased. It falls on us-lusts wither and old corruptions feel the death stroke.Dagon falls before the ark and although thestump is left and corruptions still remain, yet Christ shall put an end to all our inbred sins and through Him we shallmount to Heaven perfect, even as our Father, which is in Heaven, is perfect.
Just as the Spirit only works through the Truth, so the blood of Christ only works through faith Young men of the Catechumenand Bible Classes, again I say, turn to your Bibles at your leisure and look up the many passages which speak of faith assanctifying the soul and purifying the mind. Ourfaith lays hold on the precious atonement of Christ. It sees
Jesus suffering on the tree and it says-"I vow revenge against the sins which nailed Him there." And thus His precious bloodworks in us a detestation of all sin and the Spirit, through the Truth of God, working by faith, applies the precious bloodof sprinkling-and we are made cleanand are accepted in the Beloved.
I am afraid that I have confused and darkened counsel with words. But, I think I may have suggested some trains of thoughtwhich will lead you to see that Holy Scripture teaches us a sanctification, not narrow and concise, so as to be written downwith a short definition as in our creedbooks-but wide, large and expansive. A work in which we are sanctified byGod the Father, sanctified inChrist, and yet haveour sanctification through the Spirit of God.
Oh, my dear Hearers, strive after practical holiness. You that love Christ, do not let any say of you-"There is a Christian,but he is worse than other men." It is not our eloquence, our learning, our fame, or our wealth, that can ever commend Christto the world-it is the holy livingof Christians. I was speaking, the other day, to a Brother minister about this Bi-centenary movement, which I fear willbe an immense injury to Christ's Church. I feared, lest it should be made an opportunity for strife among Brethren. Errormust be corrected but love must not bewounded.
He remarked, and I thought it was so truthful, that the only way by which Dissent flourished of old was by the then superiorholiness of its ministers, so that while the Church clergyman was hunting, the Dissenting minister was visiting the sick.And said he, "This is the way in which we shall losepower, if our ministers become political and worldly, it will be all over with us." I have never shunned to rebuke, whenI thought it necessary, but I hate contention. The only allowable strife is to labor who can be the most holy, the most earnest,the most zealous-who can dothe most for the poor and the ignorant-and who can lift Christ's Cross the highest.
That is the way to lift up the members of any one particular denomination-by the members of that body being more devout, moresanctified, more spiritual-minded than others. All mere party fights will only create strife, animosities, and bickering-andare not of the Spirit of God. But tolive unto God and to be devoted to Him-this is the strength of the Church. This will give us the victory, God helping us-andunto His name shall be all the praise.
As for persons here who are not converted and are unregenerate, I cannot address you about sanctification. I have opened adoor this morning, but you cannot enter. Only remember, that if you cannot enter into this, you cannot enter into Heaven,for-
"Those holy gates forever bar Pollution, sin and shame. None shall obtain admission there, But followers of the Lamb."
May it be yours, by God's Grace, to come humbly and confess your sins and ask and find forgiveness. And then, but not tillthen, there is hope that you may be sanctified in the Spirit of your mind. The Lord bless you for Jesus' sake. Amen.