Practical Sanctification

A. T. Schofield

Turning now to sanctification, it will be seen that it also has a double aspect, connected, like righteousness, the one with our standing, the other with our state. Sanctification and holi­ness are the same words, and mean “set apart for God.” In one or two passages only, however, does the word mean merely “set apart” without reference to what we understand as holi­ness.

Every believer is not only justified, but sanctified, in Christ Jesus; that is, set apart for God by the work of Christ. We have already briefly touched on this in the first paper, and therefore do no more than allude to it now, as our present theme is not that first action of the grace of God which takes us like a stone out of the quarry, and sets us apart for His holy temple, and moreover gives us a new nature which is not only absolutely righteous, but absolutely holy; but is rather the question as to how that stone is cut and polished so as prac­tically to answer to the glorious position it is one day to have; or, in other words, how this new life shows itself, not toward man in practical righteousness, but toward God in practical holiness of walk.

The Work in Me is Not the Work for Me

Great confusion exists between practical sanctification and divine righteousness — the former, the progressive work of the Spirit of God in me ; the latter, the finished work of Christ for me. As a matter of fact, sanctification of the Spirit (complete, not progressive) takes place together with belief of the truth (2 Thess.2:13) which is salvation; and practical sanctification is always a result of this, never a means to it. In short, I must have this new and holy life before I can practically live it day by day.

Justified and sanctified perfectly when I believe, I have subsequently to walk in practical righteousness and holiness. But salvation must come first.

Practical Sanctification Twofold

Practical sanctification, the fruit of the new life, shows itself mainly in two ways — obedience and holiness — obedience according to the obedience of Christ, holy because the Father is (1 Pet. 1). Paul's sanctification began the moment that another will took the place of his own. “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” From that instant a new power moved him, a new life energized him, a new object possessed him, a new person controlled him, the love of Christ constrained him.

Obedient as Christ

We are sanctified unto obedience. We have already seen that obedience is not for salvation (we have the blood of Christ for that), but is one of the first fruits of the new nature, and not only “unto obedience,” but “unto the obedience of Christ.” “Lo, I come to do Thy will,” is the sentence that explains every varied action of His perfect life. The divine will that sent Him into this world was the sole cause of every word and work; and when it was accomplished, Jesus returned whence He came.

See now the force of the words, "As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” We are sent into this world by Christ. But, you say, “I was in it before.” Yes, but you have died to it in Christ, and are now by Him sent back into it solely and expressly for His use, to obey Him as He obeyed God. Dear friends, what do you know about all this? Anything or nothing?

O that God would rouse us up to judge ourselves honestly in this matter, and that Christ would make His love a sufficient power in our hearts to lead us to live really for Him.

But how is practical sanctification or holiness obtained? First, by looking at and copying Christ—“by faith which is in Him”—certainly not by looking at ourselves. Moses' face did not shine because he looked at it, but because he looked at God; and second, by becoming servants to God (Rom.6:22), yield­ing our bodies to Him wholly, which is our reasonable service, that thus He alone may work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.

Holy as the Father

The second part of sanctification is holiness. This is cer­tainly akin to purity (1 John 3:3) and is only perfected when inward as well as outward (2 Cor.7:1). Without it we cannot see God, for it becomes His house (both earthly and heavenly) forever (Psa. 93:5; 1 Cor. 3:17). We are to be holy in all manner of conversation, which is not in word only (see 1 Tim.4:12, where they are distinguished), but in deed also. It in­cludes a cleansing from all pollution of the flesh and spirit (2 Cor.7:1), which embraces far more than that we call gross sins.

How this is to be attained, we have already seen. It is step by step, bit by bit. In one sense we have it already, for we have Christ in us; hence we need not despair, the good qualities are all there, and we have to bring them out. On the other hand, it is this that causes our responsibility; if they are all there, then why are we not more holy? Why so worldly?

Two Persecutions

Now with regard to persecutions, they are connected both with righteousness and holiness. We get the former in Matthew 6:10 and 1 Peter 3, and the latter in Matthew 5:11 and 1 Peter 4. We are persecuted for righteousness' sake, because the world is unrighteous and does not understand the Chris­tian's high standard of right and wrong; but for following Christ and bearing His image in obedience and holiness in the world that crucified Him, we are also persecuted and scorned. To such the Apostle says, “Happy are ye”! and calls on us to rejoice. Living godly includes both a righteous and sanctified (not sanctimonious) walk, and such shall suffer persecution; that is to say, not those who merely are alive in Christ, but those who “live godly.” Under which head are we found? May the Lord help us to live Christ, and not merely to be alive!

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