“Holiness is God’s saving Love reflected in a God-Centered life, expresses in a promise of spiritual cleansing, and experienced in a covenant relationship with God.”
You see for something that people want to make so complex the doctrine of entire sanctification is deceptively simple. Whenever I hear people argue that the tithe is not a new testament idea I chuckle to myself, because the New Testament idea is that God want 100%; All of you.
When we come to Jesus as the guide in our lives we are like the rich young man, in Luke 18:18-23, who came and asked Him what it would take to live forever. When Jesus listed for the young man all sorts of awesome churchy activities. The young man proudly announced he had done them all. Then Jesus told that was great, but he lacked one thing, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
God’s covenant with us isn’t for some part of us, it is for all of us.
In the book “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis talks about the why this scary to us.
He talks about having a tooth ache when he was a kid. He knew that his mother had the cure for the pain. But he still didn’t want to tell her because she was going to want to make him get a complete solution. All he wanted was the aspirin. She was going to insist on taking him to the dentist. The dentist was going to get to the root of the problem and then he would start looking for other problems to solve.
When we come to Jesus to take our sin and take our problems we just want Him forgive our sin. But He is going to insist on getting to the root of the problem. He is going to insist on getting to the root of the problem and then He is going to start looking around for other issues to solve.
“Hey, I don’t want to look at that one yet! I still kind of like that one. That isn’t hurting anybody.
Fix that stuff I invited you for and get out of there.”
Jesus is not going to be happy until he has returned us to the original plan; Perfection. His kind of perfection.
The Bible teaches us that being set apart by God (sanctification) comes as two crisis moments: initial sanctification and entire sanctification.
Our initial crisis of initial sanctification is was we might call being ‘saved’. The fact is that this is exactly what happens. We are in that moment filled with the Holy Spirit and we are obedient to God in asking Christ to be the guide in our life. We are cleansed of sin and presented Holy before God. Scripture makes this clear.
But if you think that Jesus is done at that point then you are sorely mistaken. You Jesus finds us where we are and leads us from that place in the perfect way for us.
This constant leading us starts at birth and guides us to rebirth. At this point it is called ‘prevenient grace’. All are given the prevenient grace of God, like the Love of a Mother for her child. Asked which of her children she would save, the good or the bad; she wants all of them to be saved; all to be loved. Once we covenant with God in accepting his saving grace he fills us with His spirit who councils and maintains us.
The continued walk though is going to require of us a daily recommitment as the Spirit reveals to us more and more depth in this relationship. At some point along that road we find ourselves longing for nothing but the peace that comes from being in the will of God.
In that moment if we make it clear to God that we want to do nothing but His will and if He knows that we have reached that point we experience a second crisis moment. This moment is what John Wesley called ‘entire sanctification’.
“Those who are being made holy.” Well is this holiness deal something that happens to me all at once or do I kind of grow into it? I can answer that question. The answer is “yes.”
In a moment of faith, of trusting Jesus’ I am filled with his Spirit and I am sanctified by God’s grace. Which means “set apart, made holy.” But that’s only the beginning.
Momma has given us aspirin and we have begun to be relieved of the pain. The immediate problem of our sin and our eternal destination has been solved. But like with the mother of C.S. Lewis we have signed up for a longer term solution than we ourselves cannot enact.
Every day the Holy Spirit will return us to the healing chair. He will return us to the throne room of God. He will work with us to make us more and more like Jesus so that world will see through us what it’s like to be restored to the image of God.
This is so important, please don’t miss this. God calls us to be holy, we’ve seen that clearly. But you can’t make yourself holy. You can’t fix your own tooth. You might ease the pain for a while. But eventually you will have to go the expert.
That’s why Jesus came. There is no longer any sacrifice for sin. It’s not about your good works, it’s about your devotion, it’s not about your service, it’s not about your moral purity.
Entire sanctification comes when you realize that it’s not about you!
You can’t “earn” your way to favor with God. You can’t “make up” for the bad things you’ve done. All you can do is to trust the mercy and grace of Christ. We seem to understand that becoming a Christian is a free gift, but then we seem to think that sanctification is about our discipline and work. No. It’s still all about Jesus.
Jesus does call me to a life of excellence and purity and sacrifice and love. There is some discipline involved, but it’s not what makes me Holy. Jesus makes me Holy and then gives me the power to live like he did. That’s why the writer of Hebrews says it this way. He has made perfect forever (it’s Jesus’ complete work and gift) those who are being made holy (we are on the journey of Christ-likeness.)
So, I can finally let go of my efforts to please God. I can let go of my fear that when it’s all said and done God won’t let me in to heaven because I haven’t worked hard enough.
This is different than becoming a Christian. When I become a Christian I ask Jesus to do for me all I know needs to be done. I asked him to heal my pain. I need my sins to be forgiven so I can come back home. But once I’m in his care I need to see that God’s grace goes far deeper than having my sins forgiven.
I need my heart to be changed so I can please God not because I try hard, but because Jesus grace has been given.
It is time to get to the root of the problem. It is time to be about His perfection.
How do we go about making a covenant with God?
So let’s look at another covenant relationship that we are all more familiar with to give us direction. Marriage.
When we marry someone we marry one person and that is our choice. You don’t catch marriage like the flu. You choose someone and they choose you. The same can be said of the Holiness covenant between us and God. When you begin the relationship with God you have made a choice to follow Him to give your life to Him. But at some point along the line it becomes more than something you are working towards or ‘dating’. It become obvious to you that this is what you want for the rest of your life. You commit. You set yourself apart for this person.
Much like marriage this is a two way street. When God knows you are serious He will consummate this covenant through the infilling of the wholly spirit.
How do you know you’re sanctified?
How to you know you’re married? It is not a question you will need to ask. You may not know that it is called ‘Sanctification’ (I didn’t), but you know when you dedicated your life wholly to God. You will know when God has found you to be ready for that covenant of Holiness.
Also like marriage you will know because it changes everything about your life. Maybe everything day one, but you will never look at anything the same way again. You begin to start seeing things as they relate to that relationship.
This is a very serious commitment you have made and it will render change.
Are Sanctified People free from Sin
The answer is yes and no. It depends on how you define sin.
John Wesley defined sin as a willful transgression against the Lord. By that definition the sanctified person most certainly does not will fully do something that God does not want.
Are you ready to be in a covenant relationship with God?
I am no longer my own, but yours
Put me to what you will, Rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing. Put me to suffering. Let me be employed by you or laid aside.
Exalted for you or brought low by you. Let me have all things. Let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
An now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in Heaven. Amen