From the archive • March 1968 A Call to Holiness • by John Kiesz
There should be seen a vast difference between sinners and saints. According to the Scriptures a sinner is one who transgresses the law (1 John 3:4), while a saint is one who keeps the law (Rev. 14:12). Eventually sinners will be punished and consumed out of the earth (Psa. 104:35), but the righteous will be preserved forever (Psa. 97:10).
By nature, we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23), for we have been born that way (Psa. 51:5; John 3:6); therefore a second birth (John 3:3-5), or a new creation (2 Cor. 5: 17), is necessary in order to free us from condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
This change from a sinful to a saintly life is brought about when one becomes humble and yields, through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit in such operations as: Conviction — John 16:7, 8; repentance —Matt. 3·1, 2; confession — 1 John 1:5-10; conversion — Acts 3:19; faith — Heb. 11:1, 6; baptism — Mark 16:15, 16; and sanctification — 1 Thess. 4:3.
The original meaning of the word sanctification is “a state of being set apart for a holy use” (see Genesis 2:3; Exodus 13:2; Exodus 19:10-14). When we surrender our lives to our Creator, we then are set apart for Him. We are no more our own, for we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
It is the Father who sanctifies us (Jude 1). He made His Son “. . . unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
According to the Scriptures, there are three phases of sanctification: through the Blood, through the Word, and through the Spirit.
Sanctification through the Blood is an accomplished work of Calvary. “. . . We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). When we accept the shed blood of our Saviour for atonement and obey henceforth, then we are set apart from the world — then we are sanctified for a holy purpose. In ancient times the people were sanctified “to the purifying of the flesh” by the blood of animals, but now sanctification is by the blood of the Messiah (Heb. 9:11-15).
“Whereas Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth there fore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach” (Heb. 13:12, 13).
“He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:28, 29).
Even though we have accepted the initial terms of salvation and have thus been forgiven and sanctified by the blood, there may still be things in our lives which are not altogether pleasing to our Maker. When we are first converted, we are merely babes and must grow, symbolically speaking. And this is where sanctification through the Word comes in.
As we read the Scriptures we may see, here and there, that we need to make some changes in our mode of living; and as we thus obey, fully yielding and walking in all the light as it is revealed to us, we are thereby sanctified through the Word. Romans 12:2 uses transformed in this connection, and our Master prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it: that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15, 16).
Now, of course, numerous believers can claim sanctification through the blood and the Word, as discussed in the foregoing paragraphs; yet, many of them still may have carnal (Adamic) natures, just because they have not really been filled with the Holy Spirit. That is where another special grace, or definite spiritual experience, becomes necessary.
Some, through previous teaching and understanding, pray through in full submission to receive spiritual sanctification at conversion, while others do not receive this experience until some time later (if they ever get it).
Sanctification through the blood takes place when one accepts the atonement by faith. Sanctification through the Word is gradual. But sanctification through the Spirit is instantaneous. It is then that the carnal nature, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is changed to that of divine nature (2 Peter 1:4; Rom. 15:13; Gal. 5:16-18).
When one cannot say that he has had this wonderful experience of sanctification (and it is wonderful), then it becomes necessary to pray and yield until he knows that he has passed from death unto life (1 John 5:10-13) in order to be able to enter the Kingdom of Glory (see Acts 20:32).
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13).
“Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:15, 16).
Only pure and holy folks have a passport to the Holy City (Psa. 24:3, 4; Heb. 12:14; Rev. 22:14, 15). That sanctified folks are free from sin can be seen from Romans 6-8.
Sin is of the devil, and those who live in sin are Satan’s children (Acts 13:10). But it is possible to have sin destroyed out of willing lives: “. . . For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). If we have hope of seeing our Saviour when He comes again, we will purify ourselves “. . . even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2) . This does not mean that we cannot make mistakes, but that a true follower of the lowly Nazarene will not continually live in sin (see 1 John 2:1-6).
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1 Thess. 4:3, 4).
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23). This is ENTIRE sanctification.
Among the Corinthian brethren existed a variety of conditions, some good and some quite bad, which gave the apostle Paul plenty of concern. Some of those brethren were still considered carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-4; 5:1-13), while others were washed, sanctified, and justified (1 Cor. 6:11). The unholy ones were not even fit for membership (1 Cor. 5:13).
We have similar conditions in general today. But there will be a sanctified and holy Bride ready for the translation when the Bridegroom returns for His own (Rev. 19:6-9). Will you and I be included in that number? The Church that He will receive unto Himself will be made up of individual believers, but it is only when you and I are personally right that we are granted a part with the believers and will receive eternal life.
Friend, let us make our calling and election fully sure, if we have not already done so (2 Peter 1:10-12). Let us pay the price, whatever the cost may be. “. . . In due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).