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We have already referred to the words of Christ in Mark 9:49, where He assured His disciples that, in order for their separation from the offensive nature, â€śevery oneâ€ť of them must be â€śsalted with fire,â€ť as a â€śsacrificeâ€ť to God. This offering of themselves was made on the Day of Pentecost, and how wonderfully they were all â€śtransformed by the renewing of their minds.â€ť
Following the example of the great Teacher, Paul writes as follows to the church at Rome : â€śYield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto Godâ€ť (Romans 6:13). Here we learn that this presentation to the Lord is enjoined upon such as â€śare alive from the dead.â€ť Like the Ephesians, they had been quickened.
The idea of a definite offering of self to God is more clearly marked in the Emphatic Diaglott, J. McNight and Conybear and Howson. The first two render it, â€śPresent yourselves to God.â€ť The latter, â€śGive yourselves to God, as having been raised from the dead.â€ť The reasoning is that God, having raised us to spiritual life, we should now make a solemn offering of ourselves to Him.
Now read Romans 6:19. I will give it according to the Emphatic Diaglott:
I speak humanly, because of the weakness of your flesh: for as you presented your members enslaved to impurity, so now present your members bound to righteousness for sanctification.
This rendering makes the offering already past apply to the presentation of themselves before God for pardon, for then they were â€śenslaved to impurity and iniquity.â€ť â€śSo now present your members, bound to righteousness.â€ť Having entered the kingdom of Christ they were bound by the obligations of His righteous laws.
The object of this solemn consecration is â€śfor sanctification,â€ť or as in the common version, â€śunto holiness.â€ť Whatever latitude may be allowed this scripture, one thing is clear, i.e., the Apostle enjoined upon his Roman brethren the duty of making a sacrificial offering of themselves to God whereby they were to become sanctified, or holy. The preposition rendered â€śuntoâ€ť and â€śforâ€ť is eis, and its full force is into: hence this Christian consecration, joined with faith as taught in Romans 5:2, inducts into this higher grace, or rather, they are the conditions upon which the â€śvery God of peace sanctifies wholly.â€ť
The time specified for this experience is not the dying hour, but â€śNow.â€ť Yes, now present your members . . . â€śfor sanctification:â€ť just such invitations are now sounded out by those who preach the â€śfullness of the blessings of the Gospel.â€ť
This text clearly proves that sanctification is distinct from, and subsequent to, the first offering of a soul dead in sin for pardon.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Not sinners, but brethren, are here entreated. Consider the solemn importance Paul attaches to this duty: he beseeches them â€śby the mercies of God,â€ť as if to say the whole scheme of divine mercy largely depends upon the possession of this grace by the church. What stronger motive could he have urged? â€śThat ye present your bodies a living sacrifice . . . unto God.â€ť
No one but he who has passed through this deep heart-searching and flesh-crucifying process can form any idea of the wonderful depth and absolute perfection to which this consecration must extend before the end of self is reached. When this point is attained, faith mounts up to God, touches the atonement and grasps the promise of sanctification. In that moment the body of sin dies and the soul sinks into a deep quiescenceâ€”a holy reign of peace never before experienced. Here all inclination to â€śconform to this worldâ€ť ends and the tranquil soul finds itself â€śtransformedâ€ť into the perfect image of god and â€śrenewedâ€ť in all the mind of Christ.
It is thus clearly rendered by Conybear and Howson: â€śThat, by an unerring test you may discern the will of God, even which is that good, and acceptable and perfect.â€ť To disbelieve a thing before applying the final test of its truthfulness betrays sincerity. O, how many choose to suffer the distraction of uncertainty as to what the â€śperfect will of God,â€ť our sanctification, is rather than test the Lord and realize within their own hearts â€śwhat is the greatness of His (saving) power to us-ward who believe.â€ť
How perfectly the Apostle describes the full salvation of believers. First comes our part, consecration: then follows the transformation of our moral nature, the perfect renewal of the spirit, or temper of our minds; which can only be wrought by the direct power of God: whereby we prove, that is, we experience the perfect will of God accomplished in our salvation from all sins.
The sinner presents himself a dead sacrifice to God, and proves His pardoning mercy and quickening power. The believer presents himself a living sacrifice and proves the perfect holiness that the Father has willed to His children.
Many claim that they made a perfect consecration when seeking pardon, hence have no occasion for the second. To which I remark, your consecration seemed perfect because it measured up to your highest standard or sense of duty. But it was imperfect because it did not and could not measure up to Godâ€™s standard of holiness. Here it may be asked, will God receive a consecration that is imperfect? Yes, on this principle: â€śIt is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.â€ť
Now, that no subject of the â€śkingdom of darkness,â€ť even under the grace of penitence can take in the divine standard of holiness is too obvious to need argument. Therefore, it follows as an inevitable conclusion that in order to consecrate ourselves up to the full extent of Godâ€™s pure law a second consecration must be made after being illuminated by the Spirit of adoption.
But here arises another question: Can finite man, in this life, apprehend Godâ€™s standard of holiness that he may yield himself up to its full claims?
Why not, if â€śGod shines into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus?â€ť The Holy Spirit shines into our hearts revealing the glory, i.e., the holiness of God, (which is the standard of our holiness) while we look into the face, the Gospel of Christ: â€śfor therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faithâ€ť (2 Corinthians 4:6 and Romans 1:17). â€śIf we walk in the light as God is in the light,â€ť will not our conception of holiness correspond with His?
Since this second consecration is one of the chief stumbling stones in many minds, I wish to enlarge a little here and simplify as much as possible. Consecration is the adjusting of ourselves to Godâ€™s will, hence it can only extend up to the line of our consciousness of the divine will, or our sense of moral obligation.
Beginning with the sinner, dead to righteousness, let us trace the work of grace in reference to consecration through its stages to perfection. If the unawakened sinner, who has not the remotest conception of the magnitude of his sin in the sight of God, were at once to consecrate himself to the Lord, he would feel some remorse for a number of the most flagrant sins of his past life and see the necessity of correcting his habits in a few particulars. This, he thinks, would be an entire yielding up to Godâ€”a perfect consecrationâ€”and so it would be, measured by his limited range of moral obligation. But no sooner is he drawing nigh to God for pardon than light breaks into his mind revealing much more sin in his past life and extending his sense of duty much farther into the divine law. Hence, a perfect consecration must include more than under the former standard.
Still, pardon is delayed and, as he seeks on, one additional degree of light succeeds another, each increasing his spiritual vision more fully to discern the magnitude of past sin and the extent of present obligation. The goodness and mercy of God passes before his awakened mind, which greatly magnifies his sin and aggravates his guilt. Conscience strikes terrible blows and inflicts a thousand stings. It sees nothing but the justly provoked wrath of God.
The soul now reaches that degree of illumination whereby he sees that his past life has been all wrong; and if God would condescend to pardon him, he would be under obligation to give his whole life to Him in the future. He shrinks from the cross, dreads duty and some, it is believed, turn back form this very threshold of the kingdom. Most, however, prefer to take their lot in the service of God rather than remain under their oppressive load of guilt or suffer the penalty of sin, apprehended by an awakened conscience. In their distress they yield; the Lord accepts and pardons because their consecration measures up to the highest standard that an unregenerate soul can conceive of.
Now, the ability to consecrate is induced by the grace of God and can never extend beyond the conception of the divine will. In other words, we can know absolutely nothing of the unexplored regions of our will and moral nature; nor of the vast extent of moral obligation that lies beyond the present range of our vision.
The newborn soul sooner or later feels the need of a more perfect consecration and perfect heart purity. This want is often manifest in earnest prayers that the Lord would â€śremove every thing from the heart that is opposite to Himself.â€ť
It is just as natural for a convert to pray for sanctification in some other form as it is for a penitent to pray for pardon. And, unless led to the cleansing stream, the earnest Christian continues through life to offer the same petition. Now these prayers certainly arise from a true want in the heart and an assurance that they are in the bounds of divine promise, or they would soon be abandoned or never offered at all.
Why, then, may I ask, have they not, excepting in rare instances, been realized? The answer is this: It can only be received by faith, and â€śfaith comes by hearing,â€ť and they never heard it preached as a definite attainment. The one-work theory of the head could not stop the out-cry of the heart for purity nor extinguish the many promises that inspired a latent faith in its attainment; but it could render them vague and indefinite and thus prevent a direct act of faith from appropriating them in a present, definite experience of perfect holiness, or freedom from sin.
Now, the universal longing for purity in the heart of the â€śquickenedâ€ť proves that absolute conformity to God has not yet been reached and, therefore, the work of consecration must be carried beyond the point of justification. We have seen the life-long result of not having a definite goal to aim at in our subsequent pursuits; now let us follow the â€śmore excellent way.â€ť
You remember that the offering of ourselves a sacrifice, dead in sin, was accomplished by having in the mind a definite object of pursuit; it was by drawing nigh to God for pardon that consecration was deepened to the point of acceptance. So, let us put up a â€śmark for the prize,â€ť of the Christianâ€™s â€śhigh calling.â€ť He is â€ścalled unto holiness.â€ť Tell him so. Point directly to the rent veil and the blood of Christ, and at once invite him to Godâ€™s altar that he may â€śpresent his members for sanctification.â€ť And, as in the former consecration, light will increase. Then, it brought guild; now, it unfolds the impurity of our nature and intensifies the purity of Godâ€™s law. Clearer and clearer flashes the light into the soul, exposing the deep corruption of fallen humanity and demanding a consecration measuring up to the present standard of holiness.
Now the soul is passing the ordeal described in Hebrews 4:13. As this dissecting and thorough searching of our entire moral being is carried on, many â€ścreaturesâ€ť of our depraved nature are â€śmanifest,â€ť which, having been born in us, it is like death to part with them. O, how the flesh shrinks to lay down forever the last vestige of self will and reputation. To sign a quitclaim of all we have to God. To have the last particle of pride put to death. How every manifestation of inbred depravity pleads for some life to be spared. â€śWe are willing to be bound down and lose all liberty, only let us live.â€ť But their cry must not be heard for a moment. We must take sides with God against self and show no mercy to those Canaanites. We must suffer this proving and â€śdiscerning of the thought and intents of heart,â€ť this searching out of idols to proceed until the whole realm of our moral being, the deepest point in our will, is brought under the mirror of divine truth; and within the compass of our consciousness just as it lies â€śnaked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.â€ť
The same illumination also elevates our standard of holiness into harmony with the divine standard. And, being now â€śin the light as He is in the light,â€ť we are prepared to decide on absolute loyalty to God, or in other words, make a final and perfect consecration to Him. Now comes the decisive moment. â€śEvery creature is manifest.â€ť But shall they die? â€śIf any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.â€ť â€śBut, if we walk in the light as He is in the light . . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanses us from all sin.â€ť
In speaking of a full apprehension of the purity and holiness of Godâ€™s law, etc., it must not be thought that we mean a knowledge and comprehension of all the precepts and doctrines of the Bible. Not at all. We simply mean a knowledge of how pure and holy God will us to be in heart and, consequently, in life. This knowledge is imparted to the humble soul by the Holy Spirit in a comparatively short time, while the former furnishes plenty of room for a life time of study with the best teachers and even the aid of the Holy Spirit.
I may as well in this connection, notice a question which so many apologists for sin use: â€śCan a man be in a sanctified state and not obey God in all things?â€ť I reply that a non-performance of any Bible precept through ignorance is no evidence of an impure heart; neither is it incompatible with a holy life. But no man can live in known, willful disobedience to God and retain either justification or sanctification. The inference these brethren desire to draw is this: â€śSome people profess entire sanctification as a second work of grace who are disobedient to Christ, therefore, there is no such a state of grace.â€ť How, if this deduction has any truth the following is equally true: â€śSome people profess justification who disobey the Lord, there is therefore no such a state of grace as justification.â€ť
My advice to all who are shielding the flesh behind this poor subterfuge is this: If we should devote all our energies to discriminate between those who are willfully disobedient and hypercritical in their profession, and those who are true and obedient at heart, we could not classify them with any degree of certainty; and if we could, it would not effect our case or any doctrine in the Bible. Therefore, we had better â€śjudge nothing before the time.â€ť God will, in due time, separate the chaff from the wheat and the true character of all men will be manifest before all.
I conclude by showing a few points of difference between the two consecrations.
1. The first was a dead offering. The second a â€śliving sacrifice.â€ť
2. The first was offered in darkness. The second under the perfect illumination of the Holy Spirit.
3. The first measured up to the highest conception of duty attainable in the unregenerate mind. The second was according to Godâ€™s standard of holiness.
4. The object of the sinnerâ€™s consecration is to obtain pardon. That of the believer is â€śfor sanctification.â€ť
5. In the penitentâ€™s consecration the conscience is smitten with guilt because of the evil of his doings. In the believerâ€™s consecration there is no condemnation, but the heart is pained at the discovery of inbred depravity.
6. The fist is an unconditional surrender without a knowledge of the extent of the Kingâ€™s laws. The second is a perfect consecration in the full knowledge of the purity of His laws and a fervent desire to be conformed thereto.
7. The sinnerâ€™s surrender is usually the result of having been arrested by the law and is with reluctance and fear that God will give him something to do. The believerâ€™s consecration is cheerfully made, with the express purpose that he may be able to do something for God.
Here again I appeal to the blessed Bible and receive clear evidence of the second work of grace. The language in Romans 6 and 12 is derived from the legal offerings; the idea of growth or any prolonged process does not enter into the figure of our sanctification. It is just come and lay your all upon Godâ€™s altar and the instant you â€śtouch the altar, you are made holy.â€ť
This sacrifice the Apostle urges his brethren to make â€śnow,â€ť and points to sanctification as the result in Romans 6:19 and a â€śtransformation,â€ť and â€śrenewal,â€ť in Romans 12:1-2. How then can we avoid designating it as a second moral change, or second work and degree of grace?
I beseech you, therefore, brother, by the mercies of God, answer now, before Him, who is yet our Savior. Have you, since adopted into the brotherhood of saints, made this definite, whole offering of yourself to the Lord: and thus proved by your own perfection the â€śperfect will of God?â€ť If not, you have not yet complied with the greatest desire of our loving Savior unless you can prove that He has changed the plan of salvation since Paul wrote to his brethren at Rome .
I am Thine, blessed Jesus, washed in Thy blood;
Salted with fireâ€”a sweet sacrifice to God.
On Thy altar I feast with angels above,
While life is consumed in flames of pure love.