Is the Doctrine of Entire Sanctification Supported Biblically?

 This is Don Demaray's second column on questions relating to the doctrine of entire sanctification. If you have questions on this subject that you would like Dr. Demaray to answer, send them to Light and Life 901 College Avenue, Winona Lake, IN 46590

 Q Is the doctrine of entire sanctification supported biblically ?

 A Yes Ephesians 5:18 tells us not to be filled with wine but with the Spirit. That is a command. Galatians 5:16, also in the imperative mood, requires us to walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh, because the motives of the flesh stand against the Spirit to stop us from living the good life (v. 17), In that same paragraph, Paul shares in precise language what those works of unaided human nature are: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing. Then Paul indicates the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Paul concludes the paragraph with a strong statement about sanctification: you must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires that is, capitulate to God, not self.

 In Romans 7 and 8 Paul addresses the difficulty we all have in dying to selfishness. In Ephesians 4 he informs us how sanctification works, as he does again in Philippians 4 (especially verses 4-7, 8, 11-13, 19). I Peter 1:2 clues us in on the function of sanctification: obedience to Jesus Christ.

 Actually, the victorious life that dominates the New Testament is what we mean by sanctification. Does the Bible support the doctrine? You may as well ask if the ocean supports a floating ship.

 Q Does this make us Pentecostals?

 A Most Pentecostals believe speaking in tongues confirms Spirit-filling. They often say all truly Spirit-filled people speak in tongues. The New Testament does not teach this doctrine. Paul asks, "Do all speak in tongues?" Clearly, his answer is in the negative (I Corinthians 12:30). Love (not tongues!) is the universal evidence of Spirit-filling (I Corinthians 13). Tongues (not love!) gave Corinthian Christians problems. John Wesley once was asked what he meant by Christian perfection, "I Corinthians 13," he answered. Right on!

 Q Will I have eternal life if I don't experience sanctification?

 A Sanctification begins with the New Birth. The normal Christian grows spiritually. Growing is the process of sanctification. The process is upward, toward heaven. It corresponds with our desire to improve. We like nice homes, attractive clothes, good thinking, progress along every line because God wrote heaven into our natures. The desire for betterment is the tendency to godliness. But face this fact: some flowers do not survive; some Christians fail to expose themselves to the forces of righteousness, and without that cultivation they die. Demas evidently died spiritually. He fell in love with "this present world," comments Paul in II Timothy 4:10 How awful to start only to drop out! Demas, however, does not represent the New Testament standard. The Spirit filled life provides such wholesomeness and excitement that no one in his right mind would call a halt to anything so good!

 Q What is my relationship to the Holy Spirit before I'm sanctified?

 A Before the initial surrender which opens your heart's door to the filling of the Spirit, the grace of salvation is active. Immediately after your conversion, you were probably pretty excited. But with the passage of weeks, perhaps months, you found yourself lackadaisical. That lethargy came because you saw things in yourself that needed changing, but you didn't want to undergo the pain of repair. So you withdrew. But the convictions didn't withdraw. God's Spirit finally convinced you, whereupon you confessed your need. By the way, that process - convicting, convincing, confessing - continues throughout your life on earth. We never become "perfectly perfect." We call that level of perfection glorification, and it takes place when we go to heaven. But here, we grow by challenges. Self-satisfied persons do not sense the need to improve. The rising power for coping is the Spirit's dynamic.