By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
This state is variously expressed in the Scriptures, so that we need not be tenacious of any particular phrase by which to designate it. It is called holiness, sanctification, purity, perfection, fullness of God, and of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, and full assurance of faith.
What is meant by these expressions is, that participation of the Divine nature which excludes all original depravity or inbred sin from the heart, and fills it with perfect love to God and man-perfect love, the unction of the Holy One, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Holiness begins when the principle of purity, (110. Is it ever caused by the agency of others? How is the doctrine of sanctification expressed in the Bible? What do these expressions What is said of holiness?) namely, love to God, is shed abroad in the heart in the new birth. But entire sanctification is that act of the Holy Ghost whereby the justified soul is made holy. This instantaneous work of the Sanctifier is usually preceded and followed by a gradual growth in grace. The Spirit certifies this purification. I Cor. 2:12. It is the incoming of the abiding Comforter into the consciousness of the believer bringing his own light. John 14:16-17 We do not need a lantern to see the sunrise. Its chief inferential evidences are oneness with Christ, easy victory over sin, rejoicing nevermore, praying without ceasing, and in every thing giving thanks.
Profession without examination and assurance of these evidences is not recommended. I Thess. 5:21; I John 4:1. After this it is required. Matt. 5:16; Rom. 10:10; II Cor. 1:4.
Purity is to be distinguished from maturity. When inbred sin is destroyed there can be no increase of purity, but there may be an eternal increase in love and in all the fruits of the Spirit. Sanctification is not the same with justification. Justification is a change of our state from guilt to pardon; sanctification is a change of nature from sin to holiness. It (111. What is said of profession? What of purity? Is sanctification the same with justification?) sustains to regeneration the relation of a whole to a part.
This doctrine is by no means involved in obscurity, though it has been the subject of much controversy and skepticism in the Christian Church.
The attainableness of this state, however, is not so much the matter of debate among Christians as the time when we are authorized to seek and expect it.
While some hold to the doctrine of purgatory, that is, it is necessary for the souls of all who do not merit eternal punishment, in order to purification, to go into a supposed place or state after death; others contend that this state of purity is attainable and required in this present life. Luke 1:74-75; Titus 2:12; I John 4:17.
1. The doctrine of immediate entire sanctification is supported by those Scripture texts which express the will of God. John 7:17; Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 5:17-18; Col. 4:12; I Thess. 4:3; Heb. 10:9-10.
2. Those which express his command. (112. What relation does sanctification sustain to regeneration? What is the point of debate among Christians? Is purity attainable before death? What is said of purgatory? Give the several classes of evidence for the doctrine of entire sanctification in their order.) Gen. 17:1; Exod. 19:6; Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26; Deut. 7:5; 18:13; I Kings 8:61; Matt. 5:48; 22:37; John 5:14; Rom. 12:1-2; II Cor. 7:1; 13:11; Eph. 5:17, 18; Heb. 6:1; James 1:4; I Pet. 1:15-16.
3. Those which express his promise. Ps. 119:1-3; Isa. 1:18; Jer. 33:8; Heb. 7:25; 10:16-22; I John 1:7, 9.
4. Those in which the blessing is sought by prayer. Ps. 51:2, 7, 9; Hos. 14:2; Matt. 5:10; John 17:17; I Thess. 5:23.
5. Those which record examples; though if there were no examples it would not prove the doctrine false, since it is clearly revealed and divinely enjoined. Gen. 6:9; II Kings 20:3; 23:25; Job 1:1; Ps. 37:37; Luke 1:6; I Cor. 2:6; Phil. 3:15; I Thess. 2:10; Heb. 12:23.
6. Those which imply the doctrine. Prov. 11:5; Eph. 3:16-19; 4:12-16, 22-24; 5:26, 27; Col. 1:28; Titus 2:14; Heb. 12:14; James 3:2; I Pet. 1:22; 2:9; II Pet. 1:4, etc.; I John 3:3, 9; 4:12, 16-18; 5:18; Rev. 7:14.
The following texts are often quoted to show that there is no redemption from all sin in this life; that no man can live without committing it. I Kings 8:46; Job 25:4; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:20, 23; I John 1:8, 10. (113. Would the absence of example prove the doctrine false? What texts are quoted to refute the doctrine?) But a little attention to the original texts, and the contexts, will clearly prove that they teach simply that all have sinned, and that all are liable to sin. This is consistent with the design of Jesus, who came to save his people from their sins, (Matt. 1:21,) that is, from the dominion and pollution of sin, so that, henceforth, they should be free from the service of sin, and become servants to God, and have their fruit unto holiness. Rom. 6:1-22; 8:1-2; I Pet. 2:24; I John 1:7-9; 3:5-9; 5:18.
Errors of judgment, infirmities of body, fears occasioned by surprise, unpleasant dreams, wandering thoughts in prayer, times when there is no joy, a sense of inefficiency in Christian labor, and strong temptations, are by no means inconsistent with perfect love. Yet errors need the atonement. Heb. 11:7.
There is no such state of Christian maturity in this life as will not admit of advancement. Job 17:9; Ps. 84:7; Prov. 4:18; Mal. 4:2; Eph. 4:15-16; Phil. 3:13-17; Heb. 6:1; I Pet. 2:2-5; II Pet. 3:18.
All persevering believers are advancing toward entire sanctification. Such will attain (114. How are the texts thus quoted to be explained? What is said of errors of judgment, etc.?) this grace before death, inasmuch as the promise of eternal life carries with it the pledge on God's part to bestow all needed grace. Eph. 5:27; Phil. 1:6; Jude 24.
The fact that many Christians have not till near death experienced this grace only proves the weakness of their faith or their imperfect apprehension of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. We should be careful not to measure the possible by the actual . "It is therefore undoubtedly your duty to pray and look for full salvation every day, every hour, every moment, without waiting till we have either done or suffered more."-John Wesley. Entire sanctification is the great safeguard against backsliding.
Errors respecting entire sanctification:
1. That this cannot take place till death releases the soul from the body, the assumed seat of sin. Refutation: See the commands, promises, etc., above.
2. The mistake of Dr. Chalmers, that it is by works and not by the blood of Christ applied by the Holy Ghost through faith. Refuted by Acts 15:9; II Thess. 2:13; Heb. 9:14; I Pet. 1:2; I John 1:7, 9. (115. What is said further of this state of grace? What five errors are held respecting this doctrine? How refuted?)
3. The doctrine of Count Zinzendorf, that it is identical with the new birth. Refuted in John 15:2; I Cor. 3:1-3; II Cor. 7:1; Gal. 5:17; I Thess. 5:23.
4. That original or inbred sin in a believer can be imperceptibly outgrown without a conscious operation of the Holy Spirit. Refuted by texts under No.2 above, also by the identity of entire cleansing with the fullness or baptism of the Spirit, which is always given instantaneously.
5. That entire sanctification can never be certified by the consciousness because the soul's nature lies below its gaze, and that it cannot be attested by the Sanctified himself because he is the witness of adoption. Refutation: I Cor. 2:11-12; I John 2: 20, 27.