Summary: Sermon #4 This sermon look at the doctrine of Entire Sanctification.
As we have discussed over the past few weeks, there is a real gospel that is available to any an every person. Genuine holiness is available for every believer. Moses’ humility, David’s heart after God, Paul’s pressing toward the mark, Augustine’s “give me what Thou will,” Wesley’s heart strangely warmed, or Mother Theresa’s one holy passion are not so extraordinary, as they are the right use of grace made available to all of us at one time or another. God neither supplies nor expects less for any man.
But sadly, most of us would rather envy these saintly heroes than imitate them. We would rather believe it came easier for them than for us. All this talk about holiness is overrated, we say. But one day, and typically after we are dead, we will learn that heaven is far more serious about holiness, and much more sophisticated about heart purity than most of us down here. And in the meantime, we still have to confront the Scriptures, which say that ...
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV
“And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” John 17:19 NKJV
...God has ordained, from the very beginning of time, that we should be “conformed to the likeness of the Son” (Romans 8:29)
... God “did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1Thessalonians 4:7)
... He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20)
... we should, each of us, offer our bodies as living sacrifices, “holy and pleasing to God - [which is our] spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1)
These are not for other men. They are for us.
This morning, I want to throw away all the familiar, or unfamiliar terms about what holiness, or sanctification, looks like. We will not be using terms like “entire sanctification” or “second work of grace.” The term that best describes the life mentioned in the passages I’ve quoted can be simply boiled down to “complete devotion.” They all mean the same thing, but “complete devotion” is a lot easier to chew. It’s is not bogged down in church terminology and unfamiliar doctrinal words.
Over the next two Sundays, we will look at the doctrine of entire sanctification, or complete devotion. This morning, I believe, as we concluded last Sunday, a life totally sold out to God in all aspects is possible. Unlike how it has been preached in the past, it takes longer than we think.
This morning, I want to break down the way that we can come to the place where we can surrender ourselves totally to the will and love of God. There are three stages to this lifestyle. We must (1) wait on God; we must (2) seize the moment; and we must (3) reform our lifestyle. And always in this order.
Wait on God
Jesus often reminded His disciples that “no one knows the Father except...those whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27); or that certain things are “not revealed to you by man, but by [the] Father in heaven” (16:17); or that “the Spirit gives life-the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). What I’m basically saying is that all we have learned about God in the past, or the gospel, has nothing to with what we have done, but how He chose to move on our hearts. We are not saved because we want to be, but because He moved on us. The same can be said about sanctification.
With that said, we realize that He has never left us alone to carry out the task of living a holy life, but “He who begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). As Christians, we were given the Holy Spirit that first day we trusted in Christ, and it is only THROUGH Him that we desire and accomplish anything.
Wesley taught that we cannot choose the day of our sanctification any more than we can choose the day of our natural death. But through the Spirit, God deals with us more intensely at certain times than others. If Wesley is right, there are things that we can do, while we wait on God, to open our eyes to the moment when He calls us to completely surrender our wills and our ways to Him.
We can discipline ourselves to read & study the Word as if our lives depended upon it, because they do. “Sanctify them by the truth, “ Jesus prayed, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). We often stumble because we do not know the word.