Sanctification or Setting Apart to God: 2

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
1 Peter 1
Let us see a little what the apostle says on this subject. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold which perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” Whereabouts are we then, when the process of sanctification is carried on? It is that although we have not seen Jesus, we love Him; and although now we see Him not, yet believing we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of (our) souls.
It is there that the heart finds itself; and while saying that His love is boundless, passing all knowledge, we can say also that we have the intelligence of it.
The magnet always turns towards the pole; yet the needle may tremble a little when the storm and tempest roar; but its direction changes not. The needle of the Christian heart points truly towards Christ. A heart which understands, which loves Jesus, which knows where Jesus has passed before it, looks at Him to sustain it through its difficulties; and however rugged and difficult the way, it is precious to us, because. we find there the trace of the steps of Jesus (He has passed there), and specially because this road conducts us, through difficulties, to the glory in which He is. Seeing, says the apostle, that it need be, in order that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
It is not only that we have been regenerated, but that we should receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of (our) souls. The end of my faith is to see Christ and the glory that He has gained for me. He says here, the salvation of souls; because the question is not of a temporal deliverance, as in the case of the ancient Jews. I see now this glory through a veil, but I long to see myself there. And being now in the trial, I look to Him Who is in the glory, and Who secures it to me. The gold will be completely purified; but the gold is proved: as to me, as to my eternal life, it is the same thing as if I was in the glory. Salvation and glory are not the less certain, though I am in the trial, than if I were already in the rest. And that gives practical sanctification; habits, affections, and a walk formed after the life and calling one has received from God.
If I engage a servant, I require him to be clean, if I am so myself. God says “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” And as it is with the servant I desire to introduce into my house, so it is with us. God requires that we should be suited to the state of His house; He will have a practical sanctification in His servants. Moreover, the aim of the apostle is, that our faith be firm and constant. He gives us in the twenty-first verse, full security, in saying to us, “that your faith and hope may be in God,” not merely in that which justifies us before a just judging God. It is a God Who is for us, Who willed to help us, and Who introduced us into His family, setting us apart for obedience, and to share in the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. He has loved us with an eternal love. He has accomplished all that concerns us. He keeps us by His power through faith, in order to introduce us into glory.
He places us in trial; He makes us pass through the furnace, because He will wholly purify us. It is Himself Who has justified us: who shall condemn us? It is Christ Who is dead, or rather Who is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, and Who also maketh intercession for us: who shall separate us from His love (Rom. 8:3333Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. (Romans 8:33)). Our faith and our love being in God, what have we to fear?
We have in Zechariah a very encouraging example (chap. iii). Jehovah caused Zechariah to see Joshua the high priest, standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And Jehovah said to Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan! Jehovah, who hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. Is not this a brand that I have plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments (the sin, and corruption of man), and he stood before the angel. And the angel said, Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him, Behold, I have made thine iniquity to pass from thee, and have clothed thee with new garments (the righteousness of God applied). Satan accuses the children of God; but when God justifies, who can condemn? Would you then that God were not content with His work, which He hath wrought for Himself? Is it not in order that we be holy and unblameable in love before Him?
Can you say, “He has sanctified me,” in the sense that He has given you Jesus for the object of your faith? If it be thus, He has placed you under the sprinkling of His precious blood in order that you may be a Christian, and happy in obedience. You may say now, He is the object of my desires, of my hope: You may not yet have understood all that Christ is for you, and you may have much to do in practice; but the important thing is to understand that it is God who has done all, and has placed you under the efficacy of that resurrection life, in order that you may be happy and joyful in His love.
It is remarkable to what point God makes all things new in us; and this because He must destroy our thoughts, in order that we may have peace. There is nothing morally in common between the first and the Second man. The first sinned and drew the whole human race in his fall; the last Adam is the source of life and power. This applies to every truth of Christianity, and to all that is in this world. There are but these two men.
Nicodemus is struck with the wisdom of Jesus, and with the power manifested in His miracles; but the Lord stops him, and cuts the matter short with him by saying, “Ye must be born again.” He was not in a condition to be instructed. He did not understand the things of God, for to do so a man must be born again; in short, he had not life. I do not say that he could not arrive at it; because, further on, we see him paying honor to Jesus in bringing the necessary spices to embalm Him.
I have been led to this thought because the end of this chapter recalled to me the fortieth chapter of Isa. 1 do not speak of the accomplishment of the prophecy which takes place at a later day for the Jews, but of a grand principle. This chapter begins with these words, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably unto Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of Jehovah's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said what shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of Jehovah bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
Before God begins, He must cause it to be understood that all flesh is grass, &c.
If God will comfort his people, what saith Jehovah? “All flesh is grass,” &c. It must begin there. “The grass is withered, because the spirit of Jehovah hath blown upon it. But the word of God endureth,” &c. Therein lies the foundation of hope. Had it been possible for anyone to have obtained anything, it would have been the Jews, who had all; but they were nothing more than the grass of the fields, than the grass that withereth. When God will comfort man who has failed in the responsibility which attaches to him, it is thus He begins. “All flesh is grass,” &c.; and it is for this reason that there is such a confusion in the heart of the newly converted man, and even of the Christian. Let him then pay attention to it: namely, that the word comes to tell him, “The grass is withered,” the flesh is incapable of producing any good; and that he does not yet rest on this, that the word of Jehovah endureth forever, and that the blessing consequently cannot fail to His own. Till we cease in our efforts to get good from the flesh, and till we are assured that the word of Jehovah endureth forever, we shall always be troubled and weak before the assaults of the enemy.
The people had trampled on the ordinances, broken the law, crucified the Messiah, done all possible evil. Has the word of God changed? In no wise. God alters nothing in His election, nor in His promises. Paul asks, Has God rejected His people? God forbid. Peter addresses himself to the people; there is no more of them apparently. The grass is withered, but the word of God remains; and He can say to them, You are now a people, you have obtained mercy. Thus we are going to see that this word becomes the instrument of blessing and of practical sanctification. God never sanctifies what withers like grass. He introduces, on the contrary, what is most enduring and most excellent of man into heaven.