Sanctification or Setting Apart to God: 3

1 Peter 1
The word withers man, the breath of Jehovah has passed over. Introduce man's glory into heaven, it is dreadful! This work is painful, because of the often prolonged wrestlings of the pride and the self-will of the flesh; and God does not begin His work by modifying what already exists. Neither can He, because He will destroy it. He can neither require nor produce fruits before the tree be planted. But He begins by communicating a new life, and detaches the creature from the things to which its flesh is attached; and the Holy Spirit communicates to it the things of the world to come, and the instrument He employs is the word-that word whereof it is said, “it abideth forever.” The word, which was of promise for the nation, becomes an instrument of life for our souls. We are begotten by the word of truth, which judges also as a two-edged sword all that is not of the new life.
Let us now examine the difference between our justification and our sanctification. Justification is something not in ourselves, but a position in which God has placed us before Himself; and those who possess His righteousness, those to whom it is applied by God, being the children of the Second man, possess all that He has and all that He loves. He who becomes the righteousness of God is born of God, and possesses all that belongs to his Father, Who assimilates the rights of His children to those of His Son, Who is heir of all things. So soon as I am a child of the Second man, I am in the blessing and righteousness in which Christ Himself is found; and thus as I have inherited from the first Adam all the consequences and results of his fall, even so, being born of the Last Adam, I inherit all that He has acquired, just as I had inherited from the former.
If it be thus, it is evident that I have part in the glory of Christ; but if life be not there, it is naught. God presents His love to us. He reveals it to us, and His word abides eternally. And here is the way God begins with the soul. He presents the truth to us, ever fresh before Himself. It is not a result produced in us that He makes us see; on the contrary, it is, that man, such as he is, has no part in this righteousness, because of the flesh, which, being as grass, cannot be in relation with God. He reveals and imparts to us a justification He has accomplished.
God cannot give precepts of sanctification to such as have no justification. The effects of the life of Christ are to convince of sin, and also to cause fruit-bearing. When the gospel was presented at the beginning, it was to Gentiles who, till then, had had no part in the promises of God. There was no need to speak to them of sanctification. But now that all the world calls itself Christian, I must see whether I be really a Christian; but this idea is not found at all originally in the Bible. The state of sin was spoken of, and the gospel declared. Now, men say “Am I really a Christian,” which thing was not so then. A man takes his practical life to see whereabouts he is, believing that the question is of sanctification, when it is only of justification. This question was not necessary at the commencement; now people look at the fruits to see if they have life, and confound with sanctification that which is only a conviction of sin previous to justification by faith and peace with God. Until a soul has consented to say, “Jesus is all and I have nothing” —till then, I say, there is nothing in this which relates to Christian sanctification. These things must be set right before the soul can have peace.
At one preaching of Peter three thousand persons were made happy; they were not in doubt. From the moment a man embraced the gospel, he was a Christian, his soul was saved.
The progress of practical sanctification must not be confounded with justification, because practical sanctification is wrought in a saved soul that has eternal life. It is an entirely new thing, of which there is no trace before I have found Christ. Do we comprehend this passage, “Without holiness” (sanctification) “no man shall see Jehovah” (there is nothing troubles a soul as that often does)? It is clear that if I do not possess Christ, I cannot see Jehovah; that is very simple. If I have not in myself the life of the Last Adam, as I had before the life of the first, never shall I see His face. The tastes natural to the one will develop themselves therein, as they developed themselves in the other.
The first inquiry to be made in such a case is, “Have you peace with God, the pardon of your sins?” If not, the question is of the justification of a sinner. “Having then purified your souls in obeying the truth by the Holy Spirit,” that is the power “by the Spirit.” The essential thing is the obedience of the truth; people seek purification and desire to bear fruit. But this is not what God first asks of us; it is obedience, and obedience to the truth.
Whereof then does the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, speak? He has much to say to us, but first of all, “All flesh is grass.” He says that no good thing exists in man; the Spirit convinces the world of sin. The whole world lies in wickedness; that world would none of Christ; and the Holy Spirit cannot present Himself without saying, “You have rejected the Christ.” The Holy Spirit comes into this world and proves to it its pride and its rebellion. Behold, the Son is no longer there; and why? The world has rejected Him. The Spirit comes to say, “The grass is withered,” &c.; then, when that is acknowledged, He communicates the peace that He has preached. He says truly, “You are sinners,” but He does not speak to sinners of sanctification; He will produce it by the truth, and He tells them the truth. Can man produce it? Nay. It is Christ, He Who is the way, the truth, and the life. The Holy Spirit speaks to the sinner of God's grace, of the righteousness of God-of peace, not to make, but made; this is the truth. He convinces the world of what it is, and He speaks to it of that will of God by which the believer is sanctified, that thus we may be obedient to the truth, in submitting to the grace of God; and when the soul is subject to the truth, life is there.
He communicates life, “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” The word abides eternally. It is thus that God first produces the principle of sanctification, which is the life of Christ in us; if the practical means be inquired, it is the word of truth.
Does the Holy Spirit tell pagans to make progress in sanctification? Does He say this to men unconverted? No. When a sinner has understood the truth, such as God presents it, then the Holy Spirit puts him in relation with God the Father, and the sinner rejoices in all that which Christ has acquired for him. Thus having purified your souls in obeying the truth by the Holy Spirit, &c., ye have been born again of an incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. Dear friends, you will find that it is ever thus. (To be concluded, D.V.)