Sanctification or Setting Apart to God

Table of Contents

1. Sanctification or Setting Apart to God: 1
2. Sanctification or Setting Apart to God: 2
3. Sanctification or Setting Apart to God: 3
4. Sanctification, or Setting Apart to God: 4

Sanctification or Setting Apart to God: 1

1 Peter 1
There is something very sweet in the certainty with which the apostle Peter presents to us the truths contained in this Epistle. There is neither hesitation nor uncertainty. The word speaks of things received, of a certainty for those to whom it is addressed. Their faith was tried, but the thing was certain. The apostle speaks here of an inexhaustible fund of truths which belonged to him; and it is not as one groping in the dark that he speaks of it. These things are too important to be left in doubt; they deserve all our attention: our hearts need it. It is not the unregenerate heart that loves the Lord Jesus. One may be brave and all that, and think that if one's conduct is good, the result in heaven will be accordingly; but therein is no love for the Lord Jesus. And this is the badge of the Christian.
The apostle says in the eighth verse, “Whom (Christ) not having seen, ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Now, there is no such thing as that without regeneration, which is a new life that has interests, and affections-quite a new world; and without this there is no Christian, because there is not Christ.
We will now see the two principles laid down in this chapter, and in the work here attributed to the Holy Spirit.
God finds the soul in a certain position, in certain relations, and removes it to place it in quite a new state; and this separation is according to the power of the resurrection of Christ.
The apostle speaks to the Jews of the dispersion (that is, to those of whom it is spoken in John vii. 35, those dispersed among the Greeks) in these words. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” &c. He addressed himself to the dispersion, to Jews now converted to Christianity, to those who are elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, grace and peace, &c. He says this because he is speaking of another election than that of the Jewish people. The Jewish nation was elected after another manner. Here he writes, as we said, to Jews who had believed on the Lord Jesus; so that sanctification in them was not sanctification of a nation by outward means, but by the Holy Spirit, Who separated the souls from among the Jews to belong to God, and to form a part of the present dispensation of grace. It was not with them as with the ancient Jews, who were separated from the Egyptians by the Red Sea. They were separated by the sanctification effected by the Holy Spirit. Observe particularly this word “sanctification “: the first idea is separation for God, not only from evil, but a setting apart for God Who sanctifies.
This is what God does in those whom He calls, finding souls lying in evil. John says on this subject, in his First Epistle, (chap. v. 1.9), “We are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness;” and it is very precious to have things clearly stated. “We are of God": it is not merely that we should conduct ourselves aright; doubtless, that is well. But the great difference is, that we are of God, and that “the whole world lieth in wickedness.” Does this mean that we are always as we should be? No: but we are of God. One is not all one would desire to be: that will come to pass only in heaven, for only there will God make us conformed to the image of His beloved Son.
But this is what God has done: He has separated us to Himself, as a man who hews stones out of a quarry. The stone is hewn out of the quarry and set apart, destined to be cut and fashioned, in order to be placed in the appointed building. And God detaches a soul from the quarry of this world to separate it for Himself. I say not but there is much to do; for a rough stone cut out of a quarry requires often considerable labor before it is placed in the building for which it is destined. Even so God separates, prepares, and fashions this soul to introduce it into His spiritual building. There are many useless matters to take off; but God acts every day in His grace. Howsoever, this soul is sanctified, set apart for God, from the moment it is taken out of the quarry of this world.
The apostle speaks here of sanctification before he mentions obedience and the blood of Jesus Christ. We are sanctified to these two things (ver. 2): “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” He takes us out of the quarry of this world to place us under the efficacy of the blood of Christ. The stone is entirely His and adapted to His purpose. Although He has yet to work upon it, the question is not of what He does each day, but generally of the appropriation to the end God has proposed to Himself. It is the Holy Spirit Who acts in the soul and appropriates it to Himself. It may previously have been very honorable, or very wicked in its conduct; this makes no difference: only it will be more grateful, if it feels itself more evil. But as to the former condition, that matters little: one belongs now to God.
To what does God destine this soul? To obedience. Up to this period what has it done but its own will? It has followed its own way, no matter what appearances may have been, more or less good, more or less bad; it is all one. The character may have been weak, or more or less fiery, until, as with Paul, the Lord arrested him on his road. Now behold this soul, hitherto filled with its own will, set apart for obedience.
Paul had been very learned in what concerned the religion of his fathers; he had sat at the feet of Gamaliel. He honestly believed that he had done the will of God, but there was nothing of the kind. He followed his own will, according to the direction impressed by the tradition of the fathers. Never, till the moment that Jesus stopped him on the way to Damascus, had he said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
Thus, whatever may have been the conduct of a soul before this setting apart, nothing of all before has made it do the will of God. But the aim of the life of a soul sanctified, set apart, is to do the will of God. It may fail.; but that is its aim. Jesus said, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” He had no need of sanctification, in one sense, because He was holy; but the aim of His whole life was obedience. Here am I “to do thy will, O God.” He took the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men, and He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He existed only for God; the principle of His life was obedience. He was come to do nothing but His Father's will.
As soon as a soul is sanctified, it is sanctified unto obedience; and this is manifested by the spirit of dependence which has done with its own will. It says, “What must I do?” It may fail through weakness in many respects; but that is its aim.
As to the second thing, we are sanctified to enjoy the sprinkling of blood. The soul, thus placed under the influence of the blood of Christ, is thereby completely cleansed. The blood of the Son of God cleanses us from all sin; it is by the efficacy of His blood that we are separated from this world.
The question here is not of bulls and goats which could not sanctify the conscience of him who did the service, but of the blood of Christ, Who by the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. It is the blood which purifies the conscience. (To be continued, D.V.)

Sanctification or Setting Apart to God: 2

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. 8:33). 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.

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.)

Sanctification, or Setting Apart to God: 4

1 Peter 1
In 2 Thess. 2:10 it is written, as to the unbelieving contrasted with the Christians, that they have not received (or rather accepted) the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who have not believed the truth, &c. But, my brethren, beloved of the Lord, we are bound to give thanks to God for you, because God hath chosen you from the beginning to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
It is then the belief of the truth; it is not the belief of its fruits. The Holy Spirit cannot present to me the works He has produced in me, as the object of my faith. He speaks to me of my faults, of my short-comings, but never of the good works that may be in me. He produces them in me, but He hides them from me; for if we think of them, it is but a more subtle self-righteousness. It is like the manna which, being kept, produced worms. All is spoiled-it is no more faith in action. The Holy Spirit must always present to me Christ, that I may have peace.
The same principle is in John 17:16, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by thy truth; thy word is truth.” The world was not Christ's aim.
During His whole life, though He was not gone out of the world, He was no more of the world than if He had been in heaven. When practice is in question, He says, “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by thy truth.” Truth is not of the world; the world is a vast lie, which is demonstrated in the history we possess in the Bible. There we find the manifestation of sin in the natural man, and the manifestation of the life of God in the regenerate man by His word. “Sanctify them by thy truth.” “For their sakes I sanctify myself.” What does the Lord Jesus here for us? He sets Himself apart, He sanctifies Himself. It is not that He may be more holy, but He makes Himself the model-man. It is not a law requirement; but it is Christ Himself Who is life and power, whereof He presents the perfect result. It is Christ Who presents the fulfillment and the perfection; He is the vital spring of all; and in considering these things, the reflection of them is in me by faith, which reproduces them in the inner man and in the life.
We find something interesting on this subject in the first chapter of John's Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” The law was not this. It was not a light that condemned; but the Life was this light, and we have seen it, full of grace and truth-not of truth only but of grace; and of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. When we have received Christ, there is not a single grace which is not for me, and in me. There is no Christian who has not every grace that is in Jesus. Suppose even a state of failure; it is the strongest case: but this hinders not that we possess all in Him. Failure is a sad thing, but it changes not the position; for the Christian has not received a part only of Christ, but the whole of Christ.
On the one hand, it is encouragement: when I say to myself, “I must seek after such a grace,” the answer is, “Thou possessest it;” and on the other hand, “it humbles me,” for if I possess it, why is it not manifested? This always supposes that we have received the truth that God has made peace. We must always return to this, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” Is it by looking into myself that I shall find this sanctification? No: but in looking to Jesus, in Whom it is, Christ having been made unto us of God “righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”
I see perfect humility in Christ, and take pleasure in it. When I look to Him by faith, my soul is in peace. His Spirit is always in me, and I am sanctified by faith in Him, according to that grace which makes me one with Him. Christ gives me all that; and His truth reveals to me that the redemption is made, and I enjoy it, having obeyed the truth.
If anyone seeks after sanctification without being assured of his justification, and is consequently troubled about it, doubting whether he be a Christian, then I ask him: “What have you to do with sanctification?” You have not to think about this for the present. Assure yourself, first of all, that you are saved. Pagans, unbelievers, do not sanctify themselves. If you have faith, you are saved; then sanctify yourself in peace. The only question is to consider your sinful state. First, have you obeyed the truth? have you submitted to it? What does God speak to you about? He speaks of peace made. He says to you, that He has given His Son; He says to you, that He so loved the world, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. This is the truth to which you have to submit, and to receive above all; specially before you busy yourself about sanctification, which depends upon Him Who has given you eternal life.
Begin then by obeying the truth of God. This truth tells you of the righteousness of God, which is satisfied in Jesus, and which is yours; yea rather that you are in Christ. Then you will enjoy peace, and you will be sanctified in practice: for practical sanctification flows from the contemplation of Jesus. Here is what the apostle Paul says to us on this subject in 2 Cor. 3:18: “We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image, from-glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit.”
You see that it is in beholding Jesus that we are transformed from glory to glory. Life, the principle of life, is there, and not in your anxieties; the development of the life of Jesus is progressively realized by looking to Him. It is faith which sanctifies, as also it justifies; it looks unto Jesus.
When Moses came down from the mountain from before God, he did not know that he also shone with glory; but those who saw him knew it. Moses had looked toward God; others saw the effect. Blessed be God that it is thus in a practical sense! As to practice then, the question is the sanctification of Christians, because they are saved, because they are sanctified to God as respects their persons (not those who are not yet so). It is not to exact (on God's part), but to communicate life. Now, this communication proceeds from Jesus, Who is its source. He communicates life, which is holiness in effect.
Oh! that God might always show us the grace to make us ever more and more feel that all flesh is as grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of grass; but the word of Jehovah endureth forever! “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” It is of this incorruptible seed we are born. What ought not our confidence to be in His word! J.N.D.
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