The Believer’s Part in Entire Sanctification (I John 3:3)

By | Apr 14, 2016

Purity of heart is the apex of Christian experience. We are called to be “pure even as He is pure.” Peter presents Jesus as our example and said, “He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” We were created in His image and though that image was greatly marred in the fall He came into the world to restore that image. John says, “As He is, so are we in this world.” In order for man to experience that restoration He has not only provided for forgiveness of all past sins but also for cleansing from the impurity of the heart. In Mark 8: 21-23, He mentions more than ten forms of impurity which dwell in and proceed from the heart of men. God will not co-exist where these dwell but with our permission He will cleanse them from our heart so that our bodies will truly be the “temple of the living God.”

The Christian hope is a major incentive for seeking a pure heart. That incentive comes to us the moment we enter the kingdom of God by way of the new birth. By the conviction of our sins one makes an unconditional surrender to God. This act of repentance is done on the basis of demand. Jesus himself said in Luke 13:3, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Following entrance into the kingdom one will become keenly aware that within himself is the stirrings of a nature that militates against God’s law and will. Upon the awareness and conviction of this innate nature one should immediately seek the Lord for its cleansing. Failure to do so could be spiritually catastrophic. This revelation brings about an inward hunger and thirst for righteousness with God’s promise of fullness.

Conviction for entire sanctification will reveal two things:

1. There will come a knowledge that the present state of life and experience is below the standard of God’s provision and requirement.
2. The Realization or conviction that the fullness of Christ will bring rest to the soul and restore it to His full image.

This conviction will bring a clear consciousness of our need of a pure heart and also an assurance of Christ’s ability to fully satisfy that need. This is not a conviction of sin but rather a desire to be pleasing to the one to whom we owe our forgiveness. Therefore our response is not done on the basis of demand as when we entered into the kingdom in the new birth; it is now an act of consecration done on the basis of love. This act demands a total abandonment of our self to God and an all out pursuit for the extirpation of everything that is out of harmony with the perfect love of God. We want nothing within the heart that conflicts or retards any progressing in the likeness and fellowship with our Lord.

The Truth promises this cleansing, “sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.”
The Blood provides it, “Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.”
The Holy Spirit effects it within the heart of man.
All of this is conditioned on man yielding himself in total consecration and faith which will ignite the spark of His consuming fire so that the Spirit’s flame will purge the heart of all uncleanness.

Paul Rees wrote concerning the importance of man’s part in his purification with such clarity that I’d like to share it in this article. He points out that having been regenerated and adopted into the family of God has procured for us a high relationship as ‘sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.’ He said, “This, however, did not confer or complete moral cleansing. He admonishes us to rise to the full height of our calling and heed the words of the Apostle and “Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”

Here we are confronted with the fact that the sanctification of believers have two sides—the human and the divine. He proceeds by clarifying for us the human requirement. If we fulfill our part in this covenant, God always fulfills His part. Let us now note his instructions:

“There is a self-sanctification in order to divine-sanctification, “purify himself:”

1. The believer’s sanctification is subject to prayer, and that is something he offers. “He gives the Holy Spirit to them that asks.”
2. The believer’s sanctification is related to consecration, that is something he must make. “Present your body a living sacrifice.”
3. The believer’s sanctification is connected with obedience, that is something we must render. “Obeying the truth through the Spirit.”
4. The believer’s sanctification is conditioned on faith, that is something we must exercise. An inheritance received, “by faith that is in me.”

He further states: Actually, we cannot cleanse ourselves; but conditionally, responsibly, co-operatively, we can. We cannot sanctify ourselves; but, on the other hand, God cannot sanctify us without ourselves. The faith by which we are made holy is a moral act which, while it is performed by the aid of the Holy Spirit, is so truly ours that God Himself is powerless to cleanse without it. And when it is performed—and perpetuated as an attitude of the soul—it has such validity in the sight of God as to cause Him to affirm of His holy people, “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.” (I Peter 1:22)

It is like John describing the Church as she enters upon the mystic union with Christ in His coming glory. (Revelation 19) “Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And yet her readiness was not her own achievement; it was truly of grace; for, “to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.” [The End of Dr. Rees’ Commentary.]

In Acts 15: 6-9, Peter speaking to the Jews on behalf of the Gentiles said; “God put no difference between us and them, (Gentiles and Jews) purifying their hearts by faith.” It is a faith in Him that has been regenerated by the new birth, which may take three rapid, succeeding steps thus: 1. Faith that He can do it; 2. Faith that He will do it; 3. Faith that He doeth it NOW! We cannot do God’s part in the purifying of our hearts and God will not do our part. Together, in a co-operative effort, God will supply the grace if we supply the man and if there is any shortcoming it will never be on God’s part but on man’s part. If you are hungering and thirsting for a pure heart, abandon yourself utterly to Christ, claim your cleansing and be “sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:18)

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