Other "Thinking Drafts" and writing by Keith Drury -- http://www.indwes.edu/tuesday .

 From: Holiness for Ordinary People by Keith Drury
(c) 1983 Wesley Press


Chapter 1

Sanctification Overview

Usually a book ends with a chapter. This book starts with the summary chapter, in

hopes that the reader can see where the book is headed. This summary chapter uses a question

and answer approach which was John Wesley's specialty.

Q: What is holiness?

A: Holiness is loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loving

my neighbor as myself. Most simply put, holiness is Christ-likeness. Holiness is, therefore, not

really an "it." It's really not right to refer to holiness as "getting it." I need Him. In Him I find

purity, power, and assurance. Jesus Christ himself is the definition of holiness. He loved His

Father and His neighbor perfectly - and thus was able to obey the father perfectly. Love and

obedience -- one springs from the other. Since Jesus loved the father perfectly, He could obey

Him likewise. Holiness is perfect love.

Q: Isn't holiness only a goal for all Christians to pursue? Is it possible for a

Christian actually to become perfect in love and obedience?

A: True, holiness is a goal, but it is an attainable goal, not some pie-in-the-sky

dream. In fact, God commands us to be perfect - as He himself is perfect. What kind of father

would demand something of his children which was impossible? That would be cruel. God is a

better father than that. He calls us to holiness, then helps us become holy.

The message of holiness is radically optimistic - possibility thinking applied to spiritual

growth. This idea of being holy marches into the midst of our pessimistic age shouting positive

good news. You can become all you were meant to be. You really can love God with all of your

heart, soul, mind, being, and strength. You can actually love your neighbor as you love yourself.

You can walk in obedience to God's known commands. You're not stuck with an endless cycle of

defeat in your Christian life.

Certainly holiness is, or at least should be, the goal of every believer. But it is more than

some unreal, far-off unreachable goal. It is an attainable, present-day experience. Sound

impossible? With God, all things are possible. He commands us, "Be holy." Won't He also

provide the means for our becoming what He has commanded us to be?


Q: How, then, do we become holy?

A: We become holy - Christ-like - through sanctification. Sanctification is what

God does in us to make us more Christ-like. It begins at conversion progresses as we grown in

grace, leads us to the point of "entire" sanctification, and then continues beyond that point until

the day I die -- and even beyond. Sanctification is God's Spirit at work in my mind, soul, spirit,

body - my entire life - changing and renewing my desires, thoughts, interests, attitudes, and

behavior. Sanctification is how God transforms me into His Son's likeness. It is God's grace -

His action - in my life. Given my cooperation, sanctification will change the erring sinner that I

am into the likeness of His perfect Son. God commands me to be holy. But with His command,

He offers the grace of "sanctification" which in both gradual and instantaneous ways makes me

like Christ.


Q: When does sanctification begin?

A: "Sanctification" begins the moment you accept Christ into your life.

Sanctification is all of God's work which transforms you into Christ-likeness. For most people,

the greatest leap toward Christ-likeness happens when they accept Jesus as Savior. This first

great leap called "initial sanctification" occurs when we are born again. This is the beginning of

God's continuing work in transforming us into the image of His Son.


Q: Does a person really need anything more than conversion?

A: Yes. God, who has begun a good work in us (initial sanctification), wants to

bring it to completion. So He continues to perform His work of sanctification in us gradually day

by day. When we accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit helped us want to be like Jesus. This new

desire to be Christ-like steadily draws us toward right thoughts, attitudes, values, associations, and


But all too soon, we discover that our old desires are not completely gone. We discover

remaining in us a craving for some of the activities, thoughts, and attitudes of our old life.

So, we begin a struggle. Usually, we side with our new desire - We choose to speak or

think the way Christ wants us to. But occasionally - perhaps often - we vote with our old desire

and find ourselves saying, doing, or thinking something we know is wrong. We are frustrated.

We feel guilty. So we repent and promise God we'll do better.

Progress during this period is often painfully slow. We may, at times, resist the Lord as

often as we submit to Him. But, we want so badly to please Christ. As we gradually yield areas

of our life to Him, He moves in, takes control, and we become overcomers, at least in that

particular area. When we examine large blocks of time, say a year or more, we can see that

gradual spiritual growth has occurred. There may be many ups and downs. In fact, the downs

can at times take us dangerously near our old life.

But the Holy Spirit helps us. And we increasingly choose with our new nature in Christ

and die to the deeds of the old life. Periodically we are made painfully aware that our old nature

still causes us to veer off in rebellion to God at times. We may especially have difficulty with

inward secret problems like stubbornness, lustful thoughts, self-will, sinful anger, bitterness, and

selfishness. But, as we grow closer to Christ, we can see progress, even though it is often not as

fast as we would like.

What is happening to us? We are experiencing "progressive sanctification" - God's

gradual work in our life after we are saved, bringing our thoughts, values, attitudes, habits, and

activities into conformity with Christ. Our leap toward Christ-likeness at conversion, or "initial

sanctification," did not end our need to grow. This is how every believer experiences a gradual

work of "progressive sanctification."


Q: Don't most ordinary Christians struggle like this all their lives?

A: Yes, probably most Christians do. Most believers - even many in "holiness

churches" - seem content to be "average" Christians. They can look around and measure

themselves by other people and figure they are no worse off than others in the church. But the

Bible clearly calls believers to more than an "average" commitment. We are repeatedly called to

a radical Christ-likeness that is far above an average Christian walk.

The Bible promises victory. Even over our old desires. It provides hope for our

complete obedience. The truth is, most ordinary Christians continue to struggle with both

desires - to obey and to disobey -- for most of their lives. The message of holiness is for just such

"ordinary people." To them it is great news.

A person who continually consecrates areas of his life to God will grow in grace and will

gradually gain victory over sin. He may, at first, wrestle valiantly with his old desires. Then, as

he surrenders more and more to the Lord, he will find greater strength in suppressing

unchristlike desires. He or she may finally experience periods of peace. It may seem that the

old nature has been "smothered" to death. But sometimes after weeks or months, this old nature

again rears its ugly head. This person realizes the inclination to disobey is still there.

So, the Christian continues to grow closer to Jesus Christ in cooperation with God, who

is performing "progressive sanctification." Even through this man or woman is a "new creation"

in Christ, there is sometimes bewilderment over occasional, or even frequent, sinful inclinations

from the "old self." Many believers fight this war for years, or even until the end of their lives.

John Wesley's understanding of the Bible does not deny the fact that a believer

experiences this sanctifying process, perhaps for many years - or even a lifetime. But Scripture

clearly asserts that this does not have to be the case. God can, with our cooperation and faith,

shorten His work sometimes and accomplish in a moment what is usually the work of many



Q: Most Christians understand "initial sanctification" and "progressive

sanctification." But what does it really mean to be "entirely sanctified"?

A: When a person becomes a Christian, he takes a giant leap toward

Christ-likeness. We call this "initial sanctification". As he grows in grace, he gradually kills off

the deeds of the old life, acquiring an imparted holiness of Jesus Christ. We call this

"progressive sanctification". It is after this growth that he usually comes to a new point of


What is this decision? The decision is whether or not to "go on." Now the Christian

knows that God wants all - as a living sacrifice. No longer can we cast the Lord a tidbit of

consecration now and then to satisfy His demands. We realize God wants our all - thoughts,

time, talents, future, money, associations, hopes, possessions, reputation, habits, likes, and

actions - everything! God wants us totally - holding back no secret sin, prized possession, or

reserved habit. God wants us to remove the "no trespassing" signs we have posted throughout

our life telling God to stay out. God wants us to say, "You can have it all. I am, totally and

entirely, Yours alone from now on."

This Christian is sick of part-time victory. But now he has hope that there is actually

power from God to completely overcome sin. It is time to place all of himself in God's hands,

making a complete consecration of his all to Jesus, holding nothing back. This is called "entire

consecration." He gives his all to the Lord and decides to obey all the guidance of the Holy

Spirit. he commits himself, from now on, to instantly obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit,

whatever the cost. He's willing to go anywhere, say anything, do whatever God wants, no matter

what people think or what price he may have to pay. He is now 100% committed to Jesus Christ,

his Lord. His daily prayer is, "Not my will, but Yours be done."

What does God do with this offering? He accepts it. Immediately! If someone is

struggling endlessly for entire sanctification, it is not because he must persuade God to give him

something God wishes to withhold. Rather, he is struggling with himself about giving all to

God. God is in the business of accepting offerings consecrated to Him.

God, through His Holy Spirit, now moves into the very center of this person's life, and

performs a major spiritual miracle. When he was saved, he received all of the Holy Spirit. But

now the Holy Spirit gets all of him. The results are dramatic.

The Holy Spirit can move into all areas of this person's fully consecrated life. he is now

unhindered by internal resistance. He is free to perform a radical, internal cleansing. The most

noticeable result will generally be in the area of desire and commitment. He remembers how,

before he was saved, his life was largely dominated by a desire to please himself and by sin.

Then, he recalls how he struggled as a growing believer, with conflicting desires - sometimes

wanting to obey, sometimes wanting to sin. He now discovers one dominating desire in his heart

- to wholly please his Master. his consuming passion is to be holy, like Jesus Christ. he has a

fresh hunger and thirst for holy living. His desire to disobey is gone. He wants nothing in his

life but total obedience to his Lord. His heart is filled with a new love for God and others. Since

obedience springs from love, he wants only to obey his Master perfectly. He still faces

temptation, but his will is already set - he is totally committed to obedience.

His performance may still be far less than perfect, but his commitment is completely

magnetized toward Jesus Christ. Rebellion is gone.

He will now be used for God's work in new and more powerful ways. After all, God's

plan isn't to bottle him up and place him on the shelf to be admired by others - a real live saint.

God wants to use him. Entire sanctification is always for service. The path to sanctification

always leads back to the world and God's work there. What is God's work in the world? It is

bringing simmers to repentance and helping believers conform to His Son's image. Thus, any

man or woman experiencing this work of God's grace increasingly pursues God's work: to win

the lost and help believers mature.

In short, this man makes a total consecration of his all to the Lord. Then God, in

cooperation with him, corrects his heart's desire so that it is now 100% directed toward perfect

obedience. While he may still fall short in practice, his motive is saturated by loving intention.

This is "entire sanctification."


Q: What happens if a person comes to this decision point and decides against going on?

A: The chance to choose will likely come again, but sometimes not for a long

period. However, most people who have experienced entire sanctification have done so after a

period of searching, thinking, and study of the matter. The decision point does not just drop out

of the sky one day with a 15-minuted expiration notice attached. Perhaps we would better term

this a decision period. We usually face the decision about whether to go on or not during several

weeks, months, or even a year. You are probably not in danger of rejecting the Spirit's calling by

sundown today. There is usually still time to seek Him. But you date not be casual about such an

important matter!


Q: Does a believer who is entirely sanctified have any room for improvement?

A: By all means. We will continual be conformed to Christ's image every day we

are on this earth, and perhaps throughout all eternity. Growth never stops. The notion that there

is no growth after sanctification is false.

In fact, there should be more growth. If your heart is entirely full of a desire to please

your Master, you will invariably grow more. Your pure desire will draw you closer and closer to

the full measure and stature of Christ. We call this "continual sanctification." Is there progress

after entire sanctification? You can count on it!


Q: If an entirely sanctified person has a desire to please only Christ, how would he

or she ever be tempted again?

A: There is no state of grace which exempts a person from temptation. Satan

tempts us through the world in which we live, or by tempting us to pervert our natural desires.

Entire sanctification does not place a believer "out-of-bounds" to Satan. Jesus Christ himself was

tempted in every point like we are, yet He withstood temptation and remained without sin.

The difference for the entirely sanctified person is that his will is set - he is totally

committed to obedience, even during a lengthy time of temptation.


Q: If he can be tempted, is it possible for him to sin?

A: Yes, there is no level of spiritual maturity from which it is impossible to fall

into sin. Consider these two statements:

(1) It is not possible to sin.

(2) It is possible to sin.

The first is untrue. The second represents the optimistic possibility of biblical holiness.

It is possible in this life to experience Gods work in our heart to the extent that we do not

purposefully disobey our Master - because we love Him so greatly.

Some ask, "How long can an entirely sanctified person go without sinning?" This is like

the question, "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" or "How many sins does it take

to send you to hell?" It misses the point. The point is that Jesus came to earth to deliver His

people from their sin. God can provide the grace to enable a believer to be delivered from willful

disobedience to his Lord and Master. When his heart is full of nothing but love for our Savior,

this love prompts obedience. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments. We obey Him to

the extent to which we love Him. If we can love Him perfectly, we can obey Him likewise.

But even a completely sanctified person can think, say, or do something against his own

new nature. Though he is completely committed to please Christ, he may entertain some

temptation so long that he falls into sin. What should he do if he falls into willful disobedience?

He should treat the offense with serious repentance, confess it to the Lord, receive forgiveness,

and fully commit himself to avoid that sin in the future. He should make restitution where

appropriate and then return to living the life of entire sanctification. The proper response to any

sin is always humble repentance and restitution, with a firm commitment to mend our way in the


It should be understood that we are dealing here with sin - strictly speaking; that is, sin

as voluntary disobedience to what we know the Lord has commanded. It is "willful sin." We are

not saying that an entirely sanctified person is free from all "falling short" of the perfect standard

of Jesus Christ. No human being is consistently as perfect as Jesus Christ. An entirely sanctified

man or woman will fall short of God's glory many times. Any breach in this perfect law of God

creates the need for the atonement and must be confessed when it is recognized. yet, if the

believer's motive was one of pure love and devotion, such a breach is not charged to him as sin.

This may seem to be straining a point, but it is a rather important one to those who say that an

entirely sanctified person can be delivered from the possibility of sin. (What we mean by sin is

willful disobedience to the Lord.)

An example may help. After several hours of hard work in his hot garden, a father

glances up to see his two-year-old toddling toward him with a glass of water for his refreshment.

The father takes it, examines the smudgy fingerprints on the glass, tastes it, and notes that the

water is room temperature. But he also sees the eyes of his little son, who is gazing up at him in

admiration and devotion. What will he do? Certainly he will gulp down the water and thank his

little boy for "bringing Daddy that great glass of water." This boy has fallen far short of the

perfect standard of refreshing drinks. But he has completely fulfilled the royal law of love.

Because his imperfect deed sprang from a heart of love and devotion, the father considers him


Any falling short of the perfect standard of Christ requires God's grace and cleansing.

But we do not call this sin if the motive is pure love. Much of the service offered to the Master

falls far short of perfection. But, as He continues to teach His child perfection, our Heavenly

Father looks down into his devoted eyes and, seeing the motive of his heart, pronounces his

works blameless.

While it is possible for an entirely sanctified person to fall into sin, it is also possible for

him to not commit willful sin. To a person gripped by a pattern of periodic disobedience, this

seems like an impossible dream. But it is not. It is possible to live in continual and habitual

obedience to Christ.

The real issue here is not, "Can an entirely sanctified person sin?" It is "Can an entirely

sanctified person live above sin?" If he can, he should. Yes, he could sin, but he need not sin.


Q: What difference does entire sanctification make in the actual daily life of a


A: As we have already pointed out, the biggest difference will be in the area of

total commitment. his hunger and thirst for righteousness will be the dominant force in his life.

There will be a difference in his daily life also. This is particularly true of the areas

where growth had been blocked by his own resistance to the Holy Spirit. he now opens the door

wide to all areas of his life, and the Holy Spirit immediately moves to transform these into

Christ's image. Often there is instant victory in some areas of long holdout.

However, in other areas of need the complete transformation may come gradually.

Rather than resisting the Holy Spirit's entrance into new areas of his life, he is now "following

after the Spirit" - adjusting, committing, recommiting, and submitting each area of his life as he

is "led by the Spirit." Before he struggled against both the Enemy and the Spirit. There was a

war inside him. Now, he is fully allied with the Spirit in the war against the Evil One.

After this transformation, he will likely experience greater service to the Lord,

particularly in the area of soul-winning. It may not occur immediately. But, before long, this

believer will find himself drawn into some kind of soul-winning related endeavor.

Many experience new opportunities to help other believers grow in grace. People seem

to "just happen to stop by" to talk about their own needs with him. This is natural. Since his life

is dominated by the one Great Cause of living, it makes sense that he would be about his Father's

business. The Heavenly Father's business on earth is evangelizing the lost and helping believers


He will certainly see new victory over self-will, anger, pride, lustful thinking,

materialism, selfishness, complacency, envy, jealousy, cruelty, lukewarmness, selfish ambition,

and the like. Freedom that once sounded impossible is now experienced. he is at peace inside.

The temptation to the above sins must recur but his inclination to do them is gone.

In place of the "garbage" of his old nature, he experiences a distinct increase in his

patience, gentleness, kindness, happiness, contentment, satisfaction, meekness, self-control, joy,

peacefulness, humility, sincerity, and, most of all, love. These attitudes and qualities have not

come to the full perfection of Christ's example. But they have grown so much he feels he might

burst. He has taken a giant leap in spiritual growth.

His hunger for further growth drives him forward. he becomes more sensitive to sin and

temptation. He is more careful to avoid hurting others. He becomes teachable and is readily

instructed or corrected when he is wrong. He is drawn deeper into the Word and prayer and

establishes other habits that indicate his devotion to God.

He becomes increasingly active in caring for the poor, widowed, orphaned, jailed, or

others in distress and need. He actually finds himself searching for opportunities to use his

resources to aid others.

Of course, all of this does not happen at once. After all, this treasure is in a "clay pot."

He continues to be human. But he has made a lot of spiritual progress in only a short time. He

has experienced a "time warp" in his spiritual growth. he is a new person. His daily walk is

quite different than before. Certainly, he still has much room for improvement. But his desire

and commitment is 100% pure - to please Jesus. Even where he falls short in some way, it is

because of human weakness and is not by willful disobedience. He no longer must spend so

much energy fighting his own evil desires. he now concentrates on acts of righteousness and

mercy. He is radically different in his daily walk.


Q: Where can I find real live examples of this kind of life?

A: Spirit-filled Christians are all around you. Whom would you nominate as the

person you know to be most full of love for God and others? You can probably think of several.

In just about every church, of every denomination, in every country, you can find people who

have totally committed themselves to God and have been filled with perfect love.

Entirely sanctified people are not likely to brag about holiness. In fact, they may be

embarrassed if you were to tell them how holy you believe they are. But, when you think of the

lives of church people, several often immediately surface as "obviously saints." Often, these

saints may be older folk. However, it need not be so. A multitude of young adults and even

youth have been perfected in love. A great revival of holiness is currently happening among this

very age group. So don't limit your search to the elderly, or to those who advertise their holiness.

But search among people living in the daily trenches of life, who possess a pure love for their

Master and a consistent love for their fellowman. These have likely experienced exactly what we

have been talking about.

In fact, a person who possesses perfect love may not even understand everything you

have been reading in this book. Many people misunderstand the doctrine, yet have experienced

its truth in life. Sad to say, there are also many who understand the doctrine, yet have not

experienced its reality in them. Understanding doctrine is important. But experiencing God's

grace in our life is more important.

Ordinary people are living the holy life. They are seldom, if ever, in the majority, and

they are not inclined to brag about it. But in almost every church you can find some.


Q: How can you know that you are indeed entirely sanctified?

A: First, I can examine my heart's desire - is it entirely and completed magnetized

toward Jesus Christ? Do I love God with every bit of my heart, mind, soul, and strength? Is

there no mixture of desire in my heart? Have I nothing lingering there making me want to

disobey God?

Second, I can examine my love for others. Does my heart well up with love for other

people: those who are unfriendly or unkind; the poor, helpless, and needy; those without Jesus

Christ; even those who consider themselves my enemies? Is there any remaining bitterness,

envy, jealousy, unforgiving spirit, or wrath toward any other man or woman? Do I entirely love

others as much as I love and care for myself? These are evidences of perfect love for others,

which God creates in me.

Third, have I totally consecrated my all to Jesus? Is there anything I have held back?

Have I kept back some secret sin? Have I placed a "no trespassing' sign to God in any area of my

life? Does God have all of my time, talents, money, possessions, future, and family - every bit of


Fourth, have I experienced a growth leap toward Christ-likeness? Was there a time

when, after giving all, I experienced a major growth toward Christ-likeness? Have I found the

power to resist all willful sin?

Fifth, has the Holy Spirit witnessed to me - inside me - that He has performed this work?

This witness may not have been clear at first, and it may become sometimes stronger or

sometimes fainter, but do I know it is done?

All of these combine to give me enough evidence so that I can, with assurance, say God

has indeed entirely sanctified me.


Q: Could you summarize the essentials of this experience of entire sanctification?

A: Yes. These 10 points include the most important ideas:

(1) Entire sanctification is perfect love - loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and

strength, and loving my neighbor as myself.

(2) Entire sanctification occurs after conversion. At conversion we are "initially

sanctified," but we are urged to go on unto perfection.

(3) Entire sanctification need not be late in life. For many it may occur after many

years, but it can occur much earlier.

(4) Entire sanctification is preceded by growth. This gradual death to sin and becoming

alive to righteousness is called "progressive sanctification" and leads us into the experience of

entire sanctification.

(5) Entire sanctification is followed by growth. In fact, growth toward the perfect

standard of Jesus Christ will then be more vigorous.

(6) Entire sanctification is not absolute. We can be pure in motive and intention, but

our performance may still frequently fall short of Christ's absolute standard of perfection.

However, we can be delivered from purposeful disobedience to our Lord.

(7) Entire sanctification may be lost. There is no height of grace from which it is not

possible to fall and finally be lost if we choose to do so. Yet, becoming finally lost is not such a

likely danger that we must live in "eternal insecurity."

(8) Entire sanctification occurs instantaneously. Though it is preceded and followed by

growth, there is a certain point when the old nature dies and the heart is full of nothing but a

desire to please Christ fully.

(9) Entire sanctification requires our consecration and faith. If we will give our all to

the Lord and reach out by faith, trusting Him to perform this work, He will do it.

(10) Entire sanctification results in a life of loving service. Its purpose is not to make

us feel good, or to make us saintly monuments; but it is to make us clean vessels for our Master to

use in His work of winning the lost and helping believers grow in Christ-likeness.

Are you a "seeker" after this kind of Christ-likeness?



Use your own personal Bible for the studies at the end of each chapter in this book. If

you are interested in making a serious study of the truth concerning holiness, the Bible study

section in each chapter will be of vital importance to you. Holiness is not a scheme some person

dreamed up then went to the Bible for proof. That we can be holy is clearly taught in the


You may find it especially helpful to mark the study scriptures with a red pencil as you

go along.

With the overview information you now have from this chapter, study each of the

following scripture portions carefully. Then select the statement which best represents what you

think to be the truth of that scripture.


- 1 Peter 1:15,16

- 2 Thessalonians 2:13

- 2 Corinthians 7:1

- Romans 12:1

- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

- Philippians 3:12-15

A. Sanctification begins the moment we are saved. It is our first growth leap

towards Christ-likeness, called "initial sanctification."

B. After we are saved, we must work with the Spirit at purifying ourselves -

putting off sin and putting on righteousness. This is called "progressive sanctification."

C. God demands that we be holy in all of our life. In fact, He expects us to be holy

as He himself is holy.

D. Our part in all of this is "consecration" - offering to God all of us.

E. Though an entirely sanctified person still falls short of perfect Christ-likeness in

performance, he must still press on toward full Christ-likeness.

F. God is able to sanctify us completely - our whole spirit, soul, and body.

For Review and Discussion

1. What is the simplest definition of holiness you can construct?

2. What is the difference between "holiness" and "sanctification?"

3. What is the difference between "sanctification" and "entire sanctification?"

4. In what ways does an entirely sanctified believer have room for improvement?

5. What two general definitions of sin do Christians use? Which one relates to the

statement "You can live above sin?"


 From: Holiness for Ordinary People by Keith Drury
(c) 1983 Wesley Press
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 To contribute to the thinking on this issue, or to contact the writer e-mail Tuesday@indwes.edu