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
Sanctification and Security
What relationship does sanctification have to Christian security? Those who talk a lot
about sanctification generally speak very little about security. Those who teach eternal security
frequently speak little of sanctification. Is there any connection?
Since an entirely sanctified person can live above willful sin, some have wondered if
this work of God in a person's heart makes him eternally secure. They reason that he never will
sin again so he will never be lost. This is not true. There is no spiritual height or strength of
grace from which it is not possible to fall and finally become lost. Sadly, there is much evidence
around us illustrating spiritual "shipwreck."
This misunderstanding results from an inadequate comprehension of what God actually
does in entire sanctification. Because of a new orientation of the heart, it is possible to live
above willful sin. However, no intelligent proponent of entire sanctification would argue that
sin becomes impossible. It is possible to not sin. But to commit sin is not impossible. Thus, if
it is possible to rebel against the Lord and sin, it is possible to fall from grace and eventually be
Security is a relative matter. For instance, I am sitting on a chair as I type these words.
Unless I am overtaken by dizziness or other severe sickness, my changes of falling out of this
chair are slight. However, if I stand on it, especially on the edge of the chair, I am more likely
to fall - i.e., I am less secure. If the chair is placed on top of a table as I stand on it, my security
is further jeopardized. Preposterous as it would be, if I were to stand on the chair while it is
perched in the towering tree outside my window, I would be much less secure than sitting here
in my office. Security is a relative thing - a person may be more or less secure, depending on
where he is and what he is doing.
So it is with the security of believers. Our security is a relative matter. We may be
more secure or less secure, depending on where we are and what we decide to do. There are two
extremes here. On one hand, there are those who insist on an unconditional security, no matter
what. These argue that wherever I am, whatever I do, and regardless the extent of my rebellion,
I continue to be a part of God's family. They say "once a son, always a son." On the other hand,
some argue that it is not only possible, but even likely, that a believer will fall, resulting in a
curious "eternal insecurity." Neither extreme is sound teaching.
As usual, truth is frequently found in the middle of the road. A believer should not
ignore the possibility of becoming an easy target for the devil's devices and falling. Neither
should he or she constantly fret about the likelihood of falling from grace and thus become a
useless spiritual hypochondriac. There is a security for believers. It is not unconditional -
unrelated to our own decisions about life. We may choose to walk precariously and place
ourselves in danger of falling. But, the chances of a believer unwittingly falling from grace are
not so high that we need to live in crippling daily fear.
Sanctification and Backsliding
However, it would be evasive for this book not to address frankly the matter of
backsliding as it relates to the sanctified life. We have seen that it is possible for a believer to
fully consecrate his or her entire life to God, and then, in faith, receive God's cleansing and
power. This is the event of entire sanctification. But the daily walk of the sanctified life must
follow the even or experience. This daily walk is a repeated and continual walk of consecration
and faith. It is "dying daily" by repeated consecration and habitual obedience to the Lord's
clearly given directions.
What happens when a person walking in this way does not obey one of the promptings
of the Spirit? For example, Beverly had lived a dedicated Christian life for years before she
attended a ladies' retreat where the idea of entire sanctification was presented. She recognized
that the one area of "holdout" for her was her unwillingness to witness for Christ to her unsaved
friends at her work for the phone company. At the retreat, she recognized the reason for her
unwillingness to witness. She was more concerned abut what her fellow employees thought of
her than she was for the spread of the gospel. Some of her associates did not even know that she
was a Christian.
At the closing service of the retreat, Beverly made a total dedication of herself to the
Lord and, in faith, received His cleansing and power. She promised to make at least one
attempt to share her faith every week from then on. New spiritual vigor came to Beverly during
the next several months. Everyone seemed to notice "Bev's renewal." Then Christmas came.
With the change of routine, and a vacation trip to her parents, she began to slack off on her
commitment. The Lord would prompt her to say something to an unsaved associate at work,
and she would willfully resist the idea until the opportunity passed.
Within a few weeks, her newly begun habit of a daily time alone with God became less
meaningful. Finally, whole weeks went by without a day of Bible reading and prayer. Church
services became dry and uninteresting to her. She noticed that her old habit of criticizing
certain people at church was beginning to return. By Easter, Beverly had to admit that the
power she once knew was gone. She still felt she was a believer, but the zest and thrill she
associated with the "sanctified life" was gone. She was sliding back, and she knew it.
What will happen to Beverly? Where will she go from here? There are three
First, she might continue her slide into further disobedience. Refusing to witness when
the Lord prompted had been followed by a drying up of personal devotions, which was soon
followed by the return her critical spirit. These three areas of resistance to the Lord will be
followed by others. Unless Bev stops the slide, she may continue on back toward her old life.
This will lead her into outright rebellion against God, and eventual lostness. Bev, who had
tasted of the sweet life of total consecration, could actually even lose her membership in God's
family if she continues her slide away from God.
Second, and perhaps more likely, Beverly may settle into a state of spiritual
lukewarmness, going through he motions at church, but not experiencing the vitality of total
surrender. Any person who has seriously interviewed today's church members would attest to
the fact that many in our churches today fall into this second category. They once tasted of the
life of total commitment for a period, then they began taking things of the altar of total
consecration. Now they live on a plateau of lukewarmness.
Third, Beverly may respond to her realization that she is sliding back with the biblical
response to disobedience - repentance. She may confess she has lost power, and recommit her
all to Jesus, receiving His cleansing and power again. As we shall discuss in the next chapter,
the sanctified life is maintained the same way it is obtained - by consecration and faith. This is
a daily matter, and the life is maintained to the extent to which there is continual daily
consecration and a sustained faith.
A sanctified believer can backslide through negligence, and head back toward the old
life. If not checked, this backsliding may result in a life of lukewarmness and discontentedness,
or eventual outright rebellion and loss of grace. A believer, no matter what his state of grace or
growth, must consider any sliding back to be a serious matter. The trend of our lives tells us
where we will be in the future. If that trend is backwards, trouble lies ahead. Backsliding must
always be taken with utmost seriousness.
Sanctification and Security
While backsliding at any stage of growth must always be considered a present danger,
we must on the other hand avoid becoming insecure. Our paranoia about security may keep us
from doing anything constructive while we constantly check the state of our spiritual lives as if
we expect to be falling from grace at any moment. Such negative expectations can become self-
Entire sanctification does relate to security. As we have seen, security is a relative
thing - a person may be more secure or less secure. This likelihood of falling is dependent on us
- on the decisions we make. A person living the sanctified life is one who has totally
surrendered to the Lord as the Master of his or her life. Jesus is the Boss. This total
consecration means that the individual has firmly set the pattern that all future decisions will be
in accordance with the will of Jesus Christ. Al the time he or she is saying to God, "Not my
will, but Thine." When decisions and promptings come in the future, the question will not be,
"Do others do it?" or "Do I feel like doing it?" The only question is, Does the Lord want me to
do this? The entirely sanctified person is totally committed to permanent obedience to God's
The relationship to security is clear. A person who constantly lives in obedience to
God is totally secure as long as he continues to walk in obedience. This is a relative security.
Security is relative to obedience.
The question relating to the person living the sanctified life is, "Will the entirely
sanctified person be more likely to obey Christ?" The answer to this is an unequivocal "Yes!"
Thus, the entirely sanctified person can be said to be more secure. He is not unconditionally
secure; but as long as he walks in obedience, there need be no fear of falling.
God is not seeking an opportunity to "bounce" believers out of His family. Like a
Father, He tenderly encourages, corrects, and chastens His children. If our lives are heading in
the wrong direction, He nudges, rebukes, and delivers sometimes painful discipline in an
attempt to awaken us and straighten us out. If we "despise" or rebel against this chastening and
walk out of His home in rebellion, it is then we forfeit the grace He so freely gave to us.
The notion is false that a believer is unconditionally secure, no matter what he or she
does. Yet, believers do have a conditional security which provides an assurance and certainity.
God's work may be pursued with vigor and enthusiasm when perfect obedience reigns. There is
little need for repeated introspection concerning our salvation if we are living in daily obedience
to Christ. The crux of the entire matter is, "Am I obeying all know leadings of the Lord?" If I
am, there is no need to worry about security. If I am not, then I should worry about the level of
my obedience, not security. Security is not the central issue - it is obedience.
1. Each of these scripture passages illustrates the conditional security a believers has.
Notice how frequently conditional words like "if" are used. Select several of the following
scripture passages. From each scripture, respond to the question: "What will make (or keep) the
a. Matthew 24:11-13
b. Matthew 18:21-35
c. Luke 8:11-15
d. John 6:66-71
e. John 8:31,32
f. John 15:1-6
g. Acts 11:21-23
h. 1 Corinthians 15:1,2
i. 1 Timothy 4:15,16
j. 1 Timothy 5:14-15
k. Hebrews 2:1-3
l. Hebrews 6:4-9
m. Hebrews 10:23-29
For Review and Discussion
1. Describe the three ideas of security - unconditional security, constant insecurity, and
2. Upon what is the believer's security dependent?
3. Is it possible for an entirely sanctified person to slide back but not all the way to being
lost? In other words, could a sanctified believer revert to the life lived before entire
sanctification but still be a Christian?
4. While an entirely sanctified person is not unconditionally secure, is he or she "more"
5. What advice would you give to an entirely sanctified person to help them keep from
From: Holiness for Ordinary People by Keith Drury
(c) 1983 Wesley Press
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