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 12

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?

Relative Security

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-

fulfilling prophecies.

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

believer secure?"

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

relative security.

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

sliding back?


 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