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
Images of Sanctification
Jesus frequently used images and illustrations to communicate truth to His listeners. He
was comfortable illustrating a metaphors, similes, and even an occasional allegory.
He found examples from His home life. He illustrated spiritual truths with the leaven in
bread dough, sewing patches on old clothing, and storing new wine in old wineskins. He moved
into the world of nature, commerce, and interpersonal relationships with equal ease. He told
stories about farmers sowing seeds, pearl merchants traveling all over the world, and a gripping
tale of two boys in rebellion - one who ran away, the other who stayed home.
Why did Jesus use illustrations, images, and stories to communicate truth? Why didn't
He merely list out what He wanted His followers to do and leave it at that? Jesus never wrote a
book; He was a preacher. He preached to crowds on grassy hillsides, along roadways, and even
in the midst of the noisy bustle of the Temple area. His listeners had no cassette recorders. They
couldn't send for a printed copy of Jesus' latest message. They had to remember what He said.
Jesus was an effective communicator. He knew instinctively what most of us need to
learn - people remember stories and illustrations best. Images give us a handle on truth. They
penetrate deep into our hearts and minds, reminding us of the truth they portrayed long after we
However, there are limits in using images and illustrations. Most illustrations have one
central truth. Yes, we may discover a wealth of other truths in a story, but these must be
carefully considered in light of all scriptural teaching.
As we think about a few images and illustrations of sanctification, keep this in mind. Be
careful not to go off the deep end, taking these illustrations as allegories and forcing every aspect
to mean something. If taken too far, all illustrations eventually break down. If we stick to the
central point of the illustration, these will be extremely helpful in understanding aspects of God's
"Sacrifice - Who, Me?"
What does God want from His followers? Isn't accepting Christ enough? St. Paul,
calling his readers "brothers" (Romans 12:1-2), urges them to offer their bodies as "living
sacrifices" to God. What did this mean to his readers?
The ancients were familiar with rituals of sacrifice. Almost every religion had some
form of sacrificial worship. In our day of humane societies and "I-brake-for-animals" bumper
stickers, the whole idea seems odd and unusual. The Jews had a particular system of sacrificial
rituals. Many chapters of the Old Testament are devoted to the exacting methodology prescribed
for selecting and sacrificing a lamb, goat, or bull to God The sacrifice was to be "perfect" -
without any spot or blemish. This was to ensure that individuals did not bring their second best to
God. These animals were offered as sacrifices for the sins of the people.
The Roman readers of Paul's letter would recall the Jewish sacrificial system when urged
to "offer your bodies as living sacrifices to God.' Did Paul mean they were to actually climb up
on an altar and commit sacrificial suicide? No, he uses the term "living sacrifice."
Paul was urging his readers to totally surrender to God. He used the illustration of a
man bringing the best of his flock, totally surrendering it to God as an image of what the believer
should do with himself. It is a figure of total consecration. We are to place our "all on the altar"
-- giving God our time, talents, thoughts, money, reputation, secret areas we are holding back,
future -- everything!
What will God do in response to total consecration? He will "renew your mind" so it is
literally transformed. Then you will have the desire and power to cease being conformed to this
In summary, one aspect of the work of entire sanctification is the part we do --
consecration. Before God will do His total and perfecting work in our hearts and minds, we
musts be willing to sacrifice anything -- everything to Him. God doesn't want our second best or
leftovers. He wants all of us -- so He can use us to influence the lives of others. This is not a
physical dying. Rather, it is the death of self-centeredness. It is sacrificing our inclination to be
our own boss, being willing for the Spirit to lead us in all areas of our lives. Total consecration is
offering ourselves as living sacrifices to God.
Crucifixion was a common mode of execution during Bible times. compared with
today's standards all forms of executions in ancient days appear "cruel and unusual." Criminals
would be hastily tried, found guilty, and whisked off to their execution in a matter of hours. The
crucifixion of Jesus is such an example of swift "justice."
The readers of the epistles were not strangers to the idea of killing. Their society teemed
with violent executions, sometimes a thousand at one time! They knew what it meant to
"crucify," "mortify," or otherwise kill someone or something. The New Testament writers
continually speak to these people of the "crucifixion" of the old self, or "putting to death" what
belonged to their earthly natures. (Read Romans 6:6; 8:13) Colossians 3:5.)
"A Good Scrubbing"
The first two images, or illustrations, help us understand our part -- consecration -- in
sanctification. The next two images will help us understand better God's part in sanctification --
cleansing and filling.
Paul uses the "scrubbing" image in connection with sanctification in his letter to the
Ephesian believers (Ephesians 5:25-27). In the middle of a discussion on how a husband should
treat his wife, Paul uses Christ's cleansing work as an illustration. That is, in fact, a triple
illustration! First, there was the Old Testament sacrificial lamb getting scrubbed up for
presentation to God. Second, there was Jesus who loved us so much He became our Sacrificial
Lamb. Finally, there is God's cleansing work in us as individuals.
We will lay aside, for a moment, the trust to husbands here and motive Christ's
sanctifying work in His church. It says:
1. Christ gave himself for us.
2. His purpose is our cleansing.
3. He does this by the "washing with water through the word."
4. He plans to present us to himself.
5. We will be radiant, without stain, or any other blemish, holy, blameless.
Do you remember the image of the sacrificial lambs we talked about earlier? These
sacrificial lambs arrived in Jerusalem matted with the dust and dirt of desert travel. They entered
through a special "Sheep Gate" and were taken immediately to a pool of water. At this pool they
were thoroughly scrubbed until they were spotless. Only then were they routed into the temple
proper for presentation to the Lord in sacrifice.
What a striking illustration of Christ's work in us sanctifying, purifying, cleansing,
making us holy! His sacrifice on the cross extends far beyond our conversion. Through Him we
can be completely cleansed to be presented holy and without stain. That is what God does in
purifying our hearts in entire sanctification.
You may have noticed, in your study following chapter 2 that in Ephesians 5:18 Paul
selects a rather unique image to illustrate being filled with the Holy Spirit. He cautioned the
Ephesian believers against becoming drunk with wine and encouraged them, instead, to be filled
with the Spirit.
In the use of drunkenness in connection with another kind of filling accidental? I don't
think so. People in all cultures understand drunkenness. Everyone has seen men and women
who have "sold out" to alcohol. Alcohol becomes the driving force of their lives -- coming ahead
of their family, friends, job, wealth, position, power, or popularity. They are "driven to drink."
Their thirst seems unquenchable. They are not satisfied with a mere "social drink." They are
filled with one great passion in life -- the "next drink."
When an alcoholic becomes filled with drink, he behaves in a totally different manner.
He does things he would not normally even consider doing. We say he is "under the influence"
The image is dramatic. Substitute "Holy Spirit" for alcohol, and you have a description
of a Spirit-filled man or woman. After I pledge my all to Christ, totally rejecting the deeds of the
old life, He responds with cleansing and filling. When every area of my life is open to His
workings, and I am in total submission to the Lord, His Spirit fills me and brings to me a power I
never dreamed possible.
The Spirit-filled man or woman is totally given over to pleasing God. the driving force
of life is obedience to God -- they will sacrifice anything for their Lord. Their thirst for holiness
is unquenchable. They are no longer satisfied to be "social drinkers" of the Spirit. Their passion
is to be everything God plans for them. They are sold out to God. They are completely "under
the influence" of the Spirit of Christ.
Are you contenting yourself with a little sip of God here and there If not, will you
totally sell out to Him and allow His Spirit to fill your heart, mind, soul, and body -- all of you, to
the extent that you live your daily life totally under His influence?
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."
The images and illustrations of a sacrifice, crucifixion, scrubbing, and filling are biblical
ones. Other illustrations, not found in the Scriptures, may also be helpful in understanding
sanctification. Let me give two examples:
Pretend that you hold two pieces of curved metal in your hand. They look exactly alike.
They are of the same weight, material, and size. You cannot tell them apart. After using them
for awhile you discover that one of these pieces of metal has a power and the other does not. One
is a magnet. It has a special quality we call "magnetism." This quality transforms the one piece
of metal into a force beyond its inherent properties.
The metal is now naturally attracted to certain other metals. In fact, a tiny needle
endued with this force and balanced on a point will invariably indicate the magnetic "north pole."
We call this a compass. The force in that tiny piece of metal gives it an "orientation" it had never
So it is with believers who receive God's work of entire sanctification. They now have a
force not inherent to themselves. They find themselves habitually drawn toward holiness and
obedience. Their desire is pure -- 100% magnetized toward Christ. No matter where they are,
their inner nature draws them toward righteousness. they have received a new "orientation in
"Who Is the Owner Here?"
Imagine, for a moment, that your entire life could be represented as a house. Various
rooms would represent the many compartments of your life -- your time, talents, appetites,
money, future, reputation, thought life, possessions, and dozens of other rooms, closets, and
hiding places. Do you have this image in your mind?
Next, Jesus comes along and knocks on your front door. After a period of time, you
invite Him to enter and live in the center of your home. As soon as He enters, He goes to work
cleaning out some rooms that have been "let go" for years. The house is totally different in only a
few weeks. Some neighbors say they don't even recognize it since your Guest came to live with
But after awhile you begin to wonder if Jesus is going too far. He keeps moving into
new rooms and wants to clean them up too. You were quite attached to some of what He refers to
as "this old rubbish." You begin to resist His attempts to change your whole house around. you
slip away into one of your favorite rooms where you have kept a number of relics from your old
life. Then comes a quiet knock. It is your Guest saying, "I want to clean up that area too." You
gather up one or two secret things and stuff them into the closet and, with great enthusiasm,
announce to the Lord, "Come in, Lord. You can have everything now."
What does He do? He moves into this room, cleanses it, then walks directly up to the
little closet where you have retreated with a few holdouts. He softly knocks on the closet door
saying, "I want all of you -- to make you strong." You may struggle for some time in that secret
closet. He returns repeatedly, knocking softly.
Then it occurs to you that this man is your friend. He has totally changed your house
around, and all the changes were for the better. He loves you more than anyone ever has. He
always seems to know what's best. You say to yourself, "What am I doing in here hiding from
Him? He knows more about managing houses than I could ever imagine." You fling open the
closet door, turn over your few leftovers from your old life to Him. Rushing to your office safe,
you remove the title deed to your house and carry it back to Jesus. "Here, take the whole house,"
you say as you sign over the deed. "From now on it's Yours. You manage it. You direct the
remodeling. You decide what must go and what should be added. Right here and now I am
signing everything over to You. I'll work for you and let You do whatever You have in mind
with this house. It is Yours. I am Yours." This is entire consecration.
Who owns your life?
1. Read Romans 12:1-2. What aspect of sanctification does this scripture illustrate? In
2. What connection can you see between the verses above and what Paul says in Galatians
3. What aspect of sanctification do the following verses illustrate to you?
a. Colossians 3:5-10
b. Romans 6:6
c. Romans 8:17
4. What common theme do these scriptures emphasize?
a. Acts 2:4
b. Acts 4:31
c. Acts 9:17
d. Ephesians 5:18
5. What aspect of God's sanctifying work do you discover in these verses:
a. Zechariah 13:1
b. Ephesians 5:26
For Review and Discussion
1. Which image of sanctification is most helpful to your own understanding? Why?
2. Can you think of some current images and illustrations for sanctification?
3. Why do illustrations help us understand truth?
4. What are the dangers of using illustrations? Can you cite an example of misuse of an
5. For each image list what part of sanctification it illustrates.
From: Holiness for Ordinary People by Keith Drury
(c) 1983 Wesley Press
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