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
Toward Entire Sanctification
The term sanctification refers to the total work of God in making me Christlike. It
includes the following:
1. Initial Sanctification -- what God does in me at conversion.
2. Progressive sanctification -- God's gradual work that helps me grow in grace as
3. Entire sanctification -- God's work of cleansing and empowerment when I
totally commit myself to Him.
4. Continual cleansing -- God's daily cleansing of the entirely sanctified believer
drawing him or her closer to the image of Christ.
5. Glorification -- God's final transformation of me at death, preparing me for
All of these are elements of sanctification. Don't let these terms scare you away! In this
chapter we will deal primarily with the first two: (1) God's work of initial sanctification at
conversion, and (2) progressive sanctification; gradual growth toward entire sanctification.
This chapter is a little different. It is written in first-person style as the testimony of a
woman in her mid-thirties. We will call her Sue.
I. "Satan's Slave"
"Before I was a Christian, I was really nothing more than a slave -- a slave of Satan. I
guess I didn't realize it, but I walked in habitual obedience to Satan's will for my life. I disobeyed
God because I chose to. Sin, for me, was not something to avoid. I enjoyed sinning.
"Sure, there were times when I felt twinges of guilt. This was especially true when I
hung around Christians very much. I would occasionally wonder if there was something more to
life. Yet living it up and satisfying my own human cravings were the true goals of my life. Any
thoughts about 'turning over a new leaf' would quickly pass as I continued to pursue a life of sin
"Now, I don't mean to say I never did anything good. I did many good deeds. In fact, I
was quite respected as a good moral person. I figured I really didn't need Christ. If everybody
did their part, the world would be a better place and satisfaction and fulfillment would result. So
I busily engaged in a life dedicated to good deeds.
"Then my life began to fall apart. I thought I had everything under control but, little by
little, things went haywire. I began to question whether our house, cars, boat, and our summer
cottage brought real satisfaction. My marriage hit the skids, and my husband began to threaten
to leave. Life began to turn sour."
"I had a neighbor who was always bugging me to go to church. I kept making excuses
saying that someday I was going to start attending church. 'It's good for the kids,' I would say.
As meaning drained out of my life, I began to watch these neighbors more closely. They seemed
to really 'have it all together.' My idea of Christianity was long faces, stern living, and absolutely
no fun. But the family next door was quite cheerful, loving, and had far more fun than our
"One Sunday, I woke up early and decided I would start attending church that day. I
called my Christian neighbors. (I didn't realize it was 6:30 a.m. and I had gotten them out of
bed!) They were enthusiastic and assured me I could sit with them in church.
"I was strangely attracted by the people in that little church. They seemed to have
something in their lives that I was missing. When the pastor gave the sermon, it seemed he was
talking directly to me. I don't remember what he said. But I began hurting inside like I had
never hurt before. I had started to attend church so I could feel better about life, and the opposite
had happened. I began feeling miserable! Yet, I kept going each Sunday with my neighbors. I
gradually realized I needed something they had. Several times the preacher invited people to
come up front and pray at the end of the service. I almost went forward. But there was something
inside me that held me back. I figured I just wasn't ready yet. I began to read my Bible. It didn't
make much sense, but I thought that it might help me out somehow.
"Then one morning I couldn't stand it any longer. When the pastor gave the altar call, I
responded immediately. My neighbor went forward with me. That day I confessed I was a
sinner and asked God to accept me into His family. I decided to turn away from the sins I was
regularly committing. God forgave me and adopted me into His family.
"What a difference! It actually seemed that the entire world was brighter after that day.
My husband and children noticed. My boss noticed. And my best friends began asking, 'What
happened to you? You're so different.' I told them I had accepted Jesus into my heart. They just
shook their heads and figured I had gone off the deep end!
"I still faced problems, but I had a new energy and help in tackling them. I began
telling everyone about what God had done for me. And because I had always been isolated by my
own bitterness, lots of people noticed the change in me. This excitement and joy continued for
more than a year. My husband and several of my old friends began attending church with me --
two of them accepted Christ.
"I don't mean to suggest that I was perfect. In fact, I still fell into sin a number of times.
But I had a new desire inside to please Christ."
III. "Gradual Growth"
"Then I discovered a new problem. As I read the Bible, attended Sunday school, and
talked to other Christians, I began realizing God's demands were pretty high. I saw He wanted
total obedience to His Word. He wanted me to be just like His Son, Jesus. This seemed
completely impossible to me, yet I kept sensing this was what He wanted. At conversion I had
received a new desire to obey Christ. I was no longer a slave of Satan. But, along with this
desire to obey, I still had a spirit of disobedience to God at times. In fact, it seemed there was a
constant tug-of-war inside me: the Holy Spirit was on one end, my old desires were on the other,
and I was the rope!
"Usually, I sided with my new life in Christ and obeyed Him. But sometimes I sided
with my old life and disobeyed the Lord. After these incidents of disobedience, I would feel
terrible. I knew that the Bible commanded me to obey, yet often I just wasn't able to pull it off.
Some of the 'new convert shine' began to wear off, and I became less intent on sharing Jesus with
"Yet, I continued to grow as a Christian. God would make new demands on my life -- to
give something up, or to begin doing something I ought to be doing, often struggled a long time
over these issues. I wanted to please Christ, but I also wanted to keep some practices, thoughts,
and habits from my old life. Even when I realized that God wanted me to change, I often resisted
Him. These competing desires plagued me, and I sometimes became so weary from the struggle
that I was tempted to give up.
"Each time God brought 'new light' to me about something I needed to stop or start I
generally responded in three stages."
STAGE ONE -- DENIAL. "I remember when He convicted me of a certain habit I had
carried over from my old life. My first response was to deny my need. I rationalized my habit as
normal, human, and even helpful. I said to myself, 'I'm not perfect -- just forgiven.' I had seen
other Christians with the same habit. So, I denied having any need.
"However, the Holy Spirit kept knocking. The more I denied the need, the more He
gently convicted me. Finally, I realized that continual denial would eventually lead to a cold-
hearted experience. I might even lose the relationship I was having with the Lord. So I admitted
I needed to change. I said, 'The habit is wrong for me,. and I must give it up.'"
STAGE TWO -- DELAY. "Then I entered the second stage. I had admitted the need
for change. Now I tried to delay changing as long as possible. I was convinced, but I had not yet
decided to obey. A long struggle followed. I would promise myself to change, but usually I
would break the promise. I kept saying, 'Eventually I am going to stop.' But I would emphasize
the 'eventually' part!
"The Holy Spirit kept convicting. Now, He had a powerful ally -- my mind. I had
already admitted need and my mind was made up. The Spirit and my mind worked in concert on
my will. The devil encouraged me to continue dragging my feet, not fully obeying what I knew
to be God's will. The tension inside me during this second stage was almost unbearable. I knew
obedience was the only choice -- yet I wanted to continue my habit just a little longer.
"On this particular issue of the wrong habit an interesting event brought about my
surrender. Our son takes out the garbage each day when he returns from school. I often have to
remind him once or twice of this chore. On one particular day he was especially slow to respond.
I had reminded him of his duty four or five times before we sat down to supper. After supper I
noticed the garbage was still not carried out and I warned him, 'This is the last time I am going
to remind you. Take out the garbage!' He went for his coat, but once again got sidetracked with
some of his toys. Later I discovered that the garbage was still not taken out. Needless to say, we
had a 'serious talk' (the kind which starts with a spanking!). I explained to my son how
continued delaying in obedience eventually becomes disobedience. I was disciplining him, even
though he had not outwardly defied my authority. His foot-dragging had, in fact, become
STAGE THREE -- OBEDIENCE. "Then the Lord made it clear to me. That was
exactly what I had been doing with Him! I knew what He wanted, yet I resisted obeying His will
concerning this habit. I could no longer deny my need. I was ready to quit delaying. I took the
third step -- obedience. That very night I surrendered to Him my old habit and asked for
"These three stages pretty well describe the next several years of my growth in grace.
First, denial of need, then delaying change, and finally obedience. I call it 'walking in the light.'
It seems that not long after I would obey God in one area of my life He would move His light
forward, showing a new area of need. Then would come a period of conviction and struggle
ending -- usually -- IV. with eventual obedience. After this obedience the full joy of total
obedience to Christ would return and would last until the next period of denial or delay.
"But this is not the whole story. It wouldn't be honest to say that I eventually obeyed in
all the areas where the Lord convicted. Actually, there were two or three areas where I continued
to resist Christ's Lordship. I guess I simply posted a 'no trespassing' sign before these thoughts,
habits, or practiced and decided to reserve them for myself. This brought a new realization to
me: the essential problem in this struggle was my self-will. I wanted to deny need, or delay
change. These competing wants in my heart troubled me. I wondered if there was a chance to be
delivered from this inclination toward evil. It seemed like I was an ally of the devil. He could
count on me to slow, or completely block, my own obedience to Christ."
IV. "A New Vision"
"Then I heard about entire sanctification. I had heard about it before, but this time the
truth really came home. I realized that God wanted to be in total command of my life. He
wanted to cleanse me of my inclination to disobey and fill me with a power to serve him with all
my abilities. I saw, undeniably, that Satan's ally inside me was me! My own self-will repeatedly
struggled against the Lord's will for me. I had seen in the Bible God's standard of holiness. I
knew I fell far short of what He expected. More than this, I knew that I didn't honestly want to
be just like Christ. My desire was divided.
"I began to realize that God was not only convicting me about these few areas of
holdout. He was now making claims on something bigger -- my will itself. He wanted me to
settle this matter of how serious I was about obeying Him -- completely obeying His will. At this
point it was not a question of surrendering this or that practice, or of being willing to begin a
certain habit or practice of righteousness. Now He wanted me to surrender me! He wanted me to
totally consecrate myself to Him as the Master of my life. He was asking that I settle this matter,
once for all, of who would be 'boss' in my life. A book I read promised that if I really made a
'living sacrifice' -- a dedication -- of myself to God, He would cleanse me of this rebellious
"At first I doubted that God could deliver me of the inclination to disobey which had so
long been part of me. I was, however, quite interested in the notion. I began reading about it,
and I talked to several other believers about it. Gradually I began to see this idea in the
Scriptures. The Christians I respected most all seemed to have had a time when they 'sold out
completely' to Christ. My mind eventually came to believe that God wanted this old consecration
and that He would, in fact, do something inside me when He had all of me."
V. "The Consecration"
"I still did not make a total surrender to Christ. I believed I eventually would -- yet I
delayed. It was then that I realized I was going through the very same stages I so often had
followed in committing other areas to the Lord. In each case where I had obeyed I could now see
how it was for my own good. God did not want to make me miserable! He wanted to make my
life full and joyful. I was working around the house when this fresh realization dawned on me.
God wanted all of me because He knows best. I sat down and prayed to God. 'I'm yours -- I want
you to be the Boss of my life. I no longer will delay consecrating my all to you -- from this day
forward You have all of me.' Once my will was fully submitted, God cleansed my heart that day
of my inclination to disobey Him. And life has been quite different since!"
VI. "In Retrospect"
"Looking back over several years of my gradual growth in grace, I now realize that all
the time God had been preparing me for that moment of total surrender to Him. He had
progressively drawn me closer to Him in preparation for a new relationship and walk with Him --
in full obedience.
"Progressive sanctification and entire sanctification are not in competition. They are
both elements of God's total plan of making me Christlike. I have several friends who are, right
now, in this period of gradual growth. They are winning the battle part of the time. Yet, at other
times they are painfully aware of desires inside them which are contrary to God's will. We share
together in a regular small-group Bible study, and I can see how God is working. He is bringing
them to the place where they are capturing the vision of His son in such a way that they will some
day willingly place their total selves in His hand.
"After all, knowing the kind of person Jesus is, why shouldn't I trust Him with the
steering wheel of my life?"
This is one person's testimony. Of course, every individual is different, and your own
growth in progressive sanctification may not parallel this account. However, Sue's example
illustrates how a believer is transformed at conversion and grows in grace as he or she
approaches the decision about entire sanctification.
It is hard to chart how God works. He defies all our systems and diagrams. Like a
Father, He leads us along in His light, gently urging us onward. In love He knows what is best
for us; and when the truth dawns that he wants our all -- enabling Him to be the Master of each
life -- we can do nothing but place our lives in His hands.
Here's the point of this chapter: If a believer continually obeys the Lord he or she will
progressively draw closer to Christ, eventually leading to a decision about total surrender to God.
Progressive sanctification leads to entire sanctification.
Testimonies and individual experience are not an adequate basis for establishing
doctrine. Doctrine is constructed as an interpretation of what the Bible says. Yet, personal
experience plays an important role in our interpretation of the Word. It is the testing ground of
doctrine. Experience is where daily life is lived. This the Bible is literally packed with stories
about the lives foot real people. God's Word is more than a collection of doctrine. It shares the
sometimes intimate details of individuals' lives -- their successes and failures to follow God['s
path of holiness. At other points in this book we have studied the teaching (or "didactic")
sections of scripture. It is especially appropriate at this point to look at one of the real-life
incidents from a Bible character. Turn to Psalm 51.
1. Who wrote this prayer?
2. Can you recall the incident that prompted this prayer? (If not, check out chapter 11 and
12 of 2 Samuel.)
3. What is David asking God to do? (verses 1-2)
4. What does "my sin is always before me" mean? (verse 3)
5. In verse 5 what observation does David make about himself?
6. In verses 7 and 10 David prays for more than forgiveness. What is he asking God to do?
7. What results does he anticipate from both the forgiveness and the cleansing? (verses 8-9,
For Review and Discussion
1. Describe each of the following aspects of sanctification:
a. Initial sanctification
b. Progressive sanctification
c. Entire sanctification
d. Continual cleansing
2. What was the process Sue went through from being "Satan's slave" through her
3. As Sue began to grow in grace, God led her to change in several areas. There were
three stages she often went through as she came to obedience. What are they?
4. What relationship is there between progressive sanctification and entire sanctification?
5. Discuss: Is a decision about entire sanctification a natural occurrence for all believers as
they grow in grace? Are some people entirely sanctified yet do not know it?
From: Holiness for Ordinary People by Keith Drury
(c) 1983 Wesley Press
Only not-for-sale copying of this chapter is permitted. All other rights reserved.
To purchase full book or leader's guide, call 1-800-4-WESLEY (1-800-493-7539)
Or visit Amazon.com page for this book.
To contribute to the thinking on this issue, or to contact the writer e-mail Tuesday@indwes.edu