Dialogue on the Sanctified Life
Confusion about the sanctified life abounds. Some folk have painted an absurd picture
of what it means to be sanctified. Many have the idea that this walk with God makes a person
some sort of spiritual superman, raising him above all human frailties and temptations and
providing a life of constant exultation and joy. This is not true.
This chapter is written in dialogue style between two individuals about the sanctified
life. The first (JL) has been a believer for eight years and recently made a total consecration to
God and was entirely sanctified. Yet, there are still many questions. The second, (SB), is JL's
spiritual mentor, and has been walking in the sanctified life for several years. This is their
JL: "It has been several months now since I experienced God's sanctifying work in my
life. I have shared this with several of my close friends, but I am not sure how widely I should
broadcast it. I almost wonder if it is something like humility -- once you claim it you no longer
have it. What do you think? Should I testify to entire sanctification?"
SB: "Sure, but with great care. Probably you should not talk about it to an unbeliever at
all. They do not have the spiritual perception to understand sanctification. And, in speaking to
believers, be careful to avoid the appearance of spiritual boasting. When you testify, speak with
humility, seeing that all the glory goes to God. Nevertheless, do speak up, for two good reasons:
(1) It will affirm the experience to you -- just as public confession about conversion was a great
aid to your life. (2) It will be a great encouragement to other believers who are seeking a deeper
walk with God. Certainly you should tell others. Just use discretion and care."
JL: "I'm beginning to get confused on one particular point concerning sanctification. I
think I really need help. Last month I was sure God had cleansed me. I am beginning to wonder
about that now."
SB: "What makes you question that this work was done in your heart?"
JL: "Well, for a month or so it seemed things were going well -- I didn't even give the
slightest consideration to some of the wrong thoughts and attitudes I had. It seemed like I would
not even be tempted again. Then, during this last month I have been tempted severely to think
the same kind of thoughts as before. And I've been tempted to develop some of those sinful inner
attitudes again. How could I be sanctified when I am tempted like this again?"
SB: "Have you given in to these temptations?"
JL: No, I haven't. But even when I resist them, they often do not go away. It's like a
giant battle, and I am getting shot at from all sides."
SB: "Why have you resisted so far?"
JL: "I want to be obedient -- I remember what I was like last year at this time, and I
want no part of my former defeated life. In fact, that's what is distressing me. I fear I might give
in and wind up even less happy than before."
SB: "Don't worry so much. Take heart that you have not given in to these temptations.
You have committed yourself wholly to Christ and the matter is settled -- you have decided to
obey Him. But no experience on earth can place you beyond temptation. There may be periods
of peace which remain for days, weeks, or even months. You might be lulled into thinking you
will no longer be tempted. How wrong! You will repeatedly be tempted. In fact, it is quite
possible that Satan will double his attacks on a totally committed person. So, don't be defeated by
temptation. A servant is not above his master -- Jesus was tempted; you will be too.
JL: "Then what was I cleansed from? If I am tempted by something, I must want to do
it or it wouldn't be tempting. So how could I have been cleansed from my nature of
SB: "You must not confuse temptation with the evil nature. Take Jesus for example.
His nature was pure. He was in the garden and the devil was tempting Him to avoid the cross.
Did He want to be crucified? Was He saying to Himself, 'This is what I really want to do'? No.
His humanness drew back from the painful experience before Him. His natural human
inclination was to avoid pain. There was still a struggle. In fact, He struggled so much He
sweated drops of blood. Yet the matter was settled from the start. His will was so completely
committed He could pray 'Not My will, but Yours be done.' His natural body resisted, but His
heart was set toward total obedience to God.
"When I am tempted, I try to remember Jesus' example. He was without an evil
inclination, yet He wrestled to the point of sweating blood. Entire sanctification does not deliver
you from human desires -- fear of pain, desire for acceptance, sexual drive, and so forth. It
cleanses your nature so that you are able to keep from abusing or perverting these natural desires,
becoming disobedient. When your will is set (you have settled the matter of total obedience to
God) and even when great seasons of temptation come, you can know that the whole business is
settled. Then when the curtain comes down, you will have resisted because the central principle
of your life is 'not my will, but God's be done.'"
Keeping Entirely Sanctified
JL: "Like I said, the life of total obedience to the Lord is so rich for me that sometimes
I'm afraid I may lose this walk with Christ. Have you ever felt that way?"
SB: "Sure. In fact, one time I did lose this walk with Christ."
JL: "How did it happen? How did you get back on track?"
SB: "Well, it's a long and painful story. I settled this whole thing of Christ's Lordship a
long time ago. I had placed all of my life in Christ's hands. Eleven months later I began to drift
into casualness. The zeal I had began to diminish. I quietly began to take one or two things back
off the altar of total consecration. They were areas I had trouble with before. The Spirit
convicted me, but I did not listen. Soon I was in purposeful disobedience to the Lord. My love
began to dry up, and I became unconcerned and critical again.
"Then I went to a renewal retreat in the mountains of Colorado, and the Lord made it
clear tome what I was doing. I was resisting His will in my life. He and I both knew it. The
blessing was gone. That night beside my bed in Colorado, I sobbed out my confession to Jesus. I
had taken myself back from His leading and control. I was resisting and rebelling against the
Lord -- sinning. That night I placed myself on the altar of consecration again, and the blessing
of this obedient life returned.
"I learned an important lesson through that painful time. Consecration is more than a
once-for-all event. Retaining entire sanctification is done the same way we receive it. I keep
sanctified by keeping my 'all on the altar.' I keep sanctified by keeping faith. It is a continuous
act of consecration and a continuous life of faith. So, I would advise you to worry less about
losing what you have and concentrate more on keeping your all on His altar and keeping your
faith in His work vibrant."
JL: "You are suggesting that the life of entire sanctification is ongoing -- it is not static
or fixed at some level of perfection that will never change. Right?
SB: "By all means. In fact, many are confused in thinking that once a person is entirely
sanctified, that's it for them for life -- they are in no need of any more growth. This is untrue."
JL: "I sure know how far I have to grow. In fact, I sense the disparity between my life
and the perfect standard of Jesus Christ more than ever."
SB: "Exactly. Entire sanctification cleanses me from my inclination to disobey, and
empowers me for service. It does not make me into an angel. He brings instant purity, but
maturity comes slowly.
"The sanctified life is expandable, like the annual rings on a tree. A 14-year-old tree
can be said to be a 'perfect' tree. Yet, 30 years later it will have grown to be much larger,
stronger, and more mature. It will now have 44 annual rings. We may be pronounced 'perfect' at
an early age of our Christian maturity, but there are many 'annual rings' of holiness the Lord
wants to add to our lives as we grow. The Bible repeatedly instructs us to 'put on' compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love, peace, self-control, and other qualities of
Christlikeness. At entire sanctification all of these fruits of the Spirit-filled life are present, but
they are expandable. our love, kindness, and deeds of mercy, may increase every day we are on
this earth, and perhaps through all eternity. The life of holiness is expandable. In fact, we
should grow even more after this work is done, because now we are in total submission to His
will for us. His will for us is always growth."
JL: "The biggest difference in my life now is this fresh hunger I have for Christlikeness.
That is why these temptations have been so troublesome -- I want so badly to be like Jesus that
any temptation to disobey is shattering to me. When I examine my life over the past few months,
I realize what a great leap my walk with Christ has taken. Sure, I realize I still have a long way
to go. Yet, I have experienced such dramatic growth during these months! It is exciting to
imagine what the Lord will accomplish in me over the rest of my lifetime."
SB: "If we keep walking in total obedience to Him, our lives will become more mature
as a result of His love at work in our lives. He is the Master Potter. Obedience is the key to the
JL: "I want to change the subject a bit. Let's talk about self-control. I was reading in
Galatians 5:22 the other day, and one fruit of the Spirit is 'self-control.' I have been talking
about being 'Spirit-controlled,' but how is this different from self-control? A friend of mine says
the idea of being Spirit-controlled sounds like people becoming spiritual robots. What is the
connection here between self-control and Spirit-control?"
SB: "It is a cycle -- they feed each other. The Spirit will not control anything in my life
without my permission. As I exercise self-control, submitting myself to the Spirit's control, He
works in me to accomplish His will. As the Spirit moves throughout my life, a part of the 'fruit'
of His work is self-control. So the cycle goes on -- the more I control myself submitting to
Christ, the more He controls me, resulting in the fruit of more self-control. Like so much in the
Christian life, this is a partnership with God. As we continually submit to Him, it is easier to
continue to submit to Him in greater and greater degrees. The result is a continual growth
"The opposite is true as well. Disobedience and lack of self-control result in the fruit of
rebellion, which produces the by-product of greater disobedience and rebellion which then goes
on to catapult a person into a downward spiral of sinfulness, winding up in his becoming
JL: "Then it is not a matter of choosing between self-control and Spirit-control is it?
Both factors work together to help me grow more like Christ."
SB: "Yes, and the central issue preceding all this is who is the boss of my life. If God is
the Master of my life, I will find new self-control through His cleansing power, and this will
enable me to continually submit to His will."
JL: "I have a growing realization that there are some inherent dangers in this closer
walk with Christ. You have already cautioned me about the attitude I might portray in testifying
to this experience. What other cautions would your suggest?"
SB: "First, I would say watch for pride. You may have experienced such a dramatic
change in your life that the devil's best snare is to encourage you to begin thinking of yourself as
better than other believers -- as one of God's favorite children. Avoid spiritual pride at all cost.
Continually give all the glory to God in humility. Be careful of talking down to those who do not
understand or who disagree with you on some point. I think one of the best definitions of
humility is 'teachableness.' Continually develop a spirit of teachableness. Don't assume you're
always right and that everyone must now line up and become like you. Listen. Learn. Ask
questions. Keep a spirit of humble meekness about your spiritual walk."
JL: "What else?"
SB: "Be careful of going off the deep end emotionally. A person who is in total
submission to God has a new spiritual sensitivity. However, you can run off on a tangent
supposing dreams, visions, impressions, prophecies, languages, and ideas are from God. In fact,
your own imagination may be the source. All through history some who have experienced this
second work in their lives have tended to fly off into some sort of bizarre emotionalism. Be
careful of this. Much damage has been done to the teaching of the doctrine of holiness by these
extremists. The antidote -- stick to the plain truths of scripture as the central focus of your life."
JL: "I recognize this sideline. I have an aunt who was just an average Christian. She
got into a small-group Bible study and received some sort of new 'special baptism' as she called
it. She went right up the wall emotionally and finally wound up in all kinds of spiritism. She
even tried to make contact with the spirits of the dead. So, I know I should avoid pride and
extreme emotionalism. Is that it?"
SB: "No, there are dozens of other bits of advice top those who are walking in total
submission to Christ. We don't have time to cover them all. However, one of the most important
is to continually strive for the disciplined life. Some tend to think that their state of grace is so
high they are beyond the need of self-disciplined habits. Since they 'pray always,' they need no
particular time for prayer. Or, since 'to the pure all things are pure,' they can participate in
questionable activities or read material of dubious moral quality with no ill effects. Remember,
the devil does not scratch you off his list when you are wholly sanctified. In fact, he may place
you at the top of his hit list!
"There are a few others. For instance, be especially on guard for sins of omission --
things God prompts you to do which you are not doing. We can be disobedient to God as easily
through not doing right as through doing wrong. Prayerlessness is certainly such a sin.
"And be constantly on the watch against letting Jesus be pushed out of the center of your
life. Don't let anything begin to slip in and take dominance in your life again. Concentrate on
continual consecration to the Lord. Obedience to Him must be your central goal in life.
"Keep your relationships with others in loving harmony. Never -=- absolutely never --
break a relationship with another believer. Nothing will rob you of a sanctified life more quickly
than a broken relationship with a brother or sister.
"Finally, live an exemplary life in all aspects. Watch your example in spending money,
in conversation with others, in sharing your faith, in the manner of your dress and actions, in
your faithfulness in attending church services, and in serving the needy. Make sure everything
you do and say will be an example of holiness and will bring honor to the cause of Christ. If you
continually draw close to Him, He will draw near to you and you will have even greater power as
you become more like Him."
1. According to 1 Corinthians 15:10, what kind of attitude should we have in testifying to a
work God has done in our lives?
2. Find four truths about temptation from 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.
3. What kind of picture of the expanding Christian walk do you see in 1 Corinthians 9:24-
27? What are some ways to control our bodies?
4. What limitation does the treasure of this experience have according to 2 Corinthians
4:7? What is the advantage of this to God?
5. Write 2 Corinthians 3:18 in your own words.
6. From Hebrews 12:1-4 list five rules for effectively running the "spiritual race."
For Review and Discussion
1. What cautions should be observed in testifying to entire sanctification?
2. If an entirely sanctified person is still tempted, what real difference does sanctification
make in his life?
3. Can a person lose entire sanctification? How? How is this life then recovered?
4. In what way can an entirely sanctified person still grow?
5. What advice would you give an entirely sanctified person? What should he or she be on
From: Holiness for Ordinary People by Keith Drury
(c) 1983 Wesley Press
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