[Selected Writings II. Holiness: God’s Way Better Than Man’s. 1999, Invictus for "Truth For Today Bible Fellowship. Lafayette, IN.” Pp. 42-44]
This is one of the four things which God has made Christ to be unto His people. They are:
"Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption” (1 Cor. ).
It is a common practice with those who do not see the truth of "the two natures” to constantly speak of Sanctification as if it were a progressive work by which the Old nature is constantly improved until it is made meet for the inheritance of the saints (i.e., sanctified ones) in light.
But the opposite is the fact. Scripture never speaks of "a change of heart.” That is man’s formula. God speaks of a "new heart” being created: but never of the old heart "changed.” True, with Israel in the coming day of blessing, the heart will be exchanged – the stony heart for a heart of flesh, but even that will not be the "change” of one into the other. The Holy Spirit never speaks of His work as being the improvement of the old nature, on the contrary, He tells us that the old man is hostile to God (Rom. 8:7), that he cannot get to know spiritual things, that they are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:14).
From this it is surely clear that if the natural man can neither "receive” nor "get to know the things of the Spirit of God,” how can he be sanctified? The flesh is eternally opposed to the spirit; i.e, the Old nature is eternally opposed to spirit, which is the New nature, as Gal. 5:17 testifies. Conflict is not Sanctification! Neither is the Spirit of God in His operations in our New nature improving that with which He is carrying on a warfare.
Those who are looking for Sanctification as a progressive work are looking for a ground of peace in a sanctified nature, instead of being occupied with that peace which has been made by the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Instead of being occupied with Christ’s finished work for them, they are taken up with an ever un-finished work in them. It is a question of Christ or self; and the only reason why multitudes of Christians are occupied with progressive sanctification is because it exalts self. Whereas the work of the Spirit is just the opposite – viz.: to glorify Christ. "He shall glorify me” were the Saviour’s words (John ), and in them we have a standard by which we may test everything in us and around us.
"But OF HIM are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us… Sanctification”
This is one of four things which we have in Christ. Christ is made unto us "Righteousness.” How? And When? By our works? By anything we can do? Righteousness is expressly declared to be "to him that worketh not” (Rom 4:5). So it is with all that we have "in Christ.” As it is with Righteousness, so it must be with Sanctification. Righteousness is declared to be "without works,” but Sanctification is put on precisely the same ground as Righteousness. As we get the one, so do we get the other, for we get both in Christ. Surely our readers must see that we can no more work out a Sanctification for ourselves that we can work out a Righteousness of our own.
True, it is written of holiness – "without which no man can see the Lord” (Heb. ). It does not say, without a certain measure of holiness, but without the thing itself. How then are we to get it? The answer is: - In precisely the same way that we get Righteousness, - in Christ! We get Christ by gift, by grace, and by imputation, and it is all Christ from first to last. Our standing is in all His perfection. There is only one standing for every saved sinner. We cannot grow in this standing. It is perfect. Nothing can be put to it and nothing can be taken from it; our knowledge of it and experience of it, and our enjoyment of it may grow and will grow. But it is one standing and the same standing for the weakest, poorest, youngest, humblest child of God as well as for the highest and most learned. It is not a question of knowledge, but of life. And that life is Christ. In Him we have got a perfect righteousness by grace. In Him also we have a perfect Sanctification by grace – Righteous before God, as He is righteous: Holy before God, as He is holy, because Christ "is made” both to us. Both are perfect. So that the child of God is wholly righteous and wholly sanctified, and his standing is perfect, eternal and unchangeable, because it is Divine.
True, our walk is marked by failures, and infirmities, and falls, and sins. This is quite a different matter, our walk is quite distinct from our standing in Christ, and cannot affect it in the slightest degree.
"MADE MEET.” This is the absolute truth as to the present position of all who are in Christ as the result of His eternally perfect work for us. And it is occupation with Him and with what God has made us to be in Him that will cause us and enable us to "walk worthy of His calling.”
It will not be brought abut by occupation with our walk.
We do not live by the study of biology, or breathe by the study of pneumatics, or hear by the study of acoustics, or get warm by studying the theory of heat. In like manner we cannot grow by trying to add one cubit to our height: or add one year to our life by "talking thought” about it.
How then can our walk be made worthy of our calling? Only by the word of Christ dwelling in us richly: only by the application of that word to our hearts. Hence it is written:
"Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John ).
It is the special office of the Holy Spirit to constantly apply this Word to us. Hence,
"God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. ).
But this is not any attempt to improve our walk. Thus occupied, the New nature feeds and grows and becomes strong. There will be growth here, but, as to our standing in Christ, that is perfect, and in Him we are righteous and holy in all His righteousness and all His holiness.