Sanctification — Its Divine Source
We have briefly surveyed the sanctified life as to its meaning, scope, practical nature, duration, value and necessity. Now we must consider its divine source. Such a life can never be the product of human devising. Sanctification is God's work. He is the author of it. The Lord says of His people, ". . . I am the Lord that sanctify them." Ezek. 20:12.
Sanctification is the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
1. Of the Father:
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. — 1 Thess. 5:23.
2. Of the Son:
. . . Jesus Christ . . . gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. — Titus 2:13, 14.
3. Of the Spirit:
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. — 2 Thess. 2:13.
Sanctification is especially the work of the Third Person of the Godhead. He is holiness personified. His presence sanctifies. God's people are those who are led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14); they walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16); and they are taught by the Spirit (1 John 2:27).
This holy Person indwells every true believer as the Representative of Jesus Christ. The promise of Jesus belongs to all His people:
And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. — John 14:16, 17.
As the candle of the Lord, He searches out sin. As the fire of the Lord, He purifies the heart. As the oil of the Lord, He heals the wounds of the soul. As the breath of the Lord, He creates spiritual life in Christ's body. As the rain of the Lord, He replenishes the thirsty heart.
Where there is faith, He is the Creator of it. Where there is hatred of sin, He is the Author of it. Where there is love of righteousness, He is the Inspirer of it. Every right impulse, every ray of spiritual enlightenment, every worthy motive, every holy resolve has the Spirit as its source.
As Christ intercedes for us at the right hand of God, His Representative works upon our hearts, drawing out prayers and penitence, praise and thanksgiving. He strikes the chords of the soul, awakening holy impulses and music of the heart.
Above all, He does not speak of Himself, for He is the Representative of Jesus (John 16:13). He takes the things of Christ and shows them to us. He is our heavenly Instructor, whose lessons are directed to one Object — Christ.
By being made "partakers of the Holy Ghost" (Heb. 6:4), we become "partakers of His holiness." Heb. 12:10. Peter calls it being "partakers of the divine nature." 2 Pet. 1:4.
Holiness is the life of heaven. It is the life and character of God. Those attributes of the divine character — love, goodness, meekness, patience, integrity, purity, benevolence, kindness, etc.— are imparted to the human soul. Thus, they are called the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23). The faculties are not changed, but the principles of God's character become the governing principles of the regenerate heart. This is that inward "adorning" of "the hidden man of the heart." 1 Pet. 3:3, 4. This is what David means when he says, "Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom.. . . . Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me." Ps. 51:6, 10.
In theology this inward working of divine grace has sometimes been called imparted righteousness. The actual expression is not found in the Bible, but provided it is used with due care, it is a very fitting expression. Dr. W.H. Griffin Thomas sees its proper emphasis as necessary to keep the doctrine of justification by faith "from the charge of mere intellectual orthodoxy without spiritual vitality." —W.H. Griffin Thomas, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles (London: Church Book Room Press, 1956), p. 194. Wesley insisted on imparted righteousness as the antidote for antinomianism.
Since imparted righteousness is not a Biblical expression, certainly not a Pauline one, there is a danger of confusing imparted righteousness (as it has come to be called) with the Pauline righteousness of (or by) faith. This error has actually happened in some circles, and it is the utter corruption of the message of salvation. The righteousness that we receive in faith means nothing more than what Christ has done and suffered for us — His satisfaction made to the divine law in our behalf. Biblically speaking, this righteousness of faith never becomes a quality of the human soul. Being the work and merit of Another, it may be reckoned to us, but can never be infused. In Paul's scheme of reference, the righteousness of God which is by faith is imputed, and the life-giving power of the Spirit is imparted — "shed abroad in our hearts." Rom. 5:5. The gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17), which is imputed, and the gift of the Spirit (Heb. 6:4), which is imparted, are never confused in the apostolic message.
Having noted that there is reason for caution on this point, we must nevertheless acknowledge that Christ, through His Holy Spirit, does work a real righteousness within the hearts of His people (see Rom. 8:4; Phil. 1:11; 1 John 3:7; Matt. 5:16; etc.). However, the word most frequently used for this inwrought work of grace is holiness. Whatever we call it, it is both a divine work and the source of sanctification.