Question No. 81:
What part do we play in the process of sanctification, and when is a person sanctified?
“We should consider the words of the apostle Paul, in which he appeals to this brethren, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.’… Sanctification is not merely a theory, an emotion, or a form of words, but a living, active principle, entering into the everyday life. It requires that our habits of eating, drinking and dressing, be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental, and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies–not an offering corrupted by wrong habits, but–‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.’ Rom. 12:1”–Counsels on Health, p. 67.
“True sanctification comes through the working out of the principle of love. ‘God is love and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.’ The life of him in whose heart Christ abides, will reveal practical godliness. The character will be purified, elevated, ennobled, and glorified. Pure doctrine will blend with works of righteousness; heavenly precepts will mingle with holy practices.
“Sanctification…is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of life-long obedience.”–The Acts of the Apostles, p. 560.
“Day by day, hour by hour, a vigorous work of self-denial and of sanctification must go on within; then the works will bear witness that Jesus is abiding in the heart by faith. Sanctification does not close the avenues of the soul to knowledge, but expands the mind, and inspires it to search for truth as for hidden treasure.”–Counsels to Teachers, p. 449.
“There is no Bible sanctification for those who cast a part of the truth behind them” (Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 33 8), for “this work cannot go on in the heart while the light on any part of the truth is rejected or neglected. The sanctified soul will not be content to remain in ignorance, but will desire to walk in the light and to see for greater light. As a miner digs for gold and silver, so the follower of Christ will seek for truth, as for hidden treasures, and will press from light to a greater light, ever increasing in knowledge. He will continually grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.”–The Review and Herald, June 17, 1890.
“Many…do not exemplify the truth in their lives. They have special exercises upon sanctification, yet cast the word of God behind them. They pray sanctification, sing sanctification, and shout sanctification…The present truth, which is the channel, is not regarded, but is trampled under foot. Men may cry, Holiness! holiness! sanctification! sanctification! consecration! consecration! and yet know no more by experience of what they talk than the sinner with his corrupt propensities. God will soon tear off this whitewashed garb of professed sanctification which some who are carnally minded have thrown around them to hide the deformity of the soul.”–Testimonies, Vol. 1, pp. 338, 336.
“The prophet Daniel was an example of true sanctification. His long life was filled up with noble service for his Master. He was a man ‘greatly beloved’ of Heaven. Yet instead of claiming to be pure and holy, this honored prophet identified himself with the really sinful of Israel, as he pleaded before God in behalf of his people:
‘We do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies.’ ‘We have sinned, we have done wickedly.’ He declares, ‘I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people.’ And when at a later time the Son of God appeared, to give him instruction, Daniel says, ‘My comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.’
“When Job heard the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind, he exclaimed, ‘I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’ It was when Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, and heard the cherubim crying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,’ that he cried out, ‘Woe is me! for I am undone.’ Paul after he was caught up into the third heaven and heard things which it was not possible for a man to utter, speaks of himself as ‘less than the least of all saints.'”–The Great Controversy, pp. 470, 471.
“Paul’s sanctification was the result of a constant conflict with self. He said, ‘I die daily.’ His will and His desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did God’s will, however crucifying to his own nature.
“God leads His people on step by step. The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering.
It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy, and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.
“No one will be borne upward without stern, persevering effort in his own behalf. All must engage in this warfare for themselves….The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a life-long struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor’s crown.”–Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 313.
“This is the will of God concerning human beings, even their sanctification. In urging our way upward, heavenward, every faculty must be kept in the most healthy condition, prepared to do faithful service. The powers with which God has endowed man are to be put to the stretch….Man can not possibly do this of himself; he must have divine aid. What part is the human agent to act?–‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’ Phil. 2:12, 13.”–Id., p. 64.
Finally, the working of the principle of true sanctification in the Christian heart is inimitably illustrated in Christ’s parable of the growing seed: “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28.
Thus from grace to grace ascends the climb of true sanctification, which is the dynamic process of progressive regeneration through the continual impartation of the righteousness of Christ, “by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God” (The Great Controversy, p. 469), for “the impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ” (Gospel Workers, p. 285)–complete sanctification.
By way of comparison: “The righteousness by which we are justified [the first phase of sanctification] is imputed. The righteousness by which we are sanctified [the second phase] is imparted. The first is our title to heaven; the second is our fitness for heaven.”–The Review and Herald, June 4, 1895 (In Christ Our Righteousness, p. 98).
“The germination of the seed represents the beginning of spiritual life, and the development of the plant is a beautiful figure of Christian growth. As in nature, so in grace; there can be no life without growth. The plant must either grow or die. As its growth is silent and imperceptible, but continuous, so is the development of the Christian life. At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God’s purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. As our opportunities multiply, our experience will enlarge, and our knowledge increase. We shall become strong to bear responsibility, and our maturity will be in proportion to our privileges.”–Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 65, 66.
“Here is Bible sanctification. It is not merely a show or outside work. It is sanctification received through the channel of truth. It is truth received in the heart, and practically carried out in the life.”–Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 339.
“Christ prayed for His disciples in these words: ‘Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.’ There is no genuine sanctification, except through obedience to the truth.”–The Sanctified Life, p. 49.