Modern, counterfeit sanctification, which has its origin in will-worship rather than in submission to the will of God… is fast flooding the world, and as God's witnesses we shall be called to bear a decided testimony against it. It is one of the veriest delusions of the last days and will prove a temptation to all who believe present truth. Those who have not their faith firmly established upon the Word of God will be misled. And the saddest part of it all is that so few who are deceived by this error ever find their way to the light again.
The Bible is the standard by which to test the claims of all who profess sanctification. Jesus prayed that His disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and He says, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17); while the psalmist declares, "Thy law is the truth" (Psalm 119:142). All whom God is leading will manifest a high regard for the Scriptures in which His voice is heard. The Bible will be to them "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16). "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16).
We need no other evidence in order to judge of men's sanctification; if they are fearful lest they shall not obey the whole will of God, if they are listening diligently to His voice, trusting in His wisdom, and making His Word the man of their counsel, then, while they make no boasts of superior goodness, we may be sure that they are seeking to attain to perfection of Christian character. But if the claimants of holiness even intimate that they are no longer required to search the Scriptures, we need not hesitate to pronounce their sanctification spurious. They are leaning to their own understanding instead of conforming to the will of God.
What God Requires
God requires at this time just what He required of the holy pair in Eden--perfect obedience to His requirements. His law remains the same in all ages. The great standard of righteousness presented in the Old Testament is not lowered in the New. It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God's holy law but to bring men up where they can keep its precepts.
The faith in Christ that saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. "Believe, believe," is their cry; "only believe in Christ, and you will be saved. It is all you have to do." While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works. And the apostle John declares, "He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4).
It is unsafe to trust to feelings or impressions; these are unreliable guides. God's law is the only correct standard of holiness. It is by this law that character is to be judged. If an inquirer after salvation were to ask, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" the modern teachers of sanctification would answer, "Only believe that Jesus saves you." But when Christ was asked this question He said, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" And when the questioner replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, . . . and thy neighbour as thyself," Jesus said, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live" (Luke 10:25-29).
True sanctification will be evidenced by a conscientious regard for all the commandments of God, by a careful improvement of every talent, by a circumspect conversation, by revealing in every act the meekness of Christ.
A Sanctification That Leads Away From the Bible
A number of persons were present at this meeting who held to the popular theory of sanctification, and as the claims of God's law were presented and the true character of this error was shown, one man was so much offended that he rose abruptly and left the meeting hall. I afterward heard that he had come from Stockholm to attend the meeting. In conversation with one of our ministers he claimed to be sinless and said that he had no need of the Bible, for the Lord told him directly what to do; he was far beyond the Bible teachings. What can be expected of those who follow their own imaginings rather than God's Word but that they will be deluded? They cast away the only detector of error, and what is to prevent the great deceiver from leading them captive at his will?
This man represents a class. Spurious sanctification leads directly away from the Bible. Religion is reduced to a fable. Feelings and impressions are made the criterion. While they profess to be sinless and boast of their righteousness, the claimants of sanctification teach that men are at liberty to transgress the law of God and that those who obey its precepts have fallen from grace. A presentation of its claims arouses their opposition and excites anger and contempt. Thus their character is shown, for "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).
The true follower of Christ will make no boastful claims to holiness. It is by the law of God that the sinner is convicted. He sees his own sinfulness in contrast with the perfect righteousness which it enjoins, and this leads him to humility and repentance. He becomes reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, and as he continues to walk with Him he will be gaining a clearer sense of the holiness of God's character and the far-reaching nature of His requirements. He will see more clearly his own defects and will feel the need of continual repentance and faith in the blood of Christ.
He who bears with him a continual sense of the presence of Christ cannot indulge self-confidence or self-righteousness. None of the prophets or apostles made proud boasts of holiness. The nearer they came to perfection of character, the less worthy and righteous they viewed themselves. But those who have the least sense of the perfection of Jesus, those whose eyes are least directed to Him, are the ones who make the strongest claim to perfection. Faith and Works p. 54