Why did Jesus Christ die? The answer generally is: Jesus died to atone for our sins. Nothing is more true, but it is not the whole truth. "He died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again'' (2 Cor. v. 15). Thus the cross of Christ is the source of sanctification; this is the constant testimony of Scripture: "Christ loved the Church, that He might sanctify it, after having cleansed it with the washing of water by the word; that He might present it unto Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. v. 25-27). He "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works" (Titus ii. 14). "By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Heb. x. 14). "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter ii. 24). The same Apostle had said before: "God, having raised up His Son Jesus Christ, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts iii. 26). The whole of Christ's work is comprehended in this declaration of the Lord Himself: "I am come that my sheep might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly'' (John x. 10). Another precious text is often on our lips: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. i. 15). It is not less true that Jesus Christ came that His sheep might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John x. 10).
"It is by the Holy Spirit that Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts and enters in; and thus to receive the Holy Spirit is to receive Jesus Christ; it is first of all to receive His righteousness, thanks to which God can accept us as justified. This righteousness afterwards becomes our own, being constantly communicated to us by the Holy Spirit, through whom we are enabled to appropriate it."
Such, therefore, is the link between justification and sanctification, such the two inseparable parts of the work of Christ, the double fruit of his sacrifice, the double purpose of His advent.
By His life, His teaching, and His death, Jesus Christ has opened the way for the Holy Spirit, His representative on earth. Jesus Himself says of Him: "It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you." It is by the Holy Spirit that Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts and enters in; and thus to receive the Holy Spirit is to receive Jesus Christ; it is first of all to receive His righteousness, thanks to which God can accept us as justified. This righteousness afterwards becomes our own, being constantly communicated to us by the Holy Spirit, through whom we are enabled to appropriate it.
"The word salvation ought not to be limited to the idea of justification alone. Sanctification is also a part of salvation. It ought doubtless, to be distinguished from justification, but not to be separated from it, and, certainly, not to be opposed to it."
The word salvation ought not to be limited to the idea of justification alone. Sanctification is also a part of salvation. It ought doubtless, to be distinguished from justification, but not to be separated from it, and, certainly, not to be opposed to it, as you set one page of an account-book against another; on one side justification, and on the other sanctification—here the credit, and there the debit side of the transaction. Some people even go so far as to talk of sanctification as if it were a work of man, in response to the work of God.
If this were the Gospel, there would indeed be ample cause for discouragement. But sanctification is truly the work of God, and the one thing required of us is to enter into it; we have but to yield ourselves to Him; to desire to belong to Him; to act as His instrument; to obey Him.
The Lord Jesus has acquired a three-fold grace for us: that which expiates and blots out sin; that which triumphs over sin; and that which protects us from all the attacks of sin. He has assured to us everything that is necessary for living and for dying; in Him we have grace and glory. "His divine power " says St. Peter, "has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Peter i. 3). And St. Paul: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. i. 3).
If there is one thing sadder than another, it is the state of a soul which passes through the same distress and the same confusion, to arrive at sanctification as to reach justification, from want of understanding that, like the one, the other is also a grace. Such a soul is erring and straying; it is giving itself no end of unnecessary trouble without obtaining peace, because it has not arrived at obedience; it is without the blessing of "a good conscience," and regards "the glorious liberty of the children of God,” as beyond its attainment. And yet this is a liberty we sorely need; we have abundant need to take in full draughts of this quickening atmosphere of the Holy Spirit.
And God gives us all this along with pardon. If we do not take possession of it, it is for want of faith or of will. Or, to go deeper still, it is because we do not really desire this transcendent gift, and have our own secret reservations. We want a sanctification that goes "so far and no farther." We are ready to say: "If sanctification is a grace it is really a very comfortable thing." Nay! but what is comfortable is to regulate our sanctification ourselves; what is not comfortable is to have the Lord to do in us and with us what seems good to Him; it is to consent to be broken, crucified, led whither we would not. But if it is not comfortable, it is efficacious, salutary and blessed.
And how are we to enter into this path? We must get to understand that holiness—in no vague sense, but in its precise, practical, daily acceptation—has been attained for us by Jesus Christ, and is communicated to us by the Holy Spirit. We must constantly lay hold of it by faith,—with that humble faith, that asks with the assurance of receiving, that comes near to God with confidence, to find the necessary grace for every moment's need, just as surely as in going to the river we know we shall find water there. In Christ all is mine, from hour to hour. Just as the life of my body is sustained by incessant inspirations, so does God maintain my soul's life by the constant operation of His Spirit.—From the Liberateur.
Taken from Friends' Review: A Religious, Literary and Miscellaneous Journal, 1878-1879, Volume 32, 612-613.