I am troubled about my sanctification. My conversion was so bright and there was such a change that I never could doubt it. But when I was sanctified, there was not so great a change. And it was not so great as that of some I have heard testify. Neither do I feel as bold as some I have heard speak, neither did I taste such a death as others have testified too. In fact, when I compare my sanctification with what others say theirs is, mine suffers in the comparison. I have often repudiated my sanctification and endeavored to obtain an experience just like others'; but it seems I cannot. Must I try to obtain another, or be satisfied with the one I have? Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.
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Suppose we go over to Bethlehem this morning; there is a Brother Faithful there whose acquaintance you positively will appreciate. He has been in Canaan a number of years and doubtless can tell us some interesting reminiscences of his life.
This is a famous place. Somewhere about here David killed a lion and a bear and composed some of those inimitable psalms of praise to God. In that field right over there Ruth gleaned for Boaz, and her maidenly purity won the hearts of all.
Here is Brother Faithful's house. Let us knock and go in.
"Brother Faithful, how did you happen to get such a beautiful home in Canaan!"
"Well, pilgrims, I did not just 'happen' to get it. The truth is, I did all possible to gain a home at Bethel, or on Moriah; either place seemed better than this; at least it did for some time, until I learned that here was where Jehovah wished me to settle. Bethel is close to where the tent of the Lord was pitched, and it has sacred memories of a ladder reaching up to heaven and holy angels ascending and descending on ministrations of mercy to man below. To me it, of all places, seemed nearest heaven; but, if I may reveal a secret, I have found that Bethel is not the only place that has associations of a ladder planted on it and reaching heaven.
"The reason I wanted to stop at Moriah was because I heard Brother Dreamgood who lives there tell of the remarkable experiences he had there. I began thinking there was no place in Canaan like that, and I did not stop to consider that all of us could not abide in one place. Brother Dreamgood told the wonderful story of angels and holy manifestations and heavenly illuminations constantly occurring on that sacred spot till I forgot all about asking where the Lord would have me be, and forthwith started for Moriah. But I was baffled at every turn. Especially was I chagrined to find there was no place for me on Moriah at that time. Brother Dreamgood had a dreadful battle with the giants before he won a home for himself, and I am not certain that I could have fought them successfully.
"Then after that I fell in with Brother Worshipful who lived at Bethel. After he told of the good things there, I concluded Bethel was the place for me. But I made no headway in that direction.
"Having been in Canaan for some time and still unsettled, I began to inquire of Jehovah where He would have me be. It was made fully plain to me that God had the place for me that was best for me. A glad yielding to this truth brought great boldness to my soul. I girded on the armor, adjusted the shield of faith, grasped the sword of truth [Ephesians 6:10-17], and went where I was directed -- toward Bethlehem, a place which I had regarded as palpably inferior. After severe fighting, I won. And I am satisfied."
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Sanctification is a work wrought by God through the blood and Spirit. It is both a cleansing from sin and an infilling of righteousness. It has negative and positive aspects. It takes away from and adds to. Not that sin is a sort of root or germ. It is an evil that affects our nature. This evil is destroyed, and its effects banished. The Holy Spirit comes in, filling the nature of man with righteousness and purity. You must get your mind on the real work of sanctification, not on some of its special manifestations in some people's experiences. The manifestations of sanctification may be more specific for some people than others, because they may need such.
It is possible, too, that your conversion made a greater perceptible change in your soul and life than did your sanctification. This matter of change depends largely on circumstances. If you were very deeply convicted of sin and were very happily converted, your conversion may have been greater apparently than your sanctification. But these appearances are not essential considerations.
Still another point you must bear in mind, and that is that sanctification, while a separate and distinct thing of itself, is only the second step in a work already begun. Justification is essential to sanctification and is the beginning of those things that work full salvation.
During a camp-meeting one time a minister related a glowing experience he had when he was sanctified. He spoke particularly of boldness. He was made very bold.
When the altar-call was made, an old mother in Israel came to the altar. A minister asked her what she was seeking. She replied, with tears in her eyes, "I thought I was sanctified; but since Brother A -- -- testified to the boldness he received, I doubt whether I ever was sanctified. I did not feel that way."
The instructor carefully led her away from any comparison between her experience and others, and asked her if she were consecrated now.
"Oh, yes, just as consecrated as I know how to be!" she replied, weeping.
"Well, if you are all consecrated, what does the Lord do for those who are all given up?"
"He sanctifies them wholly," she had to say.
"And if you do not have as much boldness as Brother A -- -- said he has, probably you do not need as much. Or, if you really need more, would it not be better to ask God for more rather than to give up your experience of sanctification in a vain effort to feel as some one else feels?"
She saw the point, and her tears disappeared beneath happy smiles of joy.
There is yet another item you should consider. Many times those who testify so beautifully and graphically in describing their sanctification are under an inspiration, and the blessing is set forth in glowing colors. For the time being their trials and discouragements are forgotten, their struggles to keep the victory are out of mind, and they speak in the highest praise of the work God has done. In the exhilaration of the moment they magnify the work. We do not say they overdraw their experience; for really no tongue can tell it; but while they are all aflame with ardor and praise, you may be going through a trial. So, of course, their experience seems to outshine yours so far that yours suffers. But remember this -- the time may come when you will be testifying as they now are, and they may be the ones going through a trial; then they may compare their experience with yours, and they may feel that they are the ones, who are behind. So compare no more. Be all for Jesus. If He gives some one seemingly a better experience, let Him have His way. What is that to you? Follow Jesus.