Discipline and Sanctification
“God chasteneth us for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). “If a man... purge himself.., he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work” (II Tim. 2:21).
To sanctify anything is to set apart, to consecrate, to God and to His service. The temple at Jerusalem was holy, that is to say, it was consecrated, dedicated to God that it might serve Him as a dwelling place. The vessels of the temple were holy, because they were devoted to the service of the temple; the priests were holy, chosen to serve God and ready to work for Him. In the same way the Christian ought also to be sanctified, at the Lord’s disposal, “ready to do every good work.”
When the people of Israel went out of Egypt, the Lord reclaimed them for His service as a holy people. “Let my people go that they may serve me” (Ex. 7:16), He said to Pharaoh. Set free from their hard bondage, the children of Israel were debtors to enter at once upon the service of God, and to become His happy servants. Their deliverance was the road which led to their sanctification.
Again in this day, God is forming for Himself a holy people, and it is that we may torn part of them that Jesus sets us free. He “gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14, R.V.). It is the Lord who breaks the chains by which Satan would hold us in bondage. He would have us free, wholly free to serve Him. He wills to save us, to deliver both the soul and the body, that each of the members of the body may be consecrated to Him and placed unreservedly at His disposal.
A large number of Christians do not yet understand all this, they do not know how to take in that the purpose of their deliverance is that they may be sanctified, prepared to serve their God. They make use of their life and their members to procure their own satisfaction; consequently they do not feel at liberty to ask for healing with faith. It is therefore to chasten them—that they may be brought to desire sanctification—that the Lord permits Satan to inflict sickness upon them and by it keep them chained and prisoners (Luke 13:11, 16). God chastens us “for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness,” and that we may be sanctified, “meet for the Master’s use” (Heb. 12:10, R.V.; II Tim. 2: 21).
The discipline which inflicts the sickness brings great blessings with it. It is a call to the sick one to reflect; it leads him to see that God is occupied with him, and seeks to show him what there is which still separates him from Himself. God speaks to him, He calls him to examine his ways, to acknowledge that he has lacked holiness, and that the purpose of the chastisement is to make him partaker of His holiness. He awakens within him the desire to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit down into the inmost recesses of his heart, that he may be enabled to get a clear idea of what his life has been up to the present time, a life of self-will, very unlike the holy life which God requires of him. He leads him to confess his sins, to entrust them to the Lord Jesus, to believe that the Savior can deliver him from them. He urges him to yield to Him, to consecrate his life to Him, to die to himself that he may be able to live unto God.
Sanctification is not something which you can accomplish yourself; it cannot even be produced by God in you as something which you can possess and contemplate in yourself. No, it is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of holiness alone who can communicate His holiness to you and renew it continually. Therefore it is by faith you can become “partakers of his holiness.” Having understood that Jesus has been made unto you of God sanctification (I Cor. 1:30), and that it is the Holy Spirit’s work to impart to you His holiness which was manifested in His life on earth, surrender yourself to Him by faith that He may enable you to live that life from hour to hour. Believe that the Lord will by His Spirit lead you into, and keep you in this life of holiness and of consecration to God’s service. Live thus in the obedience of faith, always attentive to His voice, and the guidance of His Spirit.
From the time that this Fatherly discipline has led the sick one to a life of holiness, God has attained His purpose, and He will heal him who asks it in faith. Our earthly parents “for a few days chastened us.... All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous, but grievous: yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:10, 11, R.V.). Yes, it is when the believer realizes this peaceable fruit of righteousness that he is in a condition to be delivered from the chastisement.
Oh, it is because believers still understand so little that sanctification means an entire consecration to God that they cannot really believe that healing will quickly follow the sanctification of the sick one. Good health is too often for them only a matter of personal comfort and enjoyment which they may dispose of at their will, but God cannot thus minister to their selfishness. If they understood better that God requires of His children that they should be “sanctified and meet for the Master’s use,” they would not be surprised to see Him giving healing and renewed strength to those who have learned to place all their members at His disposal, willing to be sanctified and employed in His service by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of healing is also the Spirit of sanctification.
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