How to Obtain the Blessing of Sanctification by Rev. B. Carradine
Nothing seems simpler to the man who has received the blessing than the way of holiness, while to the person not yet in the experience nothing is darker. One of the reasons that it is called “the secret of the Lord” is that it is a hidden experience to begin with, and it takes the Lord to reveal the blessing. It is the Lord’s secret.
After He has revealed it to us we tell it to others, show the way we trod, and wonder that they do not at once enter in. We forget that once we were just as profoundly mystified as they, and the whole matter was wrapped in darkness to us.
Letters have been written to me and anxious questionings have been posed: “How may I enter in?” The reply I would make to all is:
First, you must believe that there is such a blessing. More depends upon this than one would at first imagine. The fact of doubt shuts me not only out of the blessing, but will prevent all effort to obtain it. Christ says: “According to your faith, so shall it be unto you.” If I do not believe that Jesus can save, it will not be done; and if I do not believe that He can sanctify, I will never realize that blessed experience.
Second, you must realize your need of this blessing. Here let me say that if the regenerated man who reads these lines has never felt convicted, at some time or times of the necessity of having a perfectly pure and holy heart, then his case is highly unusual. These convictions that are worked in us by the Holy Spirit, if not acted upon, will disappear, and the Christian settles back upon a comparatively low plane again. To obtain the blessing of a holy heart the conviction must be aroused again. A humble, prayerful waiting upon God will do this for you. He that adopts Psalm 139:23-24 as his petition will be amazed at what follows:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 AV
Just as conviction preceded pardon and conversion, so a second and far deeper conviction precedes purity, or the blessing of sanctification.
Certainly he who is satisfied with present attainment, content with a fluctuating life of fallings and risings, alternate defeats and victories, states of coldness and gloom, and, above all, the presence of sinful tendencies in the heart, will never come into the great blessing.
Third, you must desire the blessing. God must see that you long for it supremely because this time you are not to enter upon His service, but upon marriage to Him. Christ is going to establish the most tender and delightful and permanent relationship. On this occasion He is going to make the heart holy and then forever abide in it. In the regenerated life he was like a wayfarer that visits for a night, but in sanctification he is going to dwell in you, consciously, forever. (John 14:23 ) He is going to give Himself to you in His fullness. Such a gift demands that your heart cry out with burning desires and quenchless longings.
Fourth, you must seek for the blessing. There must be no idle, indolent “waiting”. The tarrying at Jerusalem was anything but idle. The hours and days were filled with the most ardent seeking and the most persistent supplication.
You must seek for it. Conscience must bear witness that you are seeking; people must see it; nature in the lonely grove and the watchful stars must know it; above all, God must see that you are seeking the greatest blessing He has for us on earth.
It must be a seeking that will not be diverted by anything. The frowns and smiles of men, the ridicule and opposition certain to come must not be regarded -no, not for one moment. You must desire it like the man of the parable, who parted with all he had for the treasure in the field, and like the other, who gave up all his gems for the pearl of great price.
Fifth, you must not be discouraged. A thousand things will arise to create despondency and despair. You will see other people enter His Rest before you. Satan will be busy with you here, but keep your eyes on Christ, and not the people. You may be troubled with fluctuations of feeling.
Experience of deadness and heaviness may possibly creep over you. Pay no attention to them! You are not sanctified by your feelings. Satan will endeavor, in various ways, to darken your mind and sadden your heart. The dark birds of gloom, doubt, and despair will swoop down upon your altar; but like Abraham, stand and keep them off, and wait until God sends the fire. The fire will come, and likewise the burning lamp. That is, the work will be done, and the witness given; the baptism and the illumination is to see and recognize. The fire and the lamp will both be sent. Only determine that nothing shall discourage you, and all will be well.
Sixth, consecrate yourself completely to God. This is called the first step. Put every thing on the altar.
Make an Appomattox surrender of yourself. Become God’s man by solemn deliberate covenant. Turn over everything to Christ that you are and have, and ever expect to be and have. Give Him your whole self. He will not accept a lesser gift. Christ intends giving Himself in His fullness to you, and He demands the same thing at your hands. Put every faculty on the altar; place your money there, and your reputation and ambition. Place your tongue there, and your time and your influence. If you have wronged anyone, promise God to right that wrong, and do it. If you are at enmity with anyone, first be reconciled with thy brother, then come with thy gift unto the altar. Is every thing upon the altar?
Seventh, you must believe that Christ makes you holy right now. Faith is the second step to sanctification. Will you take that step and receive full salvation? If you can and will believe that the blood of Jesus Christ sanctifies you now, the work of sanctification will be done, and the glory of God will come upon you. “Said I not unto thee that, if thou believest, thou shouldst see the glory of God?”
Plant yourself on God’s own word; that the blood cleanses and makes you holy. You do not say this; the preacher did not originate the speech; it is the word of the Lord! Then believe that word; receive it in your heart; say, “I am sanctified by the blood, because Christ says so;” and hold on with unmoved confidence until the witness comes. The witness will come and will not tarry where the soul is consecrated and the heart exercises a present appropriating faith; it will rush to and settle upon your faith like the dove-like Spirit swept down upon the Saviour.
It is bound to come because of the divine faithfulness and in fulfillment of the divine promise. But have I a right to say that Christ sanctifies me before the witness is given? Can I dare to say, will I be able to say that the blood makes me holy before the experience is set up in my soul? To this I reply that if you are conscious of a perfect consecration (and your own spirit will always witness to that fact), then you can say that the blood cleanses, and believe it, because God gives the perfectly consecrated man the right to say it. “Every devoted thing is most holy”
The instant I believe it and say it, that instant the work is done. The Bible says: “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” I must so believe that I will be willing to confess and proclaim, and then salvation in its fullness comes. This is the order: heart and mouth. Many have failed here. Many have had the belief, but refused to speak. Felt powerfully moved to do so, but from a sudden timorousness, a sudden false humility, a swift temptation from Satan, they shrunk back into silence and missed the salvation that was ready to be poured, in all its richness, fullness, and blessedness, into the soul.
I can recall two recent cases when the consecration had been made and the faith was born in the heart, and the Spirit of God with mighty pressure urged them to arise and claim and own the blessing. They could with difficulty keep silence, so great was the inward movement and impulse of the Holy Spirit upon them to speak. In both cases they shrunk back, and in both cases have I witnessed since a rapidly weakening faith and an unmistakable lapse in the spiritual life.
It is no presumption to believe what God asserts, and to proclaim what God declares. But it is presumption and sin besides to refuse to believe God’s word, and be afraid to repeat what he affirms.
He that is conscious that he is not a perfectly consecrated man should not dare to say that he is made holy; but he who knows in the depths of his soul, and thrilling along every fiber of his being, that he is on the altar -bound, handed over, and devoted to the Lord -cannot only say, “The blood sanctifies me now,” but should say so without a moment’s delay.
A lady in Alabama very recently, in obedience to the instruction of a minister, placed every thing on the altar. When asked, “Do you believe that Christ makes you holy right now?” She answered, after the pause of a moment, “I do!” and instantly the refining fire of God did its work, and her soul was sanctified.
I read once this story of the first Napoleon: His horse had become affrighted and was dashing down the lines beyond the control of the rider, when suddenly a common soldier darted from the ranks, and, flinging himself on the horse’s neck, caught the reins, checked the animal, and placed the bridle in the emperors hand. With a smile of appreciation, Napoleon said: “Thank you, captain?” As instantly did the soldier reply: “Of what regiment, sire?” And the emperors reply, as he swept on, was: “The Old Guard.” What a wonderful appropriating faith the man had! Do you know what many people who read these lines would have replied when the emperor said: “Thank you, captain!” They would have said: “You make a great mistake, sire! I am no captain; I am nothing but a poor soldier--a wretched, obscure private marching in the rear ranks, and will doubtless die in the rear ranks.”
This is the way many do in the spiritual life, and is the explanation of their never coming into the higher life.
God says to them: “The blood cleanses you; Christ makes you holy.” “O no!” they reply, “not me; I cannot be holy; the blood cannot purify me; I can never be but what I am--a poor, halting, repining, imperfect follower of the Lord.” And they never do; because they will not believe the word of the Lord. In the rear ranks they stay, when they could be a power in the cohorts of heaven if they would take God at his Word.
Would that the faith of this soldier in the word of a man might shame or inspire us into at least an equal faith in the word of God!
“Thank you, captain!” “Of what regiment, sire?” is the lightening-like response of the soldier. And immediately, the story runs, he walked to the Old Guard and took his position as an officer; and in reply to the indignant protest of the colonel, as to what he did there, said: “I am a captain.” “Who said so?” was the colonel’s inquiry. And the triumphant rejoinder of the promoted soldier, as he pointed to the emperor, was: “He said so!”
My brother, if you are on the altar, God says you are a holy man.
As He says so, believe it, and immediately take your position in the “inheritance of them that are sanctified.”
A Defective Consecration
In reply to all gainsayers and fault-finders who rise against your profession and life, saying there is no such thing as a holy heart and life, and that they doubt your experience and deny your claim, simply point to the Saviour and reply calmly, but triumphantly: “He said!” But why is it that we see cases of individuals who affirm that they possess this faith, and yet do not obtain the witness of the blessing? In many instances the failure arises because of a defective consecration. All is not given up to God. There has not been a total surrender of life and property and family and reputation and will. There is mental reservation somewhere. The tongue is not on the altar, someone is hated in the heart, some wrong has not been righted, some confession has not been made, some duty remains undone.
Of course, if the heart be wrong in all these matters, the heavenly fire will not fall. The dove will not alight on a carcass. The Holy Spirit will not descend upon and make as his home and resting-place a disobedient and impure heart. A perfect consecration is the mother of a beautiful child -namely, a perfect faith. At the end of the rod of consecration your faith buds, blooms, and bears fruit.
While I will not say that consecration can evolve faith, inasmuch as faith is a distinct exercise of the soul, yet I firmly believe they never are and never can be long separated. Indeed, so near are they at times as to seem almost one act of the soul.
In other instances we see people who say they are walking by faith, and yet never receive the witness, and sadder still, gradually get farther and farther from the blessing.
The explanation in this case is that what they regard as faith is nothing but a spirit of listlessness and apathy. Instead of believing, they have really ceased to believe. The ceasing to seek for and to expect possession of the pearl of great price shows the decay of faith. Theirs is not the rest of faith, but the slumber of indolence, and a virtual giving up of the struggle.
They are easily recognized. The face grows cloudy, the fervor of prayer departs, the attitude of pressing forward is gone; it is evident that they have paused in the race.
A real faith pants with the desire for holiness. While it rests on the word of God, it does not stop it’s striving to enter in through the narrow gate. It continues to knock. Like Esther, it stands before the throne; and, though mute of lip at times, yet is it full of wistful pleadings of heart, and never so beautiful in the eyes of the King of heaven.
It rests on the word of God; but its eyes are fixed upon the skies, awaiting the second coming of the Lord Jesus to the soul; this time the coming is without sin unto salvation.
There are other cases where all are puzzled to account for the failure. The parties say that the consecration is perfect, that they are steadily seeking the blessing by faith, that they claim it now by faith, and yet they have not the gospel treasure, the holy secret of the Lord.
This much we must say: that God is faithful. If we receive not that which God has promised, the explanation is to be found in some failure on our part to comply with divine requirements and conditions.
All know that defective faith and consecration is the main cause. The particular reason for failure is known only to the man and to his God. But at the judgment day all will know the unbelief, or the secret sin, that kept a child of God from coming into the possession of a holy heart, and living a holy life.
Faith Worthy of the Name
Being baptized in the Spirit is usually an immediately overwhelming experience. Entering His Rest is different. In a sense, you are not receiving anything new; He removes the fallen nature and then profoundly restructures all that you have, so that all your parts are in a new and wondrous harmony with each other and with Him.
For this reason, if you were already pretty devout, you may not feel all that different right away. O but when you begin to notice the differences, you will discover that you are a totally new creature, serving a totally transformed God who is very close –and friendly. Sooner or later, you will find that your godly reality is also totally transformed since everything you had before is now made accessible and alive in a way that you could not have imagined previously. You may feel the loss of troubling things, or even a great quiet emptiness within for a while since your fallen nature that used to oppose your godly heart is just plain gone. There has been an emptying so that you may be properly filled! And beyond filling, there is yet another dimension which is found in Him.
“Because of my conscious weakness and helplessness I found what some have not yet discovered. If a diamond becomes lost in the dust, it is not the man whose eyes are on the stars that will see it, but the man who has bowed body and face close to the ground. I thank God that salvation is not placed high above us, and beyond reach, but very nigh to us, and low down, so that a little child, and indeed a fool may lay hand upon it and be enriched. It is so with pardon and regeneration, and it is so with complete sanctification.
“The door of grace opens not to the touch of the reasoner since salvation is above reason. Man did not conceive it, nor is it understood by lordly intellects. I have often been struck with two expressions in the Bible. One is that the wisdom of God is foolishness to men, and the other that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. It is noteworthy that the gospel came down to us through the air to lowly Bethlehem, and not through the brains of the scribes and learned members of the Sanhedrin. The point I would humbly make is that what may appear irreconcilable in the realm of metaphysics may be perfectly harmonized in the realm of grace. The logic of heaven depends upon the resources of heaven, which are but poorly understood here below.
Be Honest With Yourself
“How,’ I am asked, ‘can I believe that the work of sanctification is accomplished until I receive the witness that it is done? And if I believe I am sanctified before I am made conscious of the fact, do I not make belief in a falsehood the condition of obtaining the great blessing?’ These questions at first seem to possess great weight. They have troubled many, and will agitate many more. They gather about the real heart and center of the whole question. He that tarries here to settle this will never go farther. He that approaches the difficulty as a little child will find that there is no difficulty; that there is no problem of Methodism for him to solve: that the Father has given the solution to the humble, child-like man of unquestioning faith.
But let me first say that the question is surprising. Just a glance reveals the fact that it reverses the order God observes in the work of salvation. God’s order is first faith, then the work, and last the feeling. In your question you ask how can you believe that you are sanctified until you are made conscious of the fact. Look at the question closely, and you will observe that your order is, first, feeling; second, the work; and last, the faith, which is the direct reverse of God’s method of doing. Virtually, you say that if God sends you a certain feeling or consciousness, that he has done a certain work in you, that then you will believe.
My dear brother, is it not evident that however you end up obtaining the blessing, according to your plan it cannot be faith, for faith with you is put last. You will believe if you feel that the work is done. Let me ask you: Who could not stand on such an easy platform as this? Surely anybody could admit the fact of a work done by the Saviour when great tokens of emotion are given at the moment. I would guess a great multitude stand ready to be saved on such terms. Millions are ready to say: ‘If God gives certain emotions or experiences declaring His work, then will we believe.’ But where is the faith in such a salvation? Don’t we see that it is no longer faith, but knowledge? Don’t we see that the demand here to God is, ‘Let me know, and I will believe,’ while God says: ‘Believe, and ye shall know?’ If anything, my dear brother, thrills you through and through, it is when a man believes your quiet statement of a fact, and asks for no proof, while at the same time many things are operating to produce doubt in the mind. And so I believe if God ever stands thrilled in heaven it is when a man takes Him at his Word, and goes on believing it in spite of an emotionless heart, and in spite of contradicting men and devils, and in face of the fact that there is no sign or witness from heaven that the life is observed or the faith accepted.
This is faith worthy of the name. No sight or feeling about this. This is what I call dry faith, though praise God, it does not stay dry for long. It comes to fairly drip with grace, if cherished and kept in the heart a few hours or days. Such a faith Abraham had when he went out not knowing whither he went.
Some one says about him that ‘he walked out into empty space on the naked promise of Almighty God!’ Such a faith the centurion had when he asked Christ to heal his servant. Christ replied: ‘I will.’ On this word the Roman soldier rested; even said there was no need for Christ to come to his house; that His word was sufficient to heal the servant at a distance. This was one of the times that Christ was thrilled. The Bible says: ‘He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.’ The centurion held on by dry faith; the servant was distant; the healing took place out of sight; and yet, without a single sign from heaven, with nothing but the word of Christ, he went home, believing the servant was well; and when he arrived found that he was restored. That he had this faith appears in Matthew 8:13.
It is idle to say that the man may be deceived in regard to his exercise of faith. Every man knows when he really believes. Peter knew the moment when he flung himself upon the water, and just as clearly does the soul recognize the critical instant when, forsaking all other help, turning from every other hope and confidence, it lets go every earthly hold, and leaps or drops in the arms of Christ.
Blessed be God! No one ever did this in vain. Even here I am not required to look to my consciousness, or to any conceivable experience, but quietly to go on believing that God has done the work. But must we not pray for the witness to our sanctification? Undoubtedly; but we must not forget that the work is one thing, and the witness another; so we walk in faith until God is pleased to send the testimony. I do not know how it strikes you, but to me it seems that there could be no more acceptable faith to God than this, which takes God at his word, and goes on without a disturbing doubt.
“I cannot but claim for God, on the part of his children, the same unhesitating, unquestioning belief and obedience that I have seen rendered by sons and daughters to an earthly parent. God says a thing; I believe! It was this, and nothing but this that caused the Lord to say of Abraham: ‘He is my friend.’
An Apparent Contradiction
“I am confident that some sharp-eyed reader will point out an apparent discrepancy in my experience. For instance: I said that I believed the work was done in my soul before I received the witness; that in this faith I walked two days; and yet that on the morning of the third day I felt the work of sanctification.
“This is only an apparent difficulty. It is not a real contradiction, unless some one can show that God cannot do a work in us apart from our consciousness, or that He is under necessity to reveal himself simultaneously with His performance. I believed with all my heart for two days that God had sanctified me, because He said so. In this faith I walked unwaveringly until the morning spoken of in my experience, when suddenly and powerfully God gave me the witness of his work, or the proof that the blood had cleansed me from all sin, and that my heart was pure.
In a recent visit to Georgia I was informed of a case strikingly illustrative. It was that of a young man who, after having made the perfect consecration demanded by the Bible, believed that the blood of Christ did then and there cleanse him from all sin. He was without feeling; but he remembered that we are not saved by feeling, but by faith; and so lived on the first day, clinging to God’s word about the matter, as a man in mid-ocean would cling to a spar. Some one saw him shake his head in a peculiar, positive way in church. One sitting near him heard him say at the same moment: ‘The blood does sanctify me.’ Later in the day he was approached by a friend, who asked: ‘Brother , how are you feeling?’ His reply was: ‘I have no feeling; but I know that Jesus sanctifies my soul, because He said so.’ Next day he saw an unfriendly critic observing him in the congregation; again came the positive movement of the head, with the murmured words: ‘He does cleanse me from all sin.’ To sympathetic and anxious Christian friends his constant statement was: ‘No feeling, but perfect faith that the blood cleanses me now.’ Thus he walked for several days by ‘dry faith,’ when one morning, as a friend started to put the usual question, suddenly he cried out in tones that thrilled beyond all description: ‘O glory! Glory! My soul cannot contain the joy and blessedness it feels!’ The witness had come; as, indeed, it will always come to the man who takes God at his word.
God Says, Now!
“Why is it that so many seek this blessing for months without obtaining it? Because they put the work in the future; they place the fulfillment of the promise to some remote time, when God says now! And demands that our faith shall say now!
“My brother, are you a perfectly consecrated! If so, then in the name of Jesus of Nazareth rise up and say: ‘His blood cleanseth me now from all sin,’ and walk in that faith. Let it be a dry faith. I tell you that it will not remain dry long. The balm of Gilead -the very dews of heaven -and the anointing of the Holy Spirit will descend, and cannot but descend, upon a faith that takes God at his word. The disciples held on ten days; cannot you wait in prayer and dry faith that long? Don’t read books opposed to the doctrine; they will chill your faith and divert you from the blessing! Would you advise a penitent to read skeptical books before coming to Christ? The principle is identical. Some godly men are skeptical in regard to instantaneous sanctification. Don’t read their works until you are sanctified; then you can read with a smile, in calmness of spirit, and without hurt to yourself. We can then peruse the ninth chapter of John with an appreciation never felt before. Instead of the books referred to, search a famous old Book which, addressing converted men and women, says: ‘This is the will of God, even your sanctification,’ and adds: ‘Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.’
“Don’t listen to men who deny and oppose in various ways this experience. How can they speak advisedly and correctly of what they have never felt? Their confessed ignorance of the experience disqualifies them here as instructors and leaders, no matter how wise and good and excellent they may be as Christian men and ministers. How can a man lead in a way that he has never trod? “And now I leave these words with you and with other readers. I wish that there were clearer, stronger, and worthier words for your sake and the sake of God’s people, for whom I would gladly lay down my life to bring them into this blessing, this deliverance and rest, this tender and yet steadfast grace that Paul speaks of so frequently and assuredly, and with such an accent of rejoicing and triumph. See Romans 5:2; 2 Corinthians 1:15.
“Let me call your attention to the fact that when Carvosso received the blessing he was saying: ‘I shall have the blessing now!’ If he had said ‘tomorrow,’ he would not have entered into rest. Be assured that we can never err by believing too much in God’s word, especially when that word is a promise coming directly to us. To doubt is to dishonor God; to believe is to honor and glorify Him.
“Let us hear the Saviour: ‘Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ ‘Lord, increase our faith.’”