By Adam Clarke
The word sanctify has two meanings. It signifies to consecrate; that is, to separate from earthly and common use and devote or dedicate to God and His service. It also signifies to make holy or pure. Many talk much, and indeed well, of what Christ has done for us, but how little is said of what He is to do in us! He was incarnated, suffered, died, and rose from the dead. He ascended to Heaven and there He appears in the presence of God for us. These were all saving, atoning and mediating acts for us, that He might reconcile us to God, blot out our sins, and purge our consciences from dead works; that He might *bind the strong man and take away his armor; that He might cleanse the polluted heart by destroying every foul and abominable desire and all tormenting and unholy tempers, and that He might make the heart His throne and fill the soul with light, power and life.
* This is a reference to Luke 11:21-22. Jesus destroys the work of the devil in the heart by overcoming Satan and taking away his armor. Satan’s armor is the corrupt, sinful desires that he puts into the human heart.
In a word, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). These things are done in us, without which we cannot be saved unto eternal life. But the things that are done in us are consequent to the things that are done for us; for had He not been incarnated, suffered and died in our stead, we could not receive either pardon or holiness. And if He does not cleanse and purify our hearts, we cannot enter Heaven, where all is purity. The heavenly vision is given only to those who are purified from all unrighteousness, as it is written, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8). Death purifies nothing; Heaven purifies nothing. The *living stones of the church, like those of the **temple at Jerusalem, are hewn, squared and cut on earth in the Church militant, to prepare them to enter into the Church triumphant in Heaven.
*Christians are referred to as lively (living) stones in 1 Peter 2:5. **1 Kings 5:17-18; 6:7
Entire sanctification is the restoration of man to the state of holiness from which he fell, by creating him anew in Christ Jesus and restoring to him that image and likeness of God, which he has lost. A higher meaning than this it cannot have; a lower meaning it must not have. God made man in that degree of perfection that was pleasing to His infinite wisdom and goodness (Gen. 1:26-27). Sin defaced this Divine image, but Jesus, the Redeemer of mankind, came to restore it. If men were not perfectly saved from all sin, then sin and Satan would triumph because they have done a mischief that Christ either cannot or will not undo. To say He cannot would be shocking blasphemy against the infinite power and dignity of the great Redeemer. To say He will not would be equally such against the infinite benevolence and holiness of His nature. All sin, whether in power, guilt, or defilement, is the work of the devil. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. As all unrighteousness is sin, so Jesus’ blood cleanses from all sin, because it cleanses from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7, 9).
The whole design of God was to restore man to His image and raise him from the ruins of his fall – to blot out all his sins, purify his soul, and fill him with holiness, so that no unholy temper, evil desire, impure affection or passion will lodge in him. This and this only is true Christian perfection. A less salvation than this would be dishonorable to the sacrifice of Christ and the operation of the Holy Spirit.
When Paul said that he warned every man, and taught every man in all wisdom, so that he might present every man perfect in Christ (Col. 1:28), he must have meant something. What then was that something? He must have meant holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Call it by what name we please, it must imply the pardon of all sins and the removal of the whole *body of sin. This must take place before we can be like Jesus and see Him as He is in the brightness of His own glory (1 John 3:2).
*Clarke said in his commentary that the body of sin is the wicked, corrupt, fleshly self. The Bible says, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him (Jesus), that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6). “The design of God is to counteract and destroy the very spirit and soul of sin, so that we will no longer serve sin; no longer be the slaves of sin.” – Clarke
This fitness to appear before God, and this thorough preparation for eternal glory, is what I plead for, pray for, and heartily recommend for all true Christians, under the name of Christian perfection. Had I a better name, one more energetic, one with a greater plenitude of meaning, one more worthy of the efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ, which bought our peace and cleanses us from all unrighteousness, I would gladly adopt it and use it. – Revised and condensed.
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