By P. F. Bresee
One of the most difficult things to determine for the seeker of holiness, and for those who are helping the seeker, is when the question can be earnestly asked, “What shall I do that I may be sanctified wholly?” It is to answer this question that we write.
It is presumed that the seeker is a child of God with a clear experience of His pardoning mercy and justifying grace. There must be no doubt in reference to this — if there is, this must first be settled. No one but a child of God is in a condition to seek entire sanctification. What makes it so difficult for many, who understand to seek the grace of holiness, is that they have not been living up to the light that God has poured upon their pathway and are not in a state of justification. They have kept up their profession of faith and have not given up their hope, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15), has departed from them. They are in spiritual trouble and under conviction because of it, but it cannot be for holiness — it is rather that they might get back to God; and that the sweet Messenger of Rest (the Holy Spirit ), whose absence causes them to mourn, might return to them. If they do come under conviction for holiness, they must first by repentance and faith get back to God. When seeking holiness, the place to start from is a clear experience of justification, having the witness of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:16), that you are a child of God and therefore an heir to the inheritance among them who are sanctified (Acts 26:18). Happy for them if they are clearly taught this, and then at once go on to seek and to enter into the “grace wherein we stand” (holiness; Rom. 5:1-2). “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7).
THE FIRST STEP: A BELIEF IN THE BIBLICAL TEACHING OF HOLINESS
“He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). As a child of God you have learned that He commands you to be holy, and that this is His will, even your sanctification. Christ gave Himself for you — a Christian who is part of the Church — that He might sanctify and cleanse you; for without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). You recognize your need of entire sanctification. Every new-born child of God soon finds that while condemnation for sin is removed in connection with the new birth, and that there is a new, loyal, loving heart given to him (her) by God, yet there are the remains of sin (the carnal mind with its desires, ambitions and passions) left in the heart; and that the carnal mind wars against the new life, bringing great limitations and dangers to it. With this awareness, you go to the Word of God, and under the illumination of the Holy Spirit you find that there is provision in the Atonement of Jesus, and also that it is the will of God that you be made thoroughly clean from all sin (1 Thess. 5:22-24; 1 Jn. 1:7). It is a settled fact with you that you need holiness, that you must have it, and that God has it for you and waits to sanctify you because of the atoning Blood of Jesus. A clear belief in this is the first step.
THE SECOND STEP: ENTIRE DEVOTION TO GOD
As His child, you are a priest unto God (1 Pet. 2:5). You now act as a priest and present yourself (you are also the offering) as a living sacrifice unto God to be made holy (Rom. 12:1). Be careful not to make this sacrifice unto usefulness or unto happiness — it is to be made unto God — to be in His will. This devotion, or the consecrating of yourself unto God, is all embracing. This devotion was unconsciously in your surrender to God when He forgave your sins, so far as the yielding of yourself up to be forever in His will is concerned — and you can never fail to stay surrendered to God without forfeiting the grace which came to you when He forgave your sins. But now your devotion becomes a definite act — a living sacrifice. You offer yourself as a “whole burnt offering” unto God, to be His holy child forever. Everything goes into this devotion. The things that were an earthly gain to you are counted as a loss. The things that are valuable to you are reckoned as dung, so that you might know Christ and the power His resurrection (Phil. 3:7-10). You die to the world, so that you, too, can say, “The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14; 1 Jn. 2:15-17). You give yourself (all that you are and all that you have; all present and future plans) unto God to be made holy. You will never have another thing to consecrate to God, for this is all embracing, both now and forever. You now rest, as you have reached, God helping you, the end of your consecration.
THE THIRD STEP: RECOGNIZING THAT THE WORK IS GOD’S
You now recognize that it is God’s work to make you holy, and that you have fully given yourself to Him so that He might do it. It is as impossible for you to make yourself holy as it is for you to create a universe. God must do this great work of cleansing your heart. You have already believed that He wants to do it, and now you are the earnest seeker. You have entirely consecrated everything to God so that He might sanctify you. You have “sold everything” (figuratively speaking) to purchase this great pearl of a clean heart.
“A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine.
Perfect and right and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine.”
You are as “clay in the hands of the potter” (Jer. 18:1-6). You have abandoned yourself to God so that He might work in you and through you His own blessed will (Phil. 2:13).
THE FOURTH STEP: BELIEVING THE PROMISES OF GOD
You now rest your case upon the immutable promises of God. Do not trust in experience or feelings, or what has or may come to pass in your soul, but upon the unchangeable promises of God. Having put your case into His hands, and absolutely leaving it with Him, you are now to believe, that, according to His Word, He attends to His own work. If you have fully committed your case to Him, you will have little difficulty in trusting Him to attend to it and to sanctify you now. You will be able to believe that He does it. You will hear Him say, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7) as you now walk in the light of His truth in a complete yielding of yourself to His will. As you put yourself into His hands for Him to sanctify you, you will say, “Yes Lord, I believe what Thou sayest; not to believe Thee would be to make Thee a liar (1 Jn. 5:10). I know that Thou art truth, and I believe Thou doest it.”
You do not look to see whether anything has come to pass or not in your soul. You are not trusting in what comes to pass, but in God — in His will, which is your sanctification, and in His Word, which declares, “The Blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin.” You seek nothing but the will of God. You rest upon nothing but the promises of God, and there is quietness and peace in your soul. As a “child of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7), you have followed in the footsteps of the “father of the faithful” and believed God; and to you also it is counted for righteousness (Rom. 4:3-5). You have learned what it means to truly believe God, and you have the assurance of God’s Word, that He does the work. This is the first witness. God testifies to your believing heart by His own living Word that He sanctifies you. The Blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin. You realize now the infinite import of the Word of God. You recognize that you can stand upon His Word that cannot fail, and that you can stand upon it forever (Mt. 24:35). You rejoice that God talks to you in assurance through His Word. The proclamation of the Almighty has come to your soul by His own utterance that the great transaction’s done, and there is a great calm and quietness in your soul.
THE FIFTH STEP: THE HOLY GHOST MANIFESTATION
There is also a second witness. “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified; whereof the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) also is a witness to us” (Heb. 10:14-15). The believing heart waits peacefully, thankfully, trustingly and expectantly, with great assurance of faith, for the manifestation of the presence of the Holy Ghost. He is sure to reveal Himself to you according to His own infinite wisdom. It is a time of holy, intense, expectant waiting — gazing into the face of God through His promises. Whether you should seek the witness of the Holy Ghost is questionable. You have the witness of His own utterance to you in His Word, and you rest upon it. You are lovingly, thankfully and expectantly waiting for His manifest presence with His own assurance that He will come suddenly to His temple (Mal. 3:1; 1 Cor. 6:19-20), and you are resting in this assurance. He makes known His own coming. He sheds abroad His own light and you will not be left in doubt (Rom. 5:5). He will illuminate your whole being, which is His temple, when He comes to possess it and dwell in it. Your obedience and trust of faith have merged into the knowledge of experience, and you too know the Lord. The mystery of the Gospel, which is “Christ in you” (Col. 1:26-27), is unveiled to you, and you stand cleansed and endued by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto you.
Five Steps To Holiness was revised and may be reproduced and distributed.