Advice for the Entirely Sanctified (Parts 1 and 2)

by | Jan 1, 2011

Part 1

Saint Paul informs us that he continued to run for the heavenly crown like a man who could become reprobate and be cast away (I Cor. 9:25, 27). So you also must run the Christian race so that you may obtain your crown. Still keep your body under. Still watch your own heart, and be “steadfast in the faith.” Still, resist the devil that he may flee from you.

Granted, “the weakness of the flesh” is not sin; but yet the “deceitfulness of sin” creeps in at this door. Use all the armor of God “with all prayer” that you may be more than conquerors through Him who has loved you.

If your Master, the Lord Jesus, was tempted and assaulted to the last, and if to the last He watched and prayed, using all the means of grace, fighting against the world, the flesh, and the devil, do not think that you are above Him. Go and do likewise.

Perfect love does not imply perfect knowledge, but perfect humility and readiness to receive instruction. Remember, therefore, that if you show that you are above being instructed, even by a lowly person who teaches under the divine anointing, you will show that you are fallen from a perfection of humility to a perfection of pride.

Uninterrupted transports of praise and ceaseless raptures of joy do not belong to Christian perfection but to that of the angels. If God indulges you with ecstasies and extraordinary revelations, be thankful for them, but be “not exalted above measure” by them.

Remember that your Christian perfection does not so much consist in building a tabernacle upon Mount Tabor to rest and enjoy rare sights there but in resolutely taking up the cross and following Christ to the top of Mount Calvary.

This lesson is deep, but Christ may teach you one deeper still. By identifying with Him in all His sufferings He may call you to “know him every way crucified.” What a pattern He is of confidence in God even in the most painful suffering. “The ground of a thousand mistakes,” says Mr. Wesley, “is the not considering deeply that love is the highest gift of God—humble, gentle, patient love; that all visions, revelations, manifestations whatever are little compared to love.”

Love is humble. Let all you speak and do show that you are little and lowly in your own eyes. Be always ready to admit any fault that you have done. if you have thought, spoke, or acted wrong be quick to acknowledge it. Christian perfection shines as much in the childlike humility by which sanctified Christians readily acknowledge their faults as it does in the faithful steadfastness with which they strive against sin.

You ought to direct your love upon God’s dearest children, those who excel in virtue, because they more strongly reflect the image of God. But if you despise the weak and are above lending them a helping hand, you are fallen from Christian perfection, which teaches us to “bear one another’s burdens,” especially the burdens of the weak.

Imitate the tenderness of the Good Shepherd who lovingly carries the lambs, leads the sheep who are big and strong, and feeds with milk those who cannot bear strong meat.

Part 2

“Where the loving Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Keep therefore at the utmost distance from the shackles of a narrow, prejudiced, bigoted spirit. The moment you confine your love to the people who think just as you do, you fall from Christian Perfection and turn into bigots. As Mr. Wesley says, “I entreat you, beware of bigotry. Let not your love …be confined to Methodists only.”

On the contrary “do good to all men.” Let your benevolence shine upon all, and let your love send its cherishing beams upon all.

Love—pure love—is satisfied with the Supreme Good, that is, with God Himself. “Beware then of desiring anything ultimately than Him.” Let every unworthy desire be driven out, and see that none ever enters again. Be patterns of Christian discipline and self-denial, taking up your cross daily; and let everyone see that you do not pursue any pleasure that does not bring you closer to God. Your purpose simply is to aim at pleasing Him whether by doing or by suffering.

Remember that the best soldiers are sent upon the most difficult and dangerous missions, and so you probably will be called to carry the heaviest burdens. Expect contradiction and opposition, together with crosses of various kinds. As St. Paul reminds us, “to you it is given in behalf of Christ,” that is, for His sake, as a fruit of His death and intercession for you,

“not only to believe but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:23).

Receive whatever God allows to come your way with willingness and thankfulness. To refer to St. Paul again, remember that he desired to “know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.”

But do not desire to follow the Savior someday to the Garden of Gethsemane and forget to follow Him now to the carpenter’s shop. It is dangerous to become so centered on the challenges you fear will come to you tomorrow that you forget the duties of the present day.

So never neglect the two talents you have now and forget the duty that is yours today. “Use grace and you will have more grace.” Therefore, “to continual watchfulness and prayer add continual employment,” as Mr. Wesley advises.

Love is modest and inclines to bashfulness and silence rather than to talkative forwardness. “In a multitude of words there wanteth not sin.” But when you are called upon to bear testimony to the truth, it would be cowardly not to do so with humility.

Sanctified Christians are “burning and shining lights,” and “and a candle is not lighted to be put under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may give light to all in the house.” God does not light the candle of perfect love to hide it in a corner but to give light to all that are within reach of its brightness.

If you would keep far from the dangers of pride, follow the excellent direction of Mr. Wesley. When you have done anything for God or received any favor from Him, retire, if not into your closet, into your heart, and say, “I come, Lord, to restore to You what You have given, and I freely give it back.” “The true means to be filled anew with the riches of God’s grace is thus to strip ourselves of it.”

Think again of St. Paul. Instead of resting in his perfection in Christ and the good works which spring from it, he was determined to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus. “Brethren,” he says,

“I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.”

Rev. John Fletcher (1729–1785) was a close friend and faithful assistant to John Wesley during the Methodist Revival in England. This selection condensed and updated by Larry D. Smith, is extracted from Fletcher’s Last Check to Antinomianism.