Consecration: The Human Side of Sanctification
Consecration is not sanctification; but it is the human side of sanctification. As the promise of sanctification is never given to sinners, so the call to consecration is never given to sinners. The attitude of a sinner being that of rebellion, he can simply surrender, and repent of his sins. But writing to believers, the Apostle Paul said,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
Hence, we see that the call to consecration is to the “brethren”; the incentive to consecration is, “the mercies of god”; and the object of consecration is, that they might be “transformed,” and “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
Here is one reason why a person is not sanctified when converted: the conditions are entirely different. A sinner must do one thing in order to be converted, while a believer must do entirely a different thing in order to be wholly sanctified.
Indeed, it would be utterly impossible for a sinner to present himself “a living sacrifice,” seeing he is “dead in trespasses and sins”; not until after the soul has been quickened in newness of life can he present himself a “living sacrifice.”
The struggle of the sinner, in his surrender of himself to God, is to give up what is evil; the struggle of the believer in making his consecration, is to give up what is good—his time, his plans, his possessions, himself, his all—to God.
Nor is an objective consecration sufficient. By an objective consecration we mean a consecration or devotement to a certain work, as being consecrated to the work of a deaconess, or the work of a missionary, or the work of the ministry. There are multitudes of persons who are objectively consecrated—consecrated to certain lines of religious work—who, nevertheless, are not wholly sanctified.
The consecration necessary to entire sanctification is rather, what may be termed, a subjective consecration. The purpose of a subjective consecration is not, primarily, to do something for Him, but rather to let Him do something for us.
In other words, a person just consecrate himself unconditionally to the Lord for the express and specific purpose of letting the Lord completely purify and sanctify the soul; and not only so, that when such consecration is made, and all is upon the altar, there still remains one more step to be taken, to wit, the step of faith.
Having fully met conditions, faith must take God at His word, and believe that He doeth it. We are “sanctified by faith” (Acts 26:18).
Real consecration includes all we have, and all we ever will have; all we are, and all we ever will be; all we know, and all we ever will know, for time and eternity; and is a pledge of an eternal “yes” to all the will of God. It is not sufficient for a person to say, “I have given up all I know.” Included must be all we do not know; all He may reveal in the future. Such a person can never re-consecrate.
They who habitually re-consecrate are simply playing at consecration and have never yet learned the real meaning of consecration. But where a real death-bed consecration has been made, and the last point yielded to God, so that there is a glad “yes” down deep in the soul to all the will of God, faith becomes spontaneous, and the soul will realize the altar sanctifieth the gift (Matt. 23:19).
The minister who says that sanctification simply means consecration is either exceedingly ignorant on this subject, or else is willfully mis-stating the case; he cannot consult any dictionary or lexicon of authority without finding that the word sanctification has a twofold meaning: consecration, or “setting apart,” which is the human side; and purification, making free from sin, and making holy, which is the divine side.
“Give yourself to God in all things, if you would have God give Himself to you.”
Christian Wismer Ruth (1865-1941) was one of the founders of the Church of the Nazarene. This selection is excerpted from The Second Crisis in Christian Experience (The Christian Witness Company, 1912).