How to be Entirely Sanctified
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
I was preaching at a camp meeting recently where a teenage girl met me as I was walking to breakfast and said, “Dr. Brown, did you say you would be preaching on entire sanctification tonight?”
“Yes,” I responded.
“Oh,” she said. “I can’t be at that service because of another obligation. I am so disappointed, because I really want to know how to be entirely sanctified.”
I was impressed with her sincerity and the longing I saw in her eyes. So I said, “Why don’t you walk to breakfast with me and I will explain to you what entire sanctification is, and how you can be entirely sanctified.”
That made her happy, and so I had the privilege of teaching a spiritually-hungry teenager how to be entirely sanctified.
As we walked, I thought about my son, Philip, who was saved at age 6, and then at age 12 heard me preach on the subject of entire sanctification, and in simple faith he obeyed Scripture and was entirely sanctified.
There doesn’t have to be anything complicated or difficult about receiving by faith what God has provided for all His children. It is God’s will that all Christians be entirely sanctified.
After we got our food and were seated, I shared with her the following biblical data. I am going to call this information “Four Simple Steps To Entire Sanctification.” If you will follow them wholeheartedly, you, too, can be entirely sanctified!
I will conclude this message with two practices to maintain daily after you are entirely sanctified.
Four Simple Steps For Christians
STEP 1. Make sure you are saved and walking in all the light God has given you (1 Thes. 1:3-9).
The Thessalonians were saved and were walking in all the light God had given them. Paul describes them as Christians who had a “work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (1:3).
He further describes them as elect of God (1:4), followers of the Lord (1:6), and “examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia” (1:7). They had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1:9).
Without a doubt, the Thessalonian Christians were saved and walking in all the light God had given them. Are you, dear reader, saved and walking in all the light God has given you?
STEP 2. Understand that the term “entire” means God desires to sanctify every part of you, spirit, soul, and body. (1 Thes. 5:23).
In order to be entirely sanctified, a Christian must not hold back from God any aspect of his life. He must present himself to God in full surrender, totally open and willing for any changes God wishes to make. This surrender must be a complete surrender, involving your “spirit” (the person you are inside your body), your “soul” (in this context “soul” speaks of your mind, will, and emotions), and your “body.”
The focus of the term “entire” is on completeness. You must not withhold any part of your life from God. Surrender everything – your past with its successes and failures, your present, as well as your future.
Surrender your dreams, your goals, your relationships, your friends, your leisure-time activities, your music – everything. Make sure there are no reservations or retreat from anything God shows you.
STEP 3. By faith, ask the God of peace to sanctify you entirely and believe that He does it (1 Thes. 5:24).
The inspired prayer of Paul for the Thessalonian Christians is recorded in Scripture to teach Christians everywhere that God desires to sanctify them entirely. Listen to our text again,
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:23).
Some readers of Scripture have assumed that the moment of entire sanctification occurs “at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a mistake. The phrase “at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ,” modifies the phrase “kept blameless” and not the phrase “sanctify wholly” (entirely).1
This verse tells us that God desires to sanctify entirely a Christian in this life and preserve him blameless until Jesus returns. Not only is blamelessness possible, but it is the expected norm for believers, as evidenced by Paul’s regular admonitions and prayers for believers to be blameless.
For example, Paul commanded the Philippians to “do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless (ἄμεμπτοι) and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-15).
Remember, faith is an absolute requirement in order to be entirely sanctified. Hebrews 11:6 teaches,
“But without faith it is impossible to please him:
for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
From the last phrase, we derive the three irreducible elements of faith:
- Faith believes what God says (“He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”);
- Faith obeys what God requires (He rewards those who “diligently seek him”);
- Faith trusts in and rests on what God promises (He will reward “them that diligently seek him”).
STEP 4. Testify to others that you by faith believe God has received your full surrender and has entirely sanctified you (Rom. 10:9-10).
Two Practices To Maintain Daily After You Are Entirely Sanctified
- Renew each day your commitment to live an entirely sanctified life and continue to make any adjustments or course corrections that God shows you to make.
- Seek to develop the characteristics of the entirely sanctified life as described in 1 Thessalonians chapters 3 and 5:
- To increase and abound in love one for another and toward all men (1 Thes. 3:12).
- To keep your heart unblamable in holiness before God until He comes again (1 Thes. 3:13).
- To rejoice evermore (1 Thes. 5:16).
- To pray without ceasing, meaning to stay constantly in touch with God (1 Thes. 5:17).
- In everything to give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. You must cultivate a spirit of thankfulness and praise for all things and in all things (1 Thes. 5:18; Eph. 5:20).
- To be careful not to quench the Spirit, but rather obey His promptings and checks and leadership (1 Thes. 5:19).
- To test everything you hear someone say is God’s Word or God’s will and then to hold fast only to that which is good (that which can be proved by Scripture) (1 Thes. 5:21).
- To abstain from every form of evil including even the appearance of evil (1 Thes. 5:22).
After the evening camp meeting service in which I delivered this message, the mother of the teenage girl said to me, “My daughter was so happy after you talked with her, because it cleared up a lot of misunderstanding and helped her to know exactly what to do to become entirely sanctified.”
Dear Reader, you too can be entirely sanctified. Why not follow these four simple steps and by faith do it right now?
 The important question is: does the phrase “at the coming” modify both sanctify and be kept, or does it modify only be kept? Greek syntax is fairly consistent when an author intends two verbs to be modified by an adverbial phrase. Normally the two verbs will be closely connected by καί with the adverbial phrase either following them or preceding them.
For example, in 1 Thess. 3:12, Paul prays: “May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love.” ὑμᾶς δὲ ὁ κύριος πλεονάσαι καὶ περισσεύσαι τῇ ἀγάπῃ…. The two verbs πλεονάσαι and περισσεύσαι are linked by καί and are both modified by the dative phrase “in love.”
However, the syntax in 1 Thess. 5:23 is different. The verb “be kept” (τηρη- θείη) is at the very end of the sentence. The prepositional phrase “at the coming of our Lord” is between “sanctify” (ἁγιάσαι) and “be kept” (τηρηθείη) rather than following or preceding them as normal.
Given this syntactical arrangement and the distance between sanctify and be kept, it is unlikely that the prepositional phrase modifies both sanctify and be kept.
Rather, it modifies only the final verb be kept (τηρη-θείη). In other words, Paul is not praying that they would be “entirely sanctified” at the coming of Christ. He is praying that they would be kept blameless “at the coming,” meaning, kept blameless until His return.
Dr. Allan P. Brown teaches such courses as Christian Beliefs, Doctrine of Holiness, Wisdom Literature, Hebrew, Preaching Holiness, Romans and Galatians, and Letters to the Hebrews.
He has been on faculty at GBSC since 1996 and is the author of several books and articles.
Dr. Brown also speaks at churches, camp meetings, revivals and more.