The Holy Spirit Our Sanctifier
We must not only believe in one God, but also in Jesus Christ His Son in His mediatorial offices as prophet, priest and king, as well as the Holy Spirit as our regenerator, spirit of adoption and sanctifier. We will find little spirituality where these distinctive truths of the Gospel are seldom preached, but much spiritual power and deep religious experience where they are taught and received.
Church history will sustain this assertion.
There is always a spiritual decline whenever Christ and the Holy Spirit have a secondary place in preaching; and there is always a revival of faith when the “whole counsel of God”—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is faithfully presented in the pulpit.
Cause of Spiritual Weakness.
But it may be also said that the spiritual life of many believers is feeble and sickly because they fail to grasp Christ and the Comforter in their distinct offices. Thousands are only faintly moving along the heavenly path; but they might run with gladness, surmounting every obstacle and overthrowing every foe if only they only knew
“the exceeding greatness of Christ’s power to us-ward who believe.”
Thousands of sincere souls are harassed and weakened by perpetual doubts simply because they do not give due honor to the Third Person of the Trinity by trusting Him to do the work of His office, assuring their sonship by “the spirit of adoption.”
Failure to Emphasize the Spirit’s Work in Assurance.
They do not stir themselves up to take hold of this blessed assurance to insist that the Divine seal be impressed upon them by the Holy Spirit. They live in constant disregard of Wesley’s warning not to “rest in any supposed fruit of the Spirit without the witness.” The natural consequence of this absence of the “spirit of adoption, crying in their hearts, Abba, Father,” is a perpetual wavering between hope and fear.
I am convinced that this unsatisfactory Christian experience is due in part to the failure of preachers to emphasize this blessing, which is the common privilege of all believers.
Neglect of the Spirit’s Office as Our Sanctifier.
Thus, the Holy Spirit gladly bestows the “spirit of adoption,” assuring us of our salvation. But another of His offices is the work of sanctification. He is the Sanctifier.
Beginning this work in the New Birth by implanting love for God, the purifying principle, He continues it until “perfect love casteth out fear.” That this consummation may take place long before death has never been a disputed question with Methodists. That it was a special emphasis by our great founder with increasing emphasis till his dying day no one on earth can candidly deny after reading Tyerman’s Life and Times of John Wesley.
This magnifying of the office of the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier produced such Christian characters in Methodist history as Bramwell, Hester Ann Rogers, the seraphic Fletcher and his saintly wife, as well as many others who are unknown to fame but are precious jewels in the crown of Jesus.
These results were not the work of chance. There was a distinctive faith which grasped this prize of personal sanctity. This faith came from preaching which honored the Holy Spirit by dwelling emphatically upon His office as Sanctifier of His people. It did not come by the use of “glittering generalities” in the pulpit, gliding smoothly over the Spirit’s work like a slurred note in music.
Remember that the Holy Spirit is very sensitive. If blasphemy against Him is unpardonable, the slighting of any of His offices must not only grieve Him but also deprive our souls of the blessings which it is His prerogative to bestow. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Dr. Daniel Steele (1824–1914) was a famous Methodist scholar, writer, and advocate of the doctrine of Christian holiness. The above is extracted and condensed by the editor from Steele’s Love Enthroned, published in 1877.
Dr. Daniel Steele was a well-known writer, educator, and holiness advocate in late 19th-century Methodism.