Two Parts to Sanctification

by | Nov 27, 2017

There are two parts to sanctification: God’s part and our part.

God’s part is purifying and energizing. Our part is consecration and faith. Down through history, believers who wrote, spoke, and testified to this deeper walk with God have variously placed greater emphasis on either God’s part or our part.

This is still true today. Some talk with great enthusiasm about God’s part. They may give the impression that God does this work in whomever He pleases, whenever He wants to, and perhaps for reasons unknown to the recipient. To them, there is little we can do to receive entire sanctification except wait until God sanctifies us fully.

These Christians give little emphasis to consecration or “taking it by faith.” They argue that God alone has His own mysterious timetable for making us holy, and He will do so when He is good and ready. There is little urgency to seek entire sanctification since we would be trespassing on God’s territory—only God knows when He plans to give this gift—grabbing it is impolite.

This describes the thinking of those who emphasize God’s part alone.

However, there are others who downplay God’s part in sanctification and upgrade our part—consecration and faith. Taking a most logical approach, they say:

  1. consecrate your total life to God;
  2. having done that, realize the Bible says God will cleanse you and fill you with spiritual power;
  3. so, simply believe that God has done what He promised. Consider yourself cleansed.

That’s that! It’s over. Take it by faith—like you became a Christian in the first place.

Both of these extremes are out of balance. But both sides help us see the total picture. There are two parts to sanctification: God’s part and our part. God alone works in us to sanctify us, but He does so with our cooperation.

Sanctification is not just a unilateral activity of God, but bilateral—we and God are both involved in this act. We are changed through a partnership with God. He has His part in doing the work, and we have ours in coming to Him in consecration and faith.

But be sure to know that even though we have a part, God alone does the cleansing and empowerment. We cannot do it ourselves. How many times have we said to wrong attitudes, thoughts, and affections, “Be gone!” yet they remain? How often have we tried to work up spiritual energy to witness or to minister to others, yet we fail to have true spiritual power?

We cannot cleanse our own bent to sinning. We cannot energize ourselves. This is God’s work and God’s alone. Only He can cleanse our heart from its disposition to disobey. Only He can energize our life for ministry to a hurting world. It takes His grace and His power. This is His work alone.

However, we have a part to play. It’s our responsibility to consecrate our “all to Jesus.” He will not do this for us. He will not blast down the door of our life and rip our life from our own hands. God has limited the boundaries of His work by the free will of men and women. He has granted you and me the right to refuse.

God wants us to dedicate our whole life to Him. All of us. He yearns for our total trust in Him. He longs for our faith in Him to cleanse and energize us. Yet it will not happen until we consecrate our life to Him and believe He will cleanse us. True, in a sense, even this act of consecration can be credited to Him—He convicts us and tenderly bring us to a place of decision.

So we can take no credit for sanctifying ourselves, and we can’t even take all the credit for a total consecration.