By J. C.
The Doctrine of Sanctification-Part 2 of 4
What Are the Visible Marks of a Sanctified Man?
1. True sanctification does not consist in talk about religion. People
have heard so much of gospel truth that they contract an unholy familiarity
with its words and phrases and sometimes talk so fluently about its
doctrines that you might think them true Christians.
In fact, it is sickening and disgusting to hear the cool and flippant
language which many pour out about "conversion," "the Savior," "the gospel,"
"free grace" and the like, while they are notoriously serving sin or living
for the world. Can we doubt that such talk is abominable in Godís sight?
2. True sanctification does not consist in temporary religious feelings.
Wherever wheat is sown, the devil is sure to sow tares. Many appear moved
and touched and roused under the preaching of the gospel, while in reality
their hearts are not changed at all. Their wounds are only skin deep, and
the peace they profess to feel is skin deep also. Like the stony-ground
hearers, they receive the Word with joy (Matt. 13:20), but after a little
they fall away, go back to the world, and are harder and worse than before.
Let us beware of healing wounds slightly, and crying, "Peace, peace,"
when there is no peace. Let us urge on everyone who exhibits new interest in
religion to be content with nothing short of the deep, solid, sanctifying
work of the Holy Spirit.
3. True sanctification does not consist in outward formalism and external
devoutness. This is an enormous delusion, but unhappily a very common one.
Thousands appear to imagine that true holiness is to be seen in constant
attendance on church services, reception of the Lordís Supper, etc. I am
afraid that in many cases this external religiousness is made a substitute
for inward holiness.
4. Sanctification does not consist in retirement from our place in life
and the renunciation of our social duties. In every age it has been a snare
with many to take up this line in the pursuit of holiness. Hundreds of
hermits have buried themselves in some wilderness, and thousands of men and
women have shut themselves up within the walls of monasteries and convents,
under the vain idea that by so doing they would escape sin and become
eminently holy. They have forgotten that no bolts and bars can keep out the
devil and that, wherever we go, we carry that root of great evil, our own
hearts. True holiness does not make a Christian evade difficulties, but face
and overcome them.
5. Sanctification does not consist in the occasional performance of right
actions. It is the habitual working of a new heavenly principle within,
which runs through all a manís daily conduct, both in great things and in
small. Its seat is in the heart and, like the heart in the body, it has a
regular influence on every part of the character. It is like a perpetual
fountain, from which a stream is ever flowing spontaneously and naturally.
(Even Herod, when he heard John the Baptist, "did many things," while his
heart was utterly wrong in the sight of God (Mark 6:20). A true saint, like
Hezekiah, will be whole-hearted. He will count Godís commandments concerning
all things to be right, and "hate every false way" (2 Chron. 31:21; Ps.
6. Genuine sanctification will show itself in habitual respect to Godís
law, and habitual effort to live in obedience to it as the rule of life.
There is no greater mistake than to suppose that a Christian has nothing to
do with the law and the Ten Commandments, because he cannot be justified by
keeping them. The same Holy Spirit who convinces the believer of sin by the
law, and leads him to Christ for justification, will always lead him to a
spiritual use of the law, as a friendly guide, in the pursuit of
sanctification. As Paul said in Romans 7:22: "I delight in the law of God
after the inward man."
7. Genuine sanctification will show itself in a habitual endeavor to do
Christís will, and to live by His practical precepts. These precepts are to
be found scattered everywhere throughout the four Gospels, and especially in
the Sermon on the Mount. He that supposes they were spoken without the
intention of promoting holiness, and that a Christian need not attend to
them in daily life, is really little better than a lunatic. To hear some men
talk, and read some menís writings, one might imagine that our blessed Lord,
when He was on earth, never taught anything but doctrine, and left practical
duties to be taught by others! This is a complete mistake.
8. Genuine sanctification will show itself in a habitual desire to live
up to the standard which St. Paul sets before the churches in his writings.
That standard is to be found in the closing chapters of nearly all his
epistles. These directions were written down by inspiration of God for the
perpetual guidance of professing Christians. He who does not attend to them
may possibly pass muster as a member of a church, but he certainly is not
what the Bible calls a "sanctified man."
9. Genuine sanctification will show itself in habitual attention to the
active graces which our Lord so beautifully exemplified, and especially to
the grace of charity (John 13:34,35). A sanctified man will try to do good
in the world and to lessen the sorrow and increase the happiness of all
around him. He will aim to be like his Master. Saving faith and real
converting grace will always produce some conformity to the image of Jesus
10. Genuine sanctification, finally, will show itself in habitual
attention to the passive gracesĖthose graces which are especially shown in
submission to the will of God, and in bearing and forbearing one another.
Few people, perhaps, unless they have examined the point, have an idea how
much is said about these graces in the New Testament. For example, this is
the special point Peter dwells upon in commending our Lord Jesus Christís
example: "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye
should follow His stepsÖwho, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when he
suffered, he threatened notÖ." (1 Pet. 2:21-23).
Such are the visible marks of a sanctified man. I will never shrink from
saying that genuine sanctification is a thing that can be seen, and that the
marks I have endeavored to sketch out are more or less the marks of a
J. C. Ryle on Holiness and
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