Mrs. Wiseman (next morning)—Since it’s such a rainy morning it’s a good time for us to talk of the things that pertain to the life to come. I have peace and joy in my soul. I know that my sins are all forgiven and that I’m God’s child, but I’m not sanctified.
Mr. Wiseman—Well, I am; I was sanctified when I was converted.
Mrs. W.—What did conversion do for you?
Mr. W.—My sins were forgiven, and my heart was changed. I was made a new creature; old things passed away, and all things became new.
Mrs. W.—That was very good; that is just what Jesus has done for me, and now I’m living free from sin. If I were to commit sin, I wouldn’t profess to be a Christian until I had repented and found pardon for the same. O Husband, you say you’re a Christian and you even say you’re sanctified, although I never knew before that you made any such profession; but yet you say you sin more or less. The Bible says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” (1 John 3:9) but I’m conscious of an evil in my heart. I want to be sanctified. What do you think sanctification is, James, and what did it do for you?
Mr. W.—Sanctification is a setting apart.
Mrs. W.—To whom and for what purpose have you set yourself apart?
Mr. W.—I set myself apart to God for His use and service forty years ago when I became a Christian.
Mrs. W.—And yet you say you sin every day. You ask God to forgive your sins every time you pray. Are you being used of God? Are you serving Him when you sin? Sanctification of the Old Testament was the setting apart for sacred use. That which is set apart was used for the purpose for which is set apart and nothing more. In the Jewish economy they received forgiveness of sins, but they were not born again. They did set themselves apart to God, but they did not receive the new life that we receive when we become Christians. In this Holy Spirit dispensation when our sins are forgiven, we are also born again, and then when we set ourselves apart to God, for His service, we’re made perfectly holy in our very natures.
Mr. W.—I don’t believe in two works of grace. I got it all at once. I don’t believe the Lord will do things by halves.
Mrs. W.—No, the Lord doesn’t do a half work. If he did a half work when he forgave us our sins and then did another half work when he sanctified us, that would be but one work. The plan of salvation doesn’t consist in two half works of grace, but in two whole works.
Mr.. W.—I don’t see why God has to take two hitches at us to get us out of the mire.
Mrs. W.—I wouldn’t use such an expression, James. The work of God is too holy and sacred. I’m sure God has a right to form just such a plan to redeem man as pleases Him.
Mr. W.—I don’t think He has any set plan. If one believes he gets it all at once, then he gets it that way, and if another believes he gets it by two works, then he gets it by two works. It’s just as a man believes.
Mrs. W.—God has always proceeded in all His works according to an established law. His plan is established. He has but one plan, one way to redeem man. He doesn’t save one to the uttermost in one way and another in another way. In the very nature of things He can’t give us the experience of the new birth and sanctification at the same time.
Mr. W.—Well, then, I don’t understand the nature of things, and I’m willing to become your pupil and have you teach me the philosophy of this thing, if the tuition is not too high.
Mrs. W.—Freely I have received and freely I give. God can never effect a change in man’s heart without a preparation for the change. God can never forgive a man’s sins unless the man repents. He must be sorry for his sins; his heart must be touched; the fallow ground must be broken up. God does not and cannot forgive a man except of what he repents. He must repent of all his sins before he receives forgiveness. If a man repents of all but one of his sins and won’t repent of that one, he will not receive forgiveness of any; but if he repents of all, then he receives forgiveness of all. Now a sinner repents only of the sins he has committed. He can’t repent of anything more, for he’s not guilty of anything more. The evil that is in the heart of all of us in our childhood is not something for which we can repent; but we do repent of all the sins we have committed, and God forgives them all. Then we are as innocent and guiltless as a child. We are happy because we are innocent.
Mr. W.—It was just that way with me when I was converted. I repented of all my sins just as you say, and they were all forgiven. I was happy. I loved God. It was the happiest day of my life and many times now I am made to weep when I think of those happy days. They were blessed days. But I didn’t keep such a free, happy innocence very long. I have doubts and fears, ups and downs, and a sense of guilt, so that I’m not as happy as the day Jesus washed my sins away.
Mrs. W.—I don’t doubt that you were converted; and if you had had the teachings I’m now getting, you would have lived free from sin, gone on into the second grace, and been a happy man all these many years. But as you say, you’ve been committing sin more or less all this time, and there can’t be innocence where there is transgression.
Mr. W.—You claim, then, that after sins are forgiven and one is born of the Spirit, there is yet an evil in the heart?
Mrs. W.—Such is very plainly taught in the Bible, both by precept and example. It has also been taught by many reformers since Bible times. John and Charles Wesley and many others in their day taught justification by faith and sanctification as a work subsequent. The apostles were born of the Spirit before Pentecost, but they yet had an evil principle in their hearts. They had power to do some things before Pentecost; they believed in Jesus and were born of God, yet they strove to be the greatest, they envied one another, and they greatly lacked boldness. At Pentecost they were sanctified. The evil was cleansed out of their hearts, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost. Then they preached with great boldness. Power was given unto them, and they did many wonderful things in Jesus’ name. That’s the experience I need and must have. My sins are all forgiven; I’m born of God; but there is an evil nature within me, which I want cleansed away that I may love Jesus with all my heart and dwell in the blessed fullness.
Mr. W.—Deacon Brown and I were talking a few days ago about sanctification, and he said that he believed we grew into sanctification. He says that after we’re converted, then we’re to grow in grace, and that finally we’ll become sanctified.
Mrs. W.—Does Deacon Brown profess to be sanctified?
Mr. W.—No, he said he was not sanctified.
Mrs. W.—When was he converted? Haven’t I heard him testify of his conversion back in the great revival of the sixties?
Mr. W.—Yes, he was converted nearly fifty years ago.
Mrs. W.—So, he’s been converted nearly fifty years and hasn’t grown into sanctification yet! How much longer does he expect it will take him? What progress has he made? Maybe he’s like you—he looks back to the day of his conversion as the happiest and best day of his life.
Mr. W.—I know he does, for he told me he’d give anything if he could just be as happy as he was when converted. Tears came into his eyes as he talked of the good revivals and the blessed times they had in those days. He spoke of how common and humble the ministers were then. But he said a great change had come.
Mrs. W.—Thank God! I’m just as happy today as they were in those days, and these ministers who are here preaching are just as humble and common as the ministers back in the times Mr. Brown speaks about. But I must now see about dinner. If it still rains this afternoon, I will show you by the Bible that sanctification is a cleansing and not a growth.
Mr. W. (talking to himself)—I’m sure that woman has something I haven’t. She makes me feel she is right, but I’m not going to give in. Just think what my pastor and brethren would think of me! I won’t give in!