here are many souls who are building their hopes for eternity upon the sands of error. The word of God, "which liveth and abideth forever," is not made the rock of their salvation; but the words of man, theories that exalt humanity and please the carnal heart, are chosen instead of the doctrines of the Bible. It is a design of Satan to allure men from the truth, by leading them to accept its counterfeit; and in the doctrine of sanctification, so prevalent among those who reject the law of God, he has accomplished his work of deception in a most delusive and enchanting way.
Jesus prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth; and he added, "Thy word is truth" [John 17:17]. The agent in the sanctification which our Lord desired for his followers, was the word of God. But the sanctification so popular today is independent of the truth; for men refuse to employ the word of God where it does not support their opinions and experience. Those who profess this sanctification have clothed themselves in an impregnable armor, whereby they ward off every arrow of truth that would wound their self-righteousness, and make them feel the need of a physician to heal them. [see Proverb 14:12; Luke 5:31].
In the town of L. special efforts were made to arouse men to a realizing sense of the claims of the law of God. With open Bibles, the people examined the Scriptures for themselves, searching for the truth as for hid treasures. In reading the plain "thus saith the Lord," many became interested as never before in the word of God. They saw wondrous things out of the law, and some were taking their stand to be "doers of the word" [James 1:22]. But at this time a minister who professed sanctification, became alarmed lest some of the members of his church should see the claims of the truth, and he strove to make of none effect the commandment of God. He boastingly declared that he was sanctified, sinless, holy; and further stated that he could not sin. Says John, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law" [1 John 3:4]; but this man openly avowed that no one could keep the law, and that obedience to it was not required of those who believed in Jesus. [see John 14:15, Revelation 14:12]. Did this sanctification stand the test of the word of truth?
Paul had faith in Jesus, but he did not claim that faith made the law of none effect. He says, "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law" [Romans 3:31]. When this man was invited to examine the Scripture evidences as to the requirements of God, he refused to read or to reason on the matter; but the more vehemently urged his claim to holiness and inspiration.
This sanctification we have no hesitancy to declare unscriptural, unsound, and presumptuous. A profession of holiness, while the law of Heaven is derided and transgressed, shows that a false standard of righteousness has taken the place of the holy precepts of God. Many who profess so great attainments in the Christian life, grow impatient and angry when the claims of God are presented, and they refuse to hear the word of truth. Says the word of God, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" [Proverb 28:9]. If the minister at L. had had a genuine experience in the things of God, he would have manifested the meek and lowly spirit of Christ; he would have acknowledged his finite and fallible nature, and would have humbly tested his experience by the word of God. His positive utterances against the truth did much toward quieting the aroused consciences of those who were hesitating in regard to the commandment of God, and, through his influence, many souls turned back into the paths of transgression and darkness. Men are greatly influenced by what their minister says; but should we not prove the truth of their assertions by the test that God has given for this very purpose? Says the Lord: "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" [Isaiah 8:20]. Our Saviour warned his followers to "beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits" [Matthew 7:15,16].We are not bidden to prove them by their fair speeches and exalted professions. They are to be judged by the word of God. The true disciples of Christ will bear the divine impress. Their teaching will be in harmony with the teaching of the Son of God. Their character will be moulded after the great pattern. What message do they bring? Does it lead you to reverence and fear God? Does it lead you to manifest your love for him by loyalty to his commandments? If they tell you that they are not concerned about teaching or observing the law, be afraid of them, even though they heal the sick and cast out devils. They are doing the very work that originated with the prince of darkness, the enemy of God. The beginning of all the sin and woe and death that have deluged our earth, was this very disregard for the plain commandment of God.
This doctrine of sanctification in which the law of God has no part, is not of Heaven but of Satan, who was a liar from the beginning and "abode not in the truth." It is Satan's policy to appear before the world in the garments of an angel of light. It is he who weaves these deceptive doctrines that our Saviour represents as "sheep's clothing.
Those who are used as agents of Satan have an appearance of sanctity; and nothing but the law of God, which is a discerner of the thoughts of the heart, can discover of what spirit they are, and in whose cause they are engaged; but why not employ this unfailing test in proving every man's teaching and spirit. There is no need of being deceived, for the word of God is truth, and God has promised to give to those who desire truth, the Spirit of truth, that they may be guided into all truth. Let us seek earnestly for wisdom, and divine enlightenment, that we may know the truth, and be instrumental in God's hands of rescuing men and women from the snares of the evil one.
In the day of God's wrath many will discover, too late, that while professing holiness they were led into forbidden paths by not humbly obeying the commandments of Jehovah. Says Jesus: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." And the working of iniquity is the transgression of the law. John, the beloved disciple, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has given repeated tests to prove the truth of our experiences. He says: "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." Jesus plainly declared, "I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." John continues: "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning."
There are many today who seek to prove that the law of God was abolished at the cross with the abolishment of the sacrificial services of the Jewish dispensation; but the words of John, penned many years this side of the crucifixion, show that the commandments of God were not done away, but are the standard of Christian character by which we are to be judged, and by which we are to fashion our lives if we would enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
The bitterness of spirit manifested against the law of God, by many of those who claim to be sanctified, makes it manifest that they are disloyal to God, and corrupters of the doctrine of Christ. When the binding claims of the fourth commandment are presented, they bend their utmost efforts to make of none effect the requirement of God's law. They hold to their own tradition and opinion, no matter what may be the conclusion of the word of God. Jesus declares of this class, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
If we reject the word of the Bible, there is no power or manifestation that will induce us to accept the message that rebukes our sins, and would correct our cherished errors. The fault is in the rebellious heart. Said the Son of God, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." There are those who reject the testimony of Moses and the prophets, declaring that the New Testament is all that we need in this dispensation; but did not Jesus bid his disciples to "search the Scriptures"? Was it not he who declared, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them"?
Christ was the invisible leader of the Hebrew host in their journeyings through the wilderness. He was the founder and supporter of the Jewish rites and observances, and his words by the mouth of Moses are no less important than his words by the mouth of the beloved disciple in the last book of the New Testament. The Old Testament is a witness to the truth of Christ and the plan of salvation, and it was "written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come." Those who cast contempt upon the Old Testament by ignoring its study, are casting contempt on the words and teaching of Christ, and are wise above what is written.
We are living in the most solemn period of the world's history. The coming of the Lord is at the doors, and the perils of the last days are all around us. Said Jesus, speaking of this very time, "There shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." And if we are wise we shall give earnest heed to this warning, and try every man's words by the great standard of truth. Our lives must be brought into harmony with the law of God, if we would be truly sanctified. This law is to govern all intelligences in Heaven and upon earth. And when we can say from the heart, as did our divine Lord, "I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart," then we are sanctified through the truth. We have the mind that was in Christ, and by faith we have drawn vital force from the source of infinite power and purity.
The word of God must be interwoven with the living character of those who believe it. The only vital faith is that faith which receives and assimilates the truth till it is a part of the being, and the motive power of the life and action. Jesus is called the word of God. He accepted his Father's law, wrought out its principles in his life, manifested its spirit, and showed its beneficent power in the heart. Says John, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." The followers of Christ must be partakers of his experience. They must assimilate the word of God. They must be changed into its likeness by the power of Christ, and reflect the divine attributes. They must eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God, or there is no life in them. The spirit and work of Christ must become the spirit and work of his disciples. This is genuine sanctification.
Men hear the words of Christ, but they are not doers of his words. The progressive character of the life of godliness is not agreeable to their ease-loving, selfish habits and desires. They do not partake of the broken body and shed blood of the Saviour of men. They are not willing to "crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts," that they may be renewed in true holiness, after the image of the Son of God. The word of God that tries the hearts of men, proves them wanting. They have no part in the Saviour's grace, no foundation for hope in his salvation. Says Jesus, "He that is of God heareth God's words." Those who receive the law and the testimony, and assimilate the truth of God, are partaking of the divine nature, growing up unto the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, and the word of truth is working their sanctification. Though they make no boasting profession of holiness, but manifest a meek and quiet spirit, working the works of Christ, they will stand before the throne of God, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. They will be sanctified and glorified through obedience to the commandments of God, wrought by divine power, through the faith of the Son of God.