Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 12, 1957
NUMBER 19, PAGE 8-9b

Foolish Preaching About Sanctification

James E. Cooper, Campbellsville, Ky.

We continue our theme, "The Foolishness of Preaching vs. Foolish Preaching." In our last article we were considering the mourner's bench system of religion, especially as it has to do with sinners praying for salvation. Among certain "holiness" groups there are those who teach men to go back to the mourner's bench after they are "saved" and pray for 'entire sanctification." They also use such expressions as "the second blessing," "the experience of grace," and 'the fullness of the blessing," all referring to the same thing. In brief, the philosophy of this theory is: (1) go to the mourner's bench for salvation from personal sins, and (2) return for the remission of inherited, or Adamic sin.

One creed book says, "We believe that entire sanctification is that act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin or depravity, and are brought into a state of entire devotement to God, unto the holy obedience of love made perfect. It is wrought by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and comprehends in one experience the cleansing of the heart from sin, the abiding and indwelling experience of the Holy Spirit, empowering the believer to life and service." Nazarene Manuel, page 29). This theory, too, is a consequence of the theory of inherited depravity. But, its complications are so twisted that the doctrine contradicts itself.

According to this doctrine, a person is first "regenerated" and later is "sanctified." Before receiving the "second blessing" he is a child of God, regenerated, but still bears the "image of the devil!" While he is a believer, he is guilty of "original sin" or "depravity," since the experience of "sanctification" eradicates this from the believer. Thus, they have room in their theory for a "depraved child of God," who bears the "image of the devil!" They have a person regenerated, but his heart is not cleansed from sin. This idea is absurd and is "foolish preaching." It did not originate in the Bible, but in the imagination of men. Instead of being found in the Bible, the Bible denies and refutes this "foolish preaching on sanctification?'

The word "sanctify" means "to set apart for a special purpose; to dedicate to Jehovah; to consecrate; to separate from things or persons. When set apart to God it is always called holy." In Ex. 13:1, God tells Moses, "Sanctify unto me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of men and of beast: it is mine." In Luke 2:23 we find this passage quoted as the authority for the sacrifice made by Mary and Joseph when they brought Jesus to the temple "to present him to the Lord." If sanctification is the removal of original sin, as the followers of Wesley claim, Jesus was born guilty of original sin! For the passage authorizing the sanctification of the first born child is quoted as the authority for this action on the part of Mary and Joseph. But, the word means "to set aside, to dedicate, to consecrate for a special purpose." Jesus was set apart for the service of God by Mary and Joseph at about one month of age, according to instructions in Lev. 12:2-4.

"Foolish Preaching" on sanctification usually equates it with sinless perfection. The claim is made that sanctification removes the very desire to sin. But the Bible teaches no such thing.

The fact that inanimate objects, as well as human beings, were sanctified shows that sanctification does not mean a change in character, but that they were "set apart" or "dedicated" to the service of God.

In Ex. 19:23 we find that a mountain was sanctified, that mountain being Mt Sinai, from which God gave the Law unto Moses. In Ex. 29:44, we learn that the tabernacle and the altar were sanctified, as well as Aaron and his sons. In Lev. 27:14 we find that a man could sanctify his house to be holy unto the Lord. In Lev. 27:16 we find that he could sanctify his field. You would not suppose that a mountain, or the tabernacle, or the altar, or a man's house, or his field would need "sanctification" to remove the Adamic nature, or the stain of inherited depravity, would you? That these inanimate objects could be "sanctified" shows that it is "foolish preaching" to tell men to pray for a "second blessing" of "entire sanctification" meaning that the image of the devil might be removed. To sanctify simply means to set aside for a special purpose. When set apart to the service of God it is called "holy."

A casual reading of the book of First Corinthians will teach us that sanctified people are not "sinlessly perfect." In 1 Cor. 1:2, we find that the church at Corinth was a "sanctified church." Paul wrote, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." Yet, Paul's entire letter rebukes them for their sinfulness. In chapter one, he said they were contentious. In chapter three, he said they were babes and carnal. In chapter four, he said they were puffed up, pouters who needed a spanking. In chapter five, he said they tolerated the worse kind of fornication. In chapter six, he rebukes them for suing and defrauding one another. In chapter seven, they had domestic troubles. In chapter eight, some worshipped idols. In chapter nine, they didn't want to pay the preacher. In chapter ten, they were on the verge of falling. In chapter eleven, they had turned the Lord's Supper into a drunken feast. In chapter twelve, thirteen, and fourteen, they were quarreling over spiritual gifts. In chapter fifteen, they were even doubting the resurrection. Now, remember Paul called them "sanctified."

Friend, those claiming to be sinlessly perfect are liars. Listen to 1 Jno. 1:8-10: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." Rev. 21:8 says, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." John said that those who claimed to have no sin, or claim "sinless perfection," are liars, and will be cast into the lake of fire. Do you see where this "foolish preaching" can lead you??

In the next place, this human creed misses it when it affirms that sanctification comes as a result of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Those who go to the mourner's bench and pray for a baptism of the Holy Ghost to sanctify them are honest and sincere, but they "know not the Scripture, nor the power of God." If you can find the passage of Scripture that tells me to go to the mourner's bench and pray for a baptism of the Holy Ghost, I will seek a "holiness" mourner's bench and pray for it myself.

What do the Scriptures say? Jesus prayed unto God, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." (Jno. 17:17). Here I learn that I can be sanctified by the word of God. In Eph. 5:25-26, I find that "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it: that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Since the word was revealed by the Holy Ghost (Jno. 14:26; 16:13), when we obey the Word, we are "sanctified by the Holy Ghost." (Rom. 15:16).

In Heb. 13:12, we find that Jesus suffered without the gate "that he might sanctify the people with his own blood" Back in Heb. 10:10, we find that the first will, or covenant, was taken away, that he might establish the second. "By the which will (the New Covenant) we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." It is through the death of Jesus Christ that we are sanctified under the New Covenant.

In 1 Cor. 6:11, we find the Scriptural order of sanctification is "But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Paul said they were once in sin, engaged in worldliness, but now are washed, sanctified and justified. But that is not the order of washing, sanctification and justification according to "foolish preaching." They have it (1) pray at the mourner's bench, (2) then you are justified, and (3) later at a second "experience" you are sanctified. The Divine order is (1) "washed" in the blood of the lamb, (2) "sanctified," or set apart for God's service, and (3) "justified," or accepted with God.

Again, we have seen the difference between "the foolishness of preaching" and "foolish preaching." Paul said, "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that Believe." (1 Cor. 1:21).