The life also must be sanctified. “The word of God,” says Paul, “is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul (life) and spirit.” Hebrews 4:12. The life should be spent in the service of God, and we should be willing to lay it down for the sake of the truth, if the cause of God demands it. But we should avoid rashness, and see to it that we wear not our strength and energies, and sacrifice not our lives unnecessarily. Out lives are precious, and we are responsible to God for the use that we make of them. We should not sin against God by suffering and sacrificing our lives when the truth and the glory of God do not require it. There is much suffering that is in vain and worse than lost, that is not for God and his truth. Many lives have been squandered in the cause of error. Many lives have been sacrificed to vain and trifling objects, to other gods besides the true God.
Christ willingly spent his strength and energies, suffered and laid down His life. But this was not in vain. The redemption of a fallen world was at stake. And He says, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:24, 25.
He that sets out to walk in the path of holiness, must make up his mind to deny himself, and suffer for Christ’s sake. He that saves his life and ease at the sacrifice of the truth, shall lose eternal life; but he that loses his life and ease for the sake of Christ, shall find it; i.e., shall find eternal life. “For what,” says our Saviour, “is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (life)? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (life)?” Verse 26.
We should not count our lives dear when the truth, the glory of God, and eternal life, are at stake. These should be dearer to us than life, and we should gladly suffer for the sake of Christ who has suffered so much for us. This did the early Christians.
Says Paul, “For thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh! For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” “In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” “Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Romans 8:36; 1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 4:9; 11:23-28; Acts 20:24; 21:13.
Millions of saints have shown that their lives were sanctified by laying them down for God and His truth; and though we may not now be tested as they were, yet we may know how far our lives are sanctified by our willingness to suffer in the cause of truth. If we are unwilling to deny ourselves and suffer for God now, we certainly would be unwilling to lay down our lives for His sake.
While looking over his sufferings, Paul said, “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which have happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12.
Paul was confident that Christ would be magnified “whether by life or death.” He believed that if he lived, he should glorify God and advance his cause through suffering. He also believed that if he died, his death would be gain to the cause of Christ. He looked not for his own ease, and did not feel free to choose life or death.
It was so with the holy martyrs. They knew that the grace and courage they showed here while suffering would strengthen the saints, and induce others to enlist in the cause they loved, and were willing to sacrifice their lives, knowing that they should find them again, reign with Christ, and have a rich reward in his kingdom.
Sanctification of The Body
We have now come to an interesting and important branch of the subject; to a branch which has been neglected by those who make sanctification a hidden and mysterious work, a work which is shut up in the heart, and which no man can recognize only as it is displayed in boastings or peculiar raptures.
From what we have said on the mind, it can be readily seen that we do not overlook heart work or the sanctification of the mind. But how may we know whether a genuine work is performed in the heart? How may we know whether the mind is sanctified or now? Says the great Teacher; “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. . . .Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:16-18 .
It is the fruit that a tree bears that determines whether it is good or evil, and it is by the fruits or works of men that we are to judge whether they are good or evil, sanctified or unsanctified. The fruits or works of men indicate the condition of their hearts, and these fruits or works cannot be wrought and brought to light without the exercise of the physical faculties.
But says one; We are sanctified by faith. Answer. We admit that we are sanctified by faith; but what is the nature of genuine faith? Does faith confine sanctification to the heart, and exclude good works? The simple definition of Bible faith is confidence in the word of God. Faith takes hold of the truths of God’s word. Now the Scriptures are very explicit on the necessity of being rich in good works. They teach us that Christ gave himself for us that He might purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, and that we should let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and be led to glorify our Father who is in Heaven. Titus 2:14; Matthew 5:16.
The candid and consistent will acknowledge sanctification as they see it carried out in the lives of men. They look at the works, and so does the Lord. To the seven churches, representing the seven different stages of the Christian church, Jesus says, “I know thy works.” Revelation 1-3. The works of men are recorded in Heaven, and it is according to these works that they shall be judged. Revelation 20:12.
Genuine faith is operative, and is made perfect by works. James 2:22; Galatians 5:6. It is a Bible declaration “that faith without works is dead.” James 2:20. And a dead faith will not sanctify a man. To the Romans Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
Romans 12:1. Here is an exhortation for the brethren at Rome to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, etc. A living sacrifice will show signs of life.
To the Corinthians Paul writes, “I therefore so run not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27. In this text we see the necessity of keeping the body under, and bringing it into subjection, i.e., into obedience to God and His truth. If Paul failed to do this, he would run as uncertainly, fight as one that beateth the air, and be a castaway.
But to come more directly to the subject, we will consider the principal parts and faculties of the body, beginning with the senses, which are five in number, and which are commonly designated as follows: hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and feeling. It is through the senses that ideas are conveyed to the mind. The senses are, as it were, roads through which ideas travel to reach the mind. The sanctification of the senses consists in closing them against sinful impressions and ideas and in opening them to useful and holy impressions and thoughts. Close your senses against unholy impressions and thoughts, and they will not be so apt to invade your mind, and you will better resist the temptations of the enemy. Shut your windows and thieves will not so easily enter your dwelling.
Job made a covenant with his eyes that he might not sin. Job 31:1-3, and David prayed, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken Thou me in the way.” Psalm 119:37. He also said, “Mine eyes fail for Thy word.” “Mine eyes fail for Thy salvation, and for the word of Thy righteousness.” “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” Verses 82, 123; 101:3.
“The ear of the wise,” says Solomon, “seeketh knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15. It is attentive to the word of God. But those whose hearts are opposed to God’s ways do not love to listen to the truth. They love to hear smooth things, and will not hear the law of the Lord. Isaiah 30:8-11. Paul speaks of some who “shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:4. But the wise man says, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” Proverbs 28:9.
Christians should set a guard on all their senses. By doing this it will be easier to fix the attention on holy thoughts, and keep the mind from wandering. The mind is often in danger of being diverted from proper thoughts by the senses; and Christians cannot keep the Sabbath aright while they carelessly open their senses to those secular objects and impressions which have interested them during the six laboring days.
Especially should inexperienced children and youth be taught with regard to the right use of the senses, and see the necessity of receiving right impressions. It often becomes necessary for children as well as older persons to shut their eyes and stop their ears against sin. The ears were not made to feast on error and the foolish and simple conversation of the wicked; neither were the eyes designed to behold and feast on vanity. Christ often said to his hearers, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Again he said, “Blessed are your eyes; for they see; and your ears, for they hear.” Matthew 11, 12. It was indeed blessed to see Christ and the works that He performed, and to hear His rich instructions. But is it not also blessed to see the glorious work that is now going on under the last message of mercy? And to hear the messengers of truth speak in reference to our whereabouts and the necessary preparation to stand amid the perils of the last days, and to meet the Son of man at His coming? God grant that we may duly appreciate our privileges, and realize the blessedness resulting from a proper use of all the senses.
The all-wise Creator has implanted in our natures certain appetites, and it is evident that they were designed to help in perpetuating our existence, in promoting our well-being, and in carrying out the great object for which we were made.
As the appetites are peculiar to the body, it is clear that they were made to be governed by reason. Their very nature forbids the idea of their leading the man, and shows that they should be in subjection to the higher faculties of our being. But in consequence of the fall and the inroads that sin has made in the children of men, the appetites are naturally inclined to go beyond the limits assigned unto them, and usurp the authority of the higher faculties. Sanctification brings the appetites within their proper limits—under the direction and control of enlightened reason.
Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we should do all to the glory of God. Now to do this we must, as far as possible, eat and drink that which is sanitary, and avoid intemperance. We should consult the stomach and the state of the health more than the appetites; for it is not always what suits the appetites the best, that is most conducive to the health of the body. We should select for the appetites and cultivate and cherish a taste for healthy food.
We should eat and drink more for need than for pleasure. If pleasure is the great end we have in view, then we do not eat and drink to the glory of God, but to the glory of our appetites. Then eating and drinking becomes an inordinate action, because it is not in the way to the end for which it was designed. In view of these principles what shall we conclude concerning those parents who are almost constantly humoring their children in satisfying their appetites with so many niceties which injure the health and undermine the constitution? Are they not guilty of creating in them unsanctified appetites? Would it not be better for those parents to select good,plain, wholesome food for their children, and feed them only when they really need food, though it may not suit the taste so well at first?
And what shall we say of the appetite for spirituous liquors which dethrones reason, degrades the body and the mind, and has brought so many to an untimely grave? Are those who possess this appetite sanctified?
And shall we overlook the appetites for tea and tobacco? Were these articles made to be used as they are now used? No candid person who has given this subject a careful perusal will say that they were.
These herbs, like all other stimulants, nerve up the system and leave a depression behind. Besides, tobacco is a rank poison, as it has often been proved; and the poisonous ingredients with which tea is often prepared, add to the impropriety of using it as a beverage.
But we are to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh, as we have seen, and if the common use of tobacco does not produce filthiness of the flesh, what does? But if the appetites for tea, tobacco and spirituous liquors should be overcome because they injure the health, should not the appetites for unhealthy meats or other hurtful articles be overcome for the same reason?
The Saviour, while giving a description of the last days, says. “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:26, 27. It was not wrong for the Antediluvians to eat and drink to maintain their existence; and marriage was as sacred and honorable in the days of Noah as it was when God instituted it in Eden. The great sin of the Antediluvians consisted in going to excess in these things. And is it not so with the masses at the present times? Look at the excess in eating and drinking. Look at those persons of good health whose exquisite taste accepts only the nicest of food, and often causes much perplexity to those who are called upon to satisfy it. Look at the pains taken, and the means expended, and worse than thrown away, to suit the taste and palate, as though the great object of life was to eat and drink and enjoy the pleasures of the appetites.
The Scriptures are very clear on the importance of governing the appetites. Our first parents fell, in lusting after and eating the forbidden fruit. The Israelites were not satisfied with the plain, wholesome manna; they loathed this bread from Heaven, longed for flesh, and murmured against God, and awful consequences followed. And we are told that “these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” 1 Corinthians 10:6.
The sons of Eli were not satisfied with sodden or boiled flesh; they wanted raw flesh, that they might roast it with fire. It was not unlawful to desire meat roasted, but when it was appointed to be boiled, they refused it, thus evincing intemperance and a nice palate. “Wherefore,” says the record, “the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord; for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:12–17.
Proverbs 23:1, 2. “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee; and put a knife to thy throat if thou be a man given to appetite;” or as the French translation reads, “else thou shalt put a knife to thy throat, if thy appetite rules thee.” And what can be the meaning of this wonderful proverb, unless it is this, that he who sits to eat with a ruler (before “dainties” or “deceitful meat,” verse 3), and suffers an unsanctified appetite to control him, is guilty of the same crime that he would be if he literally cut his throat with his knife? That is, he is a self-murderer. He must feel the effects of his excess sooner or later.
Some followed Christ for the loaves and fishes; but he said unto them, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” John 6:26. We are admonished to not be like Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. Hebrews 12:16. We should take heed lest we lose eternal life and the rich blessings connected with it, for the gratification of unsanctified appetites.
Christ is a pattern of self-denial. “When He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.” And the tempter came to Him and said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” How trying this must have been to the Son of God. How refreshing a morsel of bread would have been to Him in His exhausted condition. But did He yield? No. It was forbidden fruit. He answered, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4.
When famine comes on the earth according to the word of the Lord, Joel 1:14-20, many articles that are now used will have to be dispensed with, and is it not consistent to deny ourselves now and overcome those appetites that injure the body and the mind, and prevent many from desiring and appreciating the lasting pleasures enjoyed in the service of God? Shall we be prepared to meet the Lord if we are slaves to lust?