“This is the will of God, even your sanctification.”
—I Thessalonians 4:3

THESE WORDS ARE addressed to the church, the saints of God. This is God’s will for his people, his desire, his design—their full setting apart from the world to himself and his service—complete devotion to him. The Lord requires a sanctified class for a special position, and for a very exceptional and important work. When, by Divine grace, the High Calling of God is revealed to us, including its marvelous visions of the heavenly glory, and the work to be accomplished when the glorified church is with her Lord, we see that we can no longer have the spirit of the world.

We cannot live any longer for worldly hopes, aims, and ambitions, and we must sacrifice these. We must be separated from them, as the Levites in the wilderness were separated. (Deut. 18:1,2) We are not only to be separated from the things of earth, but separated unto God, having a constantly growing desire for fellowship with him and for the beauty of his holiness.

The words sanctification and consecration, although sometimes used almost interchangeably, have a certain difference of meaning. The word consecrate has the thought of surrender, a definite step which has been taken. It is the yielding up of the will to God. Whoever has not thus definitely surrendered himself to the Lord has never made a real consecration. Surely there is no step more necessary to be seen clearly by God’s professed people than this one, and none more necessary to be made plain to others. The word sanctification not only contains the thought of this definite and complete consecration, but also takes in the subsequent entire process of transformation of character, and preparation for the heavenly kingdom. It progresses on and on in the Christian life until the character is developed and ripened.


There is a setting apart that takes place first. The Lord said to the people of Israel, “Sanctify yourselves … I am the Lord which sanctify you.” (Lev. 20:7,8) This would be their setting themselves apart as one experience, and God’s sanctifying them as another.

Concerning the call of the Gospel Age, no man cometh unto the Father but by the Son, and no man cometh unto the Son except the Father shall previously have drawn him. (John 14:6; 6:44) First comes the drawing of the Father through his Word of Truth, through personal study of the Scriptures.

Our willingness to respond and receive the Lord is merely the first step in response to this drawing. As we come to enter the Christian way we learn that it is narrow and difficult. Because of this, many turn away at this early stage. These people do not go to eternal torment, as taught by the creeds. Such a teaching is unscriptural and untrue.

God is now especially seeking a sanctified class to be the “bride” of Christ. (Rev. 21:2) These do not become discouraged and offended because of the narrowness of the way. Formerly, we may have thought that acceptance of Jesus met all requirements for one to be considered a follower of the Lord.

The Scriptures, however, teach that we are to go on to make a full consecration to God. We sanctify ourselves, and he accepts us and sets us apart for himself. He gives us the indication of this acceptance in the begetting of his Holy Spirit. We soon begin to realize that we have a new mind, a new disposition, a new heart.

This acceptance by the Father is only the beginning of the deep, sanctifying work, and it is his will that this work should continue and progress. This sanctifying work is to affect our minds, hands, feet, eyes, ears, and tongues—our all—that we may be fully used by the Lord. It is the will that is given up at first, and the will includes the service of our mortal body.

But this body has natural tendencies of its own. The giving up of the will means that the individual will seek to bring every thought, word, and deed into subjection to the will of God. It is one thing for the will to be made holy, and another thing to bring the mind and the body fully into line with this holiness of the will. The will is present with us, but “how to perform” is the problem. (Rom. 7:18) Not only are our wills to maintain this sanctified state, but we are to broaden our appreciation of the Lord’s will for us, and thus have more and more of the Master’s spirit of loving sacrifice.

This deeper setting apart is by God, inasmuch as it is done by his arrangement. The disciples of old had left all to follow Jesus, and were set apart in the sense that they desired to know and do the will of the Father. Our Lord desired that the work of Divine instruction should go on in them, as it is written, “They shall be all taught of God.” (John 6:45) Jesus prayed that his disciples should come under Divine providential instruction, which he indicated would come through the Holy Scriptures.


Jesus, who knew and loved his Father’s Word, prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) This is the key to the procedure of the work of sanctification. The general tenor of our Lord’s life throughout his earthly ministry was, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” (Heb. 10:7) It is a great honor and privilege to be able to read, and understand, the Holy Scriptures, even as Jesus did. Additionally, we now have the New Testament. This Holy Word is a “lamp” unto our feet and a “light” unto our “path.”—Ps. 119:105

The one who consecrates to God does not at first have a full knowledge of the Divine will. He is helped onward by the power of the revealed Word, by the message of Truth, illuminated to his mind by the Holy Spirit. God is working in us both to will and to do his good pleasure. He gives us in his Word exceeding great and precious promises, also Divine counsel and admonition.

We are indeed begotten again, “not from corruptible, but from incorruptible seed, through the living and enduring Word of God.” (I Pet. 1:23, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) The preciousness of this inspired Word is also described in Ephesians 5:25, 26, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.”

Our minds are opened to understand the Scriptures and the things that are needful for us as we read our Father’s Word and apply the lessons to ourselves. We thus grow in knowledge, grace, and understanding, that we might be used at the present time in our Father’s service, and in the future also, beyond the veil, for the blessing of all the families of the earth.

God’s holy Truth is a wonderful sanctifying power, and it is very important that we should live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4) We are to seek and feed upon God’s Word in its purity, remembering that sectarian creeds and catechisms are so many attempts to teach “for doctrines the commandments of men.”—Matt. 15:9

There are around us today subtle, and severe, challenges to our most holy faith. These tend to draw us away from the sacred condition of sanctification. These temptations are to be rejected, thus making sure the Word of God. “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17), is a vital part of the wonderful armor which our Father supplies, and we must put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil.

We may, by Divine grace, be blessed with a knowledge of present Truth, yet in this blessed condition we must not encourage any feeling of ease, complacency, or self-satisfaction—merely drifting along in the Christian life. Our mind must be continually stirred up “by way of remembrance.”—II Pet. 3:1

The new mind, begotten by the Holy Spirit through the Word of Truth, is in a frail earthly tabernacle. Therefore, while we may know the Lord’s will, and the many exceeding great and precious promises, we must not be negligent to put ourselves and others always in remembrance of these things.—II Pet. 1:12

Under the guidance and blessing of our present Chief Reaper, the building up of the body of Christ is still a work of vital importance. Grains of wheat are still being gathered, and are being prepared for the heavenly garner, through the proclamation, and holy influence, of the true Gospel as revealed in God’s Word.


As members of a fallen race, we were born in sin and shapen in iniquity. We were not sanctified in the beginning, but were children of wrath, even as others. Without the riches of Divine grace we could not sanctify ourselves, but the offering of the body of Jesus, the sacrifice of his untainted life for us, was the basis whereby we might become God’s sanctified people.

Paul taught, “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10, WED) No amount of consecration could have made us the people of God unless, first of all, the foundation for this should be made in the sacrifice of Jesus. His ransom sacrifice opened the way. His merit cleansed us and made us acceptable to the Heavenly Father.

As the merit of Christ was necessary for our justification, so his acceptance of us as members of his body, and his continued aid, are indispensable to the making of our calling and election sure. Our Lord points out the necessity of our continuance under his care saying, “Abide in me, … As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. … without me ye can do nothing. … If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”—John 15:4-7

When we present ourselves in consecration, we are next accepted and begotten by the Spirit through the Word. The Spirit of the Truth inspires us and guides us in the heavenly way. It first showed us that we were sinners, needing a Savior. Then it revealed how to present ourselves to God. And after we had taken these steps and were accepted as sons of God, it led us step-by-step toward the fullness of the stature of men in Christ.


While sanctification includes our part of full consecration, also God’s part of acceptance, it has, additionally, an element of progression. We are to grow in sanctification daily. It is for us to manifest that continued consecrated condition of heart in which we will hunger and thirst after the sanctifying Truth, feeding upon it daily, and be thereby enabled to grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. That the depth and sincerity of our sanctification be proved, we are disciplined and tested by God. If we endure his discipline, our Father will deal with us as with sons; and this is very wonderful.—Heb. 12:5-10, WED

Throughout our Christian life we are to seek as best we can to bring every thought, word, and deed into captivity to the obedience of Christ. We are not to be conformed to this world, but “transformed” by the renewing of our mind, that we “may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) It is explained in Titus 2:14 that the Lord Jesus “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” We are willingly to submit to this cleansing work.

“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (II Tim. 2:21) Under Divine care we can grow stronger with each wind of adversity, and with each battle with selfishness and sin. Testings, however, will come as to the degree of our faithfulness before the Lord, and in his service, to see how much of besetments we are able to endure, how strong a wind of false doctrine we can stand, and how much of the assaults of the world, the flesh, and the Adversary we are willing to bear without being unsettled and driven away from the Truth.

There are forces opposing our way in this privileged life of sanctification. We wrestle not merely “against flesh and blood, but against … the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12) “We are not ignorant of his [Satan’s] devices.” (II Cor. 2:11) On no account are we to become offended by tribulation or persecution which arises because of God’s Word. We need always to be on guard lest “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word,” and we become unfruitful.—Matt. 13:21,22

Because of our faithful sanctification in Christ Jesus, our foes may be of our “own household” (Matt. 10:36); or our “own familiar friend,” in whom we have trusted, which did eat of our bread, “hath lifted up his heel” against us. (Ps. 41:9) We may experience that the workers of iniquity “whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.”—Ps. 64:3

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” (I Pet. 4:12,13) “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”—Matt. 5:10-12

We must have intensity of aim and purpose as we press along the line toward the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus, for we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. We need to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 2:3), and “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.”—Rev. 2:10; 3:11,21


Jesus was sanctified and sent into the world for the benefit of the whole human race. (John 10:36) His true followers, members of his body, are set apart for the same glorious purpose. Jesus prayed, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”—John 17:18-21

Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5), and to his disciples he said, “Ye are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) The footstep followers of Jesus clearly understand that the true Gospel of the kingdom is to be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations. (Matt. 24:14) They also fully appreciate that concerning these glad tidings the world is still a dark place.

Erroneous, unscriptural teachings, including everlasting hell torment, are still widespread, and much confusion results. People are inwardly perplexed and unnecessarily fearful. It is almost impossible for them to escape the “fear” taught by the precepts of men. (Isa. 29:13) This spirit of error and fear, instead of accomplishing sanctification, hinders full devotion to God and the true worship of him, which, as Jesus said, is to be “in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23) Misunderstanding of the character of God, or the fundamental features of his glorious plan of salvation, obstructs true sanctification.

The possession of the Truth brings with it great responsibility. Shall we prove faithful to it? Shall we show to the Father our deep appreciation of his loving-kindness in granting us knowledge of his wonderful message of salvation, his glorious plan with its times and seasons? The Lord is seeking those who are valiant for him, for righteousness, and for Truth. Should we prove ourselves unworthy, we shall not be fit for the kingdom.

How earnestly, and with what painstaking care, should we give heed to the word spoken unto us. Let us be faithful in proclaiming the true Gospel, telling forth the words which the Lord has put into our mouths, whether others hear or forbear, whether our faithfulness brings us favor or disfavor of those around us. Let us always speak the Truth in meekness and love, leaving the results with our present Lord Jesus, the Chief Reaper.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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