A Voice from the Past: Sanctification: What Is It? -- By: C. H. Mackintosh

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 05:2 (Autumn 1992)
Article: A Voice from the Past: Sanctification: What Is It?
Author: C. H. Mackintosh


A Voice from the Past:
Sanctification: What Is It?a

C. H. Mackintosh1

To minister peace and comfort to those who, though truly converted, have not laid hold of a full Christ, and who, as a consequence, are not enjoying the liberty of the Gospel, is the object we have in view in considering the important and deeply-interesting subject of sanctification. We believe that very many of those whose spiritual welfare we desire to promote suffer materially from defective or erroneous ideas on this vital question. Indeed, in some cases, the doctrine of sanctification is so entirely misapprehended as to interfere with the faith of the believer’s perfect justification and acceptance before God.

For example, we have frequently heard persons speak of sanctification as a progressive work, in virtue of which our old nature is to be made gradually better; and, moreover, that until this process has reached its climax, until fallen and corrupt humanity has become completely sanctified, we are not fit for heaven.

Now, so far as this view of the question is concerned, we have only to say that both Scripture and the truthful experience of all believers are entirely against it. The Word of God never once teaches us that the Holy Spirit has for His object the improvement, either gradual or otherwise, of our old nature—that nature which we inherit, by natural birth, from fallen Adam. The inspired apostle expressly declares that, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14).2 This one passage is clear and conclusive on the point. If “the natural man” can neither “receive” nor “know” “the things of the Spirit of God,” then how can that “natural man” be sanctified by the Holy Ghost? Is it not plain that to speak of “sanctification of our nature” is opposed to the direct teaching of 1 Cor 2:14? Other passages might be adduced to prove that the design of the Spirit’s operations is not to improve or sanctify the flesh, but there is no need to multiply quotations. An utterly ruined thing can never be sanctified. Do what you will with it, it is ruined; and, most assuredly, the Holy Ghost did not come down to sanctify a ruin, but to lead the ruined one to Jesus. So far from any attempt to sanctify the flesh, we read that “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary t...

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