I have been a Nazarene pastor for over 30 years – and while I understand how some wonder about entire sanctification, I want you to know how really simple it is. When we come to Jesus – seeing that He died on the cross for us, we hear His offer of salvation – and He asks us: “Child, do you want to be forgiven?” As we understand that He died for us, we would say, the obvious answer is “yes” – in that moment- we are forgiven (according to the sincerity of our prayer) – and so begins our “Christian” walk – desiring what He wants – and seeing that by the Holy Spirit – we can see how He is changing us – doing right – rejecting sin. As we grow in grace, we begin to see that this walk means surrendering everything to Him. The past was forgiven as we responded – the present is the way we are allowing Him to guide us, but there seems to be a way that the future is still under our control – even perhaps stated – “I want what God wants – but I want to do as I want.” – so here is the part where I explain sanctification: Just as we said “yes” to be saved – in the moment of surrender – again we say “YES, I want You to be in control always, only – all for You.” – and in that moment we are entirely “sanctified” – – and the process of that decision goes on through our life. It is entire – only in the sense that it is ENTIRELY in our heart, and just a newborn baby grows – better able to function – so also the surrendered believer grows in function – walking by the Holy Spirit daily seeking, daily listening – and ALWAYS loving as Jesus did. So – in just a few words – both Salvation and Sanctification mean saying “Yes” to Jesus Christ. One to be “saved from sin” and One to be “sanctified” – and so we go on in a daily relationship with Him that means ALWAYS saying Yes to Him.
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Somewhere I found this simple path for each person to consider in any study or reading of God’s Word, It has three simple CRUCIAL steps. Shouldn’t our prayers, our reflections, and worship…
- Challenge my mind – Begin by asking God for a new thought or to capture your mind with something familiar but in a fresh way. As an example: After reading a familiar passage like 1st John, it may seem there is nothing new to be given us. However, God is not finished creating – so very easily, the Holy Spirit may cause us to see something we never saw before. He does not give us something that was never there before, but opens our minds to receive its truth. In 1st John, the thought of “loving not the world” can weigh heavily on us, when we consider the ways we are drawn to its attractions and so easily, we can allow its sorrows to overwhelm us. He will stretch our thinking – sometimes to discipline us – sometimes to encourage us – but always asking that we submit to His direction.
- Grab my heart – Begin by asking God to grant you a sort of divine thought. Consider starting with worship, seeking to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do. Whether beginning with thought or worship, at some point allow your heart to be engaged. Allowing Him to “grab your heart” may bring you to tears, allow it to be so. More often it will be about a sincere focus and inward spiritual connection that comes from a pure desire to hear from God and obey. It is NOT about getting “worked up”or emotional – However, things that “grab our hearts” are not to be passed off as usual – there is an intensity in a devoted relationship that deserves – even demands effort and an intentional consideration. It will likely require time. Not a set, always the same kind of time, but some things God is saying take more than a few moments in prayer. It may be that when praying with your heart involved, God will reveal some sin we may have not considered even a sin before. It may be that God will enlarge compassion for the need of someone else – showing us how we had completely ignored their need before – or perhaps some privilege we held as OK for us – suddenly He shows us how selfish we had been. He will always surround us with His love – showing us that while largeness describes His great heart, and smallness is the only proper description of ours. It is likely that in these moments we hear from God most clearly.
- Test my soul – Until our prayer reaches our soul, it is only “talk”. It may seem special – being that we are talking with God – we HAVE been waiting on God and are trying not to expect Him to conform to our little thoughts, patterns, and practices. At some point, God expects my life to change. Whether He tests my will, my soul, or my relationships, He expects me to obey, and to obey specifically. As an example, what if He shows you – that your tithe ought to increase from the usual 10% – what if He wants it to be on a sliding increasing scale? Wouldn’t it be nice to say we ALWAYS obey instantly? I believe all true Christians want to obey – and though it may take a bit of time, we do get there. And interestingly, when we DO obey, God has already provided. Soul tests take all sort of forms – and to this we must remember that we are living in a covenant with the Almighty Father – and not a one time deal. Desiring to give us all we need – God is on our side – so what is it that brings our struggle? It is NOT His will standing in the way, it is OURS. This powerful force is in these moments even more formidable than God’s plan. And when we remember Jesus’ example, His pattern of “Not My will, but yours”- it is there that we will find strength and will be better able to serve, to lead, and to love others.
May God bless your study of God’s Word. PASTOR