The Supreme Necessity for the Holy Spirit
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - Sanctification of the Spirit

It is the Word of God that we are going to read, it is not the word of man, it is God's Word which He has caused by His Holy Spirit to be written. And we shall read firstly two fragments of a general character and then one or two of a more specific nature. The first is Romans 8:9. "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His". That is God's Word; not mine or anyone else's. "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His". Now, the word "Spirit" is spelt with a capital "S" and it is necessary perhaps to point out that that does not mean just the kind of disposition that the Lord Jesus had. It does not mean that. We speak of people being of a very nice spirit, a kind spirit, a good spirit about them; it does not mean that at all; it means the Person of the Holy Spirit. It means having dwelling within, the Holy Spirit; the third Person of the Godhead who is known as the Spirit of Christ just as He is known in the Word of God as the Spirit of God. "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His" that is, he does not belong to Christ.

Now the other passage, the second of these two, is in the letter to the Ephesians 5:18: "Be filled with the Spirit". The first brings us into a relationship with the Lord Jesus. Our relationship with the Lord Jesus as saved men and women, as children of God, depends entirely upon our having received the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in us. That is a basic necessity to the Christian life, to salvation. The second passage is just as imperative and just as important for the purpose of God, and is just as much in the nature of a command and a demand, "Be filled with the Spirit".

Now, those are general passages. We turn to some more, of a more specific character, one in the book of Exodus 29:42,43: "It shall be a continual burnt offering at the door... and the tent shall be sanctified by My glory". We will refer to that again later. Let us turn back to the New Testament, 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14: "God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: He called you through our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ". I want especially to underline that little fragment, "In sanctification of the Spirit". 1 Peter 1:2: " sanctification of the Spirit". Back to 1 Cor. 6:11: "Ye were sanctified... in the Spirit of our God".

Now we continue with our subject of being filled with the Spirit. We have been seeing, as we have said, the absolute necessity for being filled with the Spirit - we have had tremendously stressed that that is God's will for us. We have seen that the new creation in Christ Jesus is that creation which is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that God has brought into being a new creation, and "if any man be in Christ there is a new creation, old things are passed away, behold all has become new, and all things are of God" and it is all the work of the Holy Spirit. Now as to being filled with the Spirit, we want to know what is really basic to that. And in the first place we must say an all-inclusive thing about it, a thing which embraces everything else, and that is this: the all-inclusive prerequisite of being filled with the Spirit is:-


Now, I know that very often sanctification is put afterwards and not before, and perhaps passages of Scripture would support that if they were taken by themselves, but it is quite an imperfect and inadequate apprehension of the meaning of sanctification to put it after the filling of the Spirit. Sanctification comes before the filling of the Spirit in one very important respect. But there are three phases of sanctification which are the following.

Firstly, we are sanctified in Christ Jesus as an objective thing, something altogether outside of ourselves. If you read Hebrews 10 you will see how clearly that is set forth. The words with which we are so familiar in Hebrews 10:10 "By the which will we are sanctified". That is, "Lo, I come to do Thy will", said the Lord Jesus, "...sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all". Then verse 14, "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified". "By the which will we have been sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all". That is something that is done altogether apart from us, outside of us. That is a sanctification which is in Him; our sanctification is perfected in Christ by the work of His Cross. It is completed, it is absolute, it is secured in the Person of the Lord Jesus by reason of what He did in His Cross. And we who believe, who have faith in Him and His work, by that faith inherit that salvation which is in Him, and then we are said to be in Christ. And in Christ we are perfectly sanctified by His own work apart from anything that we do. It is an objective thing by reason of position.

We shall have a word further to say about that, but in the second phase, following that, is a thing to be an act on our part. It is an act by which we become voluntarily separated unto God.

Now let us consider the nature of sanctification. What is sanctification? It is a big word about which a very great deal has been written, and so often the third phase of sanctification (to which we will refer in a moment) is allowed to come in and confuse the real meaning of this word. The Old Testament is full of this word. The translation of the Hebrew word is "consecrated", or another word is "devoted". And in the act of sanctifying, or consecrating, or devoting a thing to God, what was done is simply this: it was taken, separated from all its connections of every kind, all its old relationships and associations and cleansed by the efficacy of precious blood and from that time recognised as wholly belonging to God. It was God's. It was for God. God had all the rights in it, all the claims over it, and no one had any claim to it but God. And it was, therefore, called a consecrated or a sanctified thing.

Now, that is very simple, and that is the second phase of sanctification. It is an act whereby we choose deliberately to be wholly for God, separated absolutely unto God. I do not mean that we go into monasteries or convents and break away from other people of this world and business and so on, but that henceforth every interest of ours is for God. Our interests in our homes are God's interests; our interests in our businesses are God's interests; our interests in people are God's interests. Every kind of interest that we have in life is for God, for His ends, for His purposes, for His glory. So we are sanctified unto God and we will have no connection voluntarily, no association, no interest, no kind of relationship that is not brought completely into line with God's will, and God's purpose, and God's interest. It is all now unto God, our life wholly for God. That is sanctification by an act. We take our place in separation unto God in Christ. The hour, the day, or the moment comes when we see the great privilege which is ours of being God's and God's will for us. And we consecrate (and we can rightly use the other word, we sanctify) ourselves unto God - that is, we give ourselves wholly to the Lord. That is sanctification in an act, the second phase.

The third phase of sanctification is the one which, for most people, runs over all the rest, and that is the progressive aspect that what is true in Christ as to our position, and what is true by our deliberate act and choice of consecration to God, is now, by the Holy Spirit acting, to be progressively reached in us. This means that we are day by day being sanctified in the sense of being made like Christ, being separated day by day from all that from which He, as our representative, has been separated - from the world, as an evil thing, and all those things which are contrary to the mind of God. He has been separated by His Cross from all that and wholly consumed unto God, but representatively, for us. Christ there, wholly consumed to God is the type and representation of every believer according to the will of God.

So, He is sanctified as we are, we secondly choose to be related with Him, joined with Him in that absolute consecration unto God, consuming unto God, and then the Holy Spirit works that thing in, in an experimental way, and makes it positional and conditional; objective and subjective.

Now, the Lord is evidently concerned about our foundations. There you have sanctification in its threefold aspect, and that sanctification, especially in the first and second aspects, is absolutely basic to the filling of the Holy Spirit. We can never be filled with the Spirit until we have seen firstly that the Lord Jesus is our Representative before God of a life absolutely given to God, and then that we have taken upon the ground of that, a deliberate and definite step and said, "As He is for God, so am I; I choose to be joined with Christ in a total consecration to God. In the same measure in which He has been consumed unto God, I choose to be consumed unto God, and to be cut off from everything that is contrary to God". And that ground alone is the only hope of our being filled with the Spirit initially.

You see, the work of the Lord Jesus is basic to the work of the Holy Spirit. That is why we read that magnificent passage in Exodus 29. You ought to be really tremendously impressed by those words. There it says, "It shall be a continual burnt offering... at the door". The door is where you go in, this was access, and that tabernacle was Christ in representation, in type, and you come into Christ by way of a continual burnt offering at the door, wholly consumed unto God. You pass through the door, the continual burnt offering, and you make a straight line through, past the manna, in through the holy place into the most holy place, and what do you find? The Shekinah glory filling it. On what ground does the Shekinah glory fill the tabernacle? What is it that brings the glory of God in? It is that continual burnt offering. That continual burnt offering represents the work of the Lord Jesus in His Cross. The glory comes in because of the work of the Cross, but what is the glory? The presence of the Spirit of God who is called distinctly "the Spirit of glory". The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier. "It shall be sanctified by My glory" is this word, in other words, sanctified by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit sanctifies the tent by His presence. He is the Spirit of glory, but He only comes and sanctifies because of that continual burnt offering at the door.

Two things are brought together, the first and the last: the sacrifice, the burnt offering and the glory of sanctification, the two things brought together; they are one. That is an alternative way of saying just this, that sanctification by the Holy Spirit demands the basic work of Calvary where there is an absolute separation unto God. The Holy Spirit can only perform His work on the ground that we have accepted Christ's work in the Cross, and that work in the Cross, as we know, is that by which we are separated from the old Adam, from the flesh, and from everything that belongs to that creation which God has left and put aside, and it is in that Cross: separation unto an entirely new creation in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit works on the basis of Calvary, the work of the Cross, and only so. "A continual burnt offering" and "sanctified by My glory", sanctification of the Spirit. We read again and again in the New Testament, "sanctification of the Spirit", that is the Holy Spirit's sanctifying, but He sanctifies on the basis of the work of the Lord Jesus in His Cross. That is how we come to sanctification to begin with.

Now let us look at one or two other things in this connection of sanctification by the Spirit. There must be a definite act of faith in this matter. There must be faith's apprehension of and testimony to Christ and His work in the Cross. Let us divide that into these two halves.

There must be faith's apprehension of Christ and His work in the Cross. I do not mean by "apprehension of Christ" simply that you believe that Jesus Christ was a living character in history, that He came into this world in a very wonderful way, that He lived a very good life and went about doing good, that He said very wonderful things and died a cruel death and it is written that He rose again, but that you see clearly that the Lord Jesus came into this humanity and represented us, that He took upon Himself as a man, Himself sinless, the sin of the whole race, and took the race and its sin and sinful nature in His own Person to the cross where all the judgment of God was poured out upon Him as representing the race, and that He died under the judgment of God in our place, in our stead. We must see that, and having died under the judgment of God, and having been cut off as us, we see the all-inclusive Sinner by His own voluntary act and choice, dealt with on Him by God. So far as God is concerned there is no more need for any judgment of sin at all, and when God raised Him from the dead He raised Him without any of that sin which He had taken on Himself, which was never in Him by nature, but which He had taken on. He was an entirely new creation, sinless, beyond the need or the power of judgment, and God took Him to His own right hand as representing a new race which God was going to bring into being. And there He is, having been our Representative in sin, death and judgment. He is now our Representative in sinlessness and no-condemnation and eternal life and glory. That is the Person of Christ and we must see Him representatively or substitutionally, as ourselves in the mind of God, and we by faith take Him as that.

Now, that is the simple gospel, and it will not do any of us any harm to contemplate Him afresh in that way, that by faith we see Him as our Saviour, and if we do not, the judgment which God meted upon Him for us will have to come upon us because we have not accepted our deliverance in Christ. We shall be held responsible for the sin that Christ took upon Himself if we do not take Him as our Sin-bearer. Being "in Christ" means that we have escaped from the penalty and judgment of sin and the wrath of God, and being accepted in Christ, we accept God's way of deliverance and salvation.

Now we have to exercise faith in an act, a deliberate way, to apprehend Christ and His work in the Cross, to take Him and His work for ourselves, for it was for us individually. All that work on the cross is as much for the individual as for the whole world; for every one of us. Unto the great command of God to be filled with the Spirit, with all that that means, one of these primary things is a Divine act of faith in apprehending Christ in His Person and in His work by the Cross. But then there is a second part of that: bearing testimony thereto. In the Word, during the first days of the Christian believers, immediately they saw this great truth of Christ, what He was, and by faith accepted Him, apprehended Him and His work for them, the very next thing that they did was to give testimony to their faith and their acceptance of Christ. They gave public testimony thereto. They declared themselves as to where they stood, they let all who could see, see where they were in this matter, and it is an essential part. It is not enough that the Word of God says, "If thou shalt believe in thine heart and confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, thou shalt be saved" - there must be an open declaration as to where we stand in this matter.

Now we go on, and it looks very much like repetition in what we are further going to say, but it is not. The next thing towards being filled with the Spirit is what we may call:-

An Absolute Yielding to God.

In the previous chapter another word was used - surrender. Now, whether you like that or not, it is right; it is true, whichever word you prefer: 'surrender' or 'yielding'. The New Testament seems to use 'yielding' more than 'surrender'.

Romans 6:16,19: "Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification." Note: sanctification; yielding unto sanctification.

Now, what does this yielding or surrendering carry with it? Romans 12:1: "Present, yield your bodies", there is a first connection. 1 Cor. 6:19,20: "Know ye not that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit?" 2 Cor. 5:15: "He died for all that they which live should henceforth... live unto Him who for their sakes died and rose again." Now I am putting the emphasis on this because it is here that the emphasis is not always put and not sufficiently put.

We perhaps very often accept the surrender or yielding of what we call our "hearts" to the Lord, or our spirit to the Lord. And we think of consecration or sanctification (or surrender or yielding) as something that is inward; and rightly so. But it is the whole being God claims: spirit, soul and body - that is what is meant by entire consecration - by entire sanctification, that the whole man or woman, spirit, soul and body is given to the Lord. And to me it is a tremendous thing that God says, "Your bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit" and not just in the sense that the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and our hearts are in our bodies and in that way logically our bodies become a temple of the Holy Spirit. No, in a more direct and immediate way God demands that these bodies should be wholly under the control, government, and sanctifying beauty of the Holy Spirit; that we cannot do one thing with our bodies and another thing with our souls and spirits, that we cannot be Christians somewhere inside and otherwise outside - that the whole being is God's.

"Know ye not that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit", "Know ye not that ye were bought with a price", "Know ye not that ye are not your own"? What does that threefold interrogation mean? Why, that on every ground every bit of us is claimed by God and should be recognised as belonging to God, and we should yield utterly to God's ownership: spirit, soul and body.

"Not your own". Man loves to be free to direct his own course and choose his own way, and make his own arrangements and judge his own judgments. But God claims to have the government of man's life in every part and that is sanctification, that God's rights are recognised in every part of our being. That is the strong side, the side of demand, where rights come in: God's rights. Oh, the unspeakable privilege and honour of having a whole man belonging to God... that God should have His way and His pleasure in a man's entire being - spirit, soul and body. Do you think that you will lose anything if you give yourself to God? Do you think that life will be a meaner, smaller, narrower thing by being consecrated to God? Do you think that you will have to give up all sorts of things and life will be stripped of its enjoyment and pleasure if you become wholly God's? There never was a bigger lie in the universe than that! Ask anyone who has let this world go for God and they will say, "There is immeasurable gain". Some of us know something of that and we would scorn to contemplate an exchange with the unsaved; not because we have never known what they know, not because we have never tasted what they are tasting; it is because we have. At best there is a hollowness in their hearts and it takes them all their time to keep it up. When one bit of pleasure has been exhausted, they have to rush off and find something more or life is going to fritter out and be a wretched thing, but we have in our hearts an eternal satisfaction and we are absolutely independent of that. The world says, "You never do this and that, you never go here and there and it does not seem to bother you very much". Yes, that is true, that is the testimony; that is the fact.

Total consecration does not narrow life; it enriches life, it brings you to the secret of life, making you know that you have got a being. It brings you into the thought of God before this world was created, "We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world" and God purposed a purpose in His Son before the world was. But you never discover this until you have accepted Christ and then the very first thing a young convert knows is that they have something to live for. They do not understand it, but they feel, "Now I know why I have come into this world." A purpose comes in, and to be wholly God's is not to lose; it is to gain, to come into the expansion of everything.

Suffer these familiar repetitions. The Lord does want us to know that to be wholly His is by no means to suffer loss, but to come fully into His thought and purpose for us. "Yield your bodies". Does that challenge us? Have we separated these things and thought of sanctification as something which belongs to the inner man, something spiritual, but we have not brought our bodies into that realm? What are we doing with our bodies? They are God's; they are temples of the Holy Spirit. And this was said to Corinthians, and it was said to these Corinthians at a time when they were failing to recognise this great fact, in order to correct them in their conduct. They were the Lord's children, they had been born again, but things were not just as they should be and they were making a profession of Christ and in the religious realm they were carrying out the Christian ordinances and regulations, but in the realm of their bodies there were still some serious delinquencies and they were not dividing between the two. "Don't you know that these bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit? Don't you know that you are not your own? Don't you know that you were bought with a price? Therefore, glorify God in your body." That is sanctification by the Holy Spirit, that is the work of the Cross, you see, paving the way for the sanctification of the spirit unto the glory following.

I mention three things, without dwelling upon them, as necessary to the filling, or being filled with the Spirit and of remaining filled with the Spirit. The next thing is: obedience. That is, believing God and acting on your belief in God, obeying God in everything upon which He puts His finger. That means not arguing about it, questioning, doubting it, but if He has pointed out anything, that you give God the benefit of the doubt, if there is a doubt. You are obedient. Any reservation in that trust in God which leads to implicit obedience, will at once grieve the Holy Spirit and limit Him. And do not forget that "grieved" is a love term. You cannot grieve anybody who does not love you. You may injure them, you may in a way hurt them, but you cannot grieve them. You only grieve people who love you, and when it says, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit" it means: do not do despite to the love of the Spirit, do not violate the Spirit's love for you. And that means, in effect, that you will not for one moment tolerate anything that the Spirit is against; if you do, you grieve the Spirit and immediately He is limited. Obedience to the Spirit is obedience to the love of God and that is basic to both being filled with and remaining filled with the Spirit.

We must mention two other things, the first being prayer. Do not neglect your prayer life; if you do, you will soon discover that the Holy Spirit again is checked and the life of fulness of the Spirit ceases to be your joyful experience. Watch your prayer life. The enemy is always out to counter the mighty results of a life filled with the Spirit and one of his main objects of attack is the curtailment of personal prayer life, cutting it short, interfering with it, putting his hand upon it to somehow encamp upon the secret ground of your prayer life. And that is a work against the Holy Spirit and the result of the Holy Spirit in your prayer life.

The second thing is: the Word. A rich life in the Word of God is indispensable to a life of the fulness of the Spirit. You must dwell much in the Word. Do not think that the Holy Spirit is going to be a sort of substitute for the Word of God. A lot of people think the Holy Spirit will act and give them a message to speak and they do not do anything with regard to the Word of God. It is a pernicious peril. The word says, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" and the Holy Spirit demands the indwelling Word as the instrument and means of His work in us. The mental grasp of the Scriptures is not enough; we do not want to have a theoretical knowledge of the Lord. We want to live in the Word of God in order that the Holy Spirit may illuminate it, bring it up, and direct us by it.

You remember, everything in the days of Josiah's great revival was "according to the word of God", how frequently that was repeated, "according to the word of David", "according to the word of Solomon", everything was "according to the Word". That is, they had gone to the Word and their actions were being governed by the Scriptures. And the Holy Spirit must govern our lives by the Word of God. Look after your life in the Word. And do not forget that the enemy equally is out to monopolise our time, but we have got somehow to have this life in the Word of God. You will find that any life truly filled with the Spirit, is a life richly endued with the Word of God, a life that always walks with God in His Word. These are simple, elementary, basic things, but very necessary.

Now we have come to see the ground on which we can be filled with the Spirit. We have to ask ourselves, "What about my life in the Word of God? Have I been neglecting that? Is that a poor shrunken thing?" Shall we put that right now? What about our prayer life, has that been less than we know that it ought to have been, much less than the Lord would have it? What about our obedience? Is there something where the Lord has spoken to us, something in ourselves He has shown, perhaps rebuked us, something He wants us to do or not to do? We know perhaps best ourselves just where the point of obedience is raised for us with the Lord. What about the Holy Spirit's life in us - is it checked by withholding obedience? What about yielding the whole man to the Lord? What about these bodies being presented as well as these souls? Where have we violated the Spirit in the realm of our bodies? Have we asked, concerning that bodily matter, "Is that according to the mind of God? The way I use my body, treat my body, the way I deal with my body, where I let my body go, is that glorifying? My indulgences, is it all glorifying to God, is it for God that I do that?" Is there anything in our bodies that we can say that cannot be for the glory of God? "Present your bodies... Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit?" Then getting right back to the first thing, of some whom it could not be said, "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" because the Holy Spirit has never yet come in. Have you accepted the Lord Jesus in all the work of His Cross for your salvation? Have you accepted Him by faith? May that be a transaction between you and the Lord.

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