True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Chapter 19O – Can We Imagine Ourselves Sanctified when We Are Not?
(Wesley's writings are in bold)
In this section of Part 19 of John Wesley’s A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, a conference attendee asked Wesley a question that is based upon our realistic and honest analysis of who we are.
In Chapter 19N, we looked at judging oneself. In judging ourselves, we must remember that we cannot be effective as Christians if all we do is consciously concentrate on introspection, but such introspection can become an almost unconscious second nature that functions in the background, much like an anti-virus program on our computers.
As we go about our daily lives, if we focus on being peacemaking children of God and work at making the world more loving and compassionate, anything that is counter to such a way of living will stand out like a flashing red light in the night. As this happens, we keep learning more and more how to block such attacks, whether they come from within or from without. This is the repentant state of being in which we sincerely desire to go forth and sin no more.
Keep this in mind as we look at the following question and John Wesley’s answer:
"Question. But whence is it that some imagine they are thus sanctified, when in reality they are not?
"Answer. It is hence: they do not judge by all the preceding marks, but either by part of them, or by others that are ambiguous. But I know no instance of a person attending to them all, and yet deceived in this matter. I believe there can be none in the world. If a man be deeply and fully convinced, after justification, of inbred sin; if he then experience a gradual mortification of sin, and afterward an entire renewal in the image of God; if to this change, immensely greater than that wrought when he was justified, be added a clear, direct witness of the renewal, I judge it as impossible this man should be deceived herein as that God should lie. And if one whom I know to be a man of veracity testify these things to me, I ought not, without some sufficient reason, to reject his testimony.
Wesley doesn’t even consider that a person would lie about being sanctified, or even daydream about being sanctified, if he or she were not. Why? Because if such a person weren’t truly seeking God, he or she would never consider imagining about being sanctified. The very fact of considering whether or not we are sanctified brings us to considering our repentance.
However, some churches are abounding in false doctrines that lull a person into accepting what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace,” in which a person is told that God will forgive, redeem and sanctify them without their being truly repentant. If such people are only social Christians, as opposed to spiritual Christians, they could imagine all kinds of false things.
Spiritual Christians, on the other hand, have truly accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and they are willing to submit their own personal wills to God’s. Thus, they will see beyond the false teachings to the truth.
Among the social Christians, some of the primary characteristics we have observed are a sense of fear, self-centeredness, and a lack of love for people outside their “group,” for the animals, and for the environment. If they are not loving individuals, they cannot truly know the God of the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ. If they were truly perfected in God’s love, they would love God with every part of their being, as well as the whole of creation, and feel its pain and suffering and seek to end it, and they would not be fearful.
So, in conclusion, I would have to preface Wesley’s answer with “If a person has love…” because it is love that softens a hardened heart and leads us into true belief and faith where we become sanctified.
The prophet Isaiah reached out in the Spirit of God and saw the perfection of God reestablished in the Peaceable Kingdom, and he wrote (Isaiah 11:6-9 NASV):
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
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