SANCTIFICATION IS NOT REGENERATION, NOR REGENERATION EXTENDED OR PERFECTED
Sanctification is not regeneration. The very words teach us that. They are not the same, do not mean the same thing, and are not used synonymously in the Bible, Hymn Book, standards, religious biographies, and testimony of Christians. They are felt to represent two different things. Justification means pardon; conversion, a turning about; regeneration means renovation, reproduction, entering upon a new life, while sanctification means the act of being made holy. If regeneration and sanctification mean the same, and include the same work, then 1st Corinthians 1. 30 becomes senseless, and should read thus: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us regeneration and regeneration and regeneration and regeneration.” But the two words are different, and refer to different works wrought supernaturally in the soul, and so the passage reads: “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” The word “righteousness” should be translated “justification.” Again, the two words, representing different works, follow each other in point of time.
To the Thessalonians, who were Christians, and possessed joy in the Holy Ghost, Paul writes that God wanted them to be sanctified. He said the same thing, in substance, to the Romans, the Corinthians, and to the Hebrews. Sanctification, or Christian perfection, comes after regeneration. The Saviour himself recognized this order, for while in the fifteenth chapter of John he tells his disciples that they are clean through his word, yet a little while after he informs them that they must yet be sanctified, which sanctification, we remember, took place on Pentecost.
The Hymn Book observes the same order. Open it and read the subjects as divided. First is the “Gospel Call,” then “Penitential Exercises,” then “Justification,” and then “Sanctification.” The same order is observed in our theological works. Sanctification follows regeneration. But clearer and more convincing than all is one’s own experience. On the twelfth day of July, 1874, God converted my soul, and fifteen years afterward, at 9 o’clock in the morning of June 1, 1889, he sanctified my soul and body. It was a different work from the first, and a different experience. My consciousness testified to the fact of the difference, and so did the Holy Ghost.
The emphasized words above are full of significance. A calm settles upon soul and body. The inward battle and tumult have ended. The flesh does not lust against the spirit as formerly, but is led by the Spirit and restrained by the Spirit, calmly and easily and without the fearful strugglings of other days. This experience alone gives to sanctification a peculiarity strikingly different from regeneration. Again, entire sanctification is not the deepening or perfecting or extension of regeneration.
Regeneration is a perfect work in itself; needs no improvement, and is given none. Sanctification has no quarrel with regeneration, either in the Bible or Christian experience, and is not in antagonism with it in any respect whatever, although some would so persuade the people. It aims to do another thing, and accomplishes another work altogether. It removes something from the soul that has been a constant trouble and hindrance to the regenerated man. It kills inbred sin; or, as Dr. Whedon calls it, the “sinwardness” in us; or, as some would recognize it, the “prone-to wander feeling.” That is the work that sanctification does: it removes or kills the “sinwardness” or prone-to-wander movement of the heart. It is idle to say that regeneration does this, when Christians in their experience universally testify to the fact that after conversion they still feel the stirrings and movement of sin within them. The sanctified man tells you that this is not the case with him. That dark medium upon which Satan and the world operated, to the inward disturbance and unrest of the child of God, is utterly removed or destroyed. Entire sanctification did that work, and can alone do it.
My will may be rectified in regeneration; but what if sin be something more than an act of the will? It certainly seems so when we behold it transmitted from Adam down to us without the consent of our wills, and exhibiting itself in children too young to exercise their judgment and moral powers. May not sin have left part of its life in the tendencies of the body, and exist also as a transmitted nature apart from my personal sin and guilt? Let Nos. 7 and 20 of our Articles of Religion answer. When I am born again I stand a regenerate creature in the presence of wayward tendencies of the flesh, and this dark element called original sin, that has been indescribably but certainly sent down from Adam to us, and interwoven in our natures. It is not long before the young convert finds out its presence and power. Why is it there in a regenerated life? Because there is no new birth or renovation for original sin. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom. viii. 7.) It is hopelessly cursed of God now and forever. It has to be removed or destroyed. Spiritual Agags have to be hewed to pieces, not changed into Israelites.
Regeneration renews my soul, imparts power to resist and conquer sin; but does not rid me of the presence of depravity in the heart. This is done by another and distinct work of the Holy Ghost; and that work is entire sanctification. This marvelous work is one of removal or destruction. Both ideas are taught in the Bible. It is called a circumcision–i. e., a cutting out and off of something within our natures. And again, it is called a baptism of fire. We all know what fire does–that it consumes. Many difficulties may be urged by the skeptical; but the experience of the sanctified, without exception, is that sin has been removed from or destroyed in the heart. This is one of the secrets of the deep rest and perfect peace that constantly fills the soul of one who has received the blessing. Let us sum up the thought. We, as Methodists, believe in the existence within us of what we call in Article VII. original and actual sin. “Original sin” refers to the sin of Adam, and “actual sin” to our own personal transgressions.
In justification, which means pardon, my own actual or personal sins are forgiven, but not original sin. How can I be pardoned for what I did not commit? How could I ask God to forgive me for what I did not do? And how could God, in truth and justice, grant me pardon for what I had not done? Justification evidently cannot reach original sin, and the conclusion is that I stand a justified man, with inherited depravity within me. In regeneration the soul is born again, made new, entered upon a spiritual life. That personal depravity which arises from one’s own actual sin is corrected by regeneration; but original sin, or inherited depravity, remains untouched. Can depravity be regenerated, the “old man” in us be converted and made holy? Paul, in writing to Christians, did not say make the “old man” a new man, but “Put off the old man, which is corrupt,” and put on the “new man.” It is idle to say this was done in regeneration. Sound reasoning is against it, and a universal Christian experience. The fact to which we are driven is that the regenerated soul is left in the presence of an inherited sin or depravity.
We must also remember that in the spiritual life we get what we ask for. We approach a throne of grace praying for pardon and deliverance from personal sins and a personal sinful nature. What Adam did for us and to us is no more in the mind or prayer than something occurring in a distant world billions of leagues away. In either case I can see how God can regenerate my soul, save me from the effects of a personal depravity, or that evil I have brought upon myself by actual sin, and yet original sin, or transmitted depravity, remains intact within me. This latter sin remains for another work. To say otherwise is to confound two distinct works of the Holy Ghost, regeneration and sanctification; or it makes regeneration a partial or imperfect work, which thought cannot be entertained for a moment. Sanctification does not go over the work of regeneration, deepening the lines and making it more effectual. Sanctification is not a second touch upon the same blind eyes, but it is a second touch of the Holy Ghost laid upon something else altogether.
The first touch, regeneration, alters the personal sinful life and nature,for which I am accountable; the second touch, sanctification, removes the inherited sinful nature, for which I am not accountable, but which burdens and afflicts me not the less. We cannot afford to throw the slightest imputation upon regeneration; it is a perfect work of God, and does all he intended it should do. The expression “remains of sin,” I am confident is misleading, and we should discard it unless we are careful to have it understood that by it we mean original sin. Our hope for a perfect deliverance is in the sanctifying grace of God. Not that our depravity is sanctified any more than it was regenerated, but we are sanctified by the removal or destruction of depravity, and by the communication, at the same instant, of “the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”
When that sanctifying work occurs sin dies in the heart. Various propensities of the body, which regeneration subdued, but could not eradicate, are instantly corrected, arrested, or extirpated. The craving of habit is ended, the root of bitterness is extracted, pride is lifeless, selfwill is crucified, and anger and irritability are dead. In a word, inward sin is dead. A sweet, holy calm fills the breast, actually affects the body, steals into the face, and rules the life. The millennium has begun in the soul.
–Pastor Ward Clinton