Grant Swank
Sanctification is sweet surrender
By Grant Swank
March 1, 2010

For many, the Bible teaching regarding sanctification is difficult to understand. Perhaps it is the length and strange sound of the term itself. Maybe it is because it has not been defined simply enough.

Actually, its thrust is easily grasped if one does not take tedious detours.

Sanctification, simply stated, is sweet surrender.

When one becomes saved, he takes Christ's blood upon his soul. In that, he receives divine mercy. Sins are cleansed. This is a divine act beyond our fondest imaginations.

When the saved one then becomes sanctified, he yields his all to Christ. In salvation, one takes grace. In sanctification, one gives all to God.

Picture yourself now standing before God. In your hands are all that you have and are: wardrobe, vehicles, properties, family, friends, wallet, health or sickness, desires, reputation, abilities, dreams, future ambitions, finally death and eternal destiny.

Lift all of this to God. Give it all to Him without reservation. That is the surrender of sanctification. You received at salvation; you now yield at sanctification.

In that moment of submitting completely, the Holy Spirit accepted your all. He then cleansed it in order to return it as holy to you. Now what you submitted is ready for the kingdom's good.

Previously, it was used chiefly for your own self-focused "good."

At the time of sanctification, you are made pure by the Holy Spirit. He takes away your selfishness, stubbornness and stupidity which clung to things for your own welfare. In place of all that, He gives you grace to abandon to God. Now you no longer live for self but for the Savior alone.

When you were first saved, your sins were cleansed. Now that you are sanctified, your sin nature is cleansed. This is the "double cure" of which we sing in the hymn, "Amazing Grace."

How does the Christian remain sanctified? Simply put: remain surrendered to the Holy Spirit in everything. Do not take back anything that you yielded to God. Leave all with Him — everything old, everything new — past, present, future.

As long as your soul submits completely to the Lord, you are continually cleansed. This is all accomplished by His grace, not of works, lest anyone should boast of his own human achievements.

Grace saves us from our sins. Grace sanctifies us from our sin nature. Therefore, God receives all the glory.

Can one remain sanctified completely until death? Certainly. By an act of free will, one becomes saved and sanctified. One chooses these opportunities of divine grace. Likewise, the believer may exercise free will for holiness till death. The decision is always left with us.

Less than surrender is misery. It is a double-minded life — living for God, yet living secretly (and sometimes obviously) for one's self. This is evidently difficult and trying to the soul.

Total surrender is sweet in that it returns one's soul completely to God. Instead of straining to plot one's own benefits, one yields all such maneuvering to God. Therefore, there is a freedom from striving in everything.

The on-going life of sanctification then is perfecting the surrender. It is learning from the Holy Spirit how to consecrate the most practical items to God — life's minors and majors. It is being taught how to think with God ("the mind of Christ").

It is discovering that material less is spiritual more.

Sanctification in this life has no conclusion but "more." There is always more to come upon in God, more to precision, more to uncover of one's own self and of God's self. That is why it is such an exhilarating adventure.

How then does "the law" enter into this sanctifying grace? Is one at liberty to do as one pleases once one comes into this release? No. Instead, one finds that God's commandments are the key to freedom within. Therefore, the sanctified yearn for more of God's statutes.

The Bible speaks of the "law of liberty." This is one more aspect of the sweet surrender. It is experiencing being a slave to God in order to be free from sin and self-centeredness. These paradoxes are lived out dynamically in the sanctified walk.

When the sanctified read of God's expectations (laws) in the Word, they become as delicacies to be enjoyed. Before sanctification, the double-minded believer shunned God's laws for they appeared restrictive. After sanctification, the believer binds God's laws to his heart for they are indeed liberating.

Abiding by God's law releases one from being legalistic. Legalism is adhering to man-made laws.

Living by God's laws is not cold, sharp and unkind legalism; instead, it is gentle, understanding and patient.

Satan thrives on a legalistic religion. The Holy Spirit tutors the sanctified in the eternally true laws of God.

First century Judaism was founded upon legalism. Jesus offered the truth which would set one free from such humanly manufactured bondage. For that reason, Jesus was murdered by the religious system.

Live out the law of holy love and you yourself will be set free. Strap the commandments of God to your soul joyfully; in that you will be released from your chief enemy — stubborn self.

Sweet surrender not only includes yielding tangibles and inner drives. It also includes pain, confusion, tormented thinking, betrayals of the past, disappointments, ponderings of suicide, doubts and dreads.

The true sweetness of this surrender is realizing that the Father is willing to accept these hurts — for healing. Many have been made whole when they submitted those wounds of the heart which they thought they had to contend with till death. No. "Cast all your cares. . ." means all.

Frequently, Bible preachers and teachers request their hearers to yield tangibles and inner drives.

But it is not that frequently that such speakers get around to the awful burdens that many sincere grace-children carry all the time. Therapeutically, it is needful that we preach the "full gospel" — submit to Him the bleeding souls, too. He can soothe. And He does.

Sanctification is one of the most enticing dimensions of the gospel. It is sad that it is not set forth more often. Our souls are made for this opportunity of grace. To lack this experience is to remain partially bound in spirit.

When Jesus said that He came to set us free, He meant it. Sanctification is that wide, open door.

Have you come to God with your all? Have you stood before Him with everything? Then have you yielded all of this — pain and pleasure — to the One who formed you?

Let Him take this package for its cleansing. Satan will lie to you that God will rob you blind, leave you bankrupt. Do not believe the father of deceit.

The Holy Spirit will instead make your offering holy, returning it to you for heaven's sake.

From that moment onward, keep that package in God's plan. In that, you will experience in the depth of your soul the sweetness of your on-going surrender.

Such will continue, if you will it, till you see Him face to face when walking through the door of death.

Eternal life will be continuing the sanctification without threat of Satan's intrusion. It will in fact be "holiness forevermore."

© Grant Swank


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Grant Swank

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is a pastor at New Hope Church in Windham, Maine... (more)

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