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By: Brenda Jackson (2003)
George Fox taught the doctrine of entire sanctification:- “At last they asked me whether I was sanctified. I said “Sanctified? Yes, for I was in the Paradise of God” They said had I no sin “Sin?” said I “Christ my Saviour hath taken away my sin and in Him there is no sin” They asked how we knew that Christ did abide in us I said “By His Spirit that He has given us” They temptingly asked if any of us were Christ I answered “Nay, we are nothing, Christ is all” They said “If any man steal is it no sin?” I answered “All unrighteousness is sin”. (Journal)
Fox made it clear that he was not talking about being sanctified as a ‘position’ nor that the blood of Jesus hides our sins and God does not see them. He said that all unrighteousness in actions is sin, but further, that the ‘holy men’ pleaded for holiness in HEART and life, and conversation here’ (Journal) He was in agreement with the Apostle John in his first letter, who said in 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you, he that doth righteousness IS righteous, even as He is righteous. There is no imputed righteousness, the doctrine over which the Puritans refuted Fox. It is an imparted righteousness.
It is real practical holiness in thought and action which the ‘preacher of righteousness’ (Apocalypse of the Word, Douglas Gwyn 25) as Fox called himself and testified of himself :-“As He is so are we IN THIS PRESENT WORLD, and that the saints are made the righteousness of God, that the saints are ONE in the Father and the Son, that we shall be like Him, that all teaching which is given forth by Christ is to bring the saints to perfection even to the stature and fullness of Christ, this the scripture doth witness and this I DO WITNESS TO BE FULFILLED” (Journal 135) This message, as he went about preaching, produced a violent reaction:- “The world swelled and made a great noise like great raging of the sea. Priests and professors, magistrates and people were all like a sea when I came to proclaim the Day of the Lord amongst them and to preach repentance to them” (Journal 33)
The ‘Day of the Lord’ is the message in 1John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth because (v5) God is light and in Him is no darkness at all and that (2:6) he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked and (3:6) Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him neither known Him. “Hating the light, you hate Christ” (Journal 135) This put paid to the error on the subject of sanctification, that we are in Christ if we are hoping for sanctification at some time in the future, or as some think, we will gradually sin less and less until one minute we have no control over our thoughts or we have reduced down to having just one sinful thought occurring, and then, lo and behold, the sinful thought will occur no more. Actually no one has ever testified to it happening like this. At 60 70 and 80 years of age, believers, even Conservative Quakers, are still waiting. There should be witnesses that tell you about the day that the gradual became the complete, and they should be testifying in books (at least to refute such as myself!) The only books that are written are by those who say that the gradual view is error and not scriptural and that entire sanctification is an entering in to a state where sin is removed.
Unfortunately in these dark days, we only find these books written in the past. Some claim to be entirely sanctified but it is easily to be seen that they are using the term in a different way. They say that they are positionally so or their idea of sinlessness is a very loose one and anyone can see very soon that they are in fact still sinners. Fox and John are both clear, if we sin then we are not in the light and the Day of Judgment is near. It comes when we are presented with this message and we must make a decision in the same way that men and women had to make that decision when Fox brought them the message. Will we accept it as the truth and know that God has spoken? If we do not then we have chosen our path and it is the path of darkness, without knowing the cleansing of Christ inwardly. Fox believed that there was only one Day of the Lord.
Some find this verse in 1John 8, If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us and try to justify their position through it. We must not wrest this verse out of the context of the book and the chapter in which it is written if we want to understand John. 1John was written to counteract the heresy which was affecting the church (and still is) and was a treatise for Christians in general as there is no mention of a specific church as was contended by Lampe in his appeal to Theodoret. The Latin version said "Epistle to the Pathians, adopted by Ancient Fathers defended by Grotius" but not in Greek, but at least the Syriac language of the Parthian Empire was understood by Christians unacquainted with Greek. Whoton conjectures on Greek superscription (to virgins) because the epistle is addressed to 'uncorrupted' Christians. Frequent usage of light and darkness occurs in Persian philosophy so John is correcting the abuses of it. That John really designed his epistle as a warning to those Christians who were in danger of being affected by Zoroastrian principles is very probable though the language of the epistle will not permit us to place John's readers in a country to the East of Euphrates.
The apostle is declaring to the whole world, his disapprobation of the doctrines maintained by Cerinthus and the Gnostics. Cerinthus taught that Jesus was by birth a mere man but that 'the Christ' descended on Him at His baptism. In order to understand the epistle we must ask ourselves the following questions, why did John give these admonitions? Why did he repeat them frequently? Why has he admonished if he thought admonition necessary, merely in general terms and brotherly love? Why has he not sometimes descended into particulars as other apostles have done?
The Gnostics, who taught that man, could be righteous in spirit and still sin in the flesh, (which is nowadays recognized by 'imputed righteousness' which Fox taught against) contended that the apostles had added commandments not given by Christ concerning the doctrine of sanctification. John devotes the greatest part of his epistle to the confirmation and enforcement of his doctrine. *The basis of this error i.e. that a believer can still be in Christ and sin was made popular and spread through the church by Augustine. Augustine has spread his heresies throughout the Protestant and Catholic Church since. Fox and the Quakers (and others at various times) saw this notion as unscriptural as it was taught also during the early centuries of the church, but was always opposed amongst those who did not wish to turn from their sins.
If we look at verses 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 in chapter 1, 6, If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness we lie and do not the truth. [b] 7, But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from ALL sin
8, If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (BUT) 9, If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.
10, If we say that we have not sinned we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.
We can see that John is comparing walking in the light to walking in darkness i.e. walking in the flesh compared to walking in the Spirit. He is describing two different opposing states which correspond perfectly with the teaching of the Apostle Paul when he talks about 'carnal' or fleshy believers against those who were walking in the Spirit... In verses 7 and 9, John says that the benefit of walking in the light are:-
1) We have fellowship with one another in the unity of the Spirit (agreement)
2) By confessing our sins we will be forgiven
3) We will then be cleansed by the blood of Jesus from all unrighteousness and sin.
Whereas if we walk in the flesh:-
1) We are deceived and remain in our sin
2) There is no truth in us
3) We make God a liar by denying our need for forgiveness.
So John is saying that it is only when we are walking in the darkness that we are blind to our need of coming to Christ for His cleansing from ALL sin. The letter is to believers and not un-believers as stated previously. And believers can fall into the error of walking in the flesh as Paul demonstrated to the Galatians who thought that they could go on to maturity or perfection through the works of the law and not through faith.
Those who were being misled by the Gnosticism and today by the preachers of 'positional righteousness' were walking in darkness because they were still sinning and did not see their need of the cleansing which can be provided by Christ alone. So they thought that they had no sin to be dealt with and were acceptable as they were, but John says that they walk in darkness. But if we see our need for cleansing from ALL sin and come to Christ (again) for forgiveness, then He will be able to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness (not just the sin in question please note) So it is these ones who are saying wrongly that they have no sin not the ones who have come to Christ and HAVE been cleansed from ALL unrighteousness.
John goes on in the rest of his epistle to show that those who do carry on in sin (but say they have no further need of cleansing) are NOT in CHRIST. He stresses his point against the Gnostic heresy Little children let no man deceive you, he that doeth righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous 3:7 and this is the test i.e. as He is righteous so must we be not just in position or as a hope for the future but as a present reality that we must be as Christ, without sin if we are walking in the light.
But whoso keepth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected 2:5
My little children these things I write unto you that ye sin not 2:1
Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not whosoever sinneth not hath not seen Him neither known Him 3:6
He that commiteth sin is of the devil 3:8
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin 3:9
Paul speaks of two laws in Romans 8:2, the law of the Spirit of life and law of sin and death. The law of the Spirit of life is the path of light and the law of sin and death is the path of darkness. The two laws were typified in the Garden of Eden (and also through there being an Old Covenant and a New Covenant) through the two trees, the one of life and the other of knowledge. The tree of life is Christ and when we feed from or live in Christ, we have no sin, but if we do not, we are condemned by it, even though we make a confession that we know Christ, and because we are still in our sin, then we die spiritually and live in notions and according to our own knowledge and the life of Christ is not within us keeping us free from sin and preventing us from falling, as in Jude 24. Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. According to Fox we are “Out of the light, out of grace, out of truth Spirit and power of God such as resist the Holy Ghost, quench, vex and grieve the Holy Spirit of God and hate the light and turn the grace of God into wantonness and despise prophesying revelation and inspiration, they are dogs and unbelievers that are without the city. (The heavenly city of God, Journal 575) It is very interesting that the New Covenant existed before the Old Covenant law came in through Moses. It showed up first in the Garden typified in the tree, and then explained more fully with the appearance of Melchisedec King of Righteousness through whom Abraham also became perfect as others did too in the Old Testament and so were delivered from the law of sin and death.
The question remains, how are we to walk in the Spirit and mortify the deeds of the body? Paul deals with this question in Romans. In 8:13 he says For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live and have the creature itself delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God Romans 8:21 for He that spareth not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also, freely give us all things. Romans 8:32. Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death that as like Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life Romans 6:4. It was through His action alone that we are sanctified, through Christ coming into us in all the fullness of the possession of the Holy Spirit and the washing of the blood as an INNER cleansing.
The blood of Christ is not to wash us outwardly, but it is to enter into our very hearts, to sprinkle and make clean and pure so that our heart becomes new. Our polluted blood is now gone. It is this inward cleansing that Paul desired himself and had not yet attained when he saw in Romans 7:22 that although he desired to do the will of God, he was unable (23) to do so to the extent that God required of him and he cried out O wretched man that I am who will deliver me? The answer came in the next verse that the answer was through Jesus Christ and in 8:2 coming into the law of the Spirit and life through accepting that Christ did it on the cross and he had to likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord 6:11.
Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God 6:13 But now being made free from sin and become the servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life 6:22 I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God which is your REASONABLE service12:1 and be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God 12:2.
Christ has done it all and has paid the price for us to live without sin. We were crucified with Him 2.000 years ago and it is not something that we must do for ourselves in the future by trying to tame the flesh. Our part is to co-operate with God in His mighty work in us by consenting to conform our will with His Thy will be done and He will be able to swiftly do the necessary work in the application of the blood of Christ into our heart and performing the circumcision which will release us from the law of sin and death so that we can emerge into His glorious kingdom. Amen. Come quickly Lord.