“Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness
in the fear of God”-2Corinthians 7:1.
Sanctification belongs to the mysteries of the faith; hence it cannot be confessed except as a dogma.
By this statement we intend to cut off at once every representation which makes “sanctification” to consist of the human effort to make oneself holy or holier.
To become more holy is undoubtedly the duty which rests upon every man. God has condemned all unholiness as an accursed thing. Inferior holiness cannot exist before Him. Every man more or less holy is bound to forsake all unholiness, to resign all lesser holiness, and let perfect holiness dwell and be made manifest in them instantly. The commandment, “Be holy as I am holy,” may not be weakened. The laxity of the current morale requires that God’s absolute right to demand absolute holiness of every man be incessantly presented to the conscience, bound as a memorial upon the heart, and proclaimed to all with no uncertain sound.
In the innumerable territories of heaven where God gathers His redeemed, all unholiness is excluded and absolute holiness is the never-failing characteristic. And is it is heaven, so ought it to be on earth. God, the sovereign Ruler of all the kingdoms of this world, has strictly forbidden the least unholiness in heart or home or any other place on earth under penalty of death. In fact, there is on earth no unholiness, of whatever name or form, that does not exist in defiance of His express will.
It must be conceded, therefore, that it is His revealed will and commandment that all this unholiness must cease immediately, and be replaced directly by what is holy and good. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.
It must be equally conceded that it is every man’s duty to remove unholiness, and to advance the things that are holy. He that caused the hurt must also heal it. He that destroyed must also restore the things destroyed. He that desecrated must also reconsecrate it. Men still alive to a sense of justice will not contradict us.
The obligation to resanctify this world’s life rests in its deepest sense upon Satan. He instilled into our veins the poison that generates the diseases of our souls. The spark that caused the fire of sinful passions to break out in human nature was kindled by him. That Satan is hopelessly lost and condemned does not annul God’s eternal right. Even Satan himself, according to this right, ought to repent and stand before God holy as in the beginning. And this world of men, which he corrupted, was not his, but belonged to God. He should never have touched it. Hence the obligation continues to rest upon him not only to stop his unholy working in it, but also to reconsecrate perfectly what he has so bitterly and maliciously profaned.
That Satan neither will nor can do this justifies his fearful judgment, but it does not annul God’s right and never will. If in Paradise man had unwillingly fallen a victim to Satan, the obligation to resanctify the life of this world would have rested upon Satan, but not upon him. But man fell willingly; sin owes its existence not only to the fatherhood of Satan, but also to the motherhood of man’s soul; hence man himself is involved in the guilt and included under the judgment of death, and therefore obliged to restore what he has ruined.
God created man holy, with the power to continue holy; holy also by virtue of the increasing development of the implanted germ. But man ruined God’s work in his heart. He soiled the undefiled raiment of holiness. And doing this he violated the right. If he had belonged to himself, if God had allowed him to do with himself as he pleased, the right would not have been violated. But He did not give man to himself; He retained him for Himself as His own property. The hand that ruined and desecrated man destroyed God’s property, encroached upon the divine right of sovereignty-yea, upon His very right of ownership, and thus became liable (1) to the penalty for this encroachment, and (2) to the obligation of restoring the ruined property to its original state.
Hence the undeniable and positive obligation of man’s self-sanctification. This obligation rests, not upon God, nor upon the Mediator, but upon man and Satan. The prayer, “Lord, sanctify me,” upon the lips of the unconverted, not under the Covenant of Grace, is most unbecoming. First willfully to destroy God’s property, and then to take the ruined thing to Him demanding that he heal and restore it, antagonized the right and reverses the ordinance. Nay, outside of the mysteries of the Covenant of Grace, under the obligations of simple justice, we are not ask: “Lord, sanctify Thou us,” but God is to enforce His righteous claim: “Sanctify thyself.”
Sanctify thyself does not mean that man should fulfill the law. The keeping of the law and sanctification are two entirely different things. Let the sinner be sanctified, and then he shall also fulfill the law. First sanctification, then fulfillment of the law.”
-From Abraham Kuyper’s The Work of the Holy Spirit First Published in 1900 Published by AMG Publishers USA 1995 Pages 456-458.