Doctrine 10, as set out in Schedule 1 of The Salvation Army Act of 1980, declares: “We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
According to this affirming, biblical statement, believers are summoned to an integrated wholeness—a oneness of spirit, soul and body that will be kept pure, holy and, from God’s perspective, blameless, until Christ returns to take us home.
The essence of sanctification is a complete surrender, a total, integrated giving of ourselves to Christ. As in the poignant appeal of Frances Ridley Havergal, we implore the Lord to
Take my life … my moments …
Take my hands … my feet …
Take my voice … my lips …
Take my silver … my intellect …
Take my will … my heart …
Take my love … and I will be
Ever, only, all for thee. (SASB 525)
God calls us to give ourselves completely, as Christ has given himself fully to us. The well-known author and pastor, A.W. Tozer, accurately observed, “An infinite God can give all of himself to each of his children. He does not distribute himself that each may have a part, but to each one he gives all of himself as fully as if there were no others.”
The Apostle Paul used selfless love in marriage as a metaphor to understand how Christ loves us, his Church: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
How can we give ourselves wholly to Christ?
Commit Our Bodies—by caring for both the outward and inward self. God instructs us to take care of the body he has given to us. Health is foundational to the quality of life we desire. As Paul reminds us, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV).
Commit Our Minds—by reading Scripture and examining the world in which we live. The Word of God is our spiritual food. It gives us strength and direction. “Your Word,” the Psalmist declares, “is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Commit Our Spirits—by communing daily with Christ. Intimate communion with Christ is crucial. This is what gives us life and hope. It is what encourages us, giving us motivation to be the people God has called us to be. May we never lose sight of our priorities in life. May we always seek to know and do his will. Jesus instructs his followers to “seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
Commit Our Souls; Our Unique Self—by reaching out to others. We are not only part of the corporate body of Christ, we individually embody Christ. We are Christ to those we meet. We become his light in what is for many a dark and lonely world. This is why God calls us to be a holy people—a people clean in thought, actions and intention. We will never be perfect, for only Christ is perfect. But by God’s grace and power, we can be holy, blameless and sanctified.
In the words of General William Booth, I encourage you to “come along, my comrades. Your happiness and your influence are all connected with your being made holy. Oh, I beseech you to kneel down here and now, and ask God to make you each and all pure, by the power of the Holy Ghost, through the blood of the Lamb.”
Commissioner William W. Francis is the Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory. His wife, Commissioner Marilyn Francis, is the Territorial President for Women’s Ministries. Commissioners Francis have two adult children, Captain William Marshall and Susan Marjorie, plus six grandchildren.