Darrell Stetler II
My Story of Entire Sanctification
I expect some readers are confused about what entire sanctification means.
While testimonies are not the best way to teach theology, sometimes a look at how it works itself out in someone’s life can be helpful. To that end, I’m sharing my story here of how God led me personally toward the doctrine of entire sanctification.
I was raised in a holiness pastor’s home.
I heard this reality preached on a regular basis growing up. While some from my background have talked about entire sanctification as confusing, etc. I never felt this way growing up. My parents kept it relatively simple and unencumbered with baggage of extreme behavior or emotionalism.
I view my journey in holiness as in various epochs.
Entirely Sanctified In High School
I first surrendered my will as fully as I knew how to Christ’s Lordship as a sophomore in HS, after hearing a message by Rev. Marc Sankey on Romans 12:1. As I stood during the invitation, I thought “That’s right. I should do it someday.” I felt as though the Holy Spirit prompted me, “Why not now?” and I obeyed.
I got up knowing that God had accepted my sacrifice of all, and that he had taken it and made it holy to himself.
As I grew older there were more issue to surrender, and yet I always viewed these as continuing results of my earlier surrender.
There were moments of surrender about girls (what high school boy hasn’t gone through that?), career (preaching wasn’t my first choice!), and my definition of success (I wanted to pastor a BIG church).
Can One Lose Entire Sanctification?
As a young pastor, I neglected to walk in the Spirit, and fell into pornography after getting high speed internet for the first time at age 25. Through the faithful discipline of the Lord, I regularly came back repentant, but I lost the assurance of entire sanctification.
I believe that it is possible through continued struggling with disobedience, and a lack of willingness to deal with leftover patterns of self-centeredness. This results in a heart that is “re-bent” toward self & sin. I won’t fully develop that theology here, but that’s what I believe happened to me.
A time of Seeking to Restore the Assurance of Being Sanctified Through and Through
A couple years later, in a time of frustration and I began to seek again during a 40-day season of fasting lunch.
One particular day, I felt especially frustrated and as I walked into my office, the Lord “highlighted” the book Holiness and Power by A.M. Hills on my bookshelf. I spent the rest of the day and most of the next reading the book (which had been on my shelf, but unread), and seeking the Lord.
On the 3rd day, reaching the end of all that I knew to surrender, told the Lord if there was anything else that he wanted me to yield to him, to show me. I knew that I was entirely sanctified by trusting the work of Christ (and not by any surrender of my own).
So I pled with the Lord that if there was anything else I had yet to surrender, show me. If not, I was ready to put my faith in him that the work was (again) done in my heart. Sensing nothing but peace and surrender, I prayed in full consecration to the Lord on the 4th day. I placed my trust in Christ to be “Not our own righteousness, but Christ within/ Living and reigning and saving from sin.”
A renewal of the Covenant of Entire sanctification
There was one more season about 3 years ago, where I felt as though I had failed to progressively be sanctified by putting to death an area of selfishness the Lord had faithfully pointed out to me in my life over time.
I went into a season of frustration and uncertainty, where I was not at all certain of my yieldedness to Christ and his present entire sanctification. This culiminated in a 3-day prayer retreat where I repented of grieving the Spirit and re-affirmed my covenant with Him. At the end of that time of blessing and brokenness, I again laid hold by faith of the promises of God for entire sanctification.
It is important to note that living in this covenant is an ongoing life. There is nothing in the Scripture that teaches that there is no need for ongoing covenant renewal. In fact, I'd argue that this is perfectly consistent with the teachings of Scripture and the experience of God's people -- both in Scripture and through the centuries.
I am living with a present assurance of entire sanctification
I believe that Christ reigns supreme in my heart today, and both saves me from sin and keeps me clean in “spirit, soul and body” until the coming of Christ.
I am unaware of any area in my life that I am not in full submission to the will of Christ. This does not, of course, mean that I am beyond improvement or growth, but that my will is bent away from sin and fully bent toward Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you are interested in learning more about the Scriptural truth of entire sanctification, I would commend to you my Pursuing Holiness workbook, and the accompanying 40 days of holiness spiritual growth journey. If you wish to hear a sermon on the topic, I am embedding a message on it below.
In the video description, you’ll find a link to the 40 Days of Holiness study as well.