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15 July, 2013

Wholly Sanctified - What is the Spirit?

A. B. Simpson


In a word it may be said that the spirit is the divine element in man, or perhaps more correctly, that which is cognizant of God. It is not the intellectual or mental or aesthetic or sensational part of man but the spiritual, the higher nature, that which recognizes and communicates with the heavenly and divine.

1. It is that in us which knows God, which directly and immediately is conscious of the divine presence and can hold fellowship with Him, hearing His voice, seeing His glory, receiving intuitively the impression of His touch and the conviction of His will, understanding and worshiping His character and attributes, speaking to Him in the spirit and language of prayer and praise and heavenly communion. It is, also, directly conscious of the other world of evil spirits, and knows the touch of the enemy as well as the voice of the Shepherd.

2. The spirit is that which recognizes the difference between right and wrong, which loves the right and thinks, discerns, chooses in harmony with righteousness. It is the moral element in human nature. It is the region in which conscience speaks and reigns. It is the seat of righteousness and purity and sanctity, it is that which resembles God, the new man created in righteousness and true holiness after His image. Every one must be conscious of such an element in his being and feel that it is essentially different from the mere faculties of the understanding or the feelings of the heart.

3. The spirit is that which chooses, purposes, determines and thus practically decides the whole question of our action and obedience. In short, it is the region of the will, that mightiest impulse of human nature, that almost divine prerogative which God has shared with man, His child, that very helm of life on whose decision hang the whole issues of character and destiny. What a momentous force it is, and how essential that it be wholly sanctified! As it is, or is not, sanctified, the life is one of obedience or disobedience, and when the will is right, and the choice is fixed, and the eye is single, God recognizes the heart as true and pure, “If there be a willing mind it is accepted according to what a man has and not according to what he has not.”

4. The spirit is that which trusts. Confidence is one of its attributes and exercises. It is the filial quality in the child of God which looks in the Father's face without a cloud, which lies upon His bosom without a fear and puts its hand in His with the abandonment of childlike simplicity.

5. The spirit is that which loves God. It is not now the human emotional love of which we speak, for that belongs to the lower nature of the soul and may be most fully developed in one whose spirit is still dead to God in trespasses and sins; but it is that divine love which is the direct gift of the Holy Spirit and the true spring of all holiness and obedience. It is nothing less than the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and its appropriate sphere is the human heart.

6. The spirit is that which glorifies God, which makes His will and honor its supreme aim and loses itself in His glory. The very conception of such an aim is foreign to the human mind and can be only received by a spirit which has been born again and created in the divine image.

7. The spirit is that which enjoys God, which hungers for His presence and fellowship and finds its nourishment, its portion, its satisfaction, its inheritance in Himself as its all and in all.

This wonderful element of our human nature is subject to all the sensibilities and susceptibilities which we find in a coarser form in our physical life. There are spiritual senses and organs just as real and intense as those of our physical frame. We find them distinctly recognized in the Scriptures. There is the sense of spiritual hearing, “He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” “Blessed are your ears, for they hear,” “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” There is the sense of vision, “Your eyes will see the King in his beauty and the land that is very far off,” “Looking unto Jesus,” “Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” “Having eyes they see not,” “He has sent me to open the blind eyes and turn them from darkness unto light and from the power of Satan unto God.” There is the sense of spiritual touch, “That I may apprehend, (or, grasp with my hand) that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus,” “Who touched me,” “As many as touched him were made perfectly whole.”

There is the sense of taste, “He that feeds on me will live by me,” “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good,” “He that comes to me will never hunger, and he that believes on me will never thirst.” There is the sense of smell. Very definitely is it referred to in the 11th of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him and will make him of quick smell in the fear of the Lord.” The spirit is a real subsistence, and when separated from the body after death it will have the same consciousness as when in life, and perhaps intenser powers of feeling, action and enjoyment.

Such is a brief view of this supreme endowment of our humanity, this upper chamber of the house of God, this higher nature received from our Creator, and lost, or, at least, degraded, defiled and buried through our sin and fall.


It is indispensable, first of all, that it be quickened into life. Naturally it is dead, and the work of regeneration quickens it into vitality as a newborn life, inbreathed, given from heaven as unto us in the first creation, as from the very lips of God. So, in one sense, the unregenerate soul is not spiritually alive. Its faculties are alive, its animal life is active, but spiritually it is dead in trespasses and sins. When “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin,” not only did man become subject to physical death but spiritual death reigned also. Thank God for the grace of God revealed in the gift by grace. Jesus Christ, whereby He has delivered us from the bondage of death and enables us to reign in life by one, even Jesus Christ.

But now what is a sanctified spirit?

1. It is a spirit separated.

Have you ever looked upon the dark, cold ground in early spring, through which if you drew your hand, it would chill and defile your fingers and perhaps it was mixed with the manure of the barnyard and the crawling earth worms that burrowed in it? Yet, have you never seen, growing out of that dark soil, a little plant or flower, with roots white as the driven snow, and leaf as delicate and petals as pure as a baby's dimpled cheek, separated by its own nature and purity from the dirty soil that was all around it and could not even stain it? So the spirit born of God is separated in its own divine nature from its own self and the sinful heart, and the very first step of sanctification is to recognize this separation and count ourselves no longer the same person, but partakers of the divine nature and alive unto God as those who have been raised from the dead. 

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