When you preach, never substitute your own experience of salvation or sanctification for confidence in the power of the gospel. If you do, you will become an obstacle, blocking others’ access to spiritual reality. You have to make sure that, if you do share your knowledge of the way of salvation, you remain rooted and grounded in faith in God. Never rely on rhetorical skills; never seek to preach “with wise and persuasive words.” Rely instead on the Holy Spirit and on the certainty of God’s redemptive power. When you do, he will create his own life in the souls of those to whom you preach.
Once you are rooted in reality, nothing can shake you. If your faith is rooted only in your experiences, anything that happens is likely to disturb it. But nothing can ever disturb God or the almighty reality of redemption. Base your faith on redemption, and you will be as eternally secure as God. Get into personal contact with Jesus Christ, and you will never be moved again. This is what it means to be sanctified.
God puts his disapproval on our experiences when we begin to think of them as ends in themselves. Sanctification isn’t merely an experience; sanctification itself has to be sanctified. Jesus didn’t have a sanctified experience; he led a sanctified life, and he prayed that his disciples would do the same: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:18–19). After I’ve had the experience of sanctification, I must deliberately give my sanctified life to God for his service so that he can use me as his hands and feet.