Ellen White wrote in the Acts of the Apostles: "Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime." Obviously our spiritual life starts with a repentance, a reborn by the Holy Spirit. If the sanctification lasts forever, then where is the point when we are ready for the latter rain? This question was in my mind for a while.
Many adventist believe that we should reach the "sinless" state by the start of the seven last plagues and the Holy Spirit helps remaining sinless during the plagues. However A. T. Jones wrote the following at the end of the Consecrated Way:
"And the blotting out of sins is exactly this thing of the cleansing of the sanctuary; it is the finishing of all transgression in our lives; it is the making an end of all sins in our character; it is the bringing in of the very righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, to abide alone everlastingly. This blotting out of sins must precede the receiving of the refreshing of the latter rain."
Ellen White wrote a similar statement, that is, nobody receives the latter rain who is not in that "sinless" state.
The blotting out of sins must precede the latter rain. God's people will reach that "sinless" state earlier than the start of the seven last plagues.
In Jer 31:34, we read the following: "... for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." In the christian world, these two events are the same. Accept Jesus as your saviour and God forgives and blots out your sins. You are sanctified in a moment. Some says that you are sanctified even if you commit sin later. Some says that you somehow misteriously lose the ability to commit sin. However the Bible does not teach such things. If these two events are the same, then Ezekiel 33:18-19 does not make sense.
If we think about the sanctuary service, it becomes crystal clear, that there are two events in our spiritual life. When we repent, Jesus becomes the mediator between God and us. The connection is restored, however there is a Mediator between God and us. We receive the Holy Spirit as the former rain. Then we should maintain this connection by walking in the Spirit. We have to develop a christian character. Character is the customs we practice everyday. If we overcome sin and do good things day by day, then we create good customs and develop a good charater. This is one part of the sanctification. Another part is that we have to grow in knowledge. When we repent, we still have unconsciuous sins in our life. God will lead us to recognize these sins and by His Spirit we can overcome these sins.
During this process Jesus works as a Mediator between God and us. However when we reach the point that we do not have any uncosciuous sin and we have developed a good character, Jesus's mediatory work has finished for us. Then the investigation of our lifes can come as Ezekiel 33 mentions and the latter rain can come. We still possess our fallen human nature until Jesus comes and we cannot say that we are free from sin. We still can commit sin. Think about Revelation 16:15. However our sins are blotted out. The connection between God and us is restored and we gain strength from God to overcome our human nature as Jesus did when He walked on this Earth.
When Ellen White said that the sanctification is a work of lifetime, she meant that we have to fight our fallen nature until Jesus comes or we die. She did not mean that we have to struggle with our sins forever either because in Jesus we can become victorious.
Sanctification does not mean that we loose the ability to commit sin, but it means we become victorious by faith. The latter rain will not make us victorious, however it is a signal that we are victorious. Only those will receive the latter rain, who overcame all their sins. The latter rain has not come yet because we have not overcome all our sins.
A. T. Jones joined the cleansing of the sanctuary and the latter rain. In the doctrine of the sanctuary of the advent faith we can understand these things.