We will take the subject of Original Sin for our lesson today.
Original sin is always spoken of as a unit — in the singular number. You will find our first reference in Psalms 51:1-2: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” In the first verse He says, “Blot out my transgressions.” “Transgressions” is in the plural; they are many and innumerable, this is the prayer of the penitent. But in the second verse He says, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity,” not iniquities, and not sins, but sin as a unit, iniquity in the singular number. And to find the meaning of those terms you may read the 5th verse: “Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” You see that he recognizes the fact of innate sin: that something spoken of by theologians as depravity, inbred sin, or original sin. This cannot be pardoned, but may be washed and cleansed away. A failure to note this distinction between sin and sins accounts for much of the confusion and controversy in regard to what is known as the second blessing. Theoretically, I presume every evangelical denomination recognizes this two-fold nature of sin.
Original sin does not have reference to an act of sin at all, but a heart condition. “A corruption of the nature;” and this is the condition of all men who have not been cleansed. This principle or nature of sin is born in us; it may be seen in the infant. The baby is scarcely three weeks old until it gives unmistakable evidence of this unholy principle. Why is it that we cannot teach the child and restrain the child so that it will never commit a sin? Why is it that all who come to the years of accountability will just as naturally commit sin as sparks ascend heavenward, Is it not because of this sinward bias, this that Charles Wesley terms the “bent to sinning?” It is not the result of any volition or act on our part. It was born in us, and is the result of Adam’s transgression. God can forgive the sins I have committed, but this sin of nature is never forgiven, but must of necessity be cleansed away. But says one, “That was cleansed out of my heart simultaneously with pardon.” But that argument is contrary to scripture.
If you will now turn to Isaiah the 6th chapter and read the experience of this prophet in connection with a holiness meeting you will discover that he obtained this cleansing as a second experience. According to the chronological table, Isaiah had been in the prophetical office at least two years and probably eighteen years or more and had been a most radical and practical preacher, but as he heard them speaking of holiness and had a vision of God’s holiness, he exclaims, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” You see there is no sense of guilt or condemnation, but a consciousness of inward cleanness — the lips being the index of the heart. “Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar:” (Isaiah 6:6, 7.) “And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” The fire in the Scriptures never signified pardon, but always purification or the work of refining and cleansing. You will note he does not say, “Thine iniquities are taken away and thy sins purged,” but iniquity in the singular, sin, as a unit, is dealt with. While we may not be able to see when Isaiah obtained the remission of his sins, it is evident that he had been a Christian years prior to this. God did not call men to the prophetical office who were sinners. You see that Isaiah received this purging from the iniquity of his nature as a second experience, and after this he became a second blessing preacher. Read Isaiah 35:8-10.
Jeremiah 33:8: “And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” He does not say, “I will cleanse them from all their iniquities,” but the cleansing deals with iniquity and “I will pardon all their iniquities.” Pardon deals with iniquities in the plural. You see there are these two promises, both the pardon of iniquities and the cleansing from iniquity, whereby or through which they had sinned against God. Turn now to Zechariah 13:1: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” I want you to notice he does not say “the fountain shall be opened in the house of David” as this passage is usually quoted, but “to the house of David.” It is not for sins in the plural, but “sin and uncleanness.” The house of David had reference to the church, or God’s own chosen and elect people. It does not say this. Fountain is open for sinners, but rather for the very elect, who constitute the house of David, It is a promise to the church, the promise of cleansing and not of pardon.
You may now turn to St. John 1:29: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” What would properly be termed “the sin of the world?” It certainly cannot have reference to any particular act of sin, for what might be termed the sin of one part of the world, would not be the sin of another part of the world. Not only so, but John had been preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, and they who had received his baptism had experienced the remission of sins, but he points them to another experience. The sin of the world has reference to this original sin, which is the same in all nationalities and among all people. It matters not if a man is civilized or uncivilized, Jew or Gentile, educated or illiterate, all have this same inward difficulty, It is the sin of the world. John did not say that the Lamb of God would pardon these sins of the world, but take it away; not repress it or regulate it; but take it away.
In the epistle to the Romans, this same sin principle is spoken of as “the carnal mind,” the law of sin,” “sin that dwelleth in me,” “the body of this death,” “the body of sin,” “our old man,” etc. The 6th chapter of Romans is especially a treatise upon this subject, and reveals the divine method for inbred sin, telling us in verse 6: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Crucifixion and destruction do not mean repression, suppression, oppression or compression but means death and utter destruction to this principle. He then tells us in verse 22: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
Thank God there is a complete deliverance from all sin.
In the epistle to the Hebrews, this same difficulty is spoken of as “a root of bitterness” and “the sin which doth do easily beset.”
We will now take I John 1:7-10. We have not time to dwell at length upon these verses. I simply desire to invert the order of these passages and read from the 10th verse to the 7th: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” You will see there are two propositions. First, we have sins mentioned in the tenth verse and we also have sin mentioned in the eighth verse. Then we have two “ifs” or two requirements, the first is, “If we confess” (v. 9), and the second, “If we walk in the light” (v. 8). Then we have two promises. First, the forgiveness of our sins (v. 9), and second, the cleansing from the sin (v. 7). There are two propositions, two requirements and two experiences. The eighth verse is often referred to by such as deny the possibility of being delivered from all sin, and certainly if we should take this passage and separate it from its context, it would sustain that argument, but I would have you note that this verse is so sandwiched in here that you cannot back out through the seventh verse (the first verse above it) without being cleansed from all sin, or go through the first verse below it (v 9) without being cleansed from all unrighteousness, In this eighth verse he simply indicates the difficulty or the disease and then points out the remedy. We insist that if Jesus can save us from any sin, he can save us from all sin. There is pardon for the sinner, there is cleansing for the believer. He promises to cleanse us from this sin as a unit on condition that we “walk in the light as he is in the light.” This sin in the heart is the most prolific source of back-sliding. It is this that occasions the inward conflict and warfare of the Christian.
Some have supposed that in preaching the second experience, we meant to teach that but half of their sins had been forgiven, and now we desire them to come and have the other half forgiven and are quick to tell us that they do not believe in any half-way work; that when God forgave their sins, He forgave all of them. Certainly if God forgave any of your sins, He forgave all of your sins. We do not teach that justification is a half-way work. We would rather say that justification comprehends at least eight perfect works. First, there is conviction; second, repentance; third, a faith that perfectly trusts God; fourth, the pardon of every sin; fifth, the washing of regeneration; sixth, the quickening of the soul into newness of life; seventh, adoption; eighth, the witness of the spirit. Although all these are comprehended in what we commonly term conversion or justification and occur simultaneously, they are nevertheless distinct and each one a perfect work within itself. So that you see we have no disposition or occasion to underrate or minify the experience of justification: but all these have to do with sin as an act. This work of cleansing or the experience of entire sanctification has to do with sin inherited, sin as a tendency. That something known as inbred sin or original sin. We cannot repent of something that we have not done and neither can God forgive us of something that we have not done, hence, He promises to wash and cleanse it away, which is the second and subsequent experiment. Thank God.