Possibility of Such an Experience
There are many people who sincerely believe that it is impossible for them to obtain the experience of a clean heart. They can see how God might bestow it upon others, perhaps, but not on themselves. They look at their natural dispositions and temperament; their circumstances and environment, and like one of old say, “How can this thing take place?” When they hear the possibilities of grace preached, they say, “It may be well enough for preachers to lift up a high standard, but preachers do not have the temptations and surroundings of the people in everyday life. All that preachers have to do is to read the Scriptures in the quiet of the study, meditate and write sermons, and, shut away from the world, of course they can live such a life.
“They forget that all men, preachers and laity, are of a fallen nature, corrupted by sin, and have the same tempting devil to withstand, and that it requires just as much grace to save a preacher as it does to save other people.
If God does not save from sin in this life, it must be for one of two reasons: either he can not, or will not. Which position will you take, reader? Will you say that God can not cleanse the heart and make it pure and clean? Then he is not the Almighty. The writer does not know what kind of a God you worship. But the God that he worships is the Creator of the universe. It is he “who measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehendeth the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.”
Go out any clear night and gaze into the heavens. There you will see planets, stars, suns and constellations moving noiselessly in their orbits, in such perfect rhythm and time that astronomers can calculate hundreds of years ahead as to their positions, ellipses, transits, etc. Their course is perfect. Man has to set his feeble timepieces by them every little while. In their courses they never jostle each other or collide. God has so arranged that they go on their pathway in perfect adjustment. Our earth is one of the smallest of them all. And you are no bigger than a flyspeck on the face of the earth. What a difficult operation it must require for Almighty God to keep you! Surely you must be more difficult to manage than the whole universe, if he breaks down trying to keep you!
The religion of Jesus Christ is the supernatural power of God in the heart, if it is anything. If it is not that, then it is nothing more than the unconverted world has all about us, for they can perform all the outward morality of Christianity as well as the child of God.
They can be just as kind to their families and just as honest and truthful as Christians, so that if religion is not the supernatural power of God in the heart, then the world is just as well off without it as with it.
Since it is the supernatural power of God in the heart, it can just as well make the heart [completely] right as partially so. We believe if a man knows enough to make a watch, he must have the ability and skill to fix it if it gets out of repair. And we believe that the God that made the heart can make it clean, if it gets defiled by sin. How can any one who believes in Almighty God believe any less!
There can be no other ground for doubting this except a belief in the unwillingness of God to cleanse the heart. Do we believe that God could cleanse the hearts of his children if he wished, but that he had rather have them go through this world polluted by sin? Can any one believe that a holy God loves to have his children polluted by sin when he might save them from it, if he would? This is more reasonable than to believe he is unable to cleanse the heart.
If God has not provided for salvation from sin in the plan of salvation, then he has provided for sin. How does that sound! How would it do to preach that God has made arrangements for his people to go on in sin and be defiled by it? He has a plan whereby he permits sin. In other words he sanctions sin in certain cases, especially those who are called by his name and live in this world to represent him. His representatives must have sin in them. To be sure sin is the work of the devil, but God has made provision in the atonement to allow those who represent him, to be defiled by sin! How would it sound to hear such preaching! Such a position is a libel on God. Yet there are people who seem to think God has employed sin as a means of grace, and that we have to have it, to make us humble. God never takes sin — the work of the devil — to produce the grace of humility.
As some one remarks, if sin would make people humble, there is enough sin in the world to make the human race humble, which is far from the fact.
Away with these theories that dishonor God! If he can not and will not save us from sin in this life, there is no encouragement to believe he can or will save us from the consequences of it in the world to come.
Do you believe he is able but not willing? Then you reflect on his holiness and goodness. Will you take the ground that a holy God wants you to be defiled by sin, notwithstanding all he has said against sin, and notwithstanding the many commands he gives you to be holy? Will you reflect on Him?
Usually the reason that people refuse to believe that God can save them from sin is because they estimate divine power by their own little feeble strength. They have tried to keep themselves from sin and have failed, and they seem to think that God would fail, too, because they did. We ask the question that Paul asked King Agrippa: “Why should it be thought, a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should cleanse the heart?