Is The Eradication Of The Carnal Nature Desirable?
It would hardly seem as though a discussion of this phase of the question would be needed. It would appear at a glance apparently that if any human being in the world could secure the removal of moral pollution from his soul life, that he would hasten to have it accomplished. However, the experience of Christian workers in endeavoring to spread the gospel of salvation from sin, leads them to the conclusion that there are not hundreds, but millions, who do not desire to be saved from sin. While we deem it to be certainly true that few, if any, actually desire to lose their souls, or suffer torture or punishment in the hereafter, still they do not desire to be saved from sin. If they could be assured that they could continue to sin, and yet in eternity be safe from punishment or suffering, they would, so we confidently believe, eagerly choose that sort of an arrangement. This is one of the reasons that accounts for the rapid spread of pseudo religions, and false schemes of so-called salvation. As soon as men realize that these religions offer them, according to their teachings, the privilege of continuing in sin, and yet of obtaining a freedom from the results of sin in the world to come, then they hurry to embrace the offered plan. This also is one of the reasons why a genuine religion of salvation from all sin, and that too, in this present life, receives the support of such a meager following, and why many lapse therefrom.
In the whole world, so far as we are informed, there is not a religion that offers genuine salvation from all sin in this life, except the religion of Jesus Christ. Nor, among all of the almost countless phases of Christianity, is there one that promises salvation from all sin in this life, except that phase that is held by the second blessing holiness people. All others allow for some form of sin or carnality during our stay on earth, and only offer a remote freedom from these spiritually ruinous qualities in the hereafter. This accounts, at least in part, for the slow growth of holiness among the peoples of the world, and also accounts for the rapid growth of those phases of Christianity that do not insist upon a destruction of every item of moral corruption that obtains in the soul.
There are countless numbers of human beings who really love sin. They have persuaded themselves that there will be no future retribution visited upon its results in eternity, and consequently they see no reason why they may not indulge it here in this life as much as they may desire. Many love anger, revel in malice, cultivate hate, enjoy being unkind, and thrive best, in their own estimation, when they are most antagonistic toward God. There are millions of thieves in the world, who love to steal. To be sure, they dislike being caught, because it is so very pleasant and comforting to one’s self complacency to have mankind think well of one. But, nevertheless, they love to steal, legally, if they can, illegally if they must. They steal in trade and business; in politics and government; in domestic affairs and within the home circle; they will refuse; if they can, to pay their bills; they put off the paying of their accounts till the creditor is weary and “charges it off;” they “jump” their boarding house dues, run away from just debts, and hide out till obligations are outlawed; swindle one another in stocks and bonds; run banks when they know they are on the verge of failure; manipulate shares and squeeze financial opponents to death; “corner” commodities and steal from the poor and hungry. If you offer these people salvation from this, they chuckle, laugh, and refuse.
Some men like to kill. Human life to them has little or no value. A human opponent is to them much the same as an animal to be gotten rid of. Men and women will kill their own children, and children will slay their parents. Wives and husbands often kill one another, and bandits shoot down helpless victims, while gangs, in great cities, war with gangs, using machine guns and high powered cars. Offer them salvation and they will sneer at it! They do not want to be saved from sin. Sin is exciting. It offers a thrill. Thousands of people will sell their souls for a thrill. Justice follows criminals with such leaden feet, that most of them escape, and, what if they do not get away? The pursuit, the capture, the trial, the publicity of being found guilty, the execution (if it comes to that), is all an exciting thrill, and is that not what millions live for?
This being the case among the outside, sinful people of the world, it is not strange that it has a counterpart in the Christian Church. Thousands in the Church do not want to be freed from all sin. They are fearful, to be sure, that there might be something to the teaching of the Bible on the matter of retribution in the coming world, and in- order to escape that, they feel that a church membership is desirable. But they do not desire to be genuinely godlike. Holiness is too tame for them. To be freed from anger, they think, would rob them of the very thing that would enable them -to resent invasion of their rights. To be saved from a degree of malice would prevent them from getting even, and taking a “dig” at the other fellow when the occasion offered. They want some sense of their own superiority left in their hearts, and humility is not acceptable to them. They cultivate a little bit of worldliness, now and then, and desire personal adornment. They ape the world, and do not desire to be saved from place seeking, money hunger, or displays of importance.
It is beside the point for us to say that such are not regenerated. That is not the item of discussion just now; what we are stating is that they are church members, and professing Christians, and yet they do not want to be freed from all inbred corruption.
Take a step nearer and examine the people who we feel reasonably sure are in a regenerated state. Even among these are some who must be preached to with great earnestness before one can generate in their hearts the desire to be freed from the carnal mind. They will admit that such an experience is possible, and they, perchance, will unite with some holiness church, and approve of other people’s seeking and securing the blessing of a holy heart; and sometimes, even, they will pay their money for the support of evangelism that will lead people into this sort of a Christian life, but they will not earnestly seek freedom from heart corruption themselves. Or if they do, it is with such reluctance, and hesitation, and such an attitude of “I am ready any time the Lord wants to give it to me,” that they never obtain. Down deep in their hearts there is not yet planted a great hunger for holiness. They have not arrived at the place where they had rather be delivered from the carnal corruptions of the sin principle than to have anything else in the world. They do not seem to have lost their regeneration, and they are in love with holiness after a fashion, but they are not weary and outraged and desperate at the workings and evidences of the “old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;” they are willing to wait till some future time to receive the “second touch;” they feel reasonably cheerful at the fact that there is a bit of the deadly moral corruption still in their hearts; they are not frightened at the possibility of this breaking out and occasioning their downfall; the fact that there is some of that “enmity against God,” that has damned the world, and lodged its millions in hell, still in their hearts, does not seem powerfully to move them; they can hear strong holiness sermons, and admit the truth of the spoken discourse, and yet not cry out for deliverance; they can witness the risings of carnality in their own hearts from time to time, and yet not greatly fear. Oh, how subtle, is this ancient devil-derived corruption! It is like the tuberculosis bacillus which feeds upon the health of light hearted beauty, and paints its spurious roses upon the cheek of the one it has doomed to die. It is like leprosy in the body of a babe born of leprous parents, which is said to be exceedingly fair and attractive without, yet the virus feeds on its tissue, poisons its blood, and prepares ere long to break out in the hideousness that characterizes the adult leper. It is like the golden liquor that “giveth its color in the cup,” concealing meanwhile the inevitable results when “it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.” So is this soul corruption in human hearts. It was inherited from the devil. It permeates with its cancer-like corruption the moral tissues of life. It pours its virus into the spiritual currents of our Christian beings, and conceals with subtle insidiousness its polluted approach, and seems often to paint its bloom of false holiness upon the cheeks of the ones it has doomed to perdition.
Is there nothing that can be said, is there nothing that can be written or preached that will arouse earnest people to hate this subtle foe? One of the present day religious deficiencies is a lack of deep-seated hatred for evil in all its phases. The present day Christianity among our holiness people is not serious enough. It is not desperate enough. One would think, by the way we act, that this eternal war against an eternal foe were a holiday excursion, instead of “war to the knife, and knife to the hilt.” Our enemy never gives any quarter, why should quarter be extended to this deadly foe? Can we not arouse ourselves? Can we not bestir God’s people? There are holiness campmeetings nowadays that never hear a holiness sermon, from beginning to end! There are holiness churches where there are not ten per cent who ever profess to be genuinely rid of the carnal mind. There are holiness preachers who do not preach on that blessed theme from one month’s end to the other.
Can we not arouse a fear in the hearts of God’s truly regenerated people against the miasma of carnality? Recall the vilest murder of which you have ever read an account; note all the dastardly particulars; the deadly malice; the long season of hate; the stealthy plan and approach; the black hatred that would assassinate a fellow human in the midst of his loving children and by the side of his trusting wife, who were depending upon him; the exploding of the murderous pistol from ambush; the quick plunge of the hate-whetted knife; the sudden disappearance while the murdered man’s life-current crimsons the garments of his shrieking companion! What did that? What caused that hideous crime? What induced that man to be a murderer? What hurled that unthinking and probably unready soul into eternity? What widowed that wife? What orphaned those innocents? CARNALITY! Out of the moral corruption of that murderer’s soul there grew the black flower of hell that would strike the life from a fellow creature. Reader, fellow Christian, is there just a trace of that same virus in your own heart? Have you a bit of that “enmity against God” in your being? If you have not been wholly delivered from the sin principle, from that dark festering moral corruption that adheres in every heart, even after one’s sins have been forgiven, and one’s name is written down in God’s life book above, then you possess some of the same identical element ‘that exploded the murderer’s pistol, and flashed the assassin’s knife. Oh, that we could stir some heart to see its danger! Oh, for language to paint the picture as black as it really is!
All the hate that the world has ever known, since Cain crouched by the pathway, and bludgeoned his brother Abel to death, in the long ago; all the murders that have darkened the annals of history, and painted scenes of black blood-lust in the hearts of human beings; all the quarreling, bickering, fighting, and assaulting; all the stealing, thieving, robbing, burglary, and banditry; all the lusting licentiousness, raping, illicit sex appeal, harlotry, whoremongering, effeminacy, trial marriage, illegitimate child birth, prenatal murder and bastardry; all wars and fighting, and pillaging and burning of looted towns, and slaughtering of men, and appropriation of women captives, the wars of Alexander, the wars of Caesar, the wars of Wallenstein and Tilly, the sack of the Netherlands, the Napoleonic horrors, the “Black Hole of Calcutta,” the “Bloody Angie” at Spotsylvania, the massacre of General Custer, the world war with its twenty million victims, is all, all, all due to the moral corruption of the human race, the carnal mind that is in every child of Adam; (until it has been burned away by the sanctifying baptism of the Holy Ghost), that old principle of sin that lingers in the hearts of the regenerated. Oh, reader, have you a trace of it in your heart? Have you been freed from every taint of it? Can you look up into the face of God, and assure Him that, as He knows your heart, you do not know how you can abandon yourself any more to Him than you are, and that you do not know how you can trust Him for the cleansing of your innermost heart any more than you are now trusting him? Unless you can do this, dear reader, you are now cherishing in your own bosom some of the very same virus, some of the very corruption, some of the carnality that caused Adam’s expulsion from the garden, Cain to slay Abel, and that has brought all the woes, and horror, and blood, and licentiousness, and damnation and ruin upon this race! Do you want it there? Are you nursing it? Are you excusing it? Are you cherishing it? Would you like to carry this black something to the Judgment with you? Would You like to have the glorified Christ see it? Would you like to have Him of the thorns and the nails and the pierced side, find your heart tainted with the very corruption that jammed the thorns down onto His holy brow, and drove the nails through His hands (that had been laid with healing and blessing onto sick and fevered humanity), and that thrust the spear into His side, which was throbbing with a God-like love for you? And yet that will be your portion, if you do not rid yourself of this inbred pollution. The sorrowful, heartbroken look that the Master gave Peter, when enemies were hounding Him to His death, and Peter was denying with oaths and curses that he had ever known Him, was not more piercing, sad and pathetic than will be the look that will fall on you, reader, who have named His name, received the merit of His grace, accepted His salvation, been accorded a place on His heavenly roster, united with the church that calls itself after His blessed name, and posed as one of His followers, and yet now appear before His Judgment throne with your heart dark with moral defilement; your soul still clinging to the very carnal nature that animated the hearts of His enemies and caused them to spill His blood.
Can it be that you do not desire to be freed from this foul remnant of the sin life in which you once lived? Is it not desirable to have a – clean heart? Is it not the most happy possession that one could secure this side of heaven? Is not likeness to Him, His purity, His meekness, His humility, His other-worldliness, His obedience and His sacrificial spirit a desirable obtainment? The Lord commands that you should possess freedom from carnality when He says, “Be ye holy, for I am holy!” (1 Peter 1:16). He promises it, when He says, “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! (1 John 1:7). He declares that no one can hope to see God in peace except the man who is “pure in heart.” His preparation for living with Him in “Zion’s hill,” is to have “Clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3,4). Can you feel, then, reader, that it is a matter of indifference whether you have carnality removed? That you can go on day by day, allowing the “remains of sin” to pollute your being, and not be moved desperately to have it cleansed away? Better far that you lived on the bread of affliction, and the water of sorrow, until your frame tottered with weakness, and succeeded thereby in having your soul set at liberty (if that would do it) from the moral corruption of carnality, than to feed fat as many do, glibly pattering the shibboleths of the holiness movement, and yet retain the dark stain of the principle of sin to be your Nemesis at the great day of eternal reckoning.
Oh, that we could reach the ears of every sleeping Christian in the Church of God! Oh, that we could secure the attention of every unsanctified man and woman in the holiness movement! We would call ceaselessly to awake and seek freedom from this carnal heart that checks prayer, and halts testimony, and cools fervor, and opens a door to the return of the enemy that once possessed it, and keeps one constantly on the verge of backsliding, and puts a wail in the bedside pleas, instead of a shout of joy, and grieves God, and hurts your influence, and makes of the Bible a book of condemnation instead of commendation, and originates differences at home and in the church, and occasions loss of temper, and sometimes results in downright lapses from the faith, and the soul’s final plunge into hell.
Is it desirable to be freed from it? If it is not, then well might we ask: Is heaven desirable? Is escape from hell desirable? Is the smile of God worth having? Is the commendation of Jesus our Lord at the Judgment a matter to wish for? Is eternal felicity with God in the celestial world something you want? Would you have back the lost estate which Adam once possessed? If you answer, “Oh, yes, these we ought to have!” then, according: to the terms of the atonement of Christ, the commands and promises of God, the office work of the Holy Ghost, we must be holy!