Heaven Is A Holy Place
From the fact that heaven is a holy place, and that only holy people go there, infer that God expects His children to live without sin on the earth.
It is not necessary to offer any proof that the inhabitants of heaven live without sin, because this is admitted on all hands, the only thing denied is that man can live without sin upon the earth, and so I assume that we all agree on this proposition.
But I desire to point out that heaven is peopled by immigrants from the earth, called Christians. A thousand Christians in heaven, so far as moral character is concerned, are the same kind of people, precisely, as a thousand Christians upon the earth—they are all sinners saved by grace, and are what they are by the grace and power of God. Now if these people in heaven are able to live without sin from the moment they land there from the earth, is it not because their natures have been changed by the power of God, and because the power of God rests upon them? But were their natures not changed while upon the earth, and did not the Holy Spirit live in their bodies and spirits while here, and were they not a holy people living without sin before they went to heaven?
The fact is, that heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, and a Christian has the same character after death, as he had a moment before death, and he could have been the same holy man a year, or any number of years, before death as he was at the moment of death. It is stated in Holy Writ, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, and Jesus said that it was the pure in heart who would see God. It is certain that holiness is a condition of entering heaven.
Now let us see what is involved in the contention that God’s children cannot live without sin upon the earth, but that they do live without sin in heaven.
It involves the idea that there is some purifying or sanctifying power in death. If God cannot impart power to His children to live without sin upon the earth, but can give such power in heaven, it would look as if there is some great power in death which then comes to the help of God, or to the help of His children, or to both. But is there any such power in death?
So far as I know the Scriptures never ascribe salvation from sin to death. Sin is said to be the cause of death, and it would be a strange thing if death should prove to be the final cure of sin. Death itself is an evil, if the popular theory is true, but how an evil effect of an evil cause, can in turn become the cause of the destruction of the original evil, is something which I cannot understand, and it would seem to be an absurdity, or a natural impossibility. Certain it is that the Scriptures do not ascribe any moral or spiritual power to death, or give death any praise for human salvation from sin, for they ascribe all the glory to Jesus. John pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” and this is the key-note of what is said both by God and man as recorded in the Scriptures.
If Christians can be holy in heaven, but cannot be holy on earth it would seem to imply, that there is some moral and spiritual quality in the material body.
The argument is, that the body is the chief means of the sin of the soul, and therefore, when the body is dead, being free from its most deadly temptation, the soul will be able to be holy, which was before an impossibility; but the thought underneath the argument is, to invest the body and its passions with moral quality, and this looks to me to be unchristian and unphilosophical.
I have no doubt that many sincere people practically hold this view of the body and look forward with joy to being free from it, so that then they will be able to live without sin; the theory is therefore worthy of careful consideration. Taking it for granted that the soul is not
matter but spirit, and that the soul is the real individual which lives in the material body, and that at the death of the body the soul lives or the real individual lives and keeps its identity without the body, then it is clear that the body is but the temporary home of the soul, and as it is composed wholly of matter it cannot have any moral quality. To give either moral praise, or blame, to material things is an absurdity; and to praise or blame the human body is to be guilty of this absurdity.
For example, a man builds a house and it looks very beautiful, but it is unsanitary and has brought death to many of its occupants. Now, no person thinks of bestowing moral praise to the house for its beauty, or moral blame for its sanitary defects—we go back of the house, to the man who is responsible for it, when it conies to giving moral praise or blame. A man’s body is no doubt a means of temptation to him, and so are a thousand and one other material things outside of his body, but the resisting or the yielding to such temptations, are the only moral elements in the case.