Inbred Sin Destroyed: When? Where?
Before we enter Heaven. All intelligent Christians admit it. How soon before?
1) Not in any future purgatory. The Roman Catholic Church has invented the dogma of purgatory as the only consistent way out of a dilemma. It refuses to believe that indwelling sin can be removed in this world, and so has recourse to future fires of purification, to prepare us for Heaven. Akin to this is the teaching of Restorationism. The Roman Catholic Church is more consistent than many Protestants. We, as Protestants and evangelical Christians, deny purgatory as contrary to the Scriptures, and as detracting from the doctrine of the atonement of Christ. We believe that the Scriptures teach that “departed souls go immediately, at death, to a fixed state of happiness or misery.” “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth” (Rev. xiv. 13). “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Rev. xxii. 13). As believers in the Word of God, we have found that it must be removed ere we enter Heaven.
2) Inbred sin not destroyed by death. We do not believe in purgatory; we are forced, then, to one of two things. Inbred sin is removed while we are dying, or before we die. Let us look at the first thought. Is it removed while we are dying? Surely no one has a right to say it is at that time, unless he has good reason for it, founded on Scripture or experience. What we think in the matter does not help the case. One thing is certain, there is no good reason to suppose that it is removed by death, unless there be something intrinsically powerful in death. Death contains nothing in itself antagonistic to sin. In fact, death is the result of sin. The result cannot destroy the cause. Death is privative; that is, it is simply the absence of life. To make death the destruction of sin, is to be like the ancient heathen who believed sin was in matter, and not in the soul, which is absurd, and would destroy all human responsibility. The separation of soul and body (which is all there is of death), will not purify t he soul; there is nothing in any way connected with death that destroys sin, and no candid man will assert it unless he has some proof to offer. “Death came by sin,”; but sin’s destruction does not come by death. Death is said, in the Scriptures, to be our enemy; but if death should destroy sin, it would be one of our best friends. But “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Our other enemies will, then, all be destroyed before the resurrection morn. Sin will be destroyed therefore, be re that time. If it is certain that inbred sin is destroyed in the hour and article of death, yet even then it is not death that does it. Almighty power must do it even then; and if God is able to do it then, He is able to do it before that time. Does Christ have to employ death as an assistant in the destruction of sin? Can He do it only when He can get us where the world and sin can no longer tempt us? What absurd notions these are! Some doctors can put an end to disease only by killing the patient; but the Great Physician can kill the disease of sin, and allow the patient to live in this world in better health than ever. And if He cannot do it directly by a stroke of Almighty power, then no one can, for –
3) Inbred sin cannot be removed by human power. All schemes that promise to remove it by culture, are a failure. People have said educate, culture, polish, and men thus developed will see the heinousness of sin and shun it. But there are no converts of this theory who confess it is done. The most highly educated will lose his temper as easily as one who is not. The most refined will feel as angry inside as any other, even if he represses it. To educate and polish a bad heart will not take out pride, but usually inflates it the more. Polish a black heart, and it is simply a black heart polished. It is in vain to say I will not henceforth feel ugly, or be covetous. It is there just the same, after all effort. How many times men have said, in their hearts, “It is wrong for me to feel as I do, and I will try to get above it.” Yes, but it is there, even if you get above it; if you do not give way to it. Preventing dynamite from exploding does not remove it. Something else must be done. All theories of culture o r naturalism only discredit Jesus, the Sin-destroyer, and pronounce His mission a failure.
4) Almighty rower is the only remedy that will destroy inbred sin. The Maker of the heart created it pure; His work has been impaired by an enemy, and only the Almighty can put the heart right and keep it so. He who created the heart “in righteousness and true holiness,” alone can restore it. The Scripture is very plain on this point; so plain that skeptics and opposers admit that is the teaching of the Bible. The prophet Zechariah says of this dispensation: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David” (to the Church), “for sin and for uncleanness,” both the outward and inward (chap. xiii. 1). “He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” From all; i.e., inward and outward (Psalm cxxx. 8). “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases” (Ps. ciii. 3). Here actual and inbred sin are taken away. “Speak ye comfortably to Zion” (the marginal is, “Speak ye to the heart of Zion” — nothing would comfort the heart of Zion more in these days than to know that inbred sin may be destroyed), “and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished; that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hands double for all her sins” (Isaiah xl 2). Sin is double, — inward and outward, actual, original, – so we need to receive double to get rid of it all. That is just what the Church have been singing all these years:
“Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.”
The second line explains the word “double” in the first line. We propose to take our salvation “double”; and this book is written to persuade others to accept the “double cure.” When the leper was cleansed the priest took of the blood of the trespass offering and put it on the tip of his right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and the toe of his right foot, thus typifying the blood of Jesus as shed for the justification of the sinner; then “the second time” he took oil and placed it on the blood-stains on the ear, thumb, and toe. It was oil upon the blood. Oil was used in healing disease among the ancients, and oil is a type of the Holy Spirit; thus was the entire cleansing of the sinner, after his pardon by the Spirit, typified (Lev. xiv.). “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. i. 21).
John speaks of two baptisms; one with water for the remission of sins, the other “with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” He explains in the next verse that it is to be for purification. Fire purifies, removes dross. Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches”: that is, every one who becomes a branch, becomes so by conversion. Then He says: “Every branch in me that beareth fruit He purgeth (purifieth) that it may bring forth more fruit” (John xv.). Here, then, we see that we are first made Christians (branches), and then cleansed, in order that all sour sap may be removed, that we may the better bear fruit. In John xiii. Christ said to the disciples: “He that is washed, needeth not, save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” They were clean, all but their feet. If their feet had been clean, they would have bee n clean every whit. Dr. Adam Clark says it is certain they took a bath before this supper (see his note on John xvii. 1). Now they needed to have the remaining defilement of the feet cleansed away. Here are two washings, one of regeneration, the other of the feet (typifying the extremities of our being). Washing was always symbolic of heart cleansing among the Jews. Dr. Lyman Abbott says, on this passage, in his notes on the New Testament: “It treats of the double cleansing wrought by Christ, — the washing of the whole nature in regeneration, and the cleansing of specific sins in sanctification.” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (John i. 9). If we neutralize the last part of this promise, we must the first. We must treat it just as emphatically and definitely as the first. If we say it is visionary, so is the promise of pardon. If we say it cannot be, so must we say of pardon in first part of verse. If we say it is gradually done, so must we say of pardon, in first part. If we say we can never be certain of it, so must we of the first part of the promise. If we say we cannot be cleansed from all unrighteousness in this life, we vitiate the first part, that says we may be pardoned. This passage is a hard one to those who limit this power of God. Let us beware how we bring Scripture down to our opinions. But are there any instances in Scripture that show this? Yes; their number is legion. Gen. xv. tells us the time when Abraham was justified by faith. Two chapters on, God said: “Walk thou before me, and be thou perfect.” Abraham proposed to obey, and we see a change in his nature right there, all hindrances to his serving God with a perfect heart were removed; for we see that his name was changed. Names always stood for character in the Old Testament. And a change of name meant a change of character. His character was farther changed, although justified, in the fifteenth chapter.
Jacob became the Lord’s at Bethel, as the account plainly indicates; for he and the Lord made a covenant. Inbred sin remained in his heart in the form of covetousness. At Peniel he commenced to pray to be delivered from Esau; but like many a soul today, while in prayer God gave him a view of self, and he forgets Esau, and prays for himself. “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” He is blessed, and his name and character changed by the Almighty One. Speaking of it in Gen. xlviii. 16, he tells us that he was redeemed from all evil at that time. So Isaiah, the prophet, had his lips touched with a coal from the Holy Altar, and the seraph who laid it on his mouth said: “Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged.” He had all the hindrances to his preaching the Gospel taken away (Isaiah vi.).
David so believed in being saved from inbred sin, which took the form of lust in his soul, and caused him to commit adultery, that after praying for forgiveness of inbred sin, he cries: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” And again: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” David’s theology was sound. He did not pray for an impossibility; but he was cured of his bosom sin. The baptism of the Holy Ghost, at Pentecost, destroyed the fickleness tending to backsliding, envies and jealousies, of the disciples. Their names had been written in heaven before this (Luke x. 20). They had cast out devils and preached the Gospel by Divine commission. Christ had said that they were not of the world (John xvii. 16); and yet they needed inbred sin wholly destroyed. Peter tells us what they got at Pentecost in Acts xv. 9, while explaining another point, — that their hearts were purified by faith. At th e great revival at Samaria, under Philip (Acts viii.), although many were converted and baptized, yet the disciples came down, and God imparted to these converts the Holy Ghost to purify their hearts, just as He did to the disciples at Pentecost.
Cornelius was “a devout man, one that feared God, with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway ” – a man of whom Peter said, he was accepted of God: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him.” Cornelius would, in this day, be invited to join any of our churches, and be considered a pillar of the Church. We wish the whole Church were up to Cornelius’ experience before Peter came to him. But he still needed the Holy Ghost. Under Peter’s preaching, he received the Holy Ghost; and the last remains of inbred sin were purified away. (See Acts xv. 9, which shows that he got just what the disciples did at Pentecost.) The Church at Corinth were brethren, yet carnal (1 Cor. iii. 1). Inbred sin took in them the form of envy and jealousy, the source of all their troubles. They needed it removed. Paul had preached to them, and grace had converted them. He writes: “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before that ye might receive a second benefit.” Grace is the marginal reading (2 Cor. i. 15). And in the seventh chapter, first verse, he urges them to cleanse themselves from “all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” In the twelfth of Hebrews, Paul, talking to “brethren — not unconverted men — says: “Lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset you.” The figure is of a runner in a race, throwing off his garment that hindered him. The sin that just fits us, as closely as a well-fitting garment, is to be thrown aside. Inbred sin fits just that way. Paul prays for the Thessalonian Church, of which he says in chap. v. 1, “which is in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ,” which had not backslidden, and yet had a lack in their faith, as he says in chap. iii. 10: “Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and perfect that which is lacking in your faith.” They seemed to be troubled with doubts; inbred sin caused a weakness of faith, and they needed inward lust removed. He prayed that this best Church that he ever founded might be sanctified wholly (1 Thess. v. 23): that is, cleansed from inbred sin and filled with the Holy Spirit, (That is the meaning of entire sanctification.) We see, then, from these passages of Scripture that there is a work of grace, after conversion, definite and explicit. The hymnology of the Church, which is experience, teaches the same thing. Charles Wesley sings, hymn 486, “Methodist Hymnal “:
“Speak the SECOND time, be clean.
Take away my inbred sin.”
And again, hymn 491, “Methodist Hymnal”:
“Let us all in Thee inherit,
Let us find that SECOND rest;
Take away my bent to sinning.”
In the volume of hymns published by the Wesleys in 1749, is this stanza:
“Unfold the hidden mystery,
The SECOND gift impart;
Reveal Thy glorious self in me,
In every waiting heart.” (p. 195.)
Not to save us from our inbred sin is a reflection on either the ability or the willingness of the Lord. We are not of the n umber who dare “limit the Holy One of Israel.” Let those who will, take the responsibility of denying that the power that created a universe, and upholds it, cannot keep a human soul clean. The objector says: “I believe He is able, but not willing.” That is, then, a reflection on His character. If He is able to cleanse us from the sin which we hate, and which he hates more than we, and yet we say He is unwilling, we reflect on His character of holiness and mercy. We the same as say, He is pleased to have us go on, defiled by sin. We make a holy God pleased to have His children unholy, when we read that He has given unto us “exceeding great and precious promises” that “we” might be partakers of the Divine nature, “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” No. God is not pleased to have any of the works of the devil in His children. God is pleased with the plan of salvation. But He could not be pleased with a plan that did not liberate from all sin; for, to be pleased with such a plan, would be to be pleased with sin, which is impossible and absurd. We have simply quoted a list of passages proving two operations or works of grace. We have not time to quote farther the passages that treat of the entire extinction of sin in this life; their number is legion, all through the Word of God. They may be summed up in One idea. Jesus, the perfect Physician, whose remedy is adequate to every disease of the soul, at the very time of the sickness or disease.
5) God destroys inbred sin instantaneously. We have already shown that the Bible and experience go to show that it is not destroyed wholly at conversion. We have shown that we cannot enter heaven with such a state of heart. It must be renewed, then, while we are alive. Some go as far as this with us, but stop here, and try to believe that God does this gradually. But there are two remarkable facts that cannot be satisfactorily gainsaid:
1) There is no Scripture that teaches that Christ gradually destroys sin.
2) There are no witnesses to this theory.
People who have taught, and tried to believe the gradual theory, find that, after years of struggle with temper, it is just as quick as ever. We never yet heard or read of one who testified that Jesus, after so many years of waiting and praying and believing, has gradually cleansed their hearts from all sin. But we do hear of thousands who declare it was done in an instant. And why not? Has not God the power to do it instantly? Who will say He is unwilling? And as we look still farther and see that it is done by faith, that all the salvation we ever get is by faith, – that our salvation is according to our faith, — and when we remember that faith is an instantaneous process, salvation that comes through faith is also instantaneous. When our faith comes to the instantaneous point, then comes salvation. Salvation never comes at any other time. It is impossible to gradually believe, so that we doubt less today, and believe more than yesterday.
Here is Mr. A, of whom we say: “I have some doubts about his integrity.” In other words, we do not quite believe him. And we never can be said to believe in him unless we cast away all our unbelief. We can never be said to trust God for salvation until we throw away all our unbelief.
While we doubt at all, We do not believe; it is only by unmixed faith that we are saved: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Mr. Wesley says on the point of instantaneous faith: “What is time necessary for? It must be either to do or suffer. Whereas, if nothing be required but simple faith, a moment is as good as an age.”
The Scripture gives us no warrant for purification of sin save by faith. “Purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts xv. 9), “sanctified by faith” (Acts xxvi. 18). Says Mr. Wesley, in his sermon on “The Scriptural Way of Salvation”: “If you seek it by faith, you may expect it as you are; and if as you are, then expect it now. It is of importance to observe that there is an inseparable connection between these three points: expect it by faith; expect it as you are; and expect it now.” If God can destroy it at death, He can an hour before death; and if an hour, then a year as well.
6) Growth in grace will never destroy sin. There are many who do not enjoy the Scriptural theory of faith. They say when it is mentioned: “We believe in growth in grace.” As if God intended to destroy inbred sill in that way. Growth in grace is all right in its place, but it is not in growth to destroy sin. The growing apple on the bough will never outgrow any speck of rot in it. Both will grow together until harvest if there is health enough in the apple to endure it; if not, it will all turn to rot. A patient with a cancer needs something besides development; he needs the poison removed from his system. There is much misapprehension as to what growth in grace is. Many, who say they believe in growth in grace, cannot give us a Scriptural definition of grace. They seem to look upon it as an outside agency, neither human nor Divine, that is unconsciously at work in the heart. Others seem to think it means human doing or faithfulness that will gradually wear away sin, as falling water wears away the rock. Grace means “favor.” In Scripture, wherever we find the word grace, the sense will be the same if we substitute “favor,” – the favor God bestows on us. Jesus “grew in favor with God” (Luke ii. 52), – same Greek term (karis) that is, in other passages, translated “grace.” Christ grew in “grace” (favor with God), but it had nothing to do with outgrowing inbred sin, for He had no inbred sin to outgrow. And that is what we are to do to grow in favor with God, and in the knowledge of God; but it does not refer to outgrowing sin. But some will start back and say, Christ had no inbred sin, and it is sacrilegious to compare His experience with ours. Not so. We are to grow in favor with God as He did, after we are freed from inbred sin. We grow tardily before that. The same things are said of the believer’s experience and of Christ’s experience all through the New Testament. They are both born of the Spirit; both baptized of the Holy Ghost; both crucified, the one for sin, the other to sin (see Romans vi.); both are resurrected from their death of crucifixion. “If ye, then, be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above ” (Col. iii.1).
We are told to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Hence it is not presumption to say the growth in grace is the same in kind, in Christ and all His brethren. It was growth of His human nature. Says Adam Clarke on this passage: “From this we learn that if a man were as pure and perfect as the man Jesus Christ Himself was, yet He might, nevertheless, increase in the image and consequently in the favor of God. So the point is established by Scripture that growth in grace may take place where there is no sin; that growth in grace does not mean growing less and less sinful each day. For it was not so in Christ. No man can be in favor with God who does not believe His Word. For, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” We cannot retain favor or grace with God if, when we read such promises as, “purifying their hearts by faith,” we then refuse to believe that our hearts may be purified by faith, and expect it by some kind of a growth. Growth is a development of holy forces in the sou l, not a conflict between holy and unholy forces. The latter would be conquest, not growth. If we expect to grow in favor with God, we must not limit His power by denying His great promises. There is neither a gradual pardon nor a gradual cleansing mentioned in the Word of God. As we advance in Christian experience, God shows us new experiences, as within the possibilities of Christian life. We are to enter on them as fast as we are ready for them. He convicts us of our needs and opens our spiritual eyesight; and we receive, by faith, these experiences, so that we go on “from grace to grace.” The Apostle seems to have this in mind when he writes to the Romans (v. 1): “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here God shows us the grace, “favor” of justification, which we enter by faith. If we are true to the light of this grace, He shows us another grace after justification. “By whom, also, we have access, by faith, into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (verse 2). Here the favor of God is shown as a state where we may stand and rejoice; the hindrance to our standing being removed (inbred sin is the hindrance), the standing grace of a clean heart is the grace spoken of here, where we shall be more likely to stand firm and joyous. This state we see by the text is entered by faith; and so the way to “grow in grace” is to get into each grace, first by faith, then keep believing God, and we shall keep growing in favor with Him just as a son who loves and trusts and obeys his father grows in favor or grace with him. For the moment we stop trusting God for more of His salvation, we are not growing in grace. This being true, growing in grace is trusting God for deeper, richer experience as fast as He gives us light on privilege, receiving it by faith, trusting Him to destroy the sin as soon as He shows us our privilege. Why do not more people grow constantly in the Divine favor? Because inbred sin so tempts them to disbelieve God that they often disobey Him, — believe for a little time, then doubt and lose the favor of God, — then cry for forgiveness, and get favor again. Thus they lose many higher experiences, because they have to go over the same ground as they did to get converted. But the man who constantly believes, constantly grows in favor. The Bible says:
“According to thy faith be it unto thee,” not according to thy development.