Various Titles Given To Inbred Sin
The dark something left in the regenerated heart God names, and names correctly. It is a pity that men do not accept the divine description, and so find out the truth. Instead, multitudes rush forward with their descriptive titles and appellations, and of course come short in recognizing the evil and presenting the deliverance.
Satan is perfectly willing that we should name this indwelling evil, for he knows that we will not name it correctly, and hence, not knowing what it is, will not proceed properly in regard to its removal, and so the trouble will remain.
Some call it “surprises into sin.” One would suppose from this that sin was more alert than grace. Let us remember that, if the evil one arises early in the morning, our Saviour is the “Morning Star”. In fact, we are told that he comes even at midnight. Instead of sin surprising us, Christ in us can surprise sin and Satan.
Others call it “nervousness.” So when these persons jerk the horse, slam the door, kick over the chair, speak the hot, petulant word, and slap the child’s face, they call it “nervousness” It is not anger, petulance, irritability, much less the outcropping of inbred sin in them. O no! it is simply a disordered condition of the nervous system, and they are in sore need of phosphates.
We have studied this class of people and found out that all the phosphates and nerve tonics on earth fail to relieve them. The disease is not in the nerves, but in the heart.
A third class call inbred sin “infirmity.” We always feel like smiling when we hear the word. We seem to hear the rustle of fig leaves and behold Adam and Eve trying to cover themselves with those interesting pieces of vegetable matter. The word “infirmity” is a fig leaf to cover spiritual bareness.
A fourth class admit the existence of the evil, and bring it forth with the confession of “feeling badly.” Still others say that they feel that “something is wrong” in the heart.
How inbred sin forces such confessions as these to the lips! Its very complaints and restless spirit and faultfinding tongue are enough to make one see that something is not as it should be in the soul. We remember to have “felt badly” many times in the fourteen years of our regenerated experience. The “something wrong” feeling is a telegram from the soul that sin in some form is inside.
A famous writer in the Zinzendorfian wing of the Methodist Church calls inbred sin a “susceptibility to temptation.” Such a definition is a reflection upon the intelligence and moral consciousness of the Christian world. For what man cannot distinguish between a mere capacity to be tempted and a conscious inward stirring of an evil principle that seems to be part of himself. Truly an external pressure of evil is one thing, and an internal weight is another. The first may exist while the other is not felt at all.
A prominent instructor in a Southern college says in a published article that what we call inbred sin is only a “liability to sin.” This, as the reader sees, is the same thought just advanced, only in different words. Moreover, when this definition is examined it is nothing after all but saying that we are free moral agents, for we cannot think of freedom and the probationary state of man without the accompanying necessary idea of liability to sin. But certainly liability to sin is one thing, and a proneness or tendency to do so, which we find to be the character of inbred sin, is another thing. So the learned Doctor’s explanation cannot be accepted, and fails because it does not go far enough and deep enough.
After men have exhausted their ingenuity in finding proper titles for the dark indwelling something in the regenerated soul, the Lord speaks, and settles the matter by names and terms that throw light at once upon the subject and ought to satisfy the mind.
We have already anticipated some of these names, and now call attention to a few.
One is the “carnal mind.”
About this the Bible speaks in Romans viii. 7, saying that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” If this be so, what can regeneration do with it? If converting grace can change it, then the Scripture made a mistake in saying “neither indeed can be.” Let the reader look at the verse again. “The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be!” These words are the funeral knell to the Zinzendorfian idea of regeneration. According to this verse the carnal mind cannot be regenerated. It is overshadowed and overpowered in regeneration, and destroyed in sanctification.
Another scriptural name is the “flesh.”
This, as previously stated, does not mean the human body. If so, the Greek word “soma” would have been used. Instead of this word we have the term “sarx” which Paul almost invariably uses to indicate the fleshly principle or carnal mind. From a failure to recognize this has proceeded the mistake of many in afflicting and punishing the body as the seat of sin, when the word “flesh” (sarx) as used in the Epistles referred not to the physical man, but to a fleshly principle in the soul; in a word, to carnality.
A third name in the Bible is “body of sin.”
The reader will notice the difference between our bodies proper and the members of our body. On the Gulf of Mexico we have a crab one peculiarity of which is that if you pull one of his legs off, and then turn him loose and give him time, he will sprout another leg to take its place; but if you take the crab and crush his body with the heel of your shoe, he will sprout no more legs.
So in regard to the “body of sin” which is left in us after regeneration. We begin life with this inherited “body of sin.” It soon sends forth its sprouts, limbs, and members. We become convicted over the sprouts and members, for which alone we feel personally accountable. Repentance is felt over one’s own misdeeds; and the cry of every penitent who is seeking salvation is: “Lord, have mercy on me, and forgive my sins.” The grace of regeneration washes away personal sins and guilt. The members of the body of sin instantly drop off; but the “body of sin,” the inherited Adamic sin, remains within. The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. After a little this “body of sin” begins to sprout forth, or shoot out new members, in the form of wrong thoughts, tempers, desires, words, and actions. The man grieves, confesses; and God forgives again, and away fall off the members as before. But the “body of sin” being left within, the outcroppings, or offshoots, of evil continue. Now if t he Christian will come to God asking not for recovering and forgiving grace, but pleading for the destructive power of sanctification on the body of sin, he will cease to sprout tempers and conduct that humbled him to the dust; and he will enter at once upon a life that is pure, beautiful, joyful, and unutterably blessed.
A fourth name God gives to inbred sin is the “old man.”
This does not mean Satan, for the devil is not a man at all. With the rest of the angels, fallen and unfallen, he is a different order of being. Moreover Satan is never to be destroyed, while the “old man” is to be crucified and destroyed.
The “old man” was born in the garden of Eden about six thousand years ago. He is very properly called the “old man.” He is not Adam, but the dark result of something that Adam did under the temptation of the devil. In a word, the reader sees that the expression, “the old man,” stands for depravity, or that bias to evil communicated to the human race by the fall of Adam as our federal head.
This “old man” is in every heart that is born into the world. He is in every child. The infant cooing in the arms of its mother, or lying like a little snow blossom on the pillow in its cradle, has this “old man” in its heart. If there could be such a thing as a moral microscope, we could see the hideous features and form of original sin in that infantile soul.
It is not long before the dark inheritance, or indweller, becomes manifest. At the age of six months and less you will see an infant perfectly infuriated with its mother or nurse, and going through actions that, projected in the life of an adult, would mean murder. At two years of age the child will tell a lie, before it knows what a falsehood is. It will be cunning before it realizes what deceit is, and steal when it has not yet comprehended the character and sinfulness of theft.
The nature of sin, so far as the human race is concerned, is older than the act of sin or the transgression itself. In the fall of the angels the sinful act antedated, necessarily, the sinful nature; but with us the nature antedates the act. This nature, evidencing and announcing itself in a bias to sin, is called the “old man.”
But some one asks: “Is it possible that this ‘ old man ‘ is left in the heart after regeneration?”
The reply is that such is the statement of the Bible, and that such is the experience of the soul.
The simple explanation of its remaining is seen in the fact that when we go to God as repenting sinners, and in the name of Christ, we do not ask pardon for Adam’s sin, but for our own. We never think of Adam at such a time; we are thinking of what we did, and it is this that bows down the soul. Suppose the penitent had made such a supplication as: “Lord, forgive me for the sin of Adam!” To formulate such a prayer and look at it is to see its absurdity. How can we ask God to forgive us for another man’s sin? How could God forgive us for another man’s sin? Common sense will answer both questions by saying that both cases are impossible.
The conclusion inevitably reached is that what cannot be justified or pardoned certainly cannot be regenerated. And this is the philosophy of a remaining principle of evil in the soul after regeneration. The Adamic sin transmitted to us cannot be pardoned; and hence remains an unregenerated principle within, whose stirrings, uprisings, and resistances we feel unmistakably and sadly enough until the destroying work of sanctification takes place.
An objection urged against this is that Paul says in 2 Corinthians v. 17 “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” According to this, says the objector, the “old man” has become new in regeneration, for the passage quoted says that “all things are become new.”
The reply to this is that the Revised Version reads as follows: “Old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” The word “all” is dropped. Besides this, we must all admit that God cannot contradict himself. He never says that the old man becomes the new man, but that the old man is mortified, crucified, destroyed, put off, and after that we put on the new man.
There is one thing that can never become new, and that is the “old man.” “The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Life is not put into the old man, but he is put to death. He does not merge into and become the new man, but is slain, and the new man takes his place in the heart.
A certain confusion has arisen in some minds, from attributing a meaning to regeneration that God never gave to it, and that cannot be found in any Lexicon, English or Greek. Regeneration does not mean “death,” but “life.” The old man does not need life, he has too much of that already. He needs to die. Regeneration does not bring death, but life; it is the life of God implanted in the soul. Once dead in sins, we are now quickened and live unto God. But life is not death, and here is something in the soul that God says is to die.
There has been a birth, now comes a crucifixion. A new creature has been born into the kingdom, now an old creature is to die right before the eyes of that same rejoicing, shouting, new creature. We being regenerated are permitted to attend the funeral of the “old man.” When we see his head drop and feel that he is dead, we return home with shining face and say that we are sanctified. To sum it all up in a word, the “old man” is not changed, but killed; not converted, but crucified; not saved with the washing of regeneration, but burned out by the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. It is not regeneration that settles him, but the blessing of entire sanctification.