Human Methods Of Dealing With The “Old Man” II
A seventh human method of dealing with the “old man” is found in the repression theory.
This teaching abounds in England today. The erroneous doctrine is seen permeating the books of her most spiritual writers. The “old man” is recognized as remaining in the heart after regeneration. They affirm that he cannot be destroyed, but is held in a state of subjection and suppression.
The trouble about this method or theory is that it is calculated to fill the Christian heart and life with a vague dread of the sudden uprising of the “old man.” When men sailed across the seas in slave ships filled with human beings in captivity there was bound to be an uneasy feeling day and night, that there would be a sudden rush for liberty, a bursting open of the hatchway and a dreaded and dreadful appearing on the deck. In like manner there is a secret uneasiness in the soul in regard to sudden ebullitions and manifestations of suppressed dispositions and tendencies in the open life. Such a state is not reconcilable with the thought of perfect rest.
Again, the suppression of the “old man” means the undoing of much that should be done in the Christian life.
Suppose a man is struggling for his life with a foe, finally overthrows him and gets him down; yet he dares not leave the prostrate adversary, knowing that the instant he does the fallen man will arise and grapple with him again. One is practically as helpless and useless at the time as the other.
In like manner the Christian, according to the repression theory has the “old man” down; but as inbred sin is not dead, but simply repressed, the Christian’s whole power and attention is needed to keep the suppressed evil down continually. The Church is calling for him to enter on various religious activities, but he looks up and says: “I would like to help you, but I cannot do it; for I have all that I can attend to right here in keeping the “old man” down.
This is evidently the case with many thousands. People are kept busy in taking care of and controlling themselves. If they relax this diligent, unceasing, inward repressing power a moment, behold, the “old man” is on his feet, and the conflict begins again.
It is wonderful how long inbred sin will remain in a suppressed condition, and then suddenly come forth from its hiding and resting place.
The writer once knew a local preacher who becoming angered over a sermon on full salvation preached by his pastor, called out from the congregation in a sharp, excited way, and accused the preacher of the hour of injuring the church by such preaching. The interrupter evidently thought he had the audience on his side. The pastor thus interrupted replied that he would leave it to the audience to say whether he had not preached the truth and in the spirit of the Master; and so asking all to stand on their feet who thus indorsed him, the entire audience with half a dozen exceptions sprang to their feet. The Spirit of God at the same time fell upon a number, there was shouting and clapping of hands, in the midst of which the pastor invited the people to the altar, when there was a rush. In the morning a note came from the local preacher requesting his church certificate or letter. The pastor at once called on him to dissuade him from his intention. The matter was left for decision with the wife of the local pre acher. With the tears falling upon her cheeks she in the course of the conversation said that she would not have had the circumstance of the night before to have happened for a million dollars, and that her husband had not acted that way before for five years! The point we make is seen in the italicized sentence; that the “old man” had slumbered in this local preacher’s heart for five years, and then suddenly leaped forth, refreshed from his long rest and disposed to make up for lost time.
An additional trouble with the suppression theory is that it discounts the work of Christ and plainly contradicts the Bible. The Scripture in no place says that the “old man” or inbred sin is to be “kept under” or in a state of subjugation. Paul says, “I keep my body (soma) under;” but the flesh (sarx) which is the carnal mind or “old man,” he says is “crucified” and “destroyed!” Truly this last single word of Scripture “destroyed” overturns the reasoning of the Suppressionists.
An eighth human method is what may be called the whitewashing way.
It is strange that things done in the political world should be adopted in the spiritual life. The whitewashing business is as common a spectacle in one as the other. Yet we cannot but remember that an old fence whitewashed is still an old fence.
There is not much seeming difference in the words “whitewashed” and “washed white,” and yet all the difference in the character world exists between the two. The first is man’s work; the second is God’s. The first is skin deep and superficial, the second is soul deep and goes through and through the entire man. The result of one work is a Pharisee, the product of the other is a redeemed and sanctified child of God.
A ninth human mode of obtaining the destruction of sin, or purity, is reformation.
Reformation consists in dropping off some things and taking on some things. Anything rather than God’s plan. Rather than let Christ remove the “old man” and clothe us with the New Man, men prefer to keep busy dropping questionable things and taking up better things. But putting silk and broadcloth on a leper never cured the disease, and cutting off his members one by one cannot arrest the malady.
We read once of an hotel keeper who painted over the old sign of a black dragon the more peaceable picture of a lamb. The sign creaked and swung in the wind for years; the rain and snow beat upon it, the storms swept against it season after season. Suddenly one morning after a windy, rainy night the people looked up and saw that the picture of the lamb was washed away, and there was the old black dragon pawing and clawing the air as of yore.
The point and moral of this is that the deeper nature will finally make itself seen. We may put on the appearance of the dove and lamb; we may abound in smiles, voice-cooing, and handshaking; but suddenly on some unexpected provocation or assault the “old man” will appear, to our intense mortification and to the astonishment and amusement of our friends.
A preacher recently said to us that he preached to his people the necessity of putting off the “old man” each day, and putting on the New Man; that every day we must get rid of the old dark nature, and that it was an endless work. We replied that we did not have to sandwich our souls that way with the old and the new; a portion of the New Man on top of a remaining portion of the “old man,” and then another slice off of the “old man,” and then another addition of the New Man. Here again is evident the man salvation idea; anything rather than let God do the work, now, at once, and forever.
God does not care to have us in such prolonged agony. Such a presentation of holiness utterly destroys the teaching of the Bible in regard to a full and perfect soul rest. How could there be such with this internal condition going on all the time?
We told the brother that his presentation of the case reminded us of a monkey story we once heard related by Bishop Kavanaugh. A gentleman, he said, owned one of these frisky animals. It became sick, and a neighbor advised him to have its tail cut off, and the afflicted pet would get well. Calling his cook, the owner told him to take the monkey into the cellar and remove his tail. In a few moments the gentleman heard his monkey give a fearful squeal. There was a stillness of a minute, and then came another shrill cry from the monkey. In a little while a third squeal came up from the cellar, then a fourth rent the air; whereupon the gentleman went down to investigate matters, and found that the cook was cutting off the monkey’s tail by inches. His explanation was that he thought it would hurt less to take it off by sections than to cut it all off at one stroke.
This perennial dying, and this protracted agony and squealing experience is to be seen in the lives of thousands of good people today. They do not seem to realize that God has power to end all this at a stroke, of sin elimination, and so cut the work short in righteousness. The evil is so deep, they think, and so fixed and so great that it has to be dealt with by sections, and the deliverance one of a piecemeal character. They forget what an almighty Saviour we have!
A tenth human plan is seen in the line of education and refinement.
The idea of some is that, while the “old man” cannot be removed, he can be greatly improved, and so much will he be polished and corrected that he will not be altogether an unpleasant companion. Hence a general culture is sought after, from painting China and hammering brass up or down as pleases the reader. Accomplishments and trainings of mind and body are suddenly discovered to have moral effect. French, German, and classic music are to be diligently sought after for their character transforming power. Even the drill master and the dancing master are felt to be contributors to this great character sum.
The result of all this is that the “old man” simply becomes a polished “old man,” and speaks French and German, sings and plays classic music, and is thoroughly at ease in a drawing-room. To the mind of the thinker this metamorphosis makes him all the more dangerous and to be dreaded. The accomplished, polished villain with his set smile and oily manner is more to be feared than the rough boor with a cudgel in his hands. Any one can make the application.
The eleventh hope is located in the deathbed.
Countless thousands of Christians are today looking for the hour of dissolution to deliver them from the “old man.” Something is to be done by death to relieve them from this awful spiritual incubus.
What strange perversity is that in human nature that makes it turn anywhere and everywhere to escape the acknowledgment and work of a divine Saviour and Sanctifier. Rather than look for holiness as a work wrought by the High and Holy One, men will look to a sepulcher and to a nonentity like death.
This notion is based on the teachings of an old-time heresy which located sin in matter, and hence in the human body. According to this false idea the only hope of a man is to die to escape the sinful material enswathement which is called the body.
Any chemist could convince the veriest skeptic in this regard, in a few minutes, that there is no sin in the body, by showing all the component parts, and ocularly proving that we physically are made up entirely of a few chemicals and drugs like soda, lime, iron, etc., that have no moral quality in themselves, much less sin.
Sin is recognized by all spiritually intelligent people to be in the soul. The body does not know what sin is, and is simply a vehicle or instrument of the soul; so that when a man sins it is simply the soul sinning through the body; the soul is using the body as a servant to carry out its designs and desires. Death is but a falling away of the body from around the soul, like scaffolding is taken from a house. The spirit flies away as the body falls into ruins, and takes away with it in its long flight into eternity all that was in it when surprised by death. Hence if sin is left in the soul at death it will be there forever. As the tree falleth, so shall it lie.
The twelfth dream in regard to heart purity arises from the fires of purgatory.
According to this human imagination God is powerless to take out of the soul in this life the evil bias or principle planted there by the devil, and has prepared a place of material fire in which the soul that has left the body and earth with this indwelling evil is to be plunged, burned, and purified. But even then the fires burn slowly and with difficulty, and so much giving and praying is needed on earth to expedite matters and complete the work.
We still see how the divine personal work is banished. Anything rather than have God to purify or sanctify the soul.
Alas for us! if we do not get the “old man” out before we enter eternity, he will never be taken out. This indwelling, resident “old man” will form a peculiar individual type of lost spiritual life. The Bible recognizes devils in orders of lions, dragons, serpents, etc. So the lost souls of men will be as clearly and awfully marked and individualized according to the peculiar development of the “old man” in the soul and life. So in the character world of the lost will be seen the fox, wolf, bear, snake, hog, and goat, as adumbrated in the life on earth, and crystallized forever in perverted character and undone souls. Made to be as gods, yet succumbing to the “old man” or sin principle within, refusing the regenerating grace of God that subdues him, and rejecting the sanctifying grace that expels him, immortal souls under his full weight and influence fall forever from the spiritual and celestial unto planes of beast and devil.
But what if a regenerated man dies with the “old man” still in his soul?
In reply we would say that if a man is really regenerated, when he comes to die, Christ–not death–Christ takes out the “old man,” and gives sanctifying grace to the soul. We must remember that sanctification is in the atonement. Jesus Christ is “made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” When we take Christ at the moment of pardon or justification for our Saviour, he becomes to us all that we need, and each one of these great mercies mentioned above will be paid down to the soul in their regular and certain order. Sanctification is in the atonement, as is redemption or the resurrection. Some Christians, from lack of instruction, fail to obtain sanctification until about to die. At that time, on laying everything on the altar–family, friends, property, soul, body, and everything–Jesus Christ, the Sanctifying High Priest of the soul, appears, even though it is at the eleventh hour and the night has come; the fire falls, and the work is wrought in the soul clearly to the beholder . This wonderful lifting up of the soul at the hour or day of dissolution has been called “dying grace;” but there is no such expression in the Bible, and no such separate and distinct blessing. What we call “dying grace” is nothing in the world but sanctification, which many of God’ s children receive at the eleventh hour, when they could have had it at the second hour; and at death, when it was obtainable in early life.
It is very much like a man who has a large deposit of money in bank; he needs it all day; and just a few minutes before three o’clock, when the bank doors close, he steps up, calls for it, and has it paid down to him. But he could have had it early in the day if he had only asked for it. So this great blessing of the destruction of inbred sin, or the sanctifying of the soul, is in Christ for us. It can be had any moment after regeneration. Alas that so few seek it, that so few get “all on the altar” until the death hour, that so few get the transcendent grace of purity and perfect love until a little while before seeing God! for the Scripture is perfectly clear here: “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” The Revised Version says: “Without the sanctification no man shall see the Lord.” Christ also speaks, saying: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
Where God’s people have not been informed of this privilege, we see how the grace comes for the first time at death, not by death, as many of us have seen in dying friends and relatives. But if we, as God’s people, have been taught concerning the “old man,” and our privilege and duty of having him destroyed, and yet through prejudice, spiritual pride, and other reasons refuse to make the consecration and exercise the faith and seek through prayer the blessing that brings the deliverance, then indeed is it questionable whether it will ever be taken out, and we see God. Hence the ground for the words that we uttered some pages back, that if the “old man” is not taken out before we die, he never will be taken out. He is in us forever.
It is to be remembered that no man is condemned for having inbred sin in him, but for keeping it when there is deliverance. Suppose that a person should leave his home some morning unconscious that a venomous reptile is in the house and under the bed. After his departure the serpent creeps forth from his hiding place and stings his wife and child to death. Not a soul in the town on hearing of the lamentable affair would condemn the man for the occurrence. But suppose the man saw the reptile in the room before he left, and departed knowing its venomous nature and fatal bite. Then in case of death the entire community would unite in condemning him for carelessness, indifference, or cruelty. All would say that he knew the peril, and could and should have removed the cause of danger.
A man is not to be condemned for dying with some kind of sickness, for all must die. But when we learn that there was an easy recovery possible from the malady, and that the man died from culpable neglect of himself, then to pity is added the spirit of judgment and condemnation
A regenerated man can live for years without condemnation with inbred sin in him, if he does not understand it, nor know the way of deliverance. But when the truth has been preached and light has come, and the gracious deliverance is shown in the blessing of entire sanctification, and the man turns from it all, then condemnation is certain to come, and the question may well arise in the mind whether such a man will ever get inbred sin out, and whether he will ever see God.
The rejection of the Son of God two thousand years ago was the sin of the Jews; and the rejection of the light and work of the Holy Ghost is the sin today of some who are called Christians. As a judgment of darkness fell upon the Jews for the first offense, so has the writer seen a similar judgment fall upon Christians for the second. When such a judgment comes upon the spirit, it is no more difficult for a Jew to believe in regeneration through faith in Christ than it is for a Gentile to look for sanctification through the blood of the same divine Saviour.