The Bible Proof Of Inbred Sin II
“Bent to Backsliding” The Saviour’s Words The Baptism of the Holy Ghost
The deeper we go in the Bible the more specific and clear is seen the teaching in regard to inbred sin.
In Hosea xi. 7 we see it appear in the words, “And my people are bent to backsliding from me.”
God’s people are not one kind of people in one age and country and another kind in a different time and place. Regeneration is the same the world round. The wax may be different, but the signet is the same; and we recognize the stamp of the Divine Hand in all nations, conditions, and grades. His people are his people everywhere. His children are not the devil’s servants. The verse above is the word of the Lord himself, and he says “my people.” This settles the fact of the relation.
But about them he adds the fact that they are “bent to backsliding.” O, that “bent” in the heart! It has been in the race since the fall. God’s people suffered with it in Hosea’s time, and they are afflicted with it in these present times. It is confessed in private and public prayer, acknowledged in the pulpit, and sung lustily from the hymn book in the well remembered lines:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
The point that we would make is that if there is a “bent to backsliding” in God’s people, that bent shows a radical trouble. If a man is “bent” upon leaving his wife, there is faithlessness, disloyalty, or lack of affection in him. To confess that we feel prone to leave the God we love is to admit an inward weakness, graver still, a trouble; deeper still, a plague of the heart that needs attention and prompt relief. This “bent,” or “proneness,” is not, as the Dean of a certain theological school calls it, “a liability to sin.” The liability to sin is something inseparably connected with one’s probationary state as a free spirit working out salvation. To pray for deliverance from liability to sin is to pray away one’s moral freedom, and brings the man down to a moral machine or automaton.
A young preacher, commenting on the Dean’s utterance, said he feared that the Professor’s “liabilities were greater than his assets.”
Be this as it may, this “bent,” or “proneness,” is felt to be far greater than a “liability to sin.” It is certainly one thing to be liable to sin, and a totally different thing, and a far graver matter, to feel bent to backsliding or prone to wander from the Lord.
Christ has not come to destroy in this life the liability or possibility of sinning, but to take out the bent to sinning. The power to sin, or moral freedom, adheres to the spirit as the work of God; the proneness to sin is the work of the devil; and this last, and not the first, is what the Saviour has come to destroy.
It is this last thing which is felt stirring in the regenerated heart. It is this which Christ is willing and able to remove.
Take away the bent to sinning, Alpha and Omega be.
Again, inbred sin is taught in the Saviour’s words.
What solemn things he used to utter about the heart! He described a nature lying away back and down in us that explained the cause of all the transgressions in the world. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” One feels like he had looked over into a dark pit as he reads these words.
Should some one insist that all these things are removed in regeneration, we reply: Yes; these actions cease, or should cease, with the converting grace of God. But we press this question on the regenerated man as to whether he has had anger or lust in his heart since his conversion. If he has, Christ says that he has murdered and committed adultery in his heart. What a heart!
But there is another heart which Christ calls a pure heart. Blessed is the man who has it, says the Saviour. That man certainly has read the Bible with but little attention not to observe as taught there the difference between a new heart and a pure heart. A new heart that comes in regeneration has inbred sin in it, but under the baptism of fire it is purged and becomes a pure heart.
But we go on farther with the Saviour’s words. On a certain occasion James and John wanted to call down fire upon a town and burn it up, because it had shut its gates against them. Christ’s words to them are most significant: “Ye know not what spirit ye are of.” That they were his disciples and followers, and “not of the world,” the Book clearly states, and yet he attributes to them a spirit dark and the opposite of his own just exactly what we all found out in the regenerated life. We heard a minister preach a capital sermon, and then afterwards say that he would have his revenge on a fellow-minister for a wrong, real or imaginary. There was a “spirit in him” evidently not of Christ. It was not a temptation; it was something in him.
Does the reader recall how the Saviour on a certain occasion said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan?” If it had been the devil in Peter, Christ would not have added, “Thou art an offense unto me;” but would have rebuked Satan, and said, “Come out of him.” But the word was “Thou art an offense” — “thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” The depravity caused by the devil, and found among men, was here lifting itself up in the band of the apostles in the presence of the Saviour himself. Christ called it Satan, and well he did, for inbred sin is the work of Satan; and here this work was manifesting itself in one of his own disciples.
Inbred sin is taught again in the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Many have regarded the marvelous work of the Son of God in baptizing the soul with fire as simply a filling and empowering for service. As a doctrine it is without any offense to the world or Church if presented and sought as an enduement of power or qualification for Christian work. It is only when the other hemisphere of the truth is held up that we hear at once the protest and feel the resistance.
This other hemisphere or part of the work is the sanctification of the heart. The baptism with the Holy Ghost by the Son of God does two things: it purifies the heart and empowers for service. Purifying, filling, abiding, is the order. The Holy Ghost becomes a constant indweller. “He shall abide with you forever.”
The Saviour spoke clearly of the empowering through the evangelist Luke in Acts i. 8, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you;” while the Holy Ghost himself inspired Peter to speak of the purifying in Acts xv. 8, 9, “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
Here the apostle identifies the blessing that came upon Cornelius with that which the disciples received at Pentecost. He said that there was “no difference,” and that their hearts were purified at that time.
The disciples previous to Pentecost were Christ’s followers, were preachers, had cast out devils, had their names written in the Book of Life, and according to the Saviour in his prayer in the seventeenth chapter of John “were not of the world;” and yet on the morning of Pentecost their hearts were “purified.”
If their hearts were purified that day, then there was impurity beforehand. And this is what we contend is taught by the Bible and verified in human experience: that there is impurity, a remainder of iniquity left in the regenerated man; that a pardoned soul is one thing, and a purified soul another thing altogether.
Moreover, the purifying is taught in the term “fire.” “He will baptize you with fire!” What for, pray? What does fire do?
Every one knows that fire is destructive and purifying. There is no other agent on earth that is more destructive and so purifying.
The Lord knew that we would remember this, and that when he promised a baptism of fire upon the soul we would straightway see that there was something to destroy in the soul, a nature to purify.
According to the consciousness of the soul this is what takes place in the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Whoever receives it feels that a troublesome something has been taken out of him, and that the earth has suddenly become very beautiful. Heaven has come down to us, yes, in us through the possession of a pure heart.
God has undoubtedly taught the fact of remaining corruption in the regenerated, protecting the doctrine of a second work of grace in the symbol of fire.
The fires of earth destroy and purify; the fire that Christ sends down upon the soul likewise destroys and purifies. Here is a figure that in itself alone defends the truth from all enemies, from Zinzendorf down to the latest writer in the church. It is the Gibraltar against which the waves of controversy and denial must lash and pound in vain.