The Two-fold Nature Of Sin
The failure to recognize the fact that our difficulty is two-fold, accounts for much of the confusion and controversy regarding what is known as “the second blessing.” Hence, some may be heard to say they “do not believe in any half-way work; that when God pardoned their sins he pardoned all of them,” etc. Just as though we taught and believed but half of their sins had been forgiven, and now we would have them come and have the other half forgiven. Of course, the holiness people neither believe nor teach anything of the kind. Certain it is that when God pardons a sinner He pardons every sin he has ever committed, and the soul is made to rejoice in a perfect pardon.
There is no occasion nor necessity of under-rating or minifying the experience of justification in order to make place for the second experience. Instead of saying that justification is but a half-way experience, we would prefer to say that justification itself includes at least twelve distinct and perfect works, though they occur simultaneously, as follows: a perfect conviction; a perfect surrender; a perfect repentance; a faith that perfectly trusts God; a perfect pardon; a perfect washing of regeneration, removing all acquired pollution; a perfect quickening into newness of life; a perfect adoption; the love of God shed abroad in the heart; power to forsake and cease from all sin; the witness of the spirit; obedience to all the light God gives. All this and more enters into the experience of every person who is truly and scripturally justified; but all this has to do with sin as an act — sins committed.
The fact of original sin, innate, inborn, is just as clearly set forth, in the Scripture as is the fact of sins committed. David said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51: 5). Elsewhere it is spoken of as “the carnal mind,” “the law of sin,” “the flesh,” “sin that dwelleth in me,” “body of death,” “the sin of the world,” “our old man,” etc., etc. Theologians speak of it as “depravity,” “inbred sin,” “original sin,” “the Adamic nature,” “a tendency to evil,” etc. Mr. Charles Wesley spoke of it as “our bent to sinning.” Almost every church in Christendom makes some reference to this fact of “original sin” in its theology and hymnology, if not in the creedal statements The Methodist Episcopal Church says in her Discipline, Article No. 7, “Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.” This “corruption of the nature of every man” cannot be pardoned, seeing it is not an act of sin, but may be purged and cleansed away.
It is from this “corruption of the nature” — the “carnal mind” — that anger, and envy, and doubt, and fear, and pride, and unholy ambition, etc., emanate. And as the Anglican Confession says, “This infection of nature doth remain, yea, even in them that have been regenerated.” In the nature of the case it cannot be pardoned, for the simple reason that we did not commit it; but, thank God, there is power in Jesus’ blood to wash and cleanse it away.
In view of this two-fold difficulty — sins committed and the sin nature inherited – Toplady sang:
“Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure.”
Mr. Wesley said: “Sin does remain in one that is justified, though it has not dominion over him. For he has not a clean heart at first.” (Wesley’s Journal, dated June 24, 1740.) In his sermon on The Repentance of Believers,” he said, “Although we may weaken our enemies day by day; yet we cannot drive them out. By all the grace which is given in justification we cannot extirpate them.
Though we watch and pray ever so much, we cannot wholly cleanse our hearts or hands. Most surely we cannot till it please our Lord to speak to our hearts again, to speak the second time, ‘Be clean,’ and then only the leprosy is cleansed. Then only the evil root, the carnal mind is destroyed, and inbred sin subsists no more.” (Vol. 1, page 208.)
The promise is, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” A sinner is in darkness and surely cannot “walk in the light as He is in the light.” Only a pardoned man is in the light, and to him alone comes this promise of cleansing “from all sin.”