In his letter to the Corinthians (I. Cor. 3:3) the Apostle Paul declares that they are “yet carnal,” though he had said in the first chapter and fifth verse, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Christ Jesus.” Thus we see that the Apostle recognized the fact that the carnal mind did yet co-exist with the “grace of God” in the heart of the regenerate. That although they were “babes in Christ,” and had spiritual life, “so that they could partake of milk” — spiritual nourishment — and were “God’s husbandry” and “God’s building,” (v. 9) and had fallen heir to “all things” (v. 21), yet there remained in their hearts that root of evil from which sprang “envying, and strife, and divisions,” which, of course, was in their way, and contrary to the new life they had received.
And what was true of young converts at Corinth is true of young converts everywhere. It is well to remember that God does not have a half dozen ways of converting folks; that He does not do things arbitrarily, but moves according to fixed laws in the spiritual world as in the natural world; hence we may safely conclude that so far as the work divinely inwrought at conversion is concerned, it is precisely the same in each case: no more and no less. With Him there is no respect of persons; just as He forgives every sin, quickens into newness of life, and adopts into His family one person who truly repents He does every person who truly repents.
That there yet remains in every regenerate heart, subsequent to conversion, a principle that is antagonistic to the new life is taught by all evangelical denominations, and soon becomes the self-evident experience of all young converts; while he has a new heart he does not yet have a pure heart. As Mr. Wesley wrote in his Journal June 24, 1740: “Sin does remain in one that is justified, though it has not dominion over him. For he has not a clean heart at first.” Dr. Pendleton, who is a most orthodox Baptist and an authority in Baptist theology both in England and America, has said in his “Christian Doctrines,” on page 300, speaking upon the subject of Sanctification: “Regeneration breaks the power of sin and destroys the love of sin, so that whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin in the sense of being the slave thereof; but it does not free the soul from the presence and pollution of sin. Alas! The regenerate know full well that sin is in their hearts. This accounts for the Christian warfare.” Pope, who was a Wesleyan theologian and an accepted authority on Christian doctrine in Methodism, speaking on the subject of sanctification, Vol. II, page 64, says: “Sanctification in its beginnings, process and final issues is the full eradication of the sin itself, which, reigning in the unregenerate, CO-EXISTS WITH THE NEW LIFE IN THE REGENERATE, is abolished in the wholly sanctified.”
While the foregoing is in fullest harmony with the teaching of the Scripture, the theologies of the various denominations and universal Christian experience, it seems necessary that we should distinguish between being “yet carnal” and being “carnally minded.” “For to be carnally minded is death.” Rom. 8:6.
To be carnally minded, we suppose, would imply that a person was yet under the dominion and control of this sin principle in the heart; that where the carnal mind gains the ascendency, and reigns, and enslaves the soul, it results in spiritual death; the margin speaks of it as “the minding of the flesh.” Thus, just as God has said “the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” so, “to be carnally minded is death.”
Thus we see the nature and danger of the carnal mind. That while “regeneration breaks the power of sin,” so that it does not reign in the heart of the young convert, it, nevertheless, greatly imperils the soul; and in case it gains the ascendency will again plunge the soul into death.
It is as though a man convicted of a felony and sentenced to die were pardoned by the Chief Magistrate, and thus escaped the penalty of the law he had broken and yet were afflicted with some malignant disease, which were hastening him to his death; but, thank God, this disease of the soul, designated as the carnal mind, is not an incurable disease, for Jesus, our Great Physician, can utterly eliminate and eradicate the “least and last remains of sin” from the soul, and make us every whit whole. “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.” But if the cure is not sought and obtained, this disease of the soul will eventually prove fatal, and the new life obtained in regeneration is forfeited and spiritual death ensues.
Surely any one should see the necessity and importance of the second work of grace; and that pardon, by which a guilty sinner escapes the penalty of death, due to his transgression of the law, is one thing, and the curing of the deadly disease, and restoration to perfect health of the pardoned man is entirely another thing. What health is to the body, holiness is to the soul.
Who would not desire complete deliverance from the deadly malady of sin, and rejoice in being made completely whole? Thank God! In Jesus we may have the double cure — a full pardon for all our actual transgressions and complete cleansing from the inherited, indwelling sin. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” I John 1:7.