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We say that there are no apparent contradictions in the Word regarding the life of holiness would be false. To say there are real discrepancies would likewise be false. God’s word does not contradict itself. Even if some apparently opposite statements are found we should exercise as much wisdom as faithful jurors in a court. They weigh the evidence of both sides, and decide in favor of the preponderance. Would it not be wise on our part to do the same? While there are some places in the Scriptures which seem, without investigation, to indicate the impossibility of living a holy life here, yet there are multiplied times as many which make positively clear the very opposite. Shall we not decide according to the preponderance of evidence?
God commands us to be holy; to be perfect in our sphere as Christians, as He is perfect in His sphere as God. We are to fill our sphere as Christians as God fills His sphere as God. We cannot be perfect gods, but we can be perfect Christians. To demand any more than this, such as absolute perfection, would make His commands transcend our ability to perform; to demand any less, would be inconsistent with His moral government The standard of salvation, then, could not be different without interfering with the essential attributes of God, viz., mercy on the one hand, and justice on the other.
We have been astonished at intelligent men, yea, ministers of the Gospel — astonished at the way they handle the Word of God h regard to this sin question. Only today we ran across a book of Bible Readings, written by a minister of the Gospel, and under the chapter entitled “Why Does the Christian Sin?” we copy the following, word for word: “We wish to do the right, but we do the evil. The old man is alive still, and he finds a rival. There is war ( Romans 7:23). Here are two natures existing side by side in the Christian: the evil inciting to evil, the good urging to good. “First John 3:9 is true as it stands; it is the idea in the original. We must not attempt to explain it away, for it is, evidently, spoken not of the old man, but of the new, that which is born of God. It is, therefore, like God, and cannot sin. Sin is of the devil; the old nature is as he is, loving sin. “This might be illustrated to a slight extent by the process of grafting. Take a wild peach tree, put in a graft from the Crawford variety, and the graft will bear Crawford peaches. The graft is the insertion of a new nature; it is not intended as an improvement of the wild peach, but to produce a widely different result. The old stock will put out shoots; these, if allowed to grow, will bear bitter peaches, so that at the same time you would have bitter and sweet fruit on the same tree. The Crawford branch cannot bear bitter fruit, neither can the old stock bear the luscious Crawford. So in man’s new nature, he cannot, he does not, sin; but in his old he does. Forgiveness of sins does not affect the nature that produces the sin; it will continue to incite to evil until a separation is made in death between the spiritual and carnal. “What advantage, then, hath the Christian? He cries out, Who shall deliver from this dead body? ( Romans 7:24.). Christ delivers. ( Romans 6:6-8.) “Our old man is crucified with Him.” “If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” Colossians 3:3 makes it more forcible; “Ye are dead. As far as God’s law is concerned, we are dead.
What is true of our Vicar, is true of us. He died, so there is, therefore, no condemnation, because we are, in Him, united by adoring faith. God does not look to the believer for a satisfaction to violated law; that He seeks from our substitute, our Daysman, our Shield, our Righteousness. We are accepted in the Beloved; we are imperfect in ourselves, but in Him complete. “What are we to do when we sin? Go to the Father. He is faithful, just; He forgives and cleanses. He is glad to do it. ( Luke 15.) Then reckon ye yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord? “Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body.” “Grow in grace.”
Here we have the anti-holiness doctrine in a nut shell. It is a real epitome of the error which we have to meet from day to day. If it had been written on purpose to show how much beautiful error could be condensed into a given space, we do not see how it could be improved. It is a typical rendering of the monstrous heresies of the last days. We do not want to pass it by without pointing out some of its errors. By so doing we show forth some leading delusions of holiness skeptics.
1 . It teaches sanctification at death. It simply assumes the thought and gives no “thus saith the lord” at all. The whole thing of death sanctification is mere assumption and presumption. Why should one build up a system of belief without a word of ‘Scripture to back it up?
The great deliverance is to come, according to the statement made, when the spiritual is separated from the carnal at death. Now, the only separation that takes place at death is between the body and the spirit. If, then, we are to be delivered from carnality only at death, we are shut up to the delusion that carnality is located in the physical, and not the spiritual being. This doctrine was certainly obtained somewhere outside the Word of God, for there is no teaching in the Bible to substantiate such a notion.
3 . It teaches an imputed holiness only; Christ’s robe of righteousness covering up our sans, and God accepting His perfection and paying no attention to our imperfections. We think the devil would not want anything better than to make one feel that he has a standing in Christ, and could now sin, and God would take no notice of it.
4 . It teaches that our new nature, that which is born of God, does not sin, but that our old nature does sin. The Crawford graft will produce luscious Crawford peaches, but the old, wild stalk will keep bearing the bitter peaches. If the new nature did sin, we wonder what kind of sin it would be.
We wonder if it would resemble the old kind. “But,” say they, and the new man cannot sin.” Then some part of us after regeneration is certainly relieved of free moral agency. It has no power to do wrong. It is simply a spiritual machine, relieved of all power of choice — Volition, then, does not exist. Such imbecility of thought is disgusting!
The old stalk will keep on sinning, and the new graft will be all right. So, if one has the new graft, no matter if the old stalk does keep throwing up the old kind of shoots, he is a Christian just the same! Let us see if this will hold good. Suppose that old, wild peach tree had been in the habit of bearing such fruit as theft, lying, adultery, etc., and now, after receiving the new graft, and becoming a Christian, that same fruit of stealing, lying and committing adultery should be seen on its branches, what would the believers of such a doctrine think? Would they say, “O, he is a Christian all right; that is simply the old man; the new man would not, could not, do such things.” But I think I hear some of them say, “No, if he was seen doing such things we would know that he had never had the new man.”
Then where are we to draw the line? Sin is sin, and while these just mentioned would indicate that the new man was wanting, would not other sins indicate the same? We would think the old, wild peach tree, if it bore fruit at all, would be likely to bear the same kind it did before. The fact is, the thing will not hold together. The law does not, if it has been transgressed, punish the old nature and let the new nature go; it punishes the man. Salvation changes the man, and he that was a sinner before is a changed man now, and saved from his old life of sin. It is true he has, till sanctified, the old man, but that does not have sway; it is controlled, and does not bear sinful fruit. God proposes to rid us of this element, and fill us with His Holy Spirit, and renovate us through and through.
5 . It teaches us to reckon ourselves to be deaf indeed unto sin when we are not dead indeed. It teaches us to reckon what is not true. It simply means for us to reckon a lie. This erroneous doctrine is everywhere in Christendom. The idea of reckoning a lie! Does not the Word warn us against the danger of believing a lie? They say, “The old man is not dead, but we are to reckon him as dead.” The thing we want, though, is his death.
Simply reckoning a thing dead does not kill it. But if we fulfill the conditions of full salvation as laid down in the Word, so that God can come in and perform the execution of the old man, and then in faith reckon ourselves to be “dead indeed unto sin,” we shall find that our dead reckoning will prove correct; otherwise it will prove a delusion.
6 . It teaches that sin will keep coming up, but as fast as it conies the blood will cleanse. That is, sin is like an old sore which cannot be eliminated, but the best that can be done is, when it pours out its impurity, let it be washed off. The blood cleanses from all sin, but only as fast as it makes its appearance. Such a doctrine! This is really what some believe. We feel like writing in connection with such nonsense, Ultima Thule, for certainly it seems to be the jumping-off place.
7 . It brings up the seventh chapter of Romans to prove the impossibility of sin eradication now. We wonder what Paul would think, if he were living, if he should hear all those who pervert his plain teaching, and say at the same time, “My experience is like the apostle Paul’s.” There lies before me just now a paper in which is written an article describing a great holiness revival meeting. The pastor of one of the leading churches of the great city in which the revival was being held arose and made some kind remarks concerning the wonderful meetings, stating that God was with the people, and finally added: “I have not the experience that many of you claim; I am like (Paul; ‘I have not apprehended;’ but I bid you God-speed from my heart.” The thought is, he was not sanctified as some of them claimed to be; he was like Paul. That is, Paul was not sanctified, consequently was not so far in the Christian life as they claimed to be. “Wrested scriptures!” How they are twisted and wrung from their intended meaning!
It teaches verily, that the atonement of Christ is a partial failure. If sin has got so hidden away in the recesses of our nature that it cannot be eradicated till death, and if it is true that only as it is left in this mortal body, when the spirit goes to God, can we be free from it, then certainly the atonement cannot reach it’ and so must be at least a partial failure. What an insult to Christ! Thank God we have learned the better way.
The whole thing is a bundle of contradictions and perverted Scriptures. It lays itself liable to the criticism that the Christian has no advantages over the sinner, and then tries to prove that he has, but fails to make it clear, simply putting it on a false hope of dead reckoning, which is very dead indeed.
Peter tells us there are some Scriptures which people wrest unto “their own destruction” mere seems to be no place where this is more apparent than in connection with the subject of full salvation. As salvation is the most important thing in the world, and holiness is the fullness of this most important thing, we see then how clearly one may wrest these blessed Scriptures bearing upon this great salvation, with tremendous havoc to the soul. Are there not wrecks everywhere, that once were clearly saved? All because they rejected the light of holiness. When the children of Israel failed to pass on from Kadesh-Barnea into the Promised Land, instead of remaining at that sacred spot (Kadesh means holiness), they turned their backs upon Canaan and went into the “howling wilderness,” and their bleached bones lined the trail of their wanderings till the whole army, above twenty years of age, save Caleb and Joshua, had perished by the way. So it is today. When God calls the convert from the border land of the Canaan of perfect love, and he refuses to respond to the call, he will surely, and soon, forfeit his justification, and his spiritual bones will bleach by the wayside.
O the spiritually dead carcasses that are seen all over this fair land of ours, simply because they failed to go in and “possess the land?” And why did they not go in? One great reason is, because they were not careful with the Word of God, but rather wrested it from its true meaning, and then hid under the refuge of lies thus formed, securing for themselves “their own destruction.”
Some of the very texts thus wrested and made to bring such a curse to their souls, when properly understood, are the very ones calculated to assist in leading one on into the light of holiness. How sad to think that what God intended for light should be used for darkness; that what lie intended for a help should be turned into a hindrance; that what He meant to bless should be made a curse; that what He meant for a life of holiness should be construed to mean a life of sin! O the disappointment some must be to Christ! What a disappointment some will be to their own souls! What an awful wail will come up at the last great day! “Herein is our love made perfect (experience of holiness), that we may have boldness at the day of judgment.” ( 1 John 4:17).
If we fail in receiving this love, or if we forfeit the same, then may we expect to lack the judgment day preparation. God bless the holiness movement. God bless the faithful witnesses of holiness. God help the Christians seeking for the light. God pity those who are turning their light into darkness, and wresting His truth unto their souls’ destruction. Let us be true to God, true to His Word, true to each other, and true to ourselves.