By Aaron Hills
I. Doctrinal and Philosophical Objections. It is one of the marvels of a thinking mind, and one of the strongest proofs of the Divinity of Christianity that it has escaped annihilation from the falsities of its own friends and defenders,-false lives, false doctrines, or false philosophies. There is not a Christian doctrine that has not been perverted, travestied, or denied by learned theologians, nor an error that has not been defended by texts of Scripture. The precious doctrine of sanctification has not escaped.
1. Here is the theory of Dr. Hodge. Laying on us the guilt of Adam's sin and holding us responsible for the entailed corruption, in every sense, his picture of Sin is painted in too dark colors, and needlessly offends every sense of justice, and every conception of divine goodness in the heart of man. His standard of holiness is as much too high. He tells us that no allowances can be made for the natural infirmities, the unavoidable limitations of human faculties consequent upon the fall, the errors of judgment, the lapses of memory, the mistaken conceptions of duty and propriety. The law of God requires of us such absolute holiness as might have been required of Adam's posterity if he had never sinned. The thing to be done is to turn from sin to holiness; to love God perfectly and our neighbor as ourselves; to perform every duty without defect or omission, and keep ourselves, from all sin of word, thought and deed of heart and life. Can any man do this? Every one knows two things as clearly and perfectly as he knows his own existence; first that he is bound to be morally perfect and to avoid all sin of feeling as well as act; and, secondly, that he can no more do it than he can raise the dead." "Man is utterly disabled and enfeebled by moral inability, through inherited corruption; he is still under obligation to be perfectly holy, for obligation is not measured by ability. God requires holiness, and holiness is impossible!" (Vol. IT, p. 271; Vol. Ill, p. 2S8).
If this is true, hard indeed is our lot. God is a hard master, driving us to attempt an impossible feat, and on our quivering, straining back, paralyzed with inability, He pitilessly lays the lash of obligation. There is nothing for us here, but a life of hopeless sinning, and consequent agony of heart, for which, all the blood of Christ, affords no adequate help. No healing balm. To command men to be holy under such circumstances is tyranny; and to strive for it is unutterable folly.
2. The Oberlin Philosophy is quite as fatal in its way to any propagation of holiness.
President Finney had a marvelous experience, but a faulty philosophy on this subject. He held a peculiar theory of sin and depravity. All sin was in the wrong use of the will. Moral quality could be affirmed of nothing else. He consequently denied that man's nature was morally depraved. Oberlin also adopted the view of "The Unity or simplicity of moral action." According to this theory there can be no mixed character. "A man cannot be holy and sinful at the same time. A man's obedience is entire or he does not obey at all. It is nonsense to talk of a holiness that consists with sin. It would of course follow that every moral agent is always, "as sinful or holy as with their knowledge they can be. Regeneration is an instantaneous change from entire sinfulness to entire holiness." "The only sense in which obedience is partial is that it may be intermittent." Therefore the only thing to be expected of sanctification is the confirmation of the will in its right choice.
President Fairchild, the latest exponent of these views who has written, says: "One of the most obvious consequences of the doctrine is, that conversion is entire consecration (sanctification); that the earliest obedience of the sinner is entire obedience, and that his moral state is entirely approved of God."
Now there is something wrong with this philosophy; for its conclusions are at war with Scripture, consciousness, and universal experience.
1. It locates all sin of every kind in the attitude of the will, and accepts but one Scripture definition of sin, viz., "Sin is the transgression of the law." This means actual sin,-a willful act of disobedience. But there is, as we have pointed out, and the Greek lexicon shows, another kind of sin, indwelling sin, inbred sin, and carnality. The Bible says, "All unrighteousness (unrightness) is sin." This refers to the disordered state of that vast realm in the nature of man that lies back of the will, in his thoughts, feelings, imaginations, passions, appetites and desires, of which our enlightened conscience, and the law of holiness takes cognizance. The Greek Lexicon of the New Testament calls this, "A principle or cause of sin; proneness to sin; sinful propensity." In regeneration and justification we receive pardon for actual sin; but there is still left a proneness to sin, an opposing element in the sensibility, which does not obey the will. It produces uprisings of anger, strivings of pride, evil imaginations, envies, jealousies, lusts that find an expression in every regenerated man, until sanctified. Together they form a state of heart that is unrighteousness-unrightness, and the Bible calls it "sin."
2. To hold that a Christian believer in every moral act is as good or bad as he can be, and that the least sudden sin of a warmhearted Christian plunges him to the level of the worst sinner, is too great a tax on credulity to be accepted. Finney says: "These sinful or holy states can succeed each other an indefinite number of times for aught we can see."
Now this "intermittent," "vibratory," "alternating" theory of moral character is certainly opposed by the unanimous testimony of multitudes of immature but earnest Christians. They love Jesus, and would die for Him, and have the witness of the Spirit to their sonship. But they are conscious, like the Galatians that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." They know they are living a kind of mixed life, not altogether holy. If it is only, as Fairchild says, "The mixture of alternation," then we ask with Dr. Daniel Steele, if "Jesus Christ has any immediate salvation from the mixture of alternation." Christians are everywhere longing to be rid of this state, by whatever name called.
3. This philosophy stands in the way of obtaining, or teaching others the Scriptural experience of sanctification. Signally useful as that beloved man of God, President Finney, was, I cannot but believe that he would have led many more into the experience of sanctification, had he held a different philosophy. He himself had experienced a marvelous baptism with the Holy Spirit, which made him an example to the world of "holiness and power." But when he tried to lead others into an experience similar to his own, something stood in his way. President Mahan says of him: "No one ever disciplined believers so severely, and with such intense and tireless patience as Brother Finney. Appalled at the backsliding which followed his revivals, he put forth the most earnest efforts to induce among believers permanence in the divine life. He gathered his theological students together and instructed them in renunciation of sin, consecration to Christ, and purpose of obedience. They would renew their renunciations, consecrations, and purpose, with all the intensity with which their natures were capable. But they were not told to exercise faith for the blessing; and all their human efforts and consecrations, ended in dismal failure, and left them in groaning bondage, under the law of sin and death." If he had only told I hem to exercise their faith in Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit /is their Sanctifier, "to will and to do" in them, they would have received the establishing and keeping blessing.
4. The Oberlin teachers confounded consecration with sanctification. Four times in the space of two pages, President Finney defines sanctification as "entire consecration." President Fairchild follows the same line of thought, and makes sanctification consist in, "establishment in consecration," so that there shall be no more "alternation of the will." This is a careless confusion of thought in these great men. Consecration is not sanctification, and no establishment in it can be, however permanent. Consecration is only the condition of sanctification, but not the thing itself. Consecration is man's part of the preparatory work,-wholly man's act of self-devotement to God; Sanctification is God's act of cleansing the believer. Jesus prayed, "Father, sanctify them," and Paul prayed: "Now the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly." No dependence here upon vows and renunciations and consecrations. It is the work of God in response to our consecrations and faith.
5. The Oberlin teachers, like so many others, make sanctification a matter of growth. Fairchild starts his chapter on sanctification thus: "The growth and establishment of the believer, the development in him of the graces of the Gospel, is called sanctification." "We may use the word in the theological sense as a convenient term to designate Christian growth, and progress, and establishment."
Now this "growth" method, by man's toilings and strivings, differs absolutely from God's method of sanctifying. Even Webster's Dictionary defines sanctification as the "act of God's grace whereby the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God." Sanctification, then, is not reached by the slow growth of man, but is instantaneously wrought in us by an "act of God." This is the uniform teaching of Scripture (see Acts 15: 8, 9). Inbred sin is a unit, a simple element, a principle; therefore it cannot be removed by a gradual process. Inbred sin cannot be grown out of the heart, any more than weeds can be grown out of the garden; it must be destroyed. Growth in grace is not a destroying, a washing, a crucifying or a cleansing process. Entire sanctification is all of these a cleansing, a destroying, a crucifying, a death, a washing, a purification. Growth in grace has respect to addition, to development; while the idea of entire sanctification or heart cleansing is the subtraction or removal of defilement. One is an enlargement, the other a destruction.
Moreover, growth never changes the nature of anything; hence, a regenerate soul cannot grow pure any more than a sinner can grow pardoned or regenerate. At one moment the sinner is guilty, at the next he is pardoned by an act of God. At one moment the believer has an impure heart, at the next his heart is purified by an act of God,-"justified by faith" (Rom. 5:1). "Sanctified by faith" (Acts 26: 18). The process is as instantaneous as faith" (Ben Mullen, M. A., A Tremendous Awakening, pp. 102, 103).
6. The Oberlin philosophy rejects the idea of purification in sanctification. But the dictionary defines it as the "act of God's grace whereby the affections of men are purified." This is Scriptural. The root meaning of the word in the Scripture is, "cleansed, purified." But there is no cleansing or purification in either Fair-child's definition or discussion of sanctification. Indeed according to this philosophy there is nothing to be cleansed from. However corrupt and defiled the sensibilities may be, nothing is needed but to get the will "established" and cured of "alternation." Somehow this does not sound like the Bible. God promised: "From all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you . . . and I will save you from all your uncleannesses" (Ezek. 36: 26-29). "Purifying your hearts by faith" (Acts 15: 9).
7. Again, President Fairchild argues against the notion of a "sudden uplift of soul into a life of holiness." "The gospel does not provide a spiritual elevator which one may enter, and be lifted at once to the heights of spiritual vision." It would be a sufficient answer to this argument to say, "Pentecost," a repetition of which would be a wonderful "spiritual elevator," for the church of today, and it was sudden. In, London, John Wesley found six hundred and fifty-two people whose sanctification he could not doubt. Every one declared that his deliverance was instantaneous; that the change was wrought in a moment.
8. President Fairchild denies the second work of grace. He writes: "The idea has been set forth of receiving Christ as our sanctification in a second experience, as we receive Him as our justification in the experience of conversion. There is no proper basis for the idea."
We only need to say in answer to this that in all the New Testament, no sinner is invited to be sanctified; none but Christian believers are eligible to the blessing or can receive it. Every person in the New Testament who received the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Spirit was already a believer; and each had a marvelous second experience. President Mahan, the first president of Oberlin College, writes of himself: "The first eighteen years of my Christian life, I lived and walked in the dim twilight of that semi-faith, which fully knows Christ in the sphere of justification by faith, but knows almost nothing of Him in the sphere of sanctification by faith. But one day, when praying for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, there came an instantaneous passage from the dimmest twilight to cloudless noon; and for fifty years I have had the grace to walk with God in cloudless sunlight, in which "we are complete in Christ." Sanctification, like pardon, I found in experience to be an instantaneous work. Propensities which, from childhood up, and not less during the first years of my Christian life, than during my impenitency had had absolute control when excited, in a moment lost utterly and forever their power."
Now here is President Mahan's Scriptural experience, against President Fairchild's unscriptural theory. Which shall we accept as the truth?
9. Again, President Fairchild makes sanctification "a term to designate Christian growth and progress, and development." His idea is, grow sufficiently, and you will be sanctified. But the Scripture theory is precisely the reverse of this, viz., be sanctified, cleansed from all sin, that you may grow the Christian graces, just as you kill the weeds in the garden that the vegetables may have a chance to grow. Get carnality out of the heart, and then you can grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." A man cannot grow "into" a grace; but he can grow in it, after God puts him into it. Sanctification is the great condition of rapid growth in grace, and must necessarily precede it.
10. President Fairchild denies that there are two works of grace. He says: "One of the mischievous implications and inferences of the doctrine of instantaneous sanctification by a special experience is that there is a form of religious life which is much below holiness, a justified, not a sanctified state. It does not seem possible to guard the doctrine of special sanctification, whatever its form from this false impression."
In other words there are no two works of grace, no special sanctification apart from justification. Indeed! Then what a blundering theologian the Apostle Paul was! Nine times he prays that the Christians of the various churches may become holy and sanctified. Thirteen times his inspired lips command Christians to go on to sanctification and perfection and holiness. Either the blessed Apostle Paul was a deluded man, or this philosophy is false.
We have thus examined the teaching of Oberlin at length, because it covers most of the errors afloat in the minds of the people concerning this great truth; also because Dr. Huntington, and other Methodist writers, are copying these Oberlin arguments, and using them against the true Methodist and Scriptural doctrine of sanctification.
This philosophy has been a great spiritual detriment to Oberlin. It will ruin the vital power of any school or church or community, or any Christian denomination that accepts it. It will keep the children of God from their birthright privilege of holiness and power.
The Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church said in 1824: "If Methodists give up the doctrine of entire sanctification, or suffer it to become a dead letter, we are a fallen people. Holiness is the main cord, which binds us together. The original design of Methodism was to raise up and preserve a holy people."
The saddest sign in the religious sky today is the fact that so many Methodist ministers and churches are so neglecting this great central idea of Methodism. This accounts for the sad decline in the revival power which that church once had. Her theology is the best in the world. She ought to take the world for God and holiness. Her doctrine of sanctification we have given in these pages.
II. Perverted texts examined. There are a few passages of Scripture which seem, on the face of them, to be against the doctrine of sanctification. They have long been a "soothing syrup" to the chronic babies in Christ who love spiritual baby-hood. Professors of religion, who are still willing to be "conformed to the world" hide behind these texts, so that they are reached by no appeals to move up to a higher life. We will examine some of them.
1. Take 1 Kings 8: 46, "If they sin against Thee (for there is no man that sinneth not) and thou be angry with them." Now this cannot teach the perpetual sinfulness of the saints, for, in the forty-eighth verse, they repent with "all their heart and soul." Hebrew scholars and professors tell us that the parenthesis ought to be rendered, "for there is no man who may not sin." The word sinneth is in the future tense, the only form in the Hebrew for expressing the potential mood. The Latin Vulgate of the Roman Catholic Church translates it, "non peccet"-"may not sin."
2. The same criticism and correction apply to Eccl. 7: 20, "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not." It should read, "and may not sin," as the Vulgate, and Septuagint and ancient versions read (Steele's "Half Hours," pp. 153-155).
3. Job 9: 2, 3, "How shall a man be just with God?" Dr. Morgan, a life long teacher of Hebrew, says: "These words say nothing at all on the question of constant sinfulness. They speak of past sins, so that on the ground of sinless perfection from the commencement of life, no man can be just with God."
4. Job 9: 20, "If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me." Dr. Steele comments thus: "This verse lies just as strongly against justification as against sanctification. In the evangelical sense in which God is the justifier and the sanctifier of the believer in His Son, it contradicts neither. Job disclaims only justification by works, and absolute perfection (Job 1: 8-22; 27: 3-6).
5. Ps. 14: 23, "There is none that doeth good." Paul quotes this in Rom. 3: 10 as a proof of universal depravity. But it does not at all militate against our privilege as believers, through regenerating and sanctifying grace, to live without sin.
6. Ps. 130: 3, "If thou shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" "But there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared." Says Dr. Morgan, "Not a syllable is dropped from which we could gather that the Psalmist refers to present sin. Is it for present, unrepented sin that there is forgiveness?"
7. Isaiah 64: 6, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Evidently the prophet speaks here in the name of backslidden Jews; for two verses before, he speaks of those who work righteousness. "The passage as a whole is not against the doctrine of holiness," says Dr. Morgan, "but decidedly sustains it."
8. Prov. 20: 9, "Who can say, I have made my heart clean. I am pure from all sin?" Such interrogative sentences are often intended to express a universal negative; but not always; as is shown by Prov. 31: 9, "Who can find a virtuous woman?" The context shows that the writer did not mean that there were no virtuous women, but that they were rare. So the men with clean hearts and pure from sin are rare.
9. Rom. 7: 14-25. This long passage is held by those who oppose the doctrine of sanctification to be a picture of St. Paul's best Christian experience, and of all believers in their most exalted state. Such an interpretation in support of the doctrine of unavoidable and continuous sin is utterly untenable for the following reasons:
(1) It contradicts all Paul has declared about his life, and his testimony that "he had lived holily and unblameably" (1 Thess. 2: 10).
(2) It contradicts utterly both the sixth chapter and the eighth chapter. In the sixth chapter, the Apostle throughout urges Christians to no longer live in the sinful state, but have the "old man" crucified and destroyed, and be "dead to the sin" and "freed from the sin" (so the Greek reads) and "have fruit unto sanctification and the end thereof eternal life" (Rom. 6: 19-22). And the eighth chapter depicts the sanctified life,-a picture wholly unlike that of the seventh chapter.
(3) The last verse of the seventh chapter declares there is victory over carnality "through Jesus Christ our Lord," and Paul had it, and describes it in the eighth chapter.
(4) The interpretation of the seventh chapter as a Christian experience makes Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and the Gospel, as great a failure as the law in redeeming men from sin."
(5) The Greek Fathers for the first three hundred years held that Romans, seventh chapter, was a portrait of a sinner and not of a Christian at all. Augustine, to rob Pelagius of two proof-texts, originated the theory that the chapter was the picture of a regenerated man, and his interpretation was held even to the time of Luther and Calvin. But thirty-three great modern scholars and interpreters go back to the earlier view, which is the correct one. No Christian is a groaning captive "sold under sin."
(6) Fletcher interprets as follows: "In Rom. 7: 4-6, Paul shows how as an unawakened sinner, he was roused. In the 7th verse he was made a conscious convicted sinner, struggling with sin. Now he has already used the past tense, and from here on, for vividness of style, he uses the present tense to picture himself (when a legal Jew); as the representative of every one struggling with 'the sin' 'the indwelling carnal mind' Paul frequently wrote thus for vividness (see 1 Cor. 4: 6; 1 Cor. 13: 1-3; Rom. 3:7). Paul was no more a liar in Rom. 3: 7, or uncharitable in 1 Cor. 13: 1-3, than he was a carnal slave to sin in Rom. 7: 14. So we conclude that whether Paul in this famous passage was picturing a carnal sinner or a carnal Christian, he was certainly not picturing his own best experience nor the best possible experience of any Christian. His own best experience is drawn in the sixth and eighth chapters of Romans, and in 1 Thess. 2: 10, and other places. In St. Paul's mature experience he was not a bond slave, 'carnal, sold under sin' making miserable abortive efforts to do good and avoid evil. He was 'sanctified' and 'holy and acceptable to God/ and living 'holily' and unblameably, as may be inferred, also, from seventy-five passages in which he urges such a life upon others."
10. Phil. 3: 12-14, "Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect," etc. This is the chosen text for preachers to fight holiness with. But they studiously avoid verses 11 and 15. Paul was earnestly coveting resurrection perfection (v. 11), which is the object of the verb, "obtained," in the twelfth verse, which of course Paul had not yet secured. This resurrection perfection is mentioned in the eleventh verse. But evangelical perfection, as a runner for the great prize, Paul did have, and professes it in the fifteenth verse. Thus lazy believers are robbed of another pillow of indolence on which they have laid their heads so long. The simple fact is, "the dogma of the constant moral imperfection of the saints" cannot stand by Scripture support.
11. Gal. 5: 17, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." The Greek and the New
Version reads, "so that ye may not do the things that ye would." The corrected translation takes away from the carnal another pillow of comfort and another excuse for sin.
12. 1 John 1: 8, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Many use this text to keep themselves and drive all others from the hope of holiness. On its face it does seem to declare that all Christians do sin continually. But this cannot be the sense, because it is contradicted by the seventh verse and the ninth verse. Surely a man whose "sins are all forgiven," and who has been "cleansed from all unrighteousness" does not have any sin or sins left in him to lie about.
It may be pertinent then to ask why St. John thus seemed to contradict himself. A little explanation will make all plain. A class of evil teachers had arisen called the Gnostics or Docetae, who denied the reality of Christ's incarnation and atonement, Christ only seemed to have a body, and seemed to die on the cross. They also taught that all sin was in matter, and that people could wallow in gluttony and debauchery, and still their souls would suffer no detriment, and they would "have no sin." It was a subtle error that would have plunged the Christians lately converted from heathenism, back into all their carnal vices. So John wrote against it. In the first four verses he declared that Jesus had a real body, and was no phantom Christ, for he had "seen" him and "handled" him.
Then the next six verses are written in antithetic pairs, the first verse of each pair being the truth of the Gospel; and the second verse of each pair being a blow at the false teaching of the Gnostics. (v. 5) "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." His children will walk in the light of moral purity and be like their Father, (v. 6) "If we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness (as you false teachers say and do) we lie and do not the truth."
The Apostle wrote "we" for politeness and policy; he meant, "You" seducers, who are living in licentiousness, while professing to be children of the light, (v. 7) "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin." This is the Gospel of full salvation, (v. 8) this is the antithesis, another blow at the heresy, "If we say that we have no sin, (and no need of a Savior from all past sins, as your vile teachers would have you believe) we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." You Gnostics affirm that your wicked vices are not wrong, and you commit no sin. You are simply deceiving yourselves. The Docetae were the Christian scientists of their day, who denied the reality of sin." (v. 9) "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This again is the blessed Gospel of salvation from all sin. God has a perfect cleansing for all. (v. 10) "If we say we have not sinned (have never sinned as these seducers say) we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." Read verses 5, 7, 9 together and you have the Gospel of sanctification and full salvation. Read verses 6, 8, 10 together, and you have the Apostle's castigation of those who said they had no sin while practicing orgies of vice.
It is amazing that religious teachers should wrest this eighth verse from its connection and divinely intended meaning, and apply it to holy children of God professing sanctification, instead of applying it, as the Apostle intended, to the lustful seducers who were destroying the churches.
Again we say, that he who has the experience described in verses 7 and 9, would have no sin left in him to lie about. Jesus has made ample provision for us to be pardoned and sanctified, cleansed and saved from all sin. We have thus examined the passages which are quoted against the doctrine of sanctification; and we see that not one of them, correctly translated and interpreted, is against the doctrine. None of them teach the necessity of perpetual sinfulness. It is nonsense, akin to blasphemy, to teach that a holy God commands us to be holy, if sin is an unavoidable necessity.
III. Keswick and Kindred Teaching. Our answer to objections would not be complete unless we noticed the unscriptural teaching at Keswick and other places. Dr. Torrey says: "The Baptism of Christ has no direct reference to cleansing from sin. This is an important point, bear in mind, for many reasons. There is a line of teaching on this subject that leads men to expect that if they receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the old carnal nature will be eradicated. There is not a line of Scripture to support this position" Now we only need to put by the side of this monstrous statement just one passage of Scripture to show how utterly unscriptural It is. Acts15: 8, 9, "And God, who knoweth the heart, bare them witness, giving them (Cornelius and household) the Holy Ghost, even an he did unto us (at Pentecost); and he made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith." This answer is annihilating and complete.
But a crushing reply to Dr. Torrey can be obtained from his own utterances. We quote the following from a sermon of his preached in Edinburgh, Scotland: "The second thing the fire of the Holy Spirit does is to purify, or refine (Mal. 3: 1-3). Men and women, if the filth is on the outside with us it can be washed away with the water of the Word; but the trouble is that the filth is on the inside and what we need is the fire of the Holy Ghost, penetrating to the innermost depths of our being,-burning, burning, burning! cleansing, cleansing, cleansing! What a refining came to the apostles on the day of Pentecost! ... Oh! friends, cleansing is a very slow process by ordinary methods, but a baptism of fire does marvels in a moment. ... Oh isn't that what we Christians need tonight? A fire that will burn up all the self-seeking, and pride and worldliness of ours that are hindering the world from coming to Christ!" Now how Dr. Torrey can thus contradict himself is unaccountable. The Judgment Day will explain.
Dr. Webb-Peploe said at Keswick: "It is taught on this platform, as in every part of God's Word, that there are, to the very last hour of our life, upon earth, powers of corruption within every man which defile his very best deeds and give even to his holiest efforts, the nature of sin." Now if this is so, then the saintliest soul, on his knees in wrestling prayer for the salvation of others, is sinning! Monstrous thought! That is only another way of stating the utterly unscriptural doctrine of necessary and continuous sin, from which the blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit, are entirely impotent to cleanse us.
These teachers tell us that "the old man," "indwelling sin," is restrained, and repressed and suppressed, but is never removed from the nature. Now the truth is, the Bible invariably uses words that teach the destruction or removal of the carnal mind. If God had wished to teach the suppression of carnality the words were at hand, and the Bible writers knew them. For instance.
1. (Katecho)-"to hold down" (Rom. 1: 18). If the carnal mind were to be held down, this word would have taught it.
2. (Sunecho)-"Constraineth" (2 Cor. 5:14). This word might have been used to teach restraint of carnality.
3. (deo)-"to bind or tie" (Mark 3: 27). That word might have been used.
4. (koluo)-"to withstand, to hinder" (Acts 11: 17). That word might have taught suppression.
5. (Sugkleio) - "to close, to shut up" (Gal. 3: 22). If the "old man" was "to be imprisoned," this word would have taught it.
6. (katapauo)-"to give rest or restraint" (Acts 14:18). If the "old man" was "to be restrained," that verb might have been used.
7. (krateo)-"to subdue," and (pnigo) which means to "stifle or choke" (Matt. 18: 28). These words would have taught subduing and choking the old man.
8. (hupopiazo)-"to hit beneath the eyes," and (doulagogo) - "to bring into slavery." Paul used both words in (1 Cor. 9: 27). These verbs might have been used-any and all of them, and they would have taught the suppression of carnality. But the Holy Spirit did not use one of them. Is it not strange that He did not, if the Keswick teaching is true?
Notice now what words the Spirit did use:
1. (apotithimi)-"to put off" (Eph. 4: 22). "Put off the old man."
2. (luo)-"to destroy" (1 John 3: 8)-"destroy the works of the devil."
3. (sunestauroo)-"to crucify with" (Rom. 6:6).
4. (katargeo)-"to destroy, to put an end to, and to annihilate" (Rom. 6: 6). Cremer says St. Paul always used the word in that sense.
5. (eleutheroo)-"to set free" (Rom. 8: 2). "Free from the law of sin and death." (Rom. 6: 22) "Being made free from the sin."
6. (apekdusei)-"the putting off" (Col. 2: 11). "In the putting off of the body of the flesh."
7. (katharizo)-"to cleanse, to render pure." Used in Eph. 5: 26. "That he might sanctify it, having cleansed it." The word is used about cleansing from leprosy, in Matt. 8: 2, 3, and Luke 5: 13, "And immediately the leprosy departed from him."
8. (ekkathairo)-"to cleanse thoroughly, to purge out, to eliminate" (1 Cor. 5:7). "Purge out the old leaven" (2 Tim. 2:21). "If a man purge himself from these, he shall be sanctified. This text leaches that the man purged of carnality is sanctified.
9. (ekrizoo)-"to root up, to eradicate" (Matt. 15: 13). "Every plant which my Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up," God never planted carnality in the human heart.
Now we turn to the Old Testament.
1. Isaiah 1: 25, I will purely purge away (tsaraph) thy dross and take away (auor) all thy tin,
2. Ezek. 11: 19. "I will take away the stony heart." Ezek. 36: 29, "I will save you from all your uncleannesses."
3. Mal. 3:3. "He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver. So in the Old Testament we have, "Purge away," "take away," "purge," and "cleanse from." In the New Testament we have, "put off," "destroy," "crucify," "done away," "free from," "putting off," "eliminate," "root up," "mortify" (kill off at once, Col. 3:5).
Now every honest, unprejudiced mind must admit that each and all of these passages teach the removal of carnality or depravity. We love the Keswick teachers for what they are trying to do; but truth is truth, and before God we must say, these teachers have missed it.
The summer of 1912, a Keswick teacher publicly renounced the unscriptural notion of suppression, which they had been teaching for a score of years, and substituted for it the equally unscriptural word-"counteraction."
They forget to tell us in what passages the word is used in reference to depravity. We submit that "counteract" does not mean "purge away," "take away," "put off," "destroy," "crucify," "free from," "eliminate," "root up," or "mortify."
Their language does not sound at all like God's language. God says: "They that are Christ's have 'crucified the flesh.' "They say "counteracted the flesh." The Bible says: "Purge out the old leaven" (1 Cor. 5:7). How insipid to say, "counteract the old leaven." The Scripture says: "The blood cleanseth from all sin!" Heb. 9: 26 reads: "He appeared to put away all sin." How repulsive to make it read, "He appeared to counteract sin!" This new pet of Keswick is a most shabby substitute for the incisive, radical words of God. Take Acts 15: 9, "Purifying their hearts by faith," and make it read "counteracting their hearts by faith." How farfetched and unnatural! St. Paul wrote: "Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Keswick would have it read, "Let us counteract (!) ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit." How unspeakably absurd!
Well does the great writer say: "What fools these mortals be!" How hard men strive to dodge God's plain and blessed truth! We are aware that very able physicians sometimes use counter-irritants to draw inflammation away from some inner part of the body that is seriously diseased, and cannot be directly reached by remedies. A case in point came to us only a few weeks ago. An American youth studied for two days so laboriously on a mathematical problem without sleep that he burst a blood-vessel in his head and became unconscious. Counter-irritants were used to draw away that inflammation and brain disturbance. As a last effort, his breast was repeatedly burned with a hot iron. But it succeeded. The boy lived to be a hero of the Civil War, a Major General, and a Governor of a State, and is still living a ripe, honored old age. Such extreme remedies are expected to end in complete cure. But Keswick teaching offers no cure. It offers only a perpetual counteraction for a life-long disease of indwelling sin. It might be symbolized by a perpetual fly-blister on the top of the head for a life-long brain fever, or the perpetual burning of the back of the neck with a hot iron to relieve an unrelievable, incurable cerebrospinal meningitis! Depend upon it, the mighty; Christ has a more satisfactory and immediate cure for the malady of inbred sin. For a fuller discussion of this great subject see our "Holiness and Power," 386 pages, and "Pentecost Rejected," 100 pages.