SUPPOSED TO TEACH THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF POSSESSING A PURE HEART
are some in our midst who deny the possibility of a pure heart and holy life.
denials are in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Word of God, and show
a profound ignorance of the plain statements that “whosoever is born of God
doth not commit sin,” and “whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.” Such
speeches bring into contempt the blessed work of the Son of God, who came to
destroy the works of the devil, and make to mean nothing the words of the angel
about him, that he would save his people from their sins. The plan of human
redemption thus becomes a farce, and the word “salvation” itself is but an
empty sound and mockery.
Bible is called the Holy Bible, it came from a Holy God, shows the way to obtain
a holy heart, live a holy life, and finally reach a holy heaven. There is not a
single hint in it that God will allow us to sin; and while the atonement
provides for the recovery of one who falls into sin, it does not provide for a
man’s sinning. It contemplates the restoration, and not the falling, of man;
the holiness, and not the sinfulness, of the soul. Hence every commandment
forbids sin, and every precept and command and prayer points to holiness.
being the case, it is certainly astonishing to hear men plead for the privilege
of sinning some, deny the possibility of constantly living a holy life, and in
so doing convict God of cruelty or folly. For if God commands us to be holy, and
we cannot become so, then the command originates either in folly or cruelty.
There is no escape from this conclusion.
objectors and deniers of the sanctified life entrench themselves behind certain
passages of Scripture, which they quote in proof of their position. We call
attention to several.
quickly reply: No one that we have ever heard of but a madman. Who could say
such a thing: “I have made my heart clean” The emphasis, laid upon the
fourth word of the verse, “I” unlocks the meaning of the verse, and shows
that the writer is declaring what we all will agree to: the inability of a man
to purify himself. But while we cannot do this work, another can; and while we
have never heard any man say that he had made his heart clean, we have known
myriads to declare that Christ had done so. This is certainly a very different
second verse is
passage is felt to be very strong by the objectors, and is quoted with smiles of
certain triumph. But the seeming strength of the verse arises from an improper
translation. No less a Bible critic and scholar than Dr. Adam Clarke calls
attention to the fact that the mood in which the verb appears in the original is
not made to appear in the King James version, and that the true reading is:
“There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and may not sin.”
this fact we all heartily agree; we firmly believe in the possibility of sinning
while in the body on probation. If a good man fell in
third quotation is made from
explanation is that there is the same failure to bring out the proper mood,
which when done we have the words: “for there is no man that may not sin.”
striking confirmation of this meaning is seen in the word “if.” “If they
sin” shows that possibly they may not, and anyhow need not. For how silly it
would be to say: “if they sin—for there is no man that sinneth not.” It is
seen that the two sentences thus arrayed against each other make an absurd
we are doubly driven to the true rendering, “If they sin against thee (for
there is no man that may not sin).”
fourth verse cited is
is regarded by some as containing a
was speaking here about the Father. According to the objectors then he ruled
himself out and said that he, the Son, was not good. Such a construction of his
words proves too much, as they say in logic, and so proves nothing if forced in
kind of goodness was he talking about? Any thoughtful person will say absolute
goodness. He was affirming that there was only one being who possessed underived
goodness, in whom goodness dwelt inherently and from all eternity. In that sense
there is none good but one, and that is God. But while this is so, he does not
teach that there cannot be relative goodness, and that a soul coming to God may
not be filled to overflowing with divine goodness. Nor does his gospel teach
that men have not been thus filled, and that there are no good men. On the
contrary, the Bible says that Barnabas “was a good man, and full of the Holy
Ghost,” and so of others.
fifth passage is
trouble with people who quote such passages as this is that they do not read the
context, the verses going before and coming after. If they did, they would be
surprised to see the meaning that they had first attached to the passages
utterly vanish away.
the reader turn to
is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
surely this is not a description of everybody, for we all know many people who
do understand and seek after God.
throat is an open sepulcher; the poison of asps is under their lips.”
writer knows many Christians who have no such throats and no such poisonous
mouth is full of cursing.”
are people reading these lines who never did, and never will curse.
feet are swift to shed blood.’’
millions of people have never committed murder.
way of peace they have not known.”
we could not count the multitudes in different Churches who know all about, and
daily and hourly enjoy, the way of peace.
it not dawn upon the reader that here is not a description of God’s people at
all, but of one of Satan’s crowds. To think of such a company thrusting its
own photograph before the eyes of the Lord’s redeemed and saying: “Look at
your picture!” What amazing impudence and ignorance is here seen!
passage is recognized by commentators as a picture of depravity, or the
condition of the soul without the regenerating and sanctifying grace of God; but
none of them supposed or taught that these corrupt hearts, sepulchered throats,
and poisonous lips, could not be cleansed and made to glorify God thereafter
with holy hearts and lives.
sixth quotation is from
is true—no one dreams of denying it. We believe that every man has sinned in
the past. The statement of the verse is in regard to the past. We have all
sinned in the years that are gone. But that is no reason why we should sin in
the days and years to come. We once transgressed through ignorance and unbelief,
but through belief and knowledge of the truth, which makes us clean and free, we
can, according to God’s word, live soberly, righteously, and godly in this
seventh citation is
is another formidable-looking verse, that at first glance seems to call for an
the first place, let the reader remember that John is writing to Christians, and
that he has said to them in this same Epistle that “whosoever is born of God,
sinneth not,” and that he urges this upon them again in the words: “These
things write I unto you, that ye sin not.”
question we urge now is: How can Christians find excuse for sin in the face of
such statements? How can the reader reconcile these verses with a life of sin?
Evidently the passage advanced by the objectors must refer to something else, or
we have established the startling fact that the word of God contradicts itself.
Here we read that we must not sin, and yet if we say that we have no sin we
deceive ourselves. What is the explanation? There is one, and one that should
commend itself to any unprejudiced mind.
Bible throughout recognizes two kinds of sin, a fact that the Churches have
embodied in their creeds and articles of religion, calling one personal or
actual sin, and the other inbred, inherited, or original sin. One is an act; the
other is a nature. One is a transaction; the other, a bias or principle.
so diverse, they are described differently and are treated differently. The
dissimilarity is made evident by distinguishing terms of quite a variety. One
way of discrimination appears in this chapter in the words “sin” and
“sins.” Nor is it the only place by any means where this peculiar
discrimination is observed. David in the fifty-first Psalm, and Paul in his
Epistles, both recognize this difference in sin, and use language accordingly.
stands for the inherited principle or nature, while “sins” refer to our
personal transgressions. Both of these words appear in the first chapter of
John’s Epistle. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins.” Again: “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, . . .
the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
two different kinds of sin, and two different works, are referred to here
appears in the use of the singular and plural numbers by way of contrast. And
also that in one case the man is in an unforgiven state and comes confessing his
sins; in the other, the person is walking in the light as God is in the light.
In the one, the man is pardoned; in the other case the man is cleansed, and
cleansed while walking in the light. One obtaining deliverance from “sins;”
the other, from “sin.”
to these facts, a regenerated man, or one born of God, has been forgiven of his
“sins” (plural number), but sin (singular number) in the form of inbred sin
is still left. If such a man should say that he is without “sin” (and many
are saying it today who deny sin left in the regenerated heart), he deceiveth
himself. The thing to do is, after we have confessed our “sins” and been
forgiven, to walk in the light as He is in the light, having fellowship one with
another, and right there in the light of a blessed regenerated life we shall
suddenly be cleansed from all “sin.”
being forgiven of “sins” and cleansed from “sin,” who wonders that John
writes: “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not?”
eighth passage cited is
call attention to the fact that this verse is usually quoted in this remarkable
way: “For a good man sinneth seven times a day!” It is said that the devil
never quotes the Scripture correctly. The devil is not alone in that particular.
Standing in a hotel one day we heard a man of the world, who was laughing at the
idea of holiness, say: “What can be expected of a man like myself, when the
Bible says: “A good man sinneth seven times a day”? We italicize the words
that are not God’s words. The real verse reads differently: “A good man
falleth seven times, and riseth up again.”
are glad to notice in the first place that we do not have to fall seven times a
day. This is certainly in itself a great relief. The thought of seven falls in a
lifetime, sad as it is, is more endurable than the seven daily overtakings and
the second place, we are delighted to find on tracing the word “falleth”
back into the original that it does not mean sin at all, but refers to temporal
affliction or trouble. So the true meaning of the verse is that a just man will
or may fall into great sorrows or troubles seven times in his life, but he shall
rise up from them all!
ends the boasted array of Scripture that was supposed to teach the impossibility
of being pure in heart and holy in life. The false meanings attributed to them
go down before an honest investigation, and especially before the heavy
broadsides of the Ten Commandments and such cannonades as “Stand in awe and
sin not,” “Awake to righteousness and sin not.” “These things write I
unto you, that ye sin not.”
crown all, after we go over the battlefield and make a closer scrutiny of these
scriptural batteries that were supposed to be firing into us and our claims
concerning holiness we discover that they are our own guns, and are really
pointing against the men who have tried to use them against us, and that they
are in perfect harmony with the rest of the Bible, which teaches us the gracious
fact that God has granted to us through the life and death of his Son that
“we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without
fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.”