"What Is Man?"
The Nature of Sanctification
The Effect of Spiritual Awakening
Thirdly (and this is a fairly strong point) writing many years later the Apostle said that in his unregenerate days his position as to the righteousness which is of the law was "found blameless" (Phil. 3). He puts himself into Romans 7 and there says that the law was too much for him; it smote him; it slew him; he could not stand up to it. Under the burden he cried "O wretched man," not "found blameless." Something must have happened to disturb his complacency and make him such a divided man with civil war raging within. In the unregenerate man conscience was hiding behind the ritual and observance of the law. Rigid observance of its forms and rites made conscience play deceiving tricks, saying peace, peace, when there was no peace. But then the time of spiritual awakening comes, this kind of thing can go o no longer. It cannot play deceit any more, and, while there may be some flirting with sin on the part of the soul, the awakened and quickened spirit hates and loathes its own soul and calls a spade a spade - that is, calls sin sin! Instead of treating the ceremonial law as an offset to the moral, it sees that the latter is the important one, and that "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (2 Samuel 15:22).
Two Possible Evils - Romans 7, or Antinomianism
Unless the meaning and value of the death and resurrection of Christ is known, and the truth of identification by faith therewith, one of two terrible things will follow. Either there will be a history such as is set forth in Romans 7, a history of struggle, longing and defeat: fear of going back on faith in Christ, and yet deep disappointment with the Christian life: leading ever nearer to despair and gloom; or else there will wet in that terrible, conscious-searing, spirit-deadening evil known as antinomianism. It might be useful to state what that doctrine is. The word is "anti", against, and "nomos", law. The term was first used by Luther as a designation of the followers of John Agricola, who maintained that the moral law was not binding, as such, upon Christians. But the thing itself existed long before Luther's time or the name given to it. From the earliest Christian times, there have been those who have denied that the law was of use or obligation under the Gospel dispensation. It would appear from several passages in the New Testament (Rom. 3:8; 6:1; Eph. 5:6; 2 Peter 2:18, 19), that the principle was at work even in Apostolic times, for in those passages the Apostles warn their converts against perversions of their teaching as an excuse for licentiousness. At the heart of this doctrine there lies a mistaken interpretation of the doctrine of justification by faith. Some have in the past even taught that, being spiritual, their nature could not be corrupted, whatever their moral conduct might be; or that an elect person did not sin even when he committed actions in themselves evil.
Now, no one would sponsor such a doctrine deliberately, but the principle may operate all the same. Justification by faith: having finality and fullness of perfection in Christ: Final Perseverance, i.e. once in grace always in grace: and suchlike beliefs, can - strange to say - produce a hard and legal kind of Christianity if wrongly held, and result in many things which may be either positively evil, questionable, or other than according to the graciousness of Christ.
Two Doctrines of Sanctification
From the Scriptures it is possible to frame two mutually exclusive doctrine of sanctification. One is that our sanctification is in Christ Jesus, complete and perfect, and, having taken Him as our holiness objectively, we must just trust that He answers for us in all Divine demands and requirements. We in ourselves are not holy, and it can only be contrary to faith, and an unhealthy introspection or subjectivity, if we become intensely occupied with the matter of personal holiness. We must believe that His Cross has done something which hold good in the sight of God in spite of our state, and "looking unto Jesus," or the attitude of faith, is the way, and the only way, of deliverance from despair or unrest. We have no hesitation in saying that such is a mixed and indefinite position. It uses certain glorious truths to obscure other equally glorious truths. This is a position which makes it necessary for those who hold it to keep ever on their guard lest their defenses are broken down. They are always having to go around to see if their position is intact. It really does not settle the question when they either fall into sin and its resultant shame, or meet another and more desirable position in teaching, or those who have it. They know that they cannot accept an alternative position which to them goes to the other extreme, and so they have to dig themselves into that which is not perfectly satisfactory.
The other doctrine is that which, with varying forms of words and phraseology, and minor shades of differences,means that sanctification is the rooting out, eradication, cleansing, destroying of all sin, so that a sanctified person does not sin, and cannot sin; the sin nature has been fully dealt with. To those who hold this view, sanctification - in this sense here mentioned - is an act, a conclusive experience at a given moment, just as is new birth; and it is to be taken as such by faith.
Here, again, we have to say that there is mixture and a position which has brought a very great number of believers into confusion and despair. We say that both of these positions have Scripture used for their support, and when you look at the Scriptures, on the face of them, there seems to be such support.
The passages cited from John's Epistle appear to present a contradiction:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." "He that doeth sin is of the devil." "Whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither knoweth Him." "Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not." "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin: ... he cannot sin."
These words must be regarded as all addressed to Christians. This seems proved by Chapter 1:7:
"If we walk in the light ... the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Here, then, is the position. A child of God has to walk in the light, confess his sins, acknowledge sinfulness, and, as he does so, the Blood keeps on cleansing. At the same time "He that doeth sin is of the devil," and "Whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither knoweth Him." And yet, again, at the same time "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin ... he cannot sin."
(continued with # 11 [an apparent dilemma]