THIS subject has been dwelt upon since the beginning of the world, and we are sure that we shall say nothing new about it. It is good, however, to be reminded now and then of the things we know. Knowing that we had to make another attempt to write, a few moments ago just the one word “sin” came into our mind, and with it came some reflections, some experiences and revelations, as we hope, of the past. There was a long time that we did not know sin, inasmuch as we were without the law, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Thousands have lived and hundreds of thousands are living to-day without the slightest knowledge of either sin or righteousness; yet this class verily believes it has decidedly more understanding of sin and holiness than the poor and despised Old School Baptists. There are many things which can be learned by man in the schools of men, and by giving time and attention to investigation. Many men have become exceedingly wise by such course, and have shone as lights in the world; but there are some things not attained unto that way. Children are taught not to sin, or not to do bad things nor say bad words, and that if they abstain from such things they are not sinners, and that God will love them because of their goodness. Their teachers are as blind as they, having utterly no knowledge of sin. If the Lord loved only those who are good, his love from the beginning of the world would never have been bestowed upon man, save the man Christ Jesus. “There is none good, no, not one.” The apostle tells us that sin is the transgression of the law. We must accept what he says. Hence when Adam transgressed the law sin entered the world, and from that day to the present time not one son or daughter of Adam has been born free from the sting or poison. The child does not have to grow to manhood or womanhood and commit some crime before it is a sinner. “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Such testimony shows man up in his true light and condition. The babe is not long in the world before the disease, sin, is made manifest, and in some of these little creatures there seems more devil than angel. This statement is true, whether believed or not. The smallest sprout of a poison tree is as poison as the large tree, because it had its life in the seed, hence is sure to bring forth the same poison fruit. It is not what the man or child does that makes them sinners, but they are sinners because of the transgression of the law in Adam, hence their deeds only manifest the disease and are the effects rather than the cause of sin. How then can man be just with God? How can the guilty be clean? When the Ethiopian can change his skin and the leopard his spots, then they who are unholy can make themselves holy and the guilty can justify themselves in the sight of God. But this Bible statement removes forever the very shadow of possibility of their ever doing such a thing. If the Ethiopian could change his skin he would no longer be an Ethiopian, and if the leopard could change his spots it would no longer be a leopard, but because of the utter impossibility to make such change the Ethiopian remains an Ethiopian and the leopard remains a leopard. Taking this scriptural doctrine of the matter we conclude that man can no more change his nature from sin to holiness than he could make a world. Really man is much more helpless than he realizes, even from a natural standpoint, though he boasts great things. This sort of doctrine is credited as making man a mere machine, having to be acted upon at all times in order that he perform the works of God. It is also claimed that it does away with “free will.” If the Lord tells us by the apostle that he works in his children both to will and to do of his good pleasure, shall we dispute it? If he tells us it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy, shall we insist that the will of man is free to accept or reject the works of God? Let God be true and every man a liar. That the children of God are sinners by nature, and that sin continues to manifest itself while life lasts, will be affirmed by the heirs of glory until time shall be no more. In the days of Job the devil always presented himself with the children of God, and if we know, experimentally, anything about the matter, there is never a time when sin is absent from the children of God, except in the sense of having been redeemed from it by the blood of the Lamb. We are acquainted with a man who not long ago related an experience to which every subject of grace can testify. The story was about as follows: A certain thing, absolutely wrong, had been in his mind for some time, and he knew that he could accomplish that thing if he would. In a sense it meant much to him; on the other hand, he knew it would mean disaster and ruin should not everything turn out as he had planned. For weeks, he said, I traveled night and day with, as it were, the virgin purity on the right hand, and sin or Satan on the left. “Sin” prompted him to go on and do that which would gratify and please his carnal appetites, such as covetousness, greed and desire. Purity, on the right hand, would say, Why sell yourself for naught? Sin would say, What is this life without the things your nature desires? Why be a fool and deprive yourself of the very things you so much desire? Purity would say, What would you be profited if you should gain the whole world and lose your own soul, or be a castaway? This man answered sin at every suggestion, I will do that which will gratify me and satisfy my natural propensities. I am fully persuaded to go on in this matter. Immediately he would turn to the promptings of purity and answer, I know you are right, what you tell me is good and true and best for me, even though I die as I am. I will heed your words, your warning, and live. This fight kept up for weeks, the man just hanging in the balance, when at last purity asked, What is of more real value, comfort, satisfaction, joy and peace than the fellowship of the saints, a clear conscience before God and man? Would you take chances of sacrificing all this and your standing as a citizen for all that could be gained by the course sin suggests? Just at this point, when sin was about to prevail, there seemed, he said, some unseen power felt within which made clear the power of God over “sin,” and that power reigned in the deliverance of the man. That man knows “sin” and its power perhaps better than ever before, and no mortal, having never experienced such warfare between the flesh and the Spirit, knows anything of “sin.” The lusts of human nature are the besetting sins of the redeemed, and such evil longings make one feel unfit for the company of the children of God and unworthy a name and a place in his kingdom. Sin, the horrible monster, has caused all the sorrow, sickness, disgrace, war and death that the world has ever known or will ever know, but thanks to the grace of God, by it all his children shall come off more than conquerors and at last shine in the righteousness of God and the Lamb. “Sin” shall forever be left behind, and purity reign in all eternity. - K.
Elder H.C. Ker
Signs of the Times
Vol. 88, No. 2 – January 15, 1920