IT would be difficult to attach more importance to the question at the head of this article than what really belongs to it. The honor of God, the happiness of humankind, purity of the Church, and the salvation of souls are involved in it. The Christian who is conscious of the evil of sin as it dwells within them is anxiously endeavoring experimentally and practically to solve the question. To them, living without sin is the most thought of, the most desired, the most pursued. It is equivalent to walking with God, to bruising Satan under the feet, to subdue the flesh, to overcoming the world, to loving God with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, to having the same mind which was in Christ, to having the willfully given up to God, to be holy as He is holy, to walking in the light as He is in the light, and having the blood of Jesus Christ His Son CLEANSING us FROM ALL sin. Is it possible consequently to live without sin? This is the question of questions to the mind of the Christian, to whom God has made known the plague of their own heart.
The answer to this question will depend on the consulted oracle, the spirit with which the inquiry is presented, and the reply waited for. Consult Reason in her abstract powers, and the answer will be doubtful. Consult Philosophy in her involved and varying exercises, and the answer will be mystical and unsatisfactory. Consult nature in the amplitude of her resources; there will be no speech or language to answer in this matter. If we consult our own hearts, the answer will be a confident and emphatic “No.” Suppose we consult Religion as formed by humanities opinions, creeds, worship, and living. In that case, the answer alternates between ” No” and ” Yes,” and we do not know what to believe.
From all these oracles, we withdraw without obtaining a satisfactory answer to our question. Nor can we be surprised that they all should thus respond to our inquiry. They are honest in answering according to their ability and province.
There is one oracle yet remaining – The Holy Scriptures. Let us turn to that with our inquiry and wait for a response. The voice which speaks here is Divine, Infallible, Perfect. It is the voice of Him who is infinite in knowledge and understanding. He knows all the conditions, circumstances, capacities, and capabilities of human nature. He knows all the resources of His grace as available for humanity, and all the relations of Himself to humanity, and of the relations of humanity to Him, with the respective mutual obligations arising from both. Therefore, what He says in reply to our inquiry will be the utterance of Absolute, Perfect Knowledge.
It must be borne in mind that the question for consideration respects only Christians, who have already believed in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. The question has no reference to unbelievers, whose nature is yet unchanged by the grace of the Spirit. It would be altogether out of place in this connection, “They that are in the flesh CANNOT please God.”
The question, then, having reference only to believing, pardoned Christians, we have no need to argue upon the authority of the oracle. They believe as much in the authority of this to teach as they do in the power of Jesus to forgive. Whatever the Scriptures teach on the subject proposed, they will bring their hearts readily to receive.
If we sit down before this oracle and listen to its full-volumed voice, as comprised of the voice of each book, its language is, “These things speak we unto you that ye sin not.” Or, if we listen to the voice of each prophet, apostle, evangelist, the utterance is the same, “These things speak’ I unto you that ye sin not.” Or, if we ask one of the most learned, zealous, philosophical, of the inspired writers, who lived towards the close of Divine Revelation, he says, “Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17.
We hope, at different times, to place before our readers the various responses of the oracles of God on this all-important question.
by J. Bate and updated and revised by Nathan Zipfel