The Church of the Nazarene Examined;
or The Matter of Eradication Considered
Dr. W. Noble King
The Matter of Eradication Considered
Reading: Mark 16: 15b;
Acts 26: 18b; Gal. 5: 16-25.
1. In psalm 51:5a the Psalmist wrote: "Behold I was shapen in iniquity." Then Paul, in writing to the Ephesians, said that we "...were by nature the children of wrath, even as others: (2:3b). Whedon states that both verses teach inbred, or inborn sin, and then points out that David did not mean to infer that his conception was the result of an act of sin by his parents; but rather that his conception, and pre-natal development took place in a state of sin. The disease of sin, then, lay as deeply imbedded in his very being as the principle of life itself. Indeed, both began simultaneously or concurrently. In this sense Paul also meant that we were all by nature the children of wrath.
2. Now, in Romans
7:17, Paul calls this nature within, "the sin that dwelleth in me."
Sin is here personified as an indweller in the very essence of the being
of self-hood. Sin is not here declared to be as essential element
or attribute of the essence of self-hood. Rather it is presented
as a foreign element staining or corrupting it. This evil indweller,
being grounded in the essence or nature of the self, expresses itself through
every attribute of personality, and thus colors or stains every human expression.
Paul summed it up in one masterly statement when he said, "For to be carnally
minded is death" (Romans 8:6a).
First then, let us notice that the Holy spirit, through Moses in Genesis 3, and then later through Paul in Romans 5:12, said that sin entered the human race through one manís disobedience: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
1. That one man, through whom sin entered, was himself created in the holy image of his holy Creator, but finite. Then, after the fall, it is said that that one man became the father of a son in his own fallen and depraved image (Gen. 5:3). That was genetic transmission. Thus all are constituted sinners, although not after the likeness of Adamís transgression. That is, Adam by his act of sin brought guilt upon himself, and generated the carnal nature within his own soul. He was personally responsible for it, and guilty of both the act and the state of heart resulting therefrom. His descendants were born sinful in heart, but personally responsible for neither the initial act on the part of Adam, nor the resultant carnal state of the heart. Thus all are constituted sinners, but not after the similitude of Adamís transgression (Rom. 5:14).
2. Now this genetically inherited sin is spoken of in the singular ( ), and is of such a nature that either it is all present or else all absent--that is, totally removed. It can be dealt with only as an undividable unit. We say, however, that a person is partially or initially sanctified in the act of regeneration. This initial sanctification is a perfect and complete work in its own field--it cleanses the soul of acquired pollution back to the innocency of childhood, but does not touch inherited or inborn depravity. Then, with regard to the second work of grace, we say that one is either sanctified wholly, or else not sanctified at all in the sense of being made pure in heart. We thus have two perfect halves making one perfect whole in the field of personal redemption.
3. All of the
evil possibilities of the carnal nature do not express themselves in any
one person--that would be impossible. Hence different evils express
themselves in different persons. The carnal nature must be thus differentiated
from added sins or transgressions. Those added sins or transgressions
do not further stain the immortal spirit, but they do negate the results
of prevenient grace, and stain the life, and further corrupt the character.
Prevenient or common grace is also partially restored to its pre-fall place
in the life of the regenerated person. We thus say, as we have already
pointed out, that one is partially or initially sanctified in the experience
of regeneration. However, the totality of the inherited carnal nature,
with which he was born, always remains after regeneration.
5. This situation is clearly set forth in one of Paulís great figures or allegories: Ishmael was born into Abrahamís home first, then Isaac was born into the same home later. Ishmael was by a bondwoman, and Isaac was by a freewoman. Both, however, were born into the same home, and each felt that he had the total right to be there. Ishmaelís right was that of primogeniture, and Isaacís right lay in that he was the son of the legal wife of free-woman, and not of the concubine or bondwoman. As a result each tenaciously opposed the other. In a little while it became clear to Abraham that both could not stay there.
(1) I know that Paul likens Hagar and Ishmael to the Jerusalem on earth and in bondage to Rome, and Sarah and Isaac to the Jerusalem above and free from tyranny. Paul, however, carried the allegory into the field of heart experience. One represented the carnal nature in the heart, and the other represented the new spiritual nature in the same heart. This is what Paul had to say about it:
,,,he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir (of the human heart) with the son of the freewoman (Gal. 4:29ff).
(2) Later, Paul took this same truth out of the field of symbolism and placed it in the field of factual experience to show that those two natures stand opposed to each other in the human heart. He wrote:
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would (Gal. 5:17).
Secondly, let us notice that we are not responsible for having this carnal nature in the first place; but we are responsible for keeping it after we have knowledge and light on the matter of its removal. The Holy Spirit blamed Adam for the entrance of inbred sin into the race, but the same Holy Spirit blames us for retaining it in our hearts after we know that we can get rid of it. Thus Adam became carnal in heart by an act of disobedience, and we remain carnal in heart (when such is the case) by an act of disobedience. Disobedience was and is responsible in both cases.
1. When Adam became depraved in heart he was automatically deprived of certain blessings and benevolences from God. He was created under the law of development with a finitely perfect mind, and soul, and body; and was in Godís garden, in Godís presence, and anointed with Godís Spirit. Of those, and many other benevolences he was deprived in the fall. But the carnal nature is much more than deprivation. Further, the restoration of fellowship with God, of heart purity, of perfect love, and of the witness of the Spirit is not the act of entire sanctification, but the results of that act, or the state of heart following that act. The act of entire sanctification comes to grips with the depraved state of the human heart, or that which causes the depraved state.
2. The carnal nature cannot be outgrown, or removed by means of education, or reformation, or cultural refinement, or indeed for that matter by any act of ours. It is sometimes referred to as selfishness as that is its essential characteristic; or, it is sometimes referred to as depravation as that is the moral state that it creates in the human heart. It is thus a spiritual or moral entity, or "thing in itself." The dictionary (Websterís unabridged New International Dictionary) defines an entity (Latin, entiti) as an essence, or existent, or nature with attributes of which predictions may be made. The carnal nature is thus an entity by every definition of the word. Paul refers to it as such, and attributes to it certain actions or works. We again quote Paulís famous passage:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like.
These predictions, or attributes, or works, are all positive in nature, but evil, and are not the expressions of a vacuum; but of an entity operating in that spiritual vacuum. When we get rid of this evil entity, we automatically get rid of this vacuous state.
3. This carnal entity, of which predictions can be made, and to which works are attributed as attributes, is a spiritual or moral fungus, and is not physical in nature at all. The early Methodist holiness writers and preachers were quick to point out that the carnal nature was not a physical entity but a moral one. Hence when this moral fungus is removed personality is not vitiated but merely restored to its normal state.
(1) The terms used to describe this spiritual or moral fungus declare it an entity. Some of these terms are: original sin, the body of sin, racial sin, indwelling sin, inherited sin, inbred or inborn sin; the body of death, the sin of the world, filthiness of the spirit, the carnal nature, the old man, the old leaven, the root of bitterness, enmity against God, and carnal leprosy.
(2) The terms used with regard to the removal of the carnal nature also declare it an entity: wash, cleanse, purify, refine, and purge. Something has to be washed away, cleansed away, refined and purged out. That something is both undesired and real. That which remains is then free from this foreign and unwanted element.
(3) Stronger terms and figures, however, than washing, and cleansing, and purging are used. The strongest figure of all is probably Paulís reference to the Hebrew custom of circumcision. In applying the physical custom to the spiritual field Paul said, "But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter." Moses had also said, "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live" (Deut. 30:6). Paulís figure of a dead body strapped on to a living body--"...who shall deliver me from the body of this death?", also calls for the knife. Then Jesus, himself, said, "Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. "In all three figures we have the surgeonís knife used, and amputation taught.
4. Thus this carnal entity or thing in itself is likened to dirt which is removed from objects by the application of water--but water is a type of the Holy Spirit. It is also likened to dross in silver or in gold which is removed therefrom by the use of fire--but fire is a type of the Holy Spirit. It is further likened to a dead object or to a fungus which calls for a knife or sword in amputation--but again a sword is a type of the Holy Spirit. I know that there are figures here, but figures do not over emphasize the truth. That is, the thing prefigured is always more real than the figure. On this matter Dr. Wakefield says,
God can no more make a false impression on the human mind by the use of figures, than he can lead men into error by the plainest and most positive declarations; for both would be alike contrary to the Divine veracity. Nor will his goodness, and more then his truth, allow him to alarm his moral creatures with groundless fears, or the represent the consequences of sin as more dreadful than they really are (A Com. Sy. of Christian Theology, p. 642).
Thirdly, we now come to the matter of eradication. We have noticed that we have such figures as wash, cleanse, refine, purge, and amputate. The term eradication is probably no stronger than is the term amputation. They are, indeed, synonymous.
1. The dictionary meaning of the term eradication is "the act of rooting out, the condition of being rooted out, complete destruction and removal, extermination" (Funk and Wagnall, New Standard Dictionary, 1939--entity). The term eradication is drawn in part from the words of Jesus to his disciples when he said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." The Greek form is . The same expression is found in Matthew 13:29; Luke 17:6; and Jude 1:12. When we change the form . "...shall be rooted up" into the first person singular, we have , namely, "I up-root, I root out" (Elliott, p. 145).
2. Now, "I up-root, I root out" may mean merely, that I up-root this plant to replant it over here in a better place. That is not the meaning of the Greek term at all. We now turn to I John 3:8 where we read: "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy ( ) the works of the devil. When we change the form "that he might destroy" into the present, we have , namely, "I loose or I destroy," in this case "I destroy." Now we shall put the two aspects of the thought together: "I up-root this plant that I may utterly destroy it." That is the meaning of the Greek word , and that is eradication.
3. Now if we again turn to the dictionary we find that the first or preferred meaning of the term eradication is "the act of plucking up by the roots," and, on the other hand the first and preferred meaning of the term "the act of plucking up by the roots" is eradication. They are thus given as equal synonyms, and either may be used at the discretion of the translator. However, the term eradication is nearer the Greek in meaning than is plucking up by the roots, as eradication embraces the destruction of the entity plucked up. The word eradication does not appear in the King James Version as such; but he who says that it is not a Bible word ignores the early scripts, and does violence to the Greek texts. The English equivalent for eradication does appear in several other languages--the Spanish for instance.
4. In II Chronicles 29:17, and II Kings 23:4, we have a record of the priestsí cleansing the temple at Jerusalem by removing all the dirt, filth, rubble, and idols of Baal, and carrying them down to the valley of Kidron without the city and burning them. In Paulís famous figure of the crucifixion of the old man we have the unwanted removed by destruction. All of those expressions carry the truth of this double act--to pluck up by the roots and to destroy utterly, or eradication.
1. Now, those two aspects of sanctification--initial cleansing in regeneration, and heart cleansing in entire sanctification constituted the heart of Paulís message to the gentile world. He said, that his God-given message was
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:18).
2. Thus Paulís God-given message to the gentile world was forgiveness of sins, and entire sanctification by faith. Now whatever is by faith must be of necessity attained here in this life. In the first work, or in initial sanctification, we are forgiven or pardoned, regenerated in heart, and justified in the sight of God. In this day of the greatest antinomian revival known in history in which heart repentance, confession of sins, restitution, and the witness of the Spirit are ignored we must preach regeneration with scriptural clarity and insistence. Entire sanctification will not fit on the foundation of an antinomian profession of regeneration.
3. Then we must preach the second work, or entire sanctification, with equal clarity and insistence from every angle and viewpoint as that is our special message. Occasionally ministers say that they have difficulty in preaching on the subject of entire sanctification. This three-fold principle, however, must be always remembered: whatever we feed our minds the most with; whatever we know the most about; whatever we love the best and experience the clearest ourselves, we can speak the easiest about. We must therefore pray about it, meditate upon it, and study it. When we do so we shall experience less difficulty in preaching on the subject of entire sanctification than we do in preaching on any other subject--everything else being equal.
Texts may be freely used for personal or scholarly
purposes, provided they remain unaltered, Dr. King is given full credit,
and this website is referenced.