There is, within our spiritual, moral, and physical nature, a depravity, "our old man," which must be extracted before we can possess the purity of heart so plainly taught in the word of God. This depravity is so deeply embedded in, and interwoven into, our affections and nature, that, like a closely fitting garment, it seems a part of us; and were it not for the plain teachings of the word of God, and the power of the all-cleansing blood of Christ which can reach the inmost center of our nature, purging out all unnatural tendencies and unholy tempers, the justified believer might conclude that this inborn depravity must be permitted to exist and remain with us all through life. But thank God! there is a remedy in this great redemption plan. The heart can be purified and become a holy temple for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. This depends upon the plainly specified conditions taught in the word of God. He will prepare the temple for his abode if we but furnish him an absolute consecration of the temple. This is our part in this preparatory stage of the work of sanctification. In order that he may purify our nature, we must yield up to him everything that is to be purified. This process involves the loss of all things; for when the heart is thus yielded, everything that it clings to is also yielded, and then, and only then, can the blood of Christ be applied for a perfect cleansing. This is where the subtraction work is effected, where every vestige of depravity is removed from the heart; because it has for this purpose yielded to Jesus. The following scripture sets forth this experience.
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"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." -- Rom.6:6. It cannot be improved upon nor cultivated. It is sinful in nature, and must be dealt with according to the redemption law of crucifixion. It is condemned and must die. It is utterly worthless to God, and harmful to man; therefore, it must die. It clings to life with remarkable tenacity, and it is not within the power of man alone to put it to death. It has so entwined itself into our affections that they and each of their objects must be absolutely yielded up to death, even the most sacred treasures of the heart; so that the true work of purity may be perfectly wrought within us. To simply yield up our old man for his destruction would be but a pleasant sacrifice; for every justified believer who has obtained the knowledge of this enemy within becomes anxious for his destruction. It is not the yielding up of our old man, therefore, that seems such a loss to us; but when we see that our whole being, spirit, soul, and body, with every affection and its object, must be yielded up and truly laid upon the altar, we realize the subtraction process of sanctification -- the loss of all things. Our old man cannot be crucified until everything is thus first yielded up. As long as any one object of our affection is withheld, the consecration is incomplete and the affections can not be purified from this depravity; hence the necessity of an absolute yielding up of everything, to obtain the excellency of this heavenly grace. In this condition we can assuredly experience the meaning of the words: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed." Thank God! this is a present-tense experience for everyone who is willing to be conformed to the perfect will of God. In this condition, Jesus can have the perfect right of way within, and work in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight.
Some one might wonder if we are never permitted in this truly consecrated condition, to set our affections upon anything in this world, or, if we can possess anything as our own, if all must be yielded up and laid upon the altar. If our affections and every object of the same are yielded to Jesus, then we certainly cannot have them placed upon anything else. This is one of the grand provisions of his grace. Jesus now gets between us and every object of our affections. He not only has our affections, but he has the objects of our affections. In the consciousness of this loss to us we also become conscious of the loss of our old, depraved nature, and the gain of a glorious, heavenly purity which we before did not possess. But above all things, we become conscious of the fact that Jesus has become enthroned within our hearts, and now has full control of our entire being. In him we possess all things. He gives us back, with himself, everything that is good for us: father, mother, brother, sister, and every God-given blessing that we had yielded up to him. But they do not seem to us now like they did before. There is something between us and them. What is it? It is Jesus! This makes every blessing so much more precious to us now. A sacredness exists between us and our loved ones which we never realized before. They now get our love only as they get it through Jesus, for he is between us and them. Praise God for this precious experience! We gave everything, our all, for him. He purified our hearts and now gives everything, his all, to us. Without the subtraction of our all, first, we cannot obtain the addition, his all. Thus, after all, we lose nothing but the depravity of our nature, which loss, of course, involves the loss of all things for the time being, but means the gain of all things in the fullness of Christ.
The apostle Paul expresses this crucifixion in his testimony in Gal.2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." There was something of the apostle that was crucified. It was the same as he speaks of in Rom.6:6, "our old man." That depraved, carnal self, the proud, haughty Pharisee, the great Saul of Tarsus who considered himself of such importance among men. This was the =I= that was crucified; but there was an =I= who still lived. This was the humble, sanctified Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ, who now considered himself less than the least of all saints, and not worthy to be called an apostle. What a contrast between the two =I='s. The one, the big =I=; the other, the little =I=. They are exactly of opposite natures. The one was Paul's "old man," the other his humble individual self. Jesus and the big I cannot rule together in the same heart.
How many there are today who have not reached the death experience. They have had their sins forgiven and realize that they are the children of God; but they cannot say that they are crucified with Christ, in the sense of the actual death of their old man. How many there are who are conscious of this inward foe, and yet are taught that it can never become dislodged from their nature and crucified. Praise God! he has provided a remedy in the blood of Christ. By faith in this blood the consecrated believer can receive the cleansing. The depraved nature is crucified, and Christ now takes supreme control of the holy temple.
The language of the apostle in Gal.6:14 also expresses the same experience: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." The blood of the cross has destroyed that inward nature which was the point of contact with the world. As long as this exists within, the world has a strong claim upon us, which, so long as it exists within us, will assert its nature, and, if permitted, will communicate with the world, and cause defeat in our Christian life, so that we cannot conscientiously say we are dead to the world: for there is something within us yet that is actually alive in this respect. This is the point of inward contact with the world, which, when brought into crucifixion, changes our inward condition and enables us to truly say with the apostle, that the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world, by the blood of the cross of Christ, and the life we now live in this mortal body, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost, we live by the faith of the Son of God, who has all power to keep us in the divine law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes and keeps us free from the law of sin and death.
In Matt.15:13 we have this same doctrine of cleansing expressed in the words of Jesus: "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." While it is true that Jesus was speaking of the doctrines of the Pharisees in this instance, we can see beyond the simple doctrines and traditions of men, which are but the outgrowth of this root of depravity which our heavenly Father never planted in the nature of man. The depraved heart is the fertile soil which spontaneously grows all these evil things which Jesus mentions in this parable. The root is there, and so long as it remains, there cannot be a satisfactory Christian life. But the heavenly decree has been uttered by the Redeemer himself, that this plant shall be rooted up, which rooting up can be testified to by thousands of blood-washed saints today. Many plain scriptures teach us that this experience of heart purity was a recognized fact in the apostolic days. Jesus taught that it was attainable and told of its blessings when in Matt.5:8 he speaks of the pure in heart. John writes: "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Paul says that "the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart" (1 Tim.1:5), and in the same letter he writes: "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." -- Chap.3:9. Also in Chap.4:12, he writes: "Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." In Chap.5:22, he says, "Keep thyself pure." In 2 Tim.2:22 we are taught that many of the saints had this experience of cleansing: "Flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
The prophet Malachi saw the glorious fullness of this gospel salvation as he beheld and spake by the Spirit: "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." -- Mal.3:3.
All these plain texts set forth the doctrines of cleansing beyond question. Then when Peter takes the witness-stand (Acts 15:9) and testifies that he and all the one hundred twenty at Pentecost, and afterward the household of Cornelius, received the cleansing at the time of the outpouring upon them of the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that God certainly is no respecter of persons, and has the same measure of grace for his people in this evening time of the gospel day. Praise his holy name! Let us magnify and exalt the power of the all-cleansing blood, for it can reach beyond the inmost depths of our fallen nature and wash us whiter than snow. "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" --
"Oh, now I see the cleansing wave,
"The cleansing stream, I see, I see,