Is Sin Suppressed or Eradicated?

By A. M. Hills



For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. – 1 John 3:8

The finished work of Jesus, in delivering us from the works of the devil, is shown by the meanings of the verb “destroy.” They are: to loosen, unbind, disengage, set free, deliver, break up, destroy, demolish. What a glorious deliverance from sin we may have from Jesus! But some would belittle this deliverance by the following comment: “It is no doubt true that Christ is going to destroy the works of the devil. But there is nothing in those words to show that He does so in our hearts, either immediately or suddenly. We must infer that the process of destruction is a gradual one, wrought in successive stages.” We will answer through Bishop Wescott and Dean Alford.

Bishop Wescott says, “Two objects of the manifestation of Christ cover the whole work of redemption — to take away sins and to destroy the works of the devil. The works of the devil originate in and spring forth from indwelling sin, which the devil puts into men’s hearts. The efficacy of Christ’s Atonement extends both to sins committed and to indwelling sin.” Dean Alford points out that the aorist tense for the verbs “take away” and “destroy” implies “to entirely take away in one act.”

Dr. Daniel Steele, in his noble essay, The Tense Readings of the Greek Testament, says of the aorist tense in Rom. 6:6, “The aorist here teaches the possibility of an instantaneous death­ stroke to indwelling sin.” He says again, “We have looked in vain for one of the verbs denoting sanctification or perfection in the imperfect tense (which would teach a progressive work of sanctification). The verb ‘hagiazo’ (to sanc­tify) is always aorist or perfect. The same may­ be said of the verbs ‘katharizo’ (to cleanse) and ‘haginizo’ (to purify). Our inference is that the energy of the Holy Spirit in the work of entire sanctification, however long the preparation, delivers the death stroke (to indwelling sin) by a sudden act. This is corroborated by the universal testi­mony of those who have experienced this grace.”

The truth is, we have the most critical and scholarly commentaries and Greek expositors, along with lexicons and grammars on our side in this matter. If the Greek New Testament teaches anything about a scrip­tural experience of entire sanctification by nouns, adjectives and verbs, and even by adverbs and prepositions, then it teaches the doctrine of this heart cleansing work. Repressive power is nowhere ascribed to the blood of Christ, but rather purgative efficacy; and its sanctifying work is immediate in the life of the Christian.

Carnality (indwelling sin) can be removed from the heart through the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:11). We are strengthened in our faith by the very meaning of the word “baptism.” It signifies cleansing, and its symbols are “water” and “fire.” They are the two things that are used in this world to make something clean. Water cleanses the outside; fire cleanses the very material of which a thing is composed.

Dr. Daniel Steele wrote, “In trying to show that entire sanctification is nowhere connected with the Spirit baptism, some fail in their explanation of ‘fire’ in the phrase, ‘baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire,’ to note that fire is a purifying element and is here associated with the Holy Spirit. Since earthen and metallic vessels cannot be perfectly cleansed by water, fire is employed as the most perfect purifier. Water symbolizes the initial cleansing and fire symbolizes the com­plete purification wrought by the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal fullness.”

“Perhaps the whole being — body, soul and spirit — is not cleansed by the sanctifying bap­tism,” someone may say. We reply, “Yes, they are, for Paul prays, ‘And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly (holoteleis, ‘wholly,’ ‘to the end,’ ‘quite completely,’ ‘through and through’); and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thess. 5:23). A man is to be sanctified spirit, soul and body, and kept so.”

Another passage of Scripture bears us out on this inter­pretation. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). Not even the body is to be a hiding place for carnality. It is to be a temple of the living God, even as God has said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16).

Just here another person may ask, “Why all this discussion? Is it not just as well to have carnality suppressed in us as to have it removed from us?” We might answer in many ways. Is it better to have a pure heart than to have an impure heart? Is it better to be like God than to be unlike Him? Is it better to please than to displease God? He has set His heart on cleansing us from all sin. For that end He gave His Son to die. We ought to want what Jesus died for.

Moreover, indwelling sin is dangerous. It taxes our spiritual strength and resources to guard against it. It is like dynamite stored in the cellar. It may go off and blow every fair and holy thing in the soul to atoms. John Fletcher said, “So much of indwelling sin as we carry about with us is so much of indwelling hell, so much of the sting which torments the damned, so much of the spiritual fire which will burn up the wicked, so much of the never-dying worm which will prey upon them, so much of Satan’s image that will frighten them, so much of the characteristic by which the devil’s children will be distinguished from the children of God, so much of the black mark by which the goats (the wicked) will be distinguished from the sheep (God’s holy children).”

To plead therefore for the continuance of indwelling sin is no better than to plead for keeping within your hearts one of the sharpest stings of death and one of the hottest coals in hell fire. On the other hand, to obtain Christian perfection is to have the last feature of Belial’s (Satan’s) image erased from your loving souls, the last bit of sting extracted from your composed breasts, and the last spark of hell extinguished in your peaceful bosoms.

We all need such a salvation as we have been describing. Forms of sin, attractive to the carnal mind, abound on every hand. We need to be made dead to their insidious charms. Everything that is inflammatory and can be kindled by the sparks of hell should be removed from our beings. We need a salvation that will make us dead to sin in every form. It is this full salvation that Jesus has provided that we are offering to a sin-sick world.

Is Sin Suppressed or Eradicated? was condensed and revised, and may be reproduced and distributed.

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