This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Danger of a Light Estimate of Sin

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you. And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged." — John 16:7-11 ASV.

A light estimate of sin is the bane of modern Christian thought. It is attended by a depreciation of the moral law. Since the law underlies the atonement, whatever lessens the majesty of the law detracts from the necessity and value of the atonement. Thus these fundamentals all suffer loss when one of them, sin, law, atonement, is discounted. To these three vital doctrines we may add the pardon of sin and sanctification, together with eternal retribution. When one of these doctrines is undervalued, all are soon weakened. Says Principal Moule:

A full, strong current of opinion in the professing Church of Christ runs at the present day directly against a grave, thoroughgoing doctrine of sin and its correlative truths of eternal judgment and of the unspeakable need of the atoning blood and of a living personal faith in the crucified and risen One. One would think that some earnest teachers had learned, by some other path surely than that of the Word of God, to look with temperate eyes upon sin as a phenomenon sure at last to disappear under long processes of divine order.

The final evanescence of moral evil is a pleasing delusion of liberalism which cannot endure the idea of sin as an eternal blot on the face of the universe. A careful study of the parables of Christ shows the human family in the day of judgment separated and sentenced to the opposite destinies of punishment and reward with no hint of an ultimate reunion. Moral evil as a finalty under the government of omnipotent goodness is a problem of less difficulty than the permission of sin by absolute holiness. The argument which justifies the arbitrary non-prevention of sin will justify its sovereign non-extinction. But we need no such argument. God has only one way for the extinction of sin, the blood of His Son presented by penitent faith. He will never crush sin with an almighty trip hammer, as Universalists desire; nor will He crush the sinner into nonentity to suit annihilationism. Hence final impenitence can have no other sequence than everlasting misery. Without any revelation Plato comes to this conclusion. His moral reason demanded it. Hence it is not unreasonable.

What is the remedy for inadequate and superficial views of sin as a transient, cutaneous disease soon to be outgrown by the soul? Preach earnestly and persistently the office of the Paraclete as the convincer of the stupendous sin of unbelief toward Christ, of righteousness and of judgment to come. Liberalism can be cured only by the awakening truths of Christ's gospel. No office of the Comforter can be neglected without moral disaster, which always overtakes those who advance beyond the New Testament in their fancied progress. "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ hath not God" (II John 9, Revised Version).

— from The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 6.