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A STUDY ON SANCTIFICATION THAT BUILDS ON THE INFLUENTIAL TEACHING OF WILLIAM H. DURHAM (AD 1873-1912), PART 3
by Karl Kemp
4/06/2019 / Bible Studies
3. Some Excerpts from William H. Durham and Early Pentecostalism: A Multifaceted Reassessment by Christopher J. Richmann, Baylor University, in Pneuma 37, 2015, pages 224-243. The reason this article is important for my paper is his information regarding A. S. Copley, who taught sanctification very similar to the way William H. Durham taught it. Copley published his teaching before Durham did. Copley's teaching helps us understand what Durham taught about the crucifixion of the old man, and it helps confirm what I said above regarding Durham's teaching about the crucifixion of the old man. Copley's teaching on this topic is better presented than Durham's. Both ministers had a lot in common. Copley "experienced spirit [Spirit] baptism in Warren, Ohio early in 1907" (page 230). For Durham it was at Azusa Street Mission in February 1907. And they both eventually taught the Finished Word of Calvary viewpoint against the second work sanctification viewpoint that was very widely accepted by the early Pentecostals.
Based on the publication of Copley's teaching on this topic in the May 1, 1910 issue of the Pentecost, Richmann suggests that Copley published on the finished work salvation and sanctification before Durham did (page 231). Richmann points out that there are some discrepancies on dates in much of the literature on this topic. He takes the viewpoint that Durham first published on this topic "between August 1910 and January 1911" (page 234). He is right that "the July 1, 1910 edition of Durham's Pentecostal Testimony makes no mention of the finished-work teaching or even addresses sanctification in a substantial way" (page 227). Anyway, Richmann agrees with everybody else that I know of that "Durham became the spokesperson for the new theology. Durham quickly outpaced Copley in his outspoken advocacy for the teaching and leadership of the finished-work movement, but this should not overshadow Copley's contribution" (page 234).
Through the internet I learned that Copley had written a lengthy track on this topic in 1909, so it seems clear that he published this view before Durham. However, it is clear that Durham was discussing this new viewpoint with many, perhaps (probably) including Copley, long before he published it (see page 1 of Vol. 1, No. 8 of the 1911 edition of Durham's Pentecostal Testimony). Copley could have been influenced by Durham, and Durham could have been influenced by Copley, or they both could have influenced one another. Their views have a whole lot in common, and I'm especially interested in their teaching on the crucifixion of the old man and the ability of Christians to walk with the victory over all sin (sin by God's definition) through identification with the Lord Jesus by grace through faith, but not the eradication of the old man, which is ever ready to manifest itself in sin if permitted to do so. (Sometimes Durham speaks of the old man being crucified, but as you keep reading he eventually makes it clear that we must keep the old man crucified, which is far from being automatic.) I believe we are called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over all sin (sin by God's definition) by grace through faith, but I don't believe the New Testament teaches the eradication of the old man/sinful nature before we are glorified at the end of this age.
I'll include several brief quotations from Richmann (on his page 231). He is commenting on Copley's article, "Pauline Sanctification," in the May 1, 1910 issue of the Pentecost. The quotations inside my quotations of Richman are from Copley. " 'Christian' sanctification is understood as 'crucifixion.' ...Christian sanctification believes a fact, viz, our death with Christ. ...Christian sanctification is 'wholly by grace' which 'is a reproduction of Christ.' ...Christian sanctification reckoned the old person dead. ... The crucifixion means 'identification' with Christ: believers have 'died to sin in Him and are alive unto God in Him forever.' ...'We do right, but his indwelling causes [us] to do it. [I (Kemp) prefer "enables," not "causes."] God will not leave room for a whit of self-glory' [I (Kemp) agree].
[Now quoting Richmann's next paragraph:] Emphasizing the past tense in scriptural references to Christ's work, Copley argued that Scripture's grammar 'tell(s) us of the finished work of Christ.' 'So there remains nothing more for us to do but to believe what God says.' While essentially forensic [legal], '[t]his reckoning becomes actually real in us by the power of the Holy Spirit as we continue to believe God.' " Like with Durham, this holy life only becomes a reality in our daily lives as we continue to believe (to have faith in) God. We must walk in the Word and by the Spirit by faith on a continuous basis. It is clear that the old man/sinful nature was not eradicated with this point of view, but the total victory over the world, the flesh/old man, and the devil and his hosts is available to be appropriated by faith. This is very important!
I'll quote some more from Richmann (his page 232): "Copley's attack on holiness theology [with entire sanctification, which includes the eradication of the old man] being viewed as a second experience, was in many ways similar to Durham's teaching. Like Durham, Copley used the phrase 'finished work' to emphasize that Christ has accomplished sanctification already for believers and 'identification' [with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection by faith] as shorthand for how believers are made holy. ... Copley was more pointed than Durham in his attack on the Wesleyan doctrine of eradication, deliberately juxtaposing the theory of eradication with crucifixion in the Pauline sense: 'the old man, or carnal mind is never eradicated. He is judicially crucified with Christ on Calvary and is held in the death state as we count on this fact [as we appropriate this reality in our daily lives by grace through faith]."
Richmann has a lengthy footnote here, which I'll quote: "Copley, 'Pauline Sanctification,' page 5 [of The Pentecost (Kansas City, May 1, 1910)]. Scholars disagree whether Durham intended a type of eradication. [I have shown above that, although Durham sometimes spoke of total victory over all sin outward and inward in a way that seemed to teach the eradication of the old man, if you read more of what he taught he made it clear that the old man is not eradicated and we must enforce the crucifixion of the old man, by grace through faith, which is very far from being automatic or always easy.] Reed argues that Durham 'was not implying a form of eradication' (In Jesus Name, 89, cf. 99), while Farkas argues that Durham's doctrine of crucifixion was 'the same as eradication' ('William H. Durham and the Sanctification Controversy,' page 238). [[I'll quote quite a bit from this PhD thesis of Farkas next in this paper. For one thing (as I will demonstrate) Farkas included some excerpts from Durham that don't fit that conclusion. Anyway, and I believe this is very important, Durham taught that Christians ARE called, and enabled, to walk in the righteousness of God with the victory over all sin (by God's definition of sin, including inward sin), by grace, through identification with Christ, by faith. (now continuing to quote Richmann's footnote:)]] At least for Copley, a crucial distinction seemed to exist between eradication and crucifixion. [I'm sure this is true for Durham too. What Copley said on this topic helps demonstrate what Durham meant.] As Copley stresses, something that is crucified exists, though dead and impotent. But that which is eradicated is in a state on non-being. [You could look at least look at it this way (define the words this way).] The crucifixion motif helps explain how sin can reemerge after sanctification, while the eradication label left people doubting their sanctification experience [very much so if they sin after supposedly having been sanctified entirely with the evil nature supposedly having been eradicated; many such people begin to seriously doubt their salvation and the devil is eager to help drive them into despair; anyway, holiness Christians typically make it clear that Christians who have been sanctified entirely as a second experience can fall into sin]. Durham's stress on returning to first grace through repentance suggests that he chose the crucifixion terminology over eradication for just that reason. This is the essential flaw in Farkas's designation of Durham's sanctification theology as 'radicalized Wesleyanism,' for his interpretation rests on identifying eradication and crucifixion in Durham's thought (page 259 in Farkas' thesis)."
I won't quote any more from Richmann, but I'll quote some from A. S. Copley. I don't agree with every detail, but I'm impressed with his teaching. We need to understand that the New Testament calls us to walk with the victory over all sin, over all sin by God's definition of sin. Durham and Copley agree with this super-important point. We need to be aiming at the target of victory over everything that God would consider to be sin for us, by grace through faith. Sin is a serious word! It seems that Copley was somewhat more gifted in systematic teaching than Durham was. However, it is significant that Durham didn't have much time to develop his new understanding of sanctification before he died in 1912. Durham was noted for being a very effective speaker and leader, and he was totally committed to his ministry. Keep in mind that Durham and Copley had both become Pentecostals before teaching the things they taught that are discussed in this paper.
I'll quote from Copley's 1909 tract titled "Pauline Sanctification." The photocopy I have is nine pages in quite small print. "... Now, when we by faith appropriate our redemption rights, we are made free from sin (Romans 6:7, 14, 18); and the flesh is kept in the death state by faith in the indwelling Holy Spirit - Romans 6:10, 12, 13 [my underlining for emphasis]. 'Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh' - Galatians 5:16" (page 1 of my copy). Copley argues, rightly I believe, that the "flesh" here equals the "old man." The "flesh" here can also be equated with the "sinful nature." The NIV frequently translates the "flesh" (Greek sarks, sarkos) by "sinful nature," including in Gal. 5:16 and 17, 19, and 24.
Romans chapter 6 is probably the most important chapter in the Bible that clearly teaches victory over all sin through Christ, but we need to supplement what is written there to have an adequate understanding of the topic of righteousness, holiness, and victory over sin. For one thing, the all-important Life-Giving, Righteous, Holy Spirit isn't mentioned in Romans chapter 6. He is, however, extensively mentioned in Romans, especially chapter 8. And the Spirit is mentioned in Gal. 5:16 (mentioned by Copley in the preceding excerpt), which is a super-important verse on victory over all sin.
I'll quote part of what Copley says under number 3, under the heading "The Old Man" (page 2 on my copy). "... It is easily possible, though filled with the Spirit, for anyone to drop back into any of these things [referring to the sins mentioned in Col. 3:8-9; Gal. 5:19-21; and 1 Cor. 3:3, which Copley mentioned, or any other sins] except as he is kept by the power of God [and being kept by the power of God isn't automatic; we must cooperate with God's grace and walk by the Spirit in the righteousness of God by faith on a continuous basis; Copley makes it clear in this excerpt as we continue that we must do what is required of us: "to walk in the Spirit" by faith, for example]. We dare not say this if it were not true. This proves beyond contradiction that the old man, or carnal mind, is never eradicated. He was judicially crucified with Christ on Calvary, and is held in the death state as we count on this fact [by faith] and walk in the Spirit or as we are occupied with Christ [my emphasis]. ... ...our human nature still retains weak downward tendencies and may fall the next minute. But Christ comes in [when we are converted] and becomes our positive constant sanctification - our victory over sin, over the world, over the flesh, and over the devil - because 'Christ liveth in me' - Gal. 2:20. [But, as Copley understands, we still must walk in accordance with God's Word, in the Spirit, by God's enabling grace, by faith. I believe that Copley (especially in His writing in the May 1, 1910 edition of The Pentecost that was mentioned by Richmann) puts too much emphasis on Christ living through us. I agree that God must be given all the glory for our salvation, but we have the responsibility to live our lives, by grace through faith, as God's new creations. Copley understands this. I believe Copley misses the balanced truth by frequently mentioning that God gives us faith. (See my Paper on Faith, which is on my internet site; Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.) However, I very much appreciate what he says in the excerpts that I am including in this paper. He really believed, and taught, that we are called and enabled to walk with the victory over all sin.] In the enduement with power, the Holy Spirit takes control of our whole being to subdue the old self-life and develop the Christ-life in us. [It is very important to understand, as Copley does, that the Holy Spirit does not just take control. We have to continue to walk by the Spirit by faith and resist doubt and temptation, etc.] 'If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds [or works] of the body [which equals not doing the "works of the flesh" of Gal. 5:19-21], ye shall live' - Romans 8:13. 'Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust [sinful desire] of the flesh [or old man]' Galatians 5:16."
I'll quote part of what Copley said under his number 5, under the heading "Scripturally Stated" and under the sub-heading "Identification." "... He was crucified. 'I have been crucified,' says Paul. Therefore the old man, the former 'ego,' the old Adamic 'I' is dead. We are simply to believe it. ... We have simply to believe what God says and treat the old man as dead. Hence the apostle says, 'Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord' - Romans 6:11. This reckoning becomes actually real in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we continue to believe God [and not doubting Him in our hearts]. Glory to His Name!"
Then under his number 6 Copley said, " 'We were buried therefore with Him' - Romans 6:4 (Revised Version). Then we should treat the old man as forever in the grave. For the essential old Adam, with all of his belongings of sin and sickness, died and was buried with Christ." Under number 7 Copley went on to speak of our being raised up together in union with Christ. And I'll quote the last few sentences under his number 8, "Therefore, sin [or Satan] has no more claim upon us. Henceforth, sin is a usurper, an intruder, an outlaw, a condemned criminal. Assert your rights in Christ and take your liberty in Him, 'for sin shall not have dominion over you' - Romans 6:14."
I'll quote part of what Copley said under the heading "Our Attitude of Faith" (on page 5 of my copy). I'll quote part of what he said under number 1, "RECKON YE ALSO YOURSELVES TO BE DEAD INDEED UNTO SIN." "If the 'old man' seems to be alive, you simply deny him and believe God. Reckon yourselves dead indeed. It is God's business to make the reckoning real to you. He will certainly do it. This is not a daily dying, for you died once in Christ's death. But it is a daily reckoning of the death of the old Adam nature, the old sinful self."
I'll quote part of what he said under number 2, "RECKON YOURSELVES TO BE ALIVE UNTO GOD - Romans 6:11." "... Some people talk a great deal about their being dead to this and that, and to the other thing, but they have little or no life, because they are always occupied with their death. God declares that I was raised up and seated in the heavenlies with Christ - Eph. 2:6. I just believe what He says about me, and act and talk as one alive in Christ Jesus. I may not seem lively at times; but my heart rejoices over the fact of my death, burial, and resurrection with Christ. My mind is not occupied primarily with my death and life, but rather with Christ Himself - the One who died and arose for me. I am occupied not with death, but with the One who died; not with life, but with the Living One in whom I am alive forevermore. For, mark you, both our death and life are 'through Jesus Christ our Lord' - Romans 6:11.
... Once more let it be said, that our death, burial, and resurrection with Christ are accomplished facts. ... They took place nineteen hundred [two thousand] years ago. We died with Christ then. Now when we accept these facts as facts and appropriate them by faith, we come into conscious deliverance from the dominion of sin [and demons] and into the joy and power of such deliverance. The sinner sees Christ died for his sins. He believes that fact and thus loses the conscience or guilt of sins. He stands guilty before God no longer, because he simply believes what God has declared; namely - that Another, even Christ, has taken his place and has borne his sins. [He also bore the penalties for our sins back to Adam, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin. The Hebrew words for sin include the meaning "penalty" for sin. See the first three chapters of my book Holiness and Victory Over Sin, which is available at amazon.com.] This faith brings him peace and a sense of the favor of God and a consciousness of his acceptance in Christ. Just so, the believer sees that he died with Christ and rose with Him. He reckons on God's faithfulness, and the Holy Spirit makes real to his consciousness what he believes for. ... People do not come into victory for one of two reasons: Either they do not understand that they are already delivered [that this victory is available to be received, and walked in, by faith.], or they do not take their deliverance by faith in Jesus."
As I have mentioned, although I don't agree with the typical holiness viewpoint that the old man/sinful nature can be eradicated, I readily and thankfully admit that those who teach that viewpoint are some of the minority of Christians who have kept alive the super-important teaching that Christians are called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over all sin (all sin by God's definition) through the sufficient grace of God in Christ.
4. Some Excerpts from the Ph.D. Thesis Titled William H. Durham and the Sanctification Controversy in Early American Pentecostalism, 1906-1916, by Thomas George Farkas at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1993, 365 pages. This is a long dissertation, but mostly double-spaced. Farkas was, and probably still is, "a Pentecostal minister in the Assemblies of God" (page 23). "The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a careful analysis of the shift in views among early Pentecostals regarding the doctrine of sanctification. This shift, largely completed in the single decade from 1906 to 1916, can be summarized as a move from an almost universal acceptance of the Wesleyan-Holiness understanding of 'entire sanctification' as a 'second definite work of grace' [Most of the early Pentecostals in our country came from holiness backgrounds. This dissertation and my paper deal with Pentecostals in our country.], to an adamant rejection of this doctrine by the majority of persons calling themselves Pentecostals. [This includes the Assemblies of God and Foursquare Church, but does not include the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), the Pentecostal Holiness Church, and the Church of God in Christ; they still hold the Wesleyan-Holiness view of sanctification.] How this shift unfolded and the reasons which precipitated and continued to drive it, both historical and theological, is the story this dissertation chronicles.
The central figure in this story is William H. Durham. Durham, whose own theological pilgrimage brought him from Baptist, to Holiness, and finally to Pentecostal circles, led the fledgling Pentecostal movement in a theological crusade against the doctrine of 'entire sanctification' - the long-standing...doctrine of the Holiness movement. In its place he proposed a rival doctrine of sanctification which he labeled the 'Finished Work of Calvary' doctrine. ... (pages 1-2)."
As we discussed above in this paper, Durham came to believe that the Bible doesn't teach entire sanctification as a second experience, but that entire sanctification is available to Christians from the time of becoming Christians. Sometimes he speaks of the old man (the flesh/sinful nature) being crucified when we become Christians, but as we keep reading we find that he acknowledges that we, by identification with Christ through continuous faith, must crucify the old man and keep it crucified. I believe Durham is right. It is very important for us to understand that God calls us, and enables us, to walk with the victory over all sin and walk by the Holy Spirit from the time we become Christians. Even as newly converted Christians we should be aiming at the target of not sinning. We should not teach converts that God expects them to sin, but also we should not teach them that if they should sin God will reject them. If we sin we must be quick to repent, receive forgiveness, and do everything we can to not repeat the sin.
The victory over sin is far from being automatic, and it certainly isn't always easy, but this is what we are called, and enabled, to do, by God's sufficient saving grace in Christ by faith, and we must aim at this target. THIS IS VERY GOOD NEWS! God hates sin and He Sacrificed His Son and then poured out the promised Holy Spirit to give us the victory over sin. This is a big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about. Farkas agrees that Durham taught victory over all sin, but as we will discuss, he overstates Durham's teaching the crucifixion of the old man. Even though Durham sometimes spoke of the old man being crucified in conversion, as you keep reading you find that he also spoke of our need to keep the old man crucified and dead to sin, which is very far from being automatic. Durham showed that the New Testament calls us to victory over all sin, including inward sin, but he clearly acknowledged that many true Christians were not living with that full victory.
I'll quote several sentences from Farkas that will help define what is meant by a second experience of "entire sanctification" or "Christian perfection" (from pages 79-80). "In this view conversion, or justification is seen as 'the first work of grace,' an instantaneous, or crisis, experience in which the believer is forgiven of sins committed and brought to newness of life. However, because the sinful, or 'Adamic,' nature survived conversion, Wesley taught, a 'second work of grace' was needed in which this rebel nature was eradicated, or at least negated." I should point out though that John Wesley did not teach that all Christians will receive this second work of grace, far from it. Later in this paper I'll quote from Wesley on this second work of grace. In a footnote Farkas mentioned "a subsequent experience in which the principle of sin is decisively overcome. And he quoted M. E. Dieter's Wesleyan definition of entire sanctification, which is typical: "a personal, definitive work of God's sanctifying grace by which the war within oneself might cease and the heart be fully released from rebellion into wholehearted love for God and others."
As I mentioned, if you keep reading what Durham said on sanctification, he eventually makes it clear that Christians must crucify the old man and keep it crucified. He does not, however, back off from teaching that the New Testament calls, and enables, Christians to walk with the victory over all sin, while acknowledging that many true Christians aren't doing this for one reason or another. We have to know the truth of the gospel and continue to walk in the truth of the gospel, by grace through faith, against the opposition of the world, the flesh (old man), and the devil and his hosts. The warfare of demons against us is very real, very much including at times when Christians are not even aware of their presence and evil work.
I don't want to - I dare not - dilute what God has made available in new-covenant salvation, or to deny that some Christians may be walking at a level where it appears that the old man/sinful nature has been eradicated through a second experience and that they are walking in perfect love, but I don't believe the New Testament teaches the eradication of the sinful nature before we are glorified.
On page 113 Farkas mentions that in 1903 "Durham was made pastor of the North Avenue Mission in Chicago, a small, independent holiness mission, located in a neighborhood populated largely by immigrants." Aimee Semple McPherson, who eventually founded the Foursquare Church "was a member of Durham's North Avenue mission for several months beginning in late December 1908. [The seventeen-year-old Aimee had just married Robert Semple, a Pentecostal minister, August 12, 1908.] Both she and her husband...were ordained by Durham in January of , working as Durham's associates in Chicago and accompanying him on evangelistic tours in the northern United States and Canada. Sister Aimee, as she became known, received the gift of interpretation of tongues while at Durham's mission, and was instantly healed of a broken ankle [Aimee Semple McPherson, This is That (Bridal Call Publishing, 1921, pages 62-65)...]" (page 125).
"By 1910 [Durham] was widely recognized as the leader of the emerging movement [referring to that part of the Pentecostal movement that traced back to Charles Parham and William Seymour and the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles]" (page 126).
Chapter 3, which is titled "William H. Durham: Forging a New Understanding of Sanctification," pages 109-186, includes the heading, "The Finished Work of Calvary" (pages 128-143). The next heading in chapter 3 is "The Pentecostal Sanctification Controversy," which continues to the end of the chapter. Chapter 4, which is titled "Durham's 'Finished Work of Calvary' Teaching and Traditional Doctrines of Sanctification" goes from page 187-256. I have already discussed Durham's original view and his new view. Farkas quotes quite a bit from Durham's Pentecostal Testimony in these chapters, but only a small part of what I quoted above in this paper.
Pages 176-186 of the dissertation by Farkas are under the sub-heading "Success of the 'Two-step' Paradigm [Durham taught a 'two-step' paradigm, conversion which included entire sanctification and the Pentecostal baptism in the Spirit], but as we will see, his view was modified in a significant way not long after he died.]: The Assemblies." As I mentioned Farkas was (and probably still is) an Assemblies of God minister. I'll quote part of what Farkas said here: "Beginning with the solitary figure of Durham in 1910 [Durham was at least the recognized leader.] within a decade the group had swelled to include three of every five Pentecostals [Farkas referred to Anderson, Robert M., Vision of the Disinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism (Oxford University Press, 1979), page 169] (page 178).
Farkas spoke of "the substantial role the finished work controversy played" in the founding of the Assemblies of God in 1914, and "the leading figures behind the call for organization were committed finished work advocates" (page 179). (On page 268 he also said, "The Assemblies of God and all groups within the 'Finished Work' classification of Pentecostals state Durham as the theological fountainhead for their position on sanctification.") "In spite of the retention of the holiness phrase 'entire sanctification,' the founders of the Assemblies of God clearly operated with a two-step paradigm in which conversion and Spirit baptism formed the two defining crises of the Christian life. [They did not include a second manifestation of grace for entire sanctification. As the next sentence shows, they did not teach that Christians are called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over all sin (but this doesn't mean that none of them believed in that victory).] Sanctification consisted of the gradual extirpation of the sin nature throughout one's life. This non-eradicationist, progressive understanding of sanctification was the 'official' view espoused in the early publications of the group... (pages 182-183). Farkas mentioned that the word "entire" was dropped in 1961. I'll demonstrate their view of sanctification (at least it was the dominant view) later in this paper.
As I have demonstrated, Durham clearly understood that many Christians were not actually living the life of entire sanctification to which we have been called. As I have mentioned, I don't believe that the old man/sinful nature can be eradicated. I like the idea, but I don't believe it is taught in the New Testament; I'm thankful, however, for the Christians who are at least living somewhere close to that ideal. I believe that we are called (in the New Testament), and enabled (by the life-giving sanctifying power of new-covenant salvation), to walk with the victory over all sin (over everything that God would consider to be sin for us) since we have been set free from spiritual death and bondage to sin through the all-important Sacrifice of the Son of God and the all-important, outpoured, indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of Life. As I have mentioned, I don't believe God considers wrong thoughts and desires to be sin if we resist them by the Holy Spirit, by faith, and don't act on them.
Sanctification, according to the Assemblies of God, is "a gradual and progressive reality reflected in the daily life of the believer through the ongoing work of the Spirit" (page 184). Based on my studies, words like these are typically interpreted to mean that we will keep sinning to some extent, but we will be improving. It is clear that Christians need to keep growing, but in the ideal we won't be growing out of sin, since we will be walking with the victory over all sin. I remind the reader that I am speaking of victory over everything that God would consider to be sin for us. This is important! God hates sin (sin is a serious word!), and He paid an infinite price to set us free from sinning. All sin works to destroy what is right and good.
After I finish the excerpts from Farkas, I'll give some excerpts in section 5 to demonstrate the Assemblies of God teaching on sanctification, and then some excerpts dealing with the Foursquare Church on this topic.
On page 185 Farkas mentions that the Foursquare Church founded by Aimee Semple McPherson reflects "the Assemblies of God position on sanctification and [is] classed together with the Assemblies of God as 'Trinitarian Keswick Pentecostal Groups,' 'Baptistic Pentecostal Groups,' or as being in the 'Finished Work of Calvary Tradition.' "
I have demonstrated, and will demonstrate further as we continue, that although the Assemblies of God (and others) followed Durham in denying a second experience of entire sanctification, they did not follow his teaching that Christians are called, and enabled, to live with the victory over all sin, including inward sin (things like pride and lust) from the time of conversion. I'll quote a few sentences from Chapter 6 (by Farkas), "Conclusion: An Assessment of the Pentecostal Controversy." "Very early in this realignment process...Durham died, and his Finished Work doctrine was left to his successors who either fundamentally, or intentionally altered it under the conditions prevailing at the height of the raucous controversy. As it turned out, the original perfectionistic [at least Durham did teach that Christians are called to walk with the victory over all sin] version of the Finished Work teaching essentially went to the grave with Durham. [The time had come where large numbers of Christians who had become Pentecostals but did not come from holiness backgrounds were inclined to reject the idea that Christians can live in a state of holiness with the victory over all sin along with the idea of a second sanctifying experience.]
An original contribution of the dissertation is the identification of Durham's original Finished Work teaching as a form of perfectionism advocating complete eradication of the sin nature in the radical experience of sanctification which takes place at conversion. ...." However, as I demonstrate in this paper, although Durham said words like these a few times, as you keep reading he significantly qualified this idea. For one thing, he freely admitted that many Christians do a lot of sinning, though this need not (should not) be. And he made the very big qualification that we must be active in crucifying the flesh/old man/sinful nature; it isn't automatically crucified. I believe, however, that it is very significant that Durham did not back off of the very important teaching that the new covenant calls, and enables, Christians to walk with the victory over all sin, even if many Christians are not living this way. Durham contends that one very important reason that many are not living with the victory over all sin is that they haven't been taught that they are called, and enabled, to live this way.
I'll quote part of what Farkas says on pages 262-263, where he acknowledges that in some of his writings Durham denied that the old man/sinful nature is crucified in conversion. I believe this is very important and that Farkas needed to give a lot more attention to this very substantial, often repeated, aspect of Durham's teaching.
First I'll mention that Farkas includes the words "able not to sin" at the top of page 262. I agree with him that Durham taught this, "able not to sin," able not to sin in any way that God would consider to be sin. I'll quote a little from page 262, which is under the subheading "Finished Work Sanctification: Radicalized Wesleyanism" that starts on page 256. (By using the word "radicalized," Farkas is saying that Durham was teaching the same thing as those who taught entire sanctification (eradication of the old man/flesh/sinful nature) as a second work of grace, but that he taught this happens at conversion. Again, as I discuss in this paper, even though Durham made some inconsistent statement, I don't believe he intended to teach that concept.
Farkas says that "Most problematic [for the viewpoint that Durham taught that the old man/sinful nature is crucified through conversion itself] are statements such as follows in which Durham speaks of the ongoing necessity of 'bearing the daily cross': [I included this excerpt and other relevant excerpts earlier in this paper.] 'It is a sad mistake to believe that any one, or even two experiences, as such, can ever remove the necessity of maintaining a helpless continual dependence on Jesus Christ [by a continual walking in the enabling grace of God in Christ by faith], and bearing our daily cross, and living the overcoming life [taken from "Articles Written by Pastor W. H. Durham taken from Pentecostal Testimony," page 3].
[Farkas went on to say:] It might appear from such statements that Durham believed something of the sinful nature survived conversion and must be continually fought against and overcome in progressive fashion throughout the believer's life. He could not then be a perfectionist. [It seems to me that Durham taught that we must continually keep the old man/sinful nature dead, which is far from being automatic, or always easy; it involves warfare against the world, the flesh/old man and the devil and his hosts, but that God's enabling grace is sufficient to the task. In that very important sense, Durham was not a "perfectionist." I'm not either.] Yet, for Durham, the phrase 'bearing the cross' simply meant a continual 'reckoning' of oneself to be dead [Yes, dead to sin and demons, and alive to God as we walk, by faith, in the righteousness and holiness of God by the enabling grace of God in Christ, which includes the work of the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit]; no gradual extirpation of sinfulness is indicated [I totally agree], only a posture of faith in which the eradication or destruction of the sin nature remains an experiential reality for the believer [I totally agree, but this isn't some secondary issue in Durham's teaching. It is of key importance. The enabling grace is always available, but Christians must know and be totally committed to this truth in faith and always walk by the Spirit by faith or there will be room for sin to manifest. This is far from being an eradication or "extirpation" of the old man/sinful nature.].
[still quoting from Farkas] In another passage Durham mentions and explicitly rejects the notion of 'perfection' [perfection in the sense that you can walk with the victory over all sin through having received an experience, apart from our walking by grace through faith on a continuous basis]: 'There were some who actually seemed to think when the Spirit fell on them, that they would be excused from taking up the cross daily, and living the crucified life. They forgot that there is no experience, which in itself brings us to perfection. The teaching that sanctification, or heart purity, which can be received by an instantaneous act or operation of grace, brings one into a state of perfection, so far as maturity is concerned, is a delusion, so deadly that all men ought to avoid it, as they would a deadly poison. [So Durham insists we must walk a crucified life in the righteousness and holiness of God by grace through faith, and we must continue to grow/mature in union with Christ by grace through faith.].' [Farkas commented:] Two things must be kept in mind when considering this problematic passage. [It isn't a 'problematic' passage to me. It is super-important to understand the balanced truth of what Durham was teaching.] First, in proposing that Durham's doctrine is a type of perfectionism [I would skip this word, but it is very significant that Durham understood that we are called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over all sin and demons.] it is not argued that Durham himself employed this label for his position; he did not. Yet the mere fact that Durham did not consciously employ this term does not change the theological nature of his teaching: 'has a man who is in Christ sin in him? No. It could not be' [Farkas says this quotation was taken from "The Finished Work of Calvary,' page 3 in Pentecostal Testimony]. [[This is a clear example of Durham's overstating the case and confusing the issue. I suppose that Durham made this totally inadequate overstatement because he was engaged in warfare against the need for a second sanctifying experience (and very often when Christians are involved in theological warfare they oversimplify and overstate the case), and there was a temptation to show that his view offered everything his opponents offered (including the victory over inward sin originating with the old man) and more, but his view showed that everything that we need is available now. However, I'm thankful that he strongly made the point that Christians should not have any sin, and I'm thankful that his writings show, as I have demonstrated, that he clearly understood that Christians will sin to the extent they don't understand the gospel or do not walk in line with the gospel in their daily lives by grace through faith. We should emphasize the reality that we are called to walk with the victory over all sin (over anything that God would consider to be sin for us, including so-called inward sin, things like wrong desires and thoughts) through the powerful shed blood of the Lamb of God and the powerful indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of God. The New Testament frequently speaks of Christians being dead to sin and living in the righteousness of God (Romans chapter 6 and I Peter 2:24 are two powerful examples).]] Regardless of whether Durham used the term [perfectionism] or not, this denial of any lingering proclivity to sin is [Durham's teaching, taken as a whole, did not deny "any lingering proclivity" to sin], theologically, perfectionism. [I wouldn't use this word, but if applied to Durham's teaching it would have to be GREATLY qualified.] ...."
5. Excerpts from Two Assemblies of God Writers and a Brief Excerpt from their Official Website on Sanctification and then Excerpts from Three Foursquare Church Writings. I comment extensively on these excerpts.
5.1. Excerpts from Chapter 9, "Entire Sanctification," which Covers Pages 103-108, from the Book Bible Doctrines: A Series of Studies Based on the Statement of Fundamental Truths as Adopted by the General Council of the Assemblies of God, Revised Edition, by P. C. Nelson (Gospel Publishing House, 1948), 174 pages. First I'll quote a footnote from the end of this chapter that I very much appreciate; then I'll quote a few things from this chapter 9 that I, and the author of the footnote, cannot agree with. These are very important differences. The footnote was taken from a letter written to P. C. Nelson, the author of the book, by Ernest S. Williams. Williams was "General Superintendent Assemblies of God" at that time, 1948. Williams was disagreeing with quite a bit that is written in this chapter. I strongly agree with what Williams said here. What he said is in general agreement with what William H. Durham was teaching about holiness and victory over sin. An Assemblies of God pastor, who became a good friend, gave me a copy of this footnote when I was teaching on holiness at his church back in the 60s. He also gave a copy of this footnote to all of the people who came to the teaching. Essentially all of the people who came to that teaching were members of his church. The footnote:
"The sanctified life comes upon full surrender [to God and His Word (rightly interpreted)], and may be lived by faith as one reckons himself to be dead indeed unto sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:11). I feel that the weakness in our movement [Assemblies of God], when it comes to preaching sanctification, is that the doctrine is taught so vaguely [I would use a word like "inadequately" instead of "vaguely."] that many fail to get sight of something definite which they may have in their own lives. [Williams goes on to illustrate what he means:] It seems to me that if we teach that positionally we were sanctified when we were saved [which doesn't include being set apart from sin for God in our daily lives], and that gradually we are being sanctified, and eventually we will be wholly sanctified in the glory world, people are likely to look upon sanctification as a rather vague process, whereas I believe the Bible does teach that sin shall not have dominion over us, and that it is our privilege every moment to live victoriously as we reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Amen!] While we know that sanctification is progressive [In the ideal we will be living in an abiding state of holiness with the victory over all sin, but we will be growing more like the Lord Jesus as we are being changed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).], I would like to see more emphasis put upon present experience [There is a gigantic difference between being holy and living for God with the victory over all sin while growing, and progressing while living with some sin.] as we take our position in the Lord."
I'll quote part of what I have to disagree with in Nelson's chapter 9 on "Entire Sanctification." "3. [This excerpt that was taken from pages 104-105 continues for two paragraphs.] IN ANOTHER SENSE, SANCTIFICATION IS A PROGRESSIVE WORK, CARRIED ON BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit, until we attain a perfect likeness to Himself. [[I agree that we will not attain a perfect likeness to the Lord Jesus until after we are glorified, and I believe we must substantially qualify the idea of our ever attaining "a perfect likeness to" Him. We will not become deity; we will not be worshipped with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, etc., but we will be glorified and begin to reign with Him in a never-ending reign (cf. Rev. 22:5). However, I believe it is extremely important for us to know that we are called, and enabled, to be righteous and holy with the victory over all sin (over everything that God would consider to be sin for us; the existence of wrong thoughts and wrong desires are not sin if we resist them by the powerful grace of God in Christ and we do not yield to, or act on, the wrong thoughts or desires) throughout our Christian lives while we grow and are being conformed to the image of Christ (cf. Rom. 8:29). This is the ideal, and, according to the New Testament, it is not an unrealistic ideal.]] When we believe, the holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ is imputed to us and before God we stand 'complete in Him' (Col. 2:10 - compare 1:28), with His full righteousness placed to our credit [but only in a strictly legal, positional sense that doesn't deal with how we are living]. But it is another thing to have His holiness made actual in our lives. [Very much so, and that is what we desperately need. Without that we are still sinning against the God who hates sin and Sacrificed His Son and poured out His Righteous, Holy Spirit to dwell in us to give us the victory over sin, over all sin.]
This may be a long process and may require many experiences, including many chastenings of the Lord. In Heb. 12:10 we are distinctly told that God chastens us for the specific purpose that we may be partakers of His holiness. [[Some of the strongest teaching on holiness and victory over all sin, and very strong warnings against continuing in sin, are found in the book of Hebrews (cf., e.g., Heb. 4:1-13, especially 4:1-3, 6, 11; 6:4-8, 11-12; 10:1-39 [This very important chapter of Hebrews is discussed verse-by-verse in some detail in my paper on Hebrews chapters 8-10 that is on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching)]; 12:14-17; and 13:12-17). The fact that God chastens some Christians aiming for their repentance doesn't begin to demonstrate that we are not all called, and enabled, to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin by grace through faith. It's easy to demonstrate that many true Christians in the New Testament sinned, but that doesn't begin to demonstrate that we are not called, and enabled, to walk in the righteousness of God with the victory over all sin by grace through faith. The New Testament is packed with passages that call Christians to this walk (see my books, Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ and Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin. I recommend reading the second book first; it was taken from radio broadcasts and is easier to read, but it doesn't contain all of the information contained in the first book.]] Peter exhorts us to 'grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 3:18). [[First, as I have mentioned, Christians are called to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin AND to keep growing. The need for growth isn't sin. (One of the most important verses that demonstrates this point [2 Cor. 3:18] is mentioned next by Nelson; I'll quote this verse and briefly discuss it as we continue.) 1 Peter and 2 Peter are both strong on the need for righteousness, holiness, and victory over sin (cf., e.g., 1 Pet. 1:13-25, especially 1:15-17; 2:9-25, especially 2:24, which is discussed in both of my books; 3:1-22; 4:1-19; 5:1-10 (1 Peter 4:1-6 and 5:10, which are very important verses that are totally relevant to this topic, but are not especially easy to understand, are discussed in some detail in an article on my internet site [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching]); 2 Peter (This epistle of Peter is discussed verse-by-verse in some detail in a paper on my internet site) 1:1-11; 2:1-22; 3:1-18.]] In 2 Cor. 3:18 we have a very illuminating text showing how Christ operates in us through the Holy Spirit to transform us by degrees into His own glorious image. [[It is true that God transforms us by degrees into the image of Christ throughout our Christian lives, but we are called, and enabled, to be living in an abiding state of holiness throughout our Christian lives with the victory over all sin. Again, it isn't sin to still have room to be transformed or to grow. I'll quote 2 Cor. 3:18 (NASB): "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." I frequently use this verse to illustrate the glorious truth that we are being transformed - from glory to glory - as we dwell in the presence of God as His born-again, sanctified children. I don't believe that the apostle Paul included any thought in this verse about us being transformed/growing out of sin. We should be holy and be in a process of being transformed/growing. We must make it a top priority to live in an abiding state of holiness by grace through faith.]] In 1 Thess. 5:23, 24, Paul prays for these Thessalonian Christians, 'The very God of peace 'sanctify you wholly [The NASB translates "entirely."]; and I pray your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved [or, be kept] blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.' " [[(This concludes what I am quoting from P. C. Nelson, but this double bracket continues for five paragraphs.) I Thessalonian 5:23 is one of my favorite verses. The apostle's prayer is that God will entirely sanctify (spirit, soul, and body) these newly converted Christians who have known significant opposition from the time of their conversion, and then keep them in that glorious sanctified/holy state, always ready (fully ready) to stand before God when the Lord Jesus returns at the end of this age, whenever that is. And those early Christians thought that He could come soon.
The apostle had much success when he first took the gospel to Thessalonica, but as Acts 17:1-10 shows, he was forced to leave Thessalonica early because of the strong opposition that some of the Jews stirred up against him and his work. This strong opposition to the gospel obviously made it difficult for the newly-converted Christians at Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians, especially 2:17-4:12, supplies many very relevant details that we need to adequately understand 1 Thess. 5:23. In 1 Thess. 3:1-5 Paul tells how he sent Timothy from Athens back to Thessalonica to minister to them and "to find out about [their] faith" (1 Thess. 3:5). (As Acts 17 shows, Paul had gone from Thessalonica to Berea, where he temporarily left Silas and Timothy, then to Athens; and eventually Timothy joined Paul in Athens, from where Timothy was sent back to Thessalonica.) After going to Thessalonica, Timothy finally caught up with Paul in Corinth, where Paul had gone from Athens. Timothy was able to bring Paul a positive report regarding the status of the newly converted Christians at Thessalonica who had faced much opposition (I Thess. 3:6-7), but it isn't shocking to learn that there were some problems that needed to be dealt with too, as the rest of the epistle shows.
I'll give a few key examples: "as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith? (11) Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; (12) and may the Lord Jesus cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; (13) so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus with all His saints" (1 Thess. 3:11-13). I believe it is clear here that the apostle was speaking of his coming to Thessalonica and getting the Thessalonian Christians established in holiness as soon as possible. There was no thought whatsoever of their being gradually transformed to a state of holiness throughout their Christian lives. Just like with 1 Thess. 5:23, he wanted to see them established in a state of holiness and then kept in that state, always ready to stand before God the Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus. 1 Thess. 3:10-13 are discussed on pages 183-185 of my book Holiness and Victory Over Sin. 1 Thess. 5:23 is discussed on pages 178-179 of that book. 1 Thess. 4:1-8, which are quoted and discussed in the next paragraph of this paper, are briefly discussed on pages 180-181 of that book. These verses are all discussed in Article 27 that starts on page 265 of my book Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 are important verses to understand the needs of some of the newly converted Christians at Thessalonica. These verses are very important as one more passage that clearly teaches that Christians are called, and enabled, to live in an abiding state of righteousness and holiness, with the victory over sin, all sin. I'll quote these verses: Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk [with some obvious limitations on the part of some of the recently converted Christians at Thessalonica]), that you excel still more. (2) For you know what commandments [Christians are required to keep God's commandments BY HIS ENABLING GRACE THROUGH FAITH.] we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. (3) For this is the will of God, your sanctification [I would translate the Greek noun hagiasmos, which is used ten times in the New Testament, holiness here and in verses 4 and 7. The KJV and NKJV have "holiness" in verse 7. The NIV has "holy" in verse 4 and "holy life" in verse 7.] that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality [The will of God was for them to live in a state of holiness, set apart from all sin, but Paul specifically mentioned "sexual immorality" here because Timothy had undoubtedly informed Paul that he found some sexual immorality among the recently converted Christians at Thessalonica. This isn't shocking, but the apostle made it clear that this sin (and all sin) is off limits for Christians. THIS IS GOOD NEWS! THE VICTORY IS AVAILABLE! We are called, and enabled, to be set apart from everything sinful and defiling for God. (Holy/holiness/sanctified means set apart.) Sexual immorality was very widespread in the ancient world, and it has become very widespread in our modern world.]]; (4) that each of you know how to possess his own vessel [his own body] in sanctification [holiness] and honor, (5) not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; (6) and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter [A Christian would defraud his brother by getting involved sexually with his daughter or his wife.] because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we told you before and solemnly warned you [The apostle certainly made it clear that God is very concerned about "these things." Who wants God coming after them as "avenger."]. (7) For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification [in holiness]. (8) So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives the Holy Spirit to you [The Righteous, Holy Spirit enables us to live in a state of holiness, as we walk by the Righteous, Holy Spirit, by faith, on a continuous basis (cf. Gal. 5:16)]. I don't know how the apostle could have stated more clearly that the Thessalonian Christians were called to live in an abiding state of holiness, even though they were recently converted and had dealt with much opposition. Christians who are living in this state will be growing, and will always be ready for the return of the Lord Jesus.]]
I'll include two brief quotations from Ernest S. Williams (his super-important footnote was quoted above) that are included in Five Views on Sanctification (Zondervan, 1987), page 113: "the believer cuts loose from the world and sin, being made pure through the atoning work of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit" (taken from his three-volume Systematic Theology, 1953, 2:256). And "He states further that the purpose of sanctification is 'to enable the soul to live above sin, living for God instead.' " I took the two quotations from the chapter that is mentioned in the following section of this paper, section 5.2.
5.2. Excerpts from Chapter 3 of Five Views on Sanctification, which Is Titled "The Pentecostal Perspective," Written by Stanley M. Horton (on the back of the book it mentions that he was "Professor of Bible and Theology, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary"), pages 105-138. Horton presents differing viewpoints that can be found on the topic of sanctification in Assemblies of God teachers. I can fully agree with some of them, but I have to disagree with quite a few interpretations of verses presented in this chapter. After an introductory paragraph dealing with Stanley Horton and an important paragraph dealing with two of the sixteen points of the Assemblies of God "Statement of Fundamental Truths" that was adopted in 1916, I include excerpts that deal with the interpretation of Rom. 7:14-25, which is extremely important for the topic of righteousness, holiness, and victory over sin, and then give two examples where I have to disagree with Horton's interpretations. I could have included several more examples.
Horton (1916-2014) is a well-respected Pentecostal theologian who is an expert regarding the early Pentecostals. For one thing, his grandparents (at least on one side of his family) and parents were all involved in the early Pentecostal movement, including to some extent at the Azusa Street Mission. I just looked up his education on the internet. He was highly educated: He received an M. Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, an S. T. M. from Harvard University, and a Th. D. from Central Baptist Theological Seminary.
On page 110 Horton mentioned that in 1916 the Assemblies of God adopted "a sixteen-point 'Statement of Fundamental Truths' to provide a basis for continued fellowship." He mentioned that the controversy dealing with oneness led to this "Statement." Point 2 dealt with their Trinitarian viewpoint. The Assemblies of God, rightly I believe, rejected a oneness view of God. I have several papers dealing with this topic on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). "Point 9 of this statement was entitled 'Entire Sanctification' and reads as follows: The Scriptures teach a life of holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. By the power of the Holy Ghost [Spirit] we are able to obey the command, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' Entire sanctification is the will of God for all believers, and should be earnestly pursued by walking in obedience to God's Word. Heb. 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 1 John 2:6." This is very good, including all of the verses they listed. A Christian could walk with the victory over all sin based on this brief statement.
In the next section of this paper (5.3), I quote the up-to-date version (revised in 1961) of this "Statement of Fundamental Truths." It is somewhat different than the version I just quoted, but as I mention there, "Christians could have faith for victory over all sin based on what is said here." They dropped the word "entire" from sanctification, because, for one thing, they did not and do not teach a definite, second sanctifying experience, but that is how the words "entire sanctification" are often used.
I'll quote part of two paragraphs that deal with the interpretation of Rom. 7:14-25, which is extremely important to the topic of righteousness, holiness, and victory over sin; based on my studies and observations, misinterpretations of this passage has led to the denial that we are called, and enabled, to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin more than any other passage (pages 124-125): "... Yet as Albert Hoy, a professor emeritus of the Assemblies' Southern California College states, '... As Paul has plainly stated (Rom. 7:16-25), every forward step in holiness is attained only after a struggle between the sensual man...and the spiritual man (endnote: Hoy, "Sanctification," page 5) [better, the primary struggle/warfare that the apostle Paul was concerned with was between the flesh/old man/sinful nature and the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:17; Rom. 8:12-14); this is why we always need to walk by the Spirit with the victory over all sin (Gal. 5:16)].' [[(This double bracket continues for three paragraphs.) I am somewhat surprised by this interpretation by an Assemblies of God scholar. Most Arminians, and the Assemblies of God are Arminian (not Calvinistic) in doctrine, following Arminius (AD1560-1609). Arminius wrote a 200-page dissertation arguing that the apostle Paul was not speaking as a Christian in Rom. 7:14-25. Rather, Paul was demonstrating that we need more than the Mosaic Law to save us from spiritual death and bondage to sin. I am totally sure that Arminius was correct!
It is very significant that I haven't been able to find any Christian writers who taught that Rom. 7:14-25 deal with a Christian sinning until after AD400, and I have studied Romans 7 in more detail than any other chapter in the Bible. This is very significant! As Rom. 7:14-25 demonstrate, the apostle wasn't dealing with a person who slipped into sin every once in a while. He was speaking of a person in very serious bondage to sin. Especially see Rom. 7:14, "...but I am of flesh, having been sold into bondage to sin." Paul had just stated in Romans chapters 5 and 6, as he would frequently state, that Christians have been redeemed out of that pitiful state through new-covenant salvation in the all-powerful blood of Christ and through the infinitely powerful indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit. In Rom. 5:12-21 the apostle Paul showed how we were sold into spiritual death (and physical death) and bondage to sin through Adam and how the old covenant could not save us from that state, but from which the new covenant was designed to save us.
One reason the interpretation of Rom. 7:14-25 is so important is that something like one-half of born-again Christians misinterpret this passage, which strongly works against the idea that we are called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over all sin. I deal with the interpretation of Romans chapter 7 in both of my holiness books (Holiness and Victory Over Sin; Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ and Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin, and in a paper on the interpretation of Romans 7 on my internet site [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching].) The next paragraph as I continue to quote from Horton is very relevant here.]]
Other Assemblies of God writers, however, would argue that this interpretation of Romans 7 is wrong, taking the Greek perfect in Romans 7:14 ('sold as a slave to sin') to mean that the person was and still is a slave of sin and therefore is not a believer. [In an endnote Horton referred to "J. Dalton Utsey, 'Romans Seven and Sanctification,' Paraclete 2.3 (Spring 1984): 4."] But they would still agree that we have a continuing struggle and a continuing need to crucify the flesh, the sinful nature [and keep it crucified], in this life. [I agree, and William H. Durham conceded this in his writings, but this cannot stop us from continuing to walk with the total victory over everything that God would consider to be sin for us.] At the same time they would emphasize that through the Holy Spirit we are able not to sin, even though we never come to the place where we are not able to sin." I totally agree!
I'll quote what Horton said in three paragraphs on pages 117-118 that deal for the most part with the interpretation of 1 John 1:7-10. What Horton says here would make it essentially impossible for Christians to have faith for victory over all sin. Romans 7:14-25 and 1 John 1:8 are the two passages most often used by many Christians to try to demonstrate that Christians cannot walk with the victory over all sin. I believe they are misinterpreting 1 John 1:8, even as they are misinterpreting Rom. 7:14-25. I believe this is a very serious problem that involves serious, sincere, born-again, Bible-believing Christians. 1 John 1:8 along with much of 1 John is discussed in both of my holiness books, and this verse is discussed to some extent below in section 5.4 in this paper. I won't repeat here much of what I say there.
"The blood of Christ is effective in giving us positional sanctification [[I believe it is very important to see that the blood of Christ (which is backed up by the powerful work of the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit, who came to us through the blood of Christ) is effective in giving us actual sanctification/holiness, enabling us to live in an abiding state of holiness, being set apart by God, for God, from everything that He considers to be sinful or defiling. The Lamb of God didn't just bear the guilt of our sin so we could be forgiven and have a so-called positional holiness: He also bore the penalties for our sins, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, so we could be born again and set free (redeemed) from bondage to sin and demons. God hates sin, and He designed new-covenant salvation to enable us to walk with the victory over all sin. This all-important Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is discussed in some detail in both of my holiness books. For one detail, the Hebrew words for sin (iniquity, transgression), unlike our English words for sin, include penalty for sin. (Three of these Hebrew words for sin are discussed in the first three chapters of my book Holiness and Victory Over Sin.) We cannot adequately understand the all-important Sacrifice of Christ without understanding the Hebrew words for sin.]], in which we are identified with Christ (Heb. 2:10-11). [We are identified with Christ in His death to the old man and burial and in His resurrection life, which is designed to impart to us the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin, by grace through faith.] But there is also a continuous aspect, whereby the blood of Christ continues to cleanse and sanctify us. 'But if we walk [keep walking (this bracket and the three following brackets in this sentence are Horton's)] in the light, as he is in the light, we have [keep on having] fellowship with one another [between us and God (I believe the apostle John was speaking of the Christians who are walking in the light having fellowship with one another here, but it is clear that we will have fellowship with God.)], and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies [keeps on cleansing, purifying] us from every sin' (1 John 1:7). [[(This double bracket continues for four paragraphs.) Horton means that when we repent (which, by definition, should include a commitment to not repeat that sin or any other sin) and confess our sins we will be cleansed in the sense that we will be forgiven and the sin fully taken away, gone forever. Horton is not including the fact that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from being sinners which enables us to walk in an abiding state of holiness with the victory over all sin. 1 John 2:1-2 shows that IF we should sin, we can be fully restored through the blood of Christ, but like John said in 1 John 2:1, he was writing these things so that they would not sin, not sin at all. The aorist tense of the verb communicates the idea not sin at all, not begin to sin, and John communicates that idea throughout 1 John.
John's dominant point when he spoke of the blood cleansing/purifying us in 1 John 1:7 was its cleansing/purifying us from sinning. That's the primary purpose for the all-important, all-powerful blood of the Lamb of God. It is very important to know that the Greek verb used here for cleanse/purify is katharizo and that this verb is often used in the New Testament of a sanctifying cleansing/purifying that enables Christians to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin. I'll give two examples and mention several other verses where katharizo is clearly used of that glorious type of cleansing/purifying. I'll quote 2 Cor. 7:1, Therefore, having these promises [referring to the promises in the verses at the end of 2 Corinthians chapter 6], beloved, let us cleanse ourselves ["let us cleanse" is katharizo in the Greek. It must be understood, of course, that we cleanse, or purify, ourselves from sinning by grace through faith and that God gets all the glory. The last words of this verse demonstrate that the apostle Paul was speaking of cleansing ourselves from everything not compatible with living in an abiding state of holiness. This is a whole lot more than being forgiven and having positional sanctification. This is good news, very good news! But the New Testament also makes it clear that IF Christians sin and repent and confess their sin, they will be forgiven and restored to a right relationship with God.] from all defilement of flesh and spirit [It is necessary to know that the spirits of born-again Christians can be defiled. We are not just automatically protected from being defiled in our spirits.], perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The apostle Paul is exhorting his readers to perfect holiness, or we could translate "completing holiness in the fear of God." In other words, he was exhorting them to cleanse themselves, by grace through faith, from everything that is incompatible with living in an abiding state of holiness. And Paul added the idea that sin is serious business: We should be afraid to sin against God! That is a necessary, healthy fear! So, here's one example of quite a few where katharizo is used of a sanctifying (making holy and righteous) cleansing/purifying, where we stop sinning, which is a whole lot more than being cleansed from the guilt of our sin and restored to a right relationship with God. The blood of the Lamb of God is much more powerful than many Christians know.
I'll quote James 4:8, which is another verse where katharizo is used of a stop-sinning type of cleansing. Doesn't that sound good? I'll Include James 4:6-7. But He gives a greater grace [For those who will humble themselves and receive it, God gives grace greater than the power of sin and Satan (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13).]. Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' (7) Submit therefore to God [in humble faith]. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (8) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse [katharizo] your hands you sinners [I believe it is obvious that James was exhorting his readers, including us, to stop sinning, which is a whole lot more than getting forgiven and cleansed of the defilement of sin.]; and purify your hearts you double minded. James used a different verb for "purify" here, but it is clear that here that James was exhorting his readers to quit being double minded (wavering in their hearts) and to stop sinning and live for God in His righteousness and holiness by His sufficient saving grace in Christ.
I'll list several other verses beside 1 John 1:7 and the two other verses we just looked at where katharizo is used in the New Testament of a sanctifying/stop-sinning type of cleansing/purifying: Acts 15:9; Eph. 5:26; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:14; and 1 John 1:9. First John 1:9 is quoted later in this excerpt from Horton. This much fuller understanding of the meaning of katharizo makes a gigantic difference in our interpretation of 1 John 1:7, the difference between continuing to sin but get forgiven and walking with the victory over all sin, with the ability to be forgiven IF we should sin. (Now I'll quote Horton's next paragraph.)]]
Apparently, there were some who did not understand this provision for the continual cleansing [but not a stop-sinning type of cleansing] by the blood of Christ, for John goes on to say, 'If we claim we have not sinned, we make him [God] out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives' (1 John 1:10). [[Verse 10 is speaking about the Gnostics denial of the fact that they were sinners and their need the blood of Christ. They didn't believe sin is the problem, and they didn't believe in the blood of Christ. They believed that mankind is in bondage to evil powers and that salvation comes by learning their secret knowledge. "Gnostic" comes from the Greek gnosis, which means knowledge. There is very widespread agreement that the apostle John wrote this epistle to refute the Gnostic heresy. He deals with this problem in every chapter of this epistle.]] Here the phrase "have not sinned" is in the perfect tense, which normally refers to an action or event in the past that has continuing results in the present. In other words, if we say that we have had a sanctification experience [I'm interested in Christians living in an abiding state of holiness, with the victory over all sin, not in "a sanctifying experience."] that guarantees that we no longer have sin in our lives or that we do not or cannot sin any more, then we are making God out to be a liar and we are not giving His Word any place in our daily lives. [[Horton's words that I underlined seem to deny the possibility for Christians to be able to stop sinning, and therefore Christians cannot legitimately have faith to stop sinning and live in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin. What Horton says here would fit better with 1 John 1:8 than 1:10, but I believe it would be wrong at 1:8 too. It seems that John's point in 1 John 1:10 was simply that if anyone says that they never have sinned they make God a liar. God is on record that all people have sinned (and therefore need new-covenant salvation), but I don't believe He is on record saying that all Christians will sin after they become Christians.]] In such a case, we are saying that we do not need the continued cleansing of the blood, so we are making Him a liar. [[We do need the continued power of the blood (backed up by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit) that enables us to walk with the victory over all sin by grace through faith. (It is clear that we also need the blood of Christ to restore us IF we should sin.) But John was not saying that if we believe we can walk with the victory over all sin we make God a liar. John himself believed that and taught it in this epistle. (See what I said below under 5.4 dealing with 1 John 1:8 and in my two books on holiness that both deal in some detail with this topic. This is extremely important, because the only way we can walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin is BY FAITH, a faith that must be based on what the Bible teaches!)]] Furthermore, the Bible is full of exhortations to help us have victory over sin. [I certainly agree!] Therefore, if we say that we do not or cannot sin any more, we are saying that we do not need to pay attention to God's Word or give it its proper place in our lives. [[I don't know where that conclusion came from. We must pay attention to God's Word and give it its proper place in our lives. We must admit that we are dependent on the power of the blood (backed up by the all-powerful Righteous, Holy Spirit of God who dwells in all true Christians) to be born again and to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin. Furthermore, we cannot say that "we cannot sin any more [anymore]." We will sin if we don't walk by the Spirit on a continuous basis by God's enabling grace through faith. And IF we should sin, we must be quick to confess that sin, repent, and be restored through the blood of Christ.]] The same conclusions apply to those who say that because they have absolute positional sanctification through the blood of the cross, they do not need the continuous cleansing of the blood. [If all they have is positional sanctification through the blood, they desperately need to be transformed to real set-apartness/holiness. I'm confident that Horton would agree that positional sanctification is not sufficient for Christians, and that he believes Christians can lose their salvation. I don't believe he could be accepted as an Assemblies of God scholar if he believed once saved, always saved.]
Actually, the closer we walk with the Lord, the more we realize our need for the continued cleansing and purifying by the blood of Christ. [Based on what Horton has said in the two preceding paragraphs, he is not speaking here of the blood cleansing and purifying us in a way that enables us to live in an abiding state of holiness with the victory over all sin. I have to disagree with him here.] When Isaiah caught a vision of the glory and holiness of God, he suddenly became conscious of His own need for cleansing (Isa. 6:5). [For one thing, Isaiah had not been cleansed by the all-powerful atoning blood of the Lamb of God or been indwelled by the Righteous, Holy Spirit of God provided through new-covenant salvation. This makes a gigantic difference. However, I admit that sanctified Christians would undoubtedly stand in awe in the presence of God, realizing that in some ways we don't fit there. It will be quite different after we are glorified, but we will still be in awe of Him.] But 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness' (1 John 1:9). [[These words were aimed at those like the Gnostics who had not admitted that they were sinners and desperately needed the blood of Christ and new-covenant salvation. This verse strongly backs up what I have been saying. John said that all who submit to God, His Son, and the gospel and confess their sins will be forgiven AND (a WHOLE LOT MORE THAN THAT) HE WILL PURIFY/CLEANSE THEM, USING THE GREEK VERB KATHARIZO, FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS/WRONGDOING. In other words, He will enable them to live in the abiding state of righteousness and holiness, with the victory over all sin that the New Testament calls us to. THIS IS VERY GOOD NEWS! I realize that this victory isn't automatic or always easy. In our generation it is so much more difficult because so many Christian leaders are telling us that it cannot be done. Many of them are sincere, but I believe they are misinterpreting the Bible, especially the New Testament.]] He, through the blood of His eternal sacrifice, removes every barrier to fellowship with Himself."
We will finish section 5.2 and go on to 5.3 in Part 4 of this paper.
Copyright © by Karl Kemp (karlkempteachingministries.com)
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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