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A Religious Controversy | Charles E. Orr

Conversation 2

Mrs. Wiseman (returning from her work)—Well, Husband, have you found that text you quoted?

Mr. Wiseman—No, I haven’t found it yet, but I know we can’t live in this world without sinning. Any of our preachers will tell you that. Our pastor said just last Sunday that we’re all sinners by nature and much more so by practice. I believe he read it out of the Bible, didn’t he?

Mrs. W.—No, the Bible doesn’t say that. It’s true all of us are by nature sinners; but if we give up the practice, Jesus will save us from the nature.

Mr. W.—I do find here: “There is none righteous, no not one.”* (Romans 3:10)

Mrs. W.—Wait until I get my Bible. Now, where did you read that?

Mr. W.—It’s in Romans 3:10.

Mrs. W.—Well, whom is he talking about? Read on to the eighteenth verse. This tells us that he’s writing about a certain class of wicked people, and not about Christians.

Suppose when you go down-town tomorrow you should hear two men talking. One would say to the other, “They’re all wicked, every one of them.” Now, you would not go away and say those men said everybody in town was wicked. You would first learn whom they were talking about. By asking them, you would perhaps find they were talking about a certain family, and not about all the people in town.

In this chapter, as well as in Psalm 14, from which the apostle is quoting, reference is evidently made to the natural, unregenerate man, and not to those who have found God. The apostle is speaking about man in his natural corrupt state. The people who publish that paper believe in God; they believe him to be all the Bible says; they take him for all the Bible promises him to be. Consequently, they’re not classed with the people of whom the apostle is speaking. They claim God has made better men and women of them than the class who are “none righteous.”

Mr. W.—Well, I’m just as good as those people; I believe there’s a God as much as they do.

Mrs. W.—There’s a difference between saying, “I believe,” and really and truly believing. Those people the apostle spoke about were those who said in their hearts there is no God. They may have said with their lips that they believe there is a God. What a man believes in his heart, that’s what his life will be. You don’t believe in having a pure heart; you don’t believe in living free from sin: you don’t believe in a holy, righteous life; you don’t believe in divine healing. It’s far less blasphemous and disgraceful to God to believe there is no God at all than to make Him such a character as you’d have Him to be. By your life you deny Him, and you class yourself among this people about whom the apostle speaks.

Mr. W.—I think you’d make a pretty good preacher. But here s something that neither you nor those saints can explain away. Jesus himself says. “There is none good but one, that is God.”* (Matthew 19:17) I have it right here before me. You talk so much about the Bible: now I’ll give you some Bible that I guess will stop the mouth of every one who talks about living a holy life. You’ll find it in Matthew 19:17.

Mrs. W.—I don’t claim to know all the Bible; in fact, I’m very ignorant of the Word of God. I sincerely hope to know it better. I know it is by the Bible that we are to be judged when we stand before God in judgment. My dear husband, we must live up to the Bible. Keep the place where you are reading while I read you a few texts. In 1 Peter 1:15, I read these sweet words: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” Now I have the Revised Version also: let me read this text from it: “Like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves holy in all manner of living.”RV These words thrill my very soul and put such a longing in my heart to he holy like Jesus. There are some scriptures I can’t explain to you, but my very soul teaches me we must he holy, and I find many Bible texts teaching the same thing. Let me read again: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.”* (1 John 2:6) Then again I read, “Because as he is, so are we in this world.”* (1 John 4:17) Oh, to be like Jesus, to have him with us in this life, to lean on His breast and have sweet communion with Him—it would he heaven here.

Mr. W.—Yes, but you won’t find heaven here. Everybody in this world lives in sin. “There is none good,” Jesus says, and I believe what Jesus says. And here’s another text that I guess you don’t understand. Listen while I read it to you: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”* (1 John 1:8) Now, that settles this controversy. Nobody can live without sin, and if those saints say they have no sin, this text says they deceive themselves and the truth is not in them. I’m glad we have the Bible and I’m glad that text is in it. Get a holy life out of this text, my dear wife, and I’ll join the saints.

Mrs. W.—I don’t claim to be able to explain all the Bible, but if you’ll explain the seventh verse, then I may be able to explain the eighth. Will you please read the seventh verse?

Mr. W.—“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”* (1 John 1:7)

Mrs. W.—Did you say from all sin, James? Now, how much sin is left in the heart after it’s cleansed from all sin? I believe my blessed Savior is able to cleanse from all sin. I’m glad that text is in the Bible. I know I live in sin, though I belong to the church and have been trying to do right; but since I’ve been reading that paper I’ve found I’m not saved at all, but expect to be.

Mr. W.—Well, I’m not going to let such a paper as this unchristianize me; no, indeed.

Mrs. W.—That paper did not unchristianize me. It taught me in clear simple words the true way of the Christian, and so showed me plainly that I was already unchristianized. And, if other people who live as I did would be reasonable, they, too, would find out just what I have learned.

Mr. W.—Here is another text which I suppose you’re not able to explain. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”* (1 John 1:10)

Mrs. W.—Listen while I read verse nine—“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”* (1 John 1:9) If we are cleansed from all unrighteousness, how much is there left?

Mr. W.—Well, I must admit this is a little puzzling. One verse reads just contrary to the other.

Mrs. W.—They only seem to be contrary. I’m sure they agree if we only understood them.

Mr. W.—Well, I’m sure we can’t live here in this world without sin. Heaven is the only place that is holy. This world is in sin.

Mrs. W.—But the Bible speaks about our dying to the world and being separated from the world and getting into the kingdom of heaven even here in this life.

But here comes the mail carrier, and this is the day I always get the paper. I’ll go and get it.

Mr. W. (talking to himself)—I’m afraid my wife will join those saints. I’m sure she would if there were any here, but I’m glad there are none.

Mrs. W. (returning)—I didn’t get the paper today, James, but I have a letter from Cousin Jane, and she says she has made arrangements for two of the preachers to come and hold meetings in our town hall, and wants to know if we’ll board them.

Mr. W.—Board them! No, indeed! they’ll get no board or lodging in my house; I don’t keep saints.

Mrs. W.—Cousin Jane says they’ll come and trust the Lord. They’re coming next week. When they come, we’ll have them explain these texts for us. Please don’t forget where they are. Now I must go to my work.