Having created man, Jehovah pronounced him good—yea, very good. He was as good as Jehovah would have him as a created being. Man was not created a machine, inert, lifeless; he was created with the power of volition. Adam, the first man, sinned when there was no irresistible power forcing him to disobey Jehovah. His sin did not result in the loss of any of the faculties which he possessed by creation, nor did sin bring to him any new faculties. Sin is an element foreign to the nature of man; it is a disease which undermines and brings death. Because of sin, Adam was separated from Jehovah and the environments congenial to his continued existence, and he died.
The Sinner Sick
Viewing man in his lawless life, Jesus said, “They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick…I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:10-13 ASV). In this, Jesus represents Himself as the Physician, man the patient, and sin the disease. “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32 ASV).
Physical disease saps the vitality, mars the body, and incapacitates man for the proper exercise in the work to which he has set his hand, and often results in death to the physical body. The physician seeks to assist nature in throwing off the disease.
In his work, the physician expects, and must have, the cooperation of the sick man. Jesus came to “call” the sick man—the sinner. He can hear the call and has the power within himself to heed or to refuse. To what extent the physical body and the mind of man are reciprocal, none of us knows. We do know that when man is suffering from some organic lesion it is not enough for him to simply have faith in the physician; he will not be cured simply by “faith only” in the physician. If “faith only” in the physician does not cure one of physical sickness, neither will “faith only” cure one of spiritual sickness—sin.
The man in sin can, and must, obey the commandments of the Physician—Christ. “Repent ye therefore and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19 ASV). “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38 ASV).
Dead in Sins
Paul said to the Ephesians, “And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1 ASV). How is it that Jesus speaks of the man in sin being “sick” and in need of the physician, and Paul says he is “dead”? The dead man is not a subject for the physician, but for the undertaker. The sick man is not dead. Wherein is the harmony in the figure that the sinner is “sick” and that he is “dead”? If disease is not eradicated from the system, the result is certainly death. Paul viewed the certain result of sin—so certain are its results that he speaks of it as though it had wrought its end (death) and says they were “dead”; for while in sin they were under the sentence of death, and the execution of the sentence he contemplated, as is made plain by his statement that, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
Freed From the Sentence
Jesus came to pardon man—to free him from the sentence of death; and to that end, He reveals in the gospel what men must do. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:15-16 ASV). Every sin is a past sin, for man is not a sinner till he has practiced sin. We have not lived in the future; hence, man has no future sins. At some time in the future, you may sin and then become guilty. Man was not “sick” till he transgressed the law of God.
Though the physician may attend you through a continued spell of sickness, when you have recovered—when you are well—that is no guarantee that you will never be sick again. So when you have been pardoned of sins committed, that is no assurance that you cannot, or will not, commit sins again—that is no guarantee you will never be sick again, and again be sick—condemned.
Again, when one has suffered from a sickness, and is cured, the body is weakened and an easy prey to disease. The wise physician attempts to assist nature by giving you a tonic. When the Lord pardons your transgressions, He seeks to have you fortified against the recurrence of sin; He would keep you well, and with that in view you are exhorted,
In your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge self-control; and in your self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble (2 Pet. 1:5-10 ASV).
If you develop the traits of character enjoined, you will never fall. The statement is rhetorical: If you do not do the things commanded, you will certainly fall. “He that lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins.” See the picture of the man who “lacketh these things”: Not only is he described as being a coward, ignorant, given to self-indulgence, unstable, profane, cruel, and filled with hate; but it is said that he sees only the things that are “near”—he cannot, by faith, see the gate of gold, wing ajar, for his entrance into the home of the soul; but he has “forgotten the cleansing from his old sins”—he relapses and is again sick. He becomes like the swine that was washed, returning to wallowing in the mire.
Do not persuade yourself that because you have been made well—saved from your sins —you are as safe as though you were in heaven, the door locked and the key thrown away. If you do as the Lord directs, you will never “fall”; but so certain as you fail to follow as He directs, then certain is it that you will “fall.”