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The writer once heard a preacher talking in defense of the idea that a “Clean Theology” is the “Wedding Garment,” make a statement in substance like the following: “I wish my hearers would all stop trying to be good, and give your attention to gaining a knowledge of God’s plan.” We ask, would the tendency of such exhortation be to lead men to a higher and purer life? We think not. How different from the exhortations of the apostles. “Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Rom. 13:13-14.
For a list of the works of the flesh see Gal. 5:19-21. The apostle adds: “They which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.” “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Gal. 6:9-10. “Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children and walk in love.” Eph. 5:1-2. After speaking of the manner of the world, he says: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness; but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” Verses 6-10.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phil. 4:8. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, &c.” Col. 3:5. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering, &c. Verses 12-14. After speaking of “many foolish and hurtful lusts,” the Apostle adds: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness.” 1 Tim. 6:11. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering. … And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Heb. 10:23-24.
“For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your mind. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin. … Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Heb. 12:3-14.
These are but samples of the general exhortations to the church by the Apostles. They do not either ignore or belittle knowledge or faith, but they do exalt the importance of holiness of heart and life. Had the Apostles held to the theory that a “Clean Theology” is the “Wedding Garment,” they would have exhorted as they did, but would have said, “You need not make any effort to be good, but study the plan.” We do not say it was the purpose of the preacher referred to, to encourage sin, but we think the tendency would be in that direction. And surely the theory must be defective that leads any man to make statements at such variance from the teachings of the Holy Spirit.
J. H. P.
— July, 1880 —