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By Dr. Nelson S. Perdue
Humanity is not synonymous with carnality. The Bible does not teach that it is sinful to be human. God created man with a human nature and declared in Genesis 1:31 that everything He had made was very good. Before the fall in the garden, man was not only holy but he was also human. Therefore, humanity is not tantamount to being sinful.
Paul tells us in Romans 5 that through Adam’s disobedience all were made sinners. Therefore, sin is a foreign element inflicted upon human nature. The purpose of salvation is to cleanse man from all sin and restore him to the moral image of God. He does this first through regeneration (initial sanctification) that is the forgiveness of our own acts of transgressions. However, this foreign element is, as G. N. Darby of the Plymouth Brethren says, “an infection of nature that doth remain in them that are regenerate.” John calls this “the works of the devil” and admonishes us to continue to “walk in the light as He is in the light and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” This is what the Apostle Paul prays for the Christians of Thessalonica that they be ‘sanctified wholly.’
Sanctification removes nothing from our essential human nature but sin. We are not cleansed from self-consciousness, but self-centeredness, not from self-respect, but self rule. We are very human with the same drives, appetites, impulses, and passions we had before we were sanctified wholly. We live in a sinful world that is no friend of grace to lead us on to God. We suffer with the scars of sin and Paul reminds us that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” We, as Paul exemplified, must “keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” Wesley observed that there is much growth following cleansing from sin by saying, “When the work is done, tis but begun.” God’s great plan of salvation does not de-humanize us but, instead, to coin a term, de-carnalizes the human.