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by David Clayton

In studying the truth about God we have received blessings which have transformed our lives. Our understanding of Scripture has been greatly enhanced and our appreciation of the love of our heavenly Father and His Son have filled us with wonder and happiness. Somehow we have all sensed that this message holds the key to the greatest experience possible to man in this sphere of human existence, that is, that we might be “filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:19)

One of the reformers who believed in the doctrine of Christian Perfection was John Wesley. The following account of his life leading up to the time of his conversion has been slightly edited with some modernization of the language to make it more readable.
Ellen White had this to say of John Wesley: “Workers were raised up who ably defended the faith once delivered to the saints. ... The Waldenses, John Wycliffe, Huss and Jerome, Martin Luther and Zwingli, Cranmer, Latimer, and Knox, the Huguenots, John and Charles Wesley, and a host of others brought to the foundation material that will endure throughout eternity. ...”{AA 598}

by David Clayton

One of the most unusual events which occurred in the experience of the disciples of Jesus, took place one dark night on the sea of Galilee. As they sat exposed and helpless in the boat they beheld through the gloom a mysterious figure approaching them apparently walking on the surface of the water. Their terrified cries brought the reassurance that the eerie figure was none other than Jesus and their fear was replaced by a sense of awe.

Over the centuries as we would expect, sin has been discussed, examined and defined in many different ways. Most Christians, including the protestant reformers and many of the Adventist pioneers came to regard sin as being more than merely the committing of wrong actions, but as including and perhaps especially being, a ruling negative force in the nature of the carnal person. The Catholic theologian Augustine referred to this inherent evil in man by the term “Original sin,” and this term was adopted by the protestant reformers who more or less accepted the idea of this inherent evil inherited by man.

The question of what sin is, is not merely an academic one, but is of great practical importance and one which has critical implications for those who desire to be free from its power and dominion. Our approach to the question of how to overcome sin will be determined by our understanding of what sin is. Do we need to prove that? It seems that this is a self-evident fact and needs no further explanation. If I am dealing with impurities on the outside, then I need soap, if in the stomach, then I need a purgative, if in the nature, then I need something more than either of those. Do we see the point? So it is important that we define sin properly if we are ever to overcome it completely. If we do not understand the true nature of sin, then obviously we will always be using the wrong method in an attempt to get rid of it. The record of the history of God's people would indicate that for the most part they have had a wrong understanding of the true nature of sin.

What makes a person a sinner? This is a most important question. As we have said before, we cannot properly approach the issue of victory over sin unless we understand what we are up against.

Let us approach this question honestly, with sincere and humble hearts. I am not expecting you to believe what David Clayton says, I am not asking you to believe what the Adventist pioneers said, but the Bible is another matter altogether. If you will not believe what the Bible says, then your honesty really has to be questioned.

In addition to having a proper and realistic definition of sin, we also need to have a proper understanding of the nature of sin.

The Bible makes it clear that man is a sinner by inheritance. The Adventist pioneers including Ellen White support this fact. A question remains, however, just how was this sinfulness was passed on from Adam to his descendants. Was “sin in the flesh” the presence of something transferred to us in our genes or was it the result of something which was taken from us because of Adam's sin? Does sin in the flesh reside only in the genes, limited to the degeneracy of flesh and blood, or does it impact also upon the mind and the spirit? Is man depraved simply because his literal flesh is weak or is he inherently evil in his spiritual makeup?

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