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cease to be, as moral and accountable creatures. But did they possess no higher life than animal life; and no better being than that of intellectual power and moral accountability? Is there not a life, properly pertaining to man, for the maintenance of which the sacrifice of this mortal body would be but of trifling moment? Else for what was it that “the noble army of martyrs " bled and burned ? Did they not die in defence of life-of life pure, noble, holy, blessed, and immortal? Or what meant the Wisdom of God when He affirmed, “He that findeth his life shall lose it ; and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it"? (Matt. x. 39.) Is there not a life of conscious innocence and of blessed fellowship with God which ought to be esteemed far above all possible advantages which can attach to that which is merely sensuous and secular ? And did not Adam, in the act itself of sinning, die in respect of that life? Every man, left altogether under the dominion of the law of sin and death, must of necessity, from the very hour in which he first offends against the law of his moral nature, carry about with him everywhere and for ever, a consciousness of " dead works.” (Heb. ix. 14.) For by what means can he rid himself of the shame and guilt of his transgression ? The guilty deed can neither be recalled nor put away; and therefore, so far as the law of sin and death is concerned, and so far as man's own power of shaking himself free from its grasp extends, he must be guilty, and his conscience must be a guilty conscience, for ever: he is without ability to win back for himself that life of joyous innocence in respect of which, in the day in which he sinned, he died.
In that day too he became “ alienated from the life of God." (Eph. iv. 18.) The Holy Spirit of God, the Fountain of all true moral and spiritual life to the creature, could no longer dwell, nor have any further fellowship in life, with one who had resisted His grace and sinned against His law; and could not return till the violated law had been vindicated and the iniquity purged. The result of necessity was that the “law in the members," having prevailed against the law of the mind," now assumed the mastery, and by that very usurping lordship became also the medium and instrument of the “ law of sin.” The law of the mind, dishonoured, humiliated, and cast down into the dust, could thenceforth only put in a feeble and ineffectual protest against the usurpation. It can indeed still affirm its right, and, when stimulated into activity by the law of God, it can press its claim with importunity. But it is sustained by no comforting consciousness of Divine approbation; is aided by no fellowship in the Divine life; is inspired with no courage and power by the assured nearness of Divine succour; but is rendered “ feeble, spiritless, and faint " by the remembrance of past defeat and the burden of past guilt. What wonder then that “the flesh," eager for the objects of its desire, which are everywhere close at hand, soliciting its indulgence, should maintain a perfect mastery, and bring the whole man more and more completely under the power of sin? What wonder that the man, even while honestly protesting his admiration of the law of God, as being “holy, and just, and good," should nevertheless have to confess with shame that he himself is "carnal, sold under sin ?" or that he should be constrained to add, “That which I do, I allow not;... but what I hate, that do I.”
For the direful law not only detains the sinner prisoner, but ever impels him onward in his evil course. The beginning of sin, as well as of “strife," which is but one of its manifold developments, is “as when one letteth out water," (Prov. xvii. 14,) the tendency of which is still to widen the breach and to enlarge the area of destructiveness. “Every act of sin tends to repeat itself, and to render the whole man more vicious. Each sinful indulgence yields an ever-diminishing amount of gratification, though the passions which demand it are ever growing in tyrannic strength ; "* and, with increasing force, incite the wretched man to seek it yet again. Then, too, “by the repetition of a vicious act, moral power is diminished; but as more moral power is required to resist the augmented power of the passions which prompt to the repetition of that particular act, the likelihood that it will be repeated is increased, as well as that the surplus force of the passions will be expended in the performance of other vicious acts. Thus, like an error admitted into the early stage of a calculation conducted by geometrical progression, and which goes on repeating and enlarg. ing itself at every step of the reckoning, till the unit soon swells into millions, there is not merely a tendency in evil to perpetuate itself, and so to become unalterable, but to multiply itself with a rapidity which defies calculation."! It is under the dominion of this retributive law that “evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived;" (2 Tim. iii. 13 ;) that there are those, even in this life, who sink so low that even their "i mind and conscience" become defiled, (Titus i. 15,) their conscience being " seared with a hot iron,” (1 Tim. iv. 2,) till, being a past feeling," they "give themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness;" (Eph. iv. 19;) and that a voice from within has often pronounced the evil character unalterable, long before the voice from without has confirmed the sentence with authority in the fearful words, He that is unholy, let him be unholy still.'” | Regarding merely the law of sin and death,
• Dr. Harris, “Man Primeval,” page 133. † " Ibid., pp. 284, 285.
Ibid., p. 133.
it is a necessity of nature that once a sinner, always & sinner; even as once dead, always dead : for sin can never so re-act upon itself as to produce holiness, any more than death can so re-act upon itself as to recover life. The one " law of sin and death” is that of mutual and unceasing perpetuation.
Therefore it is that sinful man, left to his unaided nature, under the dominion of moral law, must remain for ever under the curse of the first transgression, with all its terrible consequences. But he has not been so left; and we must now direct attention,
II. To that sphere within which liberation has been provided for him from this terrible law, namely, “In Christ.”
On this point we will not here dilate, but simply remark, 1. That in Christ the double necessity of man's case has been provided for; the twofold difficulty has been solved; the one by the death of the Son of God, the other by His life. In Him, God has fully accomplished for us that which the law could not accomplish, “in that it was weak through the flesh.” Sending His own Son “ in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin," God “condemned sin in the flesh.” The condemnation due to us, the actual sinners, (verse 1,) was laid upon Him, the sinless One. (Verse 3.) In Him, as our Representative, and Substitute, our sin was condemned and punished,* that we, being released from condemnation, might be admitted to fellowship in His recovered and glorious life, and henceforth walk,“ not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The provision was that He was delivered for or on account of our offences, dià tà tapattáuara, and was raised again for or on account of our justification, dià Tiv Okaiwow pôr. (Rom. iv. 25.) That justification is a justification of (which springs) life, both to Him and to us; (Rom. v. 18 ;) and so “grace reigns through righteousness (or justification) unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. v. 21.) That provision was made for us in Him, but,
• Dean Alford objects to this interpretation, "1. That the Apüstle is not speaking of the removal of guilt, but of the practice of sin. 2. That the context shows that the weakness of the law was its having no sanctifying power, 3. That the following verse clearly makes the fulfilling the dialwua of the law no matter of mere imputation, but of hepirateî narà aveüua.” All of which, though true, does not prove that by the expression, "condemned sin in the flesh,” the Apostle simply meant that sin in believers, both in principle and practice, is doomed to destruction. He is specifying something as done in order that (iva) this result might be insured. But the Gospel cannot, any more than the law, introduce the new principle of life till the old condemnation has been met and removed. Before the sanctiâcation of the Spirit is possible, there must be a sanctification by blood; and the perfect discharge from condemnation accorded by the Gospel to the believer, on the ground of the propitiation which is through the blood of Christ, is therefore a justification of life, because the new spiritual life ensues immediately upon it; it is indeed its direct legal consequence.
2. The actual liberation is conferred on men only as they become united to Christ. It is indeed true that, because the great Deliverer participated in the nature of all alike, there has come a dispensation of grace and renewed probation to all men; but the actual discharge from condemnation, and the liberty from the “law of sin and death,” do not come to any but to those who are found in Christ by faith. For we are “ blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” (Eph. i. 3,) having been “chosen in Him," (verse 4,) and “accepted" in Him, (verse 6,) " in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,” (verse 7,)“ in whom also we have obtained an inheritance" of heavenly glory, (verse 11,) and in whom also we have been "sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the carnest of our inheritance." (Verses 13, 14.) All this great salvation comes to us as we are found in Him; and thus it is that the prayer of the one Mediator between God and man is fulfilled : “ That they all may be one ; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us ;......I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." (John xvii. 21-23.) For “the Church is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all,” (Eph. i. 22, 23,) and is so identified with Him as that St. Paul speaks of Him, and believers in Him, as together constituting THE CHRIST. (ó Xplotós, 1 Cor. xii. 12.)
We proceed to observe,
III. That, for all those who are in Christ, the liberation is actually accomplished.
For, 1,“ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ:" He was condemned on their account, and they were condemned in Him. He died for their sins, and they died in Him. He was buried in the grave, and they were buried with Him: he, the man, that is dead “ hath been freed, justified,' from sin," (o afrobavà y dedikaiwrai and this apaprias,) and they have been "justified" in Him. (Rom. vi. 7, 8.) Being in Him, they are with Him "justified from all things,"- as fully justified-as He Himself; so that it may be boldly demanded concerning them, Who shall lay any. thing to the charge of God's elect? seeing it is God that justifieth them. Who is he that shall dare to condemn ? seeing it is Christ that died [to free them from condemnation], yea rather, that is risen again [in proof of their discharge), who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for them. (Rom. viii. 33, 34.) Such is the provision which has been made for the appeasement of awakened, alarmed, and self-accusing consciences; and for all sincere penitents and true believers it is sufficient.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer
sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh ; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscienco from dead works to serve the living God ?" (Heb. ix. 13, 14.) For that man who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ " with the heart unto righteousness," conscience ceases from its foreboding criminations, and becomes a fountain of triumphant joy. For we "joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement,” thy kasallayny, the reconciliation. (Rom. v. 11.)
Then, 2. The liberation from sin is secured to believers in the active life ; " for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Observe that tho law of sin is a law of death; and that the " law of the Spirit" is a law of life. Sin deals death, and thereby perpetuates both itself and its punishment ; but “ the Spirit” inspires life, and thereby liberates both from sin and death, and insures everlasting victory and blessedness.
But what“Spirit" is this by the “law" of which our liberation is secured? Is it the Holy Spirit of Christ, proceeding from Him, and giving new life to all who are in Him? Or is it that new life itself, which is originated in us by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit ? as Jesus said to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit;” (John iii. 6;) and which is spoken of elsewhere as a “ new," and a "right" spirit ? (Ezek. xxxvi. 26, and Psalm li. 10.) To us it seems clear that this latter is the true exposition, and that “the law of the Spirit of life " which liberates from the law of sin and death is that of the new life which we have in Christ, and which is manifested even in "our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor. iv. 11.) But, as this life of Jesus in us is the product of the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost, (John iii. 6,) so also it is sustained and matured only by virtue of our continued fellowship with this Spirit that “dwelleth " in us. (Rom. viii. 9, 11; 1 Cor. vi. 19; 2 Cor. xiii. 14; Eph. iv. 30; 1 Thess. v. 19.) That Spirit was given to Christ without "measure," (John iii. 34,) and Ho, having died for our sins, and been "justified in the Spirit,” (1 Tim. iii. 16,) was “ quickened by the Spirit,” (1 Peter iii. 18,) and restored to deathless life by " the glory of the Father," that we might "live by Him;" (Rom. vi. 1-11 ;) and by that same Spirit of life, proceeding forth from Him, we also are "quickened" together with Him, are “ raised up" from the state of death together with Him, and are made to "sit” enthroned “ together in heavenly places” in Him. (Eph. ii. 5, 6.) Hence the protest of St. Paul to Peter : "I through the law died to the law, that I might live unto God. I [have been and] am crucified with