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Thirdly, The character of the persons who receive this.benefit. They are described as them that are sanctified. To be sanctified, means to be set apart for holy purposes, or for the service of God. It was by the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifices upon them, that the tabernacle and its vessels and ministers were sanctified under the Mosaical dispensation. It is in consequence of the blood of Christ being applied to the conscience by a living faith, through the operation of the Holy Ghost, that the children of men are sanctified under the Christian dispensation. To be sanctified, also means to be separated from that which is sinful, which defiles or pollutes the soul. Sanctification is holiness of heart and life, or being conformed to the image of Christ in mind and conduct. Without this a profession of faith in Christ is vain. There is no pardon for sin without cleansing from sin; there is no justification without sanctification. All who truly believe in Christ, are numbered among His sanctified people. Let it be our prayer that, by the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, we may be manifested to be His people. And bearing this character before the world, may we walk humbly with our God, in communion and fellowship with Him, relying on the one offering of Christ for our pardon and acceptance with God; and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, when we have done with all things here below.
THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE ABOVE, WHERE CHRIST SITTETH ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.
THE resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, is spoken of in the New Testament, not only as a most wonderful event, but also as affording an illustration of the nature of true Christianity, and of the change in heart and life which must take place in those who embrace its doctrines. It pleased God, for the confirmation of the fact, to connect with it a doctrine of the utmost importance; the reception of which must at all times remove every doubt as to the truth of the fact. This doctrine is dwelt upon by our apostle in the sixth chapter of his epistle to the
Romans, the second lesson appointed for this morning's service. There it is said, Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life, which is called the likeness of His resurrection, and consists in being made alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord, instead of being dead in sins. In consequence of this, Christians are exhorted, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof; neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. A similar use is made of the doctrine of the resurrection in the Epistle for this day. Believers in Christ are here supposed to be risen with Him, having been quickened from a death in trespasses and sins; and are therefore exhorted to act suitably to their profession, to seek and pursue, to desire and love heavenly things, and to mortify all their earthly and sensual inclinations, all the desires of the flesh and of the mind, which are contrary to the will of their heavenly Father in Christ Jesus.
From the words of the text we may consider, First, The description given of the true character of the believer in Christ; and
Secondly, The exhortation founded upon it; which is enlarged on in the Epistle for this day.
May we be numbered among those whose character is here described as that which is pleasing to God; and may the exhortations of His holy word sink deep into our hearts by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, and bring forth fruit in our lives to the glory of His holy name; that we may be Christians, not in profession only, but in deed and in truth, in heart and affection, and in our lives and conduct. The
First thing to be noticed is, the description given of the Christian character. This is stated in a hypothetical form with regard to the persons addressed, If ye be risen with Christ. The apostle had spoken of it as a matter of fact in the preceding chapter; but he here speaks of it in this manner, in order to lead them to self-examination with regard to their own state individually. He had described them before as buried with Christ in baptism; wherein, he adds, ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And he states how this great change had taken place. And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. The former condition of these persons, their state by nature, was that of being dead in their sins. They were dead to God, not partakers of spiritual life, dead to the knowledge and love of Him, not having the fear of God before their eyes, nor the love of Him in
their hearts. They were alive only to sin; were living in disobedience to the commands and will of God, fulfilling the natural desires of the flesh and of the mind,26 and were in the road to eternal death and misery, as they were living and walking in the enjoyment of those sensual pleasures, because of which cometh the wrath of God on the children of disobedience.26 All who are living in sin are dead to God. All who are walking according to the course of this world,26 having their minds set on earthly things, to the neglect or disregard of spiritual and heavenly things, are in the same state.
The persons spoken of in the text had been delivered from the state of spiritual death in which mankind by nature lie. They were risen with Christ, through the faith of the operation of God. Being justified by faith, they had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ is the means whereby the children of men are made partakers of this spiritual resurrection. This faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.26 He quickens the soul from its death in trespasses and sins. It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing28 in this work of making the soul alive to God. He leads the penitent sinner to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to rely upon or trust in His atonement, through which is ob
26 Eph. ii. 3, 2, 8; v. 6.
27 Col. ii. 12.
28 John vi. 63.