Consider helping today!
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Ro 8:1
There is not a more blessed declaration than this in the whole word of truth. It is the sweetest note sounded by the gospel trumpet, for it is the very crown of the whole jubilee. Is not condemnation the bitterest drop in the cup of trembling? the most chilling, piercing note of that terrible trumpet which sounded so long and so loud from Sinai’s blazing top that all the people that were in the camp trembled? (Ex 19:13,16.) Condemnation is the final execution of God’s righteous law, and therefore carries with it all that arms death with its sting and the grave with its terror. The apprehension of this; the dread and fear of being banished forever from the presence of God; of being lost, and that without remedy; of sinking under the blazing indignation of him who is a consuming fire, has filled thousands of hearts with horror. And it must be so as long as the law speaks in its thunders, as long as conscience re-echoes its verdict, and as long as the wrath of God burns to the lowest hell. O the blessedness, then, of that word of grace and truth, worthy to be sounded through heaven and earth by the voice of cherubim and seraphim, "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!"
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Ro 8:2
We by nature and practice are slaves to sin and Satan. We are the sport of the prince of the power of the air, who takes us captive at his will. We are held down also by many hurtful lusts; or, if free from gross sin, are slaves to pride, covetousness, or self-righteousness. Perhaps some idol is set up in the chambers of imagery which defiles all the inner man; or some snare of Satan entangles our feet, and we are slaves, without power to liberate ourselves from this cruel slavery. We groan under it, as the children of Israel under their burdens, but, like them, cannot deliver ourselves.
But sooner or later the truth comes to our aid; the truth as it is in Jesus flies to the rescue of God’s oppressed family; the blessed Spirit opens it up and seals it upon the heart with a divine power. As, then, under his gracious influences they believe the truth, and feel its power and savor in their heart, a liberating influence is communicated; their fetters and shackles are loosened; the bondage of sin and Satan, and the power and strength of evil are sensibly broken, and a measure of holy freedom is enjoyed. There is no other way of getting from under the bondage of the law but by the application of the gospel, and by believing what the gospel reveals. As the truth, then, comes to the heart as the very word of the living God, power comes with it to believe; faith is raised up to credit the testimony; and as faith begins to credit the truth of God and receive it in hope and love, there is a sensible loosening of the bonds; and then the chains and fetters drop off of themselves. It is with the soul as it was with Peter in prison—when the angel came, and a light shined in the prison, and the angel’s words fell upon his ears, "the chains fell from off his hands." There remained nothing then to bar his exit; for "the iron gate that leads unto the city opened to them of its own accord." So whatever chains or fetters may hold the soul, let the angel of mercy come; let the message of salvation be revealed, the chains of unbelief drop off, the iron gate of hardness gives way, and the truth makes the soul blessedly free (Joh 8:32).
"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." — Ro 8:4
A person may be "in the flesh," as indeed we all are, and yet not "walk after it." To walk after it implies, a setting it up as a pattern, and walking in accordance with it. But a person may be dragged after another, as we see sometimes a child is dragged unwillingly along by its mother, who does not willingly walk with her. The child is not walking after its mother, nor hand in hand with her, nor side by side; but is compelled against its will to go a road which it hates, as to go to school when it gladly would go to play.
So in a sense it often is with the child of grace; he is often dragged on by the flesh. He does not go after it willingly; he does not sin wilfully, but is entangled by the strength of the flesh, dragged on contrary to his best wishes, and sometimes in spite of his earnest cries, tears, groans, and desires. He does not walk after it as in Alpine countries tourists walk through the snow after a guide, setting his feet deliberately in every step which the flesh has made before him. The saint of God, therefore, though he is in the flesh, does not walk after the flesh; for if he so walked he could not fulfill the law of love, and therefore the righteousness of the law could not be fulfilled in him. But, as enabled by grace, he does from time to time walk after the Spirit, for as the Spirit leads, he follows; as the Spirit prompts, he obeys; and as the Spirit works, he performs. When the Spirit reveals Jesus, he loves him with a pure heart fervently; when the Spirit applies a promise, he believes it; and when he makes known the truth of God to his soul, he feeds upon and delights in it.
"For those who are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those who are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit."—Ro 8:5
None but those who are partakers of a heavenly birth feel heavenly realities to be their choice element, holy things their sweetest meditation, and the solemn worship of God their supreme delight. Look at this mark as a touchstone of divine life; for to be spiritually-minded a man must be spiritual, and to be spiritual he must have received the Spirit and been made a partaker of that "kingdom of God which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Ro 14:17).
Have you never found in reading the Scriptures a sweet peace distill over your soul, as the glorious promises came forth one after another as the stars in the evening sky, each one brighter and clearer, and you felt a blessed persuasion of your interest in them? When at the throne of grace, favored with liberty of spirit and access to your heavenly Friend, have you never felt the peace of God to drop into your heart, and like oil upon the waves, to allay every rising of rebellion within? Have you never found, in conversing with the saints of God, a sweet flowing of heart to heart and soul to soul, and felt that such conversation left behind a blessed fragrance upon your spirit? Have you never in the house of prayer had your heart and affections drawn up to the things of God; and as you sat and heard Christ, his Person and work, his grace and glory set forth, faith was drawn out to believe, hope to cast forth its anchor, and love and affection to flow, so that you experienced a spirituality of mind, a heavenly calm, and a holy peace that touched every spring of your soul, and watered it as the river that went out of Eden to water the garden?
"For to be carnally-minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Ro 8:6
One of the most blessed marks of regenerating grace and the sure fruit of the love of God shed abroad in the heart, is that spiritual-mindedness of which Paul declares, it is "life and peace." "To be spiritually-minded," to live and walk under the blessed power and influence of the Holy Spirit, to have the heart and affections drawn up from this poor, vain scene, to where Jesus sits at the right hand of God, this is "life," the life of God in the soul, with all its present blessedness and all its future glory, and "peace," for peace and rest are alone to be found in this path of union and communion with a glorified Redeemer.
In this sweet spirituality of mind, in these heavenly affections, and in this communion with the Lord at his own throne of grace, the life and power of godliness much consist. We trust we know, from what we have felt in our own bosom, what this sweet spiritual-mindedness is, and what are its blessed effects. It is a key to unlock the Scriptures, for then we read them under the same sacred influence, and by the same divine teaching by which they were written; it is a door of prayer, for under these calm and peaceful emotions the soul, as if instinctively and necessarily, seeks holy communion with God; it is the fruitful parent of sweet meditation, for the truth of God is then thought over, fed upon, and is found to be bread from heaven; it is the secret of all life and power in preaching, for unless the heart be engaged in, and melted and softened by the truth delivered, there will be a hardness in its delivery which will make itself sensibly felt by the living hearer; and it is the power of all spiritual conversation, for how can we talk with any unction or profit unless we are spiritually-minded, and in that frame of soul wherein the things of God are our chief element, the language of our lips, because the delight of our soul?
But to be otherwise—to be carnally-minded on our knees, with the Bible open before our eyes, in the house of prayer, at the Lord’s table, in the company of the family of God—what a burden to our spirit, what a condemnation to our conscience, what a parent of doubt and fear whether matters can be right between God and our own soul, when there is such a distance between him and us!
It is true that the most eminent saints and servants of God have their dead and dark seasons, when the life of God seems sunk to so low an ebb as to be hardly visible, so hidden is the stream by the mud-banks of their fallen nature. Still it glides onward, round them, if not through them; and sometimes a beam of light falls upon it from above, as it threads its way toward the ocean of eternal love, which manifests not only its existence but its course, and that it gives back to heaven the ray it receives from heaven.
No, by these very dark and dead seasons, the saints and servants of God are instructed. They see and feel what the flesh really is, how alienated from the life of God; they learn in whom all their strength and sufficiency lie; they are taught that in them, that is, in their flesh, dwells no good thing; that no exertions of their own can maintain in strength and vigor the life of God; and that all they are and have, all they believe, know, feel, and enjoy, with all their ability, usefulness, gifts, and grace, flow from the pure, sovereign grace, the rich, free, undeserved, yet unceasing goodness and mercy of God. They learn in this hard school of painful experience their emptiness and nothingness, and that without Christ indeed they can do nothing. They thus become clothed with humility, that lovely, becoming garb; cease from their own strength and wisdom, and learn experimentally that Christ is, and ever must be, all in all to them, and all in all in them.
"To be carnally-minded is death; but to be spiritually-minded is life and peace."—Ro 8:6
Just in proportion as our heart and affections are engaged on heavenly objects, shall we feel a sweet savor of heaven resting upon our spirit; and as we can only give back what we receive, every going forth of divine life from the soul below is but the fruit and effect of the incoming of that life from above. Christ is our life above (Col 3:4); and as he by his Spirit and grace maintains the life of faith in the soul, it manifests itself in gracious actings upon himself. Without this spirituality of mind, religion is but a mere name, an empty mask, a delusion, and a snare.
God does not take into heaven, into the fullness of his own eternal bliss, those whom he does not love, and who do not love him. It is a prepared people for prepared mansions. And this preparedness for heaven, as an inward grace, much consists in that sweet spirituality of mind whereby heavenly things become our only happiness, and an inward delight is felt in them, that enlarges the heart, ennobles the mind, softens the spirit, and lifts the whole soul, as it were, up into a holy atmosphere in which it bathes as its choice element.
This is "life," not the cold, dead profession of those poor carnal creatures who have only a ’natural faith’ in the Lord Jesus Christ and the truths of his gospel; but that blessed life which shall never die, but live in the eternal presence of God when earth and all it holds shall be wrapped in the devouring flames. And it is "peace"—the Redeemer’s dying legacy—whereby, as he himself fulfils it, he calms the troubled waves of the soul, stills every rebellious movement, and enthrones himself in the heart as the Prince of peace.
"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." Ro 8:10
We need two things in lively operation; a spiritual death and a spiritual life. We need death put upon the flesh, upon sin, upon everything which is ungodly, that it may not reign or rule; and we need also the communication and maintenance of a divine life which shall act Godwards, exist and co-exist in the same breast, and be in activity at the same moment.
Here is sin striving for the mastery; but here also is a view of the cross of Christ; here is a testimony of bleeding, dying love. This puts a death upon sin. But as death is put upon sin and the lust is mortified, crucified, resisted, or subdued, there springs up a life of faith and prayer, of hope and love, of repentance and godly sorrow for sin, of humility and spirituality, of a desire to live to God’s praise and walk in his fear. The cross gives both. From the cross comes death unto sin; from the cross comes life unto righteousness. From the cross springs the healing of every bleeding wound, and from the cross springs every motive to a godly life. Thus, in God’s mysterious wisdom, there is a way whereby sin can be pardoned, the law magnified, justice exalted, the sinner saved, sin subdued, righteousness given, and the soul made to walk in the ways of peace and holiness.
Oh, what depths of wisdom, mercy, and grace are here! Look where you will, try every mode, if you are sincere about your soul’s salvation, if the Lord the Spirit has planted the fear of God in your heart, you will find no other way but this. There is no other way that leads to holiness here and heaven hereafter; no other way whereby sin can be pardoned and the soul sanctified. It is this view of salvation from sin not only in its guilt but also in its power, this deliverance from the curse of the law and well-spring of all holy, acceptable obedience, which has in all ages so endeared the cross to the souls of God’s family, and made all of them more or less to be of Paul’s mind, when he declared that he was determined to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Ro 8:16
You may not perhaps, for the most part, enjoy a strong or clear assurance of your interest in Christ; you may be frequently much exercised whether you are a child of God; and yet you may at times have had a sweet testimony that grace is in your heart. You may have heard the servants of God so describe the feelings of your soul, so enter into your exercises, and bring forward such evidences of grace, that, in spite of all your unbelief, you were convinced that if these men spoke agreeably to the mind of God, which you could not well doubt from the power which accompanied it, you were one of his children; and as you felt this inward witness, your heart was softened and moved within you, and you could not help lifting up your soul in praise and adoration to the God of all your mercies. You might sink again almost as low as before; but while that heavenly feeling lasted, you had a testimony in your conscience that you were a child of God, and could then and there believe that he was your Father and heavenly friend.
This text does not, therefore, cut off those who have not reached the full assurance of faith; it does not imply, much less say, that everybody shall be cut off and sent into everlasting perdition who cannot clearly and boldly declare that the Spirit himself bears witness with their spirit that they are the children of God. On the contrary, it opens its benevolent arms to every one who has in any degree or at any time received any deliverance, felt any measure of spiritual consolation, or been favored with any testimony of his acceptance in the Beloved. It does not come as a two-edged sword to kill all who do not enjoy the full assurance of faith, but still have felt the power of the truth in their hearts. It does not say to such, "You have neither part nor lot in the matter." It would rather draw them forward into the sheltering arms of eternal mercy, and encourage them to press on to know more and more of that inward witness which alone can cheer them in hours of darkness and distress, support them upon a dying bed, and enable them to walk without doubt and fear through the gloomy valley of the shadow of death.
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Ro 8:17
O the blessedness of being a child of God! Can heart conceive or tongue express the heights and depths of grace and glory, the safety, the happiness, the honor, the bliss, the delight of being an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ? We soon shall have to put off our mortal bodies—soon have to lie down with the worms of the grave, and the clods of the valley—soon have to enter into the invisible world. Well may we then ask ourselves what are our prospects of eternity? Where then will be our inheritance? Will it be one of eternal misery and woe, of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, or of the pleasures which are at God’s right hand for evermore? Have we any evidence or testimony that we are the children of God? Has the Spirit ever borne any direct or indirect witness to our adoption into his family—to our sonship and to our heirship? When we review our past experience, can we find any marks that we can look upon with a good measure of faith and hope as sound, scriptural evidences that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ? Can you look back upon that memorable season when the Lord was first pleased to work upon your conscience and convince you of your sins?—to that time of love when Christ was first revealed to your heart?—to that day of affliction and trouble when a sweet promise of a saving interest in his love and blood was sealed with divine power upon your soul? Can you find any solid, substantial marks or tokens that you are a partaker of saving and sanctifying grace, born of God, separated from the world as a pilgrim and a stranger, and pressing onward through a thousand foes and fears to a heavenly country?
It is of no use leaning upon the testimony of man, or upon any vain hopes or presumptuous confidence that may spring up in a self-righteous, deceitful heart. It is the witness of the Spirit with our spirit, more or less clear—the shining in of the light of the Lord’s countenance—the manifestations of his presence and love, which alone can really satisfy a child of God of his being a partaker of grace and of the glory that is to be revealed at the coming of the Lord Jesus.
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." Ro 8:17
This is the especial blessedness of being a child of God—that death, which puts a final extinguisher on all the hopes and happiness of all the unregenerate, gives him the fulfillment of all his hopes and the consummation of all his happiness; for it places him in possession of "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for those who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."
In this present earthly life, we have sometimes sips and tastes of sonship, feeble indeed and interrupted, so that it is with us as Mr. Hart speaks—"Though you here receive but little, scarce enough for the proof of your proper title;" yet are they so far pledges of an inheritance to come. But this life is only an introduction to a better. In this life we are but children, heirs indeed, but heirs in their minority; but in the life to come, if indeed we are what we profess to be, sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, we shall be put into full possession of the eternal inheritance.
And what is this? Nothing less than God himself. "Heirs of God," says the Apostle. For as the Lord said to Abraham, "I am your shield and exceeding great reward;" as he said to the Levites, "I am their inheritance," so God himself is the inheritance of his people; yes, he himself in all his glorious perfections. All the love of God, the goodness of God, the holiness of God, all his happiness, bliss, and blessedness, all his might, majesty, and glory, as shining forth in the Person of his dear Son in all the blaze of one eternal, unclouded day—this is the saint’s inheritance. Let us not then be weary in well-doing; nor faint and tire in running the race set before us, with this prize in view; but press on by faith and prayer to win this eternal and glorious crown.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Ro 8:18
What is to be compared with the salvation of the soul? What are riches, honors, health, long life? What are all the pleasures which the world can offer, sin promise, or the flesh enjoy? What is all that men call good or great? What is everything which the outward eye has seen, or natural ear heard, or has entered into the carnal heart of man, put side by side with being saved in the Lord Jesus Christ with an everlasting salvation?
For consider what we are saved from, as well as what we are saved unto. From a burning hell to a blissful heaven; from endless wrath to eternal glory; from the dreadful company of devils and damned spirits, mutually tormenting and tormented, to the blessed companionship of the glorified saints, all perfectly conformed in body and soul to the image of Christ, with thousands and tens of thousands of holy angels, and, above all, to seeing the glorious Son of God as he is, in all the perfection of his beauty, and all the ravishments of his presence and love.
To be done forever with all the sorrows, troubles, and afflictions of this life; all the pains and aches of the present clay tabernacle; all the darkness, bondage, and misery of the body of sin and death; to be perfectly holy in body and soul, being in both without spot, or blemish, or any such thing, and ever to enjoy uninterrupted union and communion with the Father, Son, and blessed Spirit—O what a heaven lies before the believing saints of God as the end of their faith in the salvation of their souls!
"We are saved by hope." — Ro 8:24
What is the meaning of being saved by hope? It does not mean saved ’actually’, but ’instrumentally’; not saved as regards our eternal security, but as regards our ’experience of salvation’. By hope we are instrumentally saved from despair, saved from turning our backs upon Christ and the gospel, saved from looking to any other Savior, or any other salvation; and especially saved from making this world and this life our happiness and home, as "waiting patiently for what we see not," even "the redemption of our body."
Now it is by hope that we hang upon and cleave to the Lord Jesus, and thus by this grace we abide in him. It is therefore spoken of as an "anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that which is within the veil." What holds the ship firm in the storm, and prevents it falling upon the rocks? The anchor! The ship abides firm as long as the anchor holds. So by hope the soul abides in Christ. He is within the veil; we are outside, and, it may be, tossed up and down on a sea of doubt and fear, distress and anxiety, and yet there is a bond of union between him and us firmer than the Atlantic Cable.
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Ro 8:26
In all our prayers, in all our approaches to the throne of grace, our mercy and wisdom will be to seek to possess the mind of the Spirit; to desire to know the will of God, and do it; to look up more believingly and continually to the Lord Jesus, that he himself would teach and guide us; that he would by his Spirit and grace conform us more inwardly and outwardly to his suffering image; that he would grant unto us to know him more, and serve him better; that our prayers may day by day be more and more fervent, earnest, and sincere, more spiritual, more in accordance with the will of God; that thus they may be more and more manifested as the interceding breath of the Spirit of God in our hearts, and as such may bring more clear and evident answers down.
Pray for the manifestation of Christ to your soul, for a revelation of the Person, blood, righteousness, and love of Jesus; seek to have your signs and evidences of divine life more cleared up; your Ebenezers and tokens for good more brightly shone upon; your doubts and fears more plainly dispelled, and a fuller and sweeter assurance of personal interest given in the finished work of Christ. Desire also to have the promises applied to your heart, the word of God brought with divine power into your conscience, and a living faith raised up and drawn forth to mix with the truth which you read or hear.
Beg, as the Lord may enable, for submission, patience, resignation, brokenness, contrition, humility, godly sorrow for sin, heavenly affections, and that sweet spirituality of mind which is life and peace. Above all, seek an inward assurance that your prayers are heard and accepted, and then watch for the answer. This will give you the surest and best of all evidences that the blessed Spirit is himself interceding for you with groanings which cannot be uttered.
"Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Ro 8:26
"We know not what we should pray for as we ought." How often do we find and feel this to be our case. Darkness covers our mind; ignorance pervades our soul; unbelief vexes our spirit; guilt troubles our conscience; a crowd of evil imaginations, or foolish or worse than foolish wanderings distract our thoughts; Satan hurls in thick and fast his fiery darts; a dense cloud is spread over the mercy-seat; infidelity whispers its vile suggestions, until, amid all this rabble throng, such confusion and bondage prevail that words seem idle breath, and prayer to the God of heaven but empty mockery.
In this scene of confusion and distraction, when all seems going to the wreck, how kind, how gracious is it in the blessed Spirit to come, as it were, to the rescue of the poor bewildered saint, and to teach him how to pray and what to pray for. He is therefore said "to help our infirmities," for these evils of which we have been speaking are not willful, deliberate sins, but wretched infirmities of the flesh. He helps, then, our infirmities by subduing the power and prevalence of unbelief; by commanding in the mind a solemn calm; by rebuking and chasing away Satan and his fiery darts; by awing the soul with a reverential sense of the power and presence of God; by presenting Jesus before our eyes as the Mediator at the right hand of the Father; by raising up and drawing forth faith upon his Person and work, blood and righteousness; and, above all, by himself interceding for us and in us "with groanings which cannot be uttered." When the soul is favored thus to pray, its petitions are a spiritual sacrifice, and its cries enter the ears of the Lord Almighty, for "He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Ro 8:27; Jas 5:4; 1:1-27).
"And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Ro 8:27
God’s will must ever stand—it is as unchanging and as unchangeable as God himself. Our wills are ever fluctuating; God’s will fluctuates not. And as that will must ever live and rule, it will be our highest wisdom and richest mercy to submit to, and be conformed unto it. Now the will of God to you who desire to fear his name is not your destruction, but your salvation; your profit now, your happiness hereafter; your present grace, and eternal glory. And the Spirit is making intercession for you according to the will of God; for is it not your earnest desire and prayer that your soul should be saved and blessed, that you should serve God and live to his glory, and when you die be with him forever?
Lie, then, at his feet. Be the clay, and let him be your heavenly Potter. Do not think of saving yourself, or of putting your own hand to God’s gracious work. Be content to be nothing. Sink even lower than that; be willing to be less than nothing, that Christ may be all in all. Covet above all things the Spirit’s interceding breath; for in possessing that, you will have a sure pledge that he will guide you in life, support you in death, and land you in glory. With his guidance we can never err; with his supporting arms we can never fall; taught by him we shall see the path of life plainly; upheld by his strength we shall walk in it without fear.
Without his light we are dark; without his life we are dead; without his teaching we are but a mass of ignorance and folly. We cannot find the way except he guides; but if he does guide, we cannot but find it. The more we confide in his teaching and guidance, the better it will be for us; and the more that under this teaching we can lie submissively at the Lord’s feet, looking up to him for his will to be made known in us and perfected in us, the more it will be for our present peace, and the more it will redound to his eternal praise.
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose." — Ro 8:28
To look at all our varied circumstances; and then to believe that if we are the lovers of God, all things we experience are working together for our spiritual good, what a view does it give us of the wisdom, grace, and power of a wonder-working God! And we are to measure this good, not by what the creature thinks, but by what God himself has declared to be good in his word, and what we have felt to be good in our soul’s experience.
Have your trials humbled you, made you meek and lowly? They have done you good. Have they stirred up a spirit of prayer in your bosom, made you sigh, cry, and groan for the Lord to appear, visit, or bless your soul? They have done you good. Have they opened up those parts of God’s word which are full of mercy and comfort to his afflicted people? Have they stripped off the covering that is too narrow? Have they made you more sincere, more earnest, more spiritual, more heavenly-minded, more convinced that the Lord Jesus can alone bless and comfort your soul? They have done you good. Have they been the means in God’s hand of giving you a lift in hearing the preached word, of opening your ears to hear none but the true servants of God, those who enter into a tried path, and describe a gracious experience? Have they made the Bible more precious to you, the promises more sweet, the dealings of God with your soul more prized? They have done you good.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Ro 8:29
The risen body of Christ is the type to which the risen bodies of the saints are to be conformed, for "as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." This is that glorious image to which the saints are to be all conformed. But though fully retaining all the essential characteristics of humanity, for otherwise it would cease to be manhood in conjunction with Godhead, yet so unspeakably glorious is this risen body of the blessed Lord, to the image of which the risen saints will be conformed, that in this time-state we can not only form no conception of its surpassing glory, but not even of that inferior degree of glory which will clothe the bodies of the saints at the resurrection. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be—but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1Jo 3:2).
But of this we may be sure, that there will always be an essential and unapproachable distinction between the glory of Christ’s humanity and theirs. His humanity, being in eternal union with his Deity, derives thence a glory which is distinct from all other, and to which there can be no approach, and with which there can be no comparison. The glory of the moon never can be the glory of the sun, though she shines with his reflected light. "He will change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body;" but though like, it will not be the same. It will be the saints’ eternal happiness to see him as he is, and to be made like unto him; but it will be their everlasting joy that he should ever have that pre-eminence of glory which is his birthright, and to adore which will ever be their supreme delight. To have a body free from all sin, sickness, and sorrow, filled to its utmost capacity of holiness and happiness, able to see him as he is without dying under the sight, and to be re-united to its once suffering but now equally glorified companion, an immortal soul, expanded to its fullest powers of joy and bliss—if this be not sufficient, what more can God give?
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" Ro 8:32
I have thought sometimes of the sweet figure of Solomon, as a type of Christ, in his royal liberality to the queen of Sheba. We read of him that he "gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty." So our Royal Benefactor gives more to the sons of men than is in their heart to ask for. And what he gives, he gives freely, out of his royal bounty. As freely as the rain drops from the sky; as freely as the sun casts forth his glorious beams and ripens the fruits of the field; as freely as the wind courses over the earth; as freely as the dew drops upon the morning grass; so free are the gifts of God to his Church and people.
Indeed, in giving Christ, God gave everything. The Apostle declares, he "has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." We must never look upon spiritual blessings as broken fragments of the love of God, mere shreds and patches, scattered crumbs, waifs and strays, like floating pieces of some shipwrecked vessel; but we must look on the blessings of the gospel as all stored up in Christ our covenant Head. Whatever is given, is given out of Christ, in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; and it is by virtue of union to him, and out of his fullness, that all these blessings are received.
How can we lift up our thoughts—how raise up our hearts—adequately to conceive of the gift of God’s only-begotten Son—his eternal Son—the Son of the Father in truth and love—given out of the bosom of God that he might become incarnate, suffer, bleed, and die; and by a suffering life and meritorious death offer a sacrifice acceptable to God, a sacrifice whereby the sins of God’s people were forever put away?
The grand source of all the admiration and adoration and the eternal blessedness of the saints, will be the holy enjoyment of the ’mystery of an incarnate God’. The incarnation of the second Person in the glorious Trinity—the eternal Son of the eternal Father—his taking human nature into union with his own divine Person—will be the mystery that will ravish the hearts and fill the lips of God’s saints with an endless theme of admiration and joy through the countless ages of eternity.
"Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." Ro 8:34
As the soul is led and taught by the Spirit, it follows the Lord through all the various acts and sufferings of his life. The first spot to which the Holy Spirit takes the poor sinner is the cross of Jesus. That is the first real saving view we get of the Lord of life and glory; the Holy Spirit taking the poor guilty sinner, laden with the weight of a thousand sins, to the foot of the cross, and opening his eyes to see the Son of God bleeding there as an atoning sacrifice for sin. To be brought there by the power of the Holy Spirit, and receive that blessed mystery of the bleeding, suffering, and agonizing Son of God into our hearts and consciences, is the first blessed discovery that God the Spirit favors us with.
But we pass on from that to see Jesus sleeping in the sepulcher; for we have to die ourselves, and we need to see the Forerunner who has entered into the grave for us. We need to feel that we can lie down in the grave, and see that narrow bed in which our body will one day be stretched, in a measure perfumed by Jesus having lain there before us.
And when we have traveled from the cross to the sepulcher, we then go a step farther; to the resurrection of the Lord of life and glory. On the third day we view him by faith springing out of the sepulcher in which he lay entombed, rising up in glory and power for our justification. And thus we see in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the hope of the soul for a blessed immortality.
But we do not tarry there; as the Lord the Spirit gives us eyes to see, and moves our heart to feel, we travel one step farther; this is, to the ascension of the Lord of life and glory; not tarrying on earth (for he tarried not there), but mounting up to see him sitting at the right hand of the Father, as the Mediator between God and man, as the divine Intercessor, as the glorious Head of grace, as communicating out of his own fullness gifts and graces unto poor and needy souls, who are living in daily and hourly bankruptcy. These need to receive perpetual supplies of life, light, and grace out of his fullness, to keep them in the way wherein the Lord has set their feet.
So that the ascension of the Lord Jesus up on high, and his sitting at the right hand of God, when received into the conscience under the power of the Spirit, is not a dry doctrine, not a dead bone of a withered skeleton; but is so connected with all the feelings of our heart, with all our misery and ruin, with all our wretchedness, with all our guilt, with all our daily needs, with all our hourly necessities, that, when led by the Spirit’s teaching to look at this Mediator at the right hand of the Father, it becomes a truth full of blessed sweetness and power to the heaven-taught soul.
"Who can separate us from the love of Christ?" — Ro 8:35
Be this never forgotten, that if we have ever been brought near to the Lord Jesus Christ by the actings of living faith, there never can be any final, actual separation from him. In the darkest moments, in the dreariest hours, under the most painful exercises, the most fiery temptations, there is, as with Jonah in the belly of hell, a looking again toward the holy temple. There is sometimes a sigh, a cry, a groan, a breathing forth of the heart’s desire to "know Him, and the power of his resurrection;" that he would draw us near unto himself, and make himself precious to our souls. And these very cries and sighs, groanings and breathings, all prove that whatever darkness of mind, guilt of conscience, or unbelief we may feel, there is no real separation.
It is in grace as it is in nature; the clouds do not blot out the sun; it is still in the sky, though they often cut off his bright rays. And so with the blessed Sun of righteousness; our unbelief, our ignorance, our darkness of mind, our guilt of conscience, our many temptations—these do not blot out the Sun of righteousness from the sky of grace. Though thick clouds come between him and us and make us feel as though he was blotted out, or at least as if we were blotted from his remembrance, yet, through mercy, where grace has begun the work, grace carries it on—"Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Php 1:6).
"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Ro 8:37
Those who know nothing of their own heart, of their own infirmities, of their own frailties, of their own inward or outward slips and backslidings, know nothing of the secret of super-abounding grace, nothing of the secret of atoning blood, nothing of the secret of the Spirit’s inward testimony. They cannot. Only in proportion as we are emptied of self in all its various forms, are we filled out of the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Now you, perhaps, (I address myself personally to some poor, tempted child of God, that in touching one, I may touch others,) are a poor, tempted creature; and your daily sorrow, your continual trouble is, that you are so soon overcome; that your temper, your lusts, your pride, your worldliness, your carnal, corrupt heart are perpetually getting the mastery. And from this you sometimes draw bitter conclusions. You say, in the depth of your heart, "Can I be a child of God, and be thus? What mark and testimony have I of being in favor with God when I am so easily, so continually overcome?"
Now I want you to look to the end. What is the issue of these defeats? Remember, it is a solemn truth, and one that we learn very slowly—that we must be overcome in order to overcome. There is no setting out with a stock of strength, daily adding to it, weekly increasing it, and then gaining the victory by our own resolutions, our own innate strength. Such sham holiness may come under a gospel garb, may wear a fair appearance; but it only more hides the rottenness of the flesh. Then, remember this—that in order to gain the victory, we must know our weakness; and we can only know our weakness by its being experimentally opened up in our consciences. We cannot learn it from others; we must learn it in our own souls; and that often in a very painful manner. But these painful sensations in a tender conscience lead a man more humbly, more feelingly, more believingly to the Lord of life and glory, to receive out of his fullness. Thus every defeat only leads to and ensures victory at the last. Says the Apostle, "In all these things we are more than conquerors." How? Through our resolutions, through our wisdom? No; "through Him that loved us." There is no other way, then, to overcome, but by the "strength of Jesus made perfect in our weakness."
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Romans 8". Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter