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Tue Feb 1, 1964 does not cease fighting till, with our mortal body, the body of sin also, our corrupt nature, is dropped. And herein lies the mystery of the life of faith, which very young Christians sometimes find it so difficult to understand, how it is possible for a believer to say, as Paul says, in the same breath, “I am carnal, sold under sin,” and “ I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Both were true at the same moment. Paal looked at his sinful self, the mind of the flesh which he had derived from Adam, and said, “I am carnal, sold under sin." He looked at himself, as a new creature in Christ Jesus, and was able to say, “I myself with the mind serve the law of God." "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
But we must not forget that this new life imparted to the believer is not so imparted as to be possessed separately from Christ. It really exists in the believer's heart; it is not like his righteousness of justification, reckoned to be his, without his having any actual participation in it, except in the eye of God; but is a real thing in his own soul. Yet it is not there like a candle burning independently; but, like a sunbeam, dependent from moment to moment on the sun. We derive our holiness from Christ, and its growth depends upon communion with Him. And this leads us at once into the point we have now to examine, how faith is connected with our sanctification,
“We have access,” Paul says, “ by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” He could hardly have said a thing more alien to all men's natural thoughts, and more absolutely incomprehensible to many. For how do most men think about this matter? They fully admit the necessity of holiness, however much they may dislike it; but they look upon it as a state to be reached by mere effort. Anybody striving earnestly they count sure of attaining to it. And if, instead of disliking it, they are really desirous of being made holy themselves, and seeing others made holy, they say, “ Strive, strive, strive-run, run, run-fight, fight, fight-labour, labour, labour.'' And when they have so done, think they have done something, when they have not spoken a word which can teach the man how to strive lawfully-how so to run as to receive the prize how to fight, not as one that beateth the air-how to labour, not as a starved and dying man, who cannot lift his hand to his head, but as a strong and well-fed husbandman, who eats the fruit of the ground
before working on it. “Access” there must be to holiness ; it is not & matter of course to be able to serve God. Even in earthly matters it is not uncommon to see the most strenuous energy thrown away, because not directed aright. What can be more laudable than a man doing his best to serve his country in case of invasion from a foreign foe? But how diligently has it been instilled into the minds of our young men, that if they wish to do so in the hour of danger, they must get admitted into a volunteer corps, and go through a regular training, or they will be worse than aseless, able to do nothing but run away, or perhaps be hung by military law for fighting without being soldiers. The man out of uniform and the man in uniform may be equally strong, equally brave, equally resolute; but the one will be treated as a felon and do no good, the other may with honour to himself serve his country. The only difference between them being, that the one has access into the ranks, has gone through the right gate. Even so there is no true fighting against sin, unless the man goes about it in the right way. No mere effort, no amount of earnestness, will make the man holy who has not access into this grace.
This access is. through Christ. Christ is the door to every blessing, the
into the church, the way to the Father, the way into heaven, and also the way into holiness. This is the reason why He is called our Sanctification, because it is only through Him that we can attain to holiness. Never must we think, that when justified by Christ's blood we have received from Christ in that gift all He has to bestow. We have access through Him, also, into that which is the longing desire of each believer's heart-inward grace. Indeed, passing through one door involves passing through the other. If Christ justifies us by his righteousness, He is sure also to sanctify us by his Spirit. It is He who is the door to both blessings, and when He gives access or entrance into the one, He does also into the other. There is no other way to holiness, except through Christ. So entirely hopeless is the attempt of those who think of coming to Christ through holiness. It is through Christ we come to holiness : partly because He has obtained the Spirit for us ; partly because it is only to those who are not under the law but under grace, that victory over sin is promised ; partly because the main means of becoming like Christ are, beholding Christ's glory,
and communion with Christ Himself. And, therefore, so long as there is no relation established between Christ and the soul, so long as the soul is not united to Christ, has not found Christ to be indeed the way, it has not even entered upon the path of holiness, has not taken one step upon it, or begun to stand in grace.
No man can tell how important it is to make this point clear. Everything depends upon it, for it is possible, even for God's children to waste their efforts after holiness, by forgetting the dependence of the whole thing upon Christ. Many make laborious attempts at promoting holiness in themselves or in others which have no such result. It is not the temptation of the day to lacerate the body, or mortify it by absurd severities; but there are other
ways in which persons try to do the same thing—they use lawful means without respect to Him through whom alone those means can prove effectual. They pray, without first obm taining access by Christ to the throne of grace.
They read their Bibles without seeing in them “ Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write.” They make vows of amendmenty instead of drawing strength from Christ Himself. Is it any wonder that such fight uncertainly, run but get no nearer to the goal, labour like those who put sand into a bag with holes? We must by Christ have access into holiness; and those who pass Him by, and try to reach the same end by some other way, will find themselves disappointed at the last. And how does this endear the Saviour to his people, that by Him they can obtain that which they so much desire. What longings does this stir up in many a heart after resemblance to Him. How precious is the thought of holiness to him who has caught a glimpse of what it is, and hopes to reflect it. And to this, as well as to the blessings of pardon and justification, Christ is the way. It is by Him we have access to it. Out of Him, severed from Him, as He himself says, we can do nothing. But, in Him, with Him, by Him, we can do all things.
It is by faith we enter at this door. This was one of the lessons the apostles had to learn with so much difficulty. But they did learn that God purifies the heart by faith. The fact that it is by faith the soul is united to Christ may make us partly understand this. Union with Christ has two aspects. It looks
God-ward: God sees the believer in Christ, and can see no sin in Him. And it looks Christ-ward-Christ will see no sin in his mystical body—will have no spot in his bride. And, because his people are united to Him, He will purify them. “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water, by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." And that which unites the soul to Christ is faith. That which in another sphere justifies is also the instrument by which He sanctifies. All the holy actions detailed in Heb. xi. were done by faith. Enoch walking with God-Abraham leaving his father's house at God's command--the endurance of martyrdom, and torture worse than death, by feeble women, are there ascribed to faith. They drew their strength for these efforts by faith. And it is so still. Still it is only by faith in Jesus, that anything can be done which is really pleasing to God. The soul believing in Jesus has in Him the strength which is needed. When Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” he shows the secret of the believer's holiness. His power consists in casting himself in conscious weakness upon Him. Oh! what might there is in that helplessness, which compels a man to depend entirely on Jesus. Perhaps a young Christian finds himself engaged in some conflict with his own corrupt heart. He struggles long and violently, but is as often overcome. One look to Jesus for strength is worth all the efforts he can make in his own power. Strength comes in simple dependence. When he turns away from all his fancied
power, and gets his power altogether from the Saviour, then he has the victory.
Faith grasps the promises by which God works. These are God's instruments in sanctifying souls. Whereby," it is said, "are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature." And it is only by faith that these promises can have any effect. The believed promise is full of sanctifying power. When you take some promise as yours, that promise works in your heart. Did we more simply rest upon the promises, we should stand up more firmly; did we let them dwell more richly in our heart, we should find in them food making our souls grow. We must use the means of
KING'S HIGHWAY, God's own appointment, if we would advance. Clinging to a pra mise, some word which God has spoken, is much more effectual in resisting temptation, or gaining an increase of grace, than the strongest efforts in our own power; and in this sense it is by faith we have access into this grace in which we stand.
Faith keeps up the intercourse between God and the soul. It is like a hand drawing grace from Him in every time of need. And we are sanctified by faith, when stretching out this hand constantly to receive the power we need to do his will. That which we might labour in vain to do by any efforts of our own, may be done at once when we draw the strength out of infinite fulness. Then we link ourselves with Him who cannot disappoint us, and who is able to work all our works in us. I might toil in vain to lift a weight myself, which would be moved in an instant if I fastened it to a steam-engine. And in this case we are permitted by faith to join ourselves to infinite power. How long and weary was that night in which the disciples toiled in fishing and took nothing ; but when they trusted in Jesus, then the labour was at an end. They gained more in five minutes, than in five hours previously. It was so when they were rowing in a stormy sea, and tossed about for hours; but when He came walking on the waves, and they committed themselves to Him, immediately the ship was at the land whither they went. Dependence upon Jesus brings with it strength. By this God purifies hearts. He communicates to them by it a strength which is not their own. And so it is often found, that while some whom we think to be full of power prove weaker than water, there is many a despised Christian, baving no inward consciousness of strength, who yet is really strong. The fruits of holiness flourish in the heart. Things are done by that man, or that feeble woman it may be, which put to shame the efforts of other Christians; and the reason is this, that there is one who is strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and thus, by faith, has access into this grace-is sanctified
Lastly.--This sanctification of faith is full of rejoicing hope.“Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,” is a part of it. See how it differs from man's own method of making himself holy, which has always an air of melancholy about it. Man's method denounces sin and threatens it; God's method shows how to triumph over it.