WE will continue at this time the study of Christian experience and how it is obtained. “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” 2Cor.5:21. R. V. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” 1Cor.1:30. R. V. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the righteousness of God (and that is what we are made in him that we might become the righteousness of God in him), which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference.” Rom.3:20-22. Now the righteousness of God is witnessed by the law and the prophets, and it is acceptable because Jesus Christ is made that to us, that we might become that in him, and the righteousness of God will meet the requirements of Christian experience.
When we become the righteousness of God in Him, that will meet every demand here and hereafter, and that is Christian experience, but it is all in Him, always in Him. Again let us read: “There is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1. “There is no condemnation.” “There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” That is all, but that is enough. But was he not condemned? And were we not condemned in him? Let us read the record of Christ’s experience when he was before the High Priest: “Ye have heard the blasphemy; what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” Mark 14:64. They all condemned him to be guilty of death. “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” Luke 23:39-41. “Pilate said unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews and said unto them, I find in him no fault at all.” John 18:38. “Behold I bring him forth to you, so that ye may know that I find no fault in him.” John 19:4. “Pilate said unto them, Take ye him and crucify him, I find no fault in him.” Verse 6. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man [observe – a man] approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs.” Acts 2:22. One more scripture: “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” 2Cor.10:18. The record is plain. Jesus Christ was condemned by the religious leaders of his day to be guilty of death, but one of the malefactors who was hanged with him knew that it was an unjust condemnation, and said so. Pilate, who represented the civil power, said three times, “I find no fault in him,” and yet under the pressure brought to bear upon him by the religious leaders, he told them, “Take ye him, and crucify him,” but the testimony is that He was a man approved of God.
This lesson applies very closely to our own situation, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” and yet the very ones who are in Christ Jesus are the ones who will be condemned by the religious leaders of this day, and under the pressure of the religious leaders, the civil power will yield and persecute, but – “a man approved of God.” And “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” That is, God does not condemn, and what does it matter if man condemns? That counts nothing. And when the Scripture says that Jesus of Nazareth was a man approved of God, it says that every man who is in him is also approved of God.
One thought further: Notice what the Scripture says, “There is therefore now no condemnation.” It does not say, “There is therefore now no conviction.” In earthly courts, the first thing is to secure a conviction, the next thing is to pass sentence. The first office of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin, but not for the purpose of condemning, but for the purpose of issuing a free pardon. so there may be conviction,but do not mistake conviction for condemnation. The very next office of the Spirit is to convict or convince of righteousness, and God’s purpose in bringing conviction is always that he may issue a free pardon, not to condemn.
There is one further thought suggested by this text: “No condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” Now call up the 35th chapter of Numbers. We cannot take the time to read the chapter, but we can call up the outline of it. It is the record of the appointment of the cities of refuge, and you remember that when one had slain another, he fled for the city of refuge. And if it was shown upon due investigation that it was not a murder with malice, or was not intentionally done, then so long as the manslayer remained in this city of refuge, he was safe; they could not condemn him. But if he came outside of this city, then he was liable to suffer the penalty. These cities of refuge were so scattered through the country that it was impossible for one to be within the borders of the country and be more than one half day’s journey from some city of refuge, and the roads leading to these cities were always kept in good repair, and there were signs put up all along the highway, “REFUGE,” so the one who was fleeing might lose no time and make no mistakes on his way. Do you see how perfectly the lesson applies? Jesus Christ is not far from any one of us; the way to him is made just as easy as God can make it, and the way is always open and kept in repair, and he has pointers up in every place pointing to Jesus Christ, the Refuge, and just as soon as one is in him, he is safe from the pursuer just as long as he stays in him. If he gets outside of him, it is at his own risk. He is likely then to pay the penalty, but if he abides in him, he is safe. “There is no condemnation.”
In the epistle to the Philippians, 3:4-9: “What things ere gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God which we become in him. Paul’s experience was that of a perfect Pharisee. He gives the list of good things, his birth, his descent, his works, “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless,” but when he saw himself as compared with Jesus Christ, and when he saw all the works that he had done as compared with the perfection of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, it was not enough that he should count all that he had done simply as nothing, but he saw that all that he had done was actually loss. It was on the wrong side, it was a negative quantity. It must be repented of, and he must “be found in him;” and when he was found in Him, that was sufficient. And see the comparison between what he found in himself and what he found in Christ, and see the desirability of being found in Christ rather than being found in himself. “In Him ye are complete.”
Let us read that scripture in the second chapter of Col., beginning with the sixth verse: “As ye have therefore received Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and builded up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you,” rob you, make a spoil of you, make you naked, strip you. You see we are to be in Christ Jesus; we are to be clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ. Now you beware lest any man strip off that wedding garment of the righteousness of God which we have in him. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” not in a lump, but “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead,” in a body, corporeally; because a body was prepared for him. “Thou hast clothed me with a body.” Now in that body, that is, in the flesh, “dwelleth all the fullness of the God head,” and all the fullness of the Godhead was in the body, dwelt there bodily. You see the force of that, – bodily, in the body, not in a lump, but because he was clothed with a body. “And ye are complete in him.” Better, as the Revised Version reads, “Ye are made full in him.” What are we without him? Nothing, nothing. If we try to be anything, we can simply be the form of something. That is formalism. You remember that the law came by Moses, but grace and truth, – or as the Syriac Version reads, “Grace and the reality came by Jesus Christ.” Now it is true that in the law we have the form of truth, but the reality is in Jesus Christ. Now any man who attempts to make himself better, who attempts to meet the requirements of God’s law without Christ, is simply a formalist. He has the form merely. It is nothing but a dead form. It is all right to have the form, but the form must be filled. Now “in him ye are made full.” The same form is there, the law is there just the same, but instead of being simply as a dead form, a kind of skeleton of the law, it is something alive, and “we are made full in him.”
These thoughts can be carried much further, as you perceive, because this idea runs all through the Scriptures. It is everything in him. And these thoughts throw very much light upon the subject of justification and sanctification. They have cleared up in my mind much that was dim, that was indistinct, about this matter of justification and sanctification. Let us read again in the fifth chapter of Romans. It would be well to read considerable of the chapter, but we will turn directly to the 17th, 18, and 19th verses. “For if by one man’s offense, death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” were constituted sinners, “so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” or be constituted righteous. Now is it not perfectly clear from the 18th verse that as condemnation came upon all men, so justification of life came upon all men? Perfectly clear. The thought seems to me to be this, – that in Jesus Christ all men were justified. 8th verse: “But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Did he die for all? “That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Now if all human beings should decide at once to repent and turn to God this very hour, would it be necessary for God to make any change in his plan? Do you not see he has done it all, for all men?
Take the parallel again between the first and the second Adam. By the offense of one, by the disobedience of one, many were constituted sinners, – that is, Adam by disobedience permitted sin to come into the flesh, and every descendant of Adam, as a consequence of that one act, had a tendency to sin, and if he would not struggle against it, he would commit sin himself, but no moral guilt would attach to any descendant of Adam unless he himself yielded to that tendency.But if he does not struggle against it, he will yield and sin will appear in him.
Now by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous; or by one man’s obedience the free gift came upon all men to justification of life. That is, by this union of the divine with the human in Christ, and by this meeting of our humanity in Jesus Christ, and from the fact that the punishment met upon him for all men, “he has caused the punishment of all to meet upon him.” Because of that, every human being receives a tendency or feels a drawing toward righteousness; and if he does not resist, he will be drawn to righteousness, but he will receive for himself no consideration because of that righteousness or of that drawing to righteousness unless he, himself, yields to that tendency. He will be drawn to Christ, he will be in Christ, and then he will personally receive the benefits of justification of life which came upon all men, just as in the other case when he yields to the tendency to sin he receives the condemnation personally which came upon all men in Adam.
Now to make clear to the eye this subject, I have put it in this diagram:-
- By grace; Titus 3:7
- By his blood; Rom.5:9.
- By faith; Rom.5:1
- By works; Jas.2:24
Justification by grace, Titus 3:7, “Being Justified freely by his grace”; Justified by his blood, Rom.5:9, “Being justified by his blood;” By faith, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” Rom.5:1; By works, “Ye see how that a man is justified by works and not by faith only,” James 2:24. Now much confusion has been caused from our failure to apprehend clearly these methods of justification. Justification by grace, divine grace, is the source of all justification. Justification by his blood: The blood of Christ – and the blood is the life – was the divine channel through which justification should come to humanity, in uniting himself, his life, with humanity. By faith: That is the method through which the individual apprehends and applies to his own case the justification which comes from grace through the blood of Christ. by works: The outward evidences that the individual has applied by faith the justification which comes from grace through his blood.
Now, justification by grace; that is on God’s part. Justification by His blood, that is on God’s part and he has done that for every single human being on his part. He has done all for justification to every human being; his grace is free to every human being, and his blood is the channel through which it flows to every human being, and “we thus judge that if one died for all, then all died,” so that is of God’s grace. But while he has done all this for every human being, yet it avails only for those who personally apprehend it by their own faith, who lay hold of the justification provided. It is freely provided for every one, but by faith in him, the individual lays hold of that justification for himself. Then the provision which has been made freely for all avails for him as an individual and when, by faith, he has made a personal application to his own case of the justification which comes from God through the blood of Christ, then as a consequence, as the inevitable result, Christ’s works appear in him. Therefore for the person in Jesus Christ, it does not make any difference which method of justification is mentioned. If he is justified by grace, as of course he must be, all these other consequences follow. If he is justified by grace, then he is justified through the blood, by his own individual faith, and the works will appear; and you may touch this at any point. If he is really justified by works of faith, when you say he is justified by works, you imply all the rest before it. This ought to do away with our discussion as to whether we are justified by faith or by works, or whether it is by grace, or how it is. One who is truly justified personally, must be justified by every one of them. And when one who is truly justified, manifests one of the four, the other three are all implied.
Now another thought: This justification, this righteousness, is altogether imputed righteousness. Remember that it was given to humanity; that is, this righteousness was provided when Jesus Christ was given to humanity, and it is not something entirely outside of ourselves which he brings, as though some stranger might bring a book to us and say, “Here, take this. This will be a ticket into heaven.” No, we do not go in by ticket. He became humanity and he is “the Lord, our righteousness,” and when he did that, he became one with us and we are one with him. And God looks upon us as one with him in righteousness, in all that he is, and that is the way our justification comes. So our justification comes by receiving Him who is “the Lord, our righteousness,” as that gift to humanity, by a redemptive union, by a life union. Then it is into, and upon; it’s all through and through; it is not something put on like a garment, but it is into, and upon, and it is the life through and through. But it is all imputed; it is all given, and yet there is one idea in connection with that idea of giving that righteousness. This righteousness which we receive was all actually wrought in him and we were in him when that righteousness was wrought, and so that righteousness is our righteousness in Him, none the less a gift, none the less imputed, and yet there is a difference between that idea and the idea of his giving to us something that never had been thought of or heard of before.
We were in him when he wrought this righteousness, but the righteousness which we wrought in him was wrought without any choice or will on our part, just exactly as the sin that was committed in Adam was committed without any choice or will on our part. Now Christian experience is that we shall by faith lay hold of the righteousness, by being born into the family,and then what we did in him without any choice or will on our part, he will do in us by our constant will and choice. Yet it is all a gift, wholly in him, and it all started on his side, without waiting for us to ask, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” He did it all in this way, but it was a most wonderful way, – in him. He did it by uniting himself with humanity, and having humanity do it in him. Then when we are born into the family and are united to him, then all that was done belongs to us. But will this inspire the idea of self-righteousness? Why, not at all; because it is all a gift; the grace is a gift, the blood is a gift, the faith which we exercise is a gift, and the works are wrought by that faith which is itself a gift. It is all of him, and yet God’s wonderful plan is that it shall be done in him, and in us by this life union, and when Jesus Christ joined himself to humanity, he joined himself to the humanity that is here to-day just as much as he joined himself to any humanity. That is, he joined himself to the whole line, the whole stock of humanity.
Perhaps this idea will serve to illustrate it: He says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” Now when he joined himself to this stock of humanity, he joined himself to the whole stock reaching down through the ages; and it does not make any difference where you touch humanity, Jesus Christ joined himself to this line of humanity just as much here as away back there. Generations come and go, but the tide of humanity flows on, the branches appear and are broken off, but the stock grows on, year after year. Now when the branches are joined to the vine this year, it is the same vine that has been bearing fruit all the years, but a different branch, that is all, simply a different branch this year. Now here are the branches, they have appeared on the vine in this generation, the fruit of the vine is now to appear on these branches. Is this the same vine that has been bearing fruit? It is not that Jesus Christ was simply a man and that he was right there and stood alone. He was human; he was we; all in him. Wondrous plan! Wondrous plan!
But now this idea of sanctification in connection with justification. At first, the sanctification is nothing when the man is simply born into the family, but he is accounted righteous at once when he is born into the family, then he is in him. All his righteousness is an imputed righteousness. He is accounted righteous, and he is completely so. But none of that righteousness is wrought in him. Now by submission, by yielding himself, still being justified all the time by faith, that life, that righteousness which is life begins to work in him, and it is a life union. It begins to become a part of him. So to speak, the life blood begins to circulate through his system and begins to take the place of the old dead matter and the change begins to go on in the system, and he is now connected with the source of divine life, and that divine life is poured into him and circulates through him, and the result of receiving divine life in that way begins to appear, and when that is all wrought in one and through one, – sanctification. Now he keeps yielding, he is justified all the time but he keeps yielding to that flow of divine life and that keeps working more and more;yielding all the time to the motions of that life rather than to the motions of sin that were in his members. The more he yields to the motions of that life, the more his sanctification is growing all the time. His justification, so to speak, is not decreasing any, and yet the sum of his justification and sanctification all the time is simply completeness.
Now his justification is no less all the time, yet growing in sanctification, and it is God’s purpose that all the righteousness which is given to one, the moment he is born into the family of God and believes in Jesus Christ, shall be wrought in him by his actual will and consent all the time. In him was life. There is the secret of it all. In him was life. Apart from him there is no life. When we arejoined to him by birth into the family, then we receive the life. Then the life blood flows, then righteousness which is life comes to us. But the life of Jesus Christ is not a dormant, inactive thing. It is life, and life always manifests itself. We are simply the instruments of righteousness. The righteous life simply uses us as a willing, yielding instrument.