The Epistle to the Romans.

Division 2. (Rom. 5:12 — 8.)

Deliverance by our new relationship to Christ, in whom we are dead to sin and law.

We enter now upon the most difficult part of the epistle; the right apprehension of which, moreover, is of fundamental importance in regard to the whole character and power of the Christian life. We must seek therefore to give it the most earnest attention, while assured that here as elsewhere the Spirit alone can enable us to know the value and blessedness of what is unfolded to us.

The basic truth all through is that of our new relationship to Christ as the new creation-Head, in whom it abides before God in unchanging acceptance and favor with Him. As the old creation fell in Adam, so the new creation stands in Christ; and as our part in the old creation was through the life transmitted to us from Adam, so the life received from the Last Adam brings us into the new, and gives us a place in Him. "In Christ" means identification with Christ as our Representative in glory. By this also we are identified with Him in His death, and are thus judicially freed from all that attached to us as men of a fallen race. We have died out of it in our death with Christ; our old man is crucified with Him; we are dead to sin, as He died to it once for all, and are alive to God in Him.

For practical deliverance however we need the settlement of a further question, and the realization of a new power. We are dead with Christ to law also, that we may be united to another husband, and so bring forth fruit to God. Here, as soon as we speak of union, we must have more than life in Christ, and there comes in the new power, that of the Spirit. We are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, as indwelt by the Spirit, and the law of the Spirit, which is at the same time that of life in Christ Jesus, delivers us from the law of sin and death. In this connection all the working of law while we are under it as a principle is shown us in the experience of an undelivered man; which works on to entire self-despair, and thus to the end of self-occupation: he learns in this way his freedom to turn from himself and be occupied with Christ, and so ability to bring forth fruit.

The walk in the Spirit is shown us in what follows, though still through a groaning world, and in suffering therefore, while in expectation of the glory of the children of God, for which the whole creation groans together. For our need meanwhile the Spirit becomes our effectual intercessor, and all things work together for good to those who love God. This part ends with a glowing utterance of triumph in the omnipotent supremacy of the goodness of God in behalf of the objects of His eternal purposes.

Subdivision 1. (Rom. 5:12-21.)

Christ our new creation Head.

We begin then with Christ as Head of new creation, in contrastive parallel with Adam and our heritage of evil from our first father's fall. There are here many questions that have arisen and will arise: it is a much trodden ground of debate and controversy. Happily for us, we have not the responsibility of clearing up all the difficulties of divine government, but only of seeking the meaning of what is here before us. Faith's part is not to say there are no mysteries, but to wait in quiet confidence for the due time of their revelation. We know in part, and we prophesy in part; but the veil which is ofttimes over the face of His dispensations is not, thank God, therefore over His own face. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not and cannot henceforth be in the darkness, but is Light and in the light.

1. We have first, what is too plain a fact, that sin and death are here. That death is, no one can dispute; that sin is, if any one denies, the common conscience of men will everywhere rebuke him. Sin, too, is something peculiarly man's own; man has a power for self-debasement which the beast has not, and which can hardly be an acquisition he has made, seeing it is manifestly a degeneracy. It is a principle born with him also, a universal heritage, early and quickly developing. All the evidence we can expect then is in proof of the statement here, that by one man sin entered into the world; while the shadow of it over man, which the beast feels not, confirms the further one that death came in for him as penalty with sin. If geology can appeal to facts which show that death existed before man upon the earth it in no wise touches the truth of this at all. Scripture never asserts that death came in for the beast through sin or through man. Nor does it assert that there was no death in the beginning, which is a mere mistaken inference from the green herb assigned to the living thing for food. The "world" of which the apostle speaks here is doubtless the world of men alone: it is "to all men" that death came through, as he says.

He adds even as to men as the ground of the penalty, "for that all have sinned;" and here the main discussion immediately begins. There are a number of different explanations of these words, but most of them really alter what they would explain. To read "in whom all sinned" is impossible as a translation; nor can one say "all have become sinful," or "all have been treated as sinners:" it is exactly the statement of Rom. 3:23, where "all have sinned" speaks of literal, personal sins committed. In complete opposition to the thought of sinning in Adam, nothing can surely be intended but that men have come under the dominion of death on account of their own sins. The contradiction of fact is, of course, the main, if not the only reason why this is not at once accepted. How could this be true of infants? is naturally asked, and might at first sight seem unanswerable. But the passage just now referred to has exactly the same thing to be said of it, but where it is no difficulty at all. If it be a question of salvation, infants cannot be saved as sinners, nor can be justified by faith; yet no one would contend on this account that this could not be God's way of salvation because it did not take in infants. The apostle speaks there simply of those standing in their own responsibility before God. Infants are therefore understood as excepted, and that applies to both statements. As soon as you can speak of accountability at all this becomes true that all sin; and that shows of course the ruin of the race. Death has come in through the one man Adam, as has been said; and yet not because of any such formal covenant with Adam on behalf of his posterity as many plead, but because through that mysterious oneness of the race which, whatever question may be raised about it, cannot be denied, the fall of Adam did involve the corruption of his posterity. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" asks Job; and answers himself, "Not one." Thus the "all have sinned" in this place demonstrates the fitness of God's sentence of death passed upon all. For, if you plead the exception of infants from the penalty on Adam, your exception ought to plead for them as much as to their exemption from the inheritance of corruption, which is a more terrible fact, and from which yet the justice of God does not exempt them. The greater fact of the general corruption proved so sadly as each emerges into the common world of men, implies the parallel fact of death as its accompaniment. But in this very way the consideration of the case of infants may be omitted from the statement before us.

It is thought by many that at this point the apostle breaks off his argument, to introduce a long parenthetical explanation as to the relation of law to sin, and as to the parallel between Adam and Christ, returning to complete his thought in the eighteenth verse. This (which is what we find in the common version, and which has been exchanged in the revised for the worse hypothesis of a mere broken statement which never reaches an orderly conclusion) seems, however, only to derange the true relation of parts to one another as expressed in the structure. The parenthesis seems too long and too important in what it contains, as well as too anticipative of the after-conclusion. The twelfth verse, moreover, is not broken off in the manner supposed. The proper view seems rather, as others have suggested, that the introductory "wherefore," referring clearly to what has gone before, teaches us to look back for the true commencement of that to which the twelfth verse becomes then itself the conclusion; though this is not fully reached without a more explicit disclosure of what was in the apostle's mind, that Adam was in fact the "figure," or "type, of the One that was to come." For in the gospel upon which he had been dwelling was already announced that principle of the One standing for the many, to which he now explicitly calls attention. We may supply "Wherefore this is" — this coming in of peace and reconciliation through Christ — in the same way "as by one man sin and death entered." This meaning, the words as to Adam, "who is the type of the One that was to come," bring into full day, without there being formally the conclusion.

There is, therefore, no parenthesis here; but the apostle goes on to say that sin existed before law. This the Gentile needed to consider, rather than the Jew, who would easily admit it; but the Gentile might say, "We had not the will of God made known to us, as the Jew had." In fact Paul had spoken to the Athenians of a time of ignorance at which God winked. The law had put sin into account in the way the Gentile had nothing like. Adam in paradise had a law indeed, though a very simple one, and which after his expulsion from the garden could have no further application. From Adam to Moses there was no law. Yet (with one gracious exception only) from Adam to Moses the universal reign of death proved fully the presence of sin which God reckoned to them. Yet there was no law, and therefore no transgression: for where no law is there is no transgression, as has been already said (Rom. 4:15). Adam transgressed: he had a limit imposed which he overstepped; but those who had not sinned in the likeness of that open transgression of his, yet died, as he had died: sin universal was proved in the fact of universal death.

In all this the darkness is unrelieved; but it is but the background upon which the glory of divine grace is to be displayed: even from the centre of the darkness now the light shines: this very principle which seems only to have worked ruin, God can transform into one of complete triumph over the evil that has come in. Another Adam shall replace the failed first man, and a fairer creation arise in unfading beauty out of the ruin of the old.

2. A type, by the very fact that it is a type, must be in contrast with its anti-type: the shadow cannot be the perfect image. Here, however, at first sight, the contrast is more evident than the resemblance; and the apostle at the outset emphasizes the contrast. "Not as the offence," he says, so is the gracious gift." In the fact of representation of their respective companies, the two Adams are alike. Each is the head of a race, which stands or falls with its respective head. In the first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:45) these heads are themselves put in contrast with one another: "The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit." This gives us the key to the respective races with which they are connected: the first is a natural, the last a spiritual race. And so it is said in the epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 2:16), "He taketh not hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham He taketh hold." These the apostle speaks of indeed in this place as His brethren, rather than His seed; as in the present epistle also He is seen as "the Firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). And because He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one, He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. 2:11).

Here the identity of the Head with the race is affirmed: and in this sense Adam, though the father of all, would also be the firstborn among many brethren. As to the Lord, it is with the seed of Abraham that He is allied; that is, with the family of faith, the spiritually born. And because the children God has given him are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part in the same (ver. 14).

But He is truly also the Last Adam of this spiritual race, Himself the Quickening Spirit to them all, Himself their life; "for as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son quickeneth whom He will" (John 5:21).

Thus here are two Adams, alike in this, yet how unlike! the Adam of the old, and the Adam of the new creation! In connection with the one, spite of the beauty and uprightness in which he first came forth from under the Creator's hands, his personal history was little more than that of the "offence," the fatal effects of which he transmitted to his seed. With the other comes, not penalty or requirement, but "gift." How great must be the contrast then! If God is inflicting judgment, this must be executed according to the demand of divine righteousness; but here therefore can be no overplus. But if God be giving, what shall limit Him as to the gift He chooses to bestow? Any gift to fallen creatures must be of His grace; but if it be grace upon grace, who shall say Him nay? Has He in fact come in in Christ simply to undo the effect of the fall, and set man where be was before it? Nay, if the offence was disastrous, and the many died, much more has the grace of God and His gift in grace, which is by the One, Jesus Christ, abounded towards many! Innocence has indeed been lost, with the continuance of life on earth, and the Eden paradise; but righteousness and holiness have been gained, eternal life, and the paradise of God! Here is the divine balance-sheet: it would not suit God to have a poorer exhibit; it would not suit Him to have no gain in glory: and this is what the Second Man has toiled for, as the first wrought the shame.

And there is another contrast: one sin committed brought in condemnation; such was the holiness of God, a holiness still unchanged; yet now after many offences having been committed, His gracious gift is of a state of accomplished righteousness.

Again, if the men through whom those diverse effects are wrought are thus in contrast, and if the present effects themselves carry on the contrast, how will the future bring this out in full result! If the work of the one man has brought about the present reign of death, much more shall they who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the One Man, Christ. It is not merely that life will reign instead of death, but that the recipients of this grace themselves will reign in an unending life.

Thus we see, all through, that the parallel here is one of contrast, and that Christ having come in to undo the work of the fallen first man, in a grace which, though ever righteous, cannot be measured by righteousness simply, as the judgment is, there must be as the result a plenitude of blessing which shall glorify God where sin has come in to dishonor Him, and thus shall raise up the fallen creature also to a height far above the level of his original condition. These things are necessary concomitants: God is going to "show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).

This is indeed directly contrary to some thoughts which have been largely held and thought to be flavored by the well-known phrase used by the apostle Peter in his address to the Jews soon after Pentecost, in which he speaks of a restitution of all things to be brought about at Christ's reappearing, and "of which" he says, "God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). This has been thought decisive that eternity will be but a final return to what were God's first thoughts when He created man, and which He could not permit the entrance of sin to set aside. Or else, it is contended, Satan would really have gained a victory in compelling Him to change His plan about Eden and the earth. And this has been carried so far by some that the "new earth" of which the prophets speak has been supposed to be indeed a "Paradise regained," in which generations of men would in the ordinary way of nature but without death, replace one another to all eternity. Adam instead of Christ, is thus made to have been God's first thought, Christ an expedient when the first man failed; the paradisaic state is unscripturally exalted, and the work of Christ and its consequences really, however unintentionally, degraded. For it should be plain that as the Person is far greater, so His work must be, and so the fruits of it. Where the original creation is taken as the perfection of what was in the mind of Him who created it, Adam is considered to have been a creature made for heaven, to whom it was secured by covenant that he would receive it as the reward of his well-doing; and the ten commandments are carried back some two thousand five hundred years before they were given, to be the measure of what he was required to fulfil. Thus when he failed, Christ is supposed to have taken up the broken contract, and to have gained for us, by his fulfilment of it, what Adam lost.

All this is in complete forgetfulness of what Christ is, and of the work which lay before Him; it is to forget that almost throughout what we have been looking at, the parallel between the two Adams is one of contrast. Here let the pregnant figure of the trespass-offering speak — which is the divine thought of restitution given to us. Plainly, had man in that case fulfilled the law as regards God and his fellow, there need have been, and would have been, no offering at all. If Christ even had taken up Adam's broken contract to fulfil it, death would have had no place in such work, because death was the penalty of the breach of it. If He could thus have fulfilled the work for Adam, and given to God the obedience in which Adam failed, and in Adam's behalf, the punishment of the breach of it could not have been required of Him. What was wrong would have been set right without the shedding of blood. But "without shedding of blood is no remission;" and "if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Heb. 9:22; Gal. 2:21).

But furthermore, in this matter of the trespass-offering, after the injury inflicted had been duly estimated and made up, still restitution in God's thought of it, was not complete until there had been added to it a "fifth part more." Thus the person who offered the offering did more than could have been required if the trespass had not been committed, and the injured person was now a gainer to that extent. In the trespass-offering two aspects of it are distinguished which would not come together in the ordinary use of it; there was a Godward and a manward side, which in Christ's fulfilment of it did come together. God and man are both considered as suffering through sin, and are both now gainers through the work of Christ; and this is the "much more" of the apostle in the fifth of Romans, and this is the "fifth part more" of the book of Leviticus.

To see it in anywise, we must have clearly before our eyes the contrast between these two of whom we have been speaking: what did God gain, to speak humanly, by Christ's work? what could He have gained, at the best, by Adam's?

What was the first man, Adam?

Not, if we are to take Scripture, a being formed for heaven, but in express contrast with heaven, "of the earth, earthy." If I open Genesis, I find no hope of heaven held out to him there, no idea of being raised above the estate in which he was created. I find no works enjoined, for which he was to be rewarded; one prohibition only of a thing which would have had no moral character attaching to it, had it not been forbidden. Created very good, he was to keep his first estate, not seek a new one. Nor, until sin had made our estate evil, and only with fallen man, do we find a thought of a creature quitting its estate, except as sin. So with "the angels who kept not their first estate," of whom Jude speaks. Not made to toil at working out a righteousness, but to enjoy the bounteous goodness which had provided richly for him, one test of obedience, and of the easiest, was given: if he ate of the tree, he died.

What did God gain by such obedience?

Save as one of the countless creatures He had made, whose happiness bore witness of creating goodness and wisdom — nothing. Had he obeyed, what marvel? Had he obtained witness that he was righteous, it would have been creature-righteousness, not divine. With Eliphaz, we might have asked, Is it gain to God that thou makest thy ways perfect?" And had he been obedient, as angels were, would the fitting reward for it have been a place in glory and at the right hand of God? Would he have inherited all things? Would he have been where Christ as Man is, and have shared what the saints will share, as joint-heirs with Him?

Simple questions, yet needful. For if they are to have adverse answer, after all the plan as shown in Adam must be so far altered; and how much does this imply?

But Adam fell: that wrong was done to God, of which the trespass-offering speaks. Sin had spoiled the old creation, and (again to speak humanly, as we must,) raised the question of God's character. If He cut off the offenders in righteousness, love would not be shown; if mercy spared them, how could He be holy? Slowly and patiently was the answer given. Christ was that answer. Not simply the taker up of man's cause. Not the worker out of mere human righteousness. But the brightness of the Father's glory; the Wisdom and Power of God: the Fulfiller of divine righteousness, and the Revealer of divine Love. The glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ. There we see it. If the entrance of sin into the world had in anywise raised a question about God, not only are such questions for ever at rest, but the way in which it has been dealt with in the Cross of His Son becomes the very way in which His attributes shine out. Christ is not merely "the Lord our Righteousness," He is the very "Righteousness of God." Could Adam have been that, or wrought it? We are in another sphere altogether, plainly. Inseparably connected with man's worst wickedness, is the display of God's righteousness, and not in wrath, but through which He justifies the ungodly.

Thus Christ's work is different both in its character and results Godward from anything that could be of Adam, asked or had. It was such as the Only-begotten Son in the bosom of the Father alone could accomplish, and must have corresponding results for man also, for here also the "fifth part more" applies. Things are restored, but not to the primitive condition before the fall. They are "made new," in a "new creation," not the old, and whose Head is "the beginning of the creation of God."

3. It is the gain manward of the work of Christ with which the apostle here is occupied; although the Godward side must be disclosed in connection with this; but the point here all the way through is the effect with regard to the many with whom the Head is connected. In the last three verses we had the contrasts between the judgment and the grace; now we have the actual realization, along with the declaration of the sufficiency of Christ's work for all, which renders all inexcusable who do not receive it. The purpose of the law added at the close shows the earnestness of God's grace in pressing upon men their need; law being thus a true handmaid to the gospel as is shown elsewhere. The provision for man's sinful condition is also dwelt upon, which the very idea of an Adam-head implies, a life in Christ, which prepares us for the doctrine of the chapters following, in which this comes to the front in the consideration of practical questions of the deepest interest and importance. It is characteristic of all this second division of Romans that life and nature come up in it, as in the first only actual sins, which are the ground of final judgment, as has already been shown. The conviction of a soul before God is not to be effected by pressing upon him Adam's sin, or the evil nature which he has thus derived from Adam. These he will turn into pleas in his own favor, rather than against him; and it is in this way that Job actually pleads that one cannot bring a clean thing out of an unclean: humiliated he is by it, but not condemned. On the other hand, spite of such pleas, conscience will bring him in guilty for every actual sin, and from its decision there is no appeal. Whatever man's nature may be, be, unlike the beast, is responsible to control it morally, and not be controlled by it. In the power of the will, in which lies man's true manhood, his accountability to God is found as well.

It is when one is converted and the bent of the will is Godward, that the hindrance of a fallen nature is proved in bitter experience. This we shall have to consider in a little while. At present it is only the presence of such a nature that is recognized, along with the parallel communication of a new nature from the new source of life to a believer, the new Adam-Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hitherto we have had the fruits of old nature, the actual sins. Now we are to look deeper remembering all the time what we have spoken of as to human accountability being due to something beside nature. We never speak of nature acting indeed, except as implying a certain passivity in the man himself, and not the man in his full manhood energy.

The contrast now is only that necessarily involved in the two heads that are before us; although in the statement of the general bearing of accomplished righteousness "all men" have not the same relation to the Second that they had to the first. This is of them, however, and not of Him; the express purpose of what is said here being to show that it is not from any lack of sufficiency for all that the effect of the work of recovery does not reach to the full extent of the fall. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and therefore could not leave any without provision made: "as by one offence (the bearing) towards all men was to condemnation, thus also through one accomplished righteousness (the bearing) toward all men is to justification of life." Besides the universal aspect, there is only the last expression that is new. "Justification of life" is not found anywhere else in Scripture, and in itself it may have more than one significance. What is commonly understood by it is "justification to life," — a clearing from charge which entitles the justified man to life instead of the death that would have been his due. This is not unfitted to stand over against condemnation also, though justification alone would sufficiently do this.

But "justification attaching to life" introduces an important thought that is not found in the former way of reading it, and which connects moreover with what is soon to follow. If Christ be really another Adam, a life communicated to those who are of His race forms a necessary part of this idea. The Last Adam is thus a "quickening Spirit," a communicator of life in a way transcending all that could be attributed to the first. The life, as the Lord has taught us, is eternal life, and thus we are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. All this we have had fully in the Gospel of John, and need not repeat here what is indeed simple and familiar truth. But this life, in Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, is resurrection life. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die," He says, speaking of it, "it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24). And so again He speaks of him that believeth in Him as one with death now behind him, and never to know it (John 11:26). Thus the life being resurrection life, the virtue of His death is in it for us, and His resurrection is our justification: we have justification attaching to the life we have in Him" justification of life." Brought into a new creation by our part in the Last Adam, His death is our severance from all that judicially attached to us in the old; "if any man be in Christ, (it is) new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). Thus the "one accomplished righteousness" has wrought for us.*

{*This "one accomplished righteousness" corresponds to the obedience of One, spoken of just below, and is in contrast with the offense and disobedience of the first Adam. It would seem to include the Lord's death and resurrection, in which God's righteousness was declared. It has nothing to do, directly, with our Lord's own personal righteousness, save as that fitted Him to be the unblemished sacrifice. In His death righteousness in grace toward man was fulfilled and in His resurrection it was proclaimed. — S.R.}

This is its bearing towards all men — most important to be stated to vindicate the grace of God from what men's unbelief might bring against it. In the actual result the apostle cannot speak any more of "all men," but once more of "the many." "For as through the one man's disobedience the many were brought into the state of sinners," — there is the sinful state, the heritage of uncleanness derived from the uncleanness of our fallen parents, — "so through the obedience of the One, the many shall be brought into the state of righteous." This last, no doubt, includes both the justification and the life. Notice here that "the obedience of One" brings in the burnt-offering aspect of Christ's work, the full sweet savor. To stand in Christ is not merely to have our sins put away, nor even (what we have not yet come to) our old man set aside, but it is to be accepted in all the preciousness for God of His obedience.

Thus there is a growing fulness in the statements here. They are not mere repetitions of the same, growing blessed, truth. They go on swelling in an increasing triumph of divine goodness overmastering evil. In the closing strain the law takes its place and acts its part, only apparently to make the tale of sin more disheartening, and yet in the end to make victorious grace manifestly supreme and lift it to its throne of glory. "Law came in by the way that the offence might abound:" — did that need? one might ask; was it not to add difficulty to difficulty — to make greater the distress that it could not relieve? So it would indeed seem, and not only seem, but so it really was: law, as we shall see fully in the argument of the seventh chapter, by its very opposition to the innate evil only arouses it to full activity and communicates to it new strength: "the strength of sin is the law" (1 Cor. 15:56). This was indeed its mission; which if that were all, would be but disaster — a ministration of death and condemnation indeed! (2 Cor. 3:7, 9); but it came in by the way, says the apostle, — to fulfil a temporary purpose, in making manifest the hopeless condition of man apart from grace, when every command on God's part arouses the hostility of man's heart against it: "the law entered that the offence might abound"! Yes, but that man learning himself by this, grace may be known as grace, and so received; "that as sin reigned in death, so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." How suitably the ascription of Lordship to the glorious Conqueror closes this wondrous recital of what we owe to Him! It is this heart-homage to Him which is of the essence of the blessing bestowed. The reign of grace is that in which Christ reigns, and subjects all enemies; the heart entirely subdued to Him, that subjection is its deliverance and freedom.

Subdivision 2. (Rom. 6.)

Dead with Christ to sin, no more to be in bondage to it.

We come now at once to that deliverance, which is detailed for us in two parts, which are taken up in perfect order, — first from sin, and then from law; the first positional, the second, practical deliverance. Necessarily deliverance from sin comes first, in order that deliverance from law may not mean lawlessness, but freedom to serve in newness of spirit. And yet deliverance from law must be, in order that there may be practical deliverance from sin. The positional is judicial clearing, as the use of the word "justified" (ver. 7) — "he that hath died is justified from sin" — sufficiently shows. This is not the same as from "sins," let us note, but goes beyond it. We are in Christ, who has died once and for all to that which He took upon Him, so that no question as to it can be ever raised again. We too, therefore, as in Him are once for all cleared, because He, our Representative, is. We have a place in absolute perfection before God unchangingly. And this by and by we shall find to be the "law of the Spirit," even that "life in Christ Jesus," by which we are practically "delivered from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2). It is the delivering principle which the Spirit uses; but the question of law must be settled also, that it may practically avail us.

Questions at once assail us here, and these the apostle deals with, as we shall see, continuously. To be freed at once from all possible charge of sin, and with this from law also, would seem in the eyes of more than natural men unholy from first to last, while sin is nevertheless admittedly within us still, and the devil and the world are both around to incite and allure us. But grace really reigns; and "sin," says the apostle, "shall not have dominion over you, because ye are not under the law, but under grace" (ver. 14). It is strange, yet true, that even the Christian is slow to recognize in all the length and breadth of it, the truth of such an assertion; yet it is the thesis which Paul sets himself to maintain all through, and against all who may gainsay it. Let us watch his argument as having that personal interest in it which indeed we have.

1. He starts at once with the argument of an objector, of course, founded on his previous declaration that "where sin abounded grace did overabound." "What then?" he asks; "shall we continue in sin, then, that grace may abound?" Spite of the answer given to it here, that question is substantially raised today, as if there had been none; as if in fact, it were really unanswerable. But it is true that the apostle's answer is very little understood; and even by those who are quite satisfied with it. Rejecting utterly the thought, he puts it away with another question. "We who have died to sin," he asks, "how shall we still live in it?" The putting that as a question shows how unanswerable he deems it; and unanswerable it clearly is, if only the premise is rightly taken. If we are dead to sin, then it is an undeniable consequence that we cannot live in it.

But the difficulty is with the assertion itself, that we are dead to sin. Most Christians are content to say, that they ought to be dead to sin, but wince as they look into the book of their experience, and are ready to declare that there never was more than One on earth, who could truly affirm this of himself.

Yet it is as plain as possible that, whether from his experience or in some other way, this is just what the apostle does affirm; and that not only of himself, or of some people of special attainment, but of Christians as a class — of all Christians. It is true as to all Christians that where sin abounded grace did much more abound, and that is the ground of the objection taken, and of course, of Paul's answer too.

This at once settles it against the so-called perfectionists, that he is not affirming as to any one's experience, that he is dead to sin: for Paul is certainly speaking of all Christians, and it is not the universal experience, and is not claimed that I am aware, that it is that, that all are in this sense "dead." And we shall see in a little while that this is not given as an experience of any, but as a faith. His words later on are, "Reckon yourselves dead indeed unto sin;" and the reckoning is from this that "Christ died unto sin once." This therefore is a reckoning of faith, as is clear, and not an experience. It is plain, without need of looking further, that in this being dead to sin, however little as yet we may grasp the full meaning of it, we have another example of our identification with our Representative Head. It is necessarily true therefore of every one of us, however great the need also of having it believingly realized, as the apostle urges.

He goes on to press the truth as conveyed in baptism, which as that which brings into the ranks of Christian discipleship, has been given as a picture-lesson of what discipleship implies. "Or know ye not," he asks, "that so many of us as were baptized unto Christ, were baptized unto His death? We were buried therefore with Him through baptism unto death, that as Christ was raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father, so also we should walk in newness of life."

We need to go slowly here, so many things being in question. It is a sad sign of the confusion of the day that thus in the very rite of initiation into what is our common profession, we should yet be so little able to agree as to what is meant by it. Happily, neither mode nor subjects are before us here, though doubtless we may find what will have its implication in both these directions. But we are in company with one of those who could say, "He that is of God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth us not;" and we must surrender ourselves to his guidance absolutely.

"Baptized unto Christ Jesus" is certainly correct, instead of "into," though the Greek words, as words merely, might mean either. But the parallel "baptized unto Moses" is absolutely decisive. The Israelites were set apart to Moses in the cloud and in the sea, — to be Moses, disciples; where we plainly could not say, "into." The phrase is thus freed from all suspicion of such a ritualistic force as in very opposite interests it has been made to bear, — as if the wondrous place in Christ were conferred in baptism. "So many of us" again does not imply a smaller out of a larger number, but is on the contrary an emphatic way of saying "every one;" or as if one said, "If we were baptized to Christ at all, we were baptized to His death."

To see the force of it clearly, we have but to go back in our minds to John's preparatory baptism in Jordan, the river of death, in which men took their place as confessing their sins, and owning their rightful condemnation. Thus he baptized unto death; but it was not Christian baptism — it was not "to Christ's death," which is the distinctive feature of the present time, but simply to the acknowledgment of its being worthily their own.

Nevertheless it was for remission — "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins": not present yet, so that it could be a testimony of sins actually remitted, but in view of the One coming whose forerunner John was. Nor did John close without the fuller witness that, in fact, He had come. Come! and to the very place of that which these penitents acknowledged as their due! The Lord's baptism in Jordan was for Him no baptism of repentance, but the solemn pledge to what He afterwards called "the baptism that He was to be baptized with" (Luke 12:50). Thus alone could deliverance be achieved for men who were under death, and the virtue of that death abides; so that now convicted sinners such as these in John's day, brought to own their place in death before God, find all changed for them; they learn that He has been in death for them, and find a new life for them where death was. Thus Christian baptism is still to death but to His death, a death which is life to all that come to Him; and here we have the key to that which baptism expresses.

Baptism has in itself no reference to life: it is burial, and burial has to do with death, not life, — it is the dead who must be buried. Now comes the necessary question: in what sense are we dead, to be so buried? Notice that in the idea which baptism presents, we are baptized to Christ, not with Him. We are not baptized because we have touched Him, but, so to speak, we touch Him in it — as to what is intended. In other words, baptism is a gospel picture acted out. As we have seen in the words of Ananias to Saul (Acts 22:16) it is itself in some sense, the washing away of sins: we are not baptized because they have been washed away, but we wash them away in it. And this agrees perfectly with Peter's words in his first epistle (1 Peter 3:21) that in a figure baptism saves; not marks out the saved, as so many put it, but saves. And this again agrees with what John's baptism speaks of, and which the thought of baptism as burial confirms. It is as sinners we come to it, not saints; and in it we find remission of sins and salvation. These are things, as we know, upon which ritualism builds; and they are facts, but of no use to ritualism. Its followers might as well try to support life upon a picture of food, or to take names for things and prove to us there is no difference between them.

There is an illustration from the Old Testament which may more vividly present to us the truth that we have here: "Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings 13:20, 21).

Elisha, in the miracles done by him, answered to his name, which means "My God is salvation." We have in this one a beautiful illustration of baptism, just because it is a vivid and beautiful picture of salvation through the gospel. The man is dead, and so they bury him: burying is but putting the dead into the place of death. He is let down into the grave of one who had died before: he is buried with Elisha. So buried, he touches the one who had preceded him in death, and is quickened out of it: he stands upon his feet a living man.

Here we have two deaths brought together, and the one the cure of the other. The man that you bury must be dead; and this, of course, must apply to baptism; but in what sense then dead? dead with Christ, since it is burial with Christ? That is the contention of some, and is plausible at first sight, but only at first sight; for, as we have seen, it is only the one already alive in Christ that can be dead with Christ, and the man buried in baptism is buried to touch the dead Christ and to live. Dead with Christ means dead to sin, as we have heard already, and as is to be more fully shown us; but none can be dead to sin who is not spiritually alive, — who has not already touched Christ so as to live. Buried with Christ does not then imply dead with Christ, as might be thought.

Buried because dead in sins, then? That is nearer to, but is not yet the truth. The death that we see pictured in John's baptism is the death which is the due of sin, and not the inward condition, which is but the inveteracy of the sinful state itself. The death here is that into which Christ came; but He did not come into any sinful condition, but under its penalty. Hence burial with Christ is the owning of the penalty, which the conscience anticipates before it comes, Christ having also anticipated that place for us, that we may live. Baptism, as before said, is but a typical or acted out gospel; with a significant protest against ritualism also: for the baptism is, as the word itself shows, and the argument also but immersion — burial, Christ alone as the quickening Spirit giving the life. It does not go on, as Colossians in our common version teaches, to resurrection.* It is the confession of death, for which we are put into Christ's sepulchre, that we may live. What is contemplated here is power for the new walk; it cannot itself give this: it is a baptism to death, and not to life.

{*Col. 2:12 should be read, "buried with Him in baptism, in whom also ye were raised together."}

This corresponds exactly also with the true rendering of 1 Peter 3:21, which really speaks of baptism, not as the answer of a good conscience, which from all that we have seen it could not be, but rather "the demand* of a good conscience," not the declaration that we have found it. The baptism, not as an ordinance, but in the idea that it conveys, ends with effecting this. It is but the introduction of the soul to Christ, with whom all satisfaction of the conscience lies. The doctrine of Scripture is as to this consistent throughout, as it must always be.

{*The R.V. has "interrogation," or "inquiry."}

Christ, then, was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. That for which He had come into the world demanded for Him deliverance from death, into which He came for this. But such acceptance of His work for sinners means necessarily their deliverance from the power as well as penalty of sin. Thus the practical effect for those who are His is a "walk in newness of life." The old man, as we shall presently see, is not to revive out of this burial. The "newness" as the word implies, is a newness of kind (kainotees), another sort of life. The river of death has swept over the old one.

2. The apostle goes on to show how the cross of Christ as the crucifixion of the old man becomes in the wisdom of God a means to the sin still in us being overcome. But we have to ask ourselves the question in the first place, what the expression "our old man" means. The common thought is, perhaps, that it is the sin in us personified; thus what is called afterwards the flesh: a term which we may note has not yet been used in Romans, in this sense, and the proper place to examine which will be in the next chapter. But there is one thing which is important to take into account, as to the old man, the significance of which, if not the fact, is largely overlooked, that it is never spoken of as existing in the Christian, but always as crucified or put off. It is so even in Eph. 4:22, where the common version is at least ambiguous, but where instead of "that ye put off" should be read "that ye did put off." Thus it refers to what for us is past, not present, and this is so far against the thought of its being the sin in us, while the fact of there being as to the Christian a "new man," which he has put on, replacing the old one, really demonstrates this from the other side. Always the putting off is connected with the putting on, and the two men are not co-existent but exclusive of one another.

{Rom. 6:5. "Grown together": "planted together" is not correct, and "identified," which some give, seems too free; while it indicates the effect rather than the production of this. See notes. There being no "him," some would say "united with the likeness of His death," but this creates needless difficulty. That it is with Christ is shown clearly by the context.}

The necessary conclusion is that the new man is characteristic of the Christian; and conversely the old man is the man before his Christian course began. There is no personification in either case: it is the person that was and the person that is, each characterized morally; while, of course, the same individual persists all through. But in this way "our old man" is surely as easily read as it is significant. It is the person that was, with evident allusion to the first fallen man, the repetition of whom in all his natural descendants may account for the plural with the singular ("our old man"), the self-same man with each and all of us! For this "the one" and "the many" of the last chapter has prepared us; it is evident that the transmitted image of the first man in the many must for those to whom Christ is Head and Saviour be met and cancelled; while the new man is just the man in Christ, a new creation.

Let us now go back to the beginning of what is here. "For if," says the apostle, continuing his reference to the truth in baptism, "we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in that of His resurrection." The likeness of His death is, of course, baptism itself, and the being united* to Him in His death, is that which we have seen baptism to represent. If therefore that which baptism represents is fulfilled in us, then on the other hand, we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. This may, no doubt, go on to complete realization in physical resurrection, yet surely is intended to have a present practical application, according to the whole tenor of the thought here. "We shall be" is only necessarily future from the standpoint of union with Him in His death, and its argumentative force for the present is blunted by an exclusive physical reference. The contrast between "become" and "be" favors also the present application: "if we have become united, then we shall as the result be (now) in this likeness." For as Christ was not left in the grave, so for us also the power of His resurrection must approve itself. It is contended indeed that resurrection with Christ is not found in Romans in this way. It is true that it is not dwelt upon, as in Ephesians and Colossians; yet there are references to it which can hardly be mistaken: what, for instance, does "yield yourselves unto God, as those alive from among the dead" mean? And how could the thought be absent from the "newness of life" in which we are to walk? Does not the being by the Spirit united to Christ, as in the next chapter, necessitate it? or may we have the full thought of alive in Christ, and even as a means of deliverance from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2) apart from this? The truth will be developed more and more as we go on with it; nevertheless the germ of all that relates to our position individually is already here.

{*We must distinguish between being united to Him in His death, and union by the Spirit with Him as risen from the dead, to which we come only in the next chapter.}

And in connection with this it is that the crucifixion of the old man, of which the apostle goes on to speak, comes to be delivered from all ascetic mournfulness, and attains its proper character as that which annuls (or brings practically to nothing) the body of sin. It is sin as dwelling in us, acting through the body in the lusts and passions which reflect themselves in it, which in its entirety needs to be annulled. Similarly, in the next chapter, the man who has come to despair of self-mastery groans aloud for deliverance from the "body of this death;" while in Col. 2:11 we have the parallel term, the "body of the flesh." By and by we shall be warned that the "body is dead because of sin" (Rom. 8:10), and that we are to "mortify the deeds of the body" (ver. 13). All this it is not yet the place to enter into, yet it enables us to realize sufficiently what is meant here.

The crucifixion of the old man is the inflicting penal sentence upon it; and in this we must remember that it is not man's part in the Cross that is before us, but that the lifting up from the earth was that which in the law of Moses indicates the awful sentence of God upon sin: "he that hangeth upon a tree is accursed of God" (Deut. 21:23). Thus the cross was God's judgment upon fallen man, with whom each one of us had his place naturally. The sentence is here, not merely upon our sins but upon ourselves, and here is a meaning of the Cross most important for us to realize and take to heart. The thoughts of man's heart, his wisdom and his will, received in it their condemnation; thank God, they were put away from before Him by our glorious Substitute; so that we have our deliverance judicially and practically at the same time. How immense a gain to have learned God's estimate of ourselves in nature, so as to have learned the renunciation of our wisdom and our wills; while finding the complete ruling aside of all from before God as in a dead man they are necessarily set aside: for you can charge nothing against a dead man; whatever he may have been, as now dead, "he that hath died is justified from sin." It is plain in the way the apostle is speaking, crucifixion in this case does not come short of death, as many would argue: it gives character to it as divine condemnation, and this is for the breaking of our thraldom to sin and the annulling it in its totality. Divine righteousness has branded it, — divine love has removed its burden from me, so that I should be its slave no more.

3. But if we do not stand any more as identified with what we were in nature, or under the doom of sin, — if it is with Christ that we have died, this means for faith that we shall also live with Him. Touching Him in faith, we are henceforth identified with Him. As we have seen, He is the living Head and Representative of His people, and in Him our life is. Thus we have the assurance which He has given to His own, "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). The future tense in both passages simply affirms, of course, the perpetuity of what has already begun, and that is founded on what is a matter of Christian consciousness, that "Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once for all; but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God." Thus that which was the burden upon Him has been for ever rolled away, and that, burden was our burden. It is not partly removed, but wholly; there is no such thing as partial removal for any of His own. We are to reckon ourselves dead to sin as He is; and alive to God for ever in Him who is eternally alive to God, His glorious work achieved.

We reckon this so, not feel it to be so. It is an entire mistake, and fraught with important consequences, to imagine this being dead to sin to be feeling or experience. We cannot feel Christ's death on the cross, and it was there He died to sin, and we because He died. If it were experience, it would be an absolutely perfect one, no evil thought, feeling, or desire, ever in the heart; and this not true of some of the more advanced, but of all Christians always; but this is contrary to the experience of all. The attempt to produce such a condition in oneself ends in the misery of utter failure, or, still worse, in self-satisfaction, indeed, the well-nigh incredible delusion for a Christian man, that he is as impassive to sin as Christ Himself! The words do not, as already said, express such an experience; as indeed, in any such sense as this, Christ never died to sin: what for us might be the expression of perfection would be the denial of such perfection as was His. In every way, then, in which we look at it, it is plain that it is not an experience of which the apostle is speaking here. We could not be told to reckon that we experience: what we reckon is a fact for faith, the fruit of the work done for us, not of that done in us: because Christ died unto sin once for all, and in that He liveth, liveth unto God, thus also do we reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God in Christ Jesus.

These last words carry us back, as there can be no right question, to those which we have heard front the Lord's own lips in the Gospel of John. Thus, looking forward to the present time, the time of His absence from His own, as gone back to Him from whom He had come, He says, "In that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (John 14:20). He has prefaced this with the assurance, "Because I live, ye shall live also." His parable of the Vine and its branches, which shortly follows, gives us the fundamental thought in these expressions so often repeated, "we in Him and He in us," and we see it to be life in Him that is all through at the root of them. The epistle of John afterwards gives it more precise doctrinal statement, that "God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11). It is a life which, all through the Gospel, we are shown that He communicates to us, and which we have abiding in us. Thus we are "in the Son;" and because the life is divine life, we can be said, not only to be in the Son, but in the Father also (John 17:21; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; 1 John 2:24). But this at once distinguishes the doctrine of Romans here from that of John. John speaks of life and nature only — what we have as children of God and born of Him; it is condition and not position, as is plain, for the thought of "in the Father," and "in the Son" alike exclude position. But Paul, as we have seen, while his doctrine is based upon a life which we have received, a life eternal, in no wise different in this way from what is revealed to us in John, yet develops in another manner this truth, and shows us other implications of it. For him the life is in Christ, the new Adam of a new creation, which rises out of the fallen one, to stand in the perfection of its Head before God, and in the value of the glorious work which has much more than redeemed us from the sin and ruin in which we were involved. and made us partakers in an infinite wealth of blessing. Thus it is "in Christ" that we live, — in Him who is before God, not simply in the right, which was always His, of the Only begotten of the Father, but as Christ, in the place He had taken for men, and as having accomplished the work by which they are brought to God; and the pentecostal anointing of the gathered disciples was but the overflow of that upon the priestly Head, which was thus flowing down to the skirts of His garments (Ps. 133:2). So was He now in the fullest sense the Christ — the Anointed. Life was now in One who was the Representative Head of His people, and "alive unto God in Christ Jesus" puts together condition and position. If "in Christ" brings in the thought of new creation, as the apostle declares (2 Cor. 5:17), the new creation stands in the New Man to whom it has been committed — the Antitypical Adam of the race to whom He has become a "quickening Spirit." All this must faith reckon in, to have the fulness of the blessing here.

4. Now then the apostle can exhort to a walk suited to such a place. We see at once that he has no thought of sin having been done with in such sort that there shall be no danger from it any more. The believer is, indeed, set free from subjection to it, but therefore in a place in which the full responsibility is his of manifesting that freedom. He is not beyond the need of the warning, "Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, to obey its lusts." These bodies, though with the sign of the fall still upon them in their evident mortality, can yet be yielded* up now to God by those who are now alive from the dead, and their members as instruments of righteousness to God. And it is to this that grace enables and constrains. No need of weakening the sense of it, then, or qualifying it with some other and therefore opposite principle! Nay, "sin shall not have dominion over you, because ye are not under law, but under grace." Shall the delivered soul call in again its jailer to make good its deliverance. Nay, it is grace alone in which there is any help whatever, or ray of hope. And, thank God, it is all-sufficient also. Sin shall not have dominion over the subjects of divine grace, is the apostle's assurance: grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life.

{*The reader will observe, as has often been noticed, that in speaking of yielding to sin and to God the apostle uses different tenses of the verb, which while difficult to render in English give distinct shades of meaning in Greek. He uses the present tense of the imperative in speaking of yielding to sin. It is never, at any time or during any period to be obeyed. In speaking of obedience to God, it is the Aorist imperative that is used. It is a definite act, once for all, as marking the beginning of the walk in newness of life. — S.R.}

5. Everything here will be questioned, however, by the soul ignorant of itself and of God; and such questions, because of their importance, must have careful answer. Again therefore we have the objection of the mere moralist taken up to be indignantly set aside: "What then? Are we to sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? Far be the thought." Yet the heart of man is in fact capable of such abuse of divine goodness; yes, but what would such an argument mean? A soul set free willingly yielding itself to that from which God has delivered it? Is this deliverance when the heart is still deliberately seeking that from which it assumes to be delivered? Well, says the apostle, if I am addressing any in such a condition, let me remind them that here the whole nature of God is in question. Does not then the way of sin deliberately pursued, end in death? Does the gospel change this relation of sin to death? does it not manifest God, and in all His attributes? His holiness being more shown indeed in the agony of the Cross, than even the uttermost punishment of the sinner could have shown it. Thus then, if one freely yields himself to obey a master, he cannot but be reckoned as belonging to the master he has chosen, whether on the one hand to sin with its terrible wages, or of obedience to God for righteousness. In all this there rules a fundamental necessity, which the gospel could not subvert and be still a gospel.

It was necessary, therefore, to give this the clearest expression; but, while the apostle does so, he has a joyful conviction with regard to those whom he is addressing, that their own experience well interprets that which he is saying. With them he is assured, their bondage to sin is indeed past, and with heartfelt appreciation of the glorious change, they have entered upon the new service to righteousness. Melted and subdued by the power of the Word, they have been as ductile metal run into the mould, and taking form in the pattern of their present life by the doctrine to which they are surrendered, so as, being set free from sin, to become bondservants to righteousness. Strange phrases these might seem still to use in connection with the redeemed and enfranchised children of God. The apostle in some sort apologizes for them; yet that divine love has had to conquer us for itself, we surely know; and having conquered, that it has made us bondservants to it for ever, — bound by the grace that has enfranchised us more fully and securely than any slave as such could be. Yet, alas, of this bond we need to be reminded, strangely as we are often in contradiction to ourselves: we are not beyond the exhortation to yield our members bondservants to righteousness for sanctification, — righteousness which has in it the apprehension of God's peculiar and double rights in us, — redemption more than doubling His creative claim. From the opposite side, as bondservants to sin, we were indeed free in regard to righteousness. Can we not vividly remember those shameful, barren days as to good? and the end of those things is death! How great the contrast now! "But now being freed from sin, and being made bondservants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

This is the summing up in contrast of the two sides already set before us. The end on the one side is what man has earned; the end on the other is the full realization — the entering into — of that which is, not simply at the end, but now also, God's gracious gift to us. This has been shown us abundantly; but notice how again here "our Lord" — "in Christ Jesus our Lord" — closes this subject with the glad witness of what brings all the life into that harmonious order which is the result of the deliverance from sin. The Christ whom we have known in His lowliness as Jesus, now in the place of exaltation which has given us a "gospel of glory," has bowed our hearts in obedient homage to Himself. As the unwilling prophet testified of a people of other days, "the shout of a King is among" us, the pledge of victory over every foe, — "higher than Agag" with all his rebellious rout. There can be no deliverance where Christ is not enthroned; there can be nothing else, where He has His due place and acknowledgment. Put Him only in His place, and He cannot but manifest His power; and that will be more and more simple as we proceed with what is before us now.

Subdivision 3. (Rom. 7 – 8:4.)

Realized deliverance as united to Christ by the Spirit.

We come to the working all this out in experience, then. What we have had already is complete enough indeed as to our title to be free: it is the making good to us, with its blessed consequences, of that "life in Christ Jesus," which is the very "law of the Spirit" which delivers us from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). But as the law of the Spirit we are yet to see it, and how Christ comes to have experimentally the place He must have for such result. For the whole aim and work of the Spirit is to exalt Christ; and alas, for the Christian also there needs for this a weaning from self which is apt to be a terribly slow process, — self hiding under the most specious forms of self-renunciation and the quest of holiness. And here is found one of the great mysteries of the divine ways, by an unsubduable self to turn one from self, and bring the sweetest and most effectual remedy out of incurable evil, strength out of weakness, and hope out of despair. It is here that, for the first time we learn what "flesh" is, and conscious captivity to a law of sin in the members brings us to the experience of a liberty which is the assured privilege of the "man in Christ."

It is here also that we find the true character of the law and our need of deliverance from it, in order that we may bring forth fruit to God; the death of Christ being our death to it, as truly as we saw it to be our death to sin before. The law is no more dead than sin is, but we are dead to it — a wholly different thing. The first husband must go, that we may rightly belong to the Second; for we cannot be joined to the two at once. And it is by the Spirit that we are united; the Spirit being as much the seal of Christ's claim to us as it is the Father's acknowledgment of His spiritual children.

As through the previous subdivision we had the reckoning of faith, so in the present we have this put in connection with experience, which is first of all made to bear witness to the need one has of this, and then becomes the joyful experience of faith itself:

The relation of the law to a sinner has already been fully shown. Here it makes known sin, and charges man's guilt against him, but has no remedy. There were types and shadows, as we know, that looked on to the coming Deliverer, but in this very way pointed away from themselves. In itself it brought upon men wrath only, reckoning up sin in detail, and bringing to an end the ignorance of former times at which God winked, and thus making the offence abound. Justification, peace with God, the glorious righteousness of God which now is manifested in favor of every one who believeth in Jesus, — these things have been fully declared as the fruit of the gospel only, and we are no longer engaged in the discussion of them. It is not the approach of the sinner to God which is before us now, but the walk of the saint — a totally different thing, and which we must not mix up with it, or all lines will become blurred, and the truth no longer distinguishable. Doubtless there are principles which run through both: for the Christian guided by his own reasonings merely argues very much after the manner of the natural man, and God's thoughts will not be his thoughts until he is content to have these revealed to him as Scripture has revealed them, and accepts them humbly without the modifications which he is so prone to impose on them. That righteousness is not by the works of the law he may be now convinced, and rejoicing in the realization that Christ alone is this to him, while yet in the matter of holiness he is well-nigh as legal as ever. God's way is to proclaim Christ for both, but often to deaf ears on the part of believers themselves, who having begun in the Spirit, would yet be perfected by the flesh. For saint as for sinner before, it is hard to accept in simplicity the mortifying truth that "no flesh shall glory in His Presence." Thus for long, it may be, in the conflict between God's thoughts and his own, both his own experiences and the word of truth are shrouded in darkness to him; and preferring the way of experience, he finds it the hard teacher which proverbially it is, and at last, if taught truly by it, is only forced to turn to that which he has been unwittingly, yet not the less really, resisting, to learn what it alone can teach him, and that, after all, the moral of his disappointment and misery is to be found in his controverting the way of the Spirit to make Christ as much sanctification as righteousness to him, and to have no flesh glory in the presence of God.

But whatever the sameness of the principle involved, it is of all importance to realize, as already said, that here there is no question of peace or acceptance, but of fruit and the ability to produce it. If we mix these things together, and say, here is a soul not at rest as to acceptance, then it may at once be pleaded that the reason for the fruitlessness he finds is simply on this account! Thus the lesson in its breadth will not be learnt, and those who realize in themselves the impotence confessed in the experience here will be tempted to deny the reality of what is theirs, because of the barrenness of the life over which they groan. It is one thing to find no ability to make or assure oneself of peace with God through one's works, and quite another to find, when the question is one of producing the holiness which God claims, and which it is the instinct of the Christian man to crave, that still there is an impracticable obstacle in the way — a "flesh" in which dwelleth no good thing — which renders futile all his efforts! — to have to say, not when I would find evidence of my salvation, still less when I would make my peace with God, but simply, "when I would do good evil is present with me," and "the good that I would I do not, but the evil that I would not, that I do"! when consciously "I delight in the law of God after the inward man," then to "find another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members!"

There are two views as to these expressions into which it is well known that Christians have got, which equally, but in opposite ways, destroy their proper meaning. The one, which used to be considered, strange as it may seem, the evangelical one, simply accepts the misery of the experience here described, as the ordained and normal condition of the child of God. Ignoring the fact that it is a state of captivity which is ascribed to a law of sin, from which the law of the Spirit is expressly stated to deliver us, it separates, as the division of the chapters does, the bondage from the freedom only by some strange process of thought to identify the one with the other; the experience is taken to be the actual experience of the apostle at the time he was writing, and naturally it is not to be supposed that the state of Christians in general is beyond that of the apostle. The deliverance is, of course, in this case incidental only to special crises of the conflict, and does not affect the general conclusion which is reached at the end of the chapter, that "with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."

Against such a view the reaction of the Christian instinct has led many to an opposite extreme, which asserts not only a permanent deliverance from the law of sin for the believer, but a complete removal of the flesh itself, an absolute and experimental death to sin. This does not so much concern us at the present moment; and the misapprehension as to the latter term we have already considered.

1. The apostle first of all shows that the law itself declares the limit of law. And notice that this applies as much to the law of Moses as to any mere human code. The law has dominion over a man as long as he liveth; so long, but no longer: death ends its claim. He brings forward the law of marriage in illustration of this; and here, of course, every one who knows law would admit it at once. But using marriage as he does immediately, simply in a figurative way, it would not suffice for his argument as to the believer's relation to the law (of Moses) except the principle fully applied to this. We have elsewhere looked at this, and most important every way it surely is. Moses' law has to do with the present life, and not beyond. (See notes on Ex. 34:1-7, ante). How necessary and how blessed that it should be so! For if "the man that doeth these things shall live in them," and "the soul that sinneth, it shall die," really defined for all eternity the conditions of life and death, who that was under it could escape eternal condemnation? But God could not bind His own hands in such a fashion. The law being intended to give the knowledge of sin, and to cut off from self-righteousness, tested man where he was, and before the eyes of men. The death it threatened did not appertain to a scene outside man's ken, where unable to know the facts, he might dream as he pleased of the issue of his trial, but it faced him here and now. "Die!" did he die? Universal history, with every grey hair upon his head, relentlessly gave verdict against him. Yet lost and hopeless as he was on this ground, it did not cut him off from the hope of eternal mercy. Much depends then upon the truth of the apostle's words here, that the law's dominion over a man is as long as he liveth, but no longer.

When he applies his figure of marriage to illustrate the previous relation of law to the people of God, it would not have answered his purpose at all if the Jew after all could say to him, "Well, but this is only a figure; and you are not really entitled to argue from it as if it were a fact!" But not if he could say, "The figurative purpose for which I use it does not prevent its being a true illustration of the scope of the law; and death really does break the link of relationship between the believer and the law just as my figure intimates, — call it marriage or what you please."

The term "marriage" does, however, suit his purpose here in a remarkable way, as we shall see directly; for it expresses such a relation as might be abused to very galling lordship, while it none the less allows comparison with the sweet and peculiar, exclusive relationship of the Church to Christ, and gives at once the opportunity to raise the question, which here is so important, of fruitfulness or barrenness in these contrasted conditions.

It is plain that, while addressing, himself to all believers now, and not to Jews only (for the lesson remains still for us, and for all time), Paul yet looks back to the old dispensation — to the people of God under it, raising no question of other differences which are not in point, but treating all as one continuous history, — a history which in principle is the history of individuals still. For the law, though God is no longer putting people under it, is that which naturally men accept everywhere as from Him, being indeed unable to think out for themselves any other than a legal system. This is, of course, the immense importance for us of this dreary detail of human experience. For the mass of us repeat the history of Israel in this respect, and have to be allowed to learn in this way what we will not learn from the word of God alone. Gentiles as we may be, the Jew is in us all, and we have as a rule to plod on under the yoke which they found so heavy, and yet would not exchange for the easy yoke of Christ. The deliverance must in a sense come to us through the law itself, as the apostle says: "I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God" (Gal. 2:19).

2. Deliverance for us is accomplished in the self-same way as we have before seen with regard to the deliverance from sin: "Wherefore my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law by the body of the Christ, to become Another's — His who was raised from among the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God." A hard thing this to realize, that for fruitfulness also, and not merely for justification, we must be delivered from that law the holiness of which is so absolute, and the severity of which against sin we have had to learn in the cross on which Jesus died to redeem us! But how natural to think that in this view of the Cross we have exhausted its meaning; and even when such a scripture as the present is before us, to seek escape from its plain significance. Even here many see nothing else than deliverance from legal curse: "that is, freed from the law as a rule of justification, we are at liberty to accept of the offers of gratuitous acceptance made to us in the gospel" (Hodge). On the other hand, we are familiar with the distinctions drawn between the moral and the ceremonial law, the ordinances, which, it is allowed, have passed away before the fulness of Christian light, while the ten commandments are asserted to remain as what was graven upon the tables of stone, as of permanent obligation, — the perfect rule of life for believers still.

But neither of these interpretations will stand the test of a fair analysis of the words of the apostle. The question of justification by law has long been settled, and there is here nothing which would indicate any return to it. In all this part, at least until the beginning of the eighth chapter, there is not a word which could even be imagined to be equivalent or akin to justification. The purport here, as we are definitely told, of deliverance from the law is that we may bring forth fruit to God. We are set free absolutely, not from the law in this or that aspect, but without any such reserve at all; and as for the law in its ceremonial part, it can be easily seen by any one who cares to look that there is no reference to it all the way through the experience which is detailed to us. It is not the ceremonial law that says, "Thou shalt not lust," nor which reveals a law of sin in the members!*

{*The distinction so often pressed between moral and ceremonial law is one which Scripture does not make. Law is the expression of the will of God, whether it be in some moral command or some outward ceremonial. Is not this suggested by the presence of the fourth commandment? While the observance of a day of rest is of the greatest benefit to man, yet the special day to be observed and the nature of the observance are, as we might say, arbitrary. There is nothing intrinsically immoral in the disregard of the seventh day, as there would be in the violation of the sixth or seventh commandments. And yet the fourth commandment was as binding as any of the others, because it was the expressed will of God. So all the ceremonial law was His will for His people. But all is done away in Christ, and we are told that the very law "written and engravers in stones" — the ten commandments — has been done away (2 Cor. 3:7, 13). — S.R.}

No, it is from the law as a whole that the deliverance must be. "Holy, just and good" as it surely is, it is not the less on that account, as the apostle elsewhere declares, "the strength of sin" (1 Cor. 15:56); and that which is such can no more be the means of sanctification than of justification. How it is the strength of sin the experience to which we shall presently come will make abundantly clear to us. We have but the statement as yet — the text upon which the comment is to follow immediately.

The statement is in itself absolutely plain, that if, as has already been shown us with regard to sin, the believer is dead with Christ through Christ's substitutionary death for him, and if the law has dominion over a man only "so long as he liveth," then over him as in the value of the death of Christ before God, law has ceased to have dominion: he is "made dead to the law by the body of Christ." Thus, and thus alone, is he free to become Another's, as part of that Church which is the Bride of Christ. This is a peculiar, exclusive relationship, the apostle would tell us, which forbids the old relationship to the law. That was barren; this is to be fruitful: or rather, that, as long as one abides in it, forbids fruit. Its professed aim was fruit, and thus it claimed the husband's place; and this, for purposes of perfect wisdom, was for a time, and tentatively, allowed, — a relationship too, which only death could sever: not that the law is dead — that is nowhere said — but we are; it was a relationship to men in the flesh, but "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." A man in the flesh is just a living man; and the cross of Christ is the death sentence, under which he lay, executed upon him, which faith owns, while it finds its deliverance in it, and in Him raised from the dead the One to whom now its every tie is; in a new and blessed life which is not of the old creation, but of the new. But, as has been said, this yet remains to be worked out practically for us in that which follows: as yet we have but the statement, of which we are now to see the meaning and value.

3. The apostle goes on at once to the experience, — though at present only the brief statement still; but he shows the nature and cause of the barrenness of the law, which while to God it is that, is not merely that. Fruit there is, but not to God; it is "fruit unto death." "For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins, which were by the law, wrought in our members, to bring forth fruit unto death." We see why the law is fruitless, or worse: it produces the passions of sins — a strange alliance as it might seem between sin and law, but it is not that, but opposition, as must surely be, and as the detailed experience will fully show: the holy requirements of the law are to the man in the flesh but the presenting of claims it) contradiction to the "mind of the flesh," which is enmity against God (Rom. 8:7). It is merely chafed and irritated, its state brought out, not altered, the knowledge of sin produced, which we have seen to be the characteristic effect of law, but with the result of the aggravation of the whole condition. But we must pause here, to look more closely at all that is in question.

The man in the flesh is in its primary sense, as should be evident, just the living man. Here there may be no moral implication whatever, as we are well aware; but it is important to realize, when we come to the meaning of the expression as we find it now employed in that part of Romans upon which we have entered, the original force, upon which the moral one is based. The man in the flesh is in this sense the living, natural man, who has never yet known the death of Christ for sinners, and is, therefore, but identified with the old creation and the flesh; as the Lord says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." Flesh is all that he is. Spirit and soul are hidden, as it were, in this, from which they now take their character. Their life is in the world of sense, in the old creation; there is no real outlook beyond. "When we were in the flesh" applies thus solely to those not in Christ; and the effect of law upon such is what is here described. It is true that there is a mingled experience between this and the proper Christian one, which is presently shown us, and which must be carefully distinguished from either; but for the proper understanding of this mixed condition we must realize the two conditions apart, which are thus mingled. No Christian can be in that state of which it is said that "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." But it is just the misery of these that the Christian heart and the unchristian experience are seemingly joined together, although not without a certain modification of one by the other. Of this we shall have presently to speak; but as yet it is not considered, but the two opposite conditions are put in sharpest contrast, so that we may learn them aright. "When we were in the flesh" and "fruit unto death" mark the first of these, that of the natural man whereas the soul in the experience of bondage, soon to be before us, can yet say of the sin from which he has not found deliverance, "It is no more I that do it," and "I consent unto the law that it is good."

The Christian condition is now put in contrast with that of the natural man: "but now we are set free from the law, having died in that in which we were held, so that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of the letter."

As already said, it is not the law that is dead, but we: but death having come in on either side cancels the tie. That was to the man in the flesh, but the man in the flesh is gone; we are dead in the death of Christ, and so in the flesh no longer. Hagar the bondwoman, as the apostle says elsewhere, is the law that gendereth to bondage, and we are set free to enjoy a true and blessed freedom. The law is the ministration of death, and we died in that in which we were held; but thus we found Christ who has died, and under the curse of the law, so that we are set free in a new resurrection life, — still to serve, for Christ our Lord has served and still serves — would we be set free from that? — nay, but to serve in newness of spirit, serving in joy of soul, and no more in the old drudgery yet superficiality of the letter, pressed from the outside upon unwilling hearts.

This closes the doctrine of the deliverance; which we cannot, however, fully learn save in the experience of it as practically wrought out in the soul. For this, therefore, we go back of the deliverance to realize the state out of which we are delivered.

4. The apostle carefully leads us on step by step. After the doctrine we have the experience which illustrates and enforces the doctrine. This also is first given us in brief, and then we have the exercises which spring out of the experience, and which make us to realize its meaning and importance. The law of sin in the members is then finally seen as the insurmountable barrier to man which shuts him off from the attainment of the holiness which divine grace has taught every one born of God to long for; and then, as in a moment, the groan of self-despair is cut short by the shout of victory; that which he seeks for is attained, though in a manner how different from his expectation; the law of the Spirit has delivered him from the law of sin and death.

With the experience indeed, questions begin at once in the soul, which press for an answer. What means this strange, perpetual connection between sin and law? "Is the law sin?" This connection is not now that of a doctrine, about which one might go astray; it is a fact of consciousness far too manifest to be denied or evaded; but the attitude of the one towards the other is equally unmistakable. Law is the detective under divine government, continually searching out and manifesting it in the light of infinite and omniscient holiness. How startling a revelation as to man, that to provoke lust in him, God has only to forbid it! Sin in its essential character is rebellion against God! Sin takes occasion by the commandment itself to awake all manner of lust against it. And who is not conscious of this tremendous fact that there is a pleasure in sin just as sin — in one's own will and way, as that? And think of God having forbidden, not merely a step in the direction of my own will as against His, but even a desire to take that step! How entirely this last commandment of the ten removes the question of true righteousness from being that of the outward life simply, and makes it impossible to think of any righteousness on our part fit for Him! What a new light it throws upon the words, "The man that doeth these things shall live in them"! Yet how simple it is, that a heart set upon that which is not in the will of God for me is moral distance from Him to that extent: for God's will is never arbitrary merely, but is the expression of His nature; His way may he in the sea, and hidden from me, but it is always in the sanctuary too.

If, then, there be in me one bit of self-seeking, how must this inexorable, all-embracing law search it out and awake it into vehement life! No wonder that the apostle says that "without law sin is dead!" This is its efficacy, in fact, while it may seem, when we are seeking help from it, its impotence rather (its impotence is indeed one element of its power), that under its rule sin revives, and we die. It is the ministration of death, though on its face proposing life: what is avowedly for life, is found (and invariably found) to be unto death. And behind all this, though at present quite unseen, divine love and wisdom work; so that death itself is really a "ministration" — the death of self-confidence, and so of self-occupation also, that Christ may in result be all in all.

Meanwhile, sin is but discovered by the law, as roused and having strength given to it by the commandment. It should be quite plain that the apostle is not speaking of his present experience in all this, for we shall find him go far beyond it. His "I was alive without the law once," looks certainly like what was personal to himself; although, of course, it would in fact be the experience of others also, or there would be little use in recalling it. In all the rest that we have here, the "I" is evidently merely illustrative. It is a pronoun significant enough in its constant repetition through all this part, while Christ and the Spirit are not mentioned. The language of self-occupation cannot be mistaken, and it is only God's mercy when in such a condition there is little else to speak of but sin and misery. Good self is a worse adversary to Christ than bad self; and it is a good thing if when with our backs to the sun, self becomes but a shadow darkening all we look upon. Law is as we have seen, in its place of service here, and if honestly listened to, the service it will do is excellent. It is a teacher, however, whose work is to make itself unnecessary, and like the plow to which we may compare it, when once the precious seed has taken root and is growing up to harvest, its use would be as disastrous as before it was beneficial.

5. But we have now to look at the exercises and reasonings incident to such a transitional stage as we cannot but here recognize. It is, as we see, the experience of a soul converted truly to God (for no other could say truthfully what is here said), but as yet unconscious of God's way of power and sanctification; taking up the law in all sincerity to work out holiness by it with God's help, as before it had sought to work out peace and justification. The necessary result is that self-occupation which the law entails upon all under it. The end sought, whatever the plea of holiness, is necessarily self-satisfaction, if in the most plausible form, and that is the element which spoils as holiness everything into which it enters. Pride was the form in which sin entered first among the angels, where there could be as yet no temptation from without; and it seems the only conceivable way of failure and apostasy under such conditions. Ezekiel describes it in words which, while openly addressed to the king of Tyre, picture surely no mere earthly king. There is but one who could fit this description, and he the prince of all potentates in a world which has rejected the true Prince. Here then is the description: —

"Thus saith the Lord God, Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, . . . Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, until iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore will I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground." . . . (Ezek. 28:12-17).

How unutterably solemn is such a fall! and how deeply instructive for us, with whom Satan's attempt is constantly to animate us with the same spirit, while God's desire and design cannot but be as earnest to "hide pride from man" (Job 33:17). "Ye shall be as God," was the first temptation, the success of which has left its poison in the depths of our being. Take the apostle as a pregnant example, whose very exaltation to the third heaven, instead of quenching for ever any remainder of such a spirit, necessitated, as he himself has told us, a thorn for him in the flesh, lest he should find in it the incitement to a spiritual exaltation! (2 Cor. 12:7). What a demonstration for us all of the existence of the flesh still in the most advanced Christians, and of the way in which pride may come into the holiest things! The work of the Spirit is certainly not to comfort us in any self-satisfaction, — too perilous a thing at the best! yet it is here that even the necessity of self-judgment will be urged to keep us occupied with that which true self-judgment would make us turn away from altogether! but to our next:

(1) Once again the apostle emphatically affirms the holiness of the law, and more: the law is not only holy: the commandment is holy, righteous, and good. What is the great principle upon which it insists, but love? "Love," he says elsewhere, "is the fulfilment (or full measure) of the law" (Rom. 13:10). In the very giving of the law, disastrous to men as its first consequences may be, love reigns; the law itself is the handmaid of grace. Yet to a soul in the confusion which we find here, at cross purposes with God, and unable to see the end to which it is approaching, this goodness of the law seems only itself confusion in view of the death-sentence which it has brought in. "Did then that which is good," he asks, "become death unto me?" But conscience answers at once, No, the goodness of the law only makes the character of sin the more manifest and more hateful. The law is right in issuing these commands, against which the evil in me thus rebels. They only establish the authority of Him who only has authority. This spirit of rebellion is against Him who is all that that word "God" implies; and if it be in me, He is right in laying it bare, as well as in the condemnation of it.

(2) A further consequence: — I am in contradiction to myself; I am, spite of myself, in bondage to the evil. We know — all Christians do — that the law is spiritual; but I — he cannot say "we" there; it is an exceptional state in him, and terrible in its exceptionality — "I am carnal, sold under sin." The bondage is clear, in that he cannot sanction, but hates, the very things he practises. He wishes to do the thing he cannot do; but his efforts only make apparent the fetters with which he is bound. His heart and will consent to the law that it is right. Mournful as his condition is, yet he himself, he affirms, is not the real worker of the evil. He is in the grasp of that from which he cannot escape, but yet can separate himself, and which he personifies, to enable him to separate himself the more clearly from it; a horrible, false self which fetters and oppresses what is now through grace his true self. It is evident that here is the converted man, conscious of what divine grace has wrought in him, and not doubting that he has right to disclaim and cast from him what nevertheless dwells in and masters him. It is a question of power all through, and not of peace: — that is never raised. To raise it is to introduce what confuses the whole; for if peace with God is not yet known by him who is going through this conflict, then it is impossible not to draw the conclusion that, for one who has peace, no such experience is possible: which is against the abundant witness of many who are passing through it.

It will be said that the possession of peace will necessarily modify the experience, and there is no doubt that the experience as we have it here must, in any case, be modified. It is given us, as it were, in downright black and white, without shading. No one exactly and always does what he does not approve, but the absolute way in which this is given helps us better to understand the condition; but to introduce the question of peace with God does not merely modify the experience, but alters the whole character of it. As it is plain, the apostle never raises that question here. It is simply power which he has not, and a bondage to the evil which perplexes and harasses him when he would see fruit of his life for God.

(3) The result is the manifestation of what Scripture calls "the flesh." The meaning of the term, as already said, is not difficult to comprehend. The man in the flesh is, as to his higher part, his spirit and soul, immersed, as it were, in the body. He lives a sense-life in the world around him, not drawing his motives from eternity or from the presence of God, which, in fact, he does not recognize. The man before us is not thus. God, and what is pleasing to Him, has become for him the question of his life; but the flesh itself is not, as we see, removed by this. He has not merely to struggle with it, but is rather captive to it, until he has found the secret of deliverance. He is seeking this at present in a wrong way. He is seeking in himself a better state, in which he can find satisfaction. He puts it, of course, as a question of holiness. Does not God require holiness? Must he not produce it for Him then? God suffers him to be met with this impracticable body of sin over which he is not really master and cannot be. In the flesh good does not dwell. To will is present with him; to work out the right, is not. The good that he would he does not practise. The evil that he would not, that he does. He repeats this over again as the distress that weighs upon him, and his own personal abhorrence of it, and right to reject it as not himself.

6. This, then, ends the experience. There is nothing more to be said about it. It is simply summed up in the words that close this part. There is a law of sin in the members. We must carefully distinguish this from the presence of sin itself. Sin remains in us as Christians. We have always to watch, always to guard against it, but a law of sin is a very different matter. A law of sin sets sin in authority and that is surely a wholly unchristian state, although Christians have to pass through it in order to find the freedom which is proper to them. "I delight," he says, "in the law of God according to the inner man, but I behold another law in my members warring against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which is in my members." That ends the whole matter. Deliver himself he cannot. Find strength for this from God, still he cannot. He must come to that point in which he cries out to Another, and deliverance is really found in a way which no man could ever think out for himself or realize, except as taught of God.

7.(1) It closes then with a groan, the groan of absolute despair as to one's self. It is not, "How shall I?" any more, but, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Immediately thereupon the answer comes: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." It is the first time that that blessed Name comes into the whole experience. Experience it is still, but of the power of a Deliverer. There is no explanation, however, further. A great mistake has been made by interpreters generally in supposing that the verse that follows describes, in fact, the delivered man, whereas, upon the face of it there is no deliverance. It is a man in bondage and not a free man who is described there. But, in order to find the deliverance, we must ignore entirely the divisions of the chapters and take in the first verses of the eighth chapter, which, in the common version and in the minds of most, are cut off entirely from it. Thus, the deliverance and the bondage are strangely confused. A man who is bondservant to the law of God, that law which gendereth to bondage, is taken to be the man who is consciously dead to the law by the body of Christ and over whom it has no more dominion; and the man who, with the flesh still serves the law of sin, is taken again to be the one who is free from it! The law of sin is that which the law of the Spirit delivers from. There is no "law" of sin when the law of the Spirit has thus delivered. Thus it is plain that on neither side does the last verse of the chapter describe the freeman. It is a going back, rather, to the old experience, in order that now there may be the full explanation Of the way of deliverance. That has not yet been given. To say that Christ is the Deliverer does not describe the deliverance, and it would be indeed a poor conclusion, after all the misery of this experience that we have been through, to find absolutely no account of the way out.

(2) The last verse, therefore, is still the bondage. The man distinguishes indeed himself from himself, but we have seen that he was able to do that before this. That, in fact, is not a deliverance. He is still, as he says, a bondservant in both respects, as to the law and as to sin. The answer comes in the assurance which immediately follows now, that, "There is now, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." That may seem to lead us hack to the question of justification, but there is more than that here. Justification may be indeed the basis, as it is of necessity all through, but the law which delivers him is found in the principle developed for us in the sixth chapter, as already stated, the law of the Spirit, of life in Christ Jesus. "In Christ" means identification with Christ, and it is manifest that when a soul is able to identify himself in a full, practical way, with the Christ who is before God for him, he is at once out of the condition which has just made him utter the groan of despair. If he can find his true self in Christ, Christ is not in the bondage; there is in Him no body of sin, no sin at all, much less a law of it, and he is in Him before God. That may not seem at first to settle the difficulty. If it be a question of power, it is still the man down here who has to possess this power, but in the state of self-occupation in which one under the law necessarily is, there can be no possession of power. In the vain attempt to find complacency in a spiritual condition of his own, his eyes are really off Christ, and, as we have said, he sees but his own shadow. God allows this, in order that Christ may be indeed a constant necessity to him and that he may cease to think of himself, good self or bad self, to rejoice in the One who is made all things to him. Thus we shall find in what follows, that there is this singular result. In the conflict which still may be, as we find it in the eighth chapter, the adversaries are no longer one self to another self, but the Spirit to the flesh. Strange it may seem that the flesh remains while the very one of whom he speaks as himself, through this experience which has just been recited, now, nevertheless, drops out entirely. It is not self at war with self any more. The self that would have gained the battle is really out of the battle. It is the Spirit who leads, and who alone can lead in the path of victory, and where we have the Spirit, it is of necessity Christ who is before the soul, and not self in any wise.

(3) The words of the second verse have, I doubt not, been also read without their due emphasis. It is not simply "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath set me free," it is not "the law of the Spirit of life," but there is the clear statement now of what the law of the Spirit, that is, the ruling principle which has come to displace the law of sin, in fact is. The law of the Spirit is that of life in Christ Jesus. We reckon ourselves "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus." Our life is only there, in Him. This is not a mere principle of truth embraced. It is a change which enables the Spirit of God now to be freely upon our side. Through all that we have had in the past chapter, the Spirit most evidently has no place in the experience. The Spirit's law is that we are, for power as well as for peace, for holiness as well as for justification, in Christ wholly. Life in Christ Jesus is the answer to the death which the law preached, and I am free to forget myself entirely in Him. This self-forgetfulness the legal man dreads, as being almost the same as unholiness. Are we free to forget ourselves after this manner? But, in fact, self-consciousness is that which spoils every Christian grace. To remember Christ, is of necessity holiness. To identify ourselves with Him as God has identified us, is to give us the highest possible rule of practice, but not merely that; it is to give us also the power which we seek. Christ becomes in it the object before us. We live not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify Him. Here, therefore, we are in full accord with the Spirit, and the result is absolutely sure.

(4) This is explained directly. It was impossible for the law to help us. It was weak through the unconquerable flesh. It required from us that which we could never furnish, and the end in this direction, as we have seen, is simply and rightly the despair of self altogether, but God has effaced self for Another; He has sent His own Son in "the likeness of sinful flesh" as the cross manifests Him, but there for sin, our sin, putting it completely away, while, at the same time condemning it utterly. Sin in the flesh is condemned, — I myself, with all that is in me, my own thoughts, my will, my wisdom, my ways, — in the cross,

I see the end of it all, but the end of it in the love which has come in fully for me and which now fulfils in me the righteous requirement of the law when it is no longer simply requirement, but the Spirit of God has filled my heart with the joy of Christ. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." I am free to give myself up to drink in this love which God has shown me and which rests upon me in Christ, in all the fulness of God's delight in Him. I have no cause now to ask: Must not God condemn the evil in me? He has condemned it, and I read the condemnation there where I find also Himself for me in a grace which knows no conditions, and which holds me fast, therefore, forever. The Christian walk is not according to the flesh, therefore, but according to the Spirit. Self-occupation is of necessity fleshly. The Spirit of God ignores even Himself to glorify Christ. Thus, we may speak of the Spirit even, in a way which is not spiritual. We may seek in ourselves the fruit of the Spirit, when, after all, we are not in the line of the Spirit's testimony, and therefore not in the path of the Spirit at all. The righteousness which the law required cannot be forgotten in the presence of Christ. I am to walk in His company now, and never part. Self-judgment is, in fact, only possible in His presence; and in His presence it is impossible not to exercise it. We have only to remember the scene which has been given us by the apostle in which we find the Lord girded for service, and the water and the towel in His hands. Has He not said: "Except I wash thee, thou hast no part with Me?" "With Me," of course, not "in Me." If we are to have part with Him, we must be cleansed indeed, not according to our own thoughts of what cleanness is, but according to His thoughts, and He alone can cleanse us after that fashion. If, on the other hand, the need of cleansing is discovered, I find in it the assurance of my having been thus far not with Him as I should have been. If my eyes are off Him still, other things may attract me. I must get back to Him in order to find deliverance from the power of all else, in the presence of a love which has purchased me for itself and which has the fullest title over me.

Subdivision 4. (Rom. 8:5-27.)

The walk in the Spirit.

The principles of a walk in the Spirit are now set before us. As already said, we shall still find the flesh present and in opposition. Conflict there is still, but captivity no more, and even conflict is, if I may say so, no more the normal condition of the Christian in this respect. Enjoying my own things, I find a sphere into which flesh cannot and will not enter. It was not in the third heavens that the apostle needed a thorn for the flesh: it was when he came down out of them. And true it is that we thus find ourselves in conflict, how much I need not say, but the Spirit of God has not set before us, as it were, the duty of conflict with the flesh or with its lusts. We are to "abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul." That is not the same as warring with them. If we are entangled, if our eyes have been allowed to rest upon something not of God, which has attracted them, then indeed there will be of necessity a struggle, but the being entangled was not a necessity, and it is a totally different thing to be reckoning oneself dead to sin and to be fighting it. We fight it when we have allowed it, when we have not been reckoning ourselves dead to it. There is, of course, a conflict with sin in the world around, a conflict which the Lord Himself had of necessity, because of what He was, but of which we are not speaking here. "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood," says the apostle to the Hebrews, "fighting against sin;" but that, of course, is not the, sin in us, it is the sin which characterizes the world around us, the corruption which is in it through lust.

1. The first thing, therefore, that is now put before us is the governing power. "They that are according to flesh, mind the things of the flesh, and they that are according to Spirit, the things of the Spirit." The flesh seeks what is according to its mind, and the Spirit seeks what is according to His mind; but notice now, that these two are two companies. "They that are according to flesh" cannot, of course, be confounded with those that are according to the Spirit. The Spirit is for the Christian the One who has come to possess us in Christ's name and for Him; and in Him we find a power which is not of ourselves, and which leaves us still and all the way through, in conscious weakness. This is a great necessity for us, that the power should be power which is fully available for us and yet which is not our own, for the realization of which we have to lean upon Another. It is when we are weak, then we are strong. The sense of weakness is most helpful to us every way. It not only checks all self-complacent thoughts, but it makes us realize in the strength which is constantly ministered to us, the continual care and love of God. We can promise ourselves nothing even yet as to ourselves, and we need not promise anything. We need only the assurance that the love which holds us fast has all things in its control, and that in Christ there is fulness for us from which we can draw at all times. Thus, as has already been said, the "I myself" has really disappeared. The knowledge of the new man is that Christ is all. Faith does not know itself, and its object is never self.

2. The opposition between the two, the Spirit and the flesh, is now put before us. "The mind of the flesh," not "the carnal mind" as if it were a fleeting condition, but what the flesh is in its character at all times, "is death." "The mind of the flesh is enmity against God"; that is death truly. Death is separation from the source of life, and the flesh is willingly separate. Thus then, it "is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be," and "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." "In the flesh" we find here, therefore, to be a spiritual condition, although it is related to the old creation place out of which we have passed. One who is in Christ cannot be in the flesh. On the other hand, the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. How blessed a thing is such peace! At one with God, everything else is at one with us. All things of necessity, therefore, "work together for good to them that love" Him. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

3. But immediately we are assured, "ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." This which has put us in the condition here is not to be looked at as if it were possible to be absent from the child of God. We are immediately warned "if any one have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." There are no Christians that are not Christ's, and here, in fact, we are assured that the Spirit of God is found in all who are such. He is the seal upon those who belong to God.

The word is not found here: we must look for it in Ephesians; but the idea is clearly expressed. A seal is the mark put upon what is one's own, with the idea of inviolability attaching to it. The 144,000 sealed out of all the tribes of Israel in the book of Revelation are a sample of this. They are sealed on their foreheads, and we find afterwards that the Name of the Lamb and of His Father is written there, evidently the effect of the sealing. This Name is their preservative from the power of the locusts in the ninth chapter. "Seals were employed," says Kitto, "not for the purpose of impressing a device on wax, but in place of a sign manual to stamp the name of the owner upon any document to which he determined to fix it." The Lord expressly speaks of the descent of the Spirit upon Himself as His being sealed of God the Father. It was then, we know, that His being the Son was fully declared. The seal was the witness of emphatic approbation. In us it is also the token of sonship. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, but with us there cannot, of course, be the approbation of a condition in us, but rather of Him in whom we are recognized as standing before God. Thus, it is not by sealing that we are made to be in Christ. We must be in Christ in order to be sealed. God could not put His seal upon the least evil, the least taint of sin. We are in Christ, moreover, as the apostle says in the epistle to the Corinthians, by new creation. "If any one be in Christ, it is new creation"; and he adds, as what connects itself with it: "Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." As soon as ever the work begins in us, we belong to that new creation which abides in the value of its blessed Head before God; and thus alone could it be said that "old things are passed away." In Ephesians we find also that we are "created in Christ Jesus." Creation speaks of the divine work in us from the very beginning.

It is, however, said that in this case, the "none of His" should be rather "not of Him," which is confessedly the literal rendering; and that this refers to a condition not attained by all in whom divine work has begun. The way ill which simple belonging to Christ would be expressed, it is said, would be, "He is not to Him" instead of "of Him"; but in the second chapter of the second epistle to Timothy, we find the same expression exactly where most certainly the whole extent of those belonging to Him is intended to be expressed. "The Lord knoweth them that are His," "those that are of Him"; where, amid all the confusion of a day in which profession and reality are inextricably confused for us, the Lord yet unfailingly recognizes His own. Thus, in every way, it is clear that the seal marks out those who are children of God, and that therefore it can be fully said that if any one have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. There is no middle condition, however confused the experience may be, or dull the faith in a child of God.

Let us notice the way in which the Spirit is set before us here. First, it is the Spirit of God that dwells in us. Divine power thus keeps us for Him; but next, we have the Spirit of Christ, the One who glorifies Christ and who produces in us also a likeness to Him. Following this, we have, "If Christ be in you"; for the Spirit, in fact, as glorifying Christ, does not testify of Himself. It is not, therefore, the Spirit in you, but Christ in you. This, however, is the expression of life itself, as we have already seen abundantly in the Gospel of John. The Lord's parable of the vine and the branches conveys to us fully the relation between one in Christ and Christ in him The branch is in the vine; as a consequence, the sap is in the branch. The sap is the life derived from the vine stock. So here, "Christ in you" is the expression of life; but then to this the Spirit alone gives its proper energy. We have already seen this fully in the experience of the seventh chapter, where, although life in fact is, yet it is not in its proper power. Thus, it is said here, that the Spirit is life. As we have seen all the way through here, the "I myself," as it were, drops out. It is the Spirit who is the governing power, the Leader; and the attitude of faith is that of entire dependence upon Him.

"If Christ be in you," then, the apostle says, "the body still is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." The body has not yet the effect of redemption manifested in it. It is not yet quickened. Quickening is to come. "If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He who raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies on account of His Spirit who dwelleth in you." That is the redemption for which we wait. In the meanwhile, the body is to be reckoned simply as an instrument in the hands of the spiritual man. If it manifests its individual life that will be seen, and so the apostle speaks directly of our mortifying the deeds of the body. Not that the body and the flesh are the same thing: the flesh may include, as we have seen, spirit and soul, the whole man; and moreover, necessarily describes an evil condition. The body is not in itself evil, and spite of the condition in which it is yet found, it is in the body that the Spirit of God dwells. (See 1 Cor. 6:19.) Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. We see fully how the work of Christ enables thus the taking up of that in which there is not yet the power of redemption. This will reflect again upon the experience that we have had in the previous chapter. If the Spirit can dwell in a body that is dead and that clearly through the work of Christ alone, in the same way the Spirit can dwell surely in one who is not yet in the mind of the Spirit, who needs to be delivered from the power of evil, the law of sin in his members. But "the body is dead on account of sin, while the Spirit is life on account of righteousness," — evidently the righteousness which the Spirit produces. Nothing but that which is righteous before God could possibly be counted "life." We go on to the coming of Christ for the deliverance: "He who raised up Christ from among the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies on account of His Spirit who dwelleth in you." The pledge has been given us in Christ's own resurrection. Notice, however," that it is not exactly resurrection as to ourselves that is spoken of. Our "mortal bodies" implies a stage of the living and not of the dead, and quickening is that which delivers them from the state of mortality. The reason of this is plain. We are not taught, as people commonly put it, that we must all die. On the contrary, our proper state is to be waiting for the Lord. Thus here, the quickening of the mortal body refers distinctly to those who shall be living when He comes, and for them the Spirit who already dwells in the body, makes good His title to it in the most absolute way. The Spirit is, as we see all through, the earnest of that which is to come. Here then, is the complete answer to the question: "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Complete deliverance is what we wait for and yet that does not in the least imply any necessity of sin in the present time. The presence of the Spirit in us is, of course, fulness of power over it, and the delivered man who is in the power of the Spirit works out the righteousness of the law. Whatever we may have to say with regard to ourselves, in fact, we have ever the responsibility of walking in the power of the Spirit, and therefore, as those free from the power of sin.

4. The practical test is now found here again. As we have seen, it is freedom that tests, not bondage. The slave does his master's will; the freeman does his own; and yet even in the state of bondage which has been described to us, the will of the converted man is testified to be for God and good. Freedom is the only thing that is needed by him. The heart to serve God and to please Him he already has. Thus, amongst the professing people of God, freedom, as already said, is the test of reality. There is a way of life and a way of death. The gospel does not alter that, but, on the contrary confirms it. "So, then, brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh, for if ye live according to the flesh, ye are on the way to die." That is spoken absolutely: we have no need to qualify it in the least. If a man lives "according to the flesh," it does not say, "acts" at a given time, but if he lives, if that is the tenor of his life, "according to the flesh," then he is on the road to death. On the other hand, if a man has the Spirit, by the Spirit he mortifies the deeds of the body. The body is held for dead. It is used and can be fully used for God. There is not the least thought of asceticism in the apostle's language here. God has no pleasure in a man's ill-treating his body. On the contrary, it is meant to be maintained in vigor for the Lord who owns it, and yet it is to be the mere dead instrument, so to speak, of Another's will. "If ye through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." There is no other way. That marks out, as alone this can mark out, the sons of God.

But, notice the beautiful difference between what is said here upon the one side and upon the other. If men live according to the flesh, they are on the way to death. It does not say that they will die. God's grace is always free to come in, but then if it comes in it takes one off the road to death; it does not speak in such a manner as if sin were of no consequence. On the other hand, if, by the Spirit, you mortify the deeds of the body, not, you are on the way to life, because there is no uncertainty about the result, but "you shall live." Of course, the full and final result is intended there. We live at the present time and we shall go on to live forever. Thus then, the sons of God are marked out. We are called to enforce the condition which the apostle has made so absolute, whatever we may speak of grace or of faith, — and we cannot enforce these too absolutely when we are speaking of them, — yet, on the other hand, we must be just as absolute as to the way of life and the way of death. We have no right, whatever the profession may be, to consider any one as a son of God whose life does not mark him out as devoted to God.

5. But then the spirit of all this has to be carefully kept in mind. What the apostle has said might tend to produce a spirit of bondage — the fear of the result, of the issue, in unestablished souls, — but he says: "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear." Legality is not at all what is implied here, and it does not and cannot produce the holiness which it claims and seeks; nor can it secure for itself the final result. Take our Lord's words, for instance, in proof of this. "Whosoever will save His life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it." There is the condition, the marking out, as here, of the way of life and the way of death. But it is not simply, whosoever will lose his life shall save it, but "whosoever will lose his life for My sake." Clearly that is not the legal principle. As long as a man doubts his final security, he will, of necessity, be working for himself, but that is not "for My sake." The legal gospel, whatever spice of legality may come into it, is so far unholy, and can be nothing but unholy. We live as Christians, not to ourselves, but to Him who died for us and rope again"; but there is a religious way of living to one's self which is just as fully that as any course of sin and self-indulgence. Thus here, therefore, we are expressly told that there is no spirit of fear for the Christian, but, on the other hand, we have received the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry, "Abba, Father." It is the heart renewed and realizing the power of the grace of God which "teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world." The witness of the Spirit with our spirit, therefore, is dwelt upon here. A double witness; there is the witness of our own spirit, and that is implied, here in the first place. The spirit of man is that which makes him an intelligent being. "No one knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him." Here, therefore, the testimony of the Word, as understood and received is that which is really implied. The apostle has been in the fullest way unfolding to us this testimony, and we are not left merely, as it were, to reasoning out things; we are not left merely to our own intelligence in the matter; nor even simply to faith. We need that which is more powerful than this, and we have it in that witness of the Spirit with our spirit, which indeed, we may be little able to distinguish from the witness produced by faith in the gospel, but which gives divine power to this witness. The witness of the Spirit in this way produces a full consciousness of what God is to us, while, at the same time it is founded and must be founded upon the word of God itself. We must have the Word in proof, or we are entitled to nothing. The Spirit of God acts from and with the Word, never sets it aside, and therefore whatever "feeling" there may be, as people are accustomed to say, all this can be questioned. If it is not justified by the word of God itself, it will not do to talk of the witness of the Spirit. The two, therefore, come together, the Spirit of God and our spirit. Faith receives God's testimony in the Word, and the Spirit of God joins to this a divine power which otherwise it would not have. We cry, "Abba, Father"; we serve with the joyful consciousness that we serve as children, — the most absolute service that can possibly be; for the Father has entire claim to His child; but at the same time where there is, as in this case there must of necessity be, the true affection of children, the service is itself liberty.

Thus then, the Spirit bears witness that we are the children of God; but immense consequences follow. If children, we are heirs. As with regard to God, this might be even thought to be out of place. We inherit from our parents that which is left us when they pass away; but God never passes away. How are we to be His heirs? Only He, Himself, could have inspired such a thought as this. If we want to realize what it means, we have a beautiful example of it in the case of Israel, whose land is expressly claimed to be God's land. They are to be pilgrims and sojourners with Him, thus put into possession on His part, to hold that which is nevertheless His. How perfect the security that is given in this way to their possession of it! When they shall hold it after this manner, how impossible for them to lose it again, and even now the land being God's renders it absolutely impossible that any failure on their part can disturb His purposes with regard to it. They might forfeit it. If it were left to them, they surely would, altogether; but God cannot forfeit it, and if He puts them in possession of that which is His own, then they have an unfailing right to that possession. So with regard to our higher and more wonderful inheritance. We are heirs of God. The things that He has created, He has not created for Himself. He has no need of them. His whole heart goes with the gift of them to His people, yet so that in the sense in which we have spoken, the things inherited remain always God's, while we possess and enjoy them fully. There is another thing added here. We are joint heirs with Christ. How wonderfully does this certify to us the extent of the inheritance! Christ is the heir of all things, and to be joint heirs with Christ gives, as one may say, the thought of a limitless inheritance; but not merely so, it assures us of the perfect way in which Christ abides still and ever the Man Christ Jesus. He means to associate us with Himself for ever. The joy of the inheritance will be the joy of being associated with Christ in it.

But then immediately there comes in what may seem to be a condition; "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him." Suffering then is necessary to glory, but surely not in any sense as a legal condition, — the suffering with Him, not mere suffering in itself, but suffering with Him, suffering as He suffered in the world which was contrary to Him entirely, suffering because of the knowledge of God and joy in Him which were His ever, in view of evil and all its consequences: this, on our part, is the necessary training for that association with Him, of which our being joint heirs speaks. We are preparing to have fully His mind, learning in the midst of evil, learning what evil is in its Ml character even in ourselves, as we have already seen. In ourselves we are brought into the closest possible connection with it, surely that we may realize forever its nature, that we may hate it as God hates it, and that we may be fully competent to walk with Him who has solved in His own person the whole question of good and evil, and who is the glorious Conqueror over sin by suffering. Thus then, our present lives have a meaning with reference to the future which we must never lose sight of. The suffering by the way is part of our very need, in order that we may be fit for the coming glory. But, as already said, we must not think of this as mere suffering, but, as with Christ Himself, that which was most truly such to Him sprang out of the very joy that He had in God (we are not speaking of atonement now, or that which was necessary for it), — so for us, suffering must have this character. It must put us ever in fellowship with Him in order to be of any value.

6. Immediately upon this, the apostle goes on to speak more at large of the character of the present time for us. It is a time of travail. Creation itself is groaning in the bondage of corruption. It waits for liberty. It waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. Connected with man as its head, the fall of man has brought about this groaning condition. Notice that in himself man is a microcosm. He has the soul of the beast. He has the very dust of the earth in him. He is linked in the fullest possible way with creation throughout, and how blessed it is to realize that in this way Christ, in taking humanity, has linked Himself even, one may say, with the very material universe. How this assures us that it cannot lie under the condition which the fall has produced. There is yet to be a liberty for it. The liberty of grace it could not enjoy, but the liberty of the glory it shall enjoy.

The typical character which we find everywhere in nature connects itself with all this. It is a remarkable thing that even before man was upon the earth, death seems to have reigned in it, and that this for the lower creation is in no wise (chronologically) the effect of the fall. Man was created in a world which, so to speak, prophesied of that fall itself and was prepared for him by the goodness of God in view of it. Thus, if you look at nature, you will find not a condition such as we would imagine. Strife and evil (not moral evil, surely) are in every part of it; and thus alone could it present to man the lessons which he needs, but of which, alas, he is so little heedful. The witness of Christ in creation comes in in this connection. God has given us, in the most abundant way thus, a testimony of nature itself, which does not leave out His purposes of grace, but, on the contrary, bears fullest witness to them. Natural theology has been, alas, but too much divorced from this. Nature has been supposed simply to bear witness in the characters of design which are everywhere in it, of a Maker, a Creator. A Saviour has been supposed to be what lies beyond its testimony; but thus it has been made, if one may so say, more pagan than Christian. How could God Himself be rightly expressed in it, if Christ be not expressed? But this, as already said, involves the very evil and strife which we find in it. God has in all this, wrought for us, and nature is linked with us in its present groanings, as it will by and by be linked with us also in its redemption.

"For we, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption," that is, the full manifestation of what we are as sons of God, now hidden. That involves the body being glorified. We wait, therefore, for the adoption, that is, the redemption of the body. The firstfruits of the Spirit would seem to imply that after all what we possess in this way is but a pledge in anticipation of that which is to come, and we who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, on that very account, are made to groan. The hope we have of a condition so different from the present makes us only the more groan over the present. Our salvation is in hope, as to the full character of it. Of course, there is a salvation of which we can say already that God hath saved us. If it be a question simply of guilt and condemnation, then we are already completely saved; but salvation is very commonly looked at in a very different way from this, and it implies deliverance of the body itself and the fulfilment of all God's purposes as to us. We are saved now in hope, but then that means that we have not got before us that which we hope for. If we behold it, how can we still hope for it? "If we hope for what we behold not, then do we with patience wait for it." How beautiful a thought it is that this hope is so perfect, there is such complete assurance with regard to it, that the not having it only produces patience in us — not doubt, but patience! All human hopes may possibly disappoint, but die hope which God has given us is as sure as if we already possessed it. We wait with patience, and the patience itself is holy discipline for us. We wait upon His will, but all that He can give us in the way of assurance is already ours.

7. We have now finally, in this part, the Spirit Himself entering into this groaning condition. The Spirit joins His help to our infirmity. In such a condition of trial and sorrow, our weakness is made fully evident, but that only opens to us more the heart of God and produces in us a healthful dependence upon Him every step of the way. Notice, therefore, that in connection with the Spirit helping our infirmities, prayer is that upon which the apostle dwells. Prayer is the expression of dependence. It is the expression of the creature-place which we have with God. It is the expression, also, if it be that which can rightly be called prayer, of our confidence in God. Prayer is thus, as one may say, a large part of the Christian life, or rather, it is that which links itself with every part of it. If the Lord, in the sermon on the mount, would give us a special example of righteousness Godward, He illustrates this by prayer; but the very prayer itself manifests our infirmity. We do not know even what to pray for as we ought. How blessed to know that here we have a divine Intercessor; as we have Christ before God for us, so we have the Spirit of God in us, and He makes intercession for us according to God. The prayer that He makes is, of course, absolutely according to God; yet as wrought in our hearts it may be on that very account simply a groaning which cannot be uttered intelligibly, — a wonderful thing to realize that these groanings which are the evidence of our own infirmity may, nevertheless, be the fruit of the Spirit within us; that in the ear of God they may speak intelligently, and in absolute accordance with His mind concerning us. We do not know what to pray for, and yet we pray; and God who searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, little as we may know it and blunder as we may. "He maketh intercession for the saints according to God." That does not mean simply that it is God's will that He should make the intercession, as our common version might lead some to suppose, but that the intercession itself, as being; His, is of necessity in complete accordance with His thought and character. We are not, however, to suppose by all this, that the Spirit's prayer is simply groaning. The groaning accompanies the prayer and is part of the prayer. "With groanings that cannot be uttered." Nevertheless, these groanings express, as it were, after all, that which is higher in character, it may be, than the very prayers themselves, however intelligent. Our intelligence fails to accompany them. They go beyond it. But if they go beyond it, all the more they express the power of the Spirit in them — of Him who has come to join His help to our infirmities, and to carry us along the lighted road which leads to God.

Subdivision 5. (Rom. 8:28-39.)

The weak with the Strong.

The apostle concludes here with the assurance of the result for us of being thus with God, the weak with the strong. His purpose is being carried out in us and with us, and who shall gainsay it? Thus with the boldness which is simply that of faith, he can challenge everything, the whole universe, to disappoint this purpose.

1. The purpose itself is put clearly before us. Christ is of necessity in the forefront of it, and thus its justification, and the full assurance that it will be carried out. "We know that to those who love God all things work together for good, to those who are the called according to purpose." The present is linked with the future in a most absolute way. From God's foreknowledge of us in the past eternity to the accomplished glory of the future, there is a perfectly linked chain of blessing, no link of which can ever be sundered. God's purpose is that Christ His Son, should be a First-born among many brethren. How blessed to see the grace which is necessarily manifested when Christ is thus in the forefront! It is not here, therefore, the "Only-Begotten," of whom the apostle speaks. The Son is that; but He is here in human guise, a "Firstborn," which implies others, and that is clearly expressed. He is found thus with those whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren. God's purpose, therefore, includes, of necessity, these. If it failed as to the brethren, it would fail as to the Son of His love. They are bound up together in His thoughts.

We have, therefore, strong words here, words that are often somewhat too strong for the faith of His people. "Whom He foreknew, He also fore-ordained to be conformed to the image of His Son." If Christ is, on the one hand, the image of God Himself, (and He alone can be that in the reality of all that is implied,) yet we are to be conformed to His image. That is God's purpose as to us. He could not surely be without a purpose, and having the purpose, He could not be without the power of carrying this through. What comfort would there be for us in the midst of such a world as this, if it were not so? if God had not a purpose, or if He had one which could be set aside by man's self-will? How blessed, when we know Himself, when we realize that His will is but the expression of His perfect nature, how blessed then to see His will in all its sovereignty! We may be sure, too, that He will respect all the powers with which He has endued His creatures. He will do violence to nothing, but while this is surely so, He will carry out in the most absolute way every part of His purpose. This is definitely asserted here. "Whom He foreordained, these He also called; whom He called, He justified; whom He justified, He glorified." It is remarkable here that there is one thing left out which we should expect perhaps to have a foremost place. After justification, we are accustomed to say, comes sanctification, but where is sanctification here? We are indeed to be conformed to the image of His Son, and that, one may say, implies it fully; but in the chain of blessing which we are looking at now, sanctification seems, surely purposely, to be omitted; for it is just here that, alas, we perplex ourselves with all sorts of questions. We make of a condition, a doubt; and the legality natural to us will seek to intrude at any possible point; but between justification and glory here, there is absolutely no room left for it to come in.

Notice that we begin with fore-knowledge. None surely can deny this to Him. He could not create, plainly, not knowing the future of what He was creating. If He foreknew, then He could not possibly be without a will with regard to the future of that which He had created. Fore-ordination follows, therefore, foreknowledge. He will have things to be according to His own mind. From this, our calling follows, which is here, of course, not the general call of the gospel, not a call that can be refused at all, but on the other hand, the creative call, as God says by the prophet: "I call them, they stand up together"; and, as we see here, those who are called are justified. No one drops out. Justification follows the call. Identified as it is, and as we have seen, with the life which follows this, if one is called in this way to spiritual life, justification can never be apart front this. We are justified from the first moment, with the first breath that we draw of true life from God. Then notice that "glorified" seems to be put in the past, just as much as "justified." It is the style of the prophets, — everything contemplated from God's side, and, therefore, although in fact to be accomplished, yet seen as if it were already so. If God calls that which is not as if it were, its existence is by that absolutely pledged. This then is the purpose, and already He has said that, "All things work together for good," let us remember, according to that purpose. If we have anything else before our eyes, it is no wonder that we question very much how things are working for good to us. If we fail to keep in mind that which is present to God, we fail to understand what He is doing; for the fulfilment of His purpose, not one thing necessary can possibly be absent.

2. Naturally, if this be so, the challenge with which the apostle closes is yet, after all, simple: "What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who shall be against us?" What He has already done is the assurance that He will leave nothing undone. He has not spared His Son but delivered Him up for us all. God's holiness has been fully satisfied and God's love has not shrunk from that which is needed to give it satisfaction. If He has not spared His Son, "how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?" A limitless blessing there, but what else could rightly measure the love which has given His Son? Then, what can be against this? "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" As we see in the prophet, if Satan stands at the right hand of Joshua, clothed in filthy garments, his sins upon him, to resist him, the word which settles all is, God has chosen to pluck a brand out of the burning. Certainly it is a brand. Certainly it was just the thing for burning. If God chooses to pluck it out, who shall say Him nay? How completely our sinful condition is passed over in this, or rather, it is made the means only the more of glorifying the grace which comes in for us! If, then, God has His chosen ones, who shall lay anything to their charge? It is God Himself who justifies. Who, then, shall condemn? That is the proper connection of these expressions. God is the only One who has title, in fact, to justify. He will do it, of course, according to absolute righteousness, nay, as this epistle has shown us, His very righteousness is displayed in doing it, and in heaven those that are in Christ will thus be made "the righteousness of God in Him." But just on this very account, the thing is sure. "Who shall condemn when God is He who justifies?" Then "it is Christ who died, yea, rather, who was raised up and who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession (in the place of power) for us." Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? The question speaks for itself. Put as a question, it is put in the strongest form. It is a challenge, as already said, that whoever or whatever can do this be produced. Yet there are many things that seem against us. So then, "tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?" can these? Nay, that was written and true of God's saints of old; of them it was written: "For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long, we have been counted as sheep for slaughter." Can we separate these suffering ones from Him for whose sake they suffer? Nay, in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us. "Conquer" by itself is too little to express it. We more than conquer; conquer in result, conquer in the endurance of the very sufferings which cannot prevail unless to bless and brighten us. Christ, though He may seem absent, is superintending it all in a love which mixes the whole cup for us, and every ingredient is blessing.

"For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature:" — all these things are creatures. A promiscuous looking assemblage it may be, but he wants to sum up everything that could possibly be thought of. Nothing, then, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which in Christ Jesus our Lord has found a perfect title for its expression, and which in Him, as we look at Him, has found already perfect expression. Christ Jesus, our Lord, the Man Christ Jesus, already shows us God with man in the fullest possible and absolutely unchangeable blessing.