Notes and Jottings
J. N. Darby.
I would just pick up a little point or two.
And first how can we get rid of this power of self? The end of Galatians 2 will introduce what I mean.
I do not take up now the question of righteousness by the law, but the question of the power of sin and self, which is sin really. Life is here made dependent on this great principle that "I am crucified with Christ." People talk of this as if it were a lingering death, but that is false doctrine, though they may mean it well. Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ," and then he looks upon himself as dead.
And mark, too, what is very practical, that death comes before life here. You must die first.
It does not say life was not there. "Nevertheless I live," but it is not his own life, it is with Christ's life.
It is not merely that a man is born again, but there is an additional truth, viz., that he is dead as regards the old thing; "crucified," and "dead "both words are used.
This is not a question as to guilt; it is as to what I am, not what I have done.
We are not only quickened, but we are dead as regards Adam (not physically, of course), and it is that which gives us deliverance from the power of self.
Instead of this, you find men pulling off the fruits, and fancying they are mending the tree; or again, they are using all sorts of things to restrain the tree. Like the man they bound with fetters and chains, but still they could not hold him.
Now, God has dealt with the whole thing. Flesh is not subject to His law; and in grace He does not bring back the law to that which is not subject to it; but He cuts the tree down - the nature - kills it; "I through the law am dead to the law."
The law brought in death. Death of what? Death of this thing that was not subject to the law.
And the law has done its work in that way. In 2 Corinthians 3 it is called "the ministration of death" and "of condemnation." It has brought death on me, as in the flesh, a child of Adam, and it is just that - self - that I want to get rid of.
89 It will do other things, but it pronounces death upon me, upon "the old man." And if the law pronounces death upon me by itself, it further pronounces condemnation upon me.
And thus it is a ministration of death and condemnation.
Now the real place where the work has been done is the cross, and that is the reason that faith accepts death for self. It was there, that what "the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." And death, too, was in the cross.
I find now this horrid flesh in me, and I ask myself what am I to do with it? I can't get the better of it. Do with it? Look what has been done with it. Look at the cross. There God has condemned sin in the flesh, and by it I have got death brought to me. Christ being "made sin" on the cross for me, the condemnation is over and gone, and death is come, and that is just what I want.
God could not but condemn the state I was in, it could not be forgiven, but then it was condemned in death. Ah!! I see I am dead.
That's just what I want. So that I get, not merely life, eternal life, but the Christ I have for life is a risen Christ - a Christ that has died. When once I get this new "I," I say,
I died. This new "I" is now myself.
If I look at the flesh, I know I am utterly condemned. But Christ risen is now my life.
Romans 7 is the going through the processes to reach this point. There he finds out that there is no good in him; then he learns a second thing (one that people are often content with), but it is no deliverance. I hate it, well then, it is not I; and the third thing is, that flesh is too strong for me; the will is present, but how to perform he finds not.
He is brought to the knowledge that the flesh is absolutely bad, and in that state he finds the old man too strong for the new; but when God has taught him that he is not merely ungodly, but also without strength in the flesh, then he finds that Christ is power and deliverance; and so he sums it up in chapter 8: "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
I can then no longer excuse myself in the least degree.
The sin is still there in me; but I must learn what the flesh is in that way, and that I have it judged, and then, through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, I find deliverance.
90 You will find, too, the way faith takes this up in the second part of Romans 6: "Reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin." Do not say, you have to die to it, but reckon that you are dead to sin. If I keep the cross in mind, flesh has not a word to say. I may fail in doing it, but that is what I have to do; while God in His government puts us through circumstances to try us, and deals with us correctively where we need it.
Christ living in me is the deliverance from Romans 7. I want an object, and that is where law totally fails. The law does not give me life, it gives me death. It does not give me strength, and it does not give me an object. It tells me I am to love God. Why so? Not a word of explication about this does it give me.
But when I have Christ, I get life, strength, and an object. That is where deliverance is; that is the great principle upon which, as the word of God shews us, we are entirely delivered from the power of sin.
We died with Christ, and therefore (although in fact we are not dead), we get the judgment, and mind, and truth of the Spirit of God, and we so reckon ourselves dead.
We put off the old man and we put on the new, or else it had been a fight between the two, and a kind of even chance which should get the upper hand. Conflict there will be, but now it is of quite a different kind.
If a man be struggling with me, it is a very different thing for me to have him down with my knee on his chest, from his having me down with his knee on my chest.