The Exhortations of Scripture

The exhortations of Scripture are not in any sense legal commands, to be carried out under pains and penalties. But they define in detail that which is the proper outcome of the divine life that we have received as the children of God; and, if we read Christ into them, the blessing and joy in carrying with them out is greatly enhanced. Take, for instance, the Lord's answer to Peter's question, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" — "Jesus says to him, I say not to thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven" (Matt. 18:21-22). If that were taken up as a legal command, how irksome it would be; absolutely impossible to nature we would say. But if we read Christ into it and say, that is the way He has treated and does treat me, what a feast of love it yields to the soul! What tender compassion, what unlimited grace! And thus heart softened and made glad by a sense of His grace to me, with the full glory of this grace as shown in Him before my soul, it becomes a joy and a privilege to forgive others, and to be, as it were, a mirror, kept bright by the hand of divine grace, for the reflecting of Christ here.

There are exhortations of a different character also, such as "Lie not one to another" (Col. 3:9). Strange that such exhortations should be necessary, but there they are, placed as the red light of a danger signal, to flash out their warning when we are tempted to turn from the highway of Christian integrity into the bypaths of deception and shame, in the which our joy and peace will be lost, our faith wrecked, and the Lord dishonoured.

But in these words of warning Christ also shines, for He is the truth; guile was never found in His mouth, He was always what He said, and grace and truth, blessed and divine qualities which subsist in Him, are to be here reproduced by the power of the Holy Ghost, in those who have been delivered from the thraldom of sin by the truth that is in Jesus.