Scripture Notes.


Job 2:3.

The last clause of this scripture refers to the fact that Satan is the accuser before God of His people. There is another intimation of this anti-priestly activity of Satan in the Old Testament. When Joshua the high priest was standing before the angel of the Lord, Satan was standing at his right hand to resist him. (Zech. 3:1.) Our Lord also reveals to Peter that Satan desired to have him and his fellow-disciples that he might sift them as wheat (Luke 22:31); and we learn from the book of Revelation that he will carry on his wicked work of accusation until a loud voice in heaven is heard to say, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." (Rev. 12:10.) When therefore Jehovah says to Satan concerning Job, "He holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause," He alludes to Satan's accusations against His servant. To understand this malicious activity of Satan two things must be remembered. Through the efficacy of the work of Christ, through His death and resurrection, the people of God have a perfect standing, and hence, as to this, God can righteously say that He does not behold iniquity in Jacob, nor see perverseness in Israel. But, secondly, it is true that, notwithstanding this perfect standing and acceptance, God's people often fall into sin. It is this fact which constitutes the basis of Satan's accusation. Thus in the scripture which speaks of his resisting Joshua the high priest, the latter, as representing the remnant, is said to be clothed with filthy garments, for in truth this was the practical condition of Israel at that moment. The question raised by Satan then was, How could God righteously favour a people so defiled? The answer was, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" Grace had wrought, had chosen Jerusalem, plucked it, on the ground of the sacrifice, out of the fire of judgment, and it could therefore cause Joshua's iniquity to pass from him, and clothe him with a change of raiment. It should be added that Satan is never allowed to touch a child of God, as in the cases of Job and Peter, unless there is some hidden evil unjudged. Thus in Job there was confidence in his own integrity and righteousness; in Peter there was confidence in his own affection for the Lord. The sifting of Satan did but bring this to light, and thus lead to self-judgment. While therefore his object was to destroy, he, being in the hands of God, did but unwittingly become the instrument of blessing to their souls. If Satan therefore seeks to move God to destroy his people, and if he obtains permission to do his worst upon them, the only effect is, as with Job, to prepare them for fuller blessing. On the other hand, if we assiduously practise self-judgment in the presence of God, Satan will never be allowed to sift us.


Romans 10:4.

Apart from preconceived opinions the force of this scripture is readily perceived. It means exactly what it says, as may be easily gathered from the context, that Christ is the end, or termination, of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth; that is, He has for ever done away with it as a means of righteousness before God. It is quite true that the word "end" has sometimes the significance of "object," or the end in view, as for example in James: "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord" - the end of the Lord in His dealings with His servant, bringing out the fact that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. But the word is used in the former sense in Romans; inasmuch as the contrast drawn in the preceding verses is between God's righteousness, to which the Jew would not submit, and human righteousness, which he was vainly seeking to work out through the law. And then, after the statement that Christ had set aside the law as the means of righteousness, the apostle proceeds to show that righteousness which is on the principle of faith has superseded the principle of law which is expressed in the words, "The man which doeth those things shall live by them." It need scarcely be added, that no one ever succeeded in obtaining righteousness by works (Rom. 3:19-20), for by the law came the knowledge of sin. (Rom. 7:7.) It was the perfect standard of God's requirement from man in the flesh, but the application of it only served to bring out the evil of man's heart. (Rom. 5:20.) It should also be understood, that even if a perfect human righteousness could be obtained it would not now avail. The glory of God is now the absolute standard (Rom. 3:23), and nothing short of God's righteousness is sufficient to meet it. Hence the apostle says in another place that God hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made (become) the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21.) What unspeakable grace therefore that we become the possessors of the righteousness of God, not by works, but by faith! Who would not then desire, with the apostle, to "be found in Him [Christ], not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. 3:9.)


Romans 15:12-13.

It sometimes happens that the connection of a scripture is obscured in a translation. It is so in thiscase. The last clause of verse 12 should be rendered, "In Him shall the Gentiles hope." Then, as based upon this, the apostle prays, "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." But this will be better understood if attention is given to the whole paragraph. In verses 8, 9, Paul points out the difference of the ground on which the Jews and Gentiles originally stood, arising from the fact that God had made promises to the Jew, but not to the Gentile. He therefore says that "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises [made] unto the fathers." The presentation of Christ indeed to the Jews was in pursuance of the promises as to the Messiah given through the prophets. It is therefore, we apprehend, during His earthly sojourn that Christ was a "minister of the circumcision"; for after He was rejected and crucified, the Jew must, if saved, come in like the Gentiles, on the ground of mercy. (See Romans 11:31-32.) While however there were no promises to the Gentiles, there were prophetic intimations that they would be brought in to share in the grace of the gospel; and the apostle cites, in proof of this, scriptures from the law (Deut.), the Psalms, and the prophets (Isaiah). But brought in, they would have to "glorify God for His mercy," as they had been lost sinners, and destitute of all claim. Mercy and truth thus met together (Psalm 85:10) in Christ, in His death on the cross, and the foundation was thereby laid on the ground of which God could righteously save both Jews and Gentiles. His truth had been vindicated in sending His beloved Son into the world, and in presenting Him to the Jews as their Messiah, and His mercy has been exhibited in setting forth Jesus as a propitiation through faith in His blood for the salvation of all, whether Jews or Gentiles, justifying them freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Now, it is in connection with the quotation from Isaiah (v. 12) that the word hope is introduced; and this, as we have seen, gives occasion to the prayer in verse 13. The apostle speaks of the God of hope, a large and significant expression; for it is He alone that can produce hope in the hearts of any, even as He Himself is the alone object of hope in accomplishing all the blessing which He has purposed for the Gentiles. And it is the apostle's desire that the saints should be in a practical condition answering to the object of their hope; and hence he prays that the God of hope would fill them with all joy and peace in believing, that they might abound in hope in the power of the Holy Ghost. The expressions should be noted, "Filled with all joy," etc., and this manifestly the apostle regards as the saints' normal condition. True it is only in the power of an ungrieved Spirit that the effect of this will be seen, abounding in hope; but the maintenance through watchfulness and self-judgment of the Spirit ungrieved within us, is the requisite of all apprehension and growth in the Christian life. It is well to read such scriptures, and to enquire as we read them whether we in any measure possess the blessings of which they speak.

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Unless I find more pleasure in the company of the saints than in any other company in the world, I cannot be in the mind of Christ; for He said of the saints, and the excellent of the earth, In them is all my delight.