Christ Formed In You.

Readings at Croydon. No. 2.

Galatians 2:20; Galatians 4:28-31; Galatians 5:1.

We have to bear in mind that both the Corinthians and Galatians had departed from the simple teaching of Romans, yet they are not turned back to it, but they are corrected by a fuller apprehension of the truth from which they had departed. They had both received the Holy Ghost, and the marvel is, that they should have wandered from the simplicity of the truth. The Corinthians made their own minds the arbiter of their acts. The Spirit of God is grieved if you supersede Him. They had fallen into disorder in every circle - Church, family, everywhere.

Now the Galatians were trying to improve themselves by keeping the law. It is very important for us to see how they are corrected. In both cases it is by giving Christ His true place. The Corinthians are reminded that they were brought to God, and hence beholding the Lord's glory there was no place for the natural man, but they would be transformed into the same image. Our subject now is, how a Christian is delivered from trying to improve the flesh.

Would you kindly tell us the teaching of Romans from which they had departed?

The two great things in Romans are acceptance and liberty. Romans 5 is, God cannot be on better terms with me. I do not doubt that people try to get chap. 8 before the 5 The prodigal did not get the 8 before the 5.

It is as much a departure from Christianity to fall into the evils that we find in Corinth as it is to improve the flesh as in Galatians?

Quite so. There are two great subjects, acceptance and liberty. Our acceptance with God was accomplished on the cross. If you believe on Him that raised up Christ from the dead, you are justified. It is summed up in Romans 5:11 - "We … joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation." Our translators could not get beyond atonement, because they did not understand reconciliation. These eleven verses set forth the terms on which God is with you, and how God feels toward you. Then comes another thing, and that is where the trial is, and where it was with the prodigal - I am not fit for God. How is that to be met? God has removed everything from His own eye in the cross, and as you have simple faith you see it is all gone. Now He gives you the Holy Ghost. Hence Romans 8 begins with "In Christ," "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." You cannot believe the number of Christians who are damaged, because they seek their freedom from sin by faith, instead of by the Spirit of God. It is faith in Romans 5, but it is the Spirit of God in Rom. 8. Why? Because it is true to God always that the man under judgment has gone in the cross; but it is only true to me when I am walking in the Spirit.

Then is the flesh set aside in the eighth chapter?

There are four operations there. In the first thirteen verses the Spirit is master of the flesh. The thirteenth verse is, "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." It is not by resolution. Do you understand now? Do you understand the difference between the Spirit of God and resolution? Resolution is the work of your own will. The Spirit of God is God's will. "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." It is not the mortification of the body, but of the deeds of the body. The Spirit in you is master of the flesh.

I cannot use the Spirit except faith is in activity?

You have to accept in faith that you are committed to death. Therefore Romans 6 and 7 is the battle-ground. You are committed to the death of Christ by baptism. You accept this first, and then it is carried out by the Spirit of God.

In Romans 6 faith could say the old man is crucified.

Quite true in the eye of God, but you cannot carry it out but by the Spirit. Galatians 2:20 is the carrying it out.

So "I am crucified with Christ" would not apply to everybody?

It is experimental.

Paul is speaking for himself?

Yes; it is experimental. "Our old man is crucified with Him," that is the thing for your faith to see with God. But when you come to enter into the reality of it you can say, "I am crucified with Christ."

It is always true for faith?

When you lose your temper is it true to you? Is it true then, that you are not in the flesh? It is true to God, but not true to you. If you were walking in the Spirit it would be true to you. Therefore in Romans 5 it is faith, because God never alters. You cannot improve your acceptance with Him. He never deviates from His acceptance. He never reverts to the old man. Now come to your side. If you could be in keeping with Him you would be all right. You have received the Holy Ghost that you may be so. In Romans 8 you are in Christ. There is no condemnation there. You have changed your man. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For 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: that the "righteous requirement" of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." That is liberty. There is first acceptance, then liberty.

What are the four sections?

The first is, the Spirit is master of the flesh; the second, your dignity here as a son; third, you are in a groaning creation, but you will have a glorified body; fourth, you have a Friend - the Spirit of God - and He knows what you want. You know not what to pray for as you ought, but He makes intercession for you, and you get many things you never prayed for at all. Therefore we read, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"

But now the apostle labours that Christ might be formed in them. Many Christians have gone to the law to try and correct themselves, and many of us have. For years after I knew everything was gone from the eye of God, when I looked at myself it was not gone from me, because I was trying to improve it. It is a great thing to see that God has not only cleared everything away from His eye, but He says, "I have given you the Holy Ghost, and in the Holy Ghost you are as free from it as I am, but you must walk in the Spirit."

I suppose that is why it says, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

Exactly. If the flesh be resisted, it is by the Spirit. I think we don't make enough of the Spirit. Many a one speaks of the work of Christ, but little of the work of the Spirit. He is your Friend. Be sure neither the flesh, nor the world is your friend. Who is your friend down here? You have only One. Do you know how to find out the good of a friend? Use him.

Well now, it is interesting to see how the apostle corrects the Galatians. He takes the type of the weaning of Isaac. Isaac and Ishmael were in the house together - one was born after the flesh, the other after the Spirit. The Galatians were like this. There was the legal man, born after the flesh, and Christ was there also, but He was not given His right place. That is the state of many a Christian. It is a wonderful day, the coronation-day, when Christ gets His place.

Do you connect it with verse 19?

Yes, because the apostle is showing the way it comes to you. He wants to get them to this point, and the way to get to it is to give Christ His place. The marvellous grace is that Christ lives in you. It is a Person lives in you. One person has gone, another has come in.

What is the difference between Christ living in us and Christ being formed in us?

He could not live in you if He were not formed in you. You see in the type that when Isaac was weaned there was a great feast; he was to have a recognised position. Ishmael and Isaac had been going on together as is the case with many believers. Ishmael born after the flesh, Abraham's son, brought up in his house, was there. While all the 318 servants were acknowledging Isaac as the heir, this Ishmael, a youth of fourteen, mocked. That is, the cultivated man does not like Christ. It is a terrible fact - the legal man does not like Christ. Isaac was acknowledged. I believe it is a wonderful moment when Christ gets His place. The great good of it is this. Once you have acknowledged Him, you will not have a good conscience if you do not continue doing so. There is a moment when you have done it, but if tomorrow you are drawn away by Ishmael, until Christ be restored to His right place in your heart you will not be happy, you will be like a bird with a wounded wing.

Is not that the secret of holiness?

Unquestionably. That is the coronation day. Christ has not got His right place in the world, but, thank God, He has it in your hearts. "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." There is not a word here about your sins - the old man has gone. Christ only is left. It is very simple. You acknowledge Him. If you are not true to Christ you cannot be true to anybody. I have seen it in Christians, when they were not faithful to God they were not faithful to anybody. You see, it depends upon acknowledgment. I acknowledge Him in His right place. The moment you acknowledge Him in

His right place, you cannot tolerate Ishmael. If Christ has His place, Ishmael has no place.

Then the coronation day is to go on continually?

By the Spirit of God. You are always happy when He keeps you up to your highest point. You never see a Christian unhappy, but he has let go the top round of the ladder. Mark the Scripture, "Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." Souls who are declining lose first the top shoot; a gardener knows that if the top shoot is checked the plant is not doing well. The top shoot always suffers first. You never saw a Christian declining who did not give up the best bit of truth he had. It is the very opposite to the man of the world. If there is a fire or any danger, he makes every effort to save the best. The Christian loses his best first.

What is the secret of keeping on the top round? CHRIST. Christ has got His right place, and the intruder is turned out. Oh, you say, the intruder can come in, for he knows the house well! If I put him out at the door, he will come in at the window. The word to you is, "Stand fast … in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free."

Read chapter 5:17: "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Is that translated rightly? It should be "that ye may not." This has been a great light to me. Our translators preferred their conscience to their learning. I wish they had kept to the meaning of the original. It is the very reverse. The Spirit lusteth against the flesh. I have got a Friend in me now. I used to say that I believed the flesh was stronger than grace. I dare not say so now, because I have this verse to prove that if the Spirit of God is there, He is stronger than the flesh.

It is very important, that remark about losing the best bit of truth. Is the reason this - that the best truth needs full spiritual power to retain it?

Quite so. You know it in natural things. If the extremities are cold, there is a lack of vitality.

Is that why we have the warning, "hold fast"?

Exactly, and therefore you will often find a believer with less light more vigorous than one with more light, because he is walking up to his light. The Spirit of God has no check; He is not grieved with the latter, for he is walking up to the measure of what he has got. The Spirit's object is always Christ.

Are all prepared to make the start? Sometimes it is grievous to us to cast out Ishmael.

I want righteousness first. I am not uneasy about Ishmael if I give Christ His right place. I shall not make Ishmael first if I am making Isaac first, for then Ishmael must go, I cannot tolerate him.

Is it not a common snare to attempt to make Ishmael subject to Isaac?

Yes, and they think that Isaac will improve Ishmael. No! Ishmael must be cast out; you are doing an act of simple righteousness when you acknowledge Christ's right to all. He has the right to you, and hence Paul says, "Christ liveth in me." People speak of eternal life as if they had received it independently for themselves, whereas it is the Person who is the life who lives in you,

What prevents me from turning Ishmael out?

Because you do not really desire to give Isaac his place. Ishmael was in the house fourteen years, Isaac only one year; but he was not weaned, he was not yet acknowledged. You never can displace Ishmael until you see that Christ has the right to you. He died for you. You cannot keep Ishmael out but by the Spirit of God. If we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

Do you call that conflict?

Yes, there is conflict to continue here practically. This experience surpasses that of Romans 7. There you learned your inability to keep the law. Here you find that the most cultivated sentiment man has does not like Christ. The greatest effort all around us is to make Adam love Christ. It is impossible.

You said that there was no use in armour if you are not in battle. There are many Christians, who are not engaged in battle, who would be in Galatians 5.

This is different to Ephesians 6. There it is heavenly conflict with Satan, while here it is with the flesh. I don't say Satan is not at the bottom of it; but you are not on heavenly ground here, and therefore not opposed by the seven nations. There are Amalek and Balaam and the seven nations.

Many Christians know nothing of the conflict of Ephesians 6. Could we say they do not know this?

I do not believe any Christian is exempted from this who has given Christ His place. I believe this conflict goes on, but it is a victorious conflict, because you must succeed if you walk in the Spirit. You cannot succeed in Romans 7. You find out your own incompetence there. "In me (that is, in my flesh), dwells no good thing." Would this be a good answer to give to anyone who says, "I am so often defeated." You have not given Christ His right place? I believe it would. It is a never-to-be-forgotten moment. I think the great question to be asked is, "What is walking in the Spirit?" I give the answer a sailor gave when asked, "How do you get on in rough weather?" He said, "I don't mind so long as I can see the sun." Where is your eye? Is it on Christ? Keep your eye on Him, and there is no fear for you. Perhaps you intend to visit some one. Keep your eye on Christ, and you will get on very well. The next visit you pay may be quite different. Your eye is not on Christ. You are thinking of being useful.

The Spirit of God occupies you with nothing but Christ.

Exactly. He testifies not of Himself, but of Christ.

Is walking in the Spirit the result of Christ having His right place?

You see that you are in liberty when Christ has His right place, therefore we read, "Stand fast … in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." The Spirit of God will never maintain liberty in you until He has put Christ in His right place.

Is Galatians 2:20 Jordan?

No, I do not think you touch Jordan in it. In Romans you do not go over Jordan.

Is the coronation-day when Christ is formed in you?

Yes; He is formed in you when He gets His place. If you study Gal. 2:20 you will see that nothing is plainer. The old man is gone. On the cross "I am crucified with Christ." You have changed from Adam to Christ. You do not appear in Adam before God. You appear in Christ.

Is it the same as leaving your first love?

It is leaving your first love, if after you have known Him you do not give Him His place. You are like the Bride in Canticles 5, and the way you are restored is by dwelling upon the beauties of His person. (See vv. 10-16.)

Can you not say a word more about restoration? You said, I think, it was by dwelling on the beauties of Christ one gets right?

You recover your lost footing. It will come out. You cannot know when there is a reserve between yourself and another, but in proportion to your intimacy. If you have only a passing acquaintance with a person, you do not feel casual reserve. "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me."

The day comes when Ishmael is cast out. Is it not an important thing to bear in mind that he has to be kept out?

That is where the Spirit of God acts for you. A person might say, "But Ishmael knows the way in." I say, If you are walking in the Spirit, he will not come in. You have One dwelling in you who is greater than the flesh. The body is the Lord's, and He directs its course throughout. If you want a sample of a man who is dead, you get it in Jonah in the whale. He was alive, but he had no will of his own. I am quite alive, but it is His will I am governed by.

Is that living "by the faith of the Son of God"?

It comes down to this, you are living as He lived down here.

Is that the faith that has Christ for its object?

Quite so. He is the object, and the example, and the power to carry you into His path. It will come out when we come to the wilderness. Practically, you have not the man who is crucified living in you, but Christ living in you, and until you learn this step you will not get on to the next, "the life which I now live in the flesh," etc. No person will get on until Christ gets His place. You never make any progress whatever till then. You cannot have part with Him if you have not given Him His place in you. If you do not take this step we are on tonight you will never make the least progress.

Could this be called practical deliverance?

I was trying to get a word to convey it. A Galatian is one who has begun rightly, and has seen by faith the work of Christ for him, but is seeking perfection in the flesh by the law, holiness by faith, etc. Hence it is in advance of the deliverance in Rom. 8:2. It is not merely the law of the Spirit, but you can say, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

Did I understand you to say that we do not walk in the Spirit by trying to, but by being occupied with Christ?

Quite right, but we do not defer enough to the Spirit. A person who has received the Spirit has a new power. I think the more you understand what it is to be helped by the Spirit, the more you feel that you want help.

Could you say that a person who knows this is practically delivered?

I think he could not be delivered otherwise. Still I can understand that a soul may be in Romans 8 and saying I am free, but your self is not personally displaced, and Christ superseding you until you come to Galatians 2:20. It is the most absolute deliverance.

Must it be a continuous thing?

It is; it is not merely that I am free from the flesh, but the Person who has made me free lives in me.

"If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin."

Yes, and that is the same word as in Colossians - "Christ in you, the hope of glory," and yet it is a different side altogether.

Then you would say that Galatians 2:20 is the same thing as Romans 8:2, only more advanced?

Yes. Here Christ liveth in you.

Could one call the one deliverance, the other liberty?

Romans was the groundwork, but the Corinthians and the Galatians had departed from it. And in our day we can see how restoration can be effected. Restoration always sets you morally higher than you were before departure.

If this practical deliverance were going on Ishmael could not get in again.

If you walk in the Spirit you are free from the flesh, though the flesh is always trying to get a place.

Can we say deliverance is practically known in the measure in which Christ is given His right place?

I should say so.

Does not Galatians 2:20 start with death?

Yes. Until the old man is displaced Christ cannot get His place. It is by the Spirit of God that you appropriate the death of Christ. No one could put himself to death. Have you noticed that, in the first edition of the Synopsis, Mr. Darby makes Rom. 6 standing, while in the last he makes it experimental? People try to accept death with respect to the old man by faith. If it were always true of you, you could. It is always true of you in the eye of God - hold that by faith.

There is a positive side in Romans 6 - alive unto God.

Certainly, because it is in the same Person, by whose death you are severed from the old man, that you now live. You are to reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. You are committed to death in Rom. 6. In Rom. 8:13 you carry it out. You must believe it though first?

I quite agree that you believe you are committed to it; but you must have the Spirit to carry it out.

Is "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus" connected with it?

Yes, it is the practical consequence.

Is Christ being formed in you progressive?

If you say growing in you, that is, getting a larger place in you, I admit it; but being formed in you is not. No doubt He does get more place. If we had another reading on this subject we should probably get more. Yet "if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." The very thing I know best is the thing I feel that I do not know well. If you hear one speaking of the love of God you think, - Do I know it? Perhaps it is the very truth you know most of, but it is so great to you, you think you hardly know it. J. B. Stoney.