Scripture Notes.


Galatians 5:24.

The law and the flesh go together; and the application of the law is the provocation of the flesh. As Paul has elsewhere written, "I had not known sin, but, by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." This accounts for the fact that the revival of the law among the Galatians was attended by a very vigorous manifestation of the works of the flesh. (See vv. 15-26.) As a corrective, the apostle shows first that power has been given in the Spirit to resist and overcome the flesh. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh;" then, that the Spirit and the flesh must of necessity be in everlasting antagonism; they "are contrary the one to the other;" not that "so that ye cannot," but "that ye should not, do the things ye would." The flesh, that is, always opposes the action of the Spirit, and the Spirit always resists the desires of the flesh. Then Paul reminds the Galatians that if they were led of the Spirit, as they doubtless claimed, they were not under the law, as they were insisting through their love for circumcision. Thereon the apostle presents a contrasted description of the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Put these two catalogues, he seems to say, in parallel columns, and then ask yourselves to which, as to your practical walk and conduct, you belong. And then, to leave them without a single excuse, he tells them, "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Does he mean that every Christian has done this? This were to miss the whole point of the observation. What he signifies is rather that to have done this is the distinguishing mark of a Christian, that it belongs, it might almost be said, to the very claim to be Christ's, and, certainly, that it indicates the normal state of the believer. This will be perceived at once when it is noted that it is not God's action here, but what "they that are Christ's" have themselves done. It is thus beyond a question that "crucified" in this scripture has a practical bearing - that it implies the application of the cross to the flesh with all its "passions" and lusts.


Galatians 6:14.

It would almost seem that Paul was about to close his letter at verse 11. He returns, however, to his subject for a moment, and, summing up the evil principles at work, presents them, not now as springing out of law, but in their relation to the world. Those who contended for circumcision desired, he says, "to make a fair shew in the flesh," and their object was, "Lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ." Moreover they desired to have the Galatians circumcised, that they might "glory" (boast) in their flesh. (vv. 12, 13.) They were thus governed by worldly principles, seeking to please and to have a place in the world. In contrast with all this the apostle exclaims, "God forbid that I should glory" (boast), "save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Paul had been delivered from the world, as well as from the law, by the cross of Christ. He saw by faith its judgment therein, and the world was consequently a crucified thing in his estimation; and he, on the other hand, looked upon himself as crucified with Christ, and hence as crucified to the world. It is, in fact, a double application of the truth of the cross, to the world and to himself. The following remarks will be helpful in this connection: "The cross declared two things: it told what man was; it told what God was, and what holiness and love were. But it was the utmost degradation in the eyes of the world, and put down all its pride. It was Another who had accomplished it at the cost of His own life, bearing all possible sufferings; so that the apostle could give free course to all the affections of his heart without boasting himself of anything; on the contrary, forgetting himself. It is not self we glory in when we look at the cross of Christ: one is stript of self. It was He who hung upon that cross who was great in Paul's eyes. The world which had crucified Him was thus seen in its true character; the Christ who had suffered on the cross in His likewise. In that cross would the apostle glory, happy, by this means, to be dead to the world, and to have the world ended, crucified, put to shame as it deserved to be, for his heart. Faith in the crucified Son of God overcomes the world." Upon this the apostle declares a truth of the highest import, and one which, when received, carries us into a region totally outside the law, the flesh, and the world. "In Christ Jesus," he says, "neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (creation).


John 4:10.

The expression, "The gift of God," in this scripture, signifies that God is a giving God, the God of grace, but the God of grace, with special reference to the truth of this gospel, in the bestowment of eternal life. This is made plain by the close of the verse. After our blessed Lord had said to this poor woman, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink," He proceeded to add, "thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water." The last half of the verse is therefore a full explanation of the foregoing words. And it should be observed that the Lord does not say, "Thou wouldest have asked of God," but it is of Himself. Thus He, the wearied Man that sat on the well, is unveiled before our eyes as the God of grace, the Giver of the living water "springing up into everlasting life." It is one of the scriptures out of which shine the full rays of His divine glory before the opened eye.

Then, moreover, for the further understanding of this scripture and the following verses, the difference should be observed between the "living water" and "everlasting life." The former signifies, as may be seen from chap. 7:37-39, the Spirit as the power of life; the latter points, in its full and heavenly sense, to the enjoyment of fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ - as following upon the revelation of the Father in and through the Son, and our being brought into the Son's own place and relationship in association with Himself. The former is thus the capacity for the enjoyment of heavenly things.