Hebrews 9 and 10
The thought that runs through all this part of the scriptures, beloved friends, is this: our entering into the holiest, the true holiest, of course. The Spirit now referring to the tabernacle, was writing to the Hebrews, who were accustomed to it. The Christian is given boldness to enter into God’s own presence, the holiest now, with a purged conscience. Here he unfolds what that is, to which we will turn with God’s help. God has brought me in there by dealing both with sin, and with sins, so dealing with them as to put them away according to the exigency of what His holy nature is. God has stepped in and done that once for all: it consequently is an eternal redemption. There is that which is necessarily connected with this, and that is not only that the sins are purged, or else I could not come into the holiest.
That is brought out in the next chapter in a singularly gracious way, that we may understand the divine source of this salvation and have a divine knowledge of it, divine certainty. If God had spoken, it is not I think, or I hope, but, I have set to my seal that God is true. The work is divine, the knowledge of it is divinely certain, and we are brought into the divine presence; this flows from God taking up the question of sin and sins. The conscience takes it up when the Spirit of God works in the soul, and our reasoning upon the possibility of being with God is always upon this footing, and must be so. This is the effect of reasoning from what we are to God. If I am a sinner, well, I say, how can He receive me? If I were righteous, He might receive me. We always reason from ourselves and our state to God; the Holy Ghost never does. He reasons from our state to condemnation; but in reasoning as to salvation, He always reasons from what God is and has done to this effect upon us, and never from what we are to God. I speak of salvation in speaking of the reasoning.
I am saying this because, beloved friends, you will find it a constant tendency of your hearts to reason from what we are to what God will be for us. It will be fancied “humility,” just like the prodigal son when he had not met his father, he was reasoning from what he was. When he had tasted God’s goodness in a measure, reasoning from what he was, with some little glimpse of what God was in goodness, to what he would be when God met him in judgment. When the conscience is awake, I say, how can God meet me with all those sins? Quite true, that is judgment. Judgment is according to works; but as to that, the sinner is brought to own that he is lost. God is of purer eyes than to behold sin, and man finds that he is a sinner. What the gospel comes and reveals to us is God’s intervention for those that are such, so that we reason from what God has done to what He will do. For instance “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” The Spirit of God reasons from what God has done to how He will act. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” He reasons down from what God is and has done to what we are to God. Now, the Spirit of God leads so; but we continue that same thing until we have learnt that the simple result of what we are with God must be condemnation. Then we give it up, it is no good going on then: the case is settled. The gospel, when we are sinners, lost sinners, comes to reveal to us what God has done. The language and experience here take that very point, that it would have been judgment, if God had not interfered in grace.
You see, beloved friends, that as a sinner, I am really brought to the sense that I am lost, and I am cast upon what God has done for me. The real question is as to the efficacy of that work. That is what He has been unfolding, and insists upon. It is that I will look upon a little, for it changes my whole condition with God. I have God as a Saviour, not as a judge; as to my state of relationship with Him, He is always that for me. And He is that, because I was lost. The work of Christ has purged my conscience and put away my sins. I affirm that the rather, beloved friends, because there is the constant tendency to mix up the two, because we are apt to mix up the state of our souls with the sense of the completeness of the work God has wrought for us in Christ. I would not hinder exercise of conscience, but there are conclusions drawn from the state we are in, to question the completeness and the efficacy of that work. That is the mischief. We cannot press the devotedness and full following of the Christian too much; but if I mix up what I have felt with what God tells me of the efficacy of the work of Christ, I am mixing water with good wine, and both are spoilt. We never get right till we have got the thorough effect in our souls of our sins, and our sinfulness too. “I find that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.”
Well, when I learn that they that are in the flesh cannot please God, that the flesh has lusts and the law condemns them—the flesh has a will, and the law forbids its desires; I find that I am lost. Man finds that there always is a will of his own and lusts. The Christian condemns them, and judges them; still that which is born of the flesh is flesh. I may reckon it dead, and hold it dead, but that is what it is. If I am looking at myself as a child of Adam standing before God, I have lusts and a will that is evil. Well, is He going to justify evil? No. What God does, beloved friends, is to bring in Christ. If the man is a sinner, He judges his sins; but the work is often deeper when the man is a fair honest character, as Paul was. Why, the man could not eat for three days! As to conscience, he thought he ought to destroy Jesus of Nazareth, religiously misguided as he was—all his religious leaders sent him forth to do it, and he had been trying to make out a righteousness by it; and supposing that he could— those things that were his righteousness just brought him into open enmity against God. He was consciously trying to destroy Christ! God has taken care that, when man fell and was turned out of Eden, he should carry out a conscience with him. A thief, or a murderer, or a fornicator, whatever it might be, he knows it is wrong, not only that God does not allow it. I find the struggling of these lusts; the moment I find this in the spirituality of the law, I see I have a bad nature; the tree is bad. Well, then, the man is brought to complete condemnation, not a pleasant thing at all. He comes to see that he cannot please God. Why the heart of man rebels against it in an awful way—thinks it a cruel thing to say that he cannot please God. Therefore God does bring me (a person like Paul perhaps, in three days; where sin has been in a grosser shape, the conviction may not be so deep) to the consciousness not merely of what I have done, but of what I am. I find not merely that the fruit is bad, but that the tree is bad. Why have we committed sin? Because we liked it. A man is morally what he likes; a man who loves money is a covetous man; if he likes amusements, he is a man of pleasure. We like sin; that is what we are. Christ changes this.
I say so, because we must be brought clearly out of this mixing up of what we are with what God has been for us in grace, this looking at God as one that judges instead of one that saves; and saying: “Well, if I am all this, how am I to get salvation? “There must be this change effected. Put a man of the world in heaven, and he would get out of it if he could; there would be nothing he would like there; there would be none of the pleasures he cares for; there would be no money there, and the things that are there he would not like. Well, that is an awful thing to find out. It is not merely a question as to the imputing of my sins. Everybody in his senses would say: “Of course, I should like to go to heaven.” Well, if it is a thing you really wish, of course you would like to have it as soon as you can. When would you like to have it? To-day? To-morrow? When you cannot help it! I say this, beloved friends, to discover not what sins are, but what the flesh is. There is no good thing in it at all.
I repeat it, beloved friends, there is often a deeper work goes on which judges the movements and principles of the heart, in one who is naturally an upright man, than there is where there is merely judgment passed on outward sins. I should be in despair about myself if I learnt my condition before God, and did not see the work of Christ for me; yet not quite in despair. Wherever God works in the conscience, there is always more or less of the sense of love in it. There is a conflict goes on, but always a sense of the love of God maintained. The man is in conflict between the sense of God’s goodness in the heart, and the consciousness of the holiness of God’s nature. It is a blessed truth that, wherever there is a work of God in the soul, there is always a clinging to the sense of His goodness, let the work of conscience be ever so deep. In the beautiful narrative in Matthew of the Syrophenician woman, she says: “I know I am a dog, but I know there is goodness enough in God to give even to a dog.” He cannot say there is not. There is one overleaping the barriers of dispensation in the sense of the goodness of God.
Well, having just said that, see what the work of Christ effects, beloved friends. God turns to that which meets this lost condition. It is the grace of God that brings salvation. Now there are two parts in that; there is a quickening power in the Spirit of God, that I have already supposed. The Spirit of God works, the soul gets to see something of the love of God, but quickening does not clear the conscience. Quickening does not make me say, “I can go into the holiest,” but “I cannot.” Now, beloved friends, you may have a great deal of gracious dealing, a great deal of the revelation of God’s ways; but until the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ there was the veil, behind which God was, and nobody could pass it. The testimony was there, “I cannot let you into the holiest; you are not fit for the holiest.” “The way into the holiest was not yet made manifest.”8 The Holy Ghost meant by saying so that the work was not yet done. When Christ died, the veil was rent from the top to the bottom, God saying, “Now you can draw near.” When the veil was there, even with the typical sacrifice, you could not go in, not even the priests.
Now in the consciousness of what God is, “we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” I have now the very opposite thing as to the new nature and its desires, as to my condition and relationship with God: that as it was then signified I could not go in, now it is signified I can. Now he shews how this has been brought about, beloved friends. There is more than one thing needful for this access to God. I must get my sins purged. Sin cannot come into the holiest. And further, I must have my conscience purged, or else I shall not venture in. If a man has debts, he does not like to meet his creditors; but if his debts are paid, and he does not know it, he does not hke to meet them either. We must know that the conscience is cleared if we could go right up to God. If God is dealing with us (perhaps I should rather say, for us) He brings us into His own presence with our conscience cleared.
Now note what a remarkable expression we have here in contrast with those Jewish things. “For Christ being come, an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and oi goats—and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean— sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?… For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others, for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” We are not come to the end of the world yet— the full force is “the consummation of the ages.” That is, the consummation of the whole thing that man had been tried and exercised by, to bring out what I have been speaking of, “that the natural mind is enmity against God.”
It was not only that man had sinned, that he had broken the law, and been proved guilty before God; but when the Saviour came in grace, man refused Him. God came into the world— “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” That is the sense, that full trial had gone on without law, under law, and in the trial of His love they had rejected Him in love. That is what the cross was. “They hated me without a cause.” Christianity starts from this: that God had been in the world in love, and that man had turned Him out. It is not merely that God has turned man out. This was the case in Eden. But when He came into this world of sin, man said, ‘We will not have Him, even if it is in love!’ The Lord Jesus Christ said, “If I had not done among them the works which none other did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” If I am a Christian, it is that Christ has been rejected. What was Christ? “Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” It is blessed to see it. Perfectly holy in all His ways, He could not be defiled, and therefore He was able to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows. Nature cannot stand here; let it be honest enough. It must be all grace, nothing else will do. This light detects a Pharisee. The scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman taken in adultery—in the very act. If He says, “Stone her,” He is no Saviour. If He said, “You must not,” He has broken the law. “You must either give up grace, or you must give up the law,” they urge.
‘Stop,’ says the Saviour, ‘I am going to apply the law to all of you.’ “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it being convicted by conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest unto the last, and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” The eldest had most character to lose, and he went out first. It does not make a bit of difference, whether a man has ten sins or five hundred. A wretched sinner she was—nobody excuses her. God says: It will not do to bring up this one, and leave you hardened ones behind. God takes them all into the light. Who will stand that? No one in Leamington, or anywhere else! Now come, He says, I can shew grace, I am not come to judge, I am come to save. The sin was completely proven, and in that moral sense it was the end of the world. Leave man to himself? Why, God had to bring the flood in, he was so bad. As to Israel, attaching the name of Jehovah to their sins, they only made the name of Jehovah blasphemed amongst the heathen. Love they rejected, and this is the end of man’s history, and the beginning of God’s declaring for Himself—Now we have the end of what you are, what I am must come out. You have brought out enmity against God, and I am going to shew you that I love you. The individual sinner is brought to conscience about himself. We have to begin the history of God’s way as a Saviour; when my own conscience comes to own this, not only that I have broken the law, but that I am a lost sinner: Well, God says, Now you know yourself. I come that you may know Me, and I say you are a lost sinner, and Christ has come into the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The cross was the turning-point to God. He bore on it our sins, and the hatred that crucified Him was all we had to do with it. The thing that saves me is His own. What part have we in it? None else besides our sins, and the hatred that crucified Him. God’s part was giving His only-begotten Son. I have God’s blessed part in it to save me; whereas the work of the Spirit of God in quickening his conscience makes the sinner see and hate the sin. We have now to see what God can do for man; not from reasoning as to what he is for God, but by believing what God is to him.
When the prodigal son had the best robe on, he could not say: “Make me as one of thy hired servants.” His father was treating him as a child. He was come into the new condition. It was not merely the desires he had, it was not merely the repentance, but it was what the father had done for him, so as to bring him into his own presence. There was I, a sinner, loving any trifle rather than Him. He who has so loved me as to give His own Son for me! “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” There I get in my heart and mind not simply a general vague sense that God is love, but I learn that in that love He has done a work for me.
We have this blessed comfort: you will see it as it is said here, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” He has so loved me as to give His own Son for me! Well, I believe, Christ died for my sins. Had He to die often? “Oh, no!” says the apostle, “that could not be.” It was not like one of these Jewish sacrifices, in which there was a remembrance again made of sins every year. Mark how strongly it is put: “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world.” He had really to drink the cup. He sweat great drops of blood when thinking of it in the garden of Gethsemane. He suffered. Well, if it is not done perfectly, done once for all, Christ must have suffered often. This cannot be. He cannot come down again, become a man, and die over again. If He has borne my sins in His own body on the tree, He has done once and for ever the thing that puts them all away. If that putting away all my sins is not done, it never can be. Individual after individual is brought to acknowledge it, but if the work is not finished and done, it can never be done.
Therefore Christ says, in John 17: “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” He said, “It is finished; and bowed the head, and gave up the ghost.” Those priests were “standing often, offering up the same sacrifices which could never take away sin.” Sin came up, they had to do it again: it was a perpetual remembrance of sins made again every year. A year goes round, the sacrifice must be repeated. Sins were there. It was a continual memorial. “But this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God. From henceforth expecting, till his enemies be made his footstool.” He for ever “sat down.” It was after standing. The work was completely and fully done, once and for ever, and He sits down, the work accomplished once for all, completely, according to the glory of God.
Woe to him who neglects this great salvation! It is a finished work. You cannot have a stronger expression of it than this, that the worshippers “once purged, should have no more conscience of sins.” The Lord Jesus Christ has offered himself by the eternal Spirit, without spot to God.” He drank that bitter cup for me, and the next point He brings out is this, that having done that: “He appears now in the presence of God for me.” Who, “being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his Person, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high”; and when I go to God I find Him sitting there, the perpetual witness that He has cleared my sins away, and that He is in the presence of God for me. I find Him who has done it, sitting there. “Else he must have suffered often, since the foundation of the world.” The sins could not be put away if He had not finished the work. He has. If not, it never could be done. It is settled peace when my soul receives the testimony of the Holy Ghost to this. “For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” “He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.” “He is the mediator of the new covenant, that, by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
Then you see, beloved friends, supposing through grace I say, “Well, I am a poor sinner, I hate those sins, the root and principle in me; how can I be in the presence of God?” I find Christ there, who has put away those sins; I find this blessed truth of a risen Saviour in the glory. I follow Him up to the cross, I see Him there under my sins, I see Him now at God’s right hand in the glory! O! I say, He has not got my sins there! If I see Him in the glory, I say, “Well, my sins are gone.” That is the practical word. “When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.” I see Him in the glory who bore my sins, and I know they are all gone. Well, my conscience is purged, when, in the simplicity of faith I see that God Himself has put away my sins, that the Lord Jesus Christ has drunk the cup for me, that He Himself bore my sins in His own body on the tree. I know they are gone. The worshippers once purged have no more conscience of sins. When I look up to God and see Christ in glory, is there a question of imputation of my sins to trouble me?
Mark, beloved friends, I do not speak of “past, present, and future” sins, I cannot say “future.” I never ought to think of committing a sin again. I do not put my state at this moment before God into question. I see souls saying, “Oh, I know my sins up to conversion are gone!” Did Christ bear your sins up to conversion? What is the meaning of that? It is confounding the sense of it brought home to my soul, with the efficacy of the work by which He appears in the presence of God for me.
How comes it all about? It is by God’s blessed will, He willed my salvation. He has given me the Saviour. There are three things connected with the work of which I speak. There must be some one having the kindness to do it. It must be done. And I must know that it is done. Of these three things in Hebrews, the first is that it is by the will of God: we see the blessed Son “was made lower than the angels for the suffering of death, that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.” “Then, said I, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God.” “By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” He was crucified. It is done. It is not only that there was the goodwill of love, to be willing to do it, but it is done. I get the divine good will of God in it. It is a divine work, done and finished, so that Christ, who bore our sins, “has sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.” Now, I want to know it. The Holy Ghost tells me of the eternal efficacy of the work. I have got the blessed will of God that gave Christ. I have now the work finished, and I have also the divine testimony to it by the Holy Ghost. I have got the three things, the love that was willing to have it done, I have got the work finished in that which was done once for all upon the cross, and I have got the testimony of God Himself that He no more will bear my sins in mind. My sins are purged by the work of Christ, and my conscience is purged by the testimony of the Holy Ghost.
Mark the effect that flowed from it. The veil was rent from the top to the bottom. The work has put away my sins that shut me out, and it has opened the door to let me in. I go right into the presence of God Himself in the holiest, and I go in white as snow. The very thing that let me into the presence of that holiest of all was the very thing that put all my sins away.
Now, beloved friends, a step more for those who have got that conscious access to God. The apostle goes a little farther. We find our nature an evil tree; we have got the sins put away. “Christ appeared once in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” That is, that the work of the blessed Lord, besides the bearing of the sins, is so perfect, perfect in everything, that He was made sin for us; and that there sin was dealt with absolutely. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” It is not only that my sins have been borne, but that God Himself has been perfectly glorified in Christ who died. “Now,” he says, “the Son of man is glorified, and God is glorified in him.” That is, He stands there as made sin, not only as bearing my sins, but as the Holy One; the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Not only as the obedient One; God has been perfectly glorified in Him. I have no doubt the full result does not come out till that day when there will be the new heaven and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. “The Lamb of God taketh away the sin of the world”—that being so, the whole question has been settled with God, so that finally we shall have the new heaven and the new earth.
In everything God has to do now, He has to do with sin; supposing He judges, it is against sin; supposing He shews mercy, it is because sin has come in. He has to deal with it in everything, either in mercy or in judgment. The time will come when there will be no sin, and that founded on the cross of Christ; founded upon the efficacy of His finished work, wherein He perfectly glorified God. The effect is that there will be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. The work has put away sin, I know now, and I get by faith this blessed result. I know it in myself; I have Christ as my life. The practical result is to reckon myself dead. He has borne my sins upon the cross. He has died and glorified God perfectly. He has risen up in a totally new state. The old Adam state is done with. For everyone that believes on Him He is the beginning, the Head of that new creation of God; and I find, myself, that my part is with Him, and not with the old sinful world. As to my body, I am in the old creation still. I stand before God in the effect of His work.
Christ stood before God taking the effect of my work; I am before God taking the effect of His work. That is where the believer has overcome death. Death is all gain to me— I shall only go to the Lord—there is complete and absolute deliverance; I have been taken out before God, and as to my standing before God out of the position I was in, and put into another, not only under shelter, and not only like Israel at the Red Sea, but taken out to go into a new position before God. This is expressed in Romans: “For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” By the presence and power of the Spirit of God, He can dwell in me because I am cleansed by the blood. I am united with Christ; He can dwell in me because I am united with Christ; and if dwelling in me, I am united to Christ. “In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” There I get practice too. I cannot be in Christ, without Christ being in me. Well, let me see Him in you; God and the saints and the world too, have the right to expect to see Him in me. If I am accepted in the Beloved, Christ is in me, and as the apostle says, it is “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our body.” Therefore he says to the Christians: “Ye are the epistle of Christ”; Christ is to be read in you; He is graven upon your hearts by the Spirit of the living God. As to my standing as a Christian, Christ is before God for me, and my place is settled; I am to bear Christ about in the world, and there is my responsibility.
You will see, beloved friends, how the apostle puts it plainly here. “He appeared once in the end of the world, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” When my heart is before God, I can say: Well, not only Christ has put away sins; I stand before God in the result of what He has done! I do not call myself a child of Adam; I am a child of God. He has put away sin, and our place is in Christ. Mark then the contrasted fact that follows therewith. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” There is the entire effect of sin, I mean according to God’s order. If God enters into judgment with sinners, all are condemned. “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.”
Well, as Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, so to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time. What to? To salvation. Now I get the place of the Christian, and I feel happy. I begin at Christ’s first coming, and I say, Oh, He has put my sins away, He has made an end of sin once for all, and I am before God in Him, and I have got the Holy Ghost as the blessed consciousness of it. “At that day, ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me and I in you.” Death is gain to me, if I get that; and as to judgment, the Person who is my judge is the Person who has put away all my sins for ever. He cannot charge the sins upon me that He has put away Himself. God has taken care for your peace in that way, that the Person who is to be the judge, was first the Saviour. No fear at all: God has dealt with our sins. He sends out the tidings of it. All the world has the testimony by the Spirit to it now, testimony received by faith. God has dealt with them already, put away instead of leaving them to the time when He comes to deal with them in’ judgment. Has He not come the first time? To be sure. Is He not coming again? “To them that look for him, shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation.” “Without sin,” having nothing more to say to it. When He comes the second time, He comes having nothing to say about sin. Why? He came to put it away the first time by the sacrifice of Himself. “Unto salvation.” That is to bring them into the glory, “that where I am, there they may be also.”
Such is the place and the blessedness we have. Do I fear the Lord’s coming? The very opposite. Do you think He was coming to receive men there, in their sinful state? He came to put it away. He makes us feel the sins, makes us hate sin, but God has dealt with our sins in Christ, and to bring them up again, would be to deny the efficacy of Christ’s work. If a man neglects this great salvation, he is doubly guilty. “How shall we escape if we neglect this great salvation? “Well, what is this great salvation? He has borne away my sins by the sacrifice of Himself. I believe He has done it. He had to do with sin before. He has nothing to do with sin the second time. His whole business was with sin in a certain sense before. It was just the thing He had to do with, but really to put it away by the sacrifice of Himself; because He put it away the first time, He has nothing to do with it when He appears the second time. The more you look into Scripture, the more you will see how clear it is. How does the resurrection of the saints take place? We shall be raised in glory. We go in glory before the judgment-seat. How can you have a man in glory, and raise a question about judgment there? God will have you to be conformed to the image of His Son. There has Paul been these eighteen hundred years with Christ. Are you going to take him out for judgment? There is the perfect work accomplished, and hereby also Christ in you the hope of glory.
Your responsibility is not mixed up with your acceptance, but with your glorifying God. Quickened and born of God, you are responsible to act accordingly. If you were my children, I should expect you to behave as my children: you must first be children. All our responsibilities, whatever they be, flow from the places we are in. Duty flows from the place we are in. When you are a child of God, your duty to act as one begins. It will not stop of course in heaven. It is the consequence of the place I am brought into. And now I have it in a poor earthen vessel, but being sealed by the Holy Ghost, I can therefore look with delight and joy for Christ’s coming. His time is best. “God is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The saint can rejoice in the trial of his faith, but in it all the Christian is looking for the coming of Christ. See how a mother watches for her child because she loves him.
The Christian believes that the blessed Son of God became a man on purpose to be able to die and suffer for him. He has been judged for him, has put away his sins, and I say, O that I could see Him as He is! and more, when I do see Him, I shall be like Him. God’s purpose is not merely to save you by Christ, but to bless you with Christ! We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” How can we think of such a thing? And if I know it is grace (as is expressed in Ephesians, that in “the ages to come, he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus”), I see that He must do something wonderful. If I am reasoning from what I am, it would be impossible. But if I am reasoning from God’s work, if He has given His own blessed Son to be a curse for me, I can expect anything. And I expect to be like Christ. Why? He has told me so. “When he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
And see how God has taken care to shew me what sin is. But see how He has taken care, if through grace your hearts hate sin, to shew you how He has made an end of it, and “brought in eternal righteousness.” You are guilty? Very well, you are justified by blood. Defiled? Cleansed from all sin by the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son. You have offended God? You are perfectly forgiven. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.” Well now, says God, you must try My love. You cannot have thoroughly happy and blessed affections with God till your conscience is purged. Let your father be the kindest in the place, and the child know it, if he has been nalighty he will skulk away. He gets a good conscience, and will run into his arms. When the conscience is purged, who did it? Why, God did it. He has made me His child, given me the very same name. Christ has called me His son, and therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.
Oh, beloved friends, have you got the consciousness that God has interfered on your behalf; that God has not spared His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all; that Christ has come to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself? Have you the consciousness of that? Hating the sin of course. But have you known and believed the love God has toward you, and the efficacy of the work that love has done? I understand your not having hold of it. For many a year I had not hold of it myself; but if Christ has not put away your sins He never can! If He has suffered once for all, He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; and He is seated at the right hand of God until He comes to bring us unto glory.
Beloved friends, if Christ were to come to-night, and I do not know when He may, at even, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning—He is like a man that has his hand on the door to open it at any moment. If He were to come to-night, where are you? Would you say, Oh, that is the Lord that gave Himself for me, come to take me to Himself? Or is there some fear in your heart about Him? Well, if there is, you have not got hold of the perfectness of His work in putting away sins. Would you like to be with Jesus? Can your heart say, Well, I am a poor helpless thing, but if He hung on the cross for me, I am certain of His love. I cannot doubt the perfectness of His love. Through grace, I say, your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Do not you do anything to grieve Him. Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord. Do it in the Spirit. It does not matter what it is: a child wanting to please his father would want to please his father in the trifles. A holy life comes with practice. It is perfect peace, perfect joy; joy because I am waiting for Jesus to receive me to Himself; and a perfect measure of practice, because I see that I am to be conformed to Him now, if I am to be like Him when I see Him as He is. The Lord give you to be able to say, “Come, Lord Jesus.” To you who believe, He is precious.
8 This is a solemn truth. It is not that there were not good people hoping for Messiah; they feared God and walked in the commandments and ordinances of Jehovah. But law was there requiring what he ought to be. There was the veil saying, You cannot come into My presence.