Question: During the last while several questions have come in regarding sanctification: the need of this experience, the procession of it, what it is and what it does, how it is done, what the conditions are for it, and when and how it is obtained, etc.
Answer: Mankind in his unregenerate state is two degrees, or steps, below the state of moral purity and holiness in which he was created.
Originally, at his creation, man was in the image and after the likeness of God Himself. (Genesis 1:26-27.) In this state he was possessed of righteousness and true holiness. In Colossians 3:10 we read, And have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. In Ephesians 4:24 it says, And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. These two texts make it clear that the image of God is righteousness and true holiness. This is what man possessed in his original state.
Transgression of the commandment of God by the original pair changed all of this. Sin entered into this world by the willful choice of our fore parents and by this means they apostatized from God. (Genesis 3.)
Sin brought about a change in man s moral nature. Then, instead of the righteousness and true holiness that he had originally possessed, he became depraved and corrupt in his moral nature. In Ephesians 4:22 it says, That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. Ephesians 4:25-31 describes the corrupt deeds of the old man: lying, stealing, corrupt communication, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, malice.
The fact that the moral likeness and image of God was effaced from the human race by this means is evidenced by the fact that when we obtain the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ we are said to be renewed in that image. (Colossians 3:10.) In other words, it is a restoration to the image of God hence we conclude it had been lost.
As a result of this, the moral nature of all mankind was affected in this way, became depraved and corrupt. Sin has become universal as a result of the sin of this first pair. …As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12.) …For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Romans 5:15.) For if by one man s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17.) For as by one man s disobedience many were made sinners,… (Romans 5:19.)
Romans 5:13-14 says, (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam s transgression,… Adam s transgression was that he violated a specific commandment spelled out by God Himself. But from Adam to Moses, when the law was given on Mt. Sinai by God to the children of Israel through Moses, there was no commandment in existence; hence, people could not sin after the similitude of Adam s transgression by breaking a specific commandment but, at the same time, they were in sin, and death reigned over them. The only law they had during this time was the law of their conscience. Concerning this we read in Romans 2:13-15, (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.) This text does not teach salvation according to man s conscience as some suppose, but it does teach us that there is sufficient knowledge in every man s conscience to fix responsibility and render him a responsible being to God. Galatians 3:19 says, the law …was added because of transgression, till the seed should come… But if the law was added because of transgression, what were they transgressing? There was no actual commandment in existence between Adam and Moses when the law was given. There was nothing to transgress except the law of their conscience, and these poor fallen creatures were so under the power of sin they could not even live to their own conscience. Galatians 3:22 reads, But the scripture hath concluded all under sin,… Romans 3:23 says, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. …Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12.) For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:32.) II Corinthians 5:14 says, For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.
If these scriptures do not prove all men to be under the dismal sway of sin, that they are thus affected because of one man and his sin, and that one man is Adam, what do they teach? How could this all be true except there is something hereditary about sin? Certain diseases, defects, and deficiencies (mental, physical, and otherwise) are said to be transmittable from parent to child and they are called hereditary. If it is carried through different members of the family or through succeeding generations, it is said this or that runs in the family. Their father or grandfather had that, or was that way, etc. The scriptures conclude something about sin being hereditary, a depravity of nature handed down through the generations of mankind from the original parent.
Adam begat children in his own likeness after his image. Genesis 5:3 says, And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth. At this time Adam had lost the image and likeness of God (righteousness and true holiness). He was now possessed of a depraved nature and could only transmit what he had to his posterity.
But let us notice a few more scriptures along this line. Psalm 51:5 says, Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. The psalmist is not saying here that his mother committed sin in conceiving him but that his parents were sinful people by nature and passed that on to him, and sin had him when he got here. Genesis 8:21 reads, And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man s sake; for the imagination of man s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. Genesis 6:5-6 reads, And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
The fact of the universal depravity and the corrupt nature of humankind is further confirmed in the fact that God, in order to get a pure, holy seed (Christ) into the world that would be able to offer a sacrifice without blemish and without spot, qualified for making an atonement for the sins of all mankind, had to set the man aside. Without the use of man, God begat, by the Holy Ghost, a holy seed within the woman, and Christ is called the seed of the woman. In Isaiah 59:16 we read, And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. God looked the whole universe of mankind over and found not one man who was qualified to redeem the human race from sin, so He made Him a Man who could qualify through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was the arm of God reached out to us to redeem us from sin.
Now I want to consider the point of how God reckons genealogies in the Scriptures. This is important to the point being considered here of how this depravity has passed from father to son through the generations of mankind. In Hebrews 7:9-10 it says, And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. Levi was one of the children of Israel and head of one of the 12 tribes. Therefore it refers here to Levi, who receiveth tithes. His tribe never received any inheritance in the apportionment of land in Canaan, but they were set apart to care for the tabernacle and to administer about the holy things. Their portion was a tithe from all the other tribes. Though he received tithes through the arrangement God made for him; yet it is said that he paid tithes in Abraham, and this is on the grounds that he was yet in the loins of his father when he met Melchisedec and paid tithes to him. Levi was the fourth generation from Abraham and was yet an unborn child in his loins when he paid tithes to Melchisedec, and it is said that he paid tithes in Abraham. In Galatians 3:29 it says, And if ye be Christ s then are ye Abraham s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
In Romans 4:11, speaking of Abraham and his faith it says, And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also. Abraham is the first one of whom it was written that he was justified by faith. There were several champions of faith who accomplished great things through faith before the time of Abraham who are mentioned in Hebrews 11, but he is the first one of whom it is said that he believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (Hebrews 4:3.)
We today become children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and it is said that we are justified by faith in Him. It is also said that the just live by faith and that we walk by faith and not by sight. But the principle of justification by faith and living by faith began in Abraham and therefore he is said to be the father of all those who believe. He was the beginning of a new race (believers) and became the royal head of that race. Therefore, when we are brought into fellowship with God through faith in Christ Jesus, we are said to be Abraham s seed by coming under that principle of justification by faith which began in him.
There were 42 generations from Abraham to Christ. The saints of this gospel age of time would be the 43rd generation. Yet we are reckoned to be children of Abraham on the same grounds that Levi is said to have paid tithes in Abraham. That is, we were yet unborn children in the loins of our father (figuratively) when he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. On the same grounds, we were all reckoned to be under sin because we were unborn children in the loins of our father, Adam, when he committed sin. The effects of that sin passed upon the entire race.
As further proof that all of the human race is under the effects of Adam s sin and actually receive something from him by way of a depraved nature, those who obtain salvation in this dispensation are said to put off the old man and put on the new man. (Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 4:22-24.)
Adam is the head of the human race according to the first or old creation of God. Jesus Christ is the head of the spiritual race according to the new creation of God. II Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [new creation, margin]:… Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,…” But Christ is called Adam also the second Adam, or he might properly be called the new Adam or new man. I Corinthians 15:45-47 reads, And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. In Romans 5:14 we read, Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:21-22.) The terms new man and old man apparently are derived from these heads of the two creations. The new man is identical with the new creature and the old man refers to our condition in the old, defiled creature Adam, the old man.
We partake of the nature of Adam in natural birth. Here is the basic principle which requires our being born again. We were born on the wrong side the first time, hence we must be born again to get straightened out on the right course of life. Therefore, the child is one step below the standard of moral purity and holiness in which man was created at the beginning. Then when he reaches the age of accountability, the inherited nature of Adam causes him to fall into willful disobedience of God s law and thus he partakes of the sinful life of Adam. He then possesses both the nature and the life of the old Adam or old man. We might say at this point, without changing the meaning at all, that in salvation we put off Adam (the old Adam) and put on Christ (the new Adam).
We will now enter into the discussion of actual, willful sin which produces guilt and condemnation in the conscience, and why every individual experiences this condition.
When a child reaches the age of accountability before God and falls into willful disobedience to His law, becomes guilty of sin and a partaker of the sinful life, this is more than just the nature of sin, which in itself is not productive of guilt, but is the fruit of that nature, or the projection of it, into a way of life of actual sins committed. This is what brings guilt and condemnation on the soul. This, then, takes him a second step lower than the plane on which man was created. However, we must not confuse the hereditary sin (seed of sin, or principle of sin), with sin acquired or committed. Some find the idea of our inheriting the seed of sin objectionable on the grounds that they cannot conceive of an infant child just born into the world being a guilty sinner. What these folks are doing is confusing sin inherited with sin acquired or committed.
Inherited sin is never productive of guilt. Even though the infant child possesses within him the seed of sin from his first parent, Adam, he remains in a state of perfect innocence before God until he reaches an age of accountability to know right from wrong, and by an act of his own free will does the wrong thing.
This is covered by the principle laid down in Romans 7:9-11. For I was alive [in a state of innocence before God] without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died [lost my innocence and became guilty before God]. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Also in I John 3:4 we read, Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. Again in Romans 4:15 it is said, Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Romans 5:13 says, (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law.) James 4:17 says, Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
All of the above scriptures sum up to the fact that a person must have knowledge of the law or will of God, and know what is right to do and then fail to do it before it is imputed to him as sin, or charged against him as such, and he becomes guilty before God. What is sometimes called sin inherited is only a nature and is not productive of guilt. There must be a willful, knowing transgression of God s law to make one guilty of sin before God. This principle would be applicable to all, beginning with the infant who had no knowledge of moral principles on through persons of all ages who were innocently ignorant of God s will on any point and had not yet received light or knowledge on a given point. Romans 4:6-8 says, Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
I John 5:17 says, All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. I have already referred to Romans 7:9-11 but I wish to refer to it again here to pick up another point or two. In Romans 7:8-9 it says, But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. Here we have a reference to a sin that spawned sin, worked sin, wrought sin, produced sin. A tree can only grow on the root from which it sprang and can only live in the life which was in the seed that gave it its being. There must be a source from which anything and everything springs. Sin has a source from which it springs also and it is in this seed of sin, this native depravity or sin principle which has passed from Adam on down through all of his posterity. This is the sin within Paul which rose up and slew him, causing him to die (spiritually) when he came to accountability before God through a knowledge of God s law. We need to understand the potentials of sin and its enormity. Sin is capable of immense expansion and evolution. In the most mild sin exists the potential of the most vicious sin which can be imagined. The fundamental principle of evolution is that which is evolved must first have been involved. Hence, in some mysterious way all the properties of the fully developed, full grown oak tree existed in the acorn from which that tree grew. This is true of everything which has life in it. It is also true of the principles of sin and righteousness.
The apparently mild sin of which Adam and Eve were guilty blossomed out in the murder of one of their children by his own brother not far down the line. Within 1500 to 1600 years, sin had ruined the entire race and the world that then existed was ready for destruction. Every hideous sin that is even beyond our imagination in the world of today, is all springing from the properties which existed in that inherent seed of sin. Although in itself it is not productive of guilt, it is blossoming out into the entire endless chain of sins which are engulfing the world in our time. This is what Paul referred to in Romans 7:8-9.
That sinful nature which is inherent in all of Adam s race lies dead or dormant without power to produce guilt and condemnation until the individual comes face to face with the commandment of God and a knowledge of God s will (receives light). Then that corrupt nature, indwelling sin, seed or principle of sin, revives, becomes active to cause us to fall into willful acts of sin, and produces guilt and condemnation of conscience because now the knowledge of the law has come to us. The following scriptures confirm this fact. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. John 9:41. If I [Jesus] had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. John 15:22-24.
After Jesus time of temptation from the devil, the scripture says that He returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. (Luke 4:14.) Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit at His baptism, then went through His temptation, and then returned in the power of the Spirit and began to preach in the power of the Spirit. The Word He preached was accompanied by the Spirit and brought conviction of sin to the hearts of the hearers. When Jesus returned to heaven after His resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of all believers, and to direct and supervise the operation of the Church He had built. The ministers of the Jerusalem Church preached the gospel of Christ in the power of the Spirit, as Jesus Himself had done, and it produced the same effect. It was said of Stephen in Acts 6:10 that they were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit with which He spoke.
In John 16:8, Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit, said, And when he is come, he will reprove, (convince, or convict) the world of sin,… It takes a work of the Holy Spirit in a person s heart to really convince and convict him of sin to the extent he can genuinely repent of sin and believe in Christ to the saving of his soul. Before the Holy Spirit came into the world and into men s hearts as He does now in this Holy Spirit dispensation, men could not actually see sin in its true color. Old Testament saints did not see the depths of sin as we can see it in this age of time. The Holy Spirit gives us a new way of seeing things, with which we can see spiritual things where all has been darkness before. This is the age of spiritual light because the Holy Spirit is in the world and dealing with men s hearts.
Just as the dust in a room rises or appears when the sunlight is let in; so when the light of God s law (the gospel of Jesus Christ) enters the heart accompanied by the Holy Spirit, it causes sin to appear as sin. The apostle Paul said in Romans 7:13, …But sin, that it might appear sin,… It took an operation of the Holy Spirit in the heart to cause this to happen. Then we see in sin that which we had never seen in it before. We see sin in its true colors; defiling, deforming, breaking righteous laws, affronting an awful majesty, and profaning a sovereign crown by casting it to the ground. We see sin in its consequences with death at its heels. The wages of sin is death,… (Romans 6:23); and …The soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4.) Thus sin revives and we die, or lose our innocence before God in which we have lived up until then, and become guilty before Him and condemned in our conscience. There is nothing about which the natural man is more blind than inherent corruption, concerning which the understanding is altogether in the dark until the Holy Spirit by the Word of God the gospel of Christ reveals it and makes it known.
Now, let us return to Romans 5:12 and look at it a little further. It is said in the Scripture, …so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. There would surely be no question in any of our minds about all dying. All our ancestors have died and gone on and we see people around us dying every day, and we all accept the fact that we will die. But in the text the fact that all die is predicated on the fact that all have sinned. Why can we not as readily accept that statement as the one preceding it?
Notwithstanding, there may be some question in the minds of some as to how this could be and whether it includes children (before the age of accountability), etc. I feel it the safest policy to accept the statement as it is in God s Word whether we may be able to explain every feature of it or not, and especially when a statement that we all do accept without question is predicated upon this statement.
It is my persuasion that small children do sin. They do unrighteous things and All unrighteousness is sin:… (I John 5:17.) Very small children do things that are not right. They do things that they could not do and remain in innocency before God if they were older and more mature in judgment. They deceive their parents, fuss and fight over their toys, strike each other, bite, scratch, and pull hair when another child has a toy they want. They throw temper tantrums when they can t have their own way and do many other things that are not right and are therefore sin in the strictest sense of the word. All of this indicates something in that child s nature that is selfish. It also indicates something in the child s nature to want his own way and to rebel when he can t have it.
The question has been asked, What makes a child cry? Ordinary crying could be for many ordinary causes. But when a child throws a temper tantrum because he cannot have his or her own way, that goes deeper and indicates that something is in his nature to want his own way. His actions show rebellion inside of him against not being able to have his own way. I have seen some really small children throw themselves on the floor, scream, yell and cry because they could not have something done their own way. You may say, My child doesn t have those kind of spells. I just won t allow it and he knows just what he would get for trying something like that. Well, that is really wonderful and you ought not to allow your child to act that way. But if you have your child under better control than that, it does not mean that he does not have the same thing in his nature as the child who does act that way. He just knows he could not get by with it. But you just let him alone and exercise no control over him and he will be just as bad as that other child who is not under proper control. Take a whole lot of children and just leave them all to themselves and they will all be bad that way because it is in their nature to be selfish, to want their own way and to rebel when they can t have it.
Let us compare the moral man who doesn’t lie, steal, cheat, drink, gamble, commit adultery, etc., with the man who does these things. We would all agree that he needs salvation just as much as the man who does those evil, immoral things and will be lost the same as he, if he isn’t t born again. Jesus said, …Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3. He has the same root of sin (sin nature) in him that the other man has, but he has exercised better control over his life, perhaps through the influence, teaching and prayers of godly parents, and that root just has not developed that far and borne that much fruit. But he will still be lost if he fails to be born again and obtain salvation through faith in the all-atoning blood of Jesus Christ.
We will now begin with the matter of the little child growing up and what happens to him as he grows up. The little child grows up doing or acting wrong all along, at times in a greater or lesser degree. But because he is not developed far enough in mental and moral perception to exercise sound judgment in regard to moral principles, sin is not imputed to him and he is held in a state of complete innocency before God. Some may think that in order for a child to come under condemnation at his age of accountability, he must do something different or commit some special kind of sin. That is a mistake. In many instances the child may cross that line living just like he has all the time from really small childhood. Perhaps he comes to that point with no unusual thing happening in his life in the way of any pronounced or gross sin. Maybe he never steals or swears or takes God s name in vain or any of these bad sins. But what actually happens in many cases is that the child comes to the point where God sees he is sufficiently developed in his judgment and moral and mental perception for Him to deal with, and he can understand now what His dealings will mean to him, so He sends His Spirit to visit the child s heart to enlighten him, and it suddenly dawns on him, I am wrong. I have been doing wrong all along. Every time I snatched toys from my playmates, and every time I pulled hair, scratched, bit, fussed and fought with others when they had something I wanted and would not give it up; every time I pouted or stomped, screamed and had a temper tantrum when I could not have my own way, every time I practiced deceit against my parents and took advantage of them, it was all wrong. The child begins now to feel these things wrong and understands what is involved in them. He realizes, through the conviction of God s Spirit, what he has never realized before, and that he is wrong (morally wrong) and needs to repent and be forgiven and get things straightened out and adjusted in his life. Sometimes those who are better instructed feel it necessary for them to go back to their parents or sometimes to others, and confess their wrongs to them, even what they did in innocency before they were morally accountable for it.
Now a grown person living in a justified experience before God, which brings them back to the state of the little child in innocency in God s sight, (Matthew 18:3), cannot do those things that the small child does and remain justified and in a state of innocency before God, because he is already sufficiently developed in judgment, moral and mental understanding, that he understands those things to be wrong and in contradiction with the moral law of God, and if he does them he will fall under condemnation before God.
The difference here is in the state of the individuals involved, and not in the nature of the things involved. These things are just as much a contradiction with God s moral law when the small child does them as when the grown person does them. But the small child, being in an undeveloped infantile state in his understanding as well as physically, is not morally accountable for his doings, because he is not even supposed to know and understand these things; while a grown person, being advanced in understanding and mature in judgment as well as physically, is supposed to understand moral principles of right and wrong, and therefore is accountable.
I have in mind a young brother who had much trouble in his early spiritual life. Most of his trouble was because of impatience and temper, and much of the time it would happen to him when he was all alone and things would go wrong. When he would be working in the field and something would go wrong, he would feel impatient or lose his temper. He would feel condemned in his conscience on that account because he understood and knew this was not right. Generally the people who knew him and had association with him could not tell from the way he lived that he did not have the victory because he lived outwardly good all the time. But his trouble was mostly with himself; much of the time by himself and within himself because he would be condemned over these things. But a little child does not feel that condemnation over his temper tantrums because he does not know but what that is the way for him to do in order to get what he wants.
But God could not take these little children to heaven having that in them which would cause them to pull hair, strike and scratch each other, scream, kick, squall around and snatch things from each other. It would turn out to be a very unpleasant place to be. Jesus Christ acts as guardian for their souls until they come to accountability before God morally, so as to act on His will in regard to these things, Jesus applies His blood to their souls without an act of their will, and purges them from that nature and fits them to go on into heaven.
Someone asked me that if it were true that we could inherit a depraved or corrupt nature, why would it not be true also that we could inherit a righteous nature? The answer to that question is: whatever we may inherit by way of nature, traits, and disposition from our parents, we inherit what they were by nature and not what they are by grace, so that it would not be possible to inherit holiness from them even though both of them may be saved and sanctified. Whatever degree of grace they may possess, it is the work of God, and the work of God in the soul cannot be transmitted from father to son.
But let me stress that the transmission of one s spiritual nature is from the royal head of the race, whether it be the old creation (Adam), or the new creation (Christ), and is not from the immediate parents. We were born of Adam (the old creation) the first time and inherited his depravity of nature. Herein lies the basic need for being born again. Now if we will be born again of God (the new creation), the righteous One, we will inherit from Him His righteous nature.
When one is born again, born of God, he does inherit from Him a righteous nature as the following scriptures will prove. And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. Colossians 3:10. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:24. …That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Acts 26:18. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:12. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Acts 20:32. See II Peter 1:1-4. Verse four says, Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29. These scriptures all declare that for the twice-born soul, saints in light, sanctified, there is a special inheritance which consists of a conformity to His image which is declared to be righteousness and true holiness, and being a partaker of His divine nature. So we see that when one is born again of the righteous One, he does inherit a righteous nature. But we must not overlook the fact that everything checks back to Adam and Christ, who are the royal heads of the two races natural and spiritual.
Once when I was discussing the native depravity before a class and spoke of it as corrupt, someone asked, What do you mean by corrupt? Do you mean vile, wicked, ungodly? Now all these terms are all right when applied properly, but not in their common usage or as they are usually looked upon in their extreme form. All of these have varied degrees from the lesser to the greater as there are also degrees of holiness. When we think of these terms, we commonly think of them in their finished, extreme, exaggerated form and connect them with the drunken sot, the woman of the streets, the lascivious and unclean wretch and profane and vulgar persons, etc. Consequently we revolt at the idea of looking upon a child as in that class, and that is exactly right. The child is innocent. But at the same time, that child has deep within his being a nature which contains in an undeveloped and embryonic form the seed that may later on produce in his life any or all of these fruits of sin in their extreme form.
We see then that the entire human race was in a sad plight under the thralldom of sin and stood in need of redemption. Jesus Christ is declared to be our Redeemer. Galatians 4:4-5 says, But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Titus 2:14 says, Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity,… Colossians 1:14 says, In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Revelation 5:9 says, And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.
But redemption implies a restoration to a primitive or former state. For an example: Suppose you borrow $1000 and make a note for that amount to be paid in twenty $50 payments and secure it with a mortgage on your home. Then suppose you pay ten of those payments and go to the banker and tell him you would like to have the mortgage lifted off your property. He will check the record and find that you have only paid half of what is owing on the note and will tell you that the mortgage cannot be cleared until you have paid the full amount. Then suppose when you have paid nineteen of the twenty payments you go to him again and ask for the mortgage to be lifted. He will check his record again and note there is still one payment owing on it and inform you that it cannot be cleared until that payment is made. But when you make the last payment, the full amount of the note is paid, and you can require him to clear the mortgage. If he should refuse, you could take him to court and compel him to. This makes it clear that in order for a thing to be redeemed, it must be just as free from debt as it was before any debt was made on it.
This is true of redeeming the soul also. As already observed, at some length, the transgression and consequent fall of Adam affected all of his posterity and plunged the entire human race into sin. Paul said in Romans 7:14, …I am carnal, sold under sin. Our father, Adam, sold all of his posterity down the river and delivered us to be bond-servant to another man. The devil held a blanket mortgage on the entire human race which God would not lift until a suitable sacrifice to satisfy His sense of justice was made. Jesus Christ made this sacrifice.
Mankind today is, in general, the same as he was created, and possesses the essential characteristics that he did then, except in one particular sense. He has undergone a change in his moral nature through the fall and has lost the moral likeness, purity, and holiness in the image of God which he possessed when he came fresh from the hand of God.
This is the full aspect of the redemptive plan as it affects man morally. The redemption of the body from death is also part of the plan and that will be realized in its fullness at the resurrection of the dead in the last day when death shall be destroyed and his dominion broken, and the body comes forth to live forevermore.
Since man in his unregenerate state is two steps below the state of moral purity and holiness (the image and likeness of God) in which he was created, and since those two steps are of a different nature consisting first of the native depravity (an inherent, corrupt nature in the child at birth, but which is not productive of guilt) and later on the committing of actual sin which produces a state of guilt and condemnation: it must be evident that there must also be two steps back to the original state; two parts to man s salvation, or two works of divine grace. It would surely be clear to anyone s mind and thinking that in any flight of stairs there are as many steps going up as there are coming down. The two forms in which sin exists in the human soul must be dealt with in different ways to suit the nature of the case. The Bible throughout teaches this twofold salvation saved, justified; then sanctified (heart cleansed), baptized with the Holy Ghost. This is what I believe in.
(I just received a letter from a party reminding me I had made a mistake earlier in saying that when one was born again he received the nature of his father (God). It is possible that paragraph may be a little misplaced, because the discussion had not reached the point of sanctification. But that paragraph should be read as an extension of the preceding paragraph regarding parents transmitting to their children some characteristics and natures like their own and especially in regard to the transmission of the corrupt nature of fallen Adam to their posterity. Then follows the paragraph regarding a person who is born again and receives the nature and likeness of his Father, God. All the scriptures in that paragraph refer to the finished work of salvation sanctification. It seems likely to me that when Jesus said to Nicodemus, …Ye must be born again, (John 3:17), He was referring to the transmission from nature to grace through a full salvation without breaking it down and dissecting the parts or steps in arriving at it and that being born again covered the whole ground to the finished product. For anything I have written in this case or any other that is confusing or not clear, I apologize and ask forgiveness for it.)
And now to go on. In II Corinthians 1:15 we read, And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit. The margin here says grace in the place of benefit. We believe in that. A person is saved from his sins, regenerated by a work of God s grace upon his heart and then he is sanctified perfected in his experience by a second definite work of God’ s grace upon his heart.
Again in I Thessalonians 3:9-10 we read, For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? We would judge from the first epistle to the Thessalonians all the way through that these people were truly saved and their condition was commendable. Yet there seems to have been a lack in their faith. Sanctification is a work of grace or experience that is entered into by faith the same as justification. If a person does not have sufficient faith to make the required consecration and then receive the sanctifying grace, he certainly has a defect in his grace. Then, too, the faith which was once delivered to the saints involves a complete experience of full and uttermost salvation and if one is only saved, no matter how truly saved he is, and not sanctified, there is something lacking in his faith. Paul was anxious to see these folks that he might perfect that which was lacking in their faith, and he declared in I Thessalonians 4:3 that …This is the will of God, even your sanctification,… and goes on in that chapter and the next to describe the experience, the need, and to declare God s ability and faithfulness to do that for them.
Hebrews 10:14 says, For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. This makes it clear that the perfecting of our experience is in our sanctification, and this is what Paul was anxious to see the Thessalonian brethren obtain.
In Jude, verse 3, we read, Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. This does not mean to enter into strife of words and to contend physically and carnally. These things are all condemned in the Word of God. But we are to contend for that faith in its entirety its doctrines, its personal regenerating and sanctifying experiences, its spiritual life, its holiness, its power, its gifts of the Spirit, its unity of believers, and its fruit. But first contend for it within yourself (don t settle for anything less in your own personal experience) against the devil and unbelief, and doubts and fears that you may possess within yourself about the fullness of the blessings of the gospel of Christ. This is to be done by all, and if we all do this we will find the entire Church in possession of all the provisions of the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
The early Church possessed this faith in it s entirety and was able to produce it s fruit, and as a part of it they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. It was a wholly sanctified Church, able to live victoriously and triumphantly over all opposition. The Jerusalem Church actually had power over all the power of the devil and was able to triumph over him in all his efforts to hinder their work for God. The emphasis with them was on the Holy Ghost. Jesus emphasized the Holy Ghost. In Luke 24:49 He said, And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. But He said again in Acts 1:8, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:… The baptism of the Holy Ghost was the promise of the Father. (See Joel 2:28; John 7:37-39; Acts 2:16-17.) Again in John 16:7 Jesus said, Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. Then in Acts 1:4-5 just before He was taken from them into heaven He, …being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. All believers in the early Church were filled with the Holy Ghost. (See Acts 2:4; Acts 4:31.)
It is the ultimate aim and objective of God s perfect plan of salvation to completely eradicate sin, both committed and inherited (the inherent depravity which all of us received from Adam) and to totally restore mankind to the likeness and image of God in which man was originally created, by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. There is an old, old song which in the first verse says: All of self and none of God. This is the way of life of unsaved, unregenerate mankind. Then the second verse says, Some of self and some of God. The third verse says, Less of self and more of God. Then the last verse says, None of self and all of God. Ah, folks, this is the ultimate; let us move on to it, for God has provided it for us. One of the songs which we sing often, says: If thou wouldst have the dear Saviour from heaven Walk by thy side from the morn till the even, There is a rule that each day you must follow: Humble thyself to walk with God. Just as the Lord in the world s early ages Walked and communed with the prophets and sages, He will come now if you meet the conditions: Humble thyself to walk with God. Just as the stream finds a bed that is lowly, So Jesus walks with the pure and the holy; Cast out thy pride, and in heartfelt contrition Humble thyself to walk with God.
Paul s first question to the disciples at Ephesus was, …Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? (Acts 19:1-2.) When the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God by the preaching of Philip, they sent Peter and John unto them to see to it that they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:14-17.)
Surely that is the next thing in order after one is saved, and the sooner, the better and easier it is. When one is just in his first love and in possession of a brand-new experience with God and relationship with Christ, the burden of sin, guilt and condemnation has just been lifted off him and he is bubbling with zeal and spiritual energy and feels well able to run through a troop and jump over a wall, it would be really easy at that time to present his body a living sacrifice and complete his experience of salvation by receiving the Holy Ghost. Much of the difficulty in obtaining this experience and much of the confusion surrounding the doctrine comes from folks who halt too long in a justified state until they have some ups and downs, their zeal kind of cools off, their love kind of wanes and they actually need a renewal of their experience. Knowing they need something, they decide it is sanctification they need and they put in for that, when it is actually a renewing of their justified experience and covenant with God that they need. When such people receive a blessing upon their souls from God, they call it sanctification, when really it is just a renewing of their justification. Then, when it does not do for them all that they think it should, they become confused and begin to flounder around and sometimes never get really established.
Now let us return to the thought that man in his unregenerate state is two steps below the state of moral purity and holiness in which he was created. It must be evident unto all that there are just as many steps in a flight of stairs going up as there are coming down. Also that the last step coming down the stairs will be the first step going up, and that one cannot take the second step until he has taken the first one. And when one has taken the first step, it puts him in a natural position to take the second one in stride.
In this case the first step down is the fallen, depraved nature which we all partake of from Adam, and the second step is the actual sins committed in the life of the individual after he comes to the age of accountability before God which produces guilt and condemnation in his soul.
Since man is two steps below the plane of holiness and purity in which he was created, it must naturally be understood that there must be two steps to his redemption or restoration two successive steps in bringing him back to the primitive state of purity and holiness in God s image and likeness and he cannot be reckoned to be completely restored, to be perfect in purity and holiness, until both steps have been taken.
This thought has been objectionable to some on the grounds that they feel that the God whom they serve just does not do any halfway work. I agree to that point without reservation. But what I am talking about here is not any halfway work. It is two complete entire works. When God saves a person from his sins and forgives his transgressions, He saves him from all sin and forgives him and all his transgressions no halfway work here. It is the same when He sanctifies a person. He sanctifies him wholly, entirely, through and through no halfway work here and fills him full of the Holy Ghost and thoroughly purges his nature from all impurities.
But, it is sometimes argued, our God is not so puny that He has to take two efforts at anything to accomplish it, and certainly not with our salvation. I readily agree with this point that there is no weakness in God and that from God s end it would be very easy for Him to accomplish the entire thing in one operation. But the difficulty here lies in man s weakness and inability, not in any weakness or insufficiency on God s part. The reason is evident. Sin exists in two forms inherent and acquired; native depravity and actual transgressions and must therefore be dealt with in two different ways. But man is an intelligent, free-acting agent, possessing freedom of will so that he can, of his own volition, decide his course of conduct. God never violates this right of man to exercise his will freely, and an act of one s will is involved in all of God s dealings with his soul. …Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17. In order to be saved, one must, of his own free will, choose to repent of sin, forsake it, choose to cast his lot with God and meet all conditions in order to obtain forgiveness for his sins actual transgressions. But this does not touch that depraved nature within him because it is not dealt with through repentance, but through consecration. There must also be a volitional act of one s will in recognizing this inherent depravity of nature, renouncing and rejecting it, appealing to God for a purging of it and a willful yielding of one s body and complete consecration of his life to God before God could be justified in performing this operation within him to purify his nature and fill him with the Holy Ghost.
But since one s will is involved in this part of his salvation, as well as in being saved, it is evident that he must recognize the existence of the thing before his will can act toward God for its cleansing; but it is not possible that we could recognize this depravity of nature within us, which within itself is not productive of guilt, hence produces no condemnation, so long as our actual committed sins are crowding our conscience with condemnation. One is never conscious of it, and could not be conscious of it, until he actually forsakes sin and begins to live a holy life, and then he is brought face to face with the reality of it. Paul spoke of it in Romans 7:23 as a law in his members warring against the law of his mind. When he purposed to do good, he found himself being contested by this thing which he never knew anything about until he began to live a holy life free from sin; he came face to face with something within him warring against him in doing the thing he desired to do. It is in the special efforts of any justified person to live this holy life that he becomes painfully conscious of that depraved nature within him conflicting with his efforts to maintain that holy life, and his soul begins to cry out to God for an experience of heart purity. But God will never deal with this until we recognize it and become willing for Him to deal with it.
To any reader who objects to this doctrine on the ground that you feel that God does not do any halfway work or that He is not puny enough to have to take a second operation to complete any work of His; let me ask you this: Why did God not reveal unto you the full light and knowledge of His will all at once when you were first saved? Why has it taken this long for you to get where you are in God? The answer is clear: It is because you were not able to receive it that way and God just plainly had mercy on you not to crowd light on you faster than you were able to receive it and thus bring you into condemnation. Why did God not give the children of Israel the full light of this gospel age at Sinai instead of just giving them the law which could not bring them to where He wanted man to be? The answer is the same. They were not able nor in any condition to receive such light as the gospel gives and it would have destroyed them. God had mercy on them in giving them just what they were able to receive at the time, even though it did not satisfy Him and He found fault with it from the beginning.
The apostles, whom Jesus chose to be with Him and whom He made foundation stones in the Church of God, were not able to receive all that He said unto them while He was with them. Jesus told them in John 16:12 that He had many things to say unto them, but they were not able to bear it at that time. He never said those things to them either. But why didn’t t He? Simply because He knew they were not able to grasp them and they, no doubt, would have become confused and discouraged by those things which were beyond them. Jesus left it for the Holy Spirit to teach them many things. It was some time before even the Holy Spirit could get to them all they needed to know, because even after some years certain persons were still holding to circumcision and clinging to fragments of the law. It took some strong arguments and some special dealings and revelations to get them out of that teaching.
God, in His wisdom, has from olden times revealed Himself and His attributes, nature, truth and will to man little by little and in various ways. Now, would any of us say that in any of the above mentioned cases that God did not reveal the full light and knowledge of His will to the new convert, or did not give the full light of this gospel age to the children of Israel at Sinai, or did not say everything He had to say to the apostles, or revealed Himself to mankind little by little, because He did not want them to have the full light or know His perfect will or that He was not able to make it known to them or was not able to reveal Himself in all of His attributes and nature all at once and by direct means? Of course not. Then why didn’t t He? Simply because He was too wise and merciful to do it, but has dealt in simple ways and means with mankind according to man s capacity and ability for receiving the things of God. The provisions of salvation are set up on this basis also, and herein lies the cause why God cannot complete the full work of perfect salvation all in one operation.
Even though man has been given a mind that is capable of a vast expanse of development, the foregoing sums up to the fact that he can only receive so much at one time, and the unfolding and expanding of his intellect is more or less gradual. This fact, coupled together with our free moral agency and the requirement that our will must act in every dealing of God with our souls, is a plain, clear answer as to why there must be two operations in our salvation and a gradual increase of light and knowledge beyond that.
The universal testimony of the Holy Scriptures in both the Old Testament (in type) and the New Testament (in anti-type and actual experience) is that there are two parts to man s salvation two works of grace and that his salvation is not complete without both of them.
We will now enter into a little in-depth study of the two parts to man s salvation; JUSTIFICATION and subsequently SANCTIFICATION. In doing so, we will begin by considering the two compartments in the tabernacle and also the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea and subsequently the river Jordan. These and other related points will be dealt with in more detail later on. But at least for the present, since there were two compartments in the tabernacle and since the type must conform exactly to the anti-type, there are conclusive grounds to prove two parts to man s salvation.
Since the last step down in man s fall into sin was the actual sins and transgressions which produced guilt and condemnation in the soul, then the first step up must of necessity be to deal with that and have the guilt and condemnation removed from the soul and be restored to a state of innocence before God, as we were in early childhood before our age of accountability, by the forgiveness of those sins and the purging of them out of our hearts by the blood of Jesus. This, then, is the first part of our salvation.
This work of grace in the heart, known as JUSTIFICATION, is based upon true Bible repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts 20:21 Paul spoke of Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
REPENTANCE: …God…now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30. In Acts 3:19 Peter said, Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. In Acts 5:31 it says, Him [Jesus] hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. In Acts 2:38 we read, …Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Luke 24:47 says, And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his [Christ s] name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 13:3 says, …Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Mark 1:15 says, …The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
REPENTANCE INVOLVES First: A forsaking of all sin. In Isaiah 55:7 it says, Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:… Again in Isaiah 1:16-17 we read, Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil; Learn to do well;… Webster defines repentance as a turning away in heart and practice from that which is forbidden, to that which is required. This definition is sustained also in the Holy Scriptures. Ezekiel 33:11 says, Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:30-32 says, …Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit:… For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God:… Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21. I Peter 2:1-2 says, Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. Ephesians 4:22-23 says, That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Read on through verse 32. (Read also Colossians 3:8-14.) The reader will note in all these texts, the putting away of evil practices out of the life before one can receive the good things from God, given us through His salvation. He will also note that all the things mentioned here that are to be put away out of his life, refer to actual sinful practices and wrong doings which corrupt and defile the soul and bring condemnation upon the conscience. In no place does it mention the native depravity, the corrupt, depraved nature that we all inherited from Adam. It is evident, then, that REPENTANCE does not act upon that part of our inner being.
REPENTANCE INVOLVES Second: A confession of sins. In I John 1:9 we read, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,… Psalms 32:5 says, I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Proverbs 28:13 says, He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
REPENTANCE INVOLVES Third: A making of restitution. In Ezekiel 33:14-16 we read, Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Among other things that Zacchaeus said to the Lord in Luke 19:8-9 were these words, …If I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. In Matthew 5:23, Jesus taught that if we bring our gift to the altar and remember there that our brother has aught against us, to leave our gift before the altar and first go and be reconciled with him. In other words, make our wrongs right and straighten up our past life with every person. This is very important, and many fail to obtain mercy and saving grace at this point.
REPENTANCE INVOLVES Fourth: A forgiving of those who have wronged us. In Matthew 6:12, Jesus taught us to pray, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And when He had finished teaching them to pray, He went back and picked up this thought again and said in Matthew 6:14-15, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Luke l7:3-4 says, Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee,…seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. Mark 11:25-26 says, And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. In Matthew 18:21-35, we are taught by Jesus Himself the great importance of having mercy and forgiving all and that those who fail to do this are held under the bondage of their own sins unforgiven because they fail to forgive. We are taught here that we are to forgive seventy times seven times, which surely would require that we be possessed of a spirit of mercy and forgiveness. This is so important to one seeking mercy and pardon from God, and many fail to obtain salvation for no other cause than failing to forgive another.
BIBLE REPENTANCE is predicated upon godly sorrow. II Corinthians 7:10-11 says, For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of:… For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves,… This kind of repentance, plus a saving faith in Jesus Christ, brings about a complete absolution from guilt. It restores one to a state of complete innocence before God. This produces an experience of entire justification before God.
Justification is the legal aspect of our salvation and signifies an absolving from guilt. Man has a responsibility to God s law, and when guilty of a transgression of that law, possesses no power to free himself from that law s just claims. But Christ stepped in between an offended God and offending man, and gave Himself as a ransom for sinners. Thus, He paid a sufficient satisfaction to God s justice, and on that basis, when our sins are confessed in the Bible way, they are laid upon Him, and His righteousness becomes ours. Guilt and condemnation are removed from us and we stand acquitted, pardoned and entirely innocent before God through faith in the merits of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made in our behalf, and the efficacy of His shed blood to make a suitable and sufficient atonement for our sins when He went to Calvary and offered Himself without spot to God for that specific purpose. The following scriptures confirm this to be so. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. II Corinthians 5:21. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1. For if by one man s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 5:17-19. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Romans 3:23-28.
This experience is also termed in the scriptures as conversion. In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, …Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. In Acts 3:19 Peter said, Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,… Conversion, in its general sense, refers to a change from one state to another state. In scripture, and as it pertains to our salvation, it refers to a real change in heart and life from an evil state to a righteous state. Acts 26:18 says, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,…
This experience is also referred to as being born again. In John 1:11-13 we read, He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Jesus said in John 3:3, …Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Again in John 3:5 He said, …Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. In I John 5:1 we read, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:… I John 3:9 says, Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. I Peter 1:23 says, Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. I John 2:29 says, If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. And finally, Romans 8:16 says, The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
The prominent idea connected with birth is life. In I John 3:14 we read, We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. And again in John 5:24, …He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
This birth is of the spirit and is from above. (John 3:3, 5.) But birth is connected with new life, not a mature life. In this experience a new spiritual life (the life of Christ) is imparted to the soul. In I John 5:11-12 we read, And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. I John 4:9 says, In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Colossians 3:4 says, When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Note, this text states Christ to be our life. In John 6:51-58 we read of our eating of Christ s flesh and drinking of His blood and that by doing so we have life and if we do not do this we have no life in us. Verse 57 says if we eat of Him we shall live by Him. This scripture shows Christ to be received into the soul in a spiritual sense, in a manner comparable to food being received into the body in a literal sense. It is the food that we take into our body which sustains our life and replenishes the cells of the body. That food becomes assimilated by means of the built in facilities of digestion, and is absorbed into our bodies until it becomes inseparable from our bodies, and actually becomes, in a very real sense, our bodies. The title of a book on diet and health is, You Are What You Eat. This is actually true. When one is born of God and receives Christ into his soul, he receives Him in the very same manner, and Christ becomes absorbed into our life until He, in a very real sense, becomes our very life and being.
My purpose now is to bring a scriptural distinction and comparison of Old Testament and New Testament justification, and possibly clear up some questions in some people s minds which have been asked at different times.
The justification obtainable under the New Testament economy is far superior to the justification that was obtainable under the law in the Old Testament economy. In Acts 13:38-39 we read, Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified FROM all things, FROM which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Note, it is stated here that we who believe can be justified FROM all things FROM which they could not be justified under the law.
Justification under the law was obtained by the shedding of blood. Hebrews 9:22 says, And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. But in that case it was the blood of animals. Leviticus 6:6-7 says, And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein. In Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31 and 35 where the sin offering is under consideration, it gives instructions on how to proceed with the sin offering and it says in these verses that the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. See also Leviticus 5:10, 13, 16, 18, which only state the same thing over. The same thing is stated in Numbers 15:25-28.
In all these texts a promise is contained of the forgiveness of sins when the blood of animals is shed. The forgiveness of sins is all that is promised here and that is the only justification they received under the law. But they did obtain pardon and the pardon they received was as good as the pardon we receive through the blood of Christ. Now please do not misunderstand me to be saying that their salvation was as good as ours; far from it. But pardon is pardon no matter on what condition it is granted. But that was the full extent of justification obtainable under the law. Such sacrifices were not sufficient to take away sins. Hebrews 10:3-4 says, But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year, For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Verse eleven says, And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. It is not said here that these sacrifices could not obtain forgiveness of sins, but that they could not take away sins. There is a difference between forgiving sins and taking away sins. For instance, if one who was a liar would receive law justification, he would be forgiven of all the lies he had told, but would not receive power over the evil habit to refrain from lying thereafter. He had been a liar because he was inwardly disposed to lying and as the law of sacrifices could only provide forgiveness for sins, but could not take away sins, he would not be delivered from the inward disposition to falsify. He would soon be found indulging in the evil practice again and would stand in need of another repentance. Hence, there was a remembrance of sins made every year and a big annual day of repentance and sacrifice for sins was observed. (Read Leviticus 23:27-29.)
In New Testament justification under grace, the individual is actually justified FROM THOSE THINGS from which he could not be justified under the law. In other words, he does not only receive forgiveness for sins committed but he also receives a cleansing of all sinful habits out of the heart, thus enabling him to live without committing sin. Under the law dispensation there was a remembrance made of sins every year, but in this dispensation God says that our sins and iniquities will be remembered no more. (Hebrews 10:16-17.) This is based on the fact that the blood of Christ not only provides forgiveness for our past sins but imparts at the same time grace to live without committing sin. Hence, no further remembrance of sins is necessary.
Justification is twofold. It has a positive and a negative side to it. That is what New Testament justification under grace does. It provides for the forgiveness of all past sins when properly confessed and forsaken, and also provides for a cleansing from the power of all sinful habits and practices, thus enabling one to refrain from committing sin. Old Testament justification did not provide this second ingredient, but only the first ingredient (forgiveness), and the people were still under the power of sin and had to continue bringing sacrifices for sin over and over to keep up-to-date on their forgiveness. Grace is a New Testament doctrine entirely. It was not Old Testament doctrine at all. The word grace occurs perhaps not over a dozen times in the entire Old Testament, and in most of those references it referred to special favors granted from one individual to another individual, and not of God s special favor to humankind. The grace of God that saves and keeps from sin issued forth from Calvary when Jesus, the Son of God, died to make an atonement for the sins of all mankind.
In I John 1:9 we read, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Righteousness in this text refers more to one s outward acts than to their inward condition of nature. Righteousness is a form of the word right and signifies a doing of those things which are right. Unrighteousness, then, would signify a doing of those things which are not right, or committing sin.
In New Testament justification, life is imparted unto the soul; the very Christ-life. This was not obtainable under the law dispensation. In Galatians 3:21 we read, Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
New Testament justification brings peace with God. Romans 5:1 says, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Guilty sinners under condemnation could not have this. Isaiah 48:22 says, There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked. Romans 8:1 says, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
New Testament justification produces a holy life. Those who are justified before God do not commit sin but live a holy life free from sin. I John 3:8-9 says, He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. And again in Hebrews 3:1 we read, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,… In this text the brethren are called holy brethren, but they were not perfected because the great burden of the entire epistle is to show an advanced degree of grace under the types of the Jewish sanctuary, and is an exhortation to go on to perfection. Hebrews 6:1 says, Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection;… It also contains an exhortation to enter into that which was not possible before the shedding of Christ s blood. Hebrews 9:8 says, The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing. Again Hebrews 10:19 says, Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. We are told in II Corinthians 7:1, Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. This perfection is our sanctification. Hebrews 10:14 says, For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
In Romans 12:1-2 we are instructed to present our bodies holy unto the Lord and this is so we can prove the perfect will of God. The will of God is declared to be our sanctification in I Thessalonians 4:3.
All of these texts sum up to the fact that one who is justified is living a holy life free from sin, but that there is another degree of holiness to be obtained which is declared to be perfecting holiness.
Failure to understand, recognize and maintain a distinction between living a holy life free from sin in the justified experience of justification, and actually having the heart purified, cleansed from the native depravity, and the shedding abroad of the love of God in the heart, and being filled with the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:1-5) by a second definite work of grace, has resulted in some not seeing the need of going on to perfection, or even concluding that there is no such experience for them. This is a very serious mistake and we exhort that no one make this mistake, but diligently pursue your course on into the completion of your salvation.
In Luke 6:43 and Matthew 7:17-18, Jesus declared that a good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. The question is: If the depraved nature still exists in the justified person, and he needs an additional cleansing and work of divine grace to free him from it, can he do right and bring forth good fruit?
When one is born again, he receives a new life into his soul which is the Christ-life and it is holy free from sin. In Romans 11:17-24 we have a discussion of how the Jews were cast away and the Gentiles were accepted in among the people of God, and it is referred to as a grafting. Of course this is referring to people and nations, etc., but what applies to them collectively will also apply individually so far as God and the principle is concerned, because the application of salvation is on an individual basis. Job 34:29 says, When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only.
Whatever or however much this passage in the 11th chapter of Romans involves, it at least serves to instruct us that there is a spiritual process with God that is equivalent to grafting and is called grafting. This pretty well explains how I see the receiving of the Christ-life in the justified experience while the inward depravity of nature still exists in the individual. This experience is called circumcision of the heart. (Romans 2:29.) This circumcision is said to consist in our putting away the sins of the flesh. (Colossians 2:11.)
The process of grafting in the 11th chapter of Romans is described as breaking off the natural branches and grafting in others. Naturally, in grafting, an incision must be made and the new graft inserted. This is equivalent to this process called circumcision of the heart. It is described as putting away the sins of the flesh (the old branch is broken off), an incision is made (an operation takes place), and the graft is inserted. From then on the fruit is according to that which was grafted in.
Lining the long driveway leading into the saints campground in Pacoima, California, are 15 orange trees on either side. This is all grafted stock, which means that a part of a tree bearing a different kind of fruit has been grafted in on a different root stock. These trees all produce good oranges. But something happened to two of these trees. They got broken off, and then grew out from beneath the bud, and produced a different kind of fruit to what they did before. The fruit produced on these two trees have a really thick, rough, pale peeling, and are really sour, like a lemon. We used them to make lemonade. In this case the root was different from the tree, and when the tree got broken off and grew out from beneath the bud, it grew from the old root and produced different fruit.
So it is in the justified experience. The Christ-life is grafted into the incision made in circumcising the heart, and the putting away of the sins of the flesh, and the fruits of the Christ-life are born. As long as the person is very watchful, prayerful, careful, keeps a close contact with God, and keeps victory over sin in his life by the grace of God, he will continue to bear the fruits of the Christ-life. As long as he does well, he will be accepted. (Genesis 4:7.) But if by any means he becomes a little slack, gives advantage to Satan, succumbs to his temptations, fails of the grace of God, loses his victory and his contact with Him, and lets sin get into his life, then that grafted tree is broken off and the tree will grow up from the old root and a different kind of fruit will be produced.
Romans 11:24 declared grafting to be contrary to nature. A person in the justified experience is not altogether according to nature either from the standpoint of sin or holiness. When in sin, we are by nature the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), and naturally produce the fruits of wrath which is sin. Likewise, the wholly sanctified person is a partaker of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4), and by nature he produces his fruit unto holiness the fruits of the Spirit. But the justified are more or less in an intermediate state (unnatural). The Christ-life has been grafted in contrary to nature (his depraved nature), and he is more or less in a dual state, still possessing the inherent depravity of nature but having a grafted in Christ-life which is holy. Anyone in such a condition, we would readily see, would be unestablished, and therefore we can easily see the urgent need of such an one pressing on to the completion of his salvation and obtaining that grace wherein we stand or are established. (Romans 5:2.)
A clear type of this is seen in the children of Israel. In Egypt, which is a type of sinful bondage, they lived off the natural fruit of the ground; leeks, garlic, onions, lintels, melons, etc., which all grew from the natural soil. In the wilderness they had no natural products of the soil to sustain life, but God sent them manna from heaven. This was only a temporary arrangement for them and a very unenduring substance. When they got into` the land of Canaan, which is typical of the sanctified experience, they again lived off the natural produce from the soil and ate the old corn of the land. There never was any more manna after they arrived in the land of Canaan, which shows it to be only a temporary provision. (Joshua 5:10-12.)
I see it this way with one s life. When in sin one produces fruit according to his nature, which is a depraved nature. When he becomes justified, or born again, he receives a grafting in of the Christ-life, and produces fruit according to that graft and not according to his nature. When he presses on into the wholly sanctified state and experience, he again bears fruit according to his nature but in that experience his nature is changed and now he possesses the divine nature.
I have been challenged on this point and was told that we were inducted into Christ or grafted into Him and not Him into us. My answer to that argument is that the Bible teaches just as much about Christ being in us as it does us being in Him, and our being born again is plainly declared to be our receiving Christ. (John 1:12-13.)
It is taught and believed that the two compartments or rooms of the Old Testament tabernacle, the holy place and the most holy place, are typical of two parts of our salvation. If that be the case, the holy place would be typical of the first part of our salvation, or justification, and the holiest of all, or most holy place, would be typical of the second part of our salvation, or sanctification, and if one still possessed the depraved nature in his justified state, would that mean there was corruption in the holy place? If not, why not, since the justified person was in that place and still had his depraved or corrupt nature?
The thought (that the two compartments in the tabernacle are typical of two parts of our salvation, or two degrees of grace) has already been dealt with. The first compartment is typical of the first experience of divine grace, which in the Scriptures is called justification, conversion, the new birth and regeneration. That is what we are dealing with now, and all the conditions for it; repentance, confession and restitution. This all has reference to the way we have been living and the things we have actually done. (The sins we have committed.) It does not deal with the inward condition of inherent depravity with which we were born. Therefore, that depravity of nature is not dealt with in this experience.
However, as we have seen, a person is made a partaker of the Christ-life in this experience, and that life is holy. He is saved from all sin and receives deliverance from the power of sinful habits, thus enabling him to live a life free from sin. When we lay the pattern down on his experience and understand that holy place covers his actual life, and not his inward, there is not corruption there. That life must be kept free from sin with no corruption in it for one to retain his justified relationship with God and be free from condemnation. If corruption and sin get into that life, it cancels his relationship with God and puts him clear outside the tabernacle.
Perhaps right in this area is one of the most common stumbling blocks to understanding the two parts of man s salvation. Some do not discern the difference between a holy life and holiness, or purity of heart. But it is clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures. In II Corinthians 7:1, holy life refers to the manner of life; perfect holiness to the state or condition of the heart. The term, perfecting holiness, is a superlative describing an advanced degree of holiness. We all were born with a depravity of nature, for which we are not accountable, and therefore we cannot repent of. When we came to be saved (justified), we came repenting and seeking forgiveness for the sins we had committed, and for which condemnation was bearing heavy on our conscience. We wanted liberation from that condemnation and wanted peace with God. But this depravity of nature we could not repent of because we did not commit it. We were conscious of it s existence only through teaching. This depraved nature is a very deceptive thing. It is only in our efforts to maintain a holy life according to New Testament standards that we become conscious of a power deep within us rising up and asserting itself, and contesting our efforts to live a holy life and maintain victory in our experience. Unless a person has been well instructed in this truth, when this begins to happen in his life he may be thrown into confusion and wonderment, and will become a victim of accusation and be found returning to the altar time after time seeking the cause of this conflict. But he needs to understand that it is the foe in the temple not subject to God (the carnal nature), and begin to seek God to purge his heart from that native depravity by the blood of Jesus, and to fill him with a perfect love of God.
This is that most holy place, or that second compartment of the tabernacle which we enter and abide therein after we have presented our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1.) We have consecrated and dedicated our lives to Him without any reservation for ourselves, on the golden altar before the second veil, and He fills us with His Holy Spirit and admits us into that most holy place to abide in His presence continually. There the purging process starts which purges us from the imperfections which God sees in us, but we had not yet seen. In this advanced state of grace we do not only do good things, but we are good from the heart out. We do not only commit holy acts, but we are holy from the heart out.
I was thinking recently of how God gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins, of His humiliations, insults, shames and reproaches, and His unspeakable sufferings and agonies at Calvary, until He actually felt forsaken even of His father. My thought was this: God did not permit all this because He did not love His Son, but because He did love us and realized it would take such a sacrifice as that to break our hard hearts and bring us to repentance. Then I thought of some of the injustices, reproaches and persecutions that I have seen some of God s holy and innocent saints suffer. Why did He allow it to happen? It was not because He did not love the one who was suffering, but He did love his adversary, and saw that for him to see the clear image of Christ being manifested in the suffering child of God was the only way He could reach him. This is a right God reserves to Himself in dealing with us when He admits us into that sacred, sanctified relationship with Him. But, alas, some are not able to sing the song, In the heated furnace, Father, let me stay, Precious gold refining, purge the dross away, Till thy glorious image is reflected there, Till the costly jewels of thy grace I wear. So they mar in the making and have to come out being less than what God, by His grace, is able to make them. The good news I bring to all of you today is that you do not have to settle that way. God has already generated sufficient grace to enable everyone of us to come to the fullness of the measure of the fullness of Christ in every area and phase of our lives, if we will only consecrate and dedicate our lives to Him to that depth.
We have been considering some of the difficult stumbling blocks to the two works of grace doctrine of justification and sanctification. We will here consider another important scripture that has been a major stumbling block to some in understanding this wonderful truth.
Romans 8:9 says, …Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. The reason this has proven a stumbling block to some, is that they have interpreted this scripture as referring to the Holy Spirit, and consequently conclude that one could not be saved without possessing the Holy Spirit. Hence the conclusion is, that a complete salvation is obtained at one time. But I do not interpret this text that way for the following reasons.
We would certainly agree that Christ s spirit was holy. There s no argument there. He knew no sin. (II Corinthians 5:21.) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. I Peter 2:22. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15.) Hence He was holy and possessed the spirit of holiness.
Christ also possessed the Holy Spirit within Him (He came upon Him in the bodily form of a dove at His baptism), the same as we possess Him when we are sanctified or baptized with the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is a distinct, definite personage, and is always identified in His own person, the same as Jesus the Son, and God the Father.
The Holy Spirit is a member of the triune Godhead and is coexistent with God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son. In Hebrews 9:14 He is called the eternal Spirit. And He is as distinct a person as either of the other two. Therefore, it would be no more proper to refer to the Spirit of Christ, meaning the Holy Spirit, than it would be to turn it around and say the Christ of Holy Spirit. In either case, we would be failing to observe the proper distinction between distinct persons.
Now let us notice some other scriptures which use the term spirit of. In the one referred to above (Romans 8:9), we read of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. But let us look closely at this as we pass. It is said in the first part of this verse that, …Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you…. I agree this could refer to the Holy Spirit because that is the name of the entire Godhead. But there is a period at this point, making the sentence complete. It expressed the complete thought. Then the verse goes on to say, Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ (not the Spirit of God this time), he is none of his. Then the next verse goes on to say, And if Christ be in you,… Here it seems to me that the Spirit of Christ in the last part of verse 9 and Christ Himself in the first part of verse 10, are used interchangeably.
This seems to me to correspond quite well with a couple of texts in the third chapter of II Corinthians, verse 6, that say God has …made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. Verse 17 says, Now the Lord is that Spirit:… Here it is declared the Lord is that Spirit, and it is clear that it is not the Spirit of Christ, but Christ Himself is the spirit, or heart, or life, of the gospel message. Surely there would be no question in anyone s mind but that the Spirit and the Lord are used interchangeably in these two texts. (II Corinthians 3:6 & 17)
But let us go further in considering texts which make reference to the spirit of. In Ephesians 4:23 it says, And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. In I Corinthians 2:11 it says, For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?… I Corinthians 2:12 says, Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, etc. Revelations 16:14 says, For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles,… etc.
In all the foregoing texts we read of the spirit of God, spirit of Christ, spirit of man, the world, the devil and spirit of your mind, but nowhere do we read of the spirit of the Holy Spirit. Again I say that He is a definite personage, and is always identified in His own person. This distinction must be maintained to produce proper sense.
It would, no doubt, be easy for us to understand that the spirit of your mind would refer to the tendencies, disposition, nature, actions and controlling influences of one s mind. The spirit of the world would refer to the natural tendencies, dispositions, controlling influences and behavior of the world. Then the Spirit of Christ would refer to the nature, disposition, tendencies and behavior of Christ.
In I Corinthians 6:17 it says, But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. This corresponds with Romans 8:9 which says, …Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Surely all who are saved and joined unto Christ are made a partaker of His Spirit, which, as has already been observed, is His nature, disposition and characteristics of life and behavior.
In II Corinthians 3:17 the Spirit of Christ is declared to be a spirit of liberty. It is a spirit of obedience, as stated in Philippians 2:8 where it is said that He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Hebrews 10:9 says, Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God…. Matthew 26:39 says, And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Matthew 26:42 says, He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. John 4:34 says, Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 8:29 says, And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
We receive that same spirit of obedience when we get saved. John 14:15 says, If ye love me, keep my commandments. And John 14:21 says, He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:… In Hebrews 5:9 we read, …he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.
The Spirit of Christ is a spirit of humility. Philippians 2:5-8 says, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said, …I am meek and lowly in heart:…
But we are instructed in Philippians 2:5 to let this mind, or disposition, or nature, or characteristic be in us. Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, Blessed are the poor in spirit (humble spirit): for their s is the kingdom of heaven. Again Peter says, But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. I Peter 3:4.
Christ s spirit is a spirit of mercy. Matthew 12:20 says, A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. This same spirit is to dwell in them who are joined to Him. In Matthew 5:7 Jesus said, Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Again in Luke 6:36 Jesus said, Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. This comes in line with the very same thought as is dealt with in the fifth chapter of Matthew which concluded in verse 48 with these words of Jesus: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. It is the same thought and sums up to being perfect in mercy and in our attitude toward our fellow men. (Read Luke 6:35 and Matthew 5:43-48.) Jesus forgave His enemies and died to save them, praying, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34.
In Malachi 4:5 there is a prophecy concerning John the Baptist, which comes in good place here. It says, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. To prove that this was John the Baptist, we refer you to Matthew 11:10-14. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare the way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
Now someone may say, How could John the Baptist be Elijah or Elias? But this is clarified in the statement of the angel to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, in Luke 1:17, And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,…
This makes the point clear and throws some light on the text in Romans 8:9. John came at a time of deep apostasy and great spiritual darkness, such as Elijah, the most outstanding of all the prophets, came to Israel. John turned the hearts of the people to God, as Elijah had done in his day, and he manifested the same vehemence against error, and the same zeal and boldness for truth that Elijah had shown in his day. It brought a great spiritual awakening, the same as Elijah s work had brought, so it is said he went in the spirit and power of Elijah in so much that he was called Elias.
This is the way I see our having the Spirit of Christ. It is in our possessing within ourselves that same vehemence and righteous indignation against sin and error, the same zeal and boldness for truth and righteousness, the same humility, meekness, gentleness, mercy, obedience, behavior and every other characteristic of Christ Himself, and doing His work. Colossians 1:27 says, …Christ in you, the hope of glory. Ephesians 3:17 says, That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;… John 6:56 says, He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
The way, then, that I interpret having the Spirit of Christ is to have Christ living within us, and the Christ-life predominant in all our behavior because the Lord is that Spirit.