“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.”
ALL God’s dealings with us are on the same principle. As we received Christ Jesus the Lord, so we must walk in Him.
Whether it be justification or sanctification; whether reconciliation or reigning in life that is under consideration—the same mighty principles underlie and control the Divine gifts and our participation in them. We receive reconciliation as a gift at the beginning of our Christian life, and we have to receive all else by the same medium to the end. Forever and forever we have just to wait till God fills us, as the flower-cups that are now filled with sunshine and now with dew or rain.
You have already received the reconciliation (Romans 5:11)—
Unable to earn it by your own endeavours, you were at last content to receive it as a free gift placed into your open hand; now you have to maintain the same position with respect to all the spiritual gifts that you need for the maintenance of a godly life, and to enable you to reign. Faith—simple, open-handed, heaven-regarding faith—is the one unchanging law of the holy life.
“Trusting Jesus, that is all.”
This reigning in life is not be relegated to the unseen and future—It is meant to be our present experience. He hath made us kings to God, even the Father. We are called to the royalty of men, the abundance, the freedom, the consciousness of power and victory, which we are wont to associate with those who reign. To reign in the ordinary life of the home, the shop, the counting-house—such is our high calling in Christ Jesus. And it may be ours if we receive “abundance of grace” of the one Man, Jesus Christ.
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
WE must choose. On the one hand stands sin, filling the market-place with its appeals, and bidding for us; on the other hand, God in the person of His Son. For it is well known that to whomsoever we yield ourselves to obey, his servants we shall be.
Sin wants us, not only to work its fell results by us, but to curse and ruin us; whilst God wants to bless us with eternal life.
We may not be able to forecast or to arrange many things in our lives, which are difficult and perplexing; and at first it is not wise to discuss our attitude or action with respect to them. The first and most momentous question which presses for immediate solution is, whether we are prepared to present our members—brain, voice, hand, heart—to God; that through them He may fulfil His good purpose.
The argument is a very cogent one. The apostle tells us that we have been delivered from death; that in Jesus Christ we have been brought back to stand on the resurrection side of the grave. For such a wondrous deliverance, he exclaims, there is only one adequate return. Present yourselves to be the slaves of your Redeemer. Surely none of us would resemble the rich man, who was saved from drowning by a brave sailor, and offered him half-a-crown in recompense!
In this way also we shall be delivered from sin. Merely to resist and refuse it, is not enough; we shall not get perfect freedom so.
But if we turn to God with a full purpose of heart, and give Him possession, we shall be delivered from the dominion of evil, because the responsibility of our emancipation and perfecting will rest on Him to whom we have yielded spirit, soul and body.
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
THIS chapter is very full of the personal pronoun. Me and I are the pivot around which its argument revolves. The strenuous efforts which the soul makes, not so much to justify as to sanctify itself, to realize its ideal, to walk worthy of the Lord, are well-pleasing, and are described by a master hand.
Is there one of us who has not read these words repeatedly, and in desperation? They have been so exactly true. We have longed with passionate sincerity that a new man might arise in us to free us from our old man, and make us the men we fain would be. We have been conscious of a subtle force mastering our struggles, like the serpents overcoming Laocoon and his sons; we have realized that a corrupting carcass was bound to our backs, as to the Roman criminals of old, filling the air with miasma, and poisoning our life.
We have cried bitterly, O wretched man ..., who shall deliver?
The key to the plaintive moan of this chapter consists in this. It is the result of the endeavour to live a holy life apart from the power of the indwelling Saviour, and independently of the grace of the Holy Spirit. All such efforts are sure to end in wretchedness.
We can no more sanctify ourselves than we can justify. Deliverance from the power of sin is the gift of God’s grace, as forgiveness is.
And it is only when we have come to the very end of all our strivings and resolvings, and have abandoned ourselves to the Saviour, that He should do in us and for us what we cannot do for ourselves, that we are led to cry, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“All things are possible to God;
To Christ, the power of God in men,
To me, when I am all subdued,
When I, in Christ, am born again.”
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
THERE is a threefold groaning here.
CREATION groans (Romans 8:22): The sufferings of the dumb animals, under the brutal tyranny of man; in hard service; in the torture chambers of vivisectionists; to yield pleasure; to give food; or to provide dress—must fill the ear of Heaven with groans. The sighs of myriads of acres, condemned to bear the poisonous poppy or the barley for the manufacture of spirit, must be heard across the broad expanse of space. There is a discord, an oppression, a vanity in the universe around us, which constantly betrays the secret oppression of evil. Goethe said that Nature seemed to him to be like a captive maiden crying aloud for release.
The saints groan (Romans 8:23): We wait for our adoption, for the manifestation of our sonship, for the redemption of our bodies from the last remnants of the fall; and as we wait, we groan beneath the pressure of the present, the weight of mortality, and with eager desire for the blessed advent of the Lord.
The Spirit groans (Romans 8:26): The pressure of sin and sorrow in our world is heavy for Him to bear, and He sighs bitterly, as Jesus did when He stood face to face with the grave of His dead friend.
But these groans portend life, not death. They are full of hope, not despair. They are the pangs of birth, not the throes of death.
Out of the agony of the present the new heavens and earth are being born.
“Unto you is given
To watch for the coming of His feet
Who is the glory of our blessed Heaven.
The work and watching will be very sweet, Even in an earthly home;
And in such an hour as you think not He will come.”
“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”
THE apostle is dealing here, not with individuals as such, but with peoples and nations. For instance, Isaac stands for the entire Jewish race—Abraham’s seed (Romans 9:7). He is dealing with the question, why it was that God chose Israel and rejected Edom; chose Jacob and rejected Esau: and he shows that the ultimate decision of their destinies lay in the purpose of God, according to election. The one was elect to be a channel of immense blessing to the world; whilst the other was rejected.
But we must always associate the Divine foreknowledge with the Divine choice. “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate.” We must regard Jacob and Esau, not as individual personalities merely, but as the founders of nations. For God’s purpose in the building-up of the chosen people, Jacob the methodical and farseeing, was more suited than Esau the freelance, the rover, the child of impulse and passion. And, besides, there were religious aptitudes and capacities within him, of which Esau gave no sign or trace. This does not solve the entire mystery, perhaps; but only casts it a degree or two further back. Still, it ought to be considered. Like a candle, it casts a slender ray on to the black abyss. In any case, is it not certain that God’s choice did alight on him who was most suited to serve the Divine purpose?
It may be that God is wanting to execute His purpose through you. Take heed. Still the savoury dish steams on the desert air, and appeals to the appetite of our natures; and we are strongly tempted to forego the unseen and eternal for a moment’s gratification. See to it that for one morsel of meat you do not sell your birthright.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
SALVATION here is evidently to be taken in its most extended meaning. It stands even more for the deliverance of the soul from the love and dominion of sin than for the removal of its justly incurred penalty. That we should be pure in heart, holy in thought, consecrated in life, with all the range of our nature controlled by His indwelling Spirit—such is the Divine intention with respect to as, as suggested by this deep, great word Salvation. But there are two conditions, on our compliance with which this saving power is realized.
We must confess Jesus as Lord: Throughout Scripture there is a close connection between Christ’s Royalty and His Saviourship.
“Behold, thy King cometh to thee… having salvation;” “Him hath God set forth to be a Prince and a Saviour.” “Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High… made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.” We shall never know Christ as a Saviour from inbred sin until we have definitely and absolutely enthroned Him in our hearts. A physician is not content with healing outbreaks of disease and fever when they occur; but claims leave to examine all the arrangements of the house, so as to deal with the sources of the mischief.
We must also steadfastly believe in the Resurrection: The risen Lord, sitting at the right hand of God, in all the vigour of an indissoluble life: still working in the world, and energizing the hearts of His own: entering to indwell, to fill, to unite with His own eternal life—such is the vision offered to our faith. Let us look away to Him with a persistent, unwavering gaze, until sin ceases to attract us, and Satan finds a Stronger in possession.
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
THIS verse reminds us of those lagoons of perfectly still clear water, of which travellers tell. So clear, that it is easily possible to look into their translucent depths to where the submarine foliage waves! So deep, that the ordinary measuring line fails to plumb them! All these words are monosyllables. A child just learning to read could easily spell them out. But who shall exhaust their meaning?
Of Him: The entire scheme of redemption; the marvellous history of the chosen people, with which this chapter is occupied; the universe of matter, all are included in the all things that have emanated out of God. No one has been His counsellor, or given aught to Him. From all created things, which are as the stream, let us climb to Him, who is their fountain, source, and origin; and in Him let us learn to fill our own souls to the very brim.
Through Him: Through Jesus Christ, the Mediator, God has poured the entire grace and wealth of His nature to bless and help us. There is no good thing that does not come to us through the mediation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Through Him He made the worlds. Through Him we have received the reconciliation. Through Him, also, all grace is made to abound toward us. Never forget to magnify the Lord Jesus as the source of all your supply.
To Him: Creation, Providence, Redemption, are all tending back to God. The tide is setting in toward the throne. A revenue of glory shall yet accrue from all that has happened within the parenthesis of time. Every whit in the great temple shall one day say “Glory!”
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
TO present carries us back to Romans 6. We might almost say that the intervening chapters, after the manner of the apostle, are one prolonged digression or parenthesis, and that he classes all the great things with which he has been treating as among the mercies of God, and as reasons for our entire consecration. Every disclosure of God’s grace toward us is an argument for our complete surrender to His will and power.
We are called on to present our bodies as instruments of righteousness, because all true regimen of the inner life immediately affects the body in all its members; and, conversely, the consecration of the body reacts upon and affects the temper of the soul. It would be well for you to take Miss Havergal’s hymn, with its enumeration of the various parts of the body, and offer and present yourself, to be from this day and forward, wholly for God.
Only believe that He is more anxious for this than words can tell, because He loves you so, and that He accepts immediately what you offer.
Such consecration must be living; that is, it must enter into all our life, being holy, well pleasing to God, and rational. It is not only reasonable when we consider the relation we sustain to Him, but it should engage all our intelligence and reasoning faculties.
And when it is made, and the soul is becoming duly transfigured in its exercise, we begin to prove that God’s will, which once we dreaded, is also good, well-pleasing, and perfect. When we look at God’s will from a distance, and before consecration, it seems impossible. It is only when we begin to obey, that we can say:
“Thou sweet beloved will of God.”