by A.T. Jones
We will begin our study this evening with Rom. 7:25: "With the mind I myself serve the law of God." I repeat the expression that I made in the previous lesson--that it is in the realm of the thoughts where the law of God is served, where the contention against sin is carried on and the victory won.
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life--these tendencies to sin that are in the flesh, drawing upon us--in this is the temptation. But temptation is not sin. Not until the desire is cherished is there sin. But as soon as the desire is cherished, as soon as we consent to it and receive it into the mind and hold it there, then there is sin; and whether that desire is carried out in action or not, the sin is committed. In the mind, in fact, we have already enjoyed the desire. In consenting to it we have already done the thing so far as the mind itself goes. All that can come after that is simply the sensual part, the sense of enjoying the satisfaction of the flesh.
This is shown in the Saviour's words in Matt. 5:27,28:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Therefore the only place where the Lord could bring help and deliverance to us, is right in the place where the thoughts are, at the very root of the thing that is sin, the very point where the sin is conceived and where it begins. Consequently, when tempted and tried as He was--when He was spit upon, when they struck Him in the face and on the head in the trial in Jerusalem and in all His public ministry when the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, and the priests in their iniquity and hypocrisy, which He knew, were all doing everything they could to irritate Him and get Him stirred up--when He was constantly tried thus, His hand was never raised to return the blow. He never had to check any such motion, because not even the impulse to make any such motion was ever allowed. Yet He had our human nature in which such impulses are so natural. Why then did not these motions manifest themselves in our human nature in Him?
For the reason that He was so surrendered to the will of the Father that the power of God through the Holy Spirit so worked against the flesh and fought the battle right in the field of the thoughts, never, in the subtlest form of the thought was there allowed any such thing to conceive. So that under all these insults and grievous trials He was just as calm, our human nature in Him was just as calm, as it was when the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove overshadowed Him on the banks of the Jordan.
Now "let this mind be in you." It is not enough for a Christian to become all stirred up and say a few spiteful words or raise the hand in resentment and then say to Himself, "O, I am a Christian; I must not say this or do that." No. We are to be so submitted to the power of God and to the influence of the Spirit of God that our thoughts shall be so completely controlled that the victory shall be won already and not even the impulse be allowed. Then we shall be Christians everywhere and all the time under all circumstances and against all influences. But until we do reach that point, we are not sure that we shall show a Christian spirit under all circumstances and at all times and against all insults.
As stated in the previous lesson, the things that were heaped upon Christ and which He bore were the very things that were the hardest for human nature to bear. And we, before we get through with the cause in which we are engaged are going to have to meet these very things that are hardest for human nature to bear, and unless we have the battle won already and are Christians indeed, we are not sure that we shall show the Christian spirit in these times when it is most needed. In fact, the time when the Christian spirit is most needed is all the time.
Now in Jesus the Lord has brought to us just the power that will give us into the hand of God and cause us to be so submitted to Him that He shall so fully control every thought that we shall be Christians all the time and everywhere, "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
"The kingdom of God is within you." Christ dwells within us and He is the King. The law of God is written upon the heart and that is the law of the kingdom. Where the King and the law of the kingdom are, there is the kingdom. In the inmost recesses, the secret chamber of the heart, at the very root, the fountain of the thought--there Christ sets up His throne; there the law of God is written by the Spirit; there the King asserts His authority and sets forth the principles of His government and allegiance to that [sic.] is Christianity. Thus at the very citadel of the soul, the very citadel of the thoughts, the very place, the only place, where sin can enter--there God sets up His throne; there He establishes His kingdom; there He puts His law, and the power to cause the authority of the law to be recognised and the principles of the law to be carried out in the life, and the result is peace only and all the time. That is the very thing that Christ hath brought to us, and which comes to us in the mind of Christ.
Let us look at that a little further. When Christ had our human nature, He was there in His divine self but didn't manifest any of His divine self in that place. What did He do with His divine self in our flesh when He became ourselves? His divine self was always kept back--emptied--in order that our evil, satanic selves might be kept back--emptied. Now in the flesh He Himself did nothing. He says: "Of mine own self I can do nothing." He was there all the time. His own divine self, who made the heavens, was there all the time. But from beginning to end He Himself did nothing. Himself was kept back; He was emptied. Who, then did that which was done in Him? The Father that dwelleth in Me, "He doeth the works, He speaks the worlds"--Then who was it that opposed the power of temptation in Him in our flesh? The Father. It was the Father who kept Him from sinning. He was "kept by the power of God" as we are to be "kept by the power of God." 1 Peter 1:5.
He was our sinful selves in the flesh, and here were all these tendencies to sin being stirred up in His flesh to get Him to consent to sin. But He Himself did not keep Himself from sinning. To have done so would have been Himself manifesting Himself against the power of Satan, and this would have destroyed the plan of salvation, even though He had not sinned. And though at the cross the words were said in mockery, they were literally true: "He saved others; Himself He cannot save." Therefore He kept Himself entirely out. He emptied Himself, and by His keeping Himself back, that gave the Father an opportunity to come in and work against the sinful flesh and save Him and save us in Him.
Sinners are separated from God, and God wants to come back to the very place from which sin has driven Him in human flesh. He could not come to us, in ourselves, for we could not bear His presence. Therefore Christ came in our flesh and the Father dwelt with Him. He could bear the presence of God in its fullness, and so God could dwell with Him in His fullness and this could bring the fullness of God to us in our flesh.
Christ came in that sinful flesh but did not do anything of Himself against the temptation and the power of sin in the flesh. He emptied Himself and the Father worked in human flesh against the power of sin and kept Him from sinning.
Now it is written of the Christian: "Ye are kept by the power of God through faith." That is done in Christ. We yield to Christ; Christ abides in us, giving us His mind. That mind of Christ enables our wicked self to be in the background. The mind of Christ--"let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"--puts our wicked selves beneath and keeps ourselves back and keeps us from asserting ourselves, for any manifestation of ourself is of itself sin. When the mind of Christ puts ourselves beneath, that gives the Father a chance to work with us and keep us from sinning. And thus God "worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Thus it is always the Father and Christ and ourselves. It is the Father manifested in us through Christ, and in Christ. The mind of Christ empties us of our sinful selves and keeps us from asserting ourselves in order that God, the Father, may join Himself to us and work against the power of sin and keep us from sinning. Thus Christ "is our peace, who hath made both [God and us] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity...for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace." So it is always the Father and Christ and we; we, the sinners; God the sinless; Christ joining the sinless One to the sinful one and in Himself abolishing the enmity, emptying self in us, in order that God and we may be one, and thus make one new man, so making peace. And thus the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through, or in, Jesus Christ.
Is it not a most blessed thing that the Lord Jesus has done that for us and so takes up His abode in us and so settles that question that there can be no more doubt that the Father will keep us from sinning than there is that He has kept Him from sinning already? No more doubt; because when Christ is there, He is there for the purpose of emptying self in us. And when ourselves are gone, will it be any very great difficulty for the Father to manifest Himself? When ourselves are kept from asserting ourselves there will be no difficulty for God to assert Himself in our flesh. That is the mystery of God: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." God manifest in the flesh. It is not simply Christ manifest in the flesh; it is God manifest in the flesh. For when Jesus came in the world Himself, it was not Christ manifest in the flesh; it was God manifest in the flesh, for "he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father."
Christ emptied Himself in order that God might be manifest in the flesh, in sinful flesh, and when He comes to us and dwells in us, upon our choice, bringing to us that divine mind of His which is the mind that empties self wherever it goes, wherever it can find an entrance, wherever it can find any place to act, the mind of Christ is the emptying of self, is the abolishing of self, the destruction of self, the annihilation of self. Therefore, when by our choice that divine mind comes to us, the result is as certain that ourselves will be emptied as that the mind dwells in us. And as soon as that is done, God works fully and manifests Himself, in sinful flesh though it be. And that is victory. That is triumph.
And thus with the mind we serve the law of God. The law is manifested, it is fulfilled, its principles shine in the life, because the life is the character of God manifest in human flesh, sinful flesh, through Jesus Christ. It seems to me that that thought ought to raise every one of us above all the power of Satan and of sin. It will do that as certainly as we surrender to that divine mind and let it abide in us as it abode in Him. It will do it.
Indeed, the word to us all the time is, "Arise, shine." But we cannot raise ourselves; it is the truth and the power of God that is to raise us. But is not here the direct truth that will raise a man? Yes, sir; it will raise Him from the dead, as we shall find before we get done with this. But this thought was necessary to be followed through, that we may see how complete the victory is and how certain we are of it as surely as we surrender to Christ and accept that mind that was in Him. And thus always bear in mind that the battle is fought against sin in the realm of the thoughts and that the Victor, the Warrior, that has fought the battle there and won the victory there in every conceivable kind of contest--that same blessed One comes and sets up His throne at the citadel of the very imagination of the thought, the very root of the thought of the heart of the believing sinner. He sets up His throne there and plants the principles of His law there and reigns there. Thus it is that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so now in this way might grace reign. Did sin reign? Certainly. Did it reign with power? Assuredly. It reigned. It ruled. Well, as that has reigned, even so grace shall reign. Is grace, then, to reign as certainly, as powerfully in fact, as ever sin did? Much more, much more fully, much more abundantly, much more gloriously. Just as certainly as ever sin did reign in us, so certainly when we are in Jesus Christ the grace of God is to reign much more abundantly, "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." That being so, we can go on in victory unto perfection.
From that height--for it is proper to call it a height--to which this truth raises us, we can go on enjoying, reading with gratitude, what we have in Him and receiving it in the fullness of the soul. But unless we have the Lord to take us to that height and seat us there and put us where He has possession of the citadel so that we are certain where He is and in that where we are, all these other things are vague, indefinite, and seem to be beyond us--sometimes almost within our reach and we long to get where we can really have hold on them and know the reality of them, but yet they are always just a little beyond our reach and we are unsatisfied. But when we surrender fully, completely, absolutely, with no reservation, letting the whole world and all there is of it, go, then we receive that divine mind of His by the Spirit of God that gives to Him possession of that citadel, that lifts us to that height where all these other things are not simply within reach--O, no, they are in the heart and are a rejoicing in the life! We then in Him have them in possession and we know it and the joy of it is just what Peter said, "unspeakable and full of glory."
So then as the Lord has lifted us to this height and will hold us there, now let us go ahead and read and receive, as we read, what we have in Him. Begin with Romans 6:6. That is the scripture that comes most directly in connection with this particular thought that we have studied so far this evening. "Knowing this."--Knowing what? "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him." Good! In Jesus Christ, in His flesh, was not human nature, sinful flesh, crucified? Whose? Who was He? He was man; He was ourselves. Then whose sinful flesh, whose human nature, was crucified on the cross of Jesus Christ?--Mine. Therefore, as certainly as I have that blessed truth settled in my heart and mind, that Jesus Christ was man, human nature, sinful nature, and that He was myself in the flesh--as certainly as I have that, it follows just as certainly as that He was crucified on the cross, so was I. My human nature, myself there, was crucified there. Therefore I can say with absolute truth and the certainty and confidence of faith, "I am crucified with Christ." It is so.
We hear people so many times say, "I want self to be crucified." Well, we turn and read the text to them, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified." And they respond: "Well, I wish it were so." Turn to the next text and read, "I am crucified with Christ." It says I am. Who is? Are you? Still they answer, I don't see that I am. I wish it were so, but I cannot see how I am crucified and I cannot see how reading that there and saying that that is so will make it so." But the word of God says so and it is so because it says so and it would be true and everlastingly effectual if that were all there is to it. But in this case it is so because it is so. God does not speak that word to make it so in us; He speaks that word because it is so in us, in Christ.
In the first chapter of Hebrews you remember we had an illustration of this. God did not call Christ God to make Him God. No. He called Him God because He was God. If He had not been that, then for God to speak to Him the word of "God," and lay it upon Him, would have caused Him to be that, because that is the power of the word of God. But that is not it. That would be so if that were all there were to it, but it is so also in another way. He was God and when God called Him God, He did so because that is what He was. So in that double sense it is everlastingly so. It is so by "two immutable things."
Now it is the same way here. Our old man is crucified, yet when God sets forth His word that it is so, we accepting that word and surrendering to it, it is so to each one who accepts it because the word has the divine power in it to cause it to be so. And by that means it would be everlastingly so, even if that were all there is to it. But that is not all there is to it, because in Jesus Christ human nature has been crucified on the cross, actually, literally, and that is my human nature, that is myself in Him that was crucified there. And therefore God sets down the record of everyone who is in Christ, "He is crucified." So that by the two immutable things, by the double fact, it is so. Therefore, we can say with perfect freedom, it is no boasting, it is not presumption in any sense; it is simply the confession of faith in Jesus Christ, "I am crucified with Christ." Is not He crucified? Then as certainly as I am with Him, am I not crucified with Him? the word of God says so. "Our old man is crucified with Him?" Very good. Let us thank the Lord that that is so.
What is the use, then, of our trying, longing, to get ourselves crucified, so that we can believe that we are accepted of God? Why, it is done, thank the Lord! In Him it is done. As certainly as the soul by faith sinks self in Jesus Christ and by that divine power which He has brought to us to do it, so certainly it is done as a divine fact. And it is only the genuine expression of faith to tell, to acknowledge, that divine fact that "I am crucified with Christ." Jesus sunk His divine self in our human nature and altogether was crucified. When we sink ourselves in Him, it is so still, because in Him only is it done. It is all in Him. We call attention to the thought we had in the lesson a few evenings ago, that it is not in Him in the sense of His being a receptacle to which we can go and take it out and apply it to ourselves. No. But it is in Him in the sense that it is all there and when we are in Him, when we go into the receptacle, when we sink into Him, we have it all in Him as we are in Him.
Therefore, now let every soul of us say by the faith of Jesus Christ, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him." "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." He is alive again. And because He lives, we live also. "Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith"--in the Son of God? "the faith of the Son of God,"--that divine faith which He brought to human nature and which He gives to you and to me. We "live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20. O, He loved Me! When He gave Himself in all His glory and all His wondrous worth for me, who was nothing, is it much that I should give myself to Him?
But there is more of the verse. Rom. 6:6 still: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin." Good! In Him we have the victory, victory from the service of sin. There is victory over the service of sin, in this knowing that we are crucified with Him.
Now I say that this blessed fact which we find in Him lifts us right to that place; yea, and the fact holds us in the place. That is so. There is a power in it. That is a fact. We will have occasion to see it more fully presently.
When He was crucified, what followed? When He was nailed to the cross, what came next? He died. Now read in this same chapter, eighth verse: "Now if we be dead with Christ"--well, what else can there be? As certainly as I am crucified with Him, I shall be dead with Him. Being crucified with Him, we shall be dead with Him.
Dead with Him? Do we know that? Look back at the fourth verse. When He had been crucified and had died, what followed? He was buried--the burial of the dead. And what of us? Now, "therefore, we are buried with him." Buried with Him! Were we crucified with Him? Did we die with Him? Have the Father and Christ wrought out in human nature the death of sinful self? Yes. Whose? Mine.
Then do you not see that all this is a gift of faith that is to be taken with everything else that God gives of faith? The death of the old man is in Christ, and in Him we have it and thank God for it. With Him the old man was crucified. With Him the old man died, and when He was buried, the old man was buried. My human, old, sinful self was crucified, died and was buried with Him. And with Him it is buried yet when I am in Him. Out of Him I have it not, of course. Every one that is outside of Him has none of this. In Him it is--in Him. And we receive it all by faith in Him.
We are simply studying now the fact that we have in him, the facts which are given to us in Him and which are to be taken by faith. These are facts of faith.
We thank the Lord that all this is literal fact--that our old man is crucified, dead, and buried with Him and that in Him we have that gift. In Him we have the gift and the fact of the death of the old man--the death of the human, sinful nature and the burial of it. And when that old thing is crucified and dead and buried, then the next verse--the seventh: "He that is dead is freed from sin."
So then, knowing "that our old man is crucified with him" that henceforth we should not serve sin, we are free from the service of sin. Brethren I am satisfied it is just as much our place day by day now to thank God for freedom from the service of sin as it is to breathe. I say it over. I say it is just as much our place, our privilege and our right to claim in Christ--in Him only and as we believe in Him--and to thank God for freedom from the service of sin as it is to breathe the breath that we breathe as we get up in the morning.
How can I ever have the blessing and the benefit there is in that thing if I do not take the thing? If I am always hesitating and afraid that I am not free from the service of sin, how long will it take to get me free from the service of sin? That very hesitating, that very fear, is from doubt, is from unbelief, and is sin in itself. But in Him, when God has wrought out for us indeed freedom from the service of sin, we have the right to thank God for it and as certainly as we claim it and thank Him for it, we shall enjoy it. "He that is dead is freed from sin" (margin, "is justified from sin"). and it is in Him, and we have it as we are in Him by faith.
Let us therefore read the first verse of the sixth of Romans:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein.
Can a man live on what he died of? No. Then when the man has died of sin, can he live in sin? can he live with sin? A man dies of delirium tremens or typhoid fever. Can he live on delirium tremens or typhoid fever, even if by a possibility he should be brought to live long enough to realise that he was there? The very thought of it would be death to him, because it killed him once. So it is with the man who dies of sin. The very appearance of it, the very bringing of it before him after that is death to him. If he has consciousness enough and life enough to realise that it is there, he will die of it again. He cannot live on what he died of.
But the great trouble with many people is that they do not get sick enough of sin to die. That is the difficulty. They get sick perhaps of some particular sin and they want to stop that and "want to die" to that and they think they have left that off. Then they get sick of some other particular sin that they think is not becoming to them--they cannot have the favour and the estimation of the people with that particular sin so manifest and they try to leave that off. But they do not get sick of sin--sin in itself, sin in the conception, sin in the abstract, whether it be in one particular way or another particular way. They do not get sick enough of sin itself to die to sin. When the man gets sick enough--not of sins but of sin, the very suggestion of sin, and the thought of sin--why you cannot get him to live in it any more. He cannot live in it; it killed him once. And he cannot live in what he died of.
We have constantly the opportunity to sin. Opportunities to sin are ever presented to us. Opportunities to sin and to live in it are presented day by day. But it stands written: "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus." "I die daily." As certainly as I have died to sin, the suggestion of sin is death to me. It is death to me in Him.
Therefore, this is put in the form of a surprised, astonished question, "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death?" Baptism means baptism into His death.
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Turn to Colossians. There was the word you remember that we had in Brother Durland's lesson one day. Col. 2:20:
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world [the elements of the world, worldliness, and this thing that leads to the world--the enmity], why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to the world?
That is simply speaking of our deliverance from the service of sin. It is simply saying, in other words, what is said in Rom. 6:6, "Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." Why, as though living outside of Him are we still doing those same things? No, sir. Rom. 6:14, "For sin shall not have dominion over you." The man who is delivered from the domination of sin is delivered from the service of sin. In Jesus Christ it is a fact, too. So read on from Romans 6:6-14.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
Is He alive? Yes. Thank the Lord! Who died? Jesus died, and we are dead with Him. And He is alive, and we who believe in Him are alive with Him. That, however, will come more fully afterward.
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Let us hold to this. Let us thank God this moment and henceforward, day by day, with every thought, "I am crucified with Him." As certainly as He is crucified, I am crucified; as certainly as He is dead, I am dead with Him; as certainly as He is buried, I was buried with Him; as certainly as He is risen, I am risen with Him, and henceforth I shall not serve sin. In Him we are free from the dominion of sin and from the service of sin. Thank the Lord for His unspeakable gift!