Page images
PDF
EPUB

pose of God, which embraces suffering and death, as the way by which man is to be brought to the blessed result for which he intends him.

Ver. 9th. “ But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

To have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, and to have the Spirit of Christ-evidently mean, to yield ourselves up to the Spirit of God and of Christ, that is, to “accept the gift of righteousness," which requires, as we have seen, a consent to partake in Christ's death. Ver. 10th. . And if Christ be in

you,

the body is dead, because of sin ; but the Spirit is life, because of righteousness."

If you really yield yourselves to the Spirit of Christ, your body will be dead on account of sin; that is, you will have given up the hope of life or enjoyment in the flesh, as a corrupt and condemned thing, and you will be necessarily shedding out its blood, under the influence of the Spirit of him, who condemned sin in the flesh, by making himself a sin-offering. But the spirit, the spiritual part of man in you, will be life, full of life, in con

sequence of its participation in, and union with, the righteous Spirit of Christ.

Ver. 11th. “ But if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead, dwell in you ; He that raised Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by or on account of his spirit dwelling in you.

The Apostle fails not to direct our eyes to the glorious resurrection—the end of God's purpose,--that so

we may be encouraged and strengthened to walk in the predestined way of suffering.

I would here again, and at the risk of being accused of needless repetition, desire the reader's particular attention to the fact, that, although the great general distinction between the flesh and the Spirit is, that the one seeks the will of self, and the other, the will of God—yet that the specific distinction between them, and that which is more directly before the Apostle's mind through the course of this argument, as well as through many other parts of his writings, is, that the Spirit enters cordially into that eternal purpose of God in Jesus Christ, by which He would lead men through sorrow and death to glory; and that the flesh cannot and will not enter into it.

And as the Apostle knows that it is only by the knowledge of God's gracious purpose, and by the hope of the blessed and glorious conclusion, that we can be strengthened to live in the Spirit, sympathizing with God's purpose, whilst the process of suffering and death is actually going on, so he is most abundant in setting before us that conclusion, as well as in declaring the loving heart of God, which endures to lay on the affliction, and to break the first vessel, because He sees the end to which it leads, in the production of the second vessel.*

Ver. 12–15. “Therefore brethren, we are debtors, not the flesh, to live after the flesh for if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die ; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the

[ocr errors]

* That a conformity to Christ's death, in dying to the world and the flesh, and more directly still, a willingness to suffer with him, is very often the special and appropriate meaning of walking by faith, and walking in the Spirit, may be shown from many passages,—thus 2 Cor. iv. from 10th verse, to chap. v. 9, marking particularly chap. iv. 13, and chap. v. 5, in their connection with the rest of the passage. See also Philip. iii. 9, to the end. And Heb. x. from verse 32d, forward through all chap. xi.

sons of God; for ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but

ye

have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

Those who live after the flesh, acquire the carnal mind, which is death; and those who live after the Spirit, acquire the spiritual mind, which is life and peace. Those who follow the Spirit of God, are those who are led by it; and as that Spirit is the Spirit of the well-beloved Son, they who are united to it, are in truth Sons of God, κτισθεντες εν Χριστο 'Incov, as it is in Eph. i. 10, constituted in Christ Jesus, and so made partakers of his relation to the Father.

They have not received the word of exhortation, in the spirit of legality, as their fathers in the wilderness, but in the spirit of sonship, which has confidence in God as a Father, however appalling the outward aspect of His dealings may be, because it is assured of His gracious design, through them all; which is the meaning of the following verses.

Ver. 16–18. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;

R

if so be that we suffer with him, that we should be also glorified with him. For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Paul here intimates, that He who speaks in every conscience, when his voice is listened to, by any man, and welcomed, and obeyed as the voice of a Father, is not slow to justify such confiding dependance, but reveals himself inwardly to that man as indeed a Father, and shows him the inheritance; whilst at the same time He teaches him by the sufferings of Jesus, the first-born of the xtious or family,—what is His mode of training all the rest of the family.

Thus we see that the witness of the Spirit is here set forth as sustaining us under affliction, by representing it to us, as a part of that large inheritance, in which we are called to be joint-heirs with Christ, and as a part in which we must partake with him, if we would also partake with him in his glory. The Apostle himself, then, ver. 18th, as a member of the family, gives his own testimony, as he does in many other places, to the insignificancy of the present sorrow, in comparison of the hope set before him.

« PreviousContinue »