J B Stoney Condensed – Establishment in Liberty

We will not make spiritual progress till we know establishment in liberty. The Corinthians and Galatians had fallen from liberty. It was the natural mind in Corinthians and religiousness in Galatians.

James Butler Stoney

We might admire truth, but we will not make spiritual progress till we know establishment in liberty. The Corinthians and Galatians had fallen from liberty. It was the natural mind in Corinthians and religiousness in Galatians.

The Natural Mind – Corinthians

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath 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.

But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord

2 Corinthians 3: 7 – 18

The Corinthians were led away by their natural minds, they gloried in their own wisdom, were not beholding the glory and were not in liberty.

Our Saviour is in glory, and we are drawn out of the ruin here to Christ where He is. That is the gospel of the glory. It is a ministration of righteousness from the glory. The glory of God is the expression of all His attributes. In much of Christendom the gospel does not go beyond the Passover – pardon for sins – Christ’s death on the cross. But being in the food resurrection is a step further. When I see Christ risen, I am justified and have peace with God. In Romans, the apostle brings me to the Person – that is deliverance:

As I look on the Lord’s glory we are transformed (2 Cor 3:18). Now, seeing Christ in glory, we brought into moral correspondence with Him. I cannot enjoy the gospel of the glory unless I am in liberty. The word transformed (μεταμορφούμεθα/metamorphoumetha/Strong 3339) – changed into another form or metamorphosised[i]. When I behold Him in the assembly, His things totally absorb me. It is like the queen of Sheba: when she came to Solomon and saw his glory, she was so entranced that there was no spirit left in her. So it is in beholding the Lord’s glory, self is displaced.

Merely reading the Bible will not conform me to be like Him. The two disciples going to Emmaus had a wonderful exposition of Scripture, but it was not which changed their course. Everything changed when the Lord made Himself known to them. Scripture corroborates our enjoyment.

Religiousness – Galatians

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Galatians 4: 28 – 5: 1

In Galatians it was religiousness. They had put themselves back under the law. They had begun in the Spirit, but were now seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. That is religiousness.

When Isaac was weaned, Abraham made a feast: all in the house were doing honour to Isaac – that is all except Ishmael, a youth of fourteen, who mocked. Sarah says he must be cast out. The first great thing in is that If Christ is to have an acknowledged right to everything that I have, I have to get rid of the religious man. Nobody has liberty till he has parted with one man (Adam), and is in another (Christ). Then he is able to say, ‘I am crucified with Christ: 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 of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20). Nothing is more difficult than to say honestly that I have done with the old man – he is eclipsed. Man tries to improve himself, he does not like to be eclipsed.

Traditional doctrine says in effect, ‘Get Isaac to improve Ishmael’. There are beautiful traits in man but none of them acknowledge Christ. Ishmael was Abraham’s son, brought up in Abraham’s house, but he persecuted the heir of promise. Finding hat the best quality in my nature does not like Christ, is an even more painful experience than that of Romans 7,. Flesh will always be flesh: I cannot improve it . As J.G. Bellett said, ‘You may sublimate the flesh as much as you like, it will never yield spirit.’[i]

There are two things:
1. I acknowledge Christ – the true Isaac – in His place.
2. I do not tolerate Ishmael.

A person in liberty rejoices in Christ Jesus and has no confidence in the flesh; he shrinks from the flesh. Everything must come divinely. The more effective a man is, the more correctly will he quote Scripture.

I might say, If I put Ishmael out of the door he will come in at the window. However, I have the Holy Spirit within me, resisting the flesh, so as not to do fleshly things. I have a power in me that keeps the door like a policeman. It is more than self-control. It is positive: ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14). There is not a word about sins in this passage, it is pure liberty – a new creation.

Conclusion

Now I can say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me“. And now comes the practical course – “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God“, etc. It is transcendent!


[i] I cannot find the citation of this from Bellett. According to Stem Publishing, the expression was used by Charles Mackintosh and Walter Woolston . Both must have been quotes but this was not acknowledged. John Gifford Bellett predated both of the above by 25 and 50 years respectively.

[i] Strong’s note to this word: STRONGS NT 3339: μεταμορφόω

μεταμορφόω, μεταμόρφω: passive, present μεταμορφοῦμαι; 1 aorist μετεμορφώθη; to change into another form (cf. μετά, III. 2), to transfigure, transform: μετεμορφώθη, of Christ, his appearance was changed (A. V. he was transfigured), i. e. was resplendent with a divine brightness, Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2 (for which Luke 9:29 gives ἐγένετο τόεἶδος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἕτερον); of Christians: τήν αὐτήν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα, we are transformed into the same image (of consummate excellence that shines in Christ), reproduce the same image, 2 Corinthians 3:18;

Moral Law – an unscriptural Expression

People speak about a ‘moral law’, but they have only a vague idea of what is meant by the expression. They say, ‘Live by the ten commandments’ or, ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matt 7:12 NIV). They quote scripture, but in so doing put themselves and others under bondage. That is not Christianity. The Christian has been delivered from the law.

There are expressions which are used by Christians, which as well as being unscriptural, convey a meaning which is also contrary to the truth as presented in scripture.   One of these is ‘moral law’.

People speak about a ‘moral law’, but they have only a vague idea of what is meant by the expression.  They say, ‘Live by the ten commandments’ or, ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matt 7:12 NIV).  They quote scripture, but in so doing put themselves and others under bondage. That is not Christianity.  The Christian has been delivered from the law.

Christians under a so-called ‘moral law’ have set aside Paul’s teaching.  They show a semblance of piety, but are effectively seeking to be justified by works.  Even if the works were good ones, they are under a curse. (see Gal 3:10).  A Christian, being of a fallen race, finds himself ruined by the law, deceived by it to his own sorrow.  The law knows no mercy.  He is spiritually dead.

Paul found that experimentally.  Paul saw that the law condemned lust.  So, because he lusted he was self-condemned.   Lust was in his nature.  The law claimed absolute obedience to God, but he found he did not have the power to keep it.  He wanted to do what was right but couldn’t.  In short, he coveted, and thus broke the law.  What was ordained to life, he found to be to death (see Rom 7:10).

 

Christ and the Law

God gave the promise to Abraham.  The law was given later.  If the law could have given life, righteousness could have been by the law.   But the law did not give either the motive or the power to do right.  That is why in Galatians the law is treated as a schoolmaster.  The law condemns sins.  More than that, it condemns sin.

In Romans 7 Paul insisted that one cannot have two husbands at the same time.  A Christian cannot cannot be under obligation to both Christ and the law.  A Christian is ‘dead to the law by the body of Christ(Rom 7:4).   If he (or she) is dead, he is no longer under the law.  ,  ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you, because ye are not under the law, but under grace’ (Rom 6:14).

Somebody might say, ‘Yes; but the flesh is still there, so I need the law, not to put away sin, but that it might not have dominion.’  That is false – The Christian is to be consciously dead in Christ.  If a person is dead, he is beyond the reach of law by death.  The Christian has died with Christ and is resurrection: he is in newness of life – in Christ, not Adam.

I am ‘dead to the law by the body of Christ’ (Rom 7:4)The death that the law sentenced me to in my conscience has fallen on another — Christ.  Otherwise I would have been left in everlasting misery.  But in love Christ put Himself in my place.  Now I am justified and have a right to reckon myself dead, because Christ has died and has risen again.  I have  received Him into my heart as life: He is really my life.

Godliness is walking with a risen Christ – that is Christian life.   The measure of that walk is Christ, and nothing else.

The Divine Law

A true believer always holds difference between right and wrong, to be an immovable and fixed moral foundation.  It is revealed by God in His word.

The Lord said ‘Keep my commandments’ (John 15:10) and John wrote ‘This is love, that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:2) .   Some are afraid of the word ‘commandment’, as if it would weaken the ideas of love, grace and new creation.  But keeping the commandments and obeying one we love is the proof of our love.   Christ Himself said, ‘I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment, so I do.’ (John 14:31).   His highest act of love, in dying for us on the cross, was His highest act of obedience.

The Spirit will produce fruits against which there is no law.

  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law’ (Gal 5:22-23.
  • Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love’ (Eph 5:1-2 Darby).
  • Put on therefore, as [the] elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any should have a complaint against any; even as the Christ has forgiven you, so also do ye. And to all these add love, which is the bond of perfectness’ (Col 3:12-14 Darby).
  • A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)

 

This is a summary of part of letter written by John Nelson Darby.  It is published in Collected Writings Volume 10 (Doctrinal 3) page 1.

This summary covers the first wrong term ‘moral law’.   A subsequent article, will, God willing, cover the second term ‘Christ’s righteousness’.

Sosthenes

December 2016

Darby on Romans 8 – Our Place in Christ and Security through Him

‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ (v. 31). God is for us, giving, justifying, and despite the difficulties, nothing shall separate us from His love – that is the great central truth of grace. He justifies us Himself – little matter who condemns us then!

So there may be difficulties, trials, and dangers in the way. Satan’s power against us, death, has been removed: therefore we more than conquer. Angels and powers – creature power or creature weakness – cannot separate us from the love of God. God is stronger than any creature; yet He who, as Man, went through everything, meeting the whole hostile power of death, secures us for glory against all opposition.

RomeThere are two things that Paul now assumes to be true of the Christian:

1. He is in Christ

2. The Spirit of God dwells in him.

His responsibility is something else.

Two passages describe the Christian’s blessing:

  1. Romans 5:1-11 – While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
  2. Romans 8 – There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus

Note that it is ‘those who are in Christ Jesus’, not ‘those for whose sins Christ died’. The latter are forgiven, justified and fully blest, but not in the enjoyment of their new standing as having died in the flesh, made alive to God in Christ. How could there be condemnation for those who are in Christ? It would be, so to speak, like condemning Christ.

In Christ we are on great and sure ground, the law of sin and death having lost its power. Instead the Christian has an inner spiritual or divine life, setting him free from the law of sin and death. Previously the deadly principle that ruled in him beforehand has no dominion. That is what he is before God in life.

Then why I am not condemned for me evil nature. It required the good, but provoked the sin.

The law:

1. Could not work good nor righteousness in me

2. Could not bring the question of flesh to an end before God

3. Could neither justify nor deliver me

4. Could not clear me before God of the evil that is in it

5. Could not hinder the flesh acting

6. Could not justify me while the flesh was there

7. Could not do the good it required.

Sin in the flesh has been condemned, because there can be no condemnation for one in Christ. My sins have been blotted out, but also the nature which produced them has been condemned, that is, sin in the flesh. The old man has been condemned to death, and the new man is alive. Having been set free, I walk after the Spirit, thus fulfilling the claim of the law – under grace. This is the true walk of the Christian in this world.

There are two natures, each with their respective objects:

1. The old nature in the flesh. The law fruitlessly forbade the old man’s desires as well as its acts. They that are after the flesh are governed by the things which that the flesh craves after. The mind of the flesh is death, enmity against God, resisting His authority. God comes in by law, asserts His authority and forbids lust; but the insubject, disobedient flesh loves its own lustful will and hates God.

2. The new nature under the power of the Spirit of God, the mind of the Spirit being life and peace. Such a one is not standing in the flesh, but in the Spirit, in liberty with God and free from sin – the fruit of redemption by Christ – of the ministry of righteousness and the Spirit. This characterises the Christian, and distinguishes him.

Christ has redeemed, justified, and cleansed us. The Holy Spirit makes us aware that we have a new place before Go – in His presence, accepted in Him, delivered and with no condemnation. This position belongs only to those who have the Spirit. Without the Spirit they do not have the proper Christian place, and do not belong to Him according to the power of redemption.

‘If Christ be in you, the body is dead, because of sin’ (v.10). If Christ is the power of life, the body, as far as will is concerned must be dead. Life must be by the Spirit, producing righteousness. This is the full answer to our being free from sin. Furthermore, our mortal bodies are quickened by the Holy Spirit.

In Rom 8, the Spirit is spoken of in three ways:

1. The Spirit of God, contrasted with flesh – man as he is

2. The Spirit of Christ, or Christ in us, formative of our practical state

3. The Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus, quickening our mortal bodies, giving us full liberty.

• Up to v. 11, the Spirit is presented as indwelling

• In v. 12-27, He is spoken of as a distinct and separate Person, acting on us and in us

• In v. 28-39, the Holy Spirit is for us, securing us in the blessing of God’s purpose.

The second part of the chapter is preceded by two practical verses (v.12- 13). ‘We are not debtors to the flesh.’ The flesh has no claim or title over us; It has done us all the evil it can, and has been condemned on the cross of Christ. We are dead to it, so we put to death the deeds of the body (See v. 18 Darby Translation).

Then from v.14, we are told, ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God these are the sons of God.’ God has brought us here by grace, through redemption and the Holy Spirit. We now know that we are sons of God, so we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. We do not examine ourselves – that would be a false, unscriptural and evil procedure, but we are in a conscious relationship, the Spirit giving us the confidence.

As God’s children, we are joint-heirs with Christ, He being the great heir and firstborn. But then our path is characterised by His mind and nature. He suffered and now is glorified as Man, so we suffer with (not for) Him – this is a special privilege. Walking in holy love and heavenly grace, He could but suffer in the midst of the sinful world that rejected His love. His Spirit must always have been grieved by the sin and sorrow that was all around Him. So as saints we suffer in measure with Him, ‘If we suffer with him, we shall reign with him’ (2 Tim 2:12). But the sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory.

There is a beautiful connection between the suffering and the glory. Through the dwelling of the Spirit in us, God gives us to know that we are His sons, and reveals the glory to us, despite our being in this world of sorrow. We are delivered, and in the liberty of glory – something we can be intelligent as to.

This is a general statement. What follows is our personal connection with it as Christians. Christians, having the mind of Christ, know that the world is groaning and travailing in pain through the fall. Meanwhile the flesh, our own included, is trying to improve it. We, being creatures, have to wait for the redemption our bodies, the final part of our actual adoption and salvation. The redemption of our bodies and the purchased possession go together: we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins, but the Spirit is the earnest (or entitlement) of our possession. It is in this sense we are saved in hope, and know that we have been sealed for the day of redemption – Jesus’ return. We look back to Christ’s finished work; we understand its value, and patiently look forward to Christ’s glorious second coming. Meanwhile our unredeemed bodies have been bought with a price; and we suffer with the One who suffered here.

Through our connection with a fallen creation, He takes part also in our infirmities. There is a mass of sorrow which we feel according to God by the Holy Spirit, for which we, in our weakness, do not know how we should pray, but we feel the evil in the world pressing on our hearts. The Spirit works so that our prayers are according to God’s will, making intercession for us. ‘The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered’ (v.26). Thus He who searches the hearts, and scrutinises what is found there, does not find poor selfish feelings or complaints, but the mind of the Spirit. That is a wonderful privilege: as we see the glory and take part in it according to God, and we are through grace its voice.

But although we do not know what to pray for, we do ‘know that all things work together for good to them that love God’ (v. 28). God works in our favour, even though we do know not what to look for. Perhaps in the present state of things there is no remedy, but one thing is certain – God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him. There may be still sorrow, but in the sorrow we are blessed. We are called according to God’s purpose, and God orders everything for our good.

God works for us (not in us), and this is the third part of the chapter. We now have the counsel and favour of God – His own purpose. To set poor dying worms, in the same glory as the Son of the Father has nothing to do with responsibility, It is God’s Man sovereignty. If through grace we love God, it was because we have been sovereignly called according to His purpose. We have been foreknown and predestinated to a glory which was in God’s mind and counsels before the world began. We are ‘conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.’ (v. 29).

In Romans, the instruction does not go beyond the individual, even in speaking of the purpose of God. We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, that He may be the firstborn among many brethren. Our sins and our sin were met on the cross – this is surely sovereign grace.

‘As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly’ (1 Cor 15:49). He ‘shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body’ (Phil 3:21). Could we conceive anything more glorious, more blessed, than to be conformed to the image of God’s Son – to see Him as He is – and to be like Him?

The Spirit confirms the security of those whom God has perfectly predestinated to be sons, according His purpose, will and counsel. ‘That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us by Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:7). He called us, justified us, and brought us to perfection in His plan – He glorified us. It is not as yet completed historically, but it is all one unbroken chain with God.

From this is derived – ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ (v. 31). God is for us, giving, justifying, and despite the difficulties, nothing shall separate us from His love – that is the great central truth of grace. He justifies us Himself – little matter who condemns us then!

So there may be difficulties, trials, and dangers in the way. Satan’s power against us, death, has been removed: therefore we more than conquer. Angels and powers – creature power or creature weakness – cannot separate us from the love of God. God is stronger than any creature; yet He who, as Man, went through everything, meeting the whole hostile power of death, secures us for glory against all opposition.

He intercedes for us: ‘It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.’ (v. 34). As the exalted Man; He is interested in us and intercedes for us, so we find our needed help and mercy. What can separate us from His love? In v. 39, it is the divine, supreme, and immutable love of God in Christ – stronger than anything that might separate us from this love.

Romans does not proceed into God’s counsels and privileges connected with the establishment of Christ’s glory as Head (that is Ephesians); but it reveals our standing by the word of God and the Holy Spirit’s reasoning.

This closes the doctrine of the epistle, carrying us on personally to glory – surely this is high and blessed enough!

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby on Romans 7 – Released from the Law

That law as applied to the inward man.
That in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing (18)
That the old man has died so we can say, ‘When we were in the flesh’ (5).
That it is not I; (because I hate sin having being renewed); It is then sin in me
That it is too strong for me.
So I stop trying to be better, and look for a Deliverer instead. The Deliverer is Jesus. Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

RomeIn Romans 7 we have the distinction between a soul under law, and a soul in life with a risen Christ. We have the soul’s experience being quickened and renewed in its desires and delights, but not knowing deliverance. It does not understand that it has died with Christ, and is now connected with another – Christ risen from the dead. The description of the deliverance follows, and we have the condition of the delivered soul in Romans 8.

Having been crucified with Christ, we are free from law. The law has power over a man as long as he lives. This is illustrated by the case of marriage, and the law or bond of husband and wife, which lasts evidently as long as one lives, and no longer; the survivor is free to be to another when the other is dead.

We are delivered, being dead to the law, by the body of Christ. (See v.4). Death puts an end to our legal obligations, but of course we have not died actually: Christ has died for us.   Now we are united to Him in resurrection, so we can bear fruit to God in the power of life.

Because Christ has died, we do not stand before God as Adam’s children. We can therefore say, ‘when we were in the flesh’ (v.5); clearly we could not say that if we were still in it. When we were in the flesh, and hence the law, our sinful acts brought forth fruit unto death. If a child is told that something is forbidden, he or she is apt to desire it even more. A disobedient child only pushes harder against the obstacle opposed to him. This leads to actual sin unto death.

Romans 6 gave us the doctrine of our old man being crucified with Christ. Romans 7 gives are connection as children of Adam with law and our But deliverance from it. As life in which we were connected with the law has ended, the bond which attached us to that life does not exist any more. Instead, we are connected with a risen Christ, serving in the newness of spirit, not in the legal oldness of letter. We cannot have two husbands at once.   Christ, not the law, is now our life and husband, and we have power to bring forth fruit to God, something that the sinful flesh could never have. We just cannot have the law and Christ together.

The law does not condemn our nature or treat us as lost, but it does make us conscious of our state – what we are. Was it the fault of the law, that sin had dominion over us? No, it was sin and lust, and these things were condemned by the law. Sin deceived us, and killed us. The law said, ‘Thou shalt not covet.’ (v. 9) We may not be criminals – we have not murdered, stolen, or committed adultery; but who of us has never lusted, or coveted? If we claimed not to have lusted, we would be saying that we were not children of Adam. It is important to stress that we are not speaking of sinful acts, but of our sinful state; not forgiveness of sins, but of deliverance from sin. It is not what we have done, but what we are. We discover the sinful source in us – that there is no good there – a humbling discovery! We cannot make a child of Adam good, he has to be born again.

Because of the law, we have the knowledge of sin: without it, sin was dead. When the commandment came, I felt my guilt, and death came upon my conscience. I was a living child of Adam, unconscious of sin, but when the law of God forbade lust, my conscience was affected, and I died under its judgment. Whereas the law said to me, ‘Do this and thou shalt live’ (Luke 10:28), I took up the law, thinking I had power to be good and righteous by it. I could not, as sin showed itself to be in opposition to, and in transgression of, God’s holy, just, and good will. So the law killed me.

We now have the expression ‘οἴδαμεν γὰρ – We know’ (v.14). This is a technical expression for the Christian’s knowledge. I have learnt:

  1. That law as applied to the inward man.
  2. That in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing (18)
  3. That the old man has died so we can say, ‘When we were in the flesh’ (5).
  4. That it is not I; (because I hate sin having being renewed); It is then sin in me
  5. That it is too strong for me.

I cannot do what I want to do – indeed, I do not know how to do it. I desire to do what is right, but good never comes. That is not the Christian state.

But I have light from God. The law is spiritual but I am carnal, a slave to (or sold under) sin. I consent to the law that it is good; I have knowledge of sin, but I do what I hate.

But, thank God for His grace: I have a new man, a new life, and I can treat sin as a stranger, even though it dwells in me. Now the renewed man comes out – the positive will to do good – I delight in the law of God in the inner man – that is more than consent. But still I have no power: I cannot do good. There is another law in my members, a constantly operating power of evil bringing me into captivity, even though against my will.

Poor wretched man! But (immense advantage) I know it. I know my real state: I know there is no good in my flesh, and that I have no power. I am just like the poor man at the pool of Bethesda: he desired to be healed, but did not have the strength to get healed. (See John 5). So I stop trying to be better, and look for a Deliverer instead. The Deliverer is Jesus. Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The difference in me is immense. The power of the flesh has broken, and I have no thought of being in the flesh before God. Even though the evil flesh is still there, I am not in Romans 7 any longer. Christ has set me free. ‘So, then, I myself with the mind serve the law of God; with the flesh, the law of sin(v.25). This leads me to Rom 8:1, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’ Romans 8 develops this further.

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby Simplified – Freedom from Guilt and Freedom from Sin

Not only as believers are we to be free of guilt, but we are to know deliverance from the law of sin and death. We still have the flesh, its will and lusts, and in our own strength there is nothing we can do. But Christ’s death terminated that man. As a result we can be in newness of life, in the liberty of sonship. I am at liberty, because the sin I have discovered in my flesh has been condemned in the cross of Christ. Now by faith I am crucified with Him, and have a new place before God, after the cross, beyond Satan’s power, death and judgment. That place is liberty.

Fundamental Truth  – a Summary by Sosthenes on John Nelson Darby’s Article ‘Deliverance from the Law of Sin’.

To view the complete paper, click here.

 To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 32 Miscellaneous 1 – p323) – click here 

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby
. Not only as believers are we to be free of guilt, but we are to know deliverance from the law of sin and death. We still have the flesh, its will and lusts, and in our own strength there is nothing we can do. As a result of Christ’s death, the Christian can say, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death’ (Rom 8:2). As a result we can know newness of life and the liberty of sonship. I am free, because the sin I have discovered in my flesh has been condemned in the cross of Christ. By faith I am crucified with Him; I have a new place before God, beyond death, judgment and Satan’s power. That place is liberty.
 

Peace with God but not delivered from the Law of Sin

Some believers do not experience deliverance from the law of sin, even though they have peace with God. Deliverance from the law of sin and death cannot remain a theory.

Such persons are sure that they have been sealed; they are conscious of the Spirit’s dwelling in them, but are not delivered from that law of evil that works in the flesh. Of course there will always be conflict between the flesh. That will remain to the end, though perhaps in a more subtle form. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8). If the truth of Christ is in the heart, we are aware that there is that which is not of Christ, and have sensibilities and moral feelings as to what is contrary to Him. He is the life of the new man; His grace is sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in weakness.

The forgiven soul has liberty before God, peace and a purged conscience. In Rom. 5:2 the redeemed soul has a favour which is better than life (this grace wherein we stand).

Effect of Deliverance

Because of deliverance we have: –

  1. new relationships, and
  2. power over sin in the flesh.

Redemption brings us into a place of favour under grace, and delivered us, so we do not have to meet God in our own righteousness. This more than forgiveness and justification from guilt. It is the position of the new man. Many mix up the old man and the new. They have a true but sense of the riches of God’s grace; they enjoy forgiveness and eternal blessings. But that is not conscious sonship: in Christ, and Christ in them.

Why do we fail in practical deliverance from the law of sin? We enjoy liberty through grace, but we do not find sufficient power to resist evil. Now, the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection has closed all association with the first Adam’s place.   Law can no longer bind us: through God’s grace, we have new place and standing before God, based on redemption and divine righteousness – a place in sonship. Hence the Lord said, ‘My Father, and your Father; my God, and your God’ (John 17:20). We are in Christ before God, and, by the Holy Spirit, we know it. We know acceptance. Blessed be His name!

We are therefore in a new relationship. Death has put us out of relationship with all a living man is connected with – sin, the world, and all that is in it. That is what has happened to us if Christ is in us.

  • I look up. Christ (and I am in Him) is the very object and perfection of God’s delight, so I lack nothing; I am acceptable according to God Himself; I have nothing unacceptable.
  • I look Is all perfect? Though I earnestly love Christ, I find what displeases me, and even more so God. What is more, there is no excuse, for Christ is power as well as life.

Our responsibility as Christians is to walk here as Christ walked, manifesting the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. The question is not acceptance, but holiness, or acceptableness. As partakers of the divine nature, His judgment is ours.

The Flesh is still there

But this leads us to the very point in question. We hate the evil, yet the flesh is still there. How far we are free from it, or how far it has still power in us? We may writhe under the cords that bind us, and yet not be able to break them and be free. We are so weak. But, being renewed, as born of God, we hate the evil, and strive to live free from it. We do not succeed. We learn that there is no good in us. We hate the evil, but it is too strong for us.

Now comes deliverance, through the working and power of the Holy Spirit, in the faith of what our blessed Lord has wrought. He not only bore our sins, redeeming us and clearing us from guilt, but He died unto sin. When Christ was made a sacrifice for sin, God condemned sin in the flesh. ‘He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Cor. 5:21)

The hateful sin in me has been condemned in Christ’s death. So I reckon myself dead. The old man has been crucified with Christ. Of course I am not actually dead, but in faith I acknowledge this truth. The full result will be the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness, but the work has been done already.

The Old ‘I’ Gone

Up to this point, though I have been a quickened soul. as a child of Adam, I have been practically under the law. Now I have died with Christ, so as no longer to be a child of Adam. The old “I” of my corrupt and sinful nature, has died with Christ. I am delivered from the law, so that I reckon myself dead. There is no condemnation either – that was borne on the cross by the sinless One. We have not overcome ourselves: He overcame so that we might be delivered. So God pronounces, ‘Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3). Christ died and rose again; the Spirit now gives us the power of deliverance down here.

‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Cor.3:17). This liberty has a double aspect – liberty before God as a son and in Christ, and liberty from the law of sin in the flesh. I have a new place in Christ, in that I have died to the old Adam – and am now alive in Christ. Instead of dying physically, I have found a Deliverer, and I reckon myself dead, because Christ (who died) is in me as my life. The Holy Spirit gives me adoption, and the consciousness of being a son. The flesh may be still there, but I am not a debtor to it, but I am no longer a captive to the law of sin. On the contrary, Christ’s grace is sufficient for me, strength being made perfect in weakness. I am at liberty, because the sin I have discovered in my flesh has been condemned in the cross of Christ. Now by faith I am crucified with Him, and have a new place before God, after the cross, beyond Satan’s power, death and judgment. That place is liberty – liberty before God and from the law of sin. I am dead to sin, having died with Christ.

Romans does not go further than death, and Christ being our life. In Colossians, we are raised with Him, and are also dead to the world.

Christ’s work is so perfect, that we could, like the thief on the cross, go straight to paradise. But we are left here in the world, and have to do with the old man – the flesh, with Satan and with the world around. But we are free, redeemed out of the state and standing that we were in. As believers sealed with the Spirit, we are consciously sons in true liberty. But there is more still: when we have learned what it is to have died with Christ, the soul is set ‘free from the law of sin and death’ (Rom 8:2). As dead, we justified from sin – not sins.

A dead man no longer has a perverse will or evil lusts. But having the flesh we still have them. So unless we mortify the deeds of the body, an evil power is at work, giving us a bad state and weakened spiritual judgment. The flesh has does not answer to deliverance, and though we might have not lost the sense of our standing with God, and have liberty in one sense, our flesh works as if we had no spiritual power in Christ.

The Conflict

Now, in such cases, the remedy is not to deny our deliverance; Entangling our souls again in the yoke of bondage does not give us power. Slaves are not combatants, the yoke has to be broken. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Cor 3:17). Where there is liberty and spiritual power, there is also conflict. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” (Gal 5:17). Hence in Rom, 6:11, we are free, dead to sin, and alive in Christ to God.   Are we going to give ourselves to sin, or to God, to righteousness, the fruit being holiness, and the end everlasting life? (See v. 20-23). Our standing is perfect; our state no way so. How far do we live up to the life which is ours in Christ, through Christ in us? In 2 Cor. 4:10 we have, “Always bearing about in the body the dying [not the death] of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body.”

Our normal condition is to be ‘with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord’ (2 Cor. 3:18). We are changed into the same image; by faith we feed on Him in His humiliation as the bread come down from heaven; we live by Him; we abide in Him, and we grow up unto Him, who is the Head, in all things. Though the flesh is still here, the heart is elsewhere, so the flesh is inactive, it being suppressed by the dying of Jesus. A living body has its own will and acts according to it, but ‘If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.’ (Rom 8:10). Alas, we do not maintain this normal condition and God disciplines us, sometimes with a thorn in the flesh. We pass through temptations and snares, and pray constantly not to fail. But if we fail, we have an Advocate with the Father. Power is there in Christ for us; we are spiritually free. There is no excuse for failure – but we do.

Sonship

A son is always a son and knows it, even though he may be a naughty, rebellious son. He can never be a slave, He is not under the law of sin, but he may be practically governed by it in his ways, because he is not profiting by the grace and power of Christ. The standard of his Christianity becomes frightfully low; he sees “no harm” in things which, in earlier times, he would have shrunk from – not because they were prohibited, but because the life and Spirit of Christ in him found no food or attraction in them. This is a sad state. The remedy, however, is not making him doubt of his adoption, but presenting the claim of Christ’s love to walk worthy of the calling wherewith he is called.

It is important to understand that deliverance in the sense of known relationship with God, is different from deliverance as having died and having been risen with Christ. In the first it is the place we are in, in the latter it is the experience of walking in power as belonging to that place. Though the flesh is in us, we seek grace and strength from Christ. We can do nothing without Him.

Deliverance from the law of sin is the normal Christian state. We know the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and the power of the Spirit of God. We have true liberty: that is based on Christ’s once dying to sin, and for sin. See Romans 6 and 8. Grace is sufficient for us; our strength made perfect in weakness (we know that); so that there is no excuse for us to sin, even though the flesh is still in us.

Until we have learned that, we do not get freedom. Freedom is the portion of every Christian taught of God. We have strength for it in looking to Christ.   The Lord is so gracious!