‘Tis not far off-the hour
When Christ will claim His own;
We soon shall hear that voice of power;
The Lord Himself shall come!
The days are passing by,
The years flow on apace;
Lord Jesus, Thy return draws nigh,
We long to see Thy face.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord
2014 is almost over. When I was a boy, I was told that the Lord would have certainly come for His church by the year 2000. In the 1950’s, 2000 was a lifetime away (so it seemed then). But the years have flown by. We are nearly 2015 and the Lord hasn’t come – yet! But the Lord IS coming soon – we just don’t know when. I am reminded of the verses:
‘Tis not far off-the hour When Christ will claim His own; We soon shall hear that voice of power; The Lord Himself shall come! The days are passing by, The years flow on apace; Lord Jesus, Thy return draws nigh, We long to see Thy face.
Over the past few months I have been editing a booklet based on J N Darby’s ‘Outline to the books of the Bible.’ This is 80- page summary, highlighting the Holy Spirit’s principal messages, less well known than his five volume synopsis. It is now available in draft form and you can download it by clicking here. Please feel free to circulate it, but note that it is still a draft. If you see anything that looks wrong please send me an email. I would like to put the booklet into print in due course, but I wait on God as to when and how.
The Rule Book
A year or so ago a friend of mine gathered a few young people and encouraged them to ask questions – about anything. The majority were of the lines ‘Why are we not allowed to have TV?’ , ‘Why can’t I join a rock band?’ and the like. You can imagine how sad my friend was. Christianity doesn’t have a rule book – the Bible certainly isn’t one, even though it tells us what is pleasing to God and what is not.
I trust that some came away saying ‘I don’t want a TV because of the torrent of filth on it that I cannot control’, and ‘I don’t want to be a member of a rock group, because Jesus would never have been a member.’
The Second Man, and Deliverance from Sin
This caused me to work on two articles for ADOSS based on papers by JND.
The first was based on a preaching. After covering the basics of the gospel, Darby said that sin must be put away perfectly. The sinner brought back to God must be spotless. Christ did not enter heaven again until He had settled the whole question of our sins and of sin itself. The moment I, as a poor sinner, look by faith to Jesus as my divine sin-bearer, all my sins are gone – they are put out of God’s sight for ever. I am pardoned through His blood, peace having been made through the blood of the cross. And the glorified Man is in heaven, appearing in the presence of God for us – of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God. No sin there
The second paper shows what wonderful freedom we have. 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.
It would appear that in 520BC Zechariah, Buddah and Confucius were all engaged in their work. Which one brought people back to God? Who said ‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you’ (Zech 1:3). Who had an idea of God’s standard (the measuring line) Zech. 2? Who saw a man’s filthy garments changed to festival robes (Zech 3 – Darby trans. – from our own righteousness to God’s)? And which could speak of the sons of oil (Zech 4 – the limitless supply from God’s Holy Spirit)?
These two wise men from the East were no more than that – giving good advice – but none changing the man which cannot be improved, however much men try!
We cry to God for the state of the Church
Up till now the Roman Catholic church, despite its idolatry, human organisation and wrong teaching, stood for some things that were right – upholding marriage, condemning homosexual activity etc. Protestantism had already bowed to the times. Now even Catholicism is following suit. Looking at prophecy, that is not surprising. Let there be a call – not to change the system – but for true hearts to follow Jesus ‘outside the camp’
And let us cry to God for those whose Lives are in Danger
The headline on an email I received this week says ‘Aasia Bibi’s appeal against death sentence rejected’. This young mother has been languishing in prison since being falsely accused by some of her co-workers of defiling the name of Mohammed. The government of Pakistan could well bow to international pressure in such a high profile case. But how many others are there? – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, North Korea knowing the literality of the verse, ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life’. (Rev 2:10).
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’.
. 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: –
new relationships, and
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.
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.
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!