SAVED FROM THE PENALTY, POWER AND PRESENCE OF SIN
SAVED FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN
This follows upon our regeneration which is evidenced by evangelical repentance and unfeigned faith. Every soul that truly puts his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is then and there saved from the penalty—the guilt, the wages, the punishment—of sin. When the apostle said to the penitent jailor, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” he signified that all his sins would be remitted by God; just as when the Lord said to the poor woman, “thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace” (Luke 7:50). He meant that all her sins were now forgiven her, for forgiveness has to do with the criminality and punishment of sin. To the same effect when we read “by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8), it is to be understood the Lord has actually “delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).
This aspect of our salvation is to be contemplated from two separate viewpoints: the Divine and the human. The Divine side of it is found in the mediatorial office and work of Christ, who as the Sponsor and Surety of His people met the requirements of the law on their behalf, working out for them a perfect righteousness and enduring Himself the curse and condemnation which are due them, consummated at the Cross. It was there that He was “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5). It was there that He, judicially, “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24). It was there that He was “smitten of God and afflicted” while He was making atonement for the offenses of His people. Because Christ suffered in my stead, I go free; because He died, I live; because He was forsaken of God, I am reconciled to Him. This is the great marvel of grace, which will evoke ceaseless praise from the redeemed throughout eternity.
The human side of our salvation from the penalty of sin respects our repentance and faith. Though these possess no merits whatever, and though they in no sense purchase our pardon, yet according to the order which God has appointed, they are (instrumentally) essential, for salvation does not become ours experimentally until they are exercised. Repentance is the hand releasing those filthy objects it had previously clung to so tenaciously; faith is extending an empty hand to God to receive His gift of grace. Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin; faith is receiving a sinner s Saviour. Repentance is a revulsion of the filth and pollution of sin; faith is a seeking of cleansing therefrom. Repentance is the sinner covering his mouth and crying, “Unclean, unclean!”; faith is the leper coming to Christ and saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
So far from repentance and faith being meritorious graces, they are self-emptying ones. The one who truly repents takes his place as a lost sinner before God, confessing himself to be a guilty wretch deserving naught but unsparing judgment at the hands of Divine justice. Faith looks away from corrupt and ruined self, and views the amazing provision which God has made for such a Hell-deserving creature. Faith lays hold of the Son of God’s love, as a drowning man clutches at a passing spar. Faith surrenders to the Lordship of Christ, rests upon the merits and efficacy of His sacrifice, his sins are removed from God’s sight “as far as the east is from the west”: he is now eternally saved from the wrath to come.
FROM THE POWER OF SIN
Salvation from the power of indwelling sin is not the taking of the evil nature out of the believer in this life, nor by effecting any improvement in it: “that which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6) and it remains so, unchanged to the end. Nor is it by the Spirit so subduing indwelling sin that it is rendered less active, for the flesh not merely lusts, but “lusteth (ceaselessly) against the spirit:” it never sleeps, not even when our bodies do, as our dreams evidence. No, and in some form or other, the flesh is constantly producing its evil works. It may not be in external acts, seen by the eyes of our fellows, but certainly so internally, in things seen by God—such as covetousness, discontent, pride, unbelief, self-will, ill-will towards others, and a hundred other evils. No, none is saved from sinning in this life.
Present salvation from the power of sin consists in, first, delivering us from the love of it, which though begun at our regeneration is continued throughout out practical sanctification. Second, from its blinding delusiveness, so that it can no more deceive as it once did. Third, from our excusing it: “that which I do, I allow not” (Rom. 7:15). This is one of the surest marks of regeneration. In the fullest sense of the word the believer “allows” it not before he sins, for every real Christian when in his right mind desires to be wholly kept from sinning. He “allows” it not fully when doing it, for in the actual committing thereof there is an inward reserve—the new nature consents not. He “allows” it not afterwards, as Psalm 51 evidences so plainly of the case of David.
The force of this word “allow” in Romans 7:15 may be seen from “truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they killed them (the prophets) and ye build their sepulchers” (Luke 11:48). So far from those Jews being ashamed of their fathers and abhorring their wicked conduct, they erected a monument to their honour. Thus, to “allow” is the opposite of to be ashamed of and sorrow over: it is to condone and vindicate. Therefore, when it is said that the believer “allows not” the evil of which he is guilty, it means that he seeks not to justify himself or throw the blame on someone else, as both Adam and Eve did. That the Christian allows not sin is evident by his shame over it, his sorrow for it, his confession of it, his loathing himself because of it, his renewed resolution to forsake it.
FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN
Our salvation from the pleasure of sin is effected by Christ’s taking up His abode in our hearts: “Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). Our salvation from the penalty of sin was secured by Christ’s sufferings on the cross, where He endured the punishment due our iniquities. Our salvation from the power of sin is obtained by the gracious operations of the Spirit which Christ sends to His people—therefore is He designated “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9 and cf. Gal. 4:6, Rev. 3:1). Our salvation from the presence of sin will be accomplished at Christ’s second advent: “for our citizenship is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:20, 21). And again we are told, “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). It is all of Christ from beginning to end.
“Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
First, save them from the pleasure or love of sin by bestowing a nature which hates it: this is the great miracle of grace.
Second, save them from the penalty or punishment of sin, by remitting all its guilt: this is the grand marvel of grace.
Third, save them from the power or dominion of sin, by the workings of His Spirit: this reveals the wondrous might of grace.
Fourth, save them from the presence or inbeing of sin: this will demonstrate the glorious magnitude of grace. May it please the Lord to bless these elementary but most important articles to many of His little ones, and make their “big” brothers and sisters smaller in their own esteem.