Sunday, 20 May 2012

YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE

"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (I Corinthians 6:20) How deep, how dreadful, of what awful magnitude, of how black a dye, of how ingrained a stamp must sin be, to need such an atonement - no less than the blood of Him who was the Son of God - to put it away. What a slave to sin and Satan, what a captive to the power of lust, how deeply sunk, how awfully degraded, how utterly lost and undone must guilty man be to need a sacrifice like this. "Ye are bought with a price." Have you ever felt your bondage to sin, Satan, and the world? Have you ever groaned, cried, grieved, sorrowed, and lamented under your miserable captivity to the power of sin? Has the iron ever entered into your soul? Have you ever clanked your fetters, and as you did so, and tried to burst them, they seemed to bind round about you with a weight scarcely endurable? But have you ever found any liberty from them, any enlargement of heart, any sweet going forth from the prison-house, any dropping of the manacles from your hands, and the fetters from your feet, so as to walk in some measure of gospel liberty? "Ye are bought with a price." Ye were slaves of sin and Satan - ye were shut up in the dark cell, where all was gloom and despondency; there was little hope in your soul of ever being saved. But there was an entrance of gospel light into your dungeon; there was a coming out of the house of bondage; there was a being brought into the light of God’s countenance, shining forth in His dear Son. Now, this is not only being bought with a price, but experiencing the blessed effects of it. By J.C. Philpot

TOYS AND PLAY-THINGS OF THE RELIGIOUS BABY HOUSE

"I will feed my flock." (Ezekiel 34:15) The only real food of the soul must be of God's own appointing, preparing, and communicating. You can never deceive a hungry child. You may give it a plaything but still it cries. It may serve for a few minutes; but the pains of hunger are not to be removed by a doll. A toy horse will not allay the cravings after the mother's breast. So with babes in grace. A hungry soul cannot feed upon playthings. Altars, robes, ceremonies, candlesticks, bowings, mutterings, painted windows, intoning priests, and singing men and women; these dolls and wooden horses; these toys and playthings of the religious baby house, cannot feed the soul that, like David, cries out after the living God (Psalm 42:23). Christ, the bread of life, the manna that came down from heaven, is the only food of the believing soul (John 6:51). By J.C. Philpot

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

"IN ALL POINTS TEMPTED AS WE ARE - YET WITHOUT SIN"

"For we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
(Hebrews 4:15)

Our gracious Lord experienced temptation in every shape and form, for the word of truth declares that "in all points he was tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

I wish to speak very cautiously upon this subject, for upon a point so difficult and so mysterious there is great risk of speaking amiss. So long as we keep strictly within the language of the Scripture we are safe, but the moment that we draw inferences from the word without special guidance by the Spirit of truth, we may greatly err. You may think then, sometimes, that your temptations are such as our gracious Lord never could have been tempted by; but that word of the Apostle decides the question, "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

It is a solemn mystery which I cannot explain, how temptation in every point, shape, and form could assail the holy soul of the immaculate Redeemer. I fully believe it. I see the grace and wisdom of it, and my faith acquiesces in it as most blessed truth. But I cannot understand it.

I know also and believe from the testimony of the word and that of my own conscience, that whatever temptations he was assailed with, not one of them COULD OR DID SULLY, STAIN, or SPOT HIS HOLY HUMANITY.

That was absolutely and perfectly a pure, unfallen, immortal nature, able to die by a voluntary act, but having in itself no seeds of sickness, mortality, or death.

And yet I read that, though thus possessed of a holy, pure, and spotless humanity, in everlasting union with his own eternal Deity, in all points He was tempted like as we are. I cannot explain the mystery--I do not wish to do so. I receive it as a mystery, in the same way as I receive that great mystery of godliness, "God manifested in the flesh."

But still I bless God that he was tempted in all points like as we are; for it makes him such a sympathizing High Priest with his poor, exercised, tried, tempted family here below. I have sometimes compared the temptations which beat upon the soul of the Lord to the waves of the sea that dash themselves against a pure, white marble rock. The rock may feel the shock of the wave; but it is neither moved by it nor sullied. It still stands unmoved, immovable in all its original firmness; it still shines in all the brightness of the pure, glittering marble when the waves recede and the sun breaks forth on its face.

So none of the temptations with which the Lord was assailed moved the Rock of ages, or sullied the purity, holiness, and perfection of the spotless Lamb of God.

By J.C. Philpot

Monday, 7 May 2012

THE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OF THE LORD JESUS' SUFFERING UNDER THE FELT BURDEN OF IMPUTED SIN

The chief burden of the Lord’s living family is sin. This is the main cause of all their sighs and groans, from the first quickening breath of the Spirit of God in their hearts till they lay down their bodies in dust. But it may be asked, what experience could the blessed Lord have had of sin. Seeing he was perfectly free from it both in body and soul? It is indeed a most certain and a most blessed truth that our gracious Redeemer “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21); was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19); and was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26) Still, sin was so imputed to Him, and the Lord so “laid on him the iniquities of us all,” that he felt them just as if they had been His own. “He was made sin for us;” its guilt and burden were laid on his sacred head, and so became by imputation His that it was as if He had committed the sins charged upon Him. Take the following illustration. View sin as a debt to the justice of God. Now, if you are a surety for another, and he cannot pay the debt, it becomes yours just as much as if you had yourself personally contracted it. The law makes no distinction between his debt and yours; and the creditor may sell the very bed from under you to pay the debt, just as if you were the original debtor. So the blessed Lord, by becoming Surety for His people, took upon Him their sins, and thus made them His own. How else can we explain those expressions in the Psalms, which are evidently the language of his heart and lips, such as the following? “For innumerable evils have compassed me about; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth me.” (Psalm 40:12) Does not the Lord here speak of His iniquities taking hold upon Him, so that under their weight and burden He could not look up, and that they were more in number than the hairs of His head? With the burden and weight of sin comes the wrath of God into the sinner’s conscience; and this is the most distressing feeling that can be well experienced out of hell. So the blessed Lord, when He took the burden and weight of sin, came under this wrath. This was “the horrible pit” into which He sank, (Psalm 40:2), “the deep mire in which there was no standing,” “the deep waters where the floods overflowed him” (Psalm 69:2). This made Him say, “For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as a hearth. My heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, because of thine indignation and thy wrath; for thou hast lifted me up and cast me down.” (Psalm 102:3, 4, 9, 10.) None who read the word of truth with an enlightened eye can doubt that these Psalms refer to the blessed Lord, and that it is He who speaks in them. Then there is the curse of the law, which peals such loud thunders, and sinks so deeply into the heart and conscience of the awakened sinner. But did not Jesus endure this too? Surely He did, both in body and soul, as the apostle declares, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written. Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). Then there are the hidings of God’s countenance, the withdrawings of His presence, and His forsakings of the soul that still hangs upon him and cleaves to him. But cannot our gracious Lord here deeply sympathise with His people who are mourning and sighing under the hidings of God’s countenance, for was not this the last bitter drop of the cup of suffering which He drank to the very dregs? Did heaven or earth ever hear so mournful a cry as when the darling Son of God, in the agony of His tortured soul, cried out, “My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” Thus, whatever in number or degree be the spiritual griefs and sorrows of the Lord’s people; whatever convictions, burdens, sorrows, distresses, pangs of conscience, doubts, fears, and dismay under the wrath of God, the curse of the law, the hidings of His face, and the withdrawings of the light of His countenance they may grieve and groan under. Jesus, their blessed Forerunner, experienced them all in the days of His flesh, and to a degree and extent infinitely beyond all human conception. Can any heart conceive, or any tongue express what the dear Redeemer experienced in the garden of Gethsemane, when His soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; when he thrice prayed that the cup might pass from Him, and being in an agony, prayed more earnestly, so that His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground? Might He not truly say, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger” (Lamentations 1:12). An awakened sinner, under divine quickening, has to bear but the weight of his own sins; but Jesus had to bear the sins of millions. It is at best but a few drops of the wrath of, God, and that wrath as already appeased, that fall into a trembling sinner’s conscience; but Jesus had to endure all the wrath of God due to millions of ransomed transgressors. It is but the distant peals of the law which sound in a convinced sinner’s soul; but the whole storm burst upon the head of the Surety. In a little wrath God hides his face from his Zion for a moment; but in great wrath he hid His face from His dear Son. Thus, whatever be the spiritual sorrows and troubles of afflicted Zion, even though she be “tossed with tempest and not comforted,” in all she has a Head who suffered infinitely more than all the collective members. They do but “fill up what is behind of the afflictions of Christ;” (Colossians 1:24); but O how small is that measure of affliction compared with His! It was, then, his personal experience of these spiritual afflictions which makes the blessed Lord so sympathising a High Priest at the right hand of God. Though now exalted to the heights of glory, He can still feel for His suffering saints here below. The garden of Gethsemane, the cross of Calvary, are still in His heart’s remembrance, and all the tender pity and rich compassion of His soul melt towards His afflicted saints; for, His heart is touch’d with tenderness. His bowels melt with love. By J.C. Philpot

THE FLESH

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh." (John 3:6) There is no promise made that in this life, we shall be set free from the indwelling and the in-working of sin. Many think that their flesh is to become "progressively holier and holier" — that sin after sin is to be removed gradually out of the heart — until at last they are almost made perfect in the flesh. But this is an idle dream, and one which, sooner or later will be crudely and roughly broken to pieces! The flesh will ever remain the same — and we shall ever find that the flesh will lust against the Spirit. Our fleshly nature is corrupt to the very core. It cannot be mended. It cannot be sanctified. It is the same at the last, as it was at the first — inherently evil, and as such will never cease to be corrupt until we put off mortality — and with it the body of sin and death. All we can hope for, long after, expect, and pray for — is that this evil fleshly nature may be subdued, kept down, mortified, crucified, and held in subjection under the power of grace. But as to any such change passing upon the flesh — or taking place in the flesh as to make it holy — it is but a pharisaic delusion, which, promising a holiness in the flesh, leaves us still under the power of sin. The true sanctification of the new man of grace — which is wrought by a divine power — is utterly distinct from any imagined holiness in the flesh — or any vain dream of its progressive sanctification. By J.C. Philpot