OUR VERY CASUAL GLANCE at the Epistle to the Romans brought us, in our last ‘Talk’, to the closing verses of chapter 7. The question at the head of this article, asked by the apostle in Rom. 7. 24, and answered in verse 25, will serve as an introduction to chapter 8, where we get, not only the ‘who’, but also the ‘how’ of practical deliverance from the law of sin and death. We leave the depressing influence of introspection for the glorious affluence of a risen Christ, and blest association with Him, as in chapter 8. The change in the spiritual atmosphere is easily perceived and very welcome! At the portals to this wonderful chapter, we meet with a statement which surely awakens deep thanksgiving in all who have come to know the saving grace of God. ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.’ Thus the believer is brought into a
NEW STANDING BEFORE GOD
for die grace of God has transferred him from Adam to Christ. ‘In Christ Jesus’ is a place of unassailable security, and reminds us of Prov. 18. 10, ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe’. Just so, but security itself is not always conducive to happiness. A man shut up in prison may be perfectly safe, but by no means happy.
Let the reader turn to the last verse of our chapter and he will note that no circumstances, either temporal, infernal, or eternal, can ‘separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’. What warmth and glow is found in these words. Not only the safety of the ‘strong tower’ but the warm atmosphere of divine affections – that eternal embrace in which every believer in Christ is embosomed.
We pause here and ask the reader, ‘Do you enjoy the blessedness of that word ‘NOW'?’ In Rom. 5. 9 we have the ‘now’ of justification, in Eph. 2. 13 of being ‘made nigh’, in 1 John 3. 2 of sonship, but here in Rom. 8. 1 the ‘now’ of ‘no con¬demnation’, as
A PRESENT REALITY TO BE ENJOYED
by faith, and not regarded as a post mortem experience.
There is nothing so calculated to give settled peace and rest to the soul as a clear apprehension of our present place before God; indeed, if this is not understood the believer is in danger of drifting toward Doubting Castle, the Slough of Despond, or other uncongenial halting places on the way to the Celestial City.
As we go further in our chapter we note a very precious development of soul-liberating truths. Verse 1 gives us a new place, verse 2 a new power, verses 3 and 4 a new principle of living. Pardon, power and progress are all suggested by these verses. We may also epitomize in this manner -Verse 1, Exemption from penalty of sin. Verse 2, Emancipation from power of sin. Verse 4, Counter action to the practice of sin.
The careful reader of these opening verses will also note that verse 1 seems to give a synopsis of chap. 5, verse 2 of chap 6, and verses 3 and 4 of chap 7.
The spiritual understanding of truths so vital to Christian life and testimony would be to a believer what wings are to the bird. They enable us to rise in appreciation and appropriation of what wondrous grace has given us in Christ, our adorable Saviour. Yet too often we seem to have no ‘wings’, and rather resemble the caterpillar in our terrestrial move¬ments ! We would urge upon young believers especially, the great necessity of prayerful study of these holy themes which
POINT THE WAY TO CHRISTIAN LIBERTY
and a better understanding of the will of God concerning our walk and conduct while here below. ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed’, John 8. 36, is blessedly true. John 8. 32 has the same quality of truth and blessedness : ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’.
We should miss the keynote of Rom. 8 if we failed to perceive in the chapter the prominence of the Holy Spirit, and His relation to die believer. We are to walk ‘after the Spirit’, v. 4, and to mind the ‘things of the Spirit’, v. 5, in order that we may enjoy that true spirituality of mind which is ‘life and peace’. “Through the Spirit’ we are to mortify, or put to death, the deeds of the body, in order to ‘live’ a life becoming to a new creature in Christ, v. 13.
In a positive manner the Holy Spirit bears witness to our place in the divine family, v. 16, helps in prayerful exercise, v. 26, and has a great deal to do in conforming us to the image of Christ, v. 29 (cf. 2 Cor. 3. 18). The movements of the Spirit of God in a life subject to His control will ever lead to a deeper apprehension of Christ, and a corresponding manifestation of Him to others. Rom. 8 seems to begin with the man in Christ, and goes on to show how the Spirit of God works to produce Christ in the man.
IT IS OF THE FIRST IMPORTANCE
that we should know these truths in everyday power in our lives. Truth known in theory is of little value. Rather, the mere mental acquirement of scriptural knowledge becomes a positive danger, in that it produces a life devoid of spiritual freshness and fruitfulness. The writer remembers an incident related by a well-known servant of the Lord. A party of Christians were talking together concerning the evident condition of spiritual bondage outlined in Rom. 7. One of their number, who had evidently heard some fragments of the conversation, enquired, ‘Is it deliverance you are wanting ? I bought it for fourpence at the Tract Depot, and will gladly lend it to you’. The brother evidently referred to some pamphlet dealing with the subject, which would doubtless be of help and value, and therefore not to be despised, yet we may be quite sure that in order to really ‘buy die truth’ there must be Spirit-given understanding of the Scriptures, and whole-hearted response to what they teach. May both writer and reader know more of such spiritual exercise.