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  • CHAPTER - THE ATONEMENT — ITS EFFECTS
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    Having dwelt at length upon the principle “results” which the Satisfaction of the Mediator has secured, we turn now to look at some of its leading “effects.” The distinction we have in mind is not very clearly intimated by these two terms, so we must define what we intend by their use. In treating of the “results” we have almost (though not quite) confined our attention to the objective or external benefits which Christians derive from the work of their great High Priest. Here, we desire to point out the subjective or internal blessings which accrue to us from it. In this chapter we shall endeavor to take up and follow out in fuller detail what was briefly touched upon in Chapter 12, division 2, where, under the “Application” of the Atonement we mentioned, The Spirit Regenerating.

    That aspect of Truth which is now to be before us has received but scant notice even by many who wrote most helpfully upon the true nature and character of the Satisfaction of Christ. There has been a sad failure to duly hold the balance of Truth. Not a few have so stressed the legal results secured by our Savior’s sacrifice, and have so failed to proportionately emphasize the experimental effects which it purchased, that it is greatly to be feared multitudes have been deceived into supposing that they had a saving interest therein, when, in fact, they lacked the Scriptural marks of those who have passed from death unto life. Christ died to “save his people from their sins” ( Matthew 1:21): not only from the guilt and penalty of them, but also from their pollution and power.

    It is because there has been such a one-sided calling unto faith without an equal insistence for repentance, and because there has been such an emphasis laid upon the Grace which is revealed in the Gospel without a proportionate exposition of its Holiness, that ground has been given for the enemies of the Truth to charge the Gospel with immoral tendencies, to affirm that it encourages careless living and releases men from the due performance of their duties, that it is unfriendly to the producing of good works. And the deplorable thing is that the lives of many who profess to have been saved by grace through the righteousness of Christ, have tended to confirm their contentions, until not a few who have had dealings with professing Christians, have said (and with much cause), “If that is what Christianity produces I want nothing to do with it!”

    It needs to be loudly affirmed, trumpeted forth from every “orthodox” pulpit in the land, that the mediatorial work and sufferings of the Lord Jesus not only obtained for God’s people redemption from the penal consequences of their sins, but has also secured their personal sanctification. Well did Thomas J. Crawford say, in his splendid work The Doctrine of Holy Scripture Respecting the Atonement (1874), “In speaking or thinking of the ‘salvation’ which Christ has purchased, there are many who seem to attach to it no farther idea than that of mere deliverance from condemnation. They forget that deliverance from sin —the cause of condemnation — is a no less important blessing comprehended in it. Assuredly it is just as necessary for fallen creatures to be delivered from the pollution and moral impotency which they have contracted, as it is to be exempted from the penalties which they have incurred; so that, when reinstated in the favor of God, they may at the same time be made capable of loving, serving, and enjoying Him forever. And in this respect the remedy which the Gospel reveals is fully suited to the exigencies of our sinful state, providing for our complete redemption from sin itself, as well as from the penal liabilities it has brought upon us. “Nay, it would seem as if the former of these deliverances — that is to say, our deliverance from sin itself — were represented in some passages of Scripture as the grand and ultimate consummation of redeeming grace, to which the latter, though in itself inestimably precious and important, is preparatory. Witness these plain and forcible declarations: ‘He died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:15). ‘Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, and that he might present it to himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish’ ( Ephesians 5:25-27). ‘He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works’ ( Titus 2:14). ‘The blood of Jesus, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot unto God, should purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God’ ( Hebrews 9:14). These statements seem to indicate that our redemption from the guilt and penal consequences of sin was intended to be the means to an ulterior end — that end being our personal sanctification.”

    Certain it is that the inestimable blessings of justification and sanctification are represented in the Word of God as inseparable results of the Savior’s mediation. Nor ought we to have any difficulty in apprehending how the Satisfaction of Christ, in obtaining for us the former blessing, should thereby secure our attainment of the latter. For our redemption by the blood of Christ binds us to His service as a purchased or peculiar people: “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” ( 1 Corinthians 6:19,20).

    Furthermore, it has (as we have shown in Chapter 12) procured for the redeemed the grace of the Holy Spirit “which he shed on us abundantly” ( Titus 3:6), and by which His purchased people are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness.

    The sanctifying power of “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” is practically displayed in and by the character and conduct of true believers.

    There is as marked a difference between the children of God and the children of this world, as there is between light and darkness. There is as real a distinction, outwardly manifested, between the blood-bought and the blood-washed people of Christ and those whose iniquities are not purged, as there is between life and death. Even in this life, according to the measure of their growth in grace, those who have been born again are witnesses to the present efficacy of Christ’s Satisfaction. Still more so will they be in the life to come, when they are freed from all those infirmities and blemishes which now cleave to them. “Never, then,” (to quote again from T. Crawford) “was there a more unfounded calumny than the assertion that personal holiness is disparaged or dispensed with in the scheme of our redemption.

    So far from being so, it is magnified and honored. True, it is not the foundation on which we are called to build; but it is a prominent part of the stately edifice, for the erection of which that foundation has been laid. It is not our remedy, but it is the completion of the actual cure which that remedy is designed to accomplish. It is not in any respect or in any degree the means of salvation, but it is one of the most essential and most precious elements of salvation itself” What is that salvation which Christ has purchased for His people? Of what does it consist? What are its prime elements? Someone answers, Deliverance from the everlasting burnings, which our sins justly deserved.

    True, yet that is only one part of the answer. A valid title to everlasting bliss in Heaven, says another. Equally true, yet that answer also fails to cover all the ground. What about the present! What is the precious portion which the redeemed enjoy even now? Or, suppose we put it another way.

    Many profess to have been saved by Christ, yet, though quite sincere in their profession, when measured by the Scriptures, it is evident that they are mistaken. How, then, may the writer and the reader he sure that he is not mistaken? Who are the legitimate claimants of this privileged state?

    Salvation is an experience, a personal experience, which is begun in this life. And it is this we shall now seek to describe. 1. EMANCIPATION “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” ( John 8:36).

    Free from what?

    First , from the power of indwelling sin. Not that the sinful nature is eradicated or even slain, but that the heart is delivered from its dominion. “Being now made free from sin” ( Romans 6:22). That which was once loved, is now hated. Those solicitations which were gladly heeded, are now resisted. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” ( Proverbs 9:10). None have been made wise unto salvation ( 2 Timothy 3:15) unless there has been implanted in their hearts a filial respect for God. And, “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil” ( Proverbs 8:13), and “by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” ( Proverbs 16:6). The heart of a saved person is set upon pleasing God.

    Second , the Christian is delivered from the power of the world. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God, whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” ( James 4:4).

    The friendship of the world consists of indulging worldly lusts, following worldly vanities, fellowshipping with worldlings. It is for the heart to find its satisfaction in the perishing things of time and sense. From this the grace of God delivers its favored subjects, by fixing their heart upon One who is “altogether lovely.” Before Christ saves him, a man seeks happiness in the pleasures, honors, or riches of this world; but when He delivers “from this present evil world” ( Galatians 1:4), his affections are drawn unto things above. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” ( 1 John 5:4).

    The heart of a saved person finds its delight in God.

    Third , the Christian is delivered from the power of the Devil. For this purpose did Christ leave Heaven: “to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” ( Isaiah 60:1), and when the Spirit of God applies the Gospel in power to the heart, then is that individual “delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son” ( Colossians 1:13).

    It was “in time past ” that Christians “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air” ( Ephesians 2:2) When Christ saves a soul, He breaks Satan’s chains, delivers his captive, and brings him into the place of liberty. True, the Devil still tempts, harasses and wounds the Christian, but destroy him or take him prisoner again he cannot. Concerning all God’s children it is written, “they overcame him [the Devil] by the blood of the Lamb” ( Revelation 12:11).

    The heart of a saved person is occupied with serving God. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit” ( Romans 8:4).

    The first part of this verse has been before us in previous chapters, the second half is what we will now consider. There we have described those unto whom God imputed the righteousness of Christ. It is by these marks they may be clearly identified: they walk not after the flesh, they walk after the spirit. A course of godly living, of spiritual behavior, is both the inseparable concomitant of union with Christ and an infallible evidence thereof. The “walk” is that which is open to the observation of others, and is plainly seen by them. It is not any particular act which is here specified, but the general course and uniform tenor of the life that is referred to. “Who walk not after the flesh.” The principle of evil is still within, active, powerfully opposing ( Galatians 5:17); nevertheless, the Christian has been freed from its dominion, so that it is no longer the controlling power in his heart and life. The best of God’s children offend in many things ( James 3:2), yet the prayer of their heart is, “Order my steps in thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” ( <19B9133> Psalm 119:133).

    Sometimes real saints have sad falls into outward and open sins, yet they do not continue therein, but are brought to repent of and forsake them. To walk after the flesh is to follow a course of self-will, self-pleasing, selfgratification ( Isaiah 53:6), and this no saved person does or can do.

    They walk “after the spirit.” This gives us the positive side, for when grace works within the heart its subject is enabled to “overcome evil with good.”

    When God saves a sinner he is not only so far delivered from the power of indwelling sin that his walk — his regular course of conduct — is no longer controlled by fleshly principles and lustings, but he is also enabled to live a spiritual and godly life. Christians are not only effectually taught to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts” but also to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” ( Titus 2:12). To “walk after the spirit” is to respond unto the prompting of that new nature received at regeneration; it is to be controlled by new and unworldly principles; it is for a person to be dominated by the Holy Spirit, so that he loves God, serves God, and glorifies God. How this is brought about we shall now see under — 2. REGENERATION As we wish to be as concise as possible we shall here limit ourselves to one aspect of this miracle of grace, namely, the Holy Spirit reversing that depraved state of soul spoken of in Romans 8:7, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

    When God renews His people He deals directly with the will, powerfully bringing it into a conscious subjection to His will. There is what may be called a transfer of the moral law from the tables of stone to the fleshly tables of the heart: “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts” ( Hebrews 8:10).

    God secures the intelligent acquaintance of the Christian with His law and a cordial acquiescence in it. But let it be emphatically affirmed that this transfer is not of such a nature that the law of God is no more to be found outside and above the will of the Christian.

    At regeneration the law of God does not disappear as an authoritative code of duty, because it has become the desire of the Christian’s heart and the purpose of his will to please God. Not so: that which the Holy Spirit has secured is a changed heart, which lives in the recognition of God’s authority, and is able to say, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” ( Romans 7:22). Instead of salvation having freed its subjects from subjection to God, from obedience to Him, from obligation to keep His law, it has subdued his enmity against God’s law and bestowed a love for it — a love that finds expression not only in endearing words, but in practical submission to the authority of the Ruler of heaven and earth.

    It is at this very point that the modern Antinomians have erred. Infected by that spirit of lawlessness which is so rife in the world, and misled by an erroneous conception of the nature of spiritual “liberty,” they have insisted that Christians are entirely delivered from the claims of God’s law. They suppose that an inward consent to the holiness of His commands presents a higher ideal of spiritual freedom, than subjection to an external code. But the reverse is the fact. The withdrawal of objective law is really the denial of responsibility, and liberty is infringed, when responsibility is infringed.

    Spiritual liberty is not the power to do as we please (that is licentiousness), but the power to do as we ought; it is the being delivered from the bondage of sin which prevented us from serving God. The true nature of spiritual liberty is clearly enough defined in <19B945> Psalm 119:45: “I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.”

    When a sinner is regenerated, he is made “willing” (Psalm 110: 3) to be under the law of God, to be in subjection, to his Maker. The obedience of the Christian is not that of a slave, for the law of God is within his heart in the character of a holy tendency, as well as standing over him with its commandments. Nor is his obedience the operation of a mere mental tendency or spiritual mechanism working out its own bias — as of a vessel languidly drifting with the stream. No, it is the obedience of a loving and loyal subject, adoring his King and saying, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” It is the renewed heart gladly owning the rightful authority and supremacy of its Maker. And this is the highest ideal of liberty that can be framed. It is the liberty of Heaven itself, for there God does not abdicate His throne, nor cease to issue His commands ( <19A320> Psalm 103:20).

    It is equally vain to assert that a subjective view of the Law — love in the heart dispensing with the need of external commands — presents a higher ideal of Grace. Grace is not a species of lawlessness, or mercy dispensed by ignoring the claims of justice. Grace reigns through righteousness ( Romans 5:21), and that at every stage. Not only has Christ met every claim of the law against His people, but, by the workings of His Spirit, He places in their hearts a new principle, which causes them to cry, “O how love I thy law” ( <19B997> Psalm 119:97). The triumph of Grace is that it effects a reconciliation between the blatant rebel and the righteous Governor of all, and makes an insurrectionist a loyal subject. Well might the apostle say, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” ( Romans 3:31). 3. SANCTIFICATION This is another fruit of the Cross of Christ. The Lord Jesus not only rendered a perfect obedience unto the law for the justification of His people, but He also merited and procured for them those supplies of His Spirit which were essential unto their sanctification. To deliver us from the guilt of sin is an unspeakable mercy, yet would it not be a perfect favor unless He also purged us from the venom of sin which has infected our nature. Had the believer been pardoned without being “purified” ( 1 Peter 1:22), he had still been unfit for converse with God. But God not only satisfied His justice in the sacrifice of Christ, but also magnified His holiness by providing for the renewing of His people in His own image.

    Personal holiness is just as essential a part of “salvation” as is forgiveness.

    Therefore did the sanctification of our Surety not only secure for His people a perfect legal standing before God, but also provided for their perfect experimental fitness for His presence.

    To “sanctify” is to set apart unto, to dedicate or devote to, God. Where polluted man is concerned, he must be purified (both judicially and experimentally) before he is meet for the Lord’s use ( 2 Timothy 2:21): note how in Ephesians 5:26 “sanctify” is defined by “cleanse.” Now there is a double sanctification pertaining to the Christian: judicial and experimental. Christ is the believer’s sanctification as truly as He is his righteousness, see I Corinthians 1:30; but unless such a bare statement be defined and amplified, it conveys no definite concept to us. The satisfaction of Christ is the meritorious cause of the Christian’s sanctification, but the work of the Spirit is the efficacious cause thereof, hence we read of the “sanctification of the Spirit” ( 2 Thessalonians 2:13). That takes place at the new birth, when the regenerated soul is set apart unto God, separated from those dead in sin. That aspect of our experimental sanctification is absolute and complete. But there is another side to the Christian’s experimental sanctification which is relative or progressive, and which, because of sin indwelling us, is never perfected in this life.

    This practical (in contrast from positional) and progressive (in contrast from absolute) sanctification consists of two branches: mortification and renovation. A complete summary of these is given to us in Titus 2:12.

    There, mortification is comprehended under two words, answering to the two tables of the law: denying “ungodliness,” which comprehends the first four commandments; denying “worldly lusts” which covers the last six commandments. Then, that renovation which the grace of God produces is to “live soberly,” which respects ourselves; “righteously” or “justly” in all our dealings with our neighbors; and “godly” in connection with God.

    When Divine grace “brings” salvation to a person, his heart is inclined unto obedience, and he is made fruitful in his life unto the glory of God.

    Now the heart of the Christian is made holy by regenerating grace purifying it from the pollution (not presence) of sin, implanting a hatred of and a striving against it; and by renewing us after God’s image. In that spiritual life which was communicated at the new birth, there is contained in embryonic form all spiritual graces and fruits which, by the operations of the Spirit through the Word, are developed and matured. By the Spirit, the renewed heart is kept under the influence of efficacious grace, and it is disposed and enabled to fear the Lord, walk in His statutes, and be conformed to His law. The more the Christian feels his own utter inability to serve God acceptably, and the more earnestly and constantly he beseeches Him to work in him “both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” the clearer evidence has he of his experimental and progressive sanctification, and in this way is he assured of his justification.

    As the Christian finds that he is becoming less and less disposed to confer with flesh and blood (either his own wisdom or that of others), and more and more consults the Holy Scriptures, because he is desirous of learning his duty; as he denies self, takes up his cross, and seeks to follow Christ; as every fresh discovery of God’s will commands his attention and fills him with holy reverence; as he is more ready, more cheerful, more determined in his obedience; as his supreme desire is really to glorify God, and this becomes the prevailing state of his heart and mind; then, though he is increasingly conscious of the plague of his own heart, and mourns more deeply and frequently than ever his many failures, both of omission and commission; nevertheless, it is evident that the work of sanctification is advancing in his soul.

    The rule of our sanctification is God’s written Word ( John 17:17), for by it alone does the Spirit work, forming in the saint those dispositions which it both promises and requires. The Holy Scriptures are the one rule by which all of our conduct is to be regulated. Practical holiness is a personal conformity of heart and life to what God’s Word enjoins. The “commandments of men” ( Matthew 15:9) are of no weight or value whatsoever. Their “touch not, taste not, handle not” ( Colossians 2:21) are to be resolutely refused. No creature is to be allowed to dictate unto the Lord’s freeman. Our one concern must be to obey, serve and please God.

    To sum up this division. Sanctification may be considered, First, as an act of God the Spirit ( 1 Peter 1:2) already completed, when the Christian is set apart unto God by His life-giving operation, by His begetting us with the Word of truth ( James 1:18), from which root the fruits of practical holiness grow.

    Second, as the state of acceptance with God, into which salvation brings us: 1 Corinthians 6:11.

    Third, as a growth, an increasing conformity to God in heart, mind, and life: 2 Corinthians 7:1.

    Fourth, as a longing, an (as yet) unrealized desire, a panting after and praying for complete conformity to the image of God’s son: Thessalonians 5:23; which desire is realized at the moment of the soul’s entrance into Heaven, and consummated at the resurrection of his glorified body. Each and all of these four aspects of one sanctification are the fruits of Christ’s satisfaction — purchased for His people. By that perfect sacrifice which He offered unto God, the Lord Jesus procured for us all that we need for time and eternity, and He is only fully honored when we perceive that every gift, operation, blessing and fruit of the Holy Spirit comes to us on the ground of the Redeemer’s merits. 4. PRESERVATION This too is another of the precious fruits produced by the tree of Calvary. “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” ( Hebrews 10:14).

    Herein lies one of the main differences between the perfect satisfaction of Christ and the typical offerings under the law. The atonement made by Israel’s high priests availed only for one year: twelve months later it must needs be repeated. But the sacrifice of Christ was once for all: its virtue and efficacy is eternal. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” ( Romans 8:1), nor can anything ever separate His people from the love of God ( Romans 8:35-39). Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” ( Hebrews 7:25). A perfect, unforfeitable, eternal salvation has Christ procured for His own.

    Yet on this point also we need to carefully remember that the Lord does not deal with us as sticks and stones, but as rational creatures; not as irresponsible automatons, but as accountable beings. He preserves His people through means which He inspires them to use. He preserves in the path of practical godliness, not in a course of carnal carelessness. The hearts of believers are like gardens, wherein there are not only flowers, but weeds also; and as the former must be watered and cherished, so the latter must be curbed and nipped. If nothing but the dews and showers of God’s promises fell on our hearts, though they tend to the nourishing of our graces, yet the weeds of corruption would grow with them, and in the end choke them, unless they be nipped by the severity of the Divine threatenings.

    Although God has pledged Himself to secure those for whom Christ died, and that in the use of means, therefore they cannot apostatize; nevertheless, He has plainly warned us that there is an infallible connection between sin and destruction ( 1 Corinthians 6:9), and that the one must be avoided, if the other is to be escaped. We must “watch and pray” if temptations are to be escaped from. We are “kept by the power of God through faith ” ( Peter 1:5). We are not only saved by faith at the outset of our spiritual career, but we are supported and sustained by it through all our consequent experience: “the just shall live by faith” ( Hebrews 10:38). As it is by faith we enter that narrow way which leadeth unto life, so it must be by faith we walk all the journey through, for it is only “through faith and perseverance” that we “inherit the promises” ( Hebrews 6:12).

    The life of the Christian, between his being delivered from Hell and his actual entrance into Heaven, is not a picnic, but a warfare. There is armor to be put on, weapons to be used, enemies to be vanquished, if the fight is to be won. Therefore are we bidden to make our “calling and election sure ” ( 2 Peter 1:10), and that, by adding to our faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, perseverance, godliness, brotherly-kindness and love. Therefore are we required to “show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end ” ( Hebrews 6:11).

    God calls His people unto glory and eternal bliss via a path of self-denial and holy obedience. If we neglect our duties, there is no promise that God will perfect that which concerneth us. They who deny not the flesh, who refuse not the friendship of the world, who press not forward along the highway of practical holiness, evidence that they have no spiritual life, no matter what their profession may be. But they who deny self, take up their cross, and follow Christ, no matter how weak and unprofitable they may feel, are assured that He who has begun a good work in them “will finish it” ( Philippians 1:6).

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