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“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, 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.” Philippians 3:20-21.
Some professing Christians seem to have an idea that everything connected with them is vile; that they are covered with Christ’s robe of righteousness outwardly, but inwardly everything is vile, Of course, to these this statement of Paul is like oil on a troubled sea.
The writer once read of a conversation between one of these professedly “vile creatures,” covered over with Christ’s robe of righteousness, and a brother of clearer conceptions of truth. The former was asked if he were a Christian, whereupon he replied in the affirmative, though adding that he was a great sinner, sinning every day in word, thought and deed. He was then asked how he reconciled this with the Scriptures, quoting some passages relating to the mission of Christ on earth; what He was able and willing to do. “Oh,” he replied, “though I am a great sinner, yet I have Christ’s robe of righteousness, which so completely covers me, that when God looks down upon me He sees nothing but Christ’s robe of righteousness, whiter than snow.” “Indeed! Heaven is a holy place, is it not?” “Yes.” “And there is nothing unholy that ever gets into heaven, is there?” “And there is nothing holy about you except Christ’s robe of righteousness, which covers you?” “Nothing.” “Then when you come to die, what will happen? Christ’s robe will pass through where it belongs, and you will pass on through where you belong.”
We have in the text under consideration the following four thoughts: A vile body, the coming of the Lord, at which time the vile body will be changed, and that it will be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body.
Many who oppose holiness are bolstering themselves up in the awful delusion that they will have to wait until the coming of the Lord or death to receive the necessary change which will qualify them for heaven.
Notice that this statement concerns the body only, and not the soul. But the preparation is one of soul, and not of the body. When Jesus comes the change will be only in the body, and not in the soul. Neither death nor Christ’s coming will make any change in the spiritual nature of man. All that change must take place here in this life, and that by faith.
That one who claims that we cannot be purified till death inevitably shuts himself up to the old delusion that depravity, or sin, is located in the physical, and not the spiritual, being. Is sin located in the corporeal nature?
Let us see. Yonder is a limb which has just been amputated. The one losing it is lying there on the table. Would you judge there was any sin in that limb? I think I hear the answer, No. But suppose that both the lower and upper limbs had been amputated, and the patient was lying there on the operating table. Would there be any depravity or inbred sin in those limbs?
Again I hear, No. But that poor man had sin in him before he went on to that operating table, and where is it now? Do I hear you say it is somewhere outside of his limbs, it must be in himself somewhere? But wait a minute.
He does not rally from the operation, but dies. There is the dead body before you. Please tell me if there is any sin in it. Does that lifeless body, without feeling, thought, will, desire or knowledge have any sin in it? Who would be so foolish as to say, Yes? But a few minutes before, in that same body some where, was sin. Where is it now? Inbred sin is in the heart, in the inner being ,and not in the physical. Death makes a change only in the physical. It is the separation of the spiritual from the physical. If sin is located in the physical, then may we hope for purification or separation from sin in death; but it being located not in the physical, but in the heart, then nothing in death can effect the change.
Just so in the coming of the Lord. Those that are purified and ready for His coming will be caught up to meet Him in the air, and those that are not purified will not be ready. In this present evil world is the place to get ready for the world to come. The power of Jesus Christ and the efficacy of the cleansing blood are sufficient to purify us in this life without His need of calling upon “our last enemy,” death, to come and help Him out. Praise the Lord for His all-sufficiency!
Let us come back to the word “vile” in its relation to our body and the coming of the Lord. At Christ’s coming the mortal will put on immortality, and this corruptible will put on incorruption. The change, then, as we have before noticed, will be physical, and not spiritual. The words “vile body” cannot mean a body full of passion, and pride, and lust, and wickedness in general, for then one would not he prepared at all for the Lord’s coming.
We have the solution of the whole matter in the Revelation Version, which reads, “the body of our humiliation.” In this world we find evil on every hand. Sickness and sin and death surround us. Our bodies are subject to decay. We are frail creatures. We occupy a very humble sphere in comparison with that hereafter. So, Paul, considering all this, calls it “the body of our humiliation,” and has no thought or reference to depravity whatever.
In view of that great day of days, ought we not to be ready? Jesus is surely coming. He is coming for those who are watching for Him. Are we ready for Him? Heaven’s mighty magnet will sweep by this way some day, and who will be ready to rise? If a powerful magnet were drawn through a box of tacks, some of which were steel and some brass, the steel ones would adhere to the magnet, while the others would be left behind. Why would the steel tacks be taken up? Because they are of the same nature, and have an affinity with the magnet. Why would not the brass tacks cling to it? Because there is no affinity between them and the magnet; and again, there is too much of a composition there. So it is in our relation to Christ. When He comes, those that have the divine nature, and have existing between them and Christ the necessary affinity, will be drawn to Him and be forever with the Lord; while those who have a composition of the world, the flesh and the devil, and have no affinity with Him, will, of absolute necessity, be left behind.
Are we ready for His coming? Are we living the kind of life we would like to be living when He comes? We should do nothing we would not want to be doing when He comes. We should say nothing that we would not want to be saying when He comes. We should go nowhere we would not want to be found when He comes. Surely He will come. The inevitable is before us. What shall we do? We should draw the lines just as close in our daily living as we would we would if we knew He was coming this moment.
Dear reader, if you knew He was at the door, would you be ready with your present experience, without any further preparation? Or would you feel like begging Him to delay long enough for you to get ready? In an hour when you think not the Son of Man will come.