The Believer Established
ADAM OR CHRIST?
I have no greater joy than to see a company like this of
young believers, found together with a desire to know more of the Lord, and to
be more devoted to Him in this world. I feel very dependent on the Lord that He
may help me to say a few words that will help you.
I should like to bring before you the simple but most important fact that the whole of Scripture is the history of two men - Adam and Christ - and I want briefly to show you several ways in which God sets Adam aside and brings in Christ.
The moment that Adam sinned, God's satisfaction in him came to an end. Instead of innocence, the germs of all possible evil were found in his heart, and he became subject to the judgment of God. The full fruit of sin did not come out in Adam personally; it has taken the whole history of the world to develop and exhibit it; but every bit of evil that has ever come out in Adam's children was latent in him as soon as he became a sinner. I will ask you to read four scriptures which show the true character of fallen man, that is of Adam, Genesis 6: 5, 6 ; Psalm 14: 2, 3 ; Mark 7: 20-23 ; Acts 7: 51, 52.
These scriptures give us God's estimate of the children of Adam at four great periods of their history. When man is allowed to take his own course, as in antediluvian times, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually; when checked and restrained by God's government, as in the time of David, there are none that seek God or that do good; when His beloved Son comes to manifest all God's grace, He finds man's heart the same fruitful source of evil as ever; and the awful climax of the dark history is the betrayal and murder of the only Just One, and the perpetual resistance of the Holy Spirit. What a history! And every bit of it, and every bit of sin that you and I have found in the depths of our own hearts, is just the exhibition of that one man - Adam. It may be all summed up in a word of three letters - SIN.
It is very evident that God could neither find satisfaction in, nor bring in blessing through, a man like that - a man whose every motive and activity only presents some phase of sin. If blessing is brought in from God it must be through and in another Man. I think you will see plainly how Adam is set aside and Christ brought in
PROPHETICALLY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
Two or three scriptures will indicate what I mean, and you can trace out the subject more fully for yourselves. Genesis 3:15; Galatians 3:16; Isaiah 11:1; 49:6. It is most interesting in reading the Old Testament to find that, from Genesis 3 onwards, every blessing that God speaks of is connected with a COMING MAN It was the Seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent's head; it was in that one Seed of Abraham that all the nations were to be blessed; the Rod out of the stem of Jesse and the Branch out of his roots alone could bring in millennial righteousness and peace; He alone could be given for a light to the Gentiles, and to be God's salvation to the end of the earth. All through the Old Testament we see that every blessing, whether for Israel or for the Gentiles, was to be brought in by a coming MAN. Blessing was to come, not in, or through, Adam and his race, but in, and through CHRIST.
Then, if we turn to the New Testament, we find the long-promised One here upon earth, presenting to God a perfect contrast to ``the children of men,'' and filling God's heart with satisfaction, so that we may say that Adam was superseded
HISTORICALLY,BY THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST ON EARTH.
I want you to call back to your minds for a moment the four scriptures descriptive of the children of Adam which we looked at a few moments ago, and contrast them with these wonderful words, ``In thee I am well pleased,'' Luke 3: 21, 22. If, on the one hand, God had looked in vain to find one atom of good in Adam personally, or in his race, on the other He could now gaze with infinite complacency upon a Man who filled His heart with delight. What a moment it was for God! With what relief, may we not say, did God's eye turn from the desolate waste of sinful humanity to that one peerless Object! In the actual history of the world, there was a MAN here filling God's heart with pleasure - One who had taken part in flesh and blood, and come into all the circumstances and responsibilities of man, that He might be found in those circumstances, and under those responsibilities, as the absolutely perfect Object of God's delight. There was now a MAN worthy of the opened heavens and the Father's salutation as His ``beloved Son.'' Contrast that One with Adam - with yourself - and say whether the One is not as worthy to be the Object of God's delight, as the other is deserving of His judgment?
I will give you two portraits to look at. Here they are -
1. " There is no fear of God before their eyes." 1. "Blessed are the poor in spirit."
2. " The poison of asps is under their lips." 2. " Blessed are they that mourn."
3. "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." 3. " Blessed are the meek."
4. "There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." 4. " Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness."
5. "Their feet are swift to shed blood." 5. " Blessed are the merciful."
6. "Their throat is an open sepulchre." 6. "Blessed are the pure in heart."
7. " Destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known." 7. " Blessed are the peace - makers."
ROMANS 3. MATTHEW 5.
One of these portraits is Adam - or, in another word, yourself - and the other is Christ. Compare the dark and ugly features of the one with the fair, heavenly beauty of the other, and tell me which you prefer! Will you not say with an enraptured heart, "Thou art fairer than the children of men! " That is really to say, "I prefer Christ to myself." It is a grand moment in the soul's history when that point is reached, and immense issues hang upon it. But before going further with this, I must say a few words on another subject which has an important bearing on what is before us.
Before anyone can really see, or enter, into divine things he must be born again. There is no capacity in the child of Adam, as such, to enter into the thoughts of God. If he is to be brought into touch with God, there must be a new moral being formed in him, so that we may say that Adam is set aside
MORALLY, BY THE NEW BIRTH.
I know that I am speaking to those who believe in the absolute necessity of the new birth. Indeed, John 3:3-6, leaves no room for hesitation as to this on the part of any who believe the Scriptures. But have you really considered why the new birth is so absolutely necessary? A simple illustration may serve to point us to the answer! I had to see about some work being done the other day, and was asking the contractor how much it would cost. `It won't cost very much,' said he, `because we can use all the old material.' Now that is precisely what God could not do. There must be a new start altogether with new material. The child of Adam, as such, breaks God's law and despises God's grace; divine love fails to reach his heart, and divine light upon his conscience only drives him behind the trees of the garden, as in Eden, or away from its searching scrutiny, as in John 8. If there is to be anything for God in man, or any capacity to estimate things according to God, a man "must be born again." There must be an effectual operation of God by His word and Spirit producing a new moral being in man, the effect of which is that he begins to think God's thoughts about himself. God rejects the old material altogether and begins entirely anew, and the one who is born again begins to learn the true character of the old material - i.e. all that he is as a child of Adam and a man in the flesh - and to be as dissatisfied with it as God is. You may see this in Job and Saul of Tarsus. One of them said, "I abhor myself," and the other said, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing." Such language as this is the mark of one born again. He identifies himself with that new "inward man" which is of God, and he judges everything of a contrary nature to be sin. In itself this is not a happy experience. It is not very pleasant for one who has been self-sustained and self-satisfied in a moral and religious life to find that there is not one bit of good in him. Some may discover this by a single flash of divine light, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus, and others may have years of struggling and disappointment before they learn it, but it must, and will, be learned sooner or later by every one that is born again.
If not very pleasant it is very needful, that we should be made to cry, "O wretched man that I am! " for only thus are we truly prepared to drop ourselves and rejoice in all the grace that comes to us through and in Christ. Some people seem to get as far as being dissatisfied with themselves, and there they stick in the mud. There is something wrong if you stick there year after year groaning over your own badness. God would bring you to judge yourself, but He would not keep you there, and I should be glad if He gave you a push off that mud-bank to-night. He wants you to have the gladness of knowing that you are in the favour and acceptance of CHRIST, the risen and glorified Man. God would not give you anything less than this, and you could not desire anything more. God would have the faith and affection of your heart turned from yourself to Him - from Adam to Christ. If you are disgusted with yourself, you will be glad to know that you are entitled to give yourself up altogether, and enter upon the new ground that Christ is everything for you, and that you are in all His acceptance with God. But in order to do this, the work of the cross must be known, and that brings me to the next part of my subject. You have to learn that the first man, Adam, has been set aside
JUDICIALLY, IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
If God has let you down, with His candle in your hand, into the dark recesses of your being as a child of Adam, to find that there is nothing there but sin, you cannot rest until you know that it has all been taken into account and dealt with to His perfect satisfaction. The cross of Christ shows you how God could provide for His own glory while taking into consideration everything that you are. God has not overlooked, or ignored, the sinful state in which you find yourself as a child of Adam. He has had it brought before Him, and it has received its full condemnation, and is removed judicially from His sight for ever. I said, a few minutes ago, that the whole character of Adam and of his children was summed up in three letters - S, I, N. When the One who knew no sin went to the cross, He was made sin for us, 2 Cor. 5:21. The Holy One of God was upon that cross " for sin " (Rom. 8: 3), so that when He hung there all the sin that is in you was brought before God, for He was your Representative. Having taken such a place in deep, divine love, all the desert and consequence of sin must needs come upon Him. There was no mitigation of the awful judgment that sin deserved. The full flood-tide of judgment rolled over Him, and, as you see those waves and billows sweeping over Him - as you see Him going into the deep waters, and brought into the dust of death - you may say, `That is my portion before God.' As a child of fallen Adam you could not be restored to innocence, or brought back in righteousness to God. Divine justice could only pass upon you the sentence of utter condemnation. If that condemnation had fallen upon you in your own person, you would have been lost for ever, but, thank God! it has fallen upon you in the person of Him who took your place upon the cross. And when Christ hung upon that cross, God saw you there; and when He died and was buried you disappeared judicially as a child of Adam from God's sight for ever. God would have you to know this - it is a part of the gospel - "that our old man has been crucified with him," Rom. 6:6.
It is on the ground of this great judicial act that the believer is entitled to reckon himself dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus, and when he is brought to this by the Spirit he has deliverance. I think we may say that Adam is displaced by Christ
EXPERIMENTALLY, WHEN THE BELIEVER GETS DELIVERANCE.
All his efforts to improve himself are then at an end; and the awful misery of perpetual disappointment as to the success of those efforts is ended too, for he tastes the joy of being free from Adam, and is consciously in the liberty of life in Christ Jesus. This experimental setting aside of our old man is the proper and necessary counterpart of the judicial setting aside of which I have already spoken. When Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2: 20), he expressed what he had really reached in the experience of his soul. He had done with himself. It was now for him, "Not I, but Christ." He not only believed that he had been set aside judicially before God at the cross, but he was in the good of a perfect deliverance for himself, so that not one thought of self-amendment crossed his mind. That is the grand test as to whether you have reached this. You might be very well up in the doctrine of deliverance, and yet all the time be secretly attempting to correct and improve yourself, and suffering a good deal of private vexation and disappointment on account of the failure of your attempts. I know how long I struggled on in this way myself, praying and striving to be more holy and Christlike, and continually disappointed with the result. I do not think that it ever occurred to me in those days that I was trying to improve the man whom God had set aside. It was at a moment when I was utterly discouraged, and ready to give up the whole thing in complete despair, that God showed me how I was attempting to work upon the old material which He could only condemn, and that my disgust and despair as to myself were only a feeble echo of His. I shall never forget the joy of finding out that in the depth of my disgust with myself I was thoroughly at one with God. God had ceased to look for any good in me, and had Christ before Him, the perfect and infinitely acceptable Object of His heart; and I, in my nothingness, had ceased to look for good in myself, and was tasting the deep joy of being in CHRIST, and free to have Him as my Object; while, as to life, I entered in some degree into the blessedness of knowing that it was "not I, but Christ liveth in me."
Struggle and effort in themselves will never secure blessing, but by leading to despair and complete self disgust they serve a divine purpose in the experience of the soul. I would rather see a soul in honest exercise, however legal he was, than see the light and careless acceptance of divine truth in the head without one atom of effect on the conscience or the heart. I do not think God gives us anything without preparing us for it by making us feel the need and the value of it. It is a divine principle that " He satisfieth the longing soul."
In these days, when ministry of the word is so plentiful and so accessible, and all difficulties in the way of learning truth intellectually are so minimised, it is of the deepest importance to remember that we only get from God what our souls have hungered and thirsted for. Soul-exercise will assuredly express itself in prayer, and the result will be deep and rich blessing. Do not rest until you are in the liberty of life in Christ Jesus! Remember that it is to set you consciously in this deliverance, and to maintain you in this liberty, that the Holy Spirit has taken up His abode in you, and these are the lines upon which He would set you and keep you.
Intimately connected with deliverance is the great fact that Adam is displaced
CHARACTERISTICALLY, BY CHRIST BEING FORMED IN US.
The expression has just been under our notice - "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Again in chapter 4, the apostle says, " My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." The great evil that the apostle had to contend with in Galatia was, that they were bringing in the law as an addition to Christ. Now what would be effected by the law, if all its precepts and regulations were carried out? It would form man in the flesh according to God; it would make Adam what he ought to be for God in this world; the law would form Adam in us. But the apostle indignantly repudiates this altogther. Peter and Barnabas might through fear dissemble, and keep up their religious character in the eyes of their legal brethren by not eating with the Gentiles, but Paul says, `I have done with all that. The man whose appearance you are improving, and whose character you are maintaining by this parade of sanctity, I have done with. I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ.' Who would think of doing anything to improve the appearance, or maintain the character, of a crucified man? That man had gone from God's eye and from Paul's eye too. Paul had entirely given up the man to whom law and ordinances applied.
Then, if that man was gone was there no other? Yes. Paul could not only speak of the setting aside of a man perfectly worthless, but of the bringing in of a MAN perfectly acceptable to God. "I live; yet not I, but CHRIST liveth in me." His great heart travailed in birth again for the Galatians that CHRIST might be formed in them. Religious ordinances could never effect this; it can only be effected as we go on in the Spirit. The Galatians had begun in the Spirit - they had begun by renouncing themselves and finding Christ to be everything - but they were now seeking to be made perfect by the flesh. A solemn picture of what our hearts are ever prone to do! The Spirit of God would maintain us constantly on the same line, for it is only as we keep upon the line where we found deliverance that we can stand fast in liberty. Upon that line we have done with ourselves as in the flesh; we have a new Person before us as the Object of faith and affection, and as we thus drop ourselves and have Christ as our Object, He is formed in us. What has been judicially accomplished at the cross has its counterpart by the Spirit in our souls, and it is upon that line that Christ is formed in us. We have before us a MAN who has taken up on the cross our whole condition as in Adam, that He might end it in death; and now as the risen and glorified One, He fills, not only the heart of God, but the heart of everyone who is in the Spirit, with unspeakable rest and satisfaction.
It is thus that CHRIST is formed in us, and the effect of it is, that we come out in new character. The fruit of the Spirit - " love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance " - is what Christ is characteristically. It is not Adam elevated or improved, but Christ. In Colossians, this precious truth is further developed, where believers are said to have "Put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all and in all." On this ground we are exhorted to "put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of Perfectness." That is, Adam in every phase and form is set aside, Christ is everything and in all, and all that Christ is characteristically, takes the place of the selfish and hateful things characteristic of Adam. I am sure that the very mention of these things should have a deeply humbling effect upon us. I leave it to each one to ask his own heart how far all this has been effected and made good in him by the Spirit of God. But my purpose is not so much to ask how far you have got into this as to bring before you the blessed object at which God is aiming. If you understand the purpose of God, and the line upon which He is working, it will give character to your exercises and point to your prayers, and I am sure you will get on.
I can quite understand a young believer saying, `All this is very beautiful, but where is the power to carry it out in a practical way?' The answer may be briefly given. Our only power is the Spirit of God, and Adam will only be displaced by Christ
PRACTICALLY, AS WE WALK IN THE SPIRIT.
You may learn from Romans 8:9 that the Spirit gives character to our state as Christians. We were once characterised by the presence of a nature that was nothing but sin: we are now characterised by the presence of the Holy Spirit. "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." The presence of a divine Person dwelling in us must bring in power, hence we read in Galatians 5:16, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." The Holy Spirit is dwelling in us to maintain us practically in the power of the truth that has been before us to-night. He would maintain us in perpetual distrust of ourselves, so that we should have no confidence in the flesh; He would maintain us in perpetual occupation with Christ, and give us unfailing joy in him. So long as we walk in the Spirit we do not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
If this is the case - if the Spirit of God is our only power - how important and solemn is that other word which we read in Ephesians 4:30, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are seated unto the day of redemption." If we grieve Him, we shall certainly not be supported by His power. And how may He be grieved? Surely by the allowance and toleration of that which He is here to resist; by making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof; by attempting to cultivate and improve the man whom God has entirely set aside; by indifference to Christ. May God give everyone here to see the solemn importance of being on the line of the Spirit of God! If you are not on that line, you are failing to answer to the Purpose of God in saving you, and you are sure to be disappointed in your expectations. On the other hand, if you are on the line, you will find that instead of Christianity being a failure and a disappointment, your heart will be filled with supreme satisfaction and joy, and you will be maintained here by the Spirit in a way that is pleasing to God.
Then there is a grand and crowning aspect of the subject before us which must not be forgotten. All the counsels of eternal love will have their full fruition in a coming day, when Adam will be superseded by Christ
PHYSICALLY, FOR WE SHALL HAVE BODIES LIKE HIS.
We have borne the image of the earthly, but we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. "Flesh and blood " - that order of bodily condition which pertains to Adam - " cannot inherit the kingdom of God." We shall have spiritual bodies; that is, bodies of which the vital principle will not be blood, but the Spirit of God. Christ - quickened by the Spirit and glorified at the right hand of God - is the First-fruits of the harvest, the First-born among many brethren, the Pattern, even as to bodily condition, of the heavenly company brought to God in grace on the ground of His death. He will change these bodies of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory; we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Adam will be completely and eternally superseded by Christ.
I trust that you will prayerfully consider the great subject which I have thus imperfectly brought before you. I have said enough to show you how it is interwoven with the whole of Scripture, and how it touches every point of your spiritual life. The great question of all time - a question answered by the history of the ages, by the cross, and by the glory - a question to be answered now by our hearts - is, Which man will do for God - Adam or Christ? And when that is answered there arises another - Which man will do for me? Which man am I occupied with, or ministering to, or exhibiting? ADAM OR CHRIST?
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