"But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom. the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth anything but a new creature" (Gal. vi. 14, 15).
The terms of this Scripture are very distinct and clear. I mention this because it is constantly quoted for another purpose than the apostle's, and applied to the question of our sins. There is not a word about sins in the passage. It is perfectly true that the question of one's sins is the first thing to be settled. Indeed, until it is, there can nothing further be enjoyed or entered into. There must be relief before I get anything beyond it, and previous to relief there must have been pressure, the sense of our sins, and then the knowledge of their removal. There are just two true states of soul—fear, and love. We find them in 1 John iv. " There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment.. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
If I meet a man and he tells me he has not feared, then I say, " You cannot have a true state of soul. If you have not feared, you have no true state, and you don't know the perfect love that casts out fear."
Freed from my sins, then, I must be. As Scripture puts it, " The worshipper once purged has no more conscience of sin," which I do not want to weaken in the least. But this passage does not speak of that at all. It treats of something further. It tells of what you are made by God when everything is removed. It is what takes place when the question of your sins has been thoroughly dealt with, and every opposing and contrary element swept clean out of the way.
I get this beautifully exemplified in the case of the prodigal, in Luke xv. In that chapter we find Father, Son, and Holy Ghost engaged in the salvation of a sinner. I get the Son in the shepherd seeking the lost sheep. The Holy Ghost in the woman lighting the candle, and seeking for the lost piece of silver, and the Father receiving and welcoming the lost prodigal. Then I find the whole fulfilled in the thief on the cross. The Son dies for him to put away his sins, the Spirit works and operates in his soul, and the Father rends the veil to tell him to come inside. Look around on Christendom, and what do you find? You will find it never gets beyond absolution.' I may, as well make this plain statement at once. Absolution I get in Scripture, " Your sins and your iniquities will I remember no more." But that is the state you were in. It' is all negative What, let me ask, is your state now? This is what I wish to insist on your state now, and to make it clear. To explain it simply, let me give you an illustration. Look at a caterpillar. It lives a crawling life. That was your state. It becomes a butterfly. That is a new, entirely new state, a different state. It crawled on a cabbage-leaf before. It now flies and dances in the sunlight. That is your state now, the new creation state. Now what I cannot understand is how people, after having emerged from the caterpillar state into the butterfly state, can go on or want to go on, as if they were in the caterpillar state. Yet so it is. People suppose that having come out of the old state into the new, they can still go on with the old. Scripture says, " No, you must walk, in newness of life. "
This passage, then, speaks of the new state, the butterfly state, if I may keep up the illustration I have used. " Neither circumcision " that is self improved religiously, as in the Jew, " nor uncircumcision " that is,. self whether civilised, polished philosophically, as in the Greek, or savage, as in the heathen, " availeth anything but a new creature." Sins are gone, then, completely gone, first. God could not have kissed me unless. God sent His own beloved Son who endured the judgment for me, bore my sins in His own body on the tree, and so completely satisfied—yea, more than satisfied—glorified God about my sins that not only can I go in to God. but God can come out to me and kiss me. The Father saw the prodigal a great way off, and went out to him. This is the sinner's first actual contact with God, though grace had previously wrought in him, and what is it? The Father's kiss. In John we also find that the characteristic of the babe is, he knows the Father. There is no difficulty about this. It is absolution, no further, and beyond which Christendom never gets. Consult all the books that are called orthodox, and you will get nothing beyond this. Absolution, absolution, a fresh recurrence to the blood, but not a step in advance of it. It is blessed, beloved friends, to see how God, having cleared away everything that was contrary to Himself, can come out, and the very first impression one gets of having to do with Him is a kiss. In this kiss He imparts the consciousness that there is love in His heart towards me. A kiss is the intimation, the expression of affection, on the part of him who gives it. But that is not all. There is more. Though the Father, having first cleared away everything that was contrary to Himself, came out and kissed the prodigal, still there was the sense that he was not fit for the Father's presence. " I am no more worthy to be called thy son." Therefore it is we get a further thing. We get a nature suited to God. " Bring forth the best robe and put it on him." Observe, the moment he got on the new clothes, he was in the house. Mark this carefully. " He was a great way off," when the Father ran to meet him, kissed him, and brought the robe to him, but as soon as it was on, he was in the Father's house. This robe is what fits one to enter the house. It is the new nature. The moment you have the nature you are qualified to go in. Morally, as soon as the prodigal got the new clothes which fitted him for the Father's presence, he was in His presence. Note, the word. is, "Bring forth the best robe." When you are inside a house you do not say bring forth a thing. You must be outside if it is to be brought forth to you. But the moment it is on, he is inside, and being inside, the word is, " Bring hither the fatted calf." Thus we get three things about him. He is first kissed, next robed, and then feasted.. What is it that puts people into the vii. of Romans? The consciousness that they are not fit for God. What I want, therefore, to show you is, that not only is all cleared and removed out of the way, but that you get the new creation, you are fit for God, you pass from the caterpillar state into the butterfly state.
What is the new creation? I wish to insist on this, because where not seen, even a worship meeting is spoiled by having recourse to sins. It is going back to the caterpillar state. This new creation is from God entirely. There is no such thing as brushing up the old clothes to make me fit for God. But the fact is, God clothes me. God robes me, and then I am suited for His presence. The clothes come from God, and can be worn nowhere but with Him. Let us now look at the passage carefully. " God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." We find two things crucified that is judged by God. (1) The world is crucified unto me. (2) I am crucified unto the world. What, then, one might ask, is left? Why, you have nothing left but the new creation. What a blessed thing it is, as we see in Paul's conversion, to stand out and see nothing but Christ. " Who art thou, Lord," asks Saul. The Lord says "I am Jesus." Just as if He had said, " I have done with man entirely, there is now no other man but myself." The same God who brought me into birth in connection with the old creation now brings me into the new creation where man is nothing, and Christ everything. In this same epistle Paul says, " I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." What matter, then, though things go here. Suppose everything went. What would be left? The new creation. It is a wonderful thing to be occupied with the development of the new creation. In this I get God's thoughts and feelings about me which are a great deal better than my own. He says, " That which is born of God sinneth not." We are a new creation, having eternal life in Christ who is our life. Are you as much occupied with developing the new as you are in getting rid of the old.
Let us see, then, what this new creation is. Turn for a moment to John iii. You will tell me that is new birth; every believer owns that. I know i, but there is more. Look at verse 12th: " If I have told you earthly things and ye believe rot, how shall, ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things." Hr speaks hear of a heavenly order of things—a new creation— but you could not have a new creation till you had the beginning. Christ is the beginning of the creation of God. There must be a new life for is, a ew character of life, and Christ shows how i is o come about. " As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be i e u, a whosoever believeth in him. should not perish but have eternal life." Christ dies for the caterpillar state, all that I was as connected with the first man and communicates eternal life, bringing me into a new condition, His own, condition. I will trouble you to turn to another passage, John x. 10. " I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Note here life more abundantly. I will refer to it presently. Read with me now John xii. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." It is not that He saves which is the thought here, though He does save, but that the corn of wheat shall have many grains. Christ while on earth was unique, alone, separate from all, but by dying He was to have, like the corn of wheat, many grains like Himself. Look now at John xx. where the Lord can speak of it, verse 17. He says " Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I. ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." He had gone down under the judgment, and having now come out of it He becomes as risen from the dead the Head of a new order and for the first time can call these disciples " brethren." Heb. ii., " He is not ashamed to call them brethren." He can speak of us now as of the same material as Himself, of the same stock and lineage. I am now to enjoy the same kind of life as Christ risen. Mark how in this chapter, three times over, Christ says, " Peace be unto you " verses 19, 21, and 26. And in verse 22nd, " He breathed on them and saith unto them, receive ye the Holy Ghost."
Here the Lord unfolds what He imparts to us as risen from the dead. He had not imparted this to any before. He is inaugurating the new condition. He is introducing them into the new ground. This is a new day, the dawn of the new creation, and He puts them upon a new platform. What, let me ask, has the risen Christ imparted to these disciples? Remember they were already converted. What is the meaning of His action here? He is bringing them into the consciousness of the new creation. This is life more abundantly. I ask the youngest amongst us to ponder what we have here. Think what Christ imparted to the disciples in that scene. What did He impart? Two things. Peace and life. Observe John always reverses Paul's statements, always gives truth in the inverse order from Paul. This I throw out for students of their Bibles. The characteristics of the new creation into which we are here introduced are Peace, and Life. Everything 'cleared out of the way. Not a cloud to be seen. Peace above, peace below; and life, life more abundantly. They were already converted, mark; and note, too, that He only gives this once. He does not impart it twice. " But," says some one, " I have known a person lose his peace." Granted. I might lose my watch. But when I get it again it is the same watch. " God forbid," then, " that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world, disposed of judicially by God, and I am now brought into this unparalleled condition—peace up, peace down, and a new life. There is a further Scripture as to this which will help to make it clear, Romans viii. 6. "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace; or, as it should be, the carnal mind is death, but the spiritual mind is life and peace." Thus we find that the spiritual, mind is made up of two qualities—life and peace. The very smallest atom of the spiritual mind has these two qualities. Take a fourpenny loaf. It is made of flour and water. Give me, then, the smallest crumb of that loaf, and it has both these—flour and water. If you have got a particle of the spiritual mind, you must have life and peace. There are two natures, certainly there are, and I find people admit two natures, but they are always occupied with the bad one. I turn you back for a moment to chapter vii. 22. " I delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man;" 24th, " O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me? " There is a moment in the history of the soul when it says, "I cannot tolerate the flesh, when Ishmael is cast out. It was not that Abraham did not feel it, but there is the superiority of Christ; I don't mean to say he may not come in again. " Ishmael " knows the house well, and if you put 'him' out by the door, he may come in by the window. But there is a moment when the soul will not tolerate the flesh, what I call non-toleration. Then when a person has got this new nature it will come out. Tribulation and circumstances bring it out, 2 Cor. iv. 16. " For which cause we faint not, but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." Whatever else is ill I have a nature that is not a bit ill. I may not be able to sing, speak, or read, but I have got a nature that is always well. The body, too, is the Lord's, and if it is well it is a servant; if it is sick, it is a patient; and if it does not do its duty it is a deserter.
The Spirit of God unites me to the glorified One in heaven, but I am of the same nature as the One to whom I am united. " As is the heavenly, such are they that are heavenly." Have you any conception o what sort a Being Christ is? We are, as new creatures, of the same order. But how is this new creation to be developed? By being occupied with the Head of it, of course. Where is it to be developed? Just down here in the surroundings, circumstances and relationships of the old creation. It is to be brought out in all these, and there is nothing to hinder but the will. For remember the same One who is Head of the new creation is the Lord of the old, and in the circumstances or relationships in which I am placed, is the new creation to be developed. Nowhere can it be better brought out. If I am a husband, I must be the best husband; or a wife, the best wife; or a child, the best child. I am to take all these up in a new way, and they become the fittest spheres for the bringing out of the new life.
But I have dwelt long enough on this. What is the old creation? It is made up of weakness. and defects. I will take two of its defects—temper and intemperance—they will serve my purpose. I am a new creature in Christ, but as to fact I am here in the old creation, full of defects. I don't speak of the weaknesses, because they are not removed. Paul prayed for the removal of the thorn, but God did not remove it. He makes you superior to the weaknesses, and uses them for bringing into relief the new thing. He does, however, remove the defects. There are two ways of dealing with the defects of the old creation. Self-culture, the human way; the Spirit's discipline, the divine way. The principle of the self-culture method is to bring the force of the will to bear on the defect. Take temper; a man may bring the force of will to bear here, and by, self-culture make himself exceedingly agreeable, exhibit a beautiful, bland manner towards others, and say the most smooth things, while underneath all he may be in. a rage—the nature is the same. He may make himself agreeable to his neighbours by, this, but not to God. By the force of will a man might say,, " I will not drink a drop." Many a one has done so for a wager. But does this give him a taste for sobriety? The Spirit of God would give him a taste for sobriety. 'He not only represses the defect, but He mortifies it. The Spirit gives the new wine and the new bottle, but how am I to manage the old bottle? Self-culture won't do. I must have the Spirit's discipline. The way He does is to bring out the nature of Christ. " I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ." My nature is not improved, but the Spirit brings out Christ's nature. Self-culture cannot create a virtue, the utmost it can do is to repress a vice. The Spirit brings out a virtue. There is not one who is walking with God who does not know his besetting sin from the way the Lord deals with him—by the word, circumstances, trial, and other things. There is a defect in that child of God, the Spirit says, " I can't have that," "I won't allow that," "I will bring out a virtue instead of it." Turn to 1 Peter iv. 1, and see how the Spirit brings in Christ to repress sin. " Forasmuch, then, as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." There is.a child. It sees a lump of sugar and there being no one in the room, walks off with it, and thinks no one sees it. The child gets converted, enters the room again. Sees the lump of sugar. The temptation is presented, a struggle goes on in the child's mind, it resists, and won't touch it. The child has suffered in the flesh and ceases from sin. " Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind" as Christ: He is brought in. Again in Eph. iv. 28, I get a further thing. It is wonderful how the Spirit of God can so deal with a defect as to make it the safest bit about you. There is a boat with a hole in it. Before you go to sea you put a plug in the hole and keep your eye on the spot all the way. It is then the safest bit of the boat. How remarkably, too, the Spirit applies the word. I have known of a woman change her place four times at a meeting because she thought the speaker was talking to her. No one can apply the word. It is a mistake to think that we can. The Spirit alone can do that. Let us read this verse, " Let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is. good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." This is a very remarkable case. " Let him that stole, steal no more." Here is where most people stop. This is only the law. I think he is a very poor Christian if he can't get higher than the law. The Spirit says, " I repress the vice, make him honest, but-is that all? Further, I make him industrious, so that he does not need to take from anybody. But is that all? No, I will bring out a virtue where the vice was, I will actually make him. generous, that he may have to give to him that needeth.' " Instead of putting forth his hands and taking from other people, these very hands are working to give to others. The man that was a taker of what was not his own, I will make by his own labour a, donor. I will remove the defect and bring out a virtue to adorn the spot where it was.
One other Scripture as to how this life is to be manifested and I have done: 2 Cor. iv. 10, " Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." We manifest the life of Jesus by bearing about the dying of Jesus.. The Lord lead our hearts in what this new creation is—what it reaches up to. I am more distinctly by divine power in the new creation than I am in the old. A new and more wonderful creation has been wrought in me than has been in making this world. I was a brother to the dying man, but I am, a brother to the risen Man, the glorified Christ, and now I must walk like Christ down here.