B. THE TRANSFORMATION - BY SALVATION
In the second division of his treatise, the apostle
applied the great doctrine of salvation to the immediate duty of the
saints. Therein he showed how the forces of grace have fruition in the
lives of those saved thereby. The division falls into four parts: the
final appeal; a description of the simplicity of personal life; a
description of relative life as submission to those without; and of
relative life as sympathy toward those within.
The final appeal is the first word of the practical
application of the letter, and indeed all that follows is but exposition
and enforcement thereof.
The word "therefore" links all that is now to be
said, with everything which has already been said. The argument for
conduct is based upon the truth enunciated. Because of the grace of God,
manifested in spite of all human failure, the believer is called to
definite attitudes and actions which correspond with the provisions of
salvation. In his fundamental affirmation the apostle described the
action of God through Christ as the "power of God unto salvation."
Having set forth the facts concerning the power, he now appealed to the
saints, to produce corresponding results in the exercise of that power.
His ground of appeal is indicated in the words, "by
the mercies of God." These mercies are revealed by the great words
around which the previous teaching has gathered, those namely of
justification, sanctification, and glorification.
The first of these indicates that immediate salvation
of the spirit, which results from faith. The second indicates that
progressive salvation of the mind, which results from the salvation of
the spirit. The third refers to that final salvation of the body, which
will complete the work of grace.
It is well to notice what the structure of this final
appeal reveals, as to the apostle's conception of human personality. Man
is recognized as being essentially spirit. He possesses his body, and is
able to offer it. The difference between the body and the spirit is that
between the sacrifice and the one who offers. Man as a worshipper is a
spirit. His sacrificial symbol of worship is his own body, which he is
called upon to present to God; and the apostle declares that this act is
of the nature of spiritual worship.
The first experience of the power of God unto
salvation is the salvation of the spirit. The last experience will be
that of the salvation of the body. The first expression of obedience is
to be that of the presentation of this body to God. This includes as
fundamental, the perpetual yielding of the spirit to Him Who has
justified it; and then its activity in the government of the body under
that will of God which has become the sufficient law of the spirit-life.
Following upon the experience of the power of God in justification,
which is the salvation of the spirit, the power of God unto salvation is
experienced in sanctification, which is the renewing of the mind. Thus
the justified spirit, acting through the sanctified mind, presents the
body to God, and the great process of transformation goes forward.
The reason of the appeal is that the saints may prove
the will of God. The doctrine of salvation held intellectually, apart
from volitional abandonment thereto, cannot produce experimental
knowledge of the perfection of the will of God. Hence the importance of
this great appeal.
The teaching of the appeal is perfectly clear as to
the method by which the body is to be presented to God. It is not that
of scourging. or mutilation, or destruction. These are all false and
imperfect methods. The true ideal is that of using it in all its powers,
according to "the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." The
central consideration is no longer to be that of the fashion of the age,
either as to intellect, emotion, or will, in the matter of food, or of
raiment, or of occupation. It is to be that of the will of God. The
spirit of man restored to God through faith in Christ has an entirely
new outlook or consciousness. The mind is renewed, and therefore the
body is dedicated in conformity with the thought of the renewed mind,
and the character of the restored spirit.
The completeness of the apostle's ideal of
abandonment to the will of God is marked. The spirit is evidently God's.
The mind is therefore renewed according to the will of God. The body is
consequently presented to God.
What a glorious ideal of life! It is wholly
dependent, however, for fulfillment upon that faith in Jesus upon which
man is justified, and through the exercise of which sanctification
proceeds to glorification.