A Christian Is A "New Man"
It is to a new life that God is calling us, not to some new steps in life, some new habits or ways or motives or prospects, but to a new life.
For the production of this new life the eternal Son of God took flesh, died, was buried and rose again. It is not life producing life, a lower life rising into a higher, but life rooting itself in its opposite, life wrought out of death, by the death of "the Prince of life." Of the new creation, as of the old, He is the author.
For the working out of this the Holy Spirit came down in power, entering menís souls and dwelling there, that out of the old He might bring forth the new.
That which God calls new must be so indeed. The Bible means what it says, being of all books, not only the most true in thought but the most accurate in speech. Great then and authentic must be that "new thing in the earth" which God "creates," to which He calls us and which He brings about by such stupendous means and at such a cost.
Most hateful also must that old life of ours be to Him, when, in order to abolish it, He delivers up His Son. Most dear must we be in His sight when, in order to rescue us from the old life, and make us partakers of the new, He brings forth all the divine resources of love and power and wisdom, to meet the pressing needs of a case which otherwise would be wholly desperate.
The man from whom the old life has gone out, and into whom the new life has come, is still the same individual. The same being that was once "under Law" is now "under grace." His features and limbs are still the same. His intellect, imagination, capacities, and responsibilities are still the same.
But yet old things have passed away; all things have become new. The old man is slain, the new man lives. It is not merely the old life retouched and made more comely; defects struck out, roughness smoothed down, graces stuck on here and there. It is not a broken column repaired, a soiled picture cleaned up, a defaced inscription filled up, an unswept temple whitewashed.
It is more than all this, else God would not call it a new creation. Nor would the Lord have affirmed with such explicitness as He does in His conference with Nicodemus, the divine law of exclusion from and entrance into the kingdom of God. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Yet how few in our day believe that "that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6).
Hear How God Speaks!
God calls us "newborn babes" (1 Pet. 2:2); "a new creature" (Gal. 6:15); a "new lump" (1 Cor. 5:7); a "new man" (Eph. 2:15); doers of a "new commandment" (1 John 2:8); heirs of "a new name" and a "new" city (Rev. 2:17; 3:12); expectants of "new heavens and a new earth" (2 Pet. 3:13). This new being, having begun in a new birth, unfolds itself in "newness of spirit" (Rom. 7:6); according to a "new covenant" (Heb. 8:8); walks along a "new and living way" (Heb. 10:20); and ends in the "new song" and the "new Jerusalem" (Rev. 5:9; 21:2).
Its affinities are with the things above. Its sympathies are divine. It sides with God in everything. A Christian is one who has been "crucified with Christ," who has died with Him, been buried with Him, risen with Him, ascended with Him, and is seated "in heavenly places" with Him (Rom. 6:3-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph 2:5-6; Col. 3:1-3). As such he reckons himself "...dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God..." (Rom. 6:11). As such he does not yield his members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but he "yields [himself] unto God, as alive from the dead, and [his] members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:13).
As such he "seeks things which are above," and sets his affection on things above, "[mortifying his] members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5).
This newness is comprehensive, both in its exclusion of the evil and its inclusion of the good. It is summed up by the apostle in two things, "righteousness and holiness." "Put off," says he, "...the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind... put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:22-24, literally "righteousness and holiness of the truth," that is, resting on or springing out of the truth).
It is then to a new standing or state, a new moral character, a new life, a new joy, a new work, a new hope, that the Christian is called.
Of Him, Through Him, To Him
These are weighty words of the apostle, "We are His workmanship" (Eph. 2:10). Of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things pertaining to us. Chosen, called, quickened, washed, sanctified and justified by God Himself, we are, in no sense, our own deliverers. The quarry out of which the marble comes is His. The marble itself is His. The digging and hewing and polishing are His. He is the sculptor and we the statue.
It is not, however, dead, cold marble that is to be wrought upon. That is simple work requiring just a given amount of skill. But the remolding of the soul is unspeakably more difficult and requires far more complex appliances. The work is not mechanical, but moral and spiritual.
Let us notice that there is a heavenward and an earthward aspect of truth, the one fitting into the other, the one the counterpart of the other. God is absolute Sovereign; this is the one side. Man has volition of his own and is not a machine or a stone; that is the other. God chooses and draws, according to the good pleasure of His will; yet He hinders no man from coming or from willing. God is the giver of faith; yet faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). God worketh in us both to will and to do; yet He commands us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12-13).
It is God that sanctifies us; yet it is through "the truth" that we are sanctified (John 17:17). It is God that purifies (Titus 2:14); yet it is by faith that our hearts are purified (Acts 15:9). It is God that fills us with joy and peace, and yet this is "in believing." The "heavenly things" and "earthly things" are distinct, yet not separate, always to be viewed in connection with each other, yet not confused.
How the Holy Spirit operates in producing the newness of which we have spoken, we know not. Yet we know that He does not destroy or reverse manís faculties. He renovates them all so that they fulfill the true ends for which they were given. Nor does the Holy Spirit supersede the use of our faculties by His indwelling. Rather does this indwelling make these more serviceable, more energetic, each one doing his proper work and fulfilling his proper office.
"Awake to righteousness and sin not" is Godís message to us (1 Cor. 15:34). "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:15-16). "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God" (Rom. 12:1). "Purge out...the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump" (1 Cor 5:7).
"Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 2:19). "Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts... live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" (Titus 2:12). "Be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (2 Pet. 3:14). "Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ" (Phil. 1:27). "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:14). "I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Pet. 2:11).
From sin in every sense and aspect, God is calling us. He speaks to us as "shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin," carrying evil about with us, even filled with it and steeped in it, not merely as diseased and requiring medicine, or unfortunate and requiring pity, but as guilty, under law, under sentence, dead in trespasses and sins, with inevitable judgment before us.
He neither alleviates nor aggravates our case, but calmly tells us the worst, showing us what we are before calling us to be what He has purposed to make us. From all unholiness and unrighteousness, from all corruption, from all crooked ways, from all disobedience, from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, He is calling us in Christ Jesus His Son.
Arranged from Godís Way Of Holiness. Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) was a Scottish minister and hymn writer.