'Of God are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, both righteousness and sanctification and redemption; that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.' -- 1 Cor. i.30, 31.
These words lead us on now to the very centre of God's revelation of the way of holiness. We know the steps of the road leading hither. He is holy, and holiness is His. He makes holy by coming near. His presence is holiness. In Christ's life, the holiness that had only been revealed in symbol, and as a promise of good things to come, had really taken possession of a human will, and been made one with true human nature. In His death every obstacle had been removed that could prevent the transmission of that holy nature to us: Christ had truly become our sanctification. In the Holy Spirit the actual communication of that holiness took place. And now we want to understand what the work is the Holy Spirit does, and how He communicates this holy nature to us: what our relation is to Christ as our sanctification, and what the position we have to take up toward Him, that in its fulness and its power it may do its work for us.
The Divine answer to this question is, 'Of God are ye in Christ.' The one thing we need to apprehend is, what this our position and life in Christ is, and how that position and life may on our part be accepted and maintained. Of this we may be sure, that it is not something that is high and beyond our reach. There need be no exhausting effort or hopeless sighing, 'Who shall ascend into heaven, that is, to bring Christ down from above?' It is a life that is meant for the sinful and the weary, for the unworthy and the impotent. It is a life that is the gift of the Father's love, and that He Himself will reveal in each one who comes in childlike trust to Him. It is a life that is meant for our every-day life, that in every varying circumstance and situation will make and keep us holy.
'Of God are ye in Christ.' Ere our Blessed Lord left the world, He spake: Lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world. And it is written of Him: 'He that descended is the same that ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.' 'The Church is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.' In the Holy Spirit the Lord Jesus is with His people here on earth. Though unseen, and not in the flesh, His Personal Presence is as real on earth as when He walked with His disciples. In regeneration the believer is taken out of his old place 'in the flesh;' he is no longer in the flesh, but in the spirit (Rom. viii.9); he is really and actually in Christ. The living Christ is around him by His holy Presence. Wherever and whatever he be, however ignorant of his position or however unfaithful to it, there he is in Christ. By an act of Divine and omnipotent grace, he has been planted into Christ, encircled on every side by the Power and the Love of Him who filleth all things, whose fulness specially dwells in His body here below, the Church.
And how can one who is longing to know Christ fully as his sanctification, come to live out what God means and has provided in this -- 'in Christ'? The first thing that must be remembered is that it is a thing of faith and not of feeling. The promise of the indwelling and the quickening of the Holy One is to the humble and contrite. Just when I feel most deeply that I am not holy, and can do nothing to make myself holy, when I feel ashamed of myself, just then is the time to turn from self and very quietly to say: I am in Christ. Here He is all around me. Like the air that surrounds me, like the light that shines on me, here is my Lord Jesus with me in His hidden but Divine and most real presence. My faith must in quiet rest and trust bow before the Father, of whom and by whose Mighty Grace I am in Christ: He will reveal it to me with ever-growing clearness and power. He does it as I believe, and in believing open my whole soul to receive what is implied in it: the sense of sinfulness and unholiness must become the strength of my trust and dependence. In such faith I abide in Christ.
But because it is of faith, therefore it is of the Holy Spirit. Of God are ye in Christ. It is not as if God placed and planted us in Christ, and left it to us now to maintain the union. No, God is the Eternal One, the God of the everlasting life, who works every moment in a power that does not for one moment cease. What God gives, He continues with a never-ceasing giving. It is He who by the Holy Spirit makes this life in Christ a blessed reality in our consciousness. 'We have received the Spirit of God that we might know the things that are freely given us of God.' Faith is not only dependent on God for the gift it is to accept, but for the power to accept. Faith not only needs the Son as its filling and its food; it needs the Spirit as its power to receive and hold. And so the blessed possession of all that it means to be in Christ our sanctification comes as we learn to bow before God in believing prayer for the mighty workings of the Spirit, and in the deep childlike trust that He will reveal and glorify in us this Christ our sanctification in whom we are.
And how will the Spirit reveal this Christ in whom we are? It will specially be as the Living One, the Personal Friend and Master. Christ is not only our Example and our Ideal. His life is not only an atmosphere and an inspiration, as we speak of a man who mightily influences us by his writings. Christ is not only a treasury and a fulness of grace and power, into which the Spirit is to lead us. But Christ is the Living Saviour, with a heart that beats with a love that is most tenderly human, and yet Divine. It is in this love He comes near, and into this love He receives us, when the Father plants us into Him. In the power of a personal love He wishes to exercise influence, and to attach us to Himself. In that love of His we have the guarantee that His Holiness will enter us; in that love the great power by which it enters. As the Spirit reveals to us where we are dwelling, in Christ and His love, and that this Christ is a living Lord and Saviour, there wakens within us the enthusiasm of a personal attachment, and the devotion of a loving allegiance, that make us wholly His. And it becomes possible for us to believe that we can be holy: we feel sure that in the path of holiness we can go from strength to strength.
Such believing insight into our relation to Christ as being in Him, and such personal attachment to Him who has received us into His love and keeps us abiding there, becomes the spring of a new obedience. The will of God comes to us in the light of Christ's life and His love -- each command first fulfilled by Him, and then passed on to us as the sure and most blessed help to more perfect fellowship with the Father and His Holiness. Christ becomes Lord and King in the soul, in the power of the Holy Spirit, guiding the will into all the perfect will of God, and proving Himself to be its sanctification, as He crowns its obedience with ever larger inflow of the Presence and the Holiness of God.
Is there any dear child of God at all disposed to lose heart as he thinks of what manner of man he ought to be in all holy living, let me call him to take courage. Could God have devised anything more wonderful or beautiful for such sinful, impotent creatures? Just think, Christ, God's own Son, made to be sanctification to you. The Mighty, Loving, Holy Christ, sanctified through suffering that He might have sympathy with you, given to make you holy. What more could you desire? Yes, there is more: 'Of God you are in Him.' Whether you understand it or not, however feebly you realize it, there it is, a thing most Divinely true and real. You are in Christ, by an act of God's own Mighty Power. And there, in Christ, God Himself longs to establish and confirm you to the end. And you have, greatest wonder of all, the Holy Spirit within you to teach you to know, and believe, and receive, all that there is in Christ for you. And if you will but confess that there is in you no wisdom or power for holiness, none at all, and allow Christ, 'the Wisdom of God and the Power of God,' by the Holy Spirit within you, to lead you on, and prove how completely, how faithfully, how mightily, He can be your sanctification, He will do it most gloriously.
O my brother! come and consent more fully to God's way of holiness. Let Christ be your sanctification. Not a distant Christ to whom you look, but a Christ very near, all around you, in whom you are. Not a Christ after the flesh, a Christ of the past, but a present Christ in the power of the Holy Ghost. Not a Christ whom you can know by your wisdom, but the Christ of God, who is a Spirit, and whom the Spirit within you, as you die to the flesh and self, will reveal in power. Not a Christ such as your little thoughts can frame a conception of, but a Christ according to the greatness of the heart and the love of God. Oh, come and accept this Christ, and rejoice in Him! Be content now to leave all your feebleness, and foolishness, and faithlessness to Him, in the quiet confidence that He will do for you more than you can think. And so let it henceforth be, as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
BE YE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY.
Most Blessed Father! I bow in speechless adoration before the holy mystery of Thy Divine Love....
Oh, forgive me, that I have known and believed it so little as it is worthy of being known and believed.
Accept my praise for what I have seen and tasted of its Divine blessedness. Accept, Lord God! of the praise of a glad and loving heart that only knows that it never can praise Thee aright.
And hear my prayer, O my Father! that in the power of Thy Holy Spirit, who dwells in me, I may each day accept and live out fully what Thou hast given me in Christ my sanctification. May the unsearchable riches there are in Him be the daily supply for my every need. May His Holiness, His delight in Thy will, indeed become mine. Teach me, above all, how this can most surely be, because I am, through the work of Thine Almighty Quickening Power, in Him, kept there by Thyself. My Father! my faith cries out: I can be holy, blessed be my Lord Jesus!
In this faith I yield myself to Thee, Lord Jesus, my King and Master, to do Thy will alone. In everything I do, great or small, I would act as one sanctified in Jesus, united to God's will in Him. It is Thou alone canst teach me to do this, canst give me strength to perform it. But I trust in Thee -- art Thou not Christ my sanctification? Blessed Lord! I do trust Thee. Amen.
1. Christ, as He lived and died on earth, is our sanctification. His life, the Spirit of His life, is what constitutes our holiness. To be in perfect harmony with Christ, to have His mind, is to be holy.
2. Christ's Holiness had two sides. God sanctified Him by His Spirit: Christ sanctified Himself by following the leading of the Spirit, by giving up His will to God in everything. So God has made us holy in Christ; and so we follow after and perfect holiness by yielding ourselves to God's Spirit, by giving up our will and living in the will of God.
3. It is well that we take in every aspect of what God has revealed of holiness in His word. But let us never weary ourselves by seeking to grasp all completely. Let us even return to the simplicity that is in Jesus. To bow at His feet, to believe that He knows all we need, and has it all, and loves to give it all, is rest. And holiness is resting in Jesus the rest of God. Let all our thoughts be gathered up into this one: Jesus, Blessed Jesus.
4. This holy life in Christ is for to-day, when you read this. For to-day He is made of God unto you sanctification: to-day He will indeed be your holiness. Believe in Him for it; trust Him, praise Him. And remember: you are in Him.