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The old nature can be kept in the place of defeat, and thus allow the new nature to be continually victorious. What a comfort it is to realize that God has made every provision for all the sons and daughters of AdamÂ’s race! We are not shut up to sin.
If we have allowed the old man to assert himself, thus leading us into open sin, there must come genuine repentance. We must be Â“sorry for our sin.Â”
As Dr. F. B. Meyer says, Â“The true test of Christian character does not consist in the inability to fall, but in the quick agony of repentance, and in the immediate restoration to the ways which had been left. Directly you are conscious of sin, turn it over to your compassionate Lord. Do not wait for the fever of passion to subside, or for the agony of your shame to die down, but there and then, in the crowd or on the street, lift up your heart and ask Him to touch you with that finger before which uncleanness cannot abide; ask Him to wash you as He did the feet of His disciples, soiled by jealousy and strife for mastery; ask Him to return your soul to the place it occupied before it fell.Â”
It is this instant repentance which marks one out as a true child of God. Since sin is no longer his element and sphere, if he falls into it, he strives to escape from it as soon as possible (1John 3:9). An old divine says, Â“A sheep and a sow may fall, each, into the same quagmire; but the sow will wallow in it, whilst the sheep will bleat piteously until she is extricated and cleansed.Â” Such is the difference between the ungodly and the children of GodÂ…
Dr. A. J. Gordon says: Â“The Christian is born from above in the language of Scripture, and is therefore a citizen of heaven. He cannot drop into the element of earthliness and sin without being made miserable, just as a man whose home and habitude is in sin and corruption would be unutterably wretched if thrust into heaven among the angels and redeemed spiritsÂ”Â….
Submission to the Holy Spirit
One cannot emphasize too strongly the blessed teachings of Romans 8, namely, that God has not left the new nature to hold in check the evil propensities of the old nature, but that in the Holy Spirit we have the antagonist of and the all-sufficient antidote to sin and self. It is He Who works against the risings of the flesh, counteracting them at every turn so that we may not do the things that we would (Gal. 5:17).
To quote Dr. F.B. Meyer: Â“He (the Holy Spirit) annihilates the power of the self-life, as an antiseptic cancels the death-dealing germs which proceed from the body of a patient who is stricken by an infectious disease. When the Holy Spirit resides in power in the heart, He keeps the self-life so utterly in the place of death that temptation has no fascination, no power. The appeals of hell are flung against the ear of death; there is no response, no motion of obedienceÂ…the evil thing isÂ…kept in the place of death by the Spirit of life.Â”
Assimilation of the Life of Jesus
The flesh is not sufficient for the flesh. Â“Old AdamÂ” is still Â“too strong for young Melancthon,Â” said a great reformer. For human nature to try to lift and rescue itself, is like a drowning man seizing his right hand with his left hand in order to save himself, when both these hands are members of the same sinking body.
Constant deliverance is ours as we abide in Jesus. Â“Abide in Me, and I in youÂ” (John 15:4). Here we have union and communion. Not a mere imitation of Christ, but incorporation into Christ Himself; the impartation of ChristÂ’s own life.
To quote W. J. Hocking, Â“The life of Christ in us consists of a Christ-like behavior, which while it is a profound performance, is a simple matter, but simple only in the sense that is not intricate or complicated in attainment. For a likeness to Christ is found in a babe in Christ as well as in the young men and fathers of the family of God. The adoring admiration of Christ leads to an unconscious imitation of His words and ways. To delight in Christ is to become like Him spiritually. Walking with Christ, communing with Him, listening to Him, brings a moral conformity to His image and likeness. By this means the new nature is allowed to follow its instincts in a growing attraction by the aid of the Holy Spirit to the adorable Person of the Lord Jesus Himself. And thus we walk Â‘in newness of life,Â’ and not according to our former manner of life.Â”
In the apostleÂ’s words, Â“Our old man is crucified with Him that the body of sin might be destroyed.Â” Â“Destroyed,Â” expresses the true sense less correctly than Â“annulled,Â” or Â“rendered powerless,Â” so that it does not assert itself. Because of our crucifixion with Christ, the body with its disposition to serve sin is kept in its rightful place of inaction. Thereby the new life becomes uppermost in practice, and takes charge of our ways, and our likeness of character to the Lord Jesus Christ is developed accordingly.
It was this lesson that Dr. F. B. Meyer was taught by a grey-haired clergyman in the deanery study at Southampton. When tempted to feel great irritation, he looked up and claimed the patience and gentleness of Christ; and since then, it had become the practice of his life to claim from Him the virtue of which he felt the deficiency in himself. In hours of unrest, Â“Thy patience, Lord.Â” In hours of temptation, Â“Thy purity, Lord.Â” In hours of weakness, Â“Thy strength, Lord.Â”
Such then is our blessed avenue of victory, namely the constant appropriation and assimilation of Christ. Â“Thanks be to God. Who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Â” In his comment on Romans 13:14, where Paul speaks about putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, Bishop Moule says, Â“Here the Saviour is presented as the soulÂ’s armor and arms (verse12). By means of HIM, beheld by faith, adored, accepted, and welcomed as the Guest of the soul, sin is to be resisted and subdued. Grace is to come, above all other means by means of personal dealing with HIM.Â”