November 11, 2012

The Fight for Glory & Our Divine Reinforcement

I'm not sure why but the Holy Spirit has been convicting me to write about Him I do. If it was any one but Him I would think it was vain conceit but because it is is perfectly deserved. God is the only One worthy of such praise. In the course of discussion on Him we see why man is so depraved and fallen. In the course of discussion we see why we are so dependent on God. When it come to God's victory over is a knockout. When it comes to our victory over is a split decision.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ~ "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

[The following is slight paraphrase of Richard Sibbes' The Excellency of the Gospel Above The Law]

To bring us to heaven God sees it necessary to set up a battle within us, that we are able by the help of the Spirit to fight God’s conflict against the flesh…our flesh so that the dominion of sin may be broken in us (a la Romans 7). With the assistance of the Holy Spirit we continually fight self in a titanic internal battle with entrenched and habitual sin. It s a lifelong labor to leave sin by the wayside and pursue holiness. In the end it is only death and us leaving our bodies behind that allows us final victory over the flesh.

Romans 7:14-25
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Paul later says, “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). The law of the Spirit of life, that is, the commanding power of the Spirit of Christ, which commands as a law in the hearts of God's people, frees us from the law, that is, from the commanding power of sin and death. The dominion and tyranny of sin is broken by the Spirit of Christ, so we are set at a liberty. In some respects we are under grace, and sin shall not have dominion over us, as the apostle says.

And by the Spirit of Christ in sanctification we are made kings to rule over our own lusts to some degree. We are not kings to be freed altogether from them, but kings to strive against them. It is a liberty to fight, and in fighting to overcome at last. When the Israelites had a promise that God would give their enemies into their hands, the meaning was not that he would give them without fighting a blow. They would fight, but in fighting they would overcome. So this liberty of sanctification is not a liberty that ends combat with our corruptions, but a gracious liberty to keep them under, till by subduing them little by little, we have a perfect victory. What greater encouragement can a man have to fight against his enemy, than when he is sure of final victory before he fights.

You see then how the Spirit brings liberty into the soul. It brings us out of that cursed kingdom of Satan and sin. It brings us out of the curse of God and the law in justification; and it brings us from the dominion and tyranny of sin by a spirit of sanctification.

But this is not all that is in liberty.  The Spirit frees us not only from sin, but from that which follows it, as fear and terrors of conscience, death and wrath. Now, where the Spirit of God is, it frees from the ill consequences, from the tail that follows sin. Where the Spirit is, it frees us from fear. The same Spirit that tells us in justification that God is appeased also frees us from the fear of damnation and death and judgment, from the terrors of an evil conscience. Being 'sprinkled with the blood of Christ' (1 Peter 1:2), we are freed from fear.

And the Spirit not only frees from the fear of ill things, but frees us to do good. Liberty implies two things: a freedom from ill, from a cursed condition, and likewise a liberty to better - a liberty from ill, and to good. We must understand the breadth of Christ's benefits, because they are complete, not only to free us from ill, but to confer all good to us, as much as our nature is capable of. As much as these souls of ours are capable of, they shall be made free and glorious and happy in heaven. God will leave no part of the soul unfilled, no corner of the soul empty. Little by little he does it (in a process of sanctification).

 When we are called out of Satan's kingdom we are not only called out of that cursed state, but we are made free to a better kingdom; we are made the members of Christ; we are enfranchised. And so in justification we are not only freed from damnation, from the justice and wrath of God, but we can use the plea of our righteousness by which we have claim to heaven, which is a blessed privilege and prerogative. We are not only free from the curse of the law, but we have other gracious prerogatives and privileges, we are not only freed from the dominion of sin, but we are set at liberty by the Spirit to do what is good. We have a voluntary free spirit, to serve God as cheerfully as we served our lusts before.

And as we are freed from the rigor and curse of the Law, so we have corresponding prerogatives to good. We are now by the Spirit set at liberty to delight in the law, to make the law our counselor, to make the Word of God our counselor. That which terrified and frightened us before is now our direction. A severe schoolmaster to a very young pupil becomes later, as the pupil grows, a wise tutor to guide and direct. So, the law that terrifies and whips us when we are in bondage, till we are in Christ - it scares us to Christ - that law afterward comes to be a tutor, to tell us what we shall do, to counsel us and say this is the best way. And we come to delight in
those truths when they are revealed to us inwardly. And the more we know, the more we want to know, because we want to please God better every day.

So besides freedom from what is ill and its consequences, there is a blessed prerogative and privilege. That is what is meant here by liberty. For God's works are complete. We must know when he delivers from ill he advances to good. His works are full works always; he does not do things halfway. We have through Christ and by the Spirit not only freedom from what is ill but advancement to all that is comforting and graciously good.

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