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THE FREEDOM OF THE CHRISTIAN

'Being made free from sin, ye became bond-servants of righteousness. Being made free from sin, ye have your fruit unto sanctifieation.'—Kom. vi. 18, 22.

'But now we have been discharged from the law.'—Rom. vii. 6.

'The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.'—Rom. viiL 2.

FREEDOM is counted in Scripture as one of

-L the greatest privileges of the child of God. There is nothing in history for which nations have made great sacrifices except freedom. Slavery is the lowest condition into which man can sink, for in it he can no longer dispose of himself. Freedom is the deepest need of his nature.

To be free, then, is the condition in which anything can develop itself according to the law of its nature, that is, according to its disposition. Without freedom nothing can attain its destiny or become what it ought to be. This is true alike of the animal and man, of the corporeal and the spiritual. It was for this cause that God in Israel chose the redemption out of the

slavery of Egypt into the glorious liberty of God's people, as the everlasting type of redemption out of the slavery of sin into the liberty of the children of God.i On this account, Jesus JJjj.V'il.'t-said on earth: 'If the Son shall make you free, D~t ye shall be free indeed.' And the Holy Scriptures teach us to stand fast in the freedom with which Christ made us free. A right insight into this freedom opens up to us one of the greatest glories of the life that the grace of God has prepared for us.2 2Jo^,n,,1i,-*?,

i r 86; Gal. It. II,

In the three passages, from the Epistle to the v-L Romans, in which sanctification is dealt with, a threefold freedom is spoken of. There is freedom from sin in the sixth chapter, freedom from the law in the seventh, freedom from the law of sin in the eighth.

There is freedom from sin (Rom. vi. 7, 18, 22). Sin is represented as a power that rules over man, under which he is brought and taken captive, and that urges him as a slave to evil.8 By the death of Christ and in Christ of the ^ believer, who is one with Him, he is made entirely free from the dominion of sin: it has no more power over him. If, then, he still does sin, it is because he, not knowing his freedom by faith, permits sin still to rule over him. But if by faith he fully accepts what the word of God thus confirms, then sin has no power over him: he overcomes it by the faith that he is made free from it.4 ItiJ- *■

Then there is freedom from the law. This leads us deeper into the life of grace than freedom from sin. According to Scripture, law and sin always go together. 'The strength of sin is the law:' the law does nothing but make ■ Knm. tv. is. the offence greater.i The law is the token of

v. i3, JO, vlL"

i3; i cor. xv. our sinfulness, cannot help us against sin, but with its demand for perfect obedience gives us over hopeless to the power of sin. The Christian who does not discern that he is made free

^Rom. Tl I* from the law will still always abide under sin.2 Christ and the law cannot rule over us together: in every endeavour to fulfil the law as believers,

jEom. viL 6, we are taken captive by sin.8 The Christian must know that he is entirely free from the law, from the you must that stands without us and over us: then for the first time shall he know what it is to be free from sin.

Then there is also freedom from the law of sin, actual liberation from the power of sin in our members. What we have in Christ, freedom from sin and from the law, is inwardly appropriated for us by the Spirit of God. 'The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.' The Holy Spirit in us takes the place of the law over us. 'If ye are led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.' Freeing from the law is not anything external, but takes place according to the measure the Spirit obtains dominion in us and leads us. 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' According as the law of tlie Spirit rules in us, we are made free from the law, from the law of sin. We are then free to do what we, as God's children, would fain do, free to serve God.i '3Cor.nLi7;

Gal. v. i8.

Free expresses a condition in which nothing hinders me from being what I would be and ought to be. In other words, free is to be able to do what I would. The power of sin over us, the power of the law against us, the power of the law of sin in, us, hinder us. But he that stands in the freedom of the Holy Spirit, he that is then truly free, nothing can prevent or hinder him from being what he would be and ought to be. As it is the nature of a tree to grow upwards, and it also grows as it is free from all hindrances, so a child of God then grows to what he ought to be and shall lie. And according as the Holy Spirit leads him into this freedom, there springs up the joyful consciousness of his strength for the life of faith. He joyfully shouts: '1 can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me.' 'Thanks b" untn God which always leadeth us in triumph in Christ'

Son of God, anointed with the Spirit to. announce freedom to the captives, make me also truly free. Let the Spirit of life in Thee, my Lord, make me free from the law of sin and of death. I am Thy ransomed one. 0 let me P

live as Thy freed one, who is hindered by nothing from serving Thee. Amen.

7. The freedom of the t hristlan extends ooer his whole life. He is free in relation to the institutions and teachings of men. 'Ye were bought with a price; become not bond-seroants of men.' (7 Cor. oii. 23; Col. ii. 20.) He is free in relation to the world, and in the use of what God gioes: he has power to possess it or to dispense with it, to enjoy it or to sacrifice It. (1 Cor. oili. 8, ix. 4, 5.)

2. This freedom is no lawlessness. We are free from sin and the law to seroe Cod in the Spirit. We are not under the law, but gioe ourstlovs, with free choice and in looe, to Him who looed us. (Rom. oi. 18; Gal. o. 13; 7 Pet. ii. 16.) Not under the law, also not without law; but in the law: a new, a higher law, 'The law of the Spirit of life,' 'the law of liberty,' the law written in our hearts, is our rule and measure. (1 Cor, ix. 21; das. i. 15, ii. 12.)- in this last passage the translation ought to be; 'bound by a law to Christ.'

3. This freedom has its subsistence from the word and also in It: the more the word abides in me, and the truth lioes in me, the freer l become. (John oiii. 3i, 32, 36.)

4. Freedom manifests itself in looe. l am free from the law, and from men, and from institutions, to be able now like Christ to surrender myself for others. (Rom. xio. 13, 21; Gal. o. 13, oi. 1.)

5. This glorious liberty to seroe God and cur neighbour in looe is a spiritual thing. We cannot by any means seize it and draw it to us. It becomes known only by a life in the Holy Spirit. 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' 'If ye are led by the Spirit, y. are not under the taw.' lt is the Holy Spirit that makes free. Let us suffer ourseloes to be introduced by Him into the effectual glorious liberty of the children of God* 'The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus freed me from the law of sin and of death,'

'So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed upon the earth ; and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he knoweth not how. The earth beareth lruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.'—Mark iv. 26-28.

'The Head, from whom the whole body iiicreaseth with the increase of God.'—col. ii. 19.

'That we may grow into Him which is the Head, even. Christ, from whom the whole body muketh the increase.'— Eph. iv. 15, 16.

"PvEATH is always a standing still: life is

-xJ always movement, progressiveness. Increase or growth is the law of all created life; consequently, the new life in man is destined to increase, and always by becoming stronger. As there are in the seed and in the earth a life and power of growth by which the plant is impelled to have its full height and fruit; so is there in the seed of the eternal life an impelling force by which also that life always increases and grows with a divine growth, until we come to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness

In this parable of the seed that springs up

of itself, and becomes great and bears fruit, the Lord teaches us two of the most important lessons on the increase of the spiritual life. The one is that of its self-sufficiency, the other that of its graduabiess.

The first lesson is for those that ask what they are to do in order to grow and advance more in grace. As the Lord said of the body: 'Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto his stature? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow;' so He says to us here that we can do nothing, and need to do nothing, >£S-t''i.Iw to make the spiritual life grow.i Do you not

* see how, while man slept, the seed sprang up and became high, he knew not how, and how the earth brought forth fruit of itself? When man has once sowed, he must reckon that God ca^es for the growth: he has not to care: he must trust and rest.

And must man then do nothing? He can do nothing: it is from within that the power of life must come: from the life, from the Spirit implanted in him. To the growth itself he can contribute nothing: it shall be given him to

P». «m. t«i :>row.2

CM. ILK); Col. °

All that he can do is to let the life grow. All that can hinder the life, he must take away and keep away. If there are thorns and thistles that take away place and power in the soil ,]m lv i3 which the plant should have, he can take them M«u. «m. 22. aw.,v 3 xiie plant must have its place in the earth alone and undivided. For this the husbandman can care: then it grows further of itself. So must the Christian take away what can hinder the growth of the new life: to surrender the heart entire and undivided for the new life, to hold it alone in possession and to fill it, so that it may grow free and unhindered.i Hrf>nxii!'i-u'

The husbandman can also bring forward what the plant requires in the way of food or drink: he can manure or moisten the soil as it may be needful. So must the believer see to it that for the new life there is brought forward nourishment out of the word, the living water of the Spirit, by prayer. It is in Christ that the new life is planted: from Him it increases with divine increase: abide rooted in Him by the exercise of faith: the life will grow of itself.8 ^tUXf*' Give it what it must have: take away what can hinder it: the life will grow and increase of itself.

Then comes in the second lesson of the parable: the gradualness of the growth: 'first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.' Do not expect everything at once. Give God time. By faith and endurance we inherit the promises: the faith that knows that it has everything in Christ: the endurance that expects everything in its time according to the rule and the order of the divine government. Give God time. Give the new life time. It is by continued abiding in the earth that the plant grows: it is by continuous standing in grace, in Christ Himself, in whom God has planted us, iHeb. *it. is. that the new life grows.i

ti IS, i6; Ju. °

t-r Yes: give the new life only sufficient time:

time in prayer: time in intercourse with God: time in continuous exercise of faith: time in persistent separation from the world. Give it time: slow but sure, hidden but real, in apparent weakness but with heavenly power, is the divine growth with which the life of God in the soul grows up to the perfect man in Christ.

Lord God, graciously strengthen the faith of Thy children, that their growth and progress are in Thy hands. Knable them to see what a precious, powerful life was implanted in them by Thyself, a life that increases with a divine increase. Enable them by faith and patience to inherit the promises. And teach them in that faith to take away all that can hinder the new life, to bring forward all that can further it, so that Thou inayest make Thy work in them ylorious. Amen.

7. For a plant, the principal thing is the soil in which it stands and out of which it draws its strength. For the Christian, this also is the principal thing: he is in Christ, Christ is all: he must grow up in Him, for out of Him the body obtains its increase. 7o abide in Christ by faith- that is the main thing. . .

2. Remember that faith must set itself towards a silent restfulness, that growth is just like that of the litles on God's hands, and that He will see to it that we increase and grow strong.

3. By this firm and joyful faith, webec^me 'Strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, unto all patience and long-suffering with joy.' {Go!. l. 11.)

4. This faith, that God cares for our growth, takes away all anxiety, and gioes courage for doing the two things that we haoe to do: the taking away of what may be obstructioe to the new life, the bringing forward of what may be seroiceable to it,

5. Obseroe well the distinction betwixt planting and growing. Planting is the work of a moment; in a moment the earth receioes the seed: after that comes the slow growth. Without delay—immediately must the sinner receive the word: before conoersion there is no delay. Then with time follows the growth of the seed.

6. The main thing is Christ: from Him and in Him ls our growth. He la the soil that of itself brings forth fruit, we know not how. Hold dally intercourse with Him.

There is a book 'Abide in Christ'(Nisbet A Co,\ with meditations for a month on the blessed life of continued fellowship with Him,

Searcbing tbe Scriptures.

* 0 how lore I Thy law : it is my meditation all the day.'— Ps. cxii. 97.

'Ye search (or search ye) the Scriptures : and these are they which bear witness of Me.'—John V. 89.

1 The word did not profit them, because they were not united by faith with them that heard.'—Heb. iv. 2.

AT the beginning of this book there is more than one passage upon the use of God's word in the life of grace. Ere I take leave of my readers, I would fain once again come back to this all-important point. I cannot too earnestly and urgently address this call to my beloved young brothers and sisters: Upon your use of the word of God your spiritual life in great measure depends. Man lives by the word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Therefore seek with your whole heart to learn how to use God's word aright. To this end, receive the following hints.

Eead the word more with the heart than with the understanding: with the understanding I would know and comprehend; with the heart I desire, and love, and hold fast. Let the understanding be the servant of the heart. Be much afraid of the understanding of the carnal nature,

that cannot receive spiritual things.i Deny 'i :t Hi your understanding, and wait in humility on the Col-tili Spirit of God. On every occasion, still keep silent amidst your reading of the word, and say to yourselves: this word I now receive in my heart, to love and to let it live in me." »p>. cxix. i4

Eead the word always in fellowship with the *> '•*- «,", living God. The power of a word depends on my conviction regarding the man from whom it comes. First set yourself in loving fellowship with the living God under the impression of His nearness and love: deal with the word under the full conviction that He, the eternal God, is speaking with you; and let the heart be silent to listen to God, to God Himself.8 Then the 3 Gen. xTfl. l|

'i Sam. UL %

word certainly becomes to you a great blessing. u.i.j%S.£

Eead the word, as a living word in which the Spirit of God dwells, and that certainly works in those that believe. The word is seed. Seed has life, and grows and yields fruit of itself. The word has life, and of itself grows and yields fruit.4 If you do not wholly understand it, if 'Mark It. ».

* • 28; John TL

you do not feel its power, carry it in your heart; g; IKJtii ponder it and meditate upon it: it will of itself begin to yield a working and growth in you.6 00* i1 The Spirit of God is with and in the word. nJWtt

Eead it with the resolve to be, not only a hearer, but a doer of the word. Let the great question be: What would God now have of me with this word? If the answer is: He would have me believe it and reckon upon Him to fulfil it: do this immediately from the heart. If the word is a command of what you are to do, yield yourself 20*%. i immediately to do it.i O there is an unspeakjMkL2i.j628' able blessedness in the doing of God's word, and in the surrender of myself to be and to act just as the word says and would have it. Be not hearers, but doers of the word.

Read the word tcUh time. I see more and more that one obtains nothing on earth without time. Give the word time. Give the word time, at every occasion on which you sit down to read it, to come into your heart. Give it time, in the persistence with which you cleave to it, from pKS.'Lta! day to day, and month after month.2 By persewi jm.xv.i8. veranceyOU become exercised and more accustomed

to the word: the word begins to work. Pray, be not dispirited when you do not understand the word. Hold on: take courage: give the word time: later on the word will explain itself. David had to meditate day and night to understand it.

Bead the word with a searching of the Scriptures. The best explanation of the Bible is the Bible itself. Take three or four texts upon a point: set them close to one another and compare them. See wherein they agree and wherein they differ; where they say the same thing or again something else. Let the word of God at one time be cleared up and confirmed by what He said at another time on the same subject: this is the safest and the best explanation. Even the sacred writers use this method of instruction with the Scriptures: 'and again.'i l,^JollTMg, Do not complain that this method takes too 5; Bssils: much time and pains: it is worthy of the pains: your pains will be rewarded. On earth you have nothing without pains.* Even the bread of uf^j/Vs'.* life we have to eat in the sweat of our face. **"-x"i-44 He that would go to heaven never goes without taking pains. Search the Scriptures: it will be richly recompensed to you.

Young Christian, let one of my last and most earnest words to you be this: on your dealing with the word of God depend your growth, your power, your life. Love God's word then; esteem it sweeter than honey: better than thousands of gold or silver. In the word, God can and will reveal His heart to you. In the word, Jesus will communicate Himself and all His grace. In the word, the Holy Spirit will come in to you, to renew your heart and all your thoughts, according to the mind and will of God. O, then, read not simply enough of the word to keep you from declension^ but reckon it one of your chief occupations on earth to yield yourself that God may fill yon with His word, that He may fulfil His word in you.

Lord God, what grace it is that Thou speakest to us in Thy word, that w* in Thy word have access to Thy heart, to Thy will, to Thy love. 0 forgive us our. sins against Thy precious word. And, Lord, let the new life become so strong by

the Spirit in us, that all its desire shall he to
abide in Thy word. Amen.

I. Ps. exix. in the middle of the Bible stands this psalm, in which
the praise and the looe of God's word are so strikingly expressed. lt is
not enough for us to read through the divisions of this psalm succes-
sioely: we must take its principal points, and one with another seek what
ls said in different passages upon each of these. Let i<s, for example,
take the following points, obseroing the indications of the answers, and
seek in this way to come under the full impression of what is taught us of
the glory of God's word:—

1. The blessing that the word gioes. Vs. 1, 2,\fi, 9, 11,14,24, 46, 48, 47,

and so on.

2. The appellations that in this psalm are gioen to God's word.

8. How we haoe to handle the word. (Obseruewalk—keep—mark—and
mo on.)

4. Prayer for dioine teaching. Vo. 5, 10, 12, 18, 19, 28.

6. Surrender to obedience to the word. E.g. ee. 93,i05, 106, 112, 128,

138.

8. God's word the basis of our prayer. Vo. 41, 49, 68, 76, 107,116,170.

7. Obseroance as the ground of confidence in prayer. Vo. 77, 159, 176.

8. Obseroance as promised upon the hearing of prayer. Vo. 8, 17, 33,

84, 44.

9. The power to obseroe the word. Vo. 32, 36, 41, 42, 117, 135, 146.
10. The praise of God's word. Vo. 64, 72, 97, 129, 130,144.

II. The confident confession of obedience. Vo. 102, 110, 121, 188.

12. Personal intercourse with God, seen in the use of Thou and I, IUM
and Mine.

/ haoe merely mentioned a few points and a few oerses. Seek out more
and mark them, until your mind is filled with the thoughts about the word,
which the Spirit of God desires to gioe you.

Read with great thoughtfulness the words of that man of faith, George
Miiller. He says: 'The power of our spiritual life will be according to
the measure of the room that the word of God takes up ln our life and.
in our thoughts. After an experience of fifty-four years, l can solemnly
declare this. For three years after my conoersion l used the word little.
8lnce that time l searched it with diligence, and the blessing was wonder-
ful. From that time, l haoe read the Bible through a hundred times in
order, and at eoery time with increasing joy. Wheneoer l start afresh with
it, lt appears tome as a new book. l cannot express how great the blessing
is of faithful, daily, regular searching of the Bible. The day is lost for
me, on which l haoe used no rounded time for enjoying the word of God.

'Friends sometimes say: l haoe so much to do, that l can find no time
for regular Bible study. l belieoe that there are few that haoe to work
harder than l haoe. Vet lt remains a rule with me neoer to begin my work
until l haoe had real sweet fellowship with God. After that l gioe myself
heartily to the business of the day, that is, to God's work, with only
interoals of some minutes for prayer.' (See also the oery remarkable
words of his, quoted in 'The School of Prayer,' pp. 256-263.)

Zbt %oxX> tbe perfecter.

'I will cry unto God most High; unto God that performeth all things for me.'—Ps. lvii. 2.

'The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.'—Ps. cxnviii. 8.

'Being confident of this veiy thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.' —phil. i. 6.

'For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him are all things. To Him be the glory for ever and ever.'—Rom. xi. 36.

WE read that David was once dispirited by unbelief, and said: 'I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul.' So even the Christian may indeed fear that he shall one day perish. This is because he looks upon himself and what is in him, and does not set his trust wholly upon God. It is because he does not yet know God as the Perfecter. He does not yet know what is meant by His name being: 'I am the Alpha and the Omega: the Beginning and the End: the First and the Last.' If I »eally believe in God as the beginning out of whom all is, then must I also trust Him as the continuation by whom, as also the End to whom, all is.

God is the beginning: 'He who began a good work in you:' 'Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.' It is God's free choice, from before the foundation of the world, that we have to thank that we became believers, and have the ■ John xv. i61 new life.i Those that are still unconverted

Rom. Till. 29,

»iEph.u,n. have nothing to do with this election: for them there is the offer of grace and the summons to surrender. Outside, over the door of the Father, stands the superscription: 'Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.' This every one can see and understand. No sooner are they inside the door than they see and understand the other superscription: * All that the

'John vl. 37 Father giveth Me shall come to me.'2 Then they can discern how all things are of God: first obedience to the command of God, then insight into the counsel of God.

But then it is of great moment to hold fast this truth: He has begun the good work. Then shall every thought of God strengthen the confidence that He will also perfect it. His faithfulness, His love, His power, are all pledged that He will perfect the good work that He began. Fray, read how God has taken more than one oath regarding His unchangeable faithfulness:

• ocn. xxviu. your soul will rest in this and find courage.8

U; Pl.lxxxlx. * O

&.VS; ft! And how shall He finish His work? What jer. xxxiii. 26. ^ origin/rowi Him is sustained by Him, and shall one day be brought to Him and His glory. There is nothing in your life, temporal or spiritual, for which the Father will not care,

• Matt* vL 26. , -. l , n r 1

•4fipet.v.7. because it has influence upon you for eternity*

There is no moment of day or night in which the silent growth of your soul is not to go forward: the Father will take care of this, if you believe. There is no part of your destiny as a child of God, perhaps in things of which you have as yet not the least thought, but the Father will continue and complete His work in it.i Yet i^jf-^SJ- * upon one condition. You must trust Him for this. You must in faith suffer Him to work. You must trustfully say: The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. You must trustfully pray: I will cry unto God that performeth all things for me. Christian, pray, let your soul become full of the thought: The whole care, for the continuation and the perfecting of God's work in me, is in His hands.2 'S.^.^Sh

'mil. o, o, Jo, n;

And how glorious shall the perfecting not be.i p<"-v-i0In our spiritual life, God is prepared to exhibit His power in making us partakers of His holiness and the image of His Son. He will make us fit, and set us in a condition for all the blessed work in His kingdom that He would have from us. Our body He will make like to the glorious body of His Son. We may wait for the coming of the Son Himself from heaven to take His own to Him. He will unite us in one body with all His chosen, and will receive and make us dwell for ever in His glory. 0 how can we think that God will not perfect His work? He will surely do it, He will gloriously do it, for every one that trusts Him for it.

Child of God, pray, say in deep assurance of faith: The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. In every need say continually with great boldness: I will call on God, that performeth all things for me. And let the song of your life be the joyful doxology: 1 From Him, and through Him, and to Him are all , things: to Him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Lord God, who shalt perfect that which concerneth me, teach me to know Thee and to trust Thee. And let every thought of the new life go hand in hand with the joyful assurance: He who began a good work in me will perfect it. Amen.

7. 1 He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saoed.' lt brings but little profit to begin well; we must hold the beginning of our hope firm unto the end. (Matt. x. 27, xxiu. 13; Heb. iii. 14, 16, xi. 12.)

2. The perseoerance of the saints in holiness- is one of the characteristic articles of doctrine of the Reformed Church. The grace of regeneration is inamissible.

3. How do we explain the falling away of some belieoers? They were only temporary belieoers: they were partakers only of the workings of the Spirit . (Heb. oi. 4.)

4. How do l know whether lam partaker of the true new birth? 'As many as are led byihe Spirit of God, they are the sons of God'(Rom. oiil. 14). The faith that God has receioed me is matured, is confirmed, by works, by a walk under the leading of the Spirit.

5. How can any one know for certain that he will perseoere unto the end? By faith in God the Perfecter. We may take the Almighty God as our keeper. He that gioes himself in sincerity to Him, and trusts wholly in Him to perfect His work, obtains a dioine certitude that the Lord has Him, and will hold him fast unto the end.

Child of God, lioe in fellowship with your Father; lioe the life of faith in your Jesus with an undioided heart, and all fear of falling away shall be taken away from you. The lioing sealing of the Holy Spirit snail be your assurance of perseoerance unto the end*