By B.H. Carroll, D.D., LL.D.
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL BOARD
SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION
- 1935 -
We have considered hitherto in this letter what salvation has done for us in redemption, justification and adoption. We have now before us in 6:1 to 8:39 what salvation does in us in regeneration and glorification of our bodies.
Two questions properly introduce this section. In 3:21 he says, "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets." In view of this, in 6:1 he asks, "What shall we say then?"
I. SHALL WE CONTINUE IN SIN, THAT GRACE MAY ABOUND?
1. The Question Fully Stated
The meaning is this: Does salvation by grace through faith in a debt-paying Substitute encourage to more sin because the sinner does not himself pay the penalty, and thus by more sin give greater scope to superabounding grace? Or, does imputation of the penalty of sin in a Substitute make void the law to the sinner personally? Or does GOD's justification of the sinner, through faith, instead of his personal obedience, turn loose a defiled criminal on society eager to commit more crime because his future offenses, like his past offences, will be charged to the Substitute? These are pertinent questions of practical importance and if, indeed, this be the legitimate result of the Gospel plan of salvation, it is worthy of rejection by all who love justice.
While we have already considered this matter somewhat, let us restate a reply embodying the substance of this section. The reply is briefly as follows:
2. Whom GOD justifies them He also regenerates and sanctifies in soul and raises and glorifies in body.
(1) In the first element of regeneration -- the application of the blood of CHRIST by the HOLY
SPIRIT. The sinner is cleansed from the defilement of sin. (See Psalm 51:2, 7; Ezekiel 36:25;
Titus 3:5, first clause, "the washing of regeneration"; "born of water" (John 3:5). See also
Revelation 7:14 and 22:14. So that the justified man is not turned loose a defiled criminal on society.
(2) In the second element of regeneration the justified sinner is delivered from the love of sin by his renewed nature, Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:3, 5-6 "born again... born... of the Spirit"; Titus 3:5, second clause, "and renewing of the Holy Ghost." So that the regenerate man has the spirit of obedience (Ezekiel 36:27; Titus 2:11-14; 3:8). And while the obedience of the regenerate is imperfect, yet through sanctification, when it is consummated, the regenerate in soul is qualified to perfect obedience (Philippians 1:6; 3:12-14; II Corinthians 3:17-18). And when the body is raised and glorified, then this justified sinner has become personally, in soul and body, as holy and obedient as JESUS Himself (I John 3:2; Psalm 17:15), all of which is pictorially set forth in our baptism (Romans 6:4-5; Colossians 2:12). So that faith not only does not make void the law to us personally, but is the only way by which we shall be made able to keep the law personally, and not only does not encourage to sin, but furnishes the only motives by which practically we cease from sin.
3. The doctrine of baptism as bearing upon this point set forth in 6:1-11 is this: A justified and regenerate man is commanded to be baptized.
Baptism symbolizes the burial of a dead man -- dead to his old life -- his cleansing from the sins of the old life, and his resurrection to a new life.
CHRIST died on the cross for our sins once for all. Being dead, he was buried, raised to a new life and exalted to a royal and priestly throne. All this, in the beginning of his public ministry, was prefigured in his own baptism. As he died for our sins, paying the law penalty, so we in regeneration become dead to law claims because we died to sin in his death. Being dead to the old life, we should be buried. This is represented in our baptism: "Buried... in baptism." But in regeneration we are not only slain, but made alive, or quickened. The living should not abide in the grave; therefore, in our baptism there is also a symbol of our resurrection. Regeneration not only slays and makes alive, but cleanses; therefore, in our baptism we are symbolically cleansed from sin, as was said to Paul. "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins." So that not only both elements of regeneration, cleansing and renewal of soul are set forth pictorially in our baptism, but also the coming resurrection and glorification of our bodies.
4. In 6:7 we have this language: "For he that is dead is freed from sin." That means that there are two ways in which one can satisfy the law and meet all of its claims. He can either do it by perfectly obeying the law, or he can do it by meeting the penalty of the law. Therefore, it says, "for he that is dead is freed from sin." It is just like an ordinary debt. If one pays the debt, he is justified from the claim. If a man commits an offense and the law's decision is that he suffer the penalty of two years in the penitentiary, and he serves the two years in the penitentiary, he is justified in the eyes of the law. The law cannot take him up and try him again. While the disobedience of the law is not justified in obedience, he has paid the full penalty. Now to make the application of that: CHRIST died for our sins; we died in His death, just as we died in Adam and came under condemnation for it. Now when we die with CHRIST, that death on the cross justifies us from sin. That is what it means.
The next point is the argument from the meaning of the declaration that he that is dead is justified from sin. That argument is presented in verses 12 and 13, and the reason for it is given in verse 14. Let us look at those verses. If we be dead to sin, we should not let sin reign in our mortal body that we should obey the lusts thereof. Neither present our members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present ourselves unto GOD as alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto GOD. The reason assigned is, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." In other words, "It is true that you did not pay that law claim, but your Substitute paid it, and that puts you from under the law of condemnation. Now if you set out to pay, you set out to pay unto grace. The spirit of obedience in you is not of fear, but of love to Him that died for you." That is what is called being under grace in a matter of obedience and not under law.
5. What is the force of the question, "Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?" In other words, "Because my obedience is not a condition of my salvation, shall I therefore sin?" That is the thought, and his argument against that is this: "God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" If a man presents himself unto grace as the principle of obedience, then it is not a life and death matter, but it is a matter of love and gratitude. It is on a different principle entirely. And in a very elaborate way he continues the argument down to verse 23: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Let us now explain the contrast in 6:23 and give the argument. Here he contrasts two things, (1) the wages; this is a matter of law -- wages; (2) over against that stands gift -- free gift. That is not a matter of wages. The wages of sin is death -- that is the penalty -- but now the free gift is eternal life. It is impossible to put his meaning any plainer than these words put it: "Are you expecting to be saved on the ground of earning your salvation as wages, or are you expecting to be saved through the free gift of GOD unto eternal life?" That is the thought.
6. Let us see the force of the illustration in 7:2: "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man." The force of that as an illustration of the married life is: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." The obligation of a wife to a husband, and their fidelity to each other, is a matter of law growing out of the relation that holds them together. So long as a husband lives and a wife lives, neither one of them can be free to marry except in a certain case, and that exception is discussed elsewhere. He is just discussing the general principles here. Now apply that illustration: "The law holds you to absolute fidelity in obedience just as the law holds the woman bound to her husband, and the husband to his wife. If you died with CHRIST, you are dead to that law, and therefore you can enter into another relation. You are espoused to CHRIST. The law that binds you now is the law of that espousal to CHRIST, and that is the law of freedom; not like the other, it is a matter of grace." That is the force of that statement.
II. IS THE LAW SIN? (7:12)
Then in 7:7, "Is the law sin?" That is an important question and he answers it. Some things in connection with it have already been answered, and in answering it particularly I will take the following position.
1. The law is not sin -- It is holy, it is just, it is good. What, then, is the relation of the law to sin? He says here that it gives the knowledge of sin: "I had not known sin, but by the law." If people were living according to different standards, every man being a judge in his own case, what A would think to be right B would think to be wrong, and vice verse. People would think conflicting things, and as long as a man held himself to be judge of what was right and what was wrong he would not feel that he was a sinner. So the real standard, not a sliding scale, is put down among all the varying ideas of right and wrong. What is the object? It is to reveal the lack of conformity to the law: "I had not known sin, but by the law."
2. The law provokes to sin -- He says, "But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead." If children were forbidden to climb telephone poles, they would all desire to climb them, and they might never think of it if they were not forbidden. So the law was designed to show just what inherent nature will bring out. A snake is very pretty at certain times, and one may think that the enmity between him and the human race is hardly justifiable, but let him give a snake the opportunity to develop just what is in him, and then he will have a different opinion. Who would have supposed that it was in human nature to do the things done in the French Revolution? Man is a good sort of creature; he would not impale a body on a bayonet; he would not burn a woman at the stake; he would not put her fingers in a thumb-screw; he would not put a man on the rack and torture him; but nobody knows the evil that is in human nature until it has a chance to show what is in it. The law brings all that out.
3. Hence, the object of the law is to make sin appear to sin, and to be exceeding sinful -- to make it seem what it is, and not just a peccadillo, or a misdemeanor, but an exceedingly vile, ghastly and hateful thing.
4. Then the object of the law is to work death: "Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." The death there referred to is the death in one's own mind. It means conviction that one is lost -- that is the death he is talking about. For he explains immediately, where he says, "I was alive without the law once"; that is, he felt like he was all right, but when the commandment came he saw that he was a dead man -- under condemnation of death. And that is one of the works of the HOLY SPIRIT bringing about conviction, making a man see that he is a sinner, making him feel that he is a sinner, that he is exceeding sinful.
And we may distrust any kind of preaching that is dry-eyed, that has no godly sorrow, that has no repentance. If one thinks that he is a very little sinner, then a very little Saviour is needed. We depreciate our Saviour just to the extent that we extenuate our sin.
III. THE CONFLICT OF THE TWO NATURES (7:15-25)
The next passage is also of real importance (7:15-25). There is only one important question on it: "Is the experience there related the experience of a converted man, or of an unconverted man?" If one wants to see how men dissent on it, let him read his commentaries.
1. The Conflict Stated. Let us see some of the points: "For that which I do I allow not (the
word "allow" is used in the sense of "approve"): for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. ... For the good that I would
I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." The point is this: If the mind of the flesh -- the carnal mind -- is enmity against GOD, if it is not subject to the law of GOD, and neither indeed can be, then how can that mind "delight in the law of God after the inward man?" How can he approve that which is good? From verse 16 to the end of chapter 7, he discusses a certain imperfection attending the regenerate state.
2. The experience of every regenerate man will corroborate this: "I know a certain thing is right; I am ashamed to say I did not do it; I know a certain thing is wrong, and I approve the law that makes it wrong, and I am ashamed to say I have done that very thing." And if there is one thing that disturbs the Christian and troubles him, it is to find a law in his members warring against the law of his mind. That is expressed here: "O Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" That expression of Paul's has been (and I think rightly) supposed to refer to an ancient penalty inflicted on a man that had committed a certain offense. He was chained to a dead body, and he had to carry that dead body with him everywhere he went. He alive, that body dead, he would want a pure atmosphere to inhale, and that body would be exhaling the stench of corruption. It was a miserable condition: "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
3. One of the great French preachers preached on that subject before Louis XIV -- We find a reference to it in Strong's "Systematic Theology." He was talking about the two "I's"; "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not: but what I hate, that do I." The French preacher was pointing out the two men in a man, and how they fought against each other, and the king interrupted him in his sermon and said, "Ah, I know those two men." The preacher pointed at him and said, "Sire, it is somewhat to know them, but, your majesty, one or the other of them must die." It isn't enough just to know them; one or the other of them is going to ultimately triumph.
What is the meaning of 8:4: "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Here is the fulfillment in us. It is not imputed righteousness that is being discussed here; that is, justification. But it is the object of regeneration and sanctification to make a personal righteousness. The object of regeneration and sanctification is that in us the law might be fulfilled as well as for us in the death of CHRIST. That is the meaning of the passage, and it is one of the profoundest gratifications to me that my salvation does not stop at justification. I am glad to think that the law has no claims on me, but I could not be happy, being only justified and loving sin. I not only want to be delivered from sin but from the love of sin in regeneration, and the dominion of sin in sanctification.
4. The Apostle describes the two minds in 8:5-8: "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh." Here "flesh" does not mean the body. The flesh does not mean the tissues and the blood. That would constitute only a physical man. What he means by the flesh is the carnal mind. Now he is discussing the two. He continues: "but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit." There are the two minds: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." It is just like trying to wash away the soul's sins in water.
We might take the sinner up and hold him under Niagara Falls and let it pour on him for ten thousand years and we could never wash away the soul's sins. It was impossible for the blood of bullocks to take away sin. It is impossible for the water of baptism to take away sin. This carnal mind cannot be made into a Christian. We can whitewash it, and there are many preachers that do that sort of business. It may be outwardly beautiful, like a tomb, but inwardly it is full of rottenness and dead men's bones.
IV. SALVATION THORUGH REGENERATION AND ADOPTION
We now continue the discussion of salvation through regeneration and adoption. Regeneration is a change of mind. The carnal mind cannot be made into a Christian, hence there must be a change. Is the change simply using the old mind, but modifying it, or is it a change like this: A woman puts her baby in the cradle at night and the next morning there was another baby in the cradle which she called the changeling? That was not any imitation of the baby that was in there before. Just so we waste our time if we try to make a Christian out of the carnal mind. We cannot do it. That is why regeneration is called a creation, which is to make something out of nothing -- not out of a material having already existed.
What Paul is expressing here is that we may take the fallen nature of man which he has inherited from Adam and commence an educational process in the cradle, and continue it up to the adult stage and get a very respectable church member, but not a saved person.
Education has no creative power at all. A man may be very proper in his behavior; he may pay the preacher; he may go to Sunday school; he may do everything in the world that will enable him to appear to be a Christian, and yet not be a Christian. There must be a breaking up of the fallow ground. As JESUS said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
1. Regeneration Is a Change Wrought by the HOLY SPIRIT
The conclusion reached by the Apostle in this argument is in verse 11: "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Now the question, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death, this evil mind, this evil body? It comes through CHRIST, but it is CHRIST working through the SPIRIT. It is the HOLY SPIRIT that made CHRIST's body alive; it is the HOLY SPIRIT that will make our bodies alive at the Resurrection; it is the HOLY SPIRIT that will glorify these bodies, and when they come out they will be spiritual bodies and not carnal bodies.
There is a test presented in verse 14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Who are GOD's children? Those that have the SPIRIT -- those that are led by the SPIRIT. We are regenerated by the SPIRIT, and under the guidance of that SPIRIT we turn away from sin. If we fall we try to fall toward Heaven, and get up and try again. There is a sense of wanting to get nearer and nearer to GOD. We want to know whether we are Christians. Here is the test: We are led by the SPIRIT of GOD.
2. Regeneration Is Accompanied by Adoption
That brings us to the word, "adoption." What is adoption? Etymologically it is that legal process by which one, not a member of a family naturally, is legally made a member of it and an heir.
(1) There are three kinds of adoption which the Apostle discusses in this letter: a. National adoption, Romans 9:3b, 4a: "My kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption." Many times in the Old Testament, Israel is called GOD's son, the nation as a nation being His particular people. b. The adoption of the soul of the justified man, Romans 8:15: ". . . ye have received the Spirit of adoption." c. The adoption of our bodies when they are redeemed from the grave and glorified, Romans 8:23: "Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
(2) The fact of our adoption is certified to us in Romans 8:15-16: "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." That is a matter of our subjective experience. As in the case of justification there must be a difference of time between the fact of our justification and our realization of its privileges, so there must be and indeed often is a difference in time between the fact of our adoption and our realization in experience that we are adopted. The cry, "Abba, Father," means that in our experience a filial feeling toward GOD comes into the heart. Antecedent to this when we thought of GOD, he seemed to us to be distant and dreadful, but when through the HOLY SPIRIT given unto us came this conscious realization that GOD is a Father, it drove out all fear.
We do not feel ourselves under bondage to law, but we have the sense in our hearts of being GOD's children, and as a little child readily approaches a parent in expectation of either help or comfort, we have this feeling toward our Heavenly Father. It is one of the sweetest experiences of the Christian life. There is no distinction of meaning between the Spirit of adoption and the SPIRIT's bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of GOD, or if there is a distinction it is not appreciable in our consciousness, since it is the SPIRIT that bestows that filial feeling.
3. Adoption Includes the Earth as Well as Man
In a vivid way the Apostle represents the earth, man's habitat, as entering sympathetically into man's longing for his complete restoration to GOD's favor through adoption, Romans 8:20-23: "For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered form the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body," The meaning of which is that this earth was made for man; to him was given dominion over it, but when he sinned the earth was cursed.
In the language of the Scriptures, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." In Isaiah 55:1213 we have this vivid imagery following conversion: " . . . the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." In other words, the joy that is in the heart of the Christian constitutes a medium of rose-color through which all creation seems to him more beautiful than it was before. The birds sing sweeter, the flowers exhale a sweeter perfume, the stars shine brighter, all of which is a sign, or forecast, of the redemption of the earth from the curse when man's redemption is complete. This curse as originally pronounced upon the earth was not through any fault of creation, as our text says: ". . . subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope." And very impressive and vivid is the imagery that the groaning of the earth is as travail, waiting to be redeemed from the defilement and scars and crimson stains that have been put upon it through man's inhumanity to man on account of sin.
Other Scriptures very clearly show that this redemption of the earth accompanies the redemption of man. As the earth was cleansed from defilement of sin practiced by the antediluvians through the Flood, so at the coming of our LORD and the resurrection of our bodies it will be purged by fire. The language of the Apostle Peter upon this subject is very impressive: "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. . . But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwell righteousness." (II Peter 3:5-7; 10-13). In John's apocalypse, referring to the restitution of all things after the judgment, he says, "And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth: for the first Heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea" (Revelation 21:1).
V. SALVATION THROUGH THE PARACLETE
In continuation of the theme of this section the Apostle further shows the power of the work of salvation in us through the HOLY SPIRIT -- the Paraclete. But the word, "Paraclete," needs to be defined. While our LORD was on the earth He was the Paraclete, to whom as the Paraclete the disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray," and in many examples of His own praying and in many special lessons on prayer He taught the disciples, and they were sad at heart when at the Last Supper He announced His speedy going away from them, but comforted them with the assurance that He would pray the Father to send them another Paraclete, the HOLY SPIRIT, who would teach them to pray acceptably. Prayers not according to the will of GOD are not answered. We may ask for things, being in doubt as to whether it is GOD's will that such things should be granted, but the HOLY SPIRIT is not in doubt. He knows what is according to the will of GOD, and hence when He moves us intensely to offer prayers, those prayers will always be according to GOD's will, and so will be answered.
It is on account of the SPIRIT's intercession in us that backsliders are ever reclaimed. As we wander away from GOD we lose the spirit of prayer, and while we go through the forms of prayer we are conscious that our prayers do not rise, do not take hold of the throne of GOD; but when the SPIRIT comes upon the backslider then his hard heart is melted, the fountain of his tears is unsealed, the spirit of grace and supplication comes upon him, and he is conscious that he is taking hold of the throne of mercy in his prayers.
As an illustration, some have experienced the hardships of a long-continued draught, when the heavens seem to be brass and the earth seems to be iron. When vegetation dies, when dust chokes the traveler on the thoroughfare, and thirst consumes him, suddenly he comes to a well and in it is an old-fashioned pump, but in moving its handle he causes only a dry rattle. The reason is, that through long disuse and heat the valves of the pump have shrunk and hence cannot make suction to draw up the water. In such case water must be poured down the pump until the valves are swollen, and then as the pump handle is worked, suction draws the water as freely as at first.
As that pouring the water from above down the dry pump is to its efficacy in bringing water up, so is the SPIRIT's intercession in us, causing us to pray successfully and according to the will of GOD. In that way the two elements of the Gospel plan of salvation cooperate to the everlasting security of the believer. At the Heaven end of the line JESUS, the first Advocate, or Paraclete, makes intercession for us as HIGH PRIEST, pleading what His expiation has done for us, while the HOLY SPIRIT, the second Advocate, or Paraclete, works in us an intercession for us here on earth; so that both ends of the line are secure in Heaven above and on earth beneath. No backslider has ever been able to work himself into the true spirit of prayerfulness any more than a dry pump can be made to bring up water by working the handle. Whenever he does pray prevailingly, it is when the SPIRIT works in him the grace of supplication.
~ end of chapter 6 ~
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