I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in Love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
"As the truth is in Jesus"; it is not doctrine, though doctrine is contained in it. The truth as it is in Jesus is the having put off the old man and put on the new-this having been done by faith. Then he adds, "and being renewed in the spirit of your mind" The putting off and the putting on are not in the present tense, whereas being renewed in the spirit of your mind is. The truth is, that you have put off the old man, but you do want renewing. In Colossians (chap. 3) this is distinct:
"Lie not one to another, seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new."In the Epistle to the Ephesians he is not saying directly to them what they have done, but saying what the truth is in Jesus. So it is more abstract. The truth in Jesus is having put off and having put on. Being renewed is present; the renewing of the spirit of your mind is a thing that is always going on.
"righteousness and holiness of truth."This is the character of God Himself. The first man was innocent; he was not righteous but innocent. There was no evil in him. To be righteous and holy you must have the knowledge of good and evil. God is perfectly righteous and perfectly holy. He judges with authority what is evil and good; but innocence does not know good and evil. The new man is after God. Another expression is found in the Colossians, which is of great importance
"renewed in knowledge according to the image of him that created him."There is a positive knowledge of God. It is not merely that there is an absence of sin, but I have a positive knowledge of God Himself, and it is what God is that is the character and essence of the new man.
"made partakers of the divine nature."It is not merely that a man is born again. It is the truth as it is in Jesus. Of course a man is born again. Abraham had to be born again; but he did not know anything about putting off the old man and putting on the new. You never find this in the Old Testament. You find there the knowledge of sin working, but the Old Testament saints did not make a difference between the old man and the new. The moment that death came in, the believer and man took his place with God in Christ, I get the old man and the new.
"holy and without blame before him in love,"which is God's nature. He is holy, He is blameless, He is love. And so it is with Christ. If you look at Him down here, He was holy and blameless, and He was here in love. So in Hebrews
"he that sanctifieth,"that is Christ,
"and they that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren."
"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."We have put off the old man (not, are to put it off), that is, if we have heard Him and have been taught of Him. Besides, this new man is after God.
"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (that is, the new man) "hath made me free from the law of sin and death; for what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh."When Christ was on the cross, He not only bore our sins and put them away, but God condemned sin in the flesh there, so that I see it is all put off. Faith reckons it. Christ died to sin; He is the only Person that died to sin; so God reckons us alive unto God, not in Adam, but in Jesus Christ our Lord. My life in which I live is not flesh: "ye are not in the flesh," but in Christ. When you come to realize it, you take the putting off first; you say I have put off the old man-I am not a child of Adam-and put on the new man, that is, Christ. In short I believe in the testimony of John 5 where it is said,
"this is the record [or, testimony] that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."It is entirely a new thing in Christ; and as a proof that eternal life is not in Adam but in Christ, he shows the Spirit, and the water, and the blood-what has living power and what cleanses, what expiates-all coming consequent upon Christ's death. The water came out of His dead side, as did also the blood, while the Spirit came after He was glorified. These are all witnesses that eternal life is not in the first man but in the Second. I reckon myself dead, I am crucified with Christ. Thus it is a nature that is after God Himself. Then we get another element-the Holy Ghost dwells in me, and I am not to grieve Him.
"If any man be in Christ, there is a new creation."We are the firstfruits of His creatures.
"He has begotten us that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."When he speaks of dealing with the condition I am in, which you do not get here but in Colossians, which is a little lower, he does not say, Mortify the old man, but your members which are upon earth.
"Your life is hid with Christ in God."
"Ye are dead";now mortify (that is, put to death) your members. This implies power. It is never dying to sin [which is Romanism], but that I am dead to sin and alive to God in Christ, and therefore I can mortify.
"as alive in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?"All ritualism flows from not knowing we are dead.
"Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God."The Christian is to do nothing that displeases God who dwells in him. You have no mortifying the members here in Ephesians. It is a new creation and nothing else. The epistle to the Colossians does not go as far as that to the Ephesians. In the former you get us risen, but not sitting in heavenly places as in the latter.
"ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."In chapter 2: 11, 12, we read,
"In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; buried with him in baptism [there I get the doctrine of Romans], wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead [I have now got beyond the Romans]. And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh hath he quickened together with him."There we get Colossian doctrine, but it does not take us up to heaven. When he speaks of that in Ephesians he says,
"He hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."Colossians is, as it were, between Romans and Ephesians. Therefore in Colossians you get, instead of sitting in heavenly places,
"set your affections on things above,"
"the hope that is laid up for you in heaven,"and such expressions. He does not talk of the Holy Ghost in Colossians. What we find in Colossians is life, and this is as important in its place as the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. In Ephesians you get the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, and therefore the body; whereas in Colossians you never get the Holy Ghost mentioned except in the expression "your love in the Spirit." For example, in Ephesians we read,
"Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another,"whereas in Colossians he says,
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds."Instead of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, it is God's nature the measure of how we are to behave ourselves.
"Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith."The Holy Ghost operates in the new nature. Still the dwelling is never spoken of as in it, but in the body; we need Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith.
"As God in Christ hath forgiven you."We have got the nature, the state that I am in, to be able to walk: we have put off the old and put on the new; and the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, and then we are told to be imitators of God as dear children. If it be said, How can we talk of imitating God (of course it is not Almighty power, but refers to moral things), how can poor worms such as we talk of imitating God? I answer, is not Christ your pattern? You are to follow that. This shows the absurdity of making it merely the law as our rule of life. If a dear child of God, I am to have a sense of it in my soul and exhibit it in my walk; I am
"to walk in love as Christ hath loved us, and hath given himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor."
"Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren";we are to go and walk as He walked.
"While I am in the world,"He says,
"I am the light of the world,"and He was the expression of divine love. You are to be an imitator of God, and if you ask, How can that be carried out in man? you get Christ, that is, God manifested in a man, How clearly the thing is entirely above law!* If law was carried out in the world, we should have the world all happy, and righteous, and peaceful; but this supposes the world to be all right. I am to care for another as much as for myself, but that will not do in this world, and therefore I get this,
"He gave himself."It is not taking love to self as the measure of love to my neighbor, but going beyond the law, and giving oneself up for others. If all went on rightly, the law would be your rule now, but it is otherwise. As Christians, when you come to a world of wickedness, you have to follow God.
Let us look at the double character of this love, which is entirely practical. There are two kinds-what I may call love up and love down; and they are entirely different in kind. The care of a father and his child will illustrate the difference. The father loves down, and the child loves up; the one is to something above it, whereas the other is in condescending goodness. If you take a case of loving up, the more excellent the object the more excellent the affection. If one love a base thing, it is a base affection. If one love a man of noble character, it is a noble affection. If one love God, of course, it is the highest of all. Then on the other hand, if you take love down, the baser the object the greater the love. Such is the character of God's love to us. We get both in Christ. He loved His Father perfectly as Man (which was loving up), and He loved us when vile sinners (which was loving down); and we are to go and do likewise. Therefore I read here [Ephesians 5]
"as Christ hath loved us and given himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor."He gave Himself for us and to God. This is perfection. He had an infinitely high object, and an infinitely low one, and He was perfect both ways. We have to seek to walk as He walked. There is fellowship also one with another. Of course when we can see, the thing to imitate is Christ walking in love-
"as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God."This is the side of love wherein you are imitators of God. Then you get the other essential name of God, and that is, light; which he says we are too. We are partakers of the divine nature-
"ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord."God is love, and God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. We were darkness, but now in Christ we are light in the Lord.
"Awake, thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light."I get the full light in Christ, also the full love. Thus are the two essential names of God brought out. I am a partaker of the divine nature, and the Spirit of God dwells in me, and I am to act as God acted, and that acting was in Christ. "Awake, thou that sleepest," that is, looking at Christians, not committing sins, but gone to sleep in the world. In the world the people are all dead: but if a man goes to sleep, he is just as much alive as when awake, but he is as much as dead; he does not hear, nor speak, nor think; he is like a dead man. Look at the Christian that is going on with the world-he is with the dead. What am I to do, then? Christ is the light of the world, and
"ye are the light of the world,"He says to His disciples. It is a wonderful exhibition."
*"I believe the law to be the perfect rule of life for man in the flesh, but it supposes sin, and applies to sinful flesh, to man in the flesh; and, being on the principle of requirement, and rightly so (for it is a very important principle and maintains God's rights), it condemns me as to righteousness, and is no help to me, but the contrary, as to sanctification. If then the law be holy, just, and good in its contents, why not be under it? why not maintain it? Because I am then in a relationship with God which involves condemnation and the power of sin. Law is law, not grace, and the strength of sin is the law. Maintain the law as law and you destroy its authority if it be not law to you; and if it be law to you, it is the strength of sin, and sin will have dominion over you. It must, as law, have external authority, God's authority as such. If you weaken that, you have destroyed it as a law.
And here I separate from both parties who have discussed it. They both, in my judgment, really destroy its authority, one unintentionally, the other declaring it is abrogated, buried, and the like. The former are obliged to yield a great deal, desiring to maintain its authority, because they cannot help it; the latter destroy its authority and make it to be abrogated. I do not abate one jot or one tittle. I do not raise the question of Gentiles not being under it, though historically true; because, if not, they are lawless, and I admit the law to be a perfect rule for man in the flesh. I say I am not on Gentile ground, though a Gentile; not ἄνομος Θεῶ lawless in respect to God, but ἔννομος Χριστῶ, I do not say under the law to Christ (that is an utterly false translation), but duly subject to Christ. Yet I do not say the authority of the law is weakened or done away, but that I AM DEAD TO IT. The law has power over a man as long as he lives — and can have it no longer; and I am no longer alive in the flesh.
I reject the altering, modifying, the law. I reject christianizing in it; that is, weakening its legal character by an admixture of grace that is neither law nor gospel. I maintain its whole absolute authority. Those who have sinned under it will be judged by it. It will have its own authority (that is, God's) according to its own terms in the day of judgment; but I am not under it but under grace, not under the schoolmaster but a son, because faith is come, and I have the Spirit of adoption. I am on another footing and in another relationship with God; I am not in the flesh, not in the place of a child of Adam at all, but delivered out of it by redemption. I have died and risen again; I am in Christ.
Let us see what scripture teaches on this point. Positive transgressions are blotted out by the blood of Christ. The law, we are told, as a covenant of works is gone in Christ's death. Now I say that scripture teaches more than that, teaches what applies to the old man as regards our standing before God, and that we have, for faith, died out of the place and nature in which we were under the law. Take the fullest and clearest case — a Jew actually under it: I do not doubt it will be practically realized by a Gentile as a principle. What is the judgment of law on my old man, my being as in flesh? Condemnation only as a covenant? No, death. It is not merely a new motive, a new spring of conduct afforded, by which, law being maintained as law, I keep it. Law is (2 Cor. 3) a ministration of death as well as of condemnation. But what then? "I through the law am dead to the law." It has killed me, "that I might live to God."
"Add not to his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." [Proverbs 30:6] You might say it is abrogated as a covenant of works but not as a rule of life, though scripture does not say so: it is a mere human invention. But you cannot say I am dead to it, but it is to be my rule of life. That is nonsense.
I am dead to the law by the law. It has done its work and killed me as regards itself; I do not exist as regards the law, or it has failed in its power. And I am dead to the law that I might live to God. If I have not done with it, I cannot live to Him. And how? "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." That is not law. When faith came, says the apostle, we were no longer under a schoolmaster, that is, under law. Note here: It is not Christ bearing our sins that delivers from law at all. True deliverance is wrought there as regards our sins. But, in freeing me from law, God is not delivering me, a living child of Adam, from the dread consequences of my sins. He is doing another work. It is I who have died with Christ. Nor is it forgiveness of sin which is spoken of in such case, although through this death of Christ it is not imputed. We die to sin — not sins, not for sins, but to sin. "He that is dead is justified from sin [Romans 6:7]."
John Nelson Darby
The Sabbath: Or, Is the Law Dead, or Am I?