Let us look again at the One who has set for us the pattern. Firstly, it was His inward separation from sin that is important. There was a great gap between Him and sin. It is said of Him that He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), that He was “separated from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). That is, that in His nature He was separate from the rest of men, there was an inward separation. Now, we are not constituted as He was, as sinless, but we are told and made to understand in the New Testament that that inward separation, which was so true of Him, can be made true in us. Paul has a way of putting it. He calls it: “the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11), and he says that it is a thing of the heart, an inward separating between what we are in ourselves and what we are in Christ, the putting of a gap between the two. And then the New Testament says that by the Holy Spirit’s enablement, by the Holy Spirit’s power, you need not live on the ground of what you are in yourself, you can live on the ground of Christ; and living on the ground of Christ you need not be the slave of yourself and your sinfulness. You are delivered.
That sounds very technical, I know, but it is very practical. We know it very well. We who are Christians know that a cleavage has been made in us, and that we are now two people. There is that side which is our new life, our new relationship, which is our Christ-connection. There is that other side which is still our old relationship with the old Adam. It is there: it is not cauterized, it is not annihilated; and we know now that it is for us to take continually the power of the Holy Spirit, in virtue of that separating cross, to keep on the Christ side, on the new side; and if we do, we know that it is glory. Very often we know more of the meaning of the glory by a touch of the other. Step over on to the other side and give way to the old Adam, and you know quite well there is no glory there.
The enemy, the great enemy of the glory, was ever seeking to contaminate Him, involve Him, pollute Him, corrupt Him. Let us not think that He never had to resist anything, that He never had to say ‘No’ to another. That matter of how a sinless Man could be tempted is of course an old theological problem, but there is no doubt about it, that He fought our battle in all reality. So that is the first thing – an inward separation, a divide; and on the one side, the new life, the ground of the incorruptible, which is the ground of glory. “This mystery,” says Paul, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).