“And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.” Gal. 5:24
What Paul is saying, in effect, is this: It is all very well to accept the law; all very well to get back into the externals of religion; but does that deal with the moral issue? The sin question was a thing kept perpetually in view in the old order; it was never finally dealt with. If you had watched Israel round that tabernacle, and seen the continuous stream of sacrifices, and the veritable river of blood daily flowing in the court of that tabernacle, you would have known that sin was not once and for all dealt with. You would have known that the sin question was always in view. It does not deal with our very natures. It is a false peace that is merely based upon a system of outward religious activities. It is a false peace if it is not found in the precious, eternal efficacy of the Blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, which cleanseth us from all sin.
By way of the cross there is a new nature, a nature introduced which gets the upper hand of the old. The old is there, but it is not now reigning. Sin has not dominion. There is another nature which rises up and meets the old. Something has happened, and in that something a position has been reached which is just this: that old nature is no longer the master. It has been crucified. It has been put into the place where it no longer dominates. It has come under the veto of the cross. How does it work? By the positive fact of a new nature introduced, the divine nature in Christ. It is not a constant effort to suppress the old, a struggle to say, ‘No!’ It is that there is a positive factor which is working for us against the old. It does not mean that never at any time do we make a mistake, perhaps a slip, but we do know that there is a reactionary power at work within us now, which registers upon that old a veto and says with strength: “Thou shalt not”. It is a new law, not imposed from without but the law of an inward power, a new nature within. As we walk in the Spirit that new nature grows and increases, and more and more gets the ascendancy over the old. Conformity to the image of God’s Son is going on: a growing, an increase in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
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