Friday, September 2, 2011


Chapter 1: The Blood of Christ
What is the normal Christian life? We do well at the outset to ponder this question. The object
of these studies is to show that it is something very different from the life of the average Christian.
Indeed a consideration of the written Word of God—of the Sermon on the Mount for
example—should lead us to ask whether such a life has ever in fact been lived upon the earth, save
only by the Son of God Himself. But in that last saving clause lies immediately the answer to our
The Apostle Paul gives us his own definition of the Christian life in Galatians 2:20. It is “no
longer I, but Christ”. Here he is not stating something special or peculiar—a high level of
Christianity. He is, we believe, presenting God’s normal for a Christian, which can be summarized
in the words: I live no longer, but Christ lives His life in me.
God makes it quite clear in His Word that He has only one answer to every human need—His
Son, Jesus Christ. In all His dealings with us He works by taking us out of the way and substituting
Christ in our place. The Son of God died instead of us for our forgiveness: He lives instead of us
for our deliverance. So we can speak of two substitutions—a Substitute on the Cross who secures
our forgiveness and a Substitute within who secures our victory. It will help us greatly, and save
us from much confusion, if we keep constantly before us this fact, that God will answer all our
questions in one way only, namely, by showing us more of His Son.
Our Dual Problem: Sins and Sin
We shall take now as a starting-point for our study of the normal Christian life that great
exposition of it which we find in the first eight chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, and we shall
approach our subject from a practical and experimental point of view. It will be helpful first of all
to point out a natural division of this section of Romans into two, and to note certain striking
differences in the subject-matter of its two parts.
The first eight chapters of Romans form a self-contained unit. The four-and-a-half chapters
from 1:1 to 5:11 form the first half of this unit and the three-and-a-half chapters from 5:12 to 8:39
the second half. A careful reading will show us that the subject-matter of the two halves is not the
same. For example, in the argument of the first section we find the plural word ‘sins’ given
prominence. In the second section, however, this changed, for while the word ‘sins’ hardly occurs
once, the singular word ‘sin’ is used again and again and is the subject mainly dealt with. Why is
It is because in the first section it is a question of the sins I have committed before God, which
are many and can be enumerated, whereas in the second it is a question of sin as a principle working
in me. No matter how many sins I commit, it is always the one sin principle that leads to them. I
need forgiveness for my sins, but I need also deliverance from the power of sin. The former touches
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my conscience, the latter my life. I may receive forgiveness for all my sins, but because of my sin
I have, even then, no abiding peace of mind.
When God’s light first shines into my heart my one cry is for forgiveness, for I realize I have
committed sins before Him; but when once I have received forgiveness of sins I make a new
discovery, namely, the discovery of sin, and I realize not only that I have committed sins before
God but that there is something wrong within. I discover that I have the nature of a sinner. There
is an inward inclination to sin, a power within that draws to sin. When that power breaks out I
commit sins. I may seek and receive forgiveness, but then I sin once more. So life goes on in a
vicious circle of sinning and being forgiven and then sinning again. I appreciate the blessed fact of
God’s forgiveness, but I want something more than that: I want deliverance. I need forgiveness for
what I have done, but I need also deliverance from what I am.
God’s Dual Remedy: The Blood and the Cross
Thus in the first eight chapters of Romans two aspects of salvation are presented to us: firstly,
the forgiveness of our sins, and secondly, our deliverance from sin. But now, in keeping with this
fact, we must notice a further difference.
In the first part of Romans 1 to 8, we twice have reference to the Blood of the Lord Jesus, in
chapter 3:25 and in chapter 5:9. In the second, a new idea is introduced in chapter 6:6, where we
are said to have been “crucified” with Christ. The argument of the first part gathers round that
aspect of the work of the Lord Jesus which is represented by ‘the Blood’ shed for our justification
through “the remission of sins”. This terminology is however not carried on into the second section,
where the argument centers now in the aspect of His work represented by ‘the Cross’, that is to
say, by our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. This distinction is a valuable
one. We shall see that the Blood deals with what we have done, whereas the Cross deals with what
we are. The Blood disposes of our sins, while the Cross strikes at the root of our capacity for sin.
The latter aspect will be the subject of our consideration in later chapters.
The Problem Of Our Sins
We begin, then, with the precious Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and its value to us in dealing
with our sins and justifying us in the sight of God. This is set forth for us in the following passages:
“All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). “God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall
we be saved from the wrath of God through him” (Romans 5:8, 9). “Being justified freely by his
grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through
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faith, by his blood, to shew his righteousness, because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime,
in the forbearance of God; for the shewing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that
he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).
We shall have reason at a later stage in our study to look closely at the real nature of the fall
and the way of recovery. At this point we will just remind ourselves that when sin came in it found
expression in an act of disobedience to God (Romans 5:19). Now we must remember that whenever
this occurs the thing that immediately follows is guilt.
Sin enters as disobedience, to create first of all a separation between God and man whereby
man is put away from God. God can no longer have fellowship with him, for there is something
now which hinders, and it is that which is known throughout Scripture as ‘sin’. Thus it is first of
all God who says, “They are all under sin” (Romans 3:9). Then, secondly, that sin in man, which
henceforth constitutes a barrier to his fellowship with God, gives rise in him to a sense of guilt—of
estrangement from God. Here it is man himself who, with the help of his awakened conscience,
says, “I have sinned” (Luke 15:18). Nor is this all, for sin also provides Satan with his ground of
accusation before God, while our sense of guilt gives him his ground of accusation in our hearts;
so that, thirdly, it is ‘the accuser of the brethren’ (Rev. 12:10) who now says, ‘You have sinned’.
To redeem us, therefore, and to bring us back to the purpose of God, the Lord Jesus had to do
something about these three questions of sin and of guilt and of Satan’s charge against us. Our sins
had first to be dealt with, and this was effected by the precious Blood of Christ. Our guilt has to be
dealt with and our guilty conscience set at rest by showing us the value of that Blood. And finally
the attack of the enemy has to be met and his accusations answered. In the Scriptures the Blood of
Christ is shown to operate effectually in these three ways, Godward, manward and Satanward.
There is thus an absolute need for us to appropriate these values of the Blood if we are to go
on. This is a first essential. We must have a basic knowledge of the fact of the death of the Lord
Jesus as our Substitute upon the Cross, and a clear apprehension of the efficacy of His Blood for
our sins, for without this we cannot be said to have started upon our road. Let us look then at these
three matters more closely.

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