Sermon 882. The Old Man Crucified
Delivered on Sunday Evening, APRIL 11, 1869, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him." - Romans 6:6.
EVERY new man is two men-every Believer in Christ is what he was and not what he was-the old nature and the new nature existat the same time in each regenerate individual. That old nature the Apostle calls a man, because it is a complete manhoodafter the image of fallen Adam. It has the desires, the judgment, the mind, the thoughts, the language and the action of manas he is in his rebellious estate. He calls it the "old man," because it is as old as Eden's first transgression. It is asold as we are. It is the nature born with us, the natural depravity, the fleshly mind which we inherited from our parents.It is tainted by the old serpent and bears within it a dread propensity to his old sin.
When Adam first plucked the forbidden fruit, sin polluted our race and the original stain abides in all mankind-it is manifestin the most ancient history and continues to reveal itself all along the pages of the story of this blighted world. The oldnature, then, is what the Apostle means. The lusts of the flesh, the carnal desires, the affections of our estranged hearts-thesehe calls the old man. I am much mistaken if every Christian does not find this old man still troubling him.
He has a new nature which was implanted in him, as through the Spirit's sacred working he was led to hate sin and believein Jesus to his soul's salvation. It is the heavenly offspring of the new birth, the pure and holy result of regeneration.That new nature cannot sin-it is as pure as the God from whom it came and like the spark which seeks the sun, it aspires alwaysafter the holy God from whom it came. Its longings and its tendencies are always towards holiness and God and it utterly hatesand loathes that which is evil, so that, finding itself brought into contact with the old nature, it sighs and cries as theApostle tells us, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Hence a warfare is set up within the Believer's bosom-the new life struggles against the old death-as the house of David againstthe house of Saul, or as Israel against the accursed Canaanites. The enmity is irreconcilable and lifelong. As the Lord hassworn to have war with Amalek throughout all generations, so does the holy seed within the saint wage war with inbred sinso long as it remains. Neither nature can make peace with the other. Either the earthy water must quench the heavenly fire,or the Divine fire, like that which Elijah saw, must lick up and utterly remove all the water in the trenches of the heart.It is war to the knife-exterminating war.
In the text the Apostle says that the old nature is in every Believer crucified with Christ. I take the liberty also to referyou to two or three words which occur in the verse before the text, where he speaks of baptized Believers as having takenupon themselves the likeness of Christ's death. And then he speaks of the old man being crucified, which was Christ's deathand therefore without straining the text we may gather from it that the old man in us dies in the same way as Christ died-thatthe death of Christ on the Cross is the picture of the way in which our old corruptions are to be put to death.
That shall make our first point, the old nature crucified. The second point shall be that if ever the old nature is put todeath at all, it must be with Christ-we are crucified with Him. The old man is crucified with Him. And then, in the thirdplace, we shall have some practical and solemn applications to make.
I. Now, first, THE OLD MAN IS TO DIE, BUT IT IS TO DIE IN THE LIKENESS OF CHRIST'S DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION.
1. What kind of death was that? First, our Lord died a true and real death. There were certain heretics who disturbed theearly Christian Church who said that our Lord did not really and actually die. But we know that He died, for His heart waspierced by the spear and the flowing of the blood and water proved that He was, in very deed, most truly dead.
Moreover, the Roman officer would not have sanctioned that the body be given up if he had not made sure that He were deadalready and even made doubly sure by piercing our Lord's most blessed side. Christ really and truly died. There was no shamor make-believe. It was no phantom which bled and the atoning death was no fainting spell or long swoon.
Even thus it must be with our old propensities-they must not pretend to die, but actually die. They must not be restrainedby holy customs. They must not be mowed up by temporary austerities, or laid in a trance by fleeting reveries, or ostentatiouslyburied alive by religious resolves and professions. They must actually die and die a real and true death before the Lord andwithin our souls. Sometimes persons who are really alive appear as dead, because death reigns over a part of their bodies.The heart beats exceedingly indistinctly. The pulse is but faintly felt, the lungs are languidly heaving-they lie in a stateof coma, their hands are powerless as those of a corpse and their eyes are closed and every member palsied-yet they are notdead. They are, in some measure and really and truly, as to their vital organs, still in the land of the living.
So have I known some that have given up a part of their sins. They have been persuaded to renounce the most gross vices, orthe more abominable lusts-but yet they have never made a clean renunciation of all their sins. They have never, within theirhearts, in all integrity of purpose, given up every false way. They still indulge some one or other sin secretly, or, if theyhave not carried their desires into practice, they have, at least, a secret goodwill towards evil-a love towards some sweetsin in the core of their heart of hearts.
O my Brothers and Sisters, this must, with those who are renewed in the spirit of their minds-the old nature must-so far asour will is concerned, endure a real crucifixion! No man shall enter Heaven while one propensity to sin lies in him, for Heavenadmits nothing that pollutes. And, further, no man should expect to enter the abode of bliss while he cherishes and desiresto keep alive a solitary sin within him. I do not say that no one is a saved soul who is not perfect here! God forbid I shouldthus interpret the hopes of the faithful and the Word of God! But I do say that you must desire perfection. You must willit. You must seek it, or Divine Grace is not in you. I do not say that any man lives perfectly and absolutely free from sinin this life-but I do say that no man is a Christian who does not wish it to be so with him.
There must be in our soul a wish-deep, hearty, thorough and real-for the death of every sin of every sort, or we are not inunion with Christ. Our prayer must be-
"Return, O holy Dove! return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made You mourn,
And drove You from my breast.
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol is,
Help me to tear it from Your throne,
And worship only You."
I beseech you be careful on this point, for let mere creed lovers prate as they will, "without holiness no man shall see theLord," sin must be slain! You must utterly hate evil. Sin must be to you as a condemned, detestable thing, to be hunted downand put to death, or else the life of God is not in you. No mere professions or shams will suffice! Sin must really and trulybe crucified!
2. The death of our Lord, in the next place, was a voluntary death. He said, "I lay down My life for the sheep...no man takesit from Me, but I lay it down of Myself." Jesus need not have died. He could have come down from the Cross and saved Himself,but He willingly gave Himself up as a Sacrifice for our sins. Brethren, such must essentially be the death of sin within us-itmust be on our parts, as we put it to death, perfectly voluntary. Oh, what a sieve is this in which to sift the chaff fromthe wheat!
Some men part with their sins with the intention of returning again to them if they can, as the dog returns to its vomit andthe sow to her wallowing in the mire. Or they part with them as of old the oxen parted with their calves at Bethshemesh, lowingas they went because of the calves they had left behind. Like Lot's wife they set out to leave Sodom, but their eyes showwhere their hearts are. How many a drunkard has given up his cups because he would otherwise have lost his situation or beenlaid by with illness? How many a foul one has renounced a vice because he felt that it was too great a strain upon his constitution,or brought too much shame upon him?
They drop their sins as the dog does the meat when it is too hot to hold-but they love it none the less-they will be backwhen it cools. Such sinners leave sin as Orpah did Moab, but they soon find opportunity to return. They fight sin as stageactors fight on the stage-it is mimic conflict- in reality they do not hate sin. Ah, but Friends, we must have our whole heartsburning with an intensity of desire to get rid of our sins! And such intensity we shall be sure to feel if there is a workof Divine Grace in our soul worked by the Holy Spirit. To will is present with us. No, we are not merely willing-that is apoor cold term-we are vehemently desirous, insomuch that we would be content to give up our eyes and live in lifelong blindnessif we could but be wholly delivered from our sins!
There is no martyrdom to which any saint would be reluctant to subject himself if he could thereby escape from the tenfoldplague of his daily corruptions and temptations. I would make any bargain with God if He would leave me free from sin. Itshould be left to Him whether I should shiver amid northern ice, or stagnate in a poorhouse, or lie in prison till the mossgrew on my eyelids, or quiver in perpetual fever-if I might henceforth never again in this world fall into a single sin! Theexecution of sin, then, must be undertaken by us with a willing mind and a vehement determination.
3. At the same time, mark you, in the third place, our Lord's death was a violent death. He was no suicide. He willed to diein obedience to the highest law of His being, which was not self-preservation (which makes it necessary for us to do all wecan to live), but consecration to the will of God and to human welfare, which highest law rendered it necessary for Him todie. He died, I have said, voluntarily, but yet by wicked men He was taken, by violent hands and by force put to death. Sothe crucifixion of sin is voluntary as to the person who crucifies sin-but it is both violent and involuntary as to the sinitself.
Believe me, my dear Brothers and Sisters, sin struggles awfully in the best of men-especially besetting sins and constitutionalsins. Outward iniquities are, in most cases, soon conquered, but inward constitutional sins are hard to overcome. One manis proud and oh, what prayers and tears it costs him to bring the neck of old pride to the block! Another man is naturallygrasping, his tendency is to covetousness and how he has to humble himself before God and to cry out and lament because hisgold will stick to his fingers and will rust and corrode within his soul! Some are of a murmuring spirit and so rebel againstGod, and to conquer a spirit of contention and murmuring is no easy task.
And envy, too, that horrible monster, so obnoxious in a Christian. Why, I think I have known God's ministers indulge in itand it has not always been easy to kill it. To let another star eclipse you in the firmament, or suffer another servant ofGod to do more for Him and to have greater success than yourself is, too often, a bitter trial when it should be a theme forjoy! Yet, Brethren, cost us what it may, these sins must die! Violent may be the death and stern the struggle, but we mustnail that right hand, yes, and drive home the nail!
We must pierce the left hand, too, and fasten the foot, yes and nail that other foot and hammer fast the nail. And while thestruggling victim seeks to live, we must take care that no nail stops, but run to the Master, if it must be so and pray Himto drive the nails yet closer home that the monster of the old man may not in any one of its members regain its liberty. Itwill be a violent death, indeed, if my inward experience is really a sample of what we are to expect.
4. In the fourth place, crucifixion was a painful death. The suffering of crucifixion was extreme. All men have put that intotheir general belief-their language creed-for we say of great pain it is excruciating, that is to say, it is like crucifixion.So the death of sin is painful in all and in some terribly so. Oh, it has cost some men nights, days, weeks and months ofmisery and anguish to overcome their deep-seated sins!
Read John Bunyan's, "Grace Abounding," and see how year after year that wonderful mind of his had red hot harrows draggedacross all its fields. The inmost vitals of his spirit were pierced as with barbed shafts. His soul was as a great battlefield,covered with armies who trampled it down, tore it up in all directions and made it tremble with their furious shocks of combat.The new man was struggling against the old death that was within him. Believe me, none of us would wish to go over the sameground again, for the scars remain upon us to this hour.
There was a plucking out of right eyes and a tearing off of right arms-and this hacking and maiming could not be done withoutpoignant suffering. And meanwhile, in the case of some of us, there was such a horror of darkness cast over us concerningour guilt, that our soul chose strangling rather than life and it was of the Lord's mercies that our griefs did not utterlyconsume us. Some, I grant you, are brought unto salvation much more easily, but even they find that the death of sin is painful,at least to this degree-they have a humbling sense of the guilt of sin-they feel bitter regret that ever they should havefallen into it and they are depressed with great fear and horror lest they should fall into it again.
Along the valley of death shade, most, if not all pilgrims to Heaven occasionally wend their way. Sin dies hard. Such a hundred-headedHydra has many lives. it will not die without much pain and the violence of the pain proves the natural vitality of that whichis put to death.
5. Brethren, let us remind you of yet another point. The death of our Lord Jesus Christ was an ignominious death. It was thedeath which the Roman Law accorded only to felons, serfs and Jews-few were condemned to it but slaves. It was not a freeman'sdeath-a nobler execution was allotted to citizens. So our sins must be put to death with every circumstance of shame and self-humiliation.I must confess I am shocked with some people whom I know who glibly rehearse their past lives up to the time of their supposedconversion and talk of their sins-which they hope have been forgiven them-with a sort of smack of the lips, as if there wassomething fine in having been so atrocious an offender.
I hate to hear a man speak of his experience in sin as a Greenwich pensioner might talk of Trafalgar and the Nile. The bestthing to do with our past sin, if it is, indeed, forgiven, is to bury it! Yes, and let us bury it as they used to bury suicides-letus drive a stake through it in horror and contempt and never set up a monument to its memory. If you ever do tell anybodyabout your youthful wrongdoing, let it be with blushes and tears, with shame and confusion of face. And always speak of itto the honor of the infinite mercy which forgave you. Never let the devil stand behind you and pat you on the back and say,"You did me a good turn in those days."
Oh, it is a shameful thing to have sinned! A degrading thing to have lived in sin! And it is not to be wrapped up into a tellingstory and told out as an exploit as some do. "The old man is crucified with him." Who boasts of being related to the crucifiedfelon? If any member of your family had been hanged, you would tremble to hear anyone mention the gallows. You would not runabout crying, "Do you know a brother of mine was hanged at Newgate?" Your old man of sin is hanged-do not talk about him,but thank God it is so-and as He blots out the remembrance of it, do you the same, except so far as it may make you humbleand grateful.
6. Crucifixion was a lingering death. Our old nature has not been put to the death by the sword, or stoning, or burning. Ithas been crucified. This will bring on a sure death in due time, but it is slow. A man crucified often lived for hours anddays and I have read even for a week. Our old man will linger on his cross as long as we are alive on earth. Each one of oursins has a horrible vitality about it. "As many lives as a cat," John Bunyan said unbelief had. And the like may be said ofevery sin within us! It is crucified, but it is not wholly dead. Expect to have to fight with sin till you sheathe your swordand put on your crown.
I speak with great respect to my dear friends who wear the honorable insignia of old age, but they may let one who is a childcompared to them remind them that old age does not bring with it such a weakening in the man to sin as to permit them to ceasefrom watchfulness. When passions cannot be indulged, they often rage the more furiously. And if one sin is driven out by changeof life, another will often labor to possess the soul in its place. Alas, alas, alas, that men should ever begin to trustto their experience or their acquired prudence-for then they are the most likely persons to fall into sin! Your lusts arecrucified, but they live and there is vitality enough in them to make you rue the day if the nails of Divine Grace do nothold them fast and keep the demons to their tree of doom.
The last remark is that our Lord died a visible death. It could be discovered that He was dead. So we must put our sins toa visible death. Do not tell me, you men-servants and maid-servants who profess godliness, that you have crucified your sinswhen you are such lazy and dishonest servants that your masters and mistresses would be right glad to do without you! Do nottell me, you masters and mistresses, that you have crucified your sins when you fall into such ugly tempers and tyrannizeyour servants and treat them like dogs! Do not tell me, you men of business, that your sins are banished when you help toset up bubble companies, falsify your weights and measures, defraud your creditors by villainous bankruptcies, or grind thefaces of the poor. Do not sneak into this Tabernacle-or rather, if you come at all, do sneak in, for you ought to wear a hang-doglook if you answer to any of these descriptions!
Do not come into Prayer Meeting and pray with the saints if you are behaving as unregenerate sinners do. If there is no visibledifference between you and the world, depend upon it, there is no invisible difference. I have generally found that a manis not much better than he looks and if a man's outward life is not right, I shall not feel bound to believe that his inwardlife is acceptable to God. "Ah, Sir," said one in Rowland Hill's time, "he is not exactly what I should like, but he has agood heart at the bottom." The shrewd old preacher replied, "When you go to market and buy fruit and there are none but rottenapples on the top of the basket, you say to the market woman, 'These are a very bad lot.' Now, if the
woman replied, 'Yes, they are rather gone at top, Sir, but they are better as you go down,' you would not be so silly as tobelieve her, but would say, 'No, no, the lower we go, the worse they will be, for the best are always put on the top.'"
And so it is with men's characters. If they cannot be decent, sober and truthful in their daily life, their inner parts aremore abominable still! The deeper you pry into their secrets the worse will be the report. O dear Hearers, do be sincere inrenouncing outward sin! You sinful men, put away your drunkenness, your swearing, your lying, your fornication and uncleanness.These must be nailed up before God's sun in open day. Let all men know by your outward conduct that you are dead to sin andcannot live any longer in it.
II. There was much room in this first point to have enlarged, but I must not, for time flies so swiftly. This crucifixionof the old nature is, let us remember, WITH CHRIST. The old man was crucified with Christ representatively. Christ representedthe Church. When He died He died for the Church and the Church died in Him-all His people died representatively when He died.Christ's dead body represents to us, in its death, the death of our old man, and virtually and before God, the body of thisdeath died for each of us when Jesus died. We have not the time, however, to go into that doctrine, but the experience iswhat I would say a word upon.
Depend upon it, my dear Brothers and Sisters, if ever our sins are to die, it must be with Christ. You will find you cannotkill the smallest viper in the nest of your heart if you get away from the Cross. There is no death for sin except in thedeath of Christ. Stand and look up to His dear wounds. Trust in the merit of His blood. Love Him, love Him with a perfectheart and sin-killing will not be difficult. You will hear the Savior say, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoilthe vines," and you will note His words, take us, not take them, but take us. Come with me, says the spouse, we will go togetherand we will do it. Your killing of your sin is not in your power, but if Jesus goes with you, it will be done.
I have known some people struggle against a horrible temper and they never quite overcame it until they grew into closer communionwith Christ. Some dispute the doctrine before us and assert that contemplations of death are the most effectual helps in overcomingsin-very likely. Others have thought that the study of the beauties of holiness might do it-it may be so. But in my experiencethe mightiest gun to blow down the cesspool of sin within me is to flee to the Cross of Christ! I am persuaded that nothingbut the blood of Jesus will kill sin. If you go to the Commandments of God, or to the fear and dread of Hell, you will findsuch motives, as they suggest, to be as powerless in you for real action as they have proven themselves to be to the generalworld.
But if you remember gratefully that the first death of sin in you was by the blood of Jesus, you will firmly believe thatall the way through you will have to overcome by the same weapon-
"Tears, though flowing like a river,
Never can one sin erase.
Jesus' tears would not avail you-
Blood alone can meet your case.
Fly to Jesus!
Life is found in His embrace."
Do you see yonder blood-washed host? Without spot or wrinkle they stand before the Throne of God. Ask them whether they hadto fight with sin and they will tell you that they were men of like passions with us. Ask them how they overcame sin-you gloriousones, out of what armory did you take your weapons and who girded you for the sacred conflict?-
"I ask them from where their victory came.
They, with united breath
Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
Their triumph to His death.
They marked the footsteps that He trod,
His zeal inspired their breast,
And, following their Incarnate God,
Possess the promised rest." You must get to Christ, nearer to Christ and you will overcome sin.
III. I must now conclude with these two observations. First, Christian, here is your practical lesson tonight-Fight with yoursins. Hack them in pieces as Samuel did Agag! Let not one of them escape. Take them as Elijah took the prophets of Baal-hewthem in pieces before the Lord! Revenge the death of Christ upon your sins, but keep to Christ's
Cross for power to do it. Think more of Jesus' Cross! Spend more time in contemplation of His blessed Person, of His deathand of His rising again. Drink in more of His life and live more upon Him. I pray you do this.
The words may sound in your ears as very common and such as you have heard 10,000 times before, but the sense is weighty andall-important. If I had but one sentence that I might utter to Believers, I think I should make it this-live nearer to Christ.All virtues flourish in the atmosphere of the Cross. All vices die beneath the shade of the Cross-but get away from your Masterand you will be undone.
The other word is to the unconverted. You say you do not care much about death unto sin. Well, then, you shall have but onechoice-if you will not have death unto sin-you shall have sin unto death! There is no alternative. If you do not die to sin,you shall die for sin-and if you do not slay sin, sin will slay you! As surely as you live, my unsaved Hearers, you cannotharbor any sin and go to Heaven! Let no man deceive you. I try to preach a very free and open Gospel and these lips have spoken10,000 invitations to the very chief of sinners. In fact, I never seem to have a more suitable theme for myself than whenI am opening Mercy's gate wide, so as to admit the vilest of the vile.
Still I am bound to tell you-wide as God's mercy is to those who are willing to give up their sins-there is not a grain ofmercy in the heart of God towards that man who goes on in his iniquities. "God is angry with the wicked every day." Bunyantells us he was one day playing the game of "cat" on Sunday, when a voice seemed to sound in his ears, "Will you have yoursins and go to Hell, or leave your sins and go to Heaven?" You have dropped into this Tabernacle and this is the questionI have to put to you-"Will you leave your sins and go to Heaven, or will you have your sins and
go to Hell!"
I know what you would prefer. You would like to have your sins and Heaven, too, but it is utterly impossible! Not only becauseGod forbids it, but because nature forbids it. You are sitting in a room with a fire tonight and the windows are closed andyou say, "I would like to be cool." Put out the fire, then. "No, but I would like to be cool and yet keep the fire." It cannotbe done-nature forbids it. And so a lover of sin cannot be a saved soul-not because of any enmity on God's part-but becauseit is contrary to nature. Sin is a poison, you cannot drink it and yet live the life of Divine Grace. If a man loves sin,sin is its own punishment. To be an enemy of God is Hell.
Even if the flames of Gehenna could be quenched and the pit of Tophet could be closed, yet as long as a man was out of accordwith God, there must be a Hell, for sin is misery and only let it develop itself and evil is sorrow, be it in what breastit may. You have heard of the Spartan youth who concealed a stolen fox under his garment, and although it was eating intohis stomach, he would not show it and therefore died through the creature's bites. You are of that sort, Sinner! You are carryingsin in your bosom and it is eating out your heart!
God knows what it is and you know what it is. You cannot keep it there and be unbitten, undestroyed. Why keep it there? Ocry to God with a vehement cry, "God save me from my sin! O bring me, even me, to the foot of Your Son's Cross, and forgiveme and then crucify my sin, for I see clearly, now, that sin must perish or I must."
God give you Grace, dear Hearer, not to go to bed tonight till you have had your sins nailed up to Christ's Cross! The Lordgrant it for His mercies' sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON.-Romans 6