Sermon 1660. The Perpetuity of the Law of God
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MAY 21, 1882,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till allis fulfilled." Matthew 5:18.
IT has been said that he who understands the two Covenants is a theologian and this is, no doubt, true. I may also say thatthe man who knows the relative positions of the Law and of the Gospel has the keys of the situation in the matter of doctrine.The relationship of the Law to myself and how it condemns me-the relationship of the Gospel to myself and how, if I am a Believer,it justifies me-these are two points which every Christian man should clearly understand. He should not "see men as treeswalking" in this department, or else he may cause himself great sorrow and fall into errors which will be grievous to hisheart and injurious to his life. To form a mingle-mangle of Law and Gospel is to teach that which is neither Law nor Gospel,but the opposite of both. May the Spirit of God be our teacher and the Word of God be our lesson book-and then we shall noterr.
Very great mistakes have been made about the Law. Not long ago there were those about us who affirmed that the Law is utterlyabrogated and abolished. They openly taught that Believers were not bound to make the moral Law the rule of their lives. Whatwould have been sin in other men they counted not to be sin in themselves. From such Antinomi-anism as that, may God deliverus! We are not under the Law as the method of salvation, but we delight to see the Law in the hand of Christ and desire toobey the Lord in all things. Others have been met with who have taught that Jesus mitigated and softened down the Law andthey have, in effect, said that the perfect Law of God was too hard for imperfect beings and, therefore, God has given usa milder and easier rule. These tread dangerously upon the verge of terrible error, although we believe that they are littleaware of it.
Alas, we have met with authors who have gone much further than this and have railed at the Law. Oh, the hard words that Ihave sometimes read against the holy Law of God! How very unlike those which the Apostle used when he said, "The Law is holy,and the commandment holy, and just, and good." How different from the reverent spirit which made him say- "I delight in theLaw of God after the inward man." You know how David loved the Law of God and sang its praises all through the longest ofthe Psalms. The heart of every real Christian is most reverent towards the Law of the Lord. It is perfect, no, it is perfectionitself! We believe that we shall never have reached perfection till we are perfectly conformed to it. A sanctification whichstops short of perfect conformity to the Law cannot truthfully be called perfect sanctification, for every lack of exact conformityto the perfect Law is sin.
May the Spirit of God help us while, in imitation of our Lord Jesus, we endeavor to magnify the Law. I gather from our texttwo things upon which I shall speak at this time. The first is that the Law of God is perpetual-"Till Heaven and earth pass,one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law." The meaning is that even in the least point it must abide tillit is all fulfilled. Secondly, we perceive that the Law of God must be fulfilled-Not "one jot or one tittle shall pass fromthe Law, till all IS fulfilled." He who came to bring in the Gospel dispensation here asserts that He has not come to destroythe Law, but to fulfill it.
I. First-THE LAW OF GOD MUST BE PERPETUAL. There is no abrogation of it, nor amendment of it. It is not to be toned down oradjusted to our fallen condition, but every one of the Lord's righteous judgments abides forever. I would urge three reasonswhich will establish this teaching. In the first place our Lord Jesus declares that He did not come to abolish it. His wordsare most exact-"Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." AndPaul tells us with regard to the Gospel, "Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yes, we establish the Law"(Rom. 3:31). The Gospel is the means of the firm establishment and vindication of the Law of God. Jesus did not come to change the Law,but He came to explain it, and that very fact shows that it remains, for there is no need to explain that which is abrogated.
Upon one particular point in which there happened to be a little ceremonialism involved, namely, the keeping of the Sabbath,our Lord enlarged and showed that the Jewish idea was not the true one. The Pharisees forbade even the doing
of works of necessity and mercy, such as rubbing ears of corn to satisfy hunger and healing the sick. Our Lord Jesus showedthat it was not at all according to the mind of God to forbid these things. In straining over the letter and carrying an outwardobservance to excess, they had missed the spirit of the Sabbath Law, which suggested works of piety such as truly hallow theday. He showed that Sabbatic rest was not mere inaction, and He said, "My Father works hitherto, and I work." He pointed tothe priests who labored hard at offering sacrifices and said of them, "the priests in the Temple profane the Sabbath and areblameless." They were doing Divine service and were within the Law.
To meet the popular error, He took care to do some of His greatest miracles upon the Sabbath-and though this excited greatwrath against Him, as though He were a Law-breaker, yet He did it on purpose that they might see that the Sabbath was madefor man and not man for the Sabbath-and that it is meant to be a day for doing that which honors God and blesses men! O thatmen knew how to keep the spiritual Sabbath by an easing from all servile work and from all work done for self! The rest offaith is the true Sabbath and the service of God is the most acceptable hallowing of the day. Oh that the day were whollyspent in serving God and doing good!
The sum of our Lord's teaching was that works of necessity, works of mercy and works of piety are lawful on the Sabbath. Heexplained the Law in that point and in others, yet that explanation did not alter the command, but only removed the rust oftradition which had settled upon it. By thus explaining the Law, He confirmed it! He could not have meant to abolish it orHe would not have needed to expound it. In addition to explaining it, the Master went further- He pointed out its spiritualcharacter. This the Jews had not observed. They thought, for instance, that the command "You shall not kill" simply forbademurder and manslaughter. But the Savior showed that anger without cause violates the Law of God and that hard words and cursing-andall other displays of enmity and malice-are forbidden by the Commandment.
They knew that they might not commit adultery, but it did not enter into their minds that a lascivious desire would be anoffense against the precept till the Savior said, "He that looks upon a woman to lust after her commits adultery with heralready in his heart." He showed that the thought of evil is sin; that an unclean imagination pollutes the heart; that a wantonwish is guilt in the eyes of the Most High! Assuredly this was no abrogation of the Law of God-it was a wonderful exhibitionof its far-reaching sovereignty and of its searching character! The Pharisees fancied that if they kept their hands, theirfeet and their tongues, all was done. But Jesus showed that thought, imagination, desire, memory- everything-must be broughtinto subjection to the will of God or else the Law was not fulfilled.
What a searching and humbling doctrine is this! If the Law of the Lord reaches to the inward parts, who among us can, by nature,abide its judgment? Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults! The Ten Commandments are full of meaning-meaningwhich many seem to ignore. For instance, many a man will allow in and around his house inattention to the rules of healthand sanitary precaution, but it does not occur to him that he is trampling on the commandments-"You shall not kill." Yet thisrule forbids our doing anything which may cause injury to our neighbor's health and so deprive him of life. Many a deadlymanufactured article; many an ill-ventilated shop; many a business with hours of excessive length is a standing breach ofthis Commandment!
Shall I say less of drinks, which lead so speedily to disease and death and crowd our cemeteries with untimely graves? So,too, in reference to another precept-some persons will repeat songs and stories which are suggestive of unclean-ness-I wishthat this were not so common as it is. Do they not know that an unchaste word, a double meaning, a sly hint of lust all comeunder the Commandment, "You shall not commit adultery"? It is so according to the teaching of our Lord Jesus! Oh, talk notto me about our Lord's having brought in a milder Law because man could not keep the Decalogue, for He has done nothing ofthe kind! "His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor." "Who may abide the day of His coming? For He islike a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap."
Let us not dare to dream that God had given us a perfect Law which we poor creatures could not keep and that, therefore, Hehas corrected His legislature and sent His Son to put us under a relaxed discipline! Nothing of the sort! The Lord Jesus Christhas, on the contrary, shown how intimately the Law of God surrounds and enters into our inward parts, so as to convict usof sin within even if we seem clean on the outside. Ah me, this Law is high! I cannot attain to it! It surrounds me everywhere;it tracks me to my bed and my board; it follows my steps and marks my ways wherever I may be! No moment does it cease to governand demand obedience. O God, I am everywhere condemned, for everywhere Your Law reveals to me my serious deviations from theway of righteousness and shows me how far short I come of Your Glory. Have pity on Your servant, for I fly to the Gospel whichhas done for me what the Law could never do-
"To see the Law by Christ fulfilled, And hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child, And duty into choice.'
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in addition to explaining the Law and pointing out its spiritual character, also unveiled its livingessence, for when one asked Him "Which is the great Commandment in the Law?" He said, "You shall love the Lord your God withall your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second islike unto it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the prophets." In otherwords, He has told us, "All the Law is fulfilled in this-you shall love." There is the pith and marrow of it! Does any mansay to me, "You see, then, instead of the Ten Commandments, we have received the two commandments and these are much easier."I answer that this reading of the Law of God is not in the least easier!
Such a remark implies a lack of thought and experience. Those two precepts comprehend the 10 at their fullest extent and cannotbe regarded as the erasure of a jot or tittle of them. Whatever difficulties surround the Ten Commandments, are equally foundin the two, which are their sum and substance. If you love God with all your heart, you must keep the first table-and if youlove your neighbor as yourself you must keep the second table. If any suppose that the Law of Love is an adaptation of themoral Law to man's fallen condition, they greatly err. I can only say that the supposed adaptation is no more adapted to usthan the original Law. If there could be conceived to be any difference in difficulty, it might be easier to keep the 10 thanthe two, for if we go no deeper than the letter, the two are the more exacting, since they deal with the heart, soul and mind.
The Ten Commandments mean all that the two express. But if we forget this and only look at the wording of them, I say, itis harder for a man to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, with all his strength and his neighboras himself than it would be merely to abstain from killing, stealing and false witness. Christ has not, therefore, abrogatedor at all moderated the Law to meet our helplessness. He has left it in all its sublime perfection, as it always must be left-andHe has pointed out how deep are its foundations, how elevated are its heights, how measureless are its length and breadth!Like the laws of the Medes and Persians, God's commands cannot be altered!
We are saved by another method. To show that He never meant to abrogate the Law, our Lord Jesus has embodied all its Commandmentsin His own life. In His own Person there was a nature which was perfectly conformed to the Law of God-and as was His nature,such was His life. He could say, "Which of you convicts Me of sin?" And again, "I have kept My Father's commandments and abidein His love." I may not say that He was scrupulously careful to keep the Law of God-I will not put it so, for there was notendency in Him to do otherwise-He was so perfect and pure; so infinitely good and so complete in His agreement and communionwith the Father, that He, in all things, carried out the Father's will.
The Father said of Him, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear you Him." Point out, if you possibly can,any way in which Christ has violated the Law or left it unfulfilled! There was never an unclean thought or rebellious desirein His soul. He had nothing to regret or to retract-it could not be that He should err. He was thrice tempted in the wildernessand the enemy had the impertinence, even, to suggest idolatry, but He instantly overthrew the adversary. The prince of thisworld came to Him, but he found nothing in Him-
"My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
I read my duty in Your Word.
But in Your life the Law appears
Drawn out in living characters." Now, if that Law had been too high and too hard, Christ would not have exhibited it in Hislife. But as our Exemplar He would have set forth that milder form of Law which is supposed by some theologians. He came tointroduce. Inasmuch as our Leader and Exemplar has exhibited to us in His life a perfect obedience to the sacred Commandmentsin their undi-minished grandeur, I gather that He means it to be the model of our conversation.
Our Lord has not taken off a single point or pinnacle from that up-towering alp of perfection. He said at the first, "Lo,I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me. I delight to do Your will, O My God; yes, Your Law is within My heart."And well has He justified the writing of the volume of the Book. "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under theLaw" and, being for our sakes under the Law, He obeyed it to the fullest, so that now, "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousnessto everyone that believes."
Once more, that the Master did not come to alter the Law of God is clear because after having embodied it in His life, Hewillingly gave Himself up to bear its penalty, though He had never broken it, bearing the penalty for us, even as it is written,"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us." "All we like sheep have gone
astray, we have turned, everyone, to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." If the Law had demandedmore of us than it ought to have done, would the Lord Jesus have rendered to it the penalty which resulted from its too severedemands? I am sure He would not! But because the Law asked only what it ought to ask-namely perfect obedience and exactedof the transgressor only what it ought to exact, namely, death, as the penalty for sin-death under Divine wrath, thereforethe Savior went to the Cross and there bore our sins and purged them once and for all.
He was crushed beneath the load of our guilt and cried, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death," and at last,when He had borne-
"All that Incarnate God could bear,
With strength enough, but none to spare," He bowed His head and said, "It is finished." Our Lord Jesus Christ gave a greatervindication to the Law of God by dying, because it had been broken, than all the lost in Hell can ever give by their miseries,for their suffering is never complete, their debt is never paid! But He has borne all that was due from His people and theLaw is defrauded of nothing. By His death He has vindicated the honor of God's moral government and made it just for Him tobe merciful! When the Lawgiver, Himself, submits to the Law; when the Sovereign, Himself, bears the extreme penalty of thatLaw-then is the justice of God set upon such a glorious high throne that all admiring worlds must wonder at it! If, therefore,it is clearly proven that Jesus was obedient to the Law of God, even to the extent of death, He certainly did not come toabolish or abrogate it! And if He did not remove it, who can do so? If He declares that He came to establish it, who shalloverthrow
But, secondly, the Law of God must be perpetual from its very nature, for does it not strike you, the moment you think ofit, that right must always be right, truth must always be true, and purity must always be pure? Before the Ten Commandmentswere published at Sinai, there was still that same Law of right and wrong laid upon men by the necessity of their being God'screatures. Right was always right before a single command had been committed to words! When Adam was in the garden it wasalways right that he should love his Maker and it would always have been wrong that he should have been at cross-purposeswith his God. And it does not matter what happens in this world, or what changes take place in the universe, it never canbe right to lie, or to commit adultery, or murder, or steal, or to worship an idol god. I will not say that the principlesof right and wrong are as absolutely self-existent as God, but I do say that I cannot grasp the idea of God, Himself, as existingapart from His being always holy and always true-so that the very idea of right and wrong seems to me to be necessarily permanentand cannot possibly be shifted.
You cannot bring right down to a lower level! It must be where it always is-right is right eternally-and cannot be wrong.You cannot lift up wrong and make it somewhat right-it must be wrong while the world stands. Heaven and earth may pass away,but not the smallest letter or accent of the moral Law can possibly change. In spirit the Law is eternal. Suppose for a momentthat it were possible to temper and tone down the Law of God, where would it be? I confess I do not know and cannot imagine!If it is perfectly holy, how can it be altered except by being made imperfect? Would you wish for that? Could you worshipthe God of an imperfect Law? Can it ever be true that God, by way of favoring us, has put us under an imperfect Law? Wouldthat be a blessing or a curse?
It is said by some that man cannot keep a perfect Law and God does not demand that he should. Certain modern theologians havetaught this, I hope, by inadvertence. Has God issued an imperfect Law? It is the first imperfect thing I ever heard of Hismaking! Does it come to this that, after all, the Gospel is a proclamation that God is going to be satisfied with obedienceto a mutilated Law? God forbid! I say, better that we perish than that His perfect Law perish! Terrible as it is, it liesat the foundation of the peace of the universe and must be honored at all hazards. That gone, all goes! When the power ofthe Holy Spirit convinced me of sin, I felt such a solemn awe of the Law of God that I remember well, when I lay crashed beneathit as a condemned sinner, I yet admired and glorified it. I could not have wished that perfect Law to be altered for me.
Rather did I feel that if my soul were sent to the lowest Hell, yet God was to be extolled for His Justice and His Law heldin honor for its perfectness. I would not have had it altered even to save my soul! Brethren, the Law of the Lord must stand,for it is perfect and, therefore, has in it no element of decay or change. The Law of God is no more than God might most righteouslyask of us. If God were about to give us a more tolerant Law, it would be an admission, on His part, that He asked too muchat first. Can that be supposed? Was there, after all, some justification for the statement of the wicked and slothful servantwhen he said, "I feared you, because you are an austere man"? It cannot be! For God to alter His Law would be an admissionthat He made a mistake! That He put poor imperfect man (we are often hearing that said) under too rigorous a regime and, therefore,He is now prepared to abate His claims and make them more reasonable.
It has been said that man's moral inability to keep the perfect Law exempts him from the duty of doing so. This is very specious,but it is utterly false! Man's inability is not of the kind which removes responsibility-it is moral, not physical! Neverfall into the error that moral inability will be an excuse for sin! What? When a man becomes such a liar that he cannot speakthe truth-is he, therefore, exempted from the duty of truthfulness? If your servant owes you a day's labor, is he free fromthe duty because he has made himself so drunk that he cannot serve you? Is a man freed from a debt by the fact that he hassquandered the money and, therefore, cannot pay it? Is a lustful man free to indulge his passions because he cannot understandthe beauty of chastity? This is dangerous doctrine! The Law is a just one and man is bound by it though his sin has renderedhim incapable of doing so.
The Law, moreover, demands no more than is good for us. There is not a single Commandment of God's Law but what is meant tobe a kind of danger signal such as we put up upon the ice when it is too thin to bear. Each Commandment does, as it were,say to us, "Dangerous!" It is never for a man's good to do what God forbids him! It is never for man's real and ultimate happinessto leave undone anything that God commands him. The wisest directions for spiritual health and for the avoidance of evil arethose directions which are given us concerning right and wrong in the Law of God! Therefore it is not possible that thereshould be any alteration, for it would not be for our good. I should like to say to any Brother who thinks that God has putus under an altered rule-"Which particular part of the Law is it that God has relaxed?" Which precept do you feel free tobreak?
Are you delivered from the Commandment which forbids stealing? My dear Sir, you may be a capital theologian, but I shouldlock up my spoons when you call at my house! Is it the Commandment about adultery which you think is removed? Then I couldnot recommend your being admitted into any decent society! Is the Law as to killing softened down? Then I had rather haveyour room than your company. From which Law is it that God has exempted you? That Law of worshipping Him, only? Do you proposeto have another god? Do you intend to make engraved images? The fact is, that when we come to details, we cannot afford tolose a single link of this wonderful golden chain which is perfect in every part as well as perfect as a whole! The Law isabsolutely complete and you can neither add to it nor take from it. "Whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in onepoint, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if you commit no adultery,yet if you kill, you have become a transgressor of the Law." If, then, no part of it can be taken down, it must stand andstand forever!
A third reason I will give why the Law must be perpetual is that to suppose it altered is most dangerous. To take away fromthe Law its perpetuity is, first of all, to take away from it its power to convict of sin. Is it so, that I, being an imperfectcreature, am not expected to keep a perfect Law? Then it follows that I do not sin when I break the Law! And if all that isrequired of me is that I am to do according to the best of my knowledge and ability, then I have a very convenient rule, indeed-andmost men will take care to adjust it so as to give themselves as much latitude as possible! By removing the Law you have doneaway with sin, for sin is the transgression of the Law! And where there is no Law, there is no transgression! When you havedone away with sin, you may as well have done away with the Savior and with salva-tion-for they are by no means necessary!
When you have reduced sin to a minimum, what need is there of that great and glorious salvation which Jesus Christ has cometo bring into the world? Brothers and Sisters, we must have none of this! It is evidently a way of mischief. By lowering theLaw, you weaken its power in the hands of God as a Convincer of sin. "By the Law is the knowledge of sin." It is the lookingglass which shows us our spots-and that is a most useful thing-though nothing but the Gospel can wash them away-
"My hopes of Hea ven were firm and bright, But since the precept came
With a convincing power and light,
I find how vile I am.
My guilt appeared but small before,
Till terribly I saw
How perfect, holy, just and pure
Was Your eternal Law.
Then felt my soul the heavy load, My sins revived again, I had provoked a dreadful God, And all my hopes were slain."
It is only a pure and perfect Law that the Holy Spirit can use in order to show us our depravity and sinfulness. Lower theLaw and you dim the Law of God by which man perceives his guilt! This is a very serious loss to the sinner rather than a gain,for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion.
You have also taken away from the Law its power to shut us up to the faith of Christ. What is the Law of God for? For us tokeep in order to be saved by it? Not at all! It is sent in order to show us that we cannot be saved by works and to shut usup to be saved by Grace! But if you make out that the Law is altered so that a man can keep it, you have left him his oldlegal hope and he is sure to cling to it! You need a perfect Law that shuts man right up to hopelessness apart from Jesus-putshim into an iron cage and locks him up-and offers him no escape but by faith in Jesus! Then he begins to cry, "Lord, saveme by Grace, for I perceive that I cannot be saved by my own works."
This is how Paul describes it to the Galatians-"The Scripture has concluded all are under sin, that the promise by faith inJesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the Law, shut up unto the faithwhich should afterwards be revealed. Therefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justifiedby faith." I say you have deprived the Gospel of its most able auxiliary when you have set aside the Law! You have taken awayfrom it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ. No, it must stand and stand in all its terrors to drive men awayfrom self-righteousness and constrain them to fly to Christ! They will never accept Grace till they tremble before a justand holy Law! Therefore the Law serves a most necessary and blessed purpose and it must not be removed from its place.
To alter the Law is to leave us without any Law at all. A sliding scale of duty is an immoral invention, fatal to the principlesof law. If each man is to be accepted because he does his best, we are all doing our best. Is there anybody that is not? Ifwe take their words for it, all our fellow men are doing as well as they can, considering their imperfect natures. Even theharlot in the streets has some righteousness- she is not quite so far gone as others. Have you ever heard of the bandit whocommitted many murders, but who felt that he had been doing his best because he never killed anybody on a Friday? Self-righteousnessbuilds itself a nest, even in the worst character! This is the man's talk- "Really, if you knew me, you would say I have beena good fellow to do as well as I have. Consider what a poor, fallen creature I am! Consider what strong passions were bornin me! Consider what temptations to vice beset me and you will not blame me so much! After all, I dare say God is as satisfiedwith me as with many who are a great deal better because I had so few advantages."
Yes, you have shifted the standard and every man will now do that which is right in his own eyes and claim to be doing hisbest! If you shift the standard pound weight or the bushel measure, you will certainly never get full weight or measurementagain! There will be no standard to go by and each man will do his best with his own pounds and bushels. If the standard istampered with, you have taken away the foundation upon which trade is conducted and it is the same in soul matters-abolishthe best rule that ever can be, even God's own Law-and there is no rule left worthy of the name! What a fine opening thisleaves for vain-glory! No wonder that men talk of perfect sanctification if the Law has been lowered! There is nothing atall remarkable in our getting up to the rule if it is conveniently lowered for us! I believe I shall be perfectly sanctifiedwhen I keep God's Law without omission or transgression, but not till then!
If any man says that he is perfectly sanctified because he has come up to a modified law of his own, I am glad to know whathe means, for I have, no longer, any discussion with him! I see nothing wonderful in his attainment. Sin is my need of conformityto the Law of God-and until we are perfectly conformed to that Law of God in all its spiritual length and breadth-it is idlefor us to talk about perfect sanctification! No man is perfectly clean till he accepts absolute purity as the standard bywhich he is to be judged. So long as there is in us any coming short of the perfect Law, we are not perfect! What a humblingTruth of God this is! The Law shall not pass away, but it must be fulfilled! This Truth must be maintained, for if it goes,our tackling is loose; we cannot well strengthen the mast; the ship goes all to pieces; she becomes a total wreck!
The Gospel itself would be destroyed could you destroy the Law of God! To tamper with the Law is to trifle with the Gospel."Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all is fulfilled."
II. I come to show, secondly, that THE LAW MUST BE FULFILLED. I hope there are some in this place who are saying, "We cannotfulfill it." That is exactly where I want to bring you! Salvation by the works of the Law must be felt to be impossible byevery man who would be saved! We must learn that salvation is of Grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord-not by our owndoings or feelings. But this is a doctrine no one will receive till he has learned the previous Truth of God-that salvationby the works of the Law can never come to any man born of woman!
Yet the Law must be fulfilled. Many will say with Nicodemus, "How can these things be?" I answer, the Law is fulfilled inChrist and, by faith, we receive the fruit thereof. First, as I have already said, the Law is fulfilled in the matchless Sacrificeof Jesus Christ. If a man has broken a Law, what does the Law do with him? It says, "I must be honored. You have broken mycommand which was sanctioned by the penalty of death. Inasmuch as you did not honor me by obedience, but dishonored me bytransgression, you must die." Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the great Covenant Representative of His people, their secondAdam, stood forward on the behalf of all who are in Him and presented Himself as a victim to Divine Justice.
Since His people were guilty of death, He, as their Covenant Head, came under death in their place! It was a glorious thingthat such representative death was possible-and it was only so because of the original constitution of the race as springingfrom a common father and placed under a single head. Inasmuch as our fall was by one Adam, it was possible for us to be raisedby another Adam! "As in Adam all died, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." It became possible for God, upon the principleof representation, to allow substitution. Our first fall was not by our personal fault, but through the failure of our representative-andnow in comes our second and grander Representative-the Son of God, and He sets us free, not by our honoring the Law, but byHis doing so!
He came under the Law by His birth. And being found as a Man loaded with the guilt of all His people, He was visited withits penalty! The Law lifts its bloody axe and it smites our glorious Head that we may go free! It is the Son of God that keepsthe Law by dying, the Just for the unjust. "The soul that sins, it shall die"-there is death demanded- and in Christ deathis presented! Life for life is rendered! An infinitely precious Life instead of the poor lives of men! Jesus has died andso the Law has been fulfilled by the endurance of its penalty. And being fulfilled, its power to condemn and punish the Believerhas passed away.
Secondly, the Law has been fulfilled, again, for us by Christ in His life. I have already gone over this, but I want to establishyou in it. Jesus Christ as our Head and Representative, came into the world for the double purpose of bearing the penaltyand, at the same time, keeping the Law. One of His main designs in coming to earth was "to bring in perfect righteousness.""As by the disobedience of one, many were made sinners, so by the righteousness of one, shall many be made righteous." TheLaw requires a perfect life and he that believes in Jesus Christ presents to the Law a perfect life which he has made hisown by faith. It is not his own life, but Christ is made of God unto us, righteousness, even to us who are one with Him. "Christis the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believes."
That which Jesus did is counted as though we did it! And because He was righteous, God sees us in Him and counts us righteousupon the principle of substitution and representation. Oh, how blessed it is to put on this robe and to wear it! And to standbefore the Most High in a better righteousness than His Law demanded-for that demanded the perfect righteousness of a creature-butwe put on the absolute righteousness of the Creator Himself! And what can the Law ask more? It is written, "In His days Judahshall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is the name with which He shall be called-THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.""The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness' sake: He will magnify the Law and make it honorable."
Yes, but that is not all. The Law has to be fulfilled in us personally in a spiritual and Gospel sense. "Well," you say, "buthow can that be?" I reply in the words of our Apostle-"What the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh,"Christ has done and is doing by the Holy Spirit, "that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk notafter the flesh but after the Spirit." Regeneration is a work by which the Law is fulfilled, for when a man is born againthere is placed in him a new nature which loves the Law of God and is perfectly conformed to it. The new nature which Godimplants in every Believer at the time he is born again is incapable of sin-it cannot sin, for it is born of God! That newnature is the offspring of the eternal Father-and the Spirit of God dwells in it, with it and strengthens
It is light, it is purity, it is, according to the Scripture, the "living and incorruptible Seed which lives and abides forever."If incorruptible, it is sinless, for sin is corruption and corrupts everything that it touches. The Apostle Paul, when describinghis inward conflicts, showed that he himself, his real and best self, did keep the Law, for he says, "So then with the mindI, myself, serve the Law of God" (Rom. 7:25). He consented to the Law that it was good, which showed that he was on the side of the Law. And though sin that dwelt inhis members led him into transgression, yet his new nature did not allow it, but hated and loathed it, and cried out againstit as one in bondage! The newborn soul delights in the Law of the Lord and there is within it a quenchless life which aspiresafter absolute perfection! It will never rest till it pays to God perfect obedience and comes to be like God, Himself!
This which is begun in regeneration is continued and grows till it ultimately arrives at absolute perfection. That will beseen in the world to come and oh, what a fulfillment of the Law will be there! The Law will admit no man to Heaven till heis perfectly conformed to it-but every Believer shall be in that perfect condition! Our nature shall be refined from all itsdross and be as pure gold! It will be our delight in Heaven to be holy. There will be nothing about us, then, to kick againsta single Commandment of God! We shall know, there, in our own hearts the Glory and excellency of the Divine will and our willshall run in the same channel. We shall not imagine that the precepts are rigorous-they will be our own will as truly as theyare God's will!
Then nothing which God has commanded, however much of self-denial it requires, now, will require any self-denial from us!Holiness will be our element, our delight! Our nature will be entirely conformed to the Nature and mind of God as to holinessand goodness-and then the Law will be fulfilled in us and we shall stand before God, having washed our robes and made themwhite in the blood of the Lamb! And, at the same time, being ourselves without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing! Then shallthe Law of the Lord have eternal honor from our immortal being. Oh, how we shall rejoice in it! We delight in it after theinward man, now, but then we shall delight in it as to our risen bodies which shall be charmed to be instruments of righteousnessunto God forever and ever! No appetite of those risen bodies, no want and no necessity of them shall then lead the soul astray,but our whole body, soul and spirit shall be perfectly conformed unto the Divine mind!
Let us long and pant for this! We shall never attain it except by believing in Jesus. Perfect holiness will never be reachedby the works of the Law, for works cannot change the nature. But by faith in Jesus and the blessed work of His Holy Spirit,we shall have it and then, I believe, it will be among our songs of Glory that Heaven and earth pass away, but the Word ofGod and the Law of God shall stand fast forever and ever. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.