Colossians; Ephesians; Ephesians and Romans Compared; Legality

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Legality does stick to us dreadfully, because it takes the form of conscientiousness, which is an excellent thing. But a full sense of infinite grace changes all. In Romans, Christians are always looked at as living men as you and I are on the earth, who have walked as men in their sins on the earth, living in them; but who having received Christ have received life, and are justified from all their sins, but have been introduced by baptism unto His death, and, in that He died unto sin once, and lives to God in that He liveth, reckon themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ, not in Adam; hence are free in spirit to yield themselves to God as those that are alive from the dead—the nearest approach to being arisen, but it is as such, the whole state being reckoned such by a living man. Hence, taking the old man as crucified with Christ, the Christian is to walk in newness of life. So we shall live with Him. The whole is a moral change in a man viewed as alive here de facto, but having Christ his life, instead of the old man and living in sins. If we be dead with Christ, we shall live (6:8) is a moral conclusion. All this is the case, because man is looked at as the responsible man in this world, and finding sin in the flesh as the power of evil, is taught how to have done with its power, namely, by reckoning himself dead and alive in Christ—not in flesh. Chapter 8: 3, 4 gives the great basis, adding the Holy Ghost and its effects in what follows.
The Ephesians views man in his state towards God, and no possibility of movement being awakened. Christ Himself is looked at only as raised from the dead—when dead—by God's power. So we are quickened together with Christ—brought out of this state of death. Here Jew and Gentile have necessarily disappeared, children of wrath one as another, but are raised together and made to sit together; associated in a wholly new standing, not individually victorious in the old. In Romans the man reckons himself dead to sin; in Ephesians he was dead in sins, but is quickened with Christ who had died, and raised up and sitting—no Jew nor Gentile—in Christ. This takes me wholly out of the place I was in (not giving me a new life in it) as it took Christ out of the grave and set Him at the right hand of God, far above all principality and power, taking me out of death in sins and putting me into Him. It is not a living responsible man on earth counting himself dead that he may have power over sin—not let it reign—the old man being crucified; but a new creation, in which the dead in sins are taken out of their state and place by God's power and placed in Christ. There is no responsibility in Ephesians till after this. In Romans there is all through: in Romans nothing of counsels, save at the end of chapter 8—that is, of the Epistle doctrinally. God creates us in Christ according to His counsels before the world: He has met our responsibility both as to guilt and power. Both are all-important. One living in sins is dead toward God. I may take him up in grace, meeting his responsibility as a creature of God, or I may see him created in Christ, God's workmanship in his new estate, but then it is a wholly new thing, risen out of the state in which he was; and this involves the disappearance of the difference of Jew and Gentile. We get no—to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, in Ephesians. And yet it must be a new life in Christ by which I have the power looked for in Rom. 1 do not think of flesh in Ephesians. It is not an actual state, but one of faith. Now, reckoning myself dead is thinking of the old man, that it may not reign by reckoning it dead. In Ephesians the truth in Christ is the having put it off and put on the new. Hence Ephesians is strikingly contrast all through. He gives himself up as a living sacrifice to God in Romans. [In Ephesians] he walks in love, and gives himself as Christ gave Himself, being free and coming out from God, an imitator of God. And all this difference is extremely instructive and beautiful. In Colossians you have both, only no sitting in heavenly places, but our hope there, and the actual life far more fully displayed and developed...
I trust I may have made myself clear, if not, write again; and, dear brother, the Lord give us both understanding in all things, for that is the real point.
Affectionately yours.
[Date uncertain.]