Either in Adam or in Christ? Part 2

As to this God had been glorified in man; but He was thinking too of all of us, of His glory in grace and purpose. He was going to bring many sons to glory. But these sons were found in sin, to guilty too in fact in every way. All that the first Adam produced hateful to God was thus to be removed; and where grace and God Himself had been revealed in Christ, it only, as we have seen, drew out hatred in man. Other questions arose, though questions connected with sin in one way or another: death which stood out against man; and as regards the Jews, there was the breach of the law and positive transgression; and in rejecting Christ, not only man's common sin, but the rejection and the loss of the promises in Messiah, the promised Seed. Messiah was cut off and (surely the only true translation) “had nothing.”
But we may now see what, in the substance and purpose of it, was the import of the cross. As regards the previous Adam state and its fruits, and (I may add) any special transgressions of Jews against law, it was by the deep and blessed work of atonement, the total putting away of all guilt for the believer, all the fruits of the old nature being blotted out and effaced—gone out of God's sight. So it proved the righteousness of God as passing over in forbearance the sins of Old Testament saints (Rom. 3), and sets the believer now, Jew or Gentile, righteously clear in God's sight before Him in peace—this as regards the sins of the old Adam, or, if a Jew, transgression also under law. They are gone. The work as to this had a double character: the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat so that it should be presented to all, it was the righteousness of God towards all; and as the sins of His whole people, they were confessed and borne, so that there were none to impute.
This met responsibility as to the old man. As children of Adam we were under guilt in this place and condition. All is perfectly cleared; and we are before God white as snow, righteously owned as clear. But there was the tree as well as the fruit; the evil will, the lawlessness of nature Jew or Gentile—by nature the children of wrath. But Christ has died a sacrifice for sin. “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin [a sacrifice for sin, περὶ ἁμαρτίας] condemned sin in the flesh.” Sin in the flesh, the principle of evil working and producing sin in us, is condemned. I do not say sins are, but sin; but it is condemned when a sacrifice was made for it—when it was put away by Christ's sacrifice of Himself. It is not forgiven; we doubtless are, as to it. An evil principle cannot properly be forgiven; it is condemned, but put away judicially by atonement in the sight of God by Christ's sacrifice. All that constituted the old man in God's sight is put away wholly in Christ's death, and that judicially by a work which has glorified God as to it; it was what became Him
Thus far God has been glorified by Christ's perfect personal obedience as man, and by His work in atonement for sin. This work indeed for sin goes much farther. The whole new estate of the universe is founded on it. As remarked elsewhere, all God's dealings with this world are now on the ground that sin is there, and must be, because it is there. But Christ has wrought a work in virtue of which God's relationship with the world, the new heavens and the new earth, when all is accomplished, will be on the ground neither of innocence nor of sin, but of righteousness. He is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin (not the sins—this He does not do, as falsely cited) of the world. But as to this object of Christ's death, that is, for man as a sinful child of Adam and sin in the flesh, this is not all. Christ not only died in consummation of ages (that is, when man's probation was fully gone through, as we have seen) to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, but He died to sin. He, the sinless One, closed all His connection with the whole fallen Adamic scene and Adamic state of death. He, ever sinless in it, had come into this scene in grace, walked up and down in it, had been tempted in all points, and carried obedience on to death. He had thus done with the whole scene, and with the sin which He had to say to as long as He was here, though it had only proved at the end, as a result, that He knew no sin, that He lived as a man out of it and above it. Had He stopped short of death, that could not have been said, though now we can say so; we know He died to it.
Thus Christ was no longer connected with man in the state in which life in man was sin, though in Him sinless but tempted, and by temptation even to death proved sinless. Satan had tried to introduce sin into it in Him, but in vain; and now He died to it, ceased to be associated with man in that way absolutely by death. The estate of life in which He had thus to say to man ceased. He destroyed the power of death then, and annulled his power who had it, by undergoing the full extent of it, and rose into another condition of human life, in which man had never yet been at all, the firstfruits of those that slept. But the resurrection of Christ was not only divine power in life, and that in Christ Himself, who had authority to lay down life and authority to take it again; there was another truth in it. Divine righteousness was shown in it. He could not be holden by it, but all the Father's glory was involved in this resurrection. His person made it impossible He could be holden of it. His Father's glory, all that the Son was to Him, was concerned in His resurrection; but, He having perfectly glorified God in dying, and finished His Father's work, divine righteousness was involved in His resurrection. And He was raised and righteousness identified With a new state into which man in Him was brought; and more than that indeed, for more was justly due to Him—He was set in glory as man at the right hand of God.
But for this another thing was needed. Not only did the blessed Lord for us who believe meet all our sin as children of Adam by His death, so as to clear us according to the glory of God from it all in His sight, but He perfectly glorified God Himself in so doing. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him.” So John 17:4, 54I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:4‑5). Hence, as stated in both these passages, man in the person of Christ entered into the glory of God. But it was wrought for us; our sin was put away by it. Christ, as having thus glorified all God is, is our righteousness. We become thus the righteousness of God in Him. We have a positive title to enter into that glory as regards righteousness, though owning it all to be grace (grace reigning through righteousness), and rejoice in hope of the glory of God, by the work and worth of Christ. “As He is, so are we in this world.” But this took place in Him as entering into—beginning in His person—a new place of human existence, a risen Man entered into glory. The power of eternal life was in it. Dead to the old scene and all that state of being and place and ground of relationship to God, He lives, in that He lives, to God. Christ has thus His perfect place of acceptance as Man with God, and we in Him. He is gone in the power of divine life, and according to divine righteousness, into divine glory.
A further truth connects itself with this. Christ risen and ascended has sent down the Holy Ghost which unites us to Him; so that we are in Him, members of His body, sitting in Him in heavenly places. Moreover, the Holy Ghost dwells in us. I will, with the Lord's help, take up this farther on, but only notice here, in connection with Our present subject, that the Holy Spirit makes us clearly know the efficacy of Christ's work and our redemption; so that we are at liberty, knowing on the one hand that our sins are put away, on the other that we are in Christ. He is the earnest of the glory, the Spirit of adoption, and sheds the love of God (who has done all this) abroad in our hearts. We know that we are in Christ, and Christ in us. Yea, we dwell in God, and God in us; and we know it. His presence is more than this; but I reserve this part for a moment to consider our place in Christ.
The double effect of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ will be noticed here. There was, we have seen, responsibility to God on one side as born of Adam in the world, and God's purpose on the other, to bring us to glory and privilege in the last Adam. Christ has perfectly met one for us, and entered Himself, consequent on the work of redemption into the other. He has glorified God as to the first Adam's state, but has died to it; not that He was ever in any of the sin of it, save as bearing it, but as with us here below as man, in like manner taking part of flesh and blood with the children in the likeness of sinful flesh, and made sin for us on the cross, when fully manifested as in that state knowing no sin. Now He is entered into the glory, the glory He had with the Father before the world was, as the last Adam according to the purpose of God as to man, and according to righteousness (John 16; 17).
Our state, our salvation, hangs on this: and we may add, the whole condition of the Jews or the fulfillment of promises on the earth. The sure mercies of David are based on and identified with the resurrection of the Lord, as surely as He died for that nation also.
The cross is for God's glory, our salvation, and our state before God; it is the turning-point of everything. First, our sins, and sin, are put away. All is clean gone in God's sight according to God's glory. But as alive and having our place in Christ, we see, and are in, Him as having died to that whole estate and condition, suffering as Son of man. The cross, as it showed man's rejection of Him as come into the world in grace, so it breaks in an absolute way (nothing so absolute as death to close our connection with what we lived in, and the rather as He was rejected in will by man) with all He was in as alive down here. Our guilt as responsible men has been perfectly met for God; but we have done too in Him as to our life and standing before God with all down here by the cross. We are baptized to His death. It is the point we come to—we are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live, but not we, but Christ lives in us. We “are dead, and” our “life is hid with Christ in God;” we are to reckon ourselves dead. Hence we say with the apostle “When we were in the flesh.” We are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of Christ dwell in us; if not, we are none of His. If we are Christians, our only true standing is in Him, as having died and risen from the dead.
I can well understand a Christian knowing only that, as a sinner, as guilty, Christ has died for Him, and so seeing what he can rely on before God as judge; and he is blessedly right. But his true standing, his place with God, is in Christ risen. “If Christ be not risen, ye are yet in your sins;” and in this is for the Christian, as quickened, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes him free. The standing and life of the Christian, as such, rests in this; for he is risen with Christ, in this place before God, not in Adam state or nature: Christ has died, the Just for the unjust, so that he is not for faith in that at all, but alive from the dead through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But, further, Christ has gone up on high, as man, into glory, and as His work was for us, righteousness must put us there. All beyond the cross is not thus meeting our responsibility, but bringing in God's purpose. The good pleasure of His will was to give us sonship with Christ, adoption and glory with Him. Yet this according to God must be in righteousness and holiness too. It is righteous, for God has been perfectly glorified in His whole being and nature by Christ on the cross. And we know the firstfruits of this in His being glorified (John 13; 17); but thus it becomes according to sovereign grace and purpose indeed, but righteous, that we should be in the glory with Him. It was free purpose, but now according to what God is, righteous, and according to His holiness too, for Christ is our life withal—not our sinful Adam one—a nature which cannot sin, for we are born of God. Thus the flesh is judged as entirely evil, and we are of God; and, through grace, according to righteousness, our standing is in Christ before Him.
The Holy Ghost the Comforter is therefore given us as soon as Christ went up on high; and thus we know not only that we are risen with Him, but that we are in Him and He in us. This sets our standing, and consciously so, through the Holy Ghost in Christ; sitting in heavenly places in Him, accepted in the Beloved: a blessed place; but this in purpose. Responsibility was there. It has been met according to God's full requirements. His resurrection is the witness of that, and so insisted on in Romans (not ascension there); so 1 Cor. 15:1717And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17). We are justified through His blood. But there was a value in Christ's work for God's own glory, His righteousness, majesty, love, truth, all He is and according to purpose. This, done for us (good and evil being known) and in the way of redemption, gives us a righteous and blessed place in perfect love in the presence of God and our Father, according to a life and nature, and in a place which Adam innocent had not at all. Our place in heaven is founded on the glorifying of God: Eph. 1 brings this fully out.
I may add collaterally that, through far inferior and national (yet divinely given) joys and promises, this is true of Israel—true, I mean, that the death of Christ has broken all relationship with God founded on flesh, or connected with their standing as heirs of promise as to it, though to secure them on a surer basis. He who was heir of the promises came, as a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers. But if Israel in the flesh was naturally heir to them, Jews by nature, He labored in vain, and spent His strength for naught and in vain. His people would have none of Him The bill of their divorcement ran thus: “Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer?” Often would He, the Jehovah of Israel, have gathered Jerusalem's children; and they would not. If they had but even now known, in the day of their visitation, the things that belonged to their peace I but now they were hid from their eyes. Not only was Israel thus shut out according to their title to the promise, but the Messiah must give up, as thus come in the flesh, all that belonged to Him as so come in the flesh, though His work was perfect and with His God. He was cut off, and had nothing (so only can Dan. 9:2626And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26) really be translated). But this, by the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God, brought Israel, like the Gentiles, under pure mercy, as the apostle teaches us in Rom. 11; and God, ever faithful to His promises, His gifts and calling without repentance on His part, accomplishes them, but in pure grace, and yet in righteousness, through Christ's dying for that nation; and the mercies of David are assured in His resurrection from the dead. They indeed will enjoy the blessings of the new covenant and all their promises down here, but through Christ's death, and based on His resurrection. But, as in a deeper and more absolute work in us, their blessings are given with the complete setting aside of all their old standing under the old covenant in flesh, and founded anew on the cross and the resurrection of Christ. But this by the bye. ( To be continued).