Christian Comfort

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
~ Romans 5:1

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
~ Romans 4:7-8

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
~ Zechariah 13:9

And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
~ Leviticus 26:12

Comfort for Christians, by Arthur Walkington Pink. The following contains the introduction to his work.

Introduction

The work unto which the servant of Christ is called is many-sided. Not only is he to preach the Gospel to the unsaved, to feed God’s people with knowledge and understanding (Jer 3:15), and to take up the stumbling stone out of their way (Isa 57:14), but he is also charged to “cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression” (Isa 58:1 and cf. 1 Tim 4:2). While another important part of his commission is stated in, “Comfort, comfort My people, says your God.” (Isa 40:1).

What an honorable title, “My people!” What an assuring relationship: “your God!” What a pleasant task: “comfort My people!” A threefold reason may be suggested for the duplicating of the charge. First, because sometimes the souls of believers refuse to be comforted (Psalm 77:2), and the consolation needs to be repeated. Second, to press this duty the more emphatically upon the preacher’s heart, that he need not be sparing in administering cheer. Third, to assure us how heartily desirous God himself is that His people should be of full of joy (Phil 4:4).

God has a “people,” the objects of His special favor: a company whom He has taken into such intimate relationship unto Himself that He calls them “My people.” Often they are disconsolate because of their natural corruptions, the temptations of Satan, the cruel treatment of the world, the low state of Christ’s cause upon earth. The “God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3) is very tender towards them, and it is His revealed will that His servants should bind up the broken-hearted and pour the balm of Gilead into their wounds. What cause have we to exclaim “Who is a God like unto You!” (Micah 7:18), who has provided for the comfort of those whowere rebels against His government and transgressors of His Law.

No Condemnation

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

“There is therefore now no condemnation.” The eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans concludes the first section of that wonderful epistle. Its opening word “Therefore” may be viewed in a twofold way. First, it connects with all that has been said from 3:21. An inference is now deduced from the whole of the preceding discussion, an inference which was, in fact, the grand conclusion toward which the apostle had been aiming throughout the entire argument. Because Christ has been set forth “a propitiation through faith in His blood” (3:25); because He was “delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification” (4:25); because by the obedience of the One the many (believers of all ages) are “made righteous,” constituted so, legally, (5:19); because believers have “died (judicially) to sin” (6:2); because they have “died” to the condemning power of the law (7:4), “there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION.”

But not only is the “therefore” to be viewed as a conclusion drawn from the whole of the previous discussion, it is also to be considered as having a close relation to what immediately precedes. In the second half of Romans 7 the apostle had described the painful and ceaseless conflict which is waged between the antagonistic natures in the one who has been born again, illustrating this by a reference to his own personal experiences as a Christian. Having portrayed with a master pen–himself sitting for the picture–the spiritual struggles of the child of God, the apostle now proceeds to direct attention to the Divine consolation for a condition so distressing and humiliating. The transition from the despondent tone of the seventh chapter to the triumphant language of the eighth, appears startling and abrupt, yet is quite logical and natural. If it is true that to the saints of God belongs the conflict of sin and death, under whose effect they mourn, equally true is it that their deliverance from the curse and the corresponding condemnation, is a victory in which they rejoice. A very striking contrast is thus pointed.

In the second half of Romans 7 the apostle treats the power of sin, which operates in believers as long as they are in the world; in the opening verses of chapter eight, he speaks of the guilt of sin from which they are completely delivered the moment they are united to the Savior by faith. Hence in 7:24 the apostle asks “Who shall deliver me” from the power of sin, but in 8:2 he says, “has made me free,” that is has delivered me, from the guilt of sin.

“There is therefore now no condemnation.” It is not here a question of our heart condemning us (as in 1 John 3:21), nor of us finding nothing within which is worthy of condemnation; instead, it is the far more blessed fact that God does not condemn the one who has trusted in Christ, to the saving of his soul. We need to distinguish sharply between subjective and objective truth; between that which is judicial and that which is experimental; otherwise, we shall fail to draw from such Scriptures as the one now before us the comfort and peace they are designed to convey. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. “In Christ” is the believer’s position before God, not his condition in the flesh. “In Adam” I was condemned (Rom 5:12); but “in Christ” is to be forever freed from all condemnation.

“There is therefore now no condemnation.” The qualifying “now” implies there was a time when Christians, before they believed, were under condemnation. This was before they died with Christ, died judicially (Gal 2:20) to the penalty of God’s righteous law. This “now,” then, distinguishes between two states or conditions. By nature we were “under the (sentence of) law,” but now believers are “under grace” (Rom 6:14). By nature we were “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:2), but now we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). Under the first covenant we were “in Adam” (1 Cor 15:22), but now we are “in Christ” (Rom 8:1). As believers in Christ we have everlasting life, and because of this we “shall not come into condemnation.”

Condemnation is a word of tremendous import, and the better we understand it, the more shall we appreciate the wondrous grace which has delivered us from its power. In the halls of a human court this is a term which falls with fearful knell upon the ear of the convicted criminal and fills the spectators with sadness and horror. But in the court of Divine Justice it is vested with a meaning and content infinitely more solemn and awe-inspiring. To that Court every member of Adam’s fallen race is cited. “Conceived in sin, shaped in iniquity” each one enters this world under arrest–an indicted criminal, a rebel manacled. How, then, is it possible for such a one to escape the execution of the dread sentence? There was only one way, and that was by the removal from us of that which called forth the sentence, namely SIN. Let guilt be removed and there can be “no condemnation.”

Has guilt been removed, removed, we mean, from the sinner who believes? Let the Scriptures answer: “As far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions” (Isa 43:25). “You have cast all my sins behind your back” (Isa 38:17). “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).

But how could guilt be removed? Only by it being transferred. Divine holiness could not ignore it; but Divine grace could and did transfer it. The sins of believers were transferred to Christ: “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6). “For he has made him to be sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21).

“There is therefore no condemnation.” The “no” is emphatic. It signifies there is no condemnation whatever. No condemnation from the law, or on account of inward corruption, or because Satan can substantiate a charge against me; there is none from any source or for any cause at all. “No condemnation” means that none at all is possible; that none ever will be. There is no condemnation because there is no accusation (see 8:33), and there can be no accusation because there is no imputation of sin (see 4:8).

“There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” When treating of the conflict between the two natures in the believer the apostle had, in the previous chapter, spoken of himself in his own person, in order to show that the highest attainments in grace do no exempt from the internal warfare which he there describes. But here in 8:1 the apostle changes the number. He does not say, There is no condemnation to me, but “to those who are in Christ Jesus.” This was most gracious of the Holy Spirit. Had the apostle spoken here in the singular number, we should have reasoned that such a blessed exemption was well suited to this honored servant of God who enjoyed such wondrous privileges; but could not apply to us. The Spirit of God, therefore, moved the apostle to employ the plural number here, to show that “no condemnation” is true of all in Christ Jesus.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” To be in Christ Jesus is to be perfectly identified with Him in the judicial reckoning and dealings of God. And it is also to be one with Him as vitally united by faith. Immunity from condemnation does not depend in any way upon our “walk,” but solely on our being “in Christ.” “The believer is in Christ as Noah was enclosed within the ark, with the heavens darkening above him, and the waters heaving beneath him, yet not a drop of the flood penetrating his vessel, not a blast of the storm disturbing the serenity of his spirit. The believer is in Christ as Jacob was in the garment of the elder brother when Isaac kissed and blessed him. He is in Christ as the poor homicide was within the city of refuge when pursued by the avenger of blood, but who could not overtake and slay him” (Octavius Winslow, 1857). And because he is “in Christ” there is, therefore, no condemnation for him. Hallelujah!

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