Brethren Archive
Galatians ii. 19-20.

Practical Holiness.

by Thomas Neatby

An Address at Glasgow Half-Yearly Meeting of Christians.

I AM led to take up an individual matter, and I pray God that it may be personal and direct. We all need it, and I humbly ask God to make it a blessing to my soul and to yours. Read Gal. ii. 19-21.
The gospel will never be popular as long as man is man. It is very much going out of date, simply because men don't like it. It comes to me as a man alive in the flesh, and it testifies that the only thing God can do with me is to put me to death. I don't like such a message. No, no! How many of us have accepted this message we so dislike? If you have been truly converted to God, you have accepted this message that you don't like. I should never have accepted it, if it had not been for the condition in which I was, that I could not do without it. "I have been crucified with Christ." That is true of every believer here. There is "no difference" either in his ruin or in the blessing which has been brought to him by death. Our sins God has forgiven; our sinfulness of nature God never forgives. I should not like God to forgive it. I find an evil principle which I should not wish to have forgiven—which God cannot endure. It says in Romans vi. 6:—"That the body of sin might be destroyed." Oh, fill it up, my brother, my sister, for yourself. That the body of sin might be forgiven? No, no! a thousand times, no: "That the body of sin might be destroyed." God met me in His grace and forgave every sin that I had committed, on the ground of the work of Christ. Let that be very clear; let us make it clearer the more the enemy opposes the truth. The Cross of Christ is the only ground on which the righteous God can forgive me one single sin I have ever committed. It must attach itself to me forever, except God in a righteous way forgive it. That righteous way is through the death of Christ.
But what about "the body of sin?" What about the foul spring that sends out such unclean waters? What about the evil tree that bears such corrupt fruit? "That the body of sin might be destroyed"—that is the Word—or here, "I have been crucified with Christ." Take it in simplicity, take it as it stands, "I have been crucified with Christ." God saw me—weighed me in the balance of the sanctuary; God took cognizance of me altogether, and there was nothing that he could accept in me. The apostle says, after he became a Christian, "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." I know it is the Spirit of God alone that can teach us this awful truth. God be praised, but such as I was, when His grace met me, that person, that man, He "crucified with Christ." I met my death in the cross of Christ. I did—you did, my brother. You own your death to have been a deserved death, a righteous death—a death which God inflicted—a death which was according to the requirements of law. The law killed everyone who was under the law, and pronounces the same sentence against those who are not under it. "I have been crucified with Christ."
Now, just let us ask ourselves if we can accept not only the fact as it is in God's sight, but do we say "Amen" to it in our hearts before God? "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts"—they have put their "Amen" by faith, to God's crucifying of them. "I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live." Oh, thank God, thank God! It is not a dead thing. God wanted me; God loved me. God wanted life out of death—the living, the living, he can praise Him. And God has me—blessed be His name—a living one to praise Him. Yes, I live, and live, thank God, in the One with Whom I died. As God executed the sentence that was against me upon the Blessed One that did die, so now He gives me my place in the One Who died for me, and, strange to say, all the infinite satisfaction that He found in that sinless sacrifice is put down to my account. I live, thank God, I live unto God. It is so. It is true of every Christian here. Your new life in the risen Christ is a life free from all charge of sin—it is "unto God." That is what the risen Jesus does. It is a life unto God without any question of sin. "I live!" Oh, ask God in your souls to tell you what it means. I live in Christ, victorious over sin. I live in Christ, whose life was laid down in glorifying God. I live before God. It is a life God can take perfect delight in. I live—"yet not I." No; it is not the setting up of the old man again. What I was when God met me in His grace is dead with Christ, is "buried with Him by baptism"—that is the figure of it—thank God it will never be seen again. Now, He has given a new life in immediate connection with Christ—a life that is entirely to the satisfaction and good pleasure of God. Our brother has been quoting passages that are very sweet to the heart, showing the perfection of that Blessed One when He was here below. That life you live, my brother, my sister; that is your life—the only life you have. God has executed the due sentence upon the life I had as a child of Adam, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us. We have our place in Christ Jesus, as we had our place in the first Adam. Adam did a work of disobedience, and he became the head of a race. That is the argument of Romans v. Two men—only two before God. Man may make his census; God makes His. He tells us of the last Adam; there will never be another, thank God! The first man disobeys God; the Second Man meets God's mind to the uttermost. Now God has got all He wishes. Oh, what rest it is! It is rest, my brother, is it not? God has all he desires in the Second Man.
As you, my brother, were identified with the first—the rebellious man,—the man who lost everything—you are now identified with the Second Man—the last Adam, who, in His Own person, glorified God, and then became Head of the new race, in which all in Christ have their part. All in Christ have crucified the flesh with the affections (or passions) and lusts thereof. But besides our place in Christ, Christ does live in us.
There is a great desire after holiness, and I thank God from my heart that it is as widespread as it is; and if the enemy comes in, as he always does, with every desire after God—yet still there is much to praise God for in the desire. Now, if we want holiness, here it is, "Christ liveth in me." As God sees me, I have the life of Christ, therefore, Christ must live in me. Christ does live in me, thank God! It is a fact, Oh, let us be persuaded of this, right down in the very depths of our hearts, "Christ liveth in me." God says it of me—the Spirit of God here says it of the believer—through grace. But now I would use it in a practical way, because I believe the Spirit of God would have us get the full blessing in this passage. I believe it is God's will, that not only I should say with a good conscience, and with an intelligent heart, "Christ liveth in me"; but that my wife shall be able to say, "Christ lives in him."
Now, I mean it, beloved friends. It is not to provoke a smile. I want those who know most about me to take knowledge of me that it is so—that this is true. If Christ lives in me, Christ will be about the same things as He was about in Galilee and Jerusalem. Now, is it not so? I call you before God to witness it must be so. If Christ lives in me, Christ must go about doing good in me. If Christ lives in me, it must be the patience of Christ. It must be the meekness of Christ. It must be the gentleness of Christ. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for / am meek." Ah! He could say it. If a man were to get up and say, "I am meek," you would say, "Hush, my friend, hush, let us see the meekness." But Christ could say, yes, and call heaven and earth to witness that He was "meek and lowly in heart."
You find it a difficult thing to be meek and lowly of heart. It is not attractive to you by nature. I know by my own heart, for it is a mirror of what is in your heart. Naturally, I don't like to be meek and lowly in heart, it is not in me. But if Christ is living in me, that Christ must be as meek and lowly in heart as He was down here. Now, let us open our hearts, and make bare our consciences, that the Word may have its full power upon our souls now. "Christ liveth in me"—the meek and lowly One—see Him on the Cross—follow His footsteps, see how lowly He was—see the motives that moved Him. What were they? If He had made Himself the centre of His life, it would have had a good centre, but He did not; He made God first, last, midst, without end; He made God the centre of everything. And if Christ lives in me, it will be the same. Naturally, I am the centre of my own importance, and my own life—everything revolves round this sun of my solar system, you know this is natural. But Christ has taken the place that my old self had. Oh that He may claim the place in power—that He may hold the place in the power of the Holy Spirit in my heart—that everything in your heart and mine may move around Christ. He is the Sun, I am the planet, may everything revolve in its place around the blessed Lord Jesus Christ. Oh what objects, what aims, what motives! "Christ liveth in me." There is one thing very important; and that is, that Christ should have full scope for His blessed life in you. There is only one thing that can hinder; and that one thing is met by a passage I would earnestly commend to you—the most practical passage in the Word of God—"Likewise, reckon ye yourselves dead," etc. That is the whole secret of holiness. It can only be done in blessed communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. It can only be done, as I know that I am dead.
The previous verse says, "In that He died; He died unto sin, once. In that He liveth, He liveth unto God." He is done with sin. In His life down here—though He knew no sin-—He had to do with sin. Now in His risen life, it is without sin. All question of sin is settled forever; He lives unto God. "Likewise, reckon ye yourselves dead indeed unto sin—but alive unto God through Jesus Christ." O, there is immense power. Do let me commend it to you earnestly. God give you grace, God give me grace to hold the flesh, to hold our ownselves; not only beneath our feet, but for dead. Next, I commend one single thought to you about this, "Mortify" is always used when "reckoning" one's self has been neglected. You are never told to mortify sin; it is, mortify your members which are upon earth, hold self in the place of death. O, that will be victory, blessed, blessed victory over sin—over its power in us. "Christ lives in me, and what I now live in the flesh"—call it life—or call it daily dying—but "what I now live in the flesh"—the life here that my_ neighbours see—my life here in the family—my life in the church—"I live by the faith of the Son Of God."
See your privilege, my brother. Let us take possession now by God's grace, of the good land and large, which God has given us. Israel had the land of promise given them by the oath of God, according to the love which He bare to them. The whole land was theirs, just as "spiritual blessings in heavenly places" are yours and mine; but it was said when they entered the land, "Every place that the sole of your foot shall rest upon." That is the point. Now, God wants us to possess, in real power, all the blessing with which He has blessed us. He wants me to know it to-day, in humbleness of mind, in lowliness, that there is here within me, an old self that is dead, according to God; but in fact is alive, and which must be held in the place of death. God wants me to live a life of victory, "victory through the blood of the Lamb." The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God. A faith which brings Him into every detail of life, which makes Him speak through my lips, think in my bosom, and act in my actions. Yes, it must be so, my brother. Oh, it is possible. God is able, and I cannot say that He has not power, because the Holy Spirit has taken up His abode in my heart, in my body. The Holy Spirit has made my body to be His temple; and the Apostle speaks in one of the most sublime passages in the whole Scripture (Eph. iii. 20), of the power which worketh in us, that is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think." Oh, to live what we now live in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God, the One Who has got the victory; and the One Who is the mighty magnet to draw up the heart, the mighty and blessed gathering point. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will, draw all unto Me." Thank God, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." Ah, this by the Holy Spirit, is the power.
I was saying yesterday to some who may be present here, that it was a very real thing that we may, each of us who believe, take home—"He loved me." Yes, He saw me. He saw Saul of Tarsus sitting as a president when his martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death. He saw Saul of Tarsus, and strange beyond fiction, yet true, He loved Saul of Tarsus, and He saw me, and He loved me. He saw what I was, and what I should be, and blessed be His name, He loved me. Had there not been another sinner in the world, "He loved me" so that He would have died for me. "If this cup may not pass from Me." It passed me—that passage means it. He thought on me as He took that cup in the communion of His Father's presence. He thought on me the next day when He drank that cup in the darkness—the impenetrable darkness of a soul abandoned by God to His judgment. "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." I pray earnestly that this may be your power and mine, to live down here as not living—for Christ liveth in us. Oh, let it be so. Oh, may we seek it now. May we not rest till we know the peace and happiness of just bowing to God, and listening to His Word, and letting it be true in heart and life. Christ Jesus, my Lord, taking the whole place. Not the first, Oh, no. It is a miserable thing when Christ has only the first place in anyone's heart, there is always a terrible conflict then—He is downright exclusive; He will be Lord wherever He dwells. Christ Jesus, my Lord; other lords have had dominion over me. I want Christ Jesus, my Lord, to bring every thought into captivity to His obedience, then live it out so that everyone can see what God has wrought for me, that it is God that worketh in me to will and to do of His good pleasure.

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