But of him are ye in Christ Jesus - Even the good which you possess is granted by God, for it is by and through him that Christ Jesus comes, and all the blessings of the Gospel dispensation.
Who of God is made unto us wisdom - As being the author of that evangelical wisdom which far excels the wisdom of the philosopher and the scribe, and even that legal constitution which is called the wisdom of the Jews, Deuteronomy 4:6.
And sanctification - As procuring for and working in us, not only an external and relative holiness, as was that of the Jews, but ὁσιοτητα της αληθειας, true and eternal holiness, Ephesians 4:24, wrought in us by the Holy Spirit.
And redemption - He is the author of redemption, not from the Egyptian bondage, or Babylonish captivity, but from the servitude of Satan, the dominion of sin and death, and from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, or the redemption of the body, Romans 8:21, Romans 8:23. See Whitby.
The object of the apostle is to show that man of himself possesses no good, that whatever he has comes from God, and from God only through Christ. For the different acceptations of the word righteousness the reader may consult the note on Romans 1:17; (note), where the subject is considered in every point of view.
But of him - That is, by his agency and power. It is not by philosophy; not from ourselves; but by his mercy. The apostle keeps it prominently in view, that it was not of their philosophy, wealth, or rank that they had been raised to these privileges, but of God as the author.
Are ye - Ye are what you are by the mercy of God. 1 Corinthians 15:10. You owe your hopes to him. The emphasis in this verse is to he placed on this expression, “are ye.” You are Christians, not by the agency of man, but by the agency of God.
(See the supplementary note at Romans 8:10.)
In Christ Jesus - See the note at 1 Corinthians 1:4. By the medium, or through the work of Christ, this mercy has been conferred on you.
Who of God - From God ἀπὸ θεοῦ apo theouChrist is given to us by God, or appointed by him to be our wisdom, etc. God originated the scheme, and God gave him for this end.
Wisdom - That is, he is to us the source of wisdom; it is by him that we are made wise. This cannot mean that his wisdom becomes strictly and properly ours; that it is set over to us, and reckoned as our own, for that is not true. But it must mean simply, that Christians have become “truly wise” by the agency, the teaching, and the work of Christ. Philosophers had attempted to become wise by their own investigations and inquiries. But Christians had become wise by the work of Christ; that is, it had been by his instructions that they had been made acquainted with the true character of God; with his law; with their own condition; and with the great truth that there was a glorious immortality beyond the grave. None of these truths had been obtained by the investigations of philosophers, but by the instructions of Christ. In like manner it was that through him they had been made practically wise unto salvation. Compare Colossians 2:3, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” He is the great agent by whom we become truly wise. Christ is often represented as eminently wise, and as the source of all true wisdom to his people. Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 13:54; Luke 2:40, Luke 2:52; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 3:10. “Ye are wise in Christ.” Many commentators have supposed that the beautiful description of wisdom, in Romans 3:26-27); and,
(2) Because by his influence, and work, and Spirit, and truth, we are made personally holy in the sight of God.
The former is doubtless the thing intended here, as sanctification is specified after. The apostle here refers simply to the fact, without specifying the mode in which it is done. That is to be learned from other parts of the New Testament. Compare the note at Romans 4:25. The doctrine of justification is, that God regards and treats those as righteous who believe on his Son, and who are pardoned on account of what he has done and suffered. The several steps in the process may be thus stated:
(1) The sinner is by nature exposed to the wrath of God. He is lost and ruined. He has no merit of his own. He has violated a holy law, and that law condemns him, and he has no power to make an atonement or reparation. He can never be pronounced a “just” man on his own merits. He can never vindicate his conduct, as a man can do in a court of justice where he is unjustly accused, and so be pronounced just.
(2) Jesus Christ has taken the sinner‘s place, and died in his stead. He has honored a broken law; he has rendered it consistent for God to pardon. By his dreadful sufferings, endured in the sinner‘s place, God has shown his hatred of sin, and his willingness to forgive. His truth will be vindicated, and his law honored, and his government secured, if now he shall pardon the offender when penitent. As he endured these sorrows for others, and not for himself, they can be so reckoned, and are so judged by God. All the “benefits” or “results” of that atonement, therefore, as it was made for others, can be applied to them, and all the advantage of such substitution in their place, can be made over to them, as really as when a man pays a note of hand for a friend; or when he pays for another a ransom. The price is reckoned as paid for them, and the “benefits” flow to the debtor and the captive. It is not reckoned that they paid it, for that is not true; but that it was done for them, and the benefit may be theirs, which is true.
(3) God has been pleased to promise that these benefits may be conferred on him who believes in the Saviour. The sinner is “united” by faith to the Lord Jesus, and is so adjudged, or reckoned. God “esteems” or judges him to be a believer according to the promise. And so believing, and so repenting, he deems it consistent to pardon and justify him who is so united to his Son by faith. He is justified, not by the ACT of faith; not by any merits of his own, but by the merits of Christ. He has no other ground, and no other hope. Thus, he is in fact a pardoned and justified man; and God so reckons and judges. God‘s law is honored, and the sinner is pardoned and saved; and it is now as consistent for God to treat him as a righteous man, as it would be if he had never sinned - since there is as high honor shown to the law of God, as there would have been had he been personally obedient, or had he personally suffered its penalty. And as, through the death of Christ, the same “results” are secured in upholding God‘s moral government as would be by his condemnation, it is consistent and proper for God to forgive him and treat him as a righteous man; and to do so accords with the infinite benevolence of his heart.
And sanctification - By him we are sanctified or made holy. This does not mean, evidently, that his personal holiness is reckoned to us, but that by his work applied to our hearts, we become personally sanctified or holy. Compare Ephesians 4:24. This is done by the agency of his Spirit applying truth to the mind John 17:19, by the aid which he furnishes in trials, temptations, and conflicts, and by the influence of hope in sustaining, elevating and purifying the soul. All the truth that is employed to sanctify, was taught primarily by him; and all the means that may be used are the purchase of his death, and are under his direction; and the Spirit by whose agency Christians are sanctified, was sent into the world by him, and in answer to his prayers. John 14:16; John 15:26.
And redemption - ἀπολύτρωσις apolutrōsisFor the meaning of this word, see the note at Romans 3:24. Here it is evidently used in a larger sense than it is commonly in the New Testament. The things which are specified above, “justification and sanctification,” are a part of the work of redemption. Probably the word is used here in a wide sense, as denoting the whole “group,” or class of influences by which we are brought at last to heaven; so that the apostle refers not only to his atonement, but to the work by which we are in fact redeemed from death, and made happy in heaven. Thus, in Romans 8:23, the word is applied to the resurrection, “the ‹redemption‘ of the body.” The sense is, “it is by Christ that we are redeemed; by him that an atonement is made; by him that we are pardoned; by him that we are delivered from the dominion of sin, and the power of our enemies; and by him that we shall be rescued from the grave, and raised up to everlasting life.” Thus, the whole work depends on him; and no part of it is to be ascribed to the philosophy, the talent, or the wisdom of human beings. He does not merely aid us; he does not complete that which is imperfect; he does not come in to do a part of the work, or to supply our defects; but it is all to be traced to him. Colossians 2:10, “and ye are complete in him.”
Put on Christ—No one can be a successful soul winner till he himself has settled the question of surrender to God. We are individually to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. To each one of us He must become wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. When our faith lays hold upon Christ as our personal Saviour, we shall place Him before others in a new light. And when the people behold Christ as He is, they will not wrangle over doctrines; they will flee to Him for pardon, purity, and eternal life. CM 49.1
The difficulty most to be dreaded is that the canvasser who meets these inquiring souls has not himself been converted; that he does not himself know by experience the love of Christ which passes knowledge. If he himself has not this knowledge, how can he tell others the precious old, old story? The people need to be taught the very essence of true faith, the way to accept Christ and to confide in Him as their personal Saviour. They need to know how they may follow His steps whithersoever He goes. Let the feet of the worker follow step by step the footprints of Jesus, and mark out no other way in which to proceed heavenward.... CM 49.2
Draw Men to the Redeemer—Many professed Christians have broken away from Christ, the great center, and they make themselves a center; but if they would be successful in attracting others to the Saviour, they must themselves flee back to Him, and realize their utter dependence upon His grace. Satan has tried to the uttermost to sever the chain that unites men to God; he desires to bind their souls to his own car, and make them slaves in his service; but we are to work against him, and drawn men to the Redeemer.—Manual for Canvassers, 38, 39 (1902). CM 49.3Read in context »
The apostle says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Let every soul heed these words, and know that the Lord Jesus will accept of no compromise. In accepting and retaining workers who persist in retaining their imperfections of character, and do not give full proof of their ministry, the standard has been greatly lowered. There are many in responsible positions who do not heed the injunction of the apostle, but make provision for fulfilling the lust of the flesh. Unless the worker puts on the Lord Jesus Christ and finds in Him wisdom, sanctification, and redemption, how can he represent the religion of Jesus? All his efficiency, all his reward, is found in Christ. There must be evidence on the part of those who take the solemn position of shepherds that they have, without reservation, dedicated themselves to the work. They must take Christ as their personal Saviour. Why is it that those who have been long engaged in the ministry do not grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus? I have been shown that they gratify their selfish propensities and do only such things as agree with their tastes and ideas. They make provision for indulgence in pride and sensuality and carry out their selfish ambitions and plans. They are full of self-esteem. But although their evil propensities may seem to them as precious as the right hand or the right eye, they must be separated from the worker, or he cannot be acceptable before God. Hands are laid upon men to ordain them for the ministry before they are thoroughly examined as to their qualifications for the sacred work; but how much better would it be to make thorough work before accepting them as ministers, than to have to go through this rigid examination after they have become established in their position and have put their mold upon the work. TM 171.1
The following quotation shows what true consecration will do, and this is what we should require of our workers: TM 172.1Read in context »
Those who are now first, who have been untrue to the cause of God, will soon be last, unless they repent. Unless they speedily fall upon the Rock and be broken, and be born again, the spirit that has been cherished will continue to be cherished. Mercy's sweet voice will not be recognized by them. Bible religion, in private and in public, is with them a thing of the past. They have been zealously declaiming against enthusiasm and fanaticism. Faith that calls upon God to relieve human suffering, faith that God has enjoined upon His people to exercise, is called fanaticism. But if there is anything upon the earth that should inspire men with sanctified zeal, it is the truth as it is in Jesus. It is the grand, great work of redemption. It is Christ, made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. TM 80.1
The Lord has often made manifest in His providence that nothing less than revealed truth, the word of God, can reclaim man from sin or keep him from transgression. That word which reveals the guilt of sin has a power upon the human heart to make man right and keep him so. The Lord has said that His word is to be studied and obeyed; it is to be brought into the practical life; that word is as inflexible as the character of God—the same yesterday, today, and forever. TM 80.2Read in context »