A sermon from August 16, 2009
Having set forth the intellectual elements of yielding to God, Howe know comes to the affective aspects of coming. Coming to God in both thought and affection. There is a tendency for one sort of Christian to know the right things, but be stiff or lacking in their affections; a cold orthodoxy. There is an opposite tendency to be reverent in emotion, but without any direction. They desire to love God, they just don’t know much about God. These two camps tend to denigrate the other. Howe rightly shows that we must have right thoughts and right affects.
The first element of affection is consent, “It must be done with a fulness of consent; and herein it chiefly consists. When the soul says, “Lord, I am now most entirely willing to be thine,” this is your yielding yourselves. And hereby the covenant is struck between God and you; which consists in the expressed consent of the parties covenanting in the matters about which the covenant is.” In fact, the other aspects of affection largely fill-out what Howe means by “fulness of consent.”
He calls this covenant a “conjugal” covenant, a marriage.
He makes an important observation here: “But then you must take notice that this is to be done with a full consent, which that is said to be which determines you, though it be not absolutely perfect.” Note that: the nature of the consent to yield is an action which “determines you” — it is what you will be: “You may be said to yield yourselves to God, with a full consent, when you live afterwards as one devoted to him.”
Next, the yielding must involve “life” — it is a true, vital act. But it is not done in one’s own power, “Do it as feeling life to spring in your souls towards God in your yielding yourselves to him. What! will you offer God a carcass? not the “living sacrifice,” which you see is required, Rom. 12:1. Beg earnestly for his own Spirit of life and power, that may enable you to offer up a living soul to the living God.” [That is a great line, would you offer God a carcass?]
The yielding must be done in faith. Notice carefully how he defines faith: not as a bare intellectual apprehension, and not as a vague feeling, but as a very definite act of the will in dependence, “There must be faith in your yielding yourselves; for it is a committing, or entrusting yourselves to God, with the expectation of being saved, and made happy by him.”
The full consent to this conjugal covenant, made in life and faith must be made in love, “Another ingredient into this yielding of yourselves must be love. As faith, in your yielding yourselves to God, aims at your own welfare and salvation; so love, in doing it, intends his service, and all the duty to him you are capable of doing him.” He explains that as coming to God as a “devoted servant.”
It is done with humility, “With great reverence and humility. For, consider to whom you are tendering yourself; to the “high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity;” to him that hath heaven for his throne, and earth for his footstool; and in comparison of whom all the inhabitants of the world are but as grasshoppers, and the nations of the earth as the drop of a bucket, and the dust of the balance, &c.”
He then finishes the manner of coming with a pair of emotions which we do not often pair, joy and solemnity; or gladness tends toward frivolity and our solemnity to being glum; but Howe requires both.
First, joy: “And yet it surely ought to be with great joy and gladness of heart, that he hath expressed himself willing to accept such as you, and that he hath made you willing to yield yourselves. The very thought should make your heart leap and spring within you, that he should ever have bespoken such as we are to yield ourselves to him, when he might have neglected us, and let us wander endlessly, without ever looking after us more.” Note that this strain of joy comes after humility. Humility is necessary because we too easily think God should hear us and forgive us. But Howe rightly underscores, God was under no obligation to show goodness to us; therefore, we should come to him in joy.
Finally, solemnity: Note what you are doing, “You should do it with solemnity.* For, have you ever had a business of greater importance to transact in all your days? If you were to dispose of an estate, or a child, would you not have all things be as express, and clear, as may be? And would not they insist to have it so, with whom you deal in any such affair? And is there not a solemnity belonging to all such transactions, especially if you were to dispose of yourself, as in the conjugal covenant? though that is to be but for this short, uncertain time of life: so as that the relation you enter into today, may be by death dissolved and broken off again to-morrow. How much more explicit, clear, and solemn, should this your covenanting with God in Christ be, wherein you are to make over your soul to him, and for eternity? You are to become his, under the bond of an everlasting covenant.”
What would this look like:
Do so then. Fall before his throne; prostrate yourself at his footstool; and having chosen your fit season, when nothing may interrupt you; and having shut up yourself with him, pour out your soul to him; tell him you are now come on purpose to offer yourselves to him as his own. O that you would not let this night pass without doing so! Tell him you have too long neglected him, and forgotten to whom you belonged; humbly beseech him for his pardon, and that he will now accept of you, for your Redeemer’s sake, as being through his grace resolved never to live so great a stranger to him, or be such a wanderer from him more. And when you have done so, remember the time; let it be with you a noted memorable day, as you would be sure to keep the day in memory when you became such a one’s servant or tenant, or your marriage-day. Renew this your agreement with God often, but forget it never. Perhaps some may say, “But what needs all this?” were we not once devoted and given up to God in baptism? and is not that sufficient? To what purpose should we do again a thing that hath once been so solemnly done?
The second, third and fourth elements of such yielding concerning the degree of intellectual assent which must be given in any true yielding: deliberation, judgment and “fulness of consent”.
It must be done with great deliberation; not as the mere effect of a sudden fright. What is done in a rash haste, may be as soon undone. Leisurely consider, and take the whole compass of the case; weigh with yourselves the mentioned grounds upon which you are to yield yourselves, and the ends you are to do it for, that things may be set right between him and you, that you may return into your own natural place and station, that you may be again stated in that subordination to your sovereign Lord which fitly belongs to you; that he may have his right which he claims, and you the mercy which you need. Here is place for much consideration.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 397. A point noted previously, Howe’s call to repentance is not the purely emotional call of a “revivalist” or “evangelist”: you are pressed to come (and he will press); but you are not called without due consideration. In speaking like this, Howe has the model of the Lord:
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:28–33 (ESV).
Judgment: One must consider the case until he has reached a conclusion, a judgment. God calls you to yield; consider the matter carefully and do not come or depart until you have reached a judgment. Howe cites to:
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
2 Corinthians 5:14–15(ESV). The word for concluded is the verb krinein, to pass judgment upon. The yielding there to the control of Christ is the result a judgment.
Fulness of consent: At this point Howe speaks of making a deliberate covenant with God. The idea here is taken from the law. A contract is formed by a “meeting of the minds”. One cannot accidentally form a contract (or at least that is the ideal!). You know what you are doing and “hereby a covenant is struck between God and you.” It is not idle movement, it is not “thinking about it.” The yielding sought by Romans 6:13 is an understanding consent to the call of God.
In the next, we will come to the affections and attitudes which must characterize the one who yields to God. In the end, we will see that Howe is setting out the elements of true faith: head, heart, hands (if you will).
Howe will argue that we must “yield” ourselves to God. Therefore, he next underscores aspects of God’s relationship to us which would necessitate such a yielding. Thus, he notes that God is our Creator and Sustainer. Our very existence depends upon God, he “who renews your life unto you every moment.”
This matter of being our Creator and Sustainer will imply certain aspects which pinch our flesh.
Since God is our Creator and Sustainer, he holds additional relationship to us. He is our Owner. In recognizing such we add nothing to God’s rights:
Your yielding yourselves adds nothing to his rights in you; you therein recognize and acknowledge the right he had in you before; but it add to you a capacity and qualification, both by the tenor of his Gospel-covenant, and in the nature of the thing, for such nobler uses as wither wise you cannot service.
Recognizing his right in us, makes us more serviceable, but it is nothing other than what we owe. If we refuse this acknowledgement, we are no better than “brutes and devils”.
God is also our Teacher:
There is another sort of teaching, which if you yield yourselves to him as your great Instructor, he will vouchsafe unto you. The things you know not, and which it is necessary you should know, he will teach you, i. e. such things as are of real necessity to your true and final welfare, not which only serve to please your fancy, or gratify your curiosity; for his teaching respects an appointed, certain end, suitable to his wisdom and mercy, and to the calamity and danger of your state. The teaching requisite for perishing sinners, was, what they might do to be saved. And when we have cast about in our thoughts never so much, we have no way to take but to yield ourselves to God, who will then be our most undeceiving Guide. To whom it belongs to save us at last, to him only it can belong to lead us in the way to that blessed end.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 386. This teaching of God is not new revelation. Rather, God makes the existing revelation effective, it becomes teaching we receive from him:
He will so teach you, as to make you teach yourselves, put an abiding word into you, that shall talk with you when you sit in your houses, and walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, and whereby you shall be enabled to commune with your own hearts upon your beds while others sleep; and revolve, or roll over in your minds, dictates of life.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 390. His teaching will not leave you unchanged.
Third, since God is our Creator and Sustainer, God is our Sovereign Ruler:
Though teaching and ruling may be diversely conceived of, they cannot be separate in this case. The nobler and final part of God’s teaching you, is teaching you your duty; what you are to practise and do. And so when he teaches you, he commands you too; and leaves it not arbitrary to you whether you will be directed by him or no. What is his by former right, and by after-consent, and self-resignation, shall it not be governed by him, if it be a subject capable of laws and government, as such consent shows it to be? Your yielding yourselves to God is not a homage but a mockery, if you do it not with a resolution to receive the law from his mouth: and that whereinsoever he commands, you will to your uttermost obey. But in this and the other things that follow, my limits constrain me unto more brevity. Only let not this apprehension of God be frightful; yea, let it be amiable to you, as in itself it is, and cannot but be to you, if you consider the loveliness of his government, the kind design of it, and how suitable it is to the kindest design; that it is a government first and principally over minds, purposely intended to reduce them to a holy and peaceful order, wherein it cannot but continue them, when that kingdom comes to be settled there, which stands in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and all the laws whereof are summed up in love; being such also as in the keeping whereof there is great reward.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 392.
Finally, we must consider God as our Benefactor. Now, we often think of a benefactor as someone who does us good by our own sights and according to our own inclination. God is a greater benefactor, because he government and his goodness to us are one. He does us good by being our teacher and sovereign:
The very business of his government is in the first place to alter the temper of your minds; for, continuing carnal, they neither are subject to the law of God, nor can be, as the same place tells you. Therefore if his government take place in you, and you become subject, you become spiritual, the “law of the Spirit of life” having now the possession and the power of you. Nor was it possible he should ever be an effectual Benefactor to you, without being thus an over-powering Ruler; so do these things run into one another. To let you have your own will, and follow your carnal inclination, and cherish and favour you in this course, were to gratify you to your ruin, and concur with you to your being for ever miserable; which you may see plainly if you will understand wherein your true felicity and blessedness must consist, or consider what was intimated concerning it, in the proposal of this head; that he is to be your Benefactor, in being to you himself your supreme and only satisfying Good. He never doth you good effectually and to purpose, till he overcome your carnal inclination.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 393.
Finally, we must consider ourselves in this transaction: If God is our Creator, Sustainer, Owner, Teacher, Sovereign and Benefactor, who are we? We are his creatures, but sadly creatures who are apostate and unfit for communion with God; and yet, under the Gospel, we are “sinners invited and called back to God.”
This is the second post in this series on John Howe’s sermons on Roman 6:13. The prior sermon may be here
Having noted that much depends upon how we consider of “God” to whom we must yield, Howe briefly considers the nature of God as God is to himself. In this, Howe emphasizes the independence and self-existence of God, “You must conceive him to be an eternal, self-subsisting Spirit, not sprung up into being from another, as our souls are: but who, from the excellency of his own being, was necessarily of and from himself; comprehending originally and eternally in himself the fulness of life and being.”
God is independent of all creation for his existence; yet, all existence and all that is in it is contingent upon God:
You must conceive of God therefore as comprehending originally in his own being, which is most peculiar to himself, a power to produce all whatsoever being, excellency, and perfection, is to be found in all the whole creation; for there can be nothing which either is not, or arises not from, what was of itself: and therefore that he is an absolutely, universally, and infinitely perfect Being; and therefore that life, knowledge, wisdom, power, goodness, holiness, justice, truth, and whatsoever other conceivable excellencies, do all in highest perfection belong, as necessary attributes, unchangeably, and without possibility of diminution, unto him, and all which his own word (agreeably to the plain reason of things) doth in multitudes of places ascribe to him, as you that are acquainted with the Bible cannot but know. You must therefore conceive of him, as the ALL in ALL! So great, so excellent, so glorious a ONE he is, to whom you are to surrender and yield yourselves!
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 383. Thus, our yielding to this God is not something strange; but rather something inherent in the nature of our relationship to him (as will be discussed in the next section of the discourse).
Howe then makes an interesting note concerning the nature of God as One and Three-in-One:
And that we so far conceive of them as three, as to apprehend some things spoken of one, that are not to be affirmed of another of them, is so plain, of so great consequence, and the whole frame of practical religion so much depends thereon, and even this transaction of yielding up ourselves, (which must be introductive and fundamental to all the rest,) that it is by no means to be neglected in our daily course, and least of all in this solemn business, as will more appear anon. In the meantime, set this ever blessed, glorious God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, before your eyes, as to whom (thus in himself considered) you are now to yield yourselves.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 384.
This explicitly Trinitarian understanding of God is something missing from much contemporary theology and preaching. Indeed, asking a Christian (often, sadly, even a Christian teacher or preacher), why a Trinitarian understanding matters. In this respect to his emphasis on the Trinity, Howe reminds one of John Owen’s Discourse Concerning Communion With God.
John Howe preached two sermons on Romans 6:13, “Yield yourselves to God”. From this he derives two basic questions: 1. How or under what notions we are to consider God and ourselves in this matter:2. What our yielding ourselves to him, so considered, must include.
This is a great secret to good exposition: pay attention to the parts of a text and ask the question: What does this mean? When presented with a word like “truth” or “love” or “God” or “yield” we think assume we know what is meant. But it is precisely that assumption which is troublesome.
It is precisely at this point that Howe begins. He points out that we fail to properly understand … God.
But do you now know with whom you have to do? Too many have the name of GOD, that great and awful name, in their mouth or ear, and have no correspondent thought in their mind; it passes with them as a transient sound, as soon over as another common word of no greater length, and leaves no impression. Perhaps there is less in their minds to answer it, than most other words which men use in common discourse.
For they have usually distinct thoughts of the things they speak of; otherwise they would neither understand one another nor themselves, but might speak of a horse, and mean a sheep; or be thought to mean so. And it would no more move a man, or impress his mind, to hear or mention a jest, than a matter of life and death.
But the holy and reverend name of GOD is often so slightly mentioned, as in common oaths, or in idle talk is so merely taken in vain, that if they were on the sudden stopped, and asked what they thought on, or had in their mind, when they mentioned that word, and were to make a true answer, they cannot say they thought of any thing: as if the name of GOD, the All! were the name of nothing! Otherwise, had they thought what that great name signifies, either they had not mentioned it, or the mention of it had struck their hearts, and even overwhelmed their very souls!
I could tell you what awe and observance hath been wont to be expressed in reference to that sacred name, among a people that were called by it; and surely the very sound of that name, ought ever to shake all the powers of our souls, and presently form them to reverence and adoration. Shall we think it fit to play or trifle with it, as is the common wont?
My friends, shall we now do so, when we are called upon to yield ourselves to God? Labour to hear and think, and act intelligently, and as those that have the understandings of men. And now especially in this solemn transaction, endeavour to render GOD great to yourselves: enlarge your minds, that as far as possible and needful, they may take in the entire notion of him.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 382.
(These are some notes to work out a study or sermon)
Genesis 1:26–27 (NASB95)
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Humanity was granted a universal kingdom. That was our original state.
Genesis 3: Adam sins is driven from the Garden.
Adam forfeits that kingdom – even though exercising that Kingdom was the purpose of man (Son of Man).
Romans 5:12 (NASB95)
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
The only Kingdom which mankind possesses of itself is being a subject to the kingdom of death.
Psalm 8 (NASB95)
For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.
1 OLord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
9 OLord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!
Here the issue is raised: We are insignificant – and yet we were created to exercise a kingdom. It says here – after Adam’s fall – that man exercises a kingdom. This is a paradox: it is not true for us. Thus, it is true as a prophecy.
Daniel 7:13–14 (NASB95)
The Son of Man Presented
13 “I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
14 “And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of everylanguage
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.
The Son of Man is a king and receives a kingdom which is (1) universal; (2) eternal; and (3) indestructible.
(Adam and Jesus are perfect parallels in a number of ways. Both are also called the Son of God, because they came directly from God. Everyone else comes from another human being.)
Jesus calls himself the Son of Man.
John 3:14–15 (NASB95)
14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
Here is another level of irony. The Son of Man will be “lifted up”: this was both a straight ahead statement: to be exalted. It was also a euphemism for crucifixion: lifted up on a cross.
So, the Son of Man – the one who was to obtain a universal kingdom – will give eternal life (rather than leaving human beings to being subjected to a kingdom of death), by dying.
Hebrews 2 explains that Jesus restores and fulfills what Adam lost (kingdom, life) by means of his death:
Hebrews 2:5–15 (NASB95)
5 For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.
6 But one has testified somewhere, saying,
“What is man, that You remember him?
Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him?
7 “You have made him for a little while lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And have appointed him over the works of Your hands;
8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.
9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father;for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
“I will proclaim Your name to My brethren,
In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”
13 And again,
“I will put My trust in Him.”
“Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.”
14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
Thus, God in Jesus Christ, fulfills what was originally intended for Adam. Jesus is born into the world under Adam’s curse. He through death conquers death and thus restores to humanity what was lost in Adam. He is subjected and overcomes – and therefore, he receives an everlasting kingdom. See also, Psalm 2.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
Paul has developed the doctrine that (1) human beings are accountable to God; (2) that humans beings are rebellion against God, and that no good acts can atone for the rebellion; (3) but God has graciously made provision for our reconciliation by giving Christ in our place:
Romans 5:8–11 (ESV)
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
This then leads to a possible conclusion: If God gets glory by graciously forgiving me of my sin, then would it not make sense to continue sinning so that God can continue to forgive with the result that he will bestow more grace and thus get more glory?
Paul answers the question with the Greek words, “μὴ γένοιτο”. It is difficult to get exactly the correct tone and translation: This is something that could not possibly be true, it is not a possible state of affairs — maybe better: “How irrational!” (I recall reading a book about the translation of the Bible. The author tells a story about translating this passage in a class in Britain. One student “adventurously” translated it, “not bloody likely” — which some of the feel.
Now Paul will provide a number of arguments for why sin is not a possible response to grace. But I want to draw out the sheer irrationality of that question. Sin from grace is reckless, thankless, evil, spiteful, a denial of forgiveness in the first place, illogical, unnecessary — but it is sheer irrationality at heart.
There is a passage in Bunyan’s Holy War which shows the irrationality of sin from grace. We come to a portion of the story where the Prince has retaken the Town of Mansoul, that had been in rebellion and under the sway of Diabolus. The rebel leaders are captured and brought to the Prince:
And thus was the manner of their going down. Captain Boanerges went with a guard before them, and Captain Conviction came behind, and the prisoners went down bound in chains in the midst; so, I say, the prisoners went in the midst, and the guard went with flying colours behind and before, but the prisoners went with drooping spirits. Or, more particularly, thus: The prisoners went down all in mourning; they put ropes upon themselves; they went on smiting themselves on the breasts, but durst not lift up their eyes to heaven. Thus they went out at the gate of Mansoul, till they came into the midst of the Prince’s army, the sight and glory of which did greatly heighten their affliction. Nor could they now longer forbear, but cry out aloud, O unhappy men! O wretched men of Mansoul! Their chains still mixing their dolorous notes with the cries of the prisoners, made noise more lamentable. f199 So, when they were come to the door of the Prince’s pavilion, they cast themselves prostrate upon the place. Then one went in and told his Lord that the prisoners were come down. The Prince then ascended a throne of state, and sent for the prisoners in; who when they came, did tremble before him, also they covered their faces with shame. Now as they drew near to the place where he sat, they threw themselves down before him.
When questioned, they admit their guilt, their inability to make restitution and the fact they deserve death. Then something wonderful happens:
Then the Prince called for the prisoners to come and to stand again before him, and they came and stood trembling. And he said unto them, The sins, trespasses, iniquities, that you, with the whole town of Mansoul, have from time to time committed against my Father and me, I have power and commandment from my Father to forgive to the town of Mansoul; and do forgive you accordingly. And having so said, he gave them written in parchment, and sealed with seven seals, a large and general pardon, commanding both my Lord Mayor, my Lord Will-be-will, and Mr. Recorder, to proclaim, and cause it to be proclaimed to-morrow by that the sun is up, throughout the whole town of Mansoul.
But forgiveness was not the end of the Prince’s pardon:
Moreover, the Prince stripped the prisoners of their mourning weeds, and gave them ‘beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ (Isa. 61: 3) Then he gave to each of the three, jewels of gold, and precious stones, and took away their ropes, and put chains of gold about their necks, and ear-rings in their ears. Now the prisoners, when they did hear the gracious words of Prince Emmanuel, and had beheld all that was done unto them, fainted almost quite away; for the grace, the benefit, the pardon, was sudden, glorious, and so big, that they were not able, without staggering, to stand up under it.
Having received grace, pardon, restoration and elevation from their Prince — against whom they willfully and shamefully rebelled — would it not be complete madness to think that further rebellion would be fitting? Rebellion after restoration would be the act of a madman.
If you were to receive a priceless gemstone and then were to take it and fling it into the ocean, you would accounted insane. It would be irrational to destroy great wealth. How much more irrational would it be for the forgiven prisoners to rush back into town and burn it down. Sin is irrational in at all times. It thrice irrational to rebel against grace.
Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538
In his sermon on Romans 6:5,6, Dr. Lloyd-Jones considers the issue of what is meant by the “old man” who has been crucified. He rejects one common understanding that the old man is “the carnal nature and all its propensities”. Rather, the old man “the man that I used to be in Adam” (Rom. 6, p. 62). “As a Christian I am no longer in Adam; I am in Christ….It is not my carnal, sinful nature. That is still here, but the old man has gone, he has been crucified.” (Rom. 6, p. 63).
That is why those who are in Christ are no longer under condemnation. Rom. 8:1. The condemned man has been crucified; I am someone else.
And here is the implication:
We are never called to crucify our old man. Why? Because it has already happened — the old man was crucified with Christ on the Cross…nowhere does the Scripture call upon you to get rid of your old man, for the obvious reason that he is already gone….What you and I are called upon to do is to cease to live as if were were still in Adam. Understand that the “old man” is not there The only way to stop living as if he were still there is to realize that he is not there. That is the New Testament method of sanctification. the whole trouble with us, says the New Testament, is that we do not realize what we are, that we still go on thinking we are the old man and go on trying to do things to the old man. That has already been done; the old man was crucified with Christ.