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21 May, 2013

A Four Fold Salvation — Part 7

A Fourfold Salvation
Arthur Pink, 1938 

Ah, my reader, it is this experience which prepares the heart to go out after Christ—those who are whole need not a physician—but those who are quickened and convicted by the Spirit are anxious to be relieved by the great Physician. "The Lord kills—and makes alive; He brings down to the grave—and brings up. The Lord makes poor—and makes rich; He brings low—and lifts up" (1 Sam. 2:6, 7). It is in this way that God slays our self-righteousness, makes us poor, and brings us low—by making sin to be an intolerable burden, and as bitter as wormwood to us.

There can be no saving faith until the soul is filled with evangelical repentance. Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin, a holy detestation of sin, and a sincere purpose to forsake it. The Gospel calls upon men to repent of their sins, forsake their idols, and mortify their lusts, and thus it is utterly impossible for the Gospel to be a message of glad tidings to those who are in love with sin and madly determined to perish rather than part with their idols.

Nor is this experience of sin's becoming bitter to us, limited unto our first awakening; it continues, in varying degrees, to the end of our earthly pilgrimage. The Christian suffers under temptations, is pained by Satan's fiery assaults, and bleeds from the wounds inflicted by the evils he commits. It grieves him deeply—that he makes such a wretched return unto God for His goodness, that he requites Christ so evilly for His dying love, that he responds so fitfully to the promptings of the Spirit. The wanderings of his mind when he desires to meditate upon the Word, the dullness of his heart when he seeks to pray, the worldly thoughts which invade his mind when reading Scripture, the coldness of his affections toward the Redeemer-cause him to groan daily; all of which goes to evidence that sin has been made bitter to him. He no longer welcomes those intruding thoughts which take his mind off God—rather does he sorrow over them. But "Blessed are those who mourn—for they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4).

Third, our salvation from the pleasure of sin may be recognized by the felt BONDAGE which sin produces. As it is not until a Divine faith is planted in the heart—that we become aware of our native and inveterate unbelief; so it is not until God saves us from the love of sin—that we are conscious of the fetters it has placed around us. Then it is, that we discover we are "without strength," unable to do anything pleasing to God, incapable of running the race set before us.
A Divinely-drawn picture of the saved soul's felt bondage is to be found in Romans 7, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. 
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members" (vv. 18, 19, 22, 23). And what is the sequel? This, the agonizing cry, "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin!" If that be the sincere lamentation of your heart, then God has saved you from the pleasure of sin.

Let it be pointed out, though, that salvation from the love of sin is felt and evidenced in varying degrees by different Christians—and at different periods in the life of the same Christian, according to the measure of grace which God bestows, and according as that grace is active and operative. Some seem to have a more intense hatred of sin in all its forms than do others—yet the principle of hating sin is found in all real Christians. Some Christians rarely, if ever commit any deliberate and premeditated sins—more often they are tripped up, suddenly tempted (to be angry or to tell a lie) and are overcome. But with others the case is quite otherwise—they, fearful to say—actually plan evil acts. If anyone indignantly denies that such a thing is possible in a saint, and insists that such a character is a stranger to saving grace, we would remind him of David—was not the murder of Uriah definitely planned? This second class of Christians find it doubly hard to believe they have been saved from the love of sin.