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25 May, 2013

A Four Fold Salvation — Part 8

A Fourfold Salvation
Arthur Pink, 1938 

But to be without condemnation is only the negative side—justification means to declare or pronounce righteous, up to the Law's requirements. Justification implies that the Law has been fulfilled, obeyed, and magnified—for nothing short of this would meet the just demands of God. Hence, as His people, fallen in Adam, were unable to measure up to the Divine standard, God appointed that His own Son should become incarnate, be the Surety of His people, and answer the demands of the Law in their stead.

Here, then, is the sufficient answer which may be made to the two objections which unbelief is ready to raise—How can God acquit the guilty?

How can God declare righteous—one who is devoid of righteousness? Bring in the Lord Jesus and all difficulty disappears! The guilt of our sins was imputed or legally transferred to Him, so that He suffered the full penalty of what was due them; the merits of His obedience is imputed or legally transferred to us—so that we stand before God in all the acceptableness of our Sponsor, Romans 5:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 5:21, etc. Not only has the Law nothing against us—but we are entitled to its reward.

3. Salvation from the POWER of Sin.
This is a present and protracted process, and is as yet incomplete. It is the most difficult part of our subject, and upon it the greatest confusion of thought prevails, especially among young Christians. Many there are who, having learned that the Lord Jesus is the Savior of sinners, have jumped to the erroneous conclusion that if they but exercise faith in Him, surrender to His Lordship, commit their souls into His keeping—He will remove their corrupt nature and destroy their evil propensities. But after they have really trusted in Him, they discover that evil is still present with them, that their hearts are still deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, and that no matter how they strive to resist temptation, pray for overcoming grace and use the means of God's appointing, they seem to grow worse and worse instead of better, until they seriously doubt if they are saved at all. They are now being sanctified!

Even when a person has been regenerated and justified, the flesh or corrupt nature, remains within him, and ceaselessly harasses him. Yet this ought not to perplex him. To the saints at Rome, Paul said, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body" (6:12), which would be entirely meaningless had sin been eradicated from them. Writing to the Corinthian saints he said, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1). Obviously such an exhortation is needless if sin has been purged from our beings.

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:6). What need have Christians for such a word as this—except pride still lurks and works within them? But all room for controversy on this point is excluded if we bow to that inspired declaration, "If we say we have no sin—we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). The old carnal nature remains in the believer—he is still a sinner, though a saved one.

What, then, is the young Christian to do? Is he powerless? Must he resort to stoicism, and make up his mind that there is nothing but a life of defeat before him? Certainly not! The first thing for him to do is to learn thoroughly the humiliating truth that in himself he is "without strength." It was here that Israel failed—when Moses made known to them the Law, they boastfully declared, "all that the Lord has said—we will do and be obedient" (Exo. 24:7). 

Ah! how little did they realize that "in the flesh there dwells no good thing." It was here, too, that Peter failed—he was self-confident and boasted that, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will! Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!" (Matt. 26:33, 35). How little he knew his own heart! This complacent spirit lurks within each of us. While we cherish the belief we can "do better next time," it is evident that we still have confidence in our own powers. Not until we heed the Savior's word, "without Me you can do nothing," do we take the first step toward victory. Only when we are weak (in ourselves) —are we strong.