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02 June, 2013

A Four Fold Salvation — Part 13

Arthur Pink, 1938 

It is in this way we are experimentally taught to look off from the present to the future, for our rest is not here. "We are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?" (Romans 8:24). Let it be duly noted that this comes immediately after "we ourselves groan within ourselves." Thus to be "saved by hope" respects our present salvation from the power of sin.

Complete salvation is now the Christian's—only in title and expectation. It is not here said that we, "shall be saved by hope," but we are saved by hope—that hope which looks for the fulfilling of God's promises. Hope has to do with a future good, with something which as yet "is not seen"—we "hope" not for something which is already enjoyed. Herein hope differs from faith. Faith, as it is an assent, is in the mind; but hope is seated in the affections, stirred by the desirability of the things promised.

And, my reader, the bitter disappointments of life are nothing but a dark background upon which hope may shine forth the more brightly. Christ does not immediately take to Heaven the one who puts his trust in Him. No, He keeps him here upon earth for a while to be exercised and tried. While he is awaiting his complete blessedness, there is such a difference between him and it, and he encounters many difficulties and trials. Not having yet received his inheritance, there is need and occasion of hope, for only by its exercise can things future be sought after. The stronger our hope, the more earnestly shall we be engaged in the pursuit of it. We have to be weaned from present things—in order for the heart to be fixed upon a future good.

Fourth, by the gift of the Spirit and His operations within us. God's great gift of Christ for us—is matched by the gift of the Spirit in us; for we owe as much to the One as we do to the Other. The new nature in the Christian is powerless, apart from the Spirit's daily renewing. It is by His gracious operations—that we have made known to us the nature and extent of sin, are made to strive against it, and are brought to grieve over it. It is by the Spirit—that faith, hope and prayer are kept alive within the soul. It is by the Spirit—that we are moved to use the means of grace which God has appointed for our spiritual preservation and growth. It is by the Spirit—that sin is prevented from having complete dominion over us, for as the result of His indwelling us, there is something else besides sin in the believer's heart and life, namely, the fruits of holiness and righteousness.

To sum up this aspect of our subject—salvation from the power of indwelling sin is not the taking of the evil nature out of the believer in this life, nor by effecting any improvement in it, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6), and it remains so, unchanged to the end. Nor is it by the Spirit so subduing indwelling sin that it is rendered less active, for the flesh not merely lusts—but "lusts (ceaselessly) against the spirit"—it never sleeps, not even when our bodies do, as our dreams evidence. No, and in some form or other, the flesh is constantly producing its evil works. It may not be in external acts, seen by the eyes of our fellows—but certainly so internally, in things seen by God—such as covetousness, discontent, pride, unbelief, self-will, ill-will towards others, and a hundred other evils. No, none is saved from sinning in this life.

Present salvation from the power of sin consists in, first, delivering us from the love of it, which though begun at our regeneration, is continued throughout our practical sanctification.

Second, from its blinding delusiveness, so that it can no more deceive as once it did.

Third, from our excusing it, "that which I do—I allow not" (Romans 7:15). This is one of the surest marks of regeneration. In the fullest sense of the word, the believer "allows" it not before he sins, for every real Christian, when in his right mind, desires to be wholly kept from sinning. He "allows" it not fully when doing it, for in the actual committing thereof, there is an inward reserve—the new nature consents not. He "allows" it not afterwards, as Psalm 51 evidences so plainly of the case of David.

The force of this word "allow" in Romans 7:15 may be seen from "truly you bear witness that you allow the deeds of your fathers—for they killed them (the Prophets) and you build their sepulchers" (Luke 11:48). So far from those Jews being ashamed of their fathers and abhorring their wicked conduct, they erected a monument to their honor. Thus, to "allow" is the opposite of to be ashamed of and sorrow over—it is to condone and vindicate.