And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.…
Awe-struck must Israel have been when the cloud of the Lord rested upon the tabernacle, the sign of the interest of Jehovah in his people and of his intention to dwell amongst them. And when the dedication of the temple of Solomon was completed, and the glory of the Lord filled the house, the nearness and condescension of their God caused the Israelites to bow with their faces to the ground, and to praise the Lord, saying, "For he is good: his mercy endureth for ever." It was much when the angelic messengers appeared to patriarchs and prophets, brightening their homes for a space. But how vast the honour conferred upon the humblest Christian when the Son of God fulfils his promise by not only visiting him, but taking up his abode in his heart! The visit of a sovereign invests the meanest domicile with interest. Look with wonder, therefore, on the man with whom the Deity is a constant Guest.
I. THE INTIMACY OF THE UNION. Jesus employed the figure of a vine to set it forth. He used the same way of speaking as with reference to the union between his Father and himself. "At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you." Paul, alluding to his conversion, said, "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me." The heart of man is pictured in Scripture as a house at which the Saviour knocks for admission. Thus is the question answered, that God will "dwell with man upon the earth." Christ is said to abide in us when his words are retained in the memory and acted upon in the life, becoming a source of inspiration for high and holy thoughts and deeds. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you," etc. Christ bestows upon his people the gift of his Spirit, to be his Representative, the living, present Comforter. "Hereby know we that he abideth in us, by his Spirit which he hath given us." To aspire to such a relationship we had never dared of ourselves; the conception is manifestly Divine.
II. SOME EFFECTS OF THE INDWELLING OF CHRIST.
1. It is not intended to nullify all the natural results upon the body of the fall of man. "The body is dead because of sin." The reception of Christ by faith, and the consequent obedience to his teachings, does indeed tend to produce such temperateness, industry, and contentment as are most fitted to preserve the corporeal frame in pure and wholesome condition and to prolong its existence. Nevertheless, the gospel does not avert the operation of physical laws, and longevity is not the Christian's chief aim. The youthful may pass away because of inheriting a weak constitution, and their early decease is not to be regarded as mysterious, and as a scourge from God's hand to the sorrowing relatives. Every death does speak to us of the evil of sin in the race. The forcible wrenching asunder of soul and body can never be beautiful to contemplate. God writes in dreadful character his opinion of sin.
2. It leads to the mortification of wrong desires. As the Messiah drove nut from his Father's house the thieves and law-breakers who polluted the sanctuary, so he cannot enter the temple of the soul without vindicating it against profanation by unholy passions. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh." There is a spiritual death of the body in the sense that the Shechinah of the Divine presence involves a restraint upon corrupt longings, a controlling of rebellion against the laws of God, against unruly will and envious, impure affections. Inclinations contrary to righteousness are not henceforth to have their way, but to be as if dead.
3. It vivifies the spirit of man. As the sap invigorates the branches, so the power of Christ works in us mightily. "The Spirit is life because of righteousness." Man's good purposes and feelings are strengthened, the seed of life fructifies, the dethroned spirit restored to supremacy is aided in the government of the kingdom by the auxiliary forces of the King of kin?. No unrighteous confederacy is permanent; its union is external, not internal; it carries within itself the germs of its own decay. Righteousness alone unites a people in strength, forbidding discord and promoting progress and prosperity. The presence of Jesus conforms us to his image, as friends grow like one another. Having Christ, we have the principle of life, of holiness, of perfection; work it must, until it attains the designed development. The acorn prophesies the oak, and the stainless spirits of heaven are predicted in the saints of this earthly sphere.
4. It promises a quickening of the mortal body. In view of the comparison instituted in ver. 11, it is impossible to restrict the interpretation to a merely spiritual resurrection. The triumph of our Deliverer is not consummated till these frail tenements of clay are freed from corruption and glorified. In what the exact relationship or identity consists, we may not know. "Thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain. But God giveth it a body as it pleased him." Look not on the graveyards as charnel-houses of the dead, but as nurseries where seeds of immortal plants are deposited, to bloom with undying vigour in the heavenly garden.
CONCLUSION. It is our connection with Christ which alleviates affliction. Through him does God educe good out of evil, triumphing over opposing threes, and making sin to contribute to righteousness, and death to be the gate of life. But if there be no loving communion between us and Christ, if we stand aloof from him, we cut ourselves off from salvation and glory. It is not sufficient to hear of the Saviour; we must entrust ourselves to him; we must entreat him to "come in and tarry with us," - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.