1 Corinthians 13:6
Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
Negatively, the apostle declares that charity is opposed to all wickedness, or evil practice; and, positively, that it tends to all righteousness, or holy practice.
I. SOME ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF THE DOCTRINE.
1. Holy practice is the aim of that eternal election which is the first ground of the bestowment of all true grace (Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 2:10; John 15:16).
2. That redemption, by which grace is purchased, is to the same end (John 17:19; Colossians 1:21, 22; Titus 2:14).
3. That saving conversion in which grace is commenced in the soul is to the same end (Ephesians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:7).
4. That spiritual knowledge and understanding, which are the inward attendants of all true grace in the heart, tend to holy practice.
5. From the more immediate consideration of the principle of grace itself, from which the same will be seen. And here —
(1) Because the faculty which is the immediate seat of it is the faculty of the will, which is the faculty that commands all a man's actions and practice. The will is the fountain of the practice, as truly as the head of a spring is the fountain of the stream that flows from it.
(2) It is the definition of grace, that it is a principle of holy action. What is grace but a principle of holiness in the heart? And if grace be a principle, what is it a principle of, but of action?
(3) The nature of a principle of grace is to be a vital principle.
(4) Grace is an exceedingly powerful principle (2 Timothy 3:5).
II. THE TRUTH OF THE DOCTRINE WITH RESPECT TO THE PARTICULAR CHRISTIAN GRACES. This is the case —
1. With respect to a true and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:6; James 2:18).
(1) The conviction of the understanding and judgment, which is implied in saving faith, tends to holy practice. If men are really convinced of the truth of the things they are told in the gospel, about salvation and an eternal world, it will act in such a manner as will tend to their obtaining this salvation.
(2) So does that act of the will which there is in saving faith. He that, by the act of his will, does truly accept of Christ as a Saviour, accepts of Him as a Saviour from sin, and not merely from the punishment of sin.
(3) So does all true trust in God. And herein a true trust differs from all false trust. A trust in God in the way of negligence, is what in Scripture is called tempting God; and a trust in Him in the way of sin, is what is called presumption, which is a thing terribly threatened in His Word. But he that truly and rightly trusts in God, trusts in Him in the way of diligence and holiness.
2. All true love to God. Love to our fellow-creatures always influences us in our actions. He that loves money is influenced in his practice by that love, and kept by it in the continual pursuit of wealth. And so he that truly loves God is also influenced by that love in his practice.
3. All true repentance. In the original, the word signifies a change of the mind; and men are said to repent of sin when they change their minds with respect to it.
4. All true humility. He that is sensible of his own unworthiness, will be disposed, by a sense of it, to carry himself accordingly both before God and man.
5. All true fear of God. which is a holy solicitude or dread lest we should offend God by sinning against Him.
6. The spirit of thankfulness, and praise, which leads us to render again according to the benefits received.
7. Christian weanedness from the world, and heavenly-mindedness.
8. The spirit of Christian love to men. If the spirit of love to man be sincere, it will tend to the practice and deeds of love (Romans 13:9, 10).
9. A true and gracious hope. A false hope tends to licentiousness — to encourage men in their sinful desires and lusts, and to flatter and embolden them even when they are in the way of evil. But a true hope tends to stir men up to holiness of life, to awaken them to duty, and to make them more careful to avoid sin, and more diligent in serving God (1 John 3:3).Conclusion:
1. We may see one main reason why Christian practice and good works are so abundantly insisted on in the Scriptures as an evidence of sincerity in grace (Matthew 7:16-20; John 14:21-24; Ephesians 5:6, 6).
2. In view of this subject, let all examine themselves, whether their grace is real and sincere.
(1) Has your supposed grace such influence as to render those things in which you have failed of holy practice, loathsome, grievous and humbling to you?
(2) Do you carry about with you, habitually a dread of sin (Genesis 39:9)?
(3) Are you sensible of the beauty and pleasantness of the ways of holy practice?
(4) Do you find that you do particularly esteem and delight in those practices that may, by way of eminence, be called Christian practices, in distinction from mere worldly morality?
(5) Do you hunger and thirst after a holy practice?
(6) Do you make a business of endeavouring to live holily, and as God would have you, in all respects?
(7) Do you greatly desire that you may know all that is your duty?
Parallel VersesKJV: Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;