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    November 15, 1900

    “Freed from the Power of Death” The Present Truth 16, 46, pp. 725-727.

    ATJ

    CONSIDER for a little while what sin really is; what it is in essence. You know the Divine definition: “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Now I wish you to consider what it is to transgress the law. Is it only the positive doing of something that is evil?—No; it is the coming snort of positively doing that rich is good. Is it not written that “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all”?PTUK November 15, 1900, page 725.1

    In another word, sin is the coming short of the righteousness of God. To come short of the righteousness of God is to transgress the law. Then, whatever righteousness I may present, whatever deeds I may do, as obedience to the law of God as it stands in His word, which, in any sense at all, or to any degree at all, comes short of the righteousness of God, that is sin: it is indeed transgression of the law. This is emphasised by the fact that both in the Hebrew and in the Greek the word that God selected by which to convey to the minds of met, the root thought of what is sin, of what is transgression of the law, is the word that means to “miss the mark;” and to miss the mark by coming short.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 725.2

    It was in the time when they used bows and arrows that the word was selected. A man with his bow and arrow, shooting at a mark, would aim most carefully, and do his very best, to hit the mark: all his intentions were good; his purpose and his endeavour were of the best; but yet be could not reach the mark. He missed the mark by coming short. He was not strong enough to give to the arrow that impetus which would carry it so that it would hit the mark. Remember he did not miss the mark by overshooting, but by coming short of it. That is the root-thought in the word which God chose, both in the Hebrew and in the Greek, to convey to mankind the idea of what sin is.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.1

    Now no man in the world is strong enough, doing his very best, to hit the mark of the law of God, which is only the righteousness of God; for “all have sinned, and come short.” That mark is too high as well as too far away for us to hit it. But, bless the Lord, “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” And in Christ alone we find the hitting of the mark. Therefore, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14. In Christ it is, only in Christ, that we find the righteousness of God, which is the keeping of the law of God. Only in Christ do we find the keeping of the law of God.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.2

    THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW

    COME then, look with me at that law. By it is the knowledge of sin. That covers everything. All there is in sin is covered by that. Suppose you and I look into the law of God, and get the brightest, clearest possible view that a man can get of that law. Suppose we see its demands, in the greatest breadth that a man can: and that we actually fulfil to perfection all the breadth of it that we see—have we really fulfilled it? Think of that. Have you? Have you then fulfilled the law as God fulfils it? as God would if He were in your place?—Oh, no. We have fulfilled only what we could see. But have we seen it all, in its intensity of righteousness?—We have not. No one but God can, for it is only the law of God.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.3

    That law being the law of God, only God’s righteousness is truly manifest in it; so it is the reflection of what God is, in character. And that being so, nobody but God can see the true measure of the righteousness that is in the ten commandments. And there is the fallacy of our thinking that we can do true righteousness by keeping the ten commandments. We cannot grasp the righteousness of the ten commandments. If we were able to grasp it, we might do it. But that would require that we be infinite in understanding. But there is none infinite but God. Therefore none but God can grasp the infinity of the law of God.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.4

    There is another phase of this: I look into that law, and I see to the greatest height and breadth that I can; and I do to perfection all that I see—whose is the doing?—It is only mine. I have done it to perfection, according to my understanding. I have done all that I can see. But the seeing is only mine, not God’s; and the doing is only mine, not God’s; therefore all the righteousness of such doing is but mine, not God’s. Now put this with that. The only righteousness that any man can ever see in the law of God is his own righteousness. And God can see in that law His own righteousness.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.5

    Therefore, I state the principle in a broader way: The only righteousness that anybody, God or man, can see in the law of God is his own righteousness. But when God sees in the law of God His own righteousness, it is all right; for it is the righteousness of God; it is holiness; it is the genuine. But when we see in the law of God our own righteousness, it is only “filthy rags;” it is only self-righteousness; it is only sin.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.6

    Therefore it is written, “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21. To nobody in the wide universe does righteousness come by the law. Righteousness comes, to angels as to men, as the gift of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the universe, with God. Consequently, there is no righteousness that comes to anybody but by the faith of Jesus Christ. And when the cross was set up on Calvary, it became the centre of the universe. The cross of Christ contains the whole philosophy of the plan of salvation: it is the seal of salvation to the angels who never sinned; it is the sign and seal of salvation to men who have sinned. To the angels who never sinned, the cross of Christ is the seal of certainty that their righteousness will abide for ever, that they will never sin; to sinful men, it is the sign and seal that they will be saved to the uttermost from all sin, and held in righteousness for evermore.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.7

    So, then, righteousness cometh to the world only as the gift of the Lord Jesus. “Now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, ... even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” He is the One through whom it comes; He is the One who paid the price of it, who took upon Him the nurse; the One who bore the penalty and paid all the claims of sin and death, upon every soul. And to Him belong the glory, the honour, and the majesty for all the righteousness of men who have sinned; and for the security in righteousness of angels who never sinnedPTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.8

    DEATH CONQUERED

    THIS is the Gospel, and this is the salvation, which the Lord Jesus brought. And this gives a glimpse of the mighty thing that sin is, and of what a fearful depth it is to which sin has plunged us, in plunging us into death—when it took such a gift and such a price to deliver us. But, thank the Lord, the deliverance in righteousness and life is as high on that side as the loss in sin and death is deep on that side. And so it is written: “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.9

    And note the power that is in Him to conquer death, and the power that was displayed in Him in the conquering of death. He gave Himself up, bodily and wholly, to the power of death. He went into the enemy’s prison-house; He allowed Himself to be looked up there, in the bonds of death, and a great stone was rolled unto the mouth of the sepulchre, and the sepulchre was sealed with the seal of the Roman Empire. So, both by the chief of the spiritual powers and by the chief of the temporal power of the world, the Lord Jesus was locked in the power of death. But, being dead, He broke the power of death!PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.10

    It is a little enough thing that one who is alive should break the power of death. But, oh, the majesty, the divinity, the infinity of the power of Him who, being dead, could break the power of death! That is the majesty of our Saviour, of the Lord who has bought you and me, and who is able to, and who does, set us free from the power of death.PTUK November 15, 1900, page 726.11

    A. T. JONES.

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