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    June 17, 1886

    “Religion and Happiness” The Signs of the Times, 12, 23.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “For a person to live and die happy, he must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” These words we lately saw in a religious journal and have very often heard similar expressions. The utterance of such a sentiment gives evidence of very crude idea of religion and its object. We think that such a view of religion is injurious yes, for the following reasons:-SITI June 17, 1886, page 358.1

    1. It fosters selfishness, which is directly opposed to true religion. To make happiness the sole or the principle incentive for gaining religion, is to direct the attention of the individual to himself rather than to God. Love should be the mainspring of every act of the Christian. The reward of the righteous, and the punishment of the ungodly are both set before us, to stimulate us both by hope and by fear; yet these are not the main incentives. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” It is certain that when one is imbued with the spirit of Christ, who said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish His work,” he will not do his work through fear of the consequences if he should neglect it. At the birth of Christ the angels sang, “Glory to God and the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14. And the first commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all my mind,” while the second is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” In true religion there is no place for thoughts of self; the glory of God, and the welfare of our fellow-men comprise our whole duty. All the thought the Christian has to take of self is to keep himself unspotted from the world.SITI June 17, 1886, page 358.2

    2. The idea is injurious because it tends to discouragement of those who hold it. If a man thinks that happiness is the sure and invariable result of belief in Christ, he will surely be discouraged when trouble comes, as it certainly will. When the Thessalonians were in distress, Paul wrote to them “that no man should be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that we are appointed there unto.” 1 Thessalonians 3:3. It is enough for the disciple if he as his Lord, and he was “a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief.” So he says to his followers: “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” “Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” True, the Christian will be “joyful in tribulation,” yet it will be tribulation still.SITI June 17, 1886, page 358.3

    3. The idea that happiness is a constant accompaniment of believe in Christ, is injurious, because it tends to produce false hopes. The careless sinner and the professor who is “at ease in Zion,” having this idea, a fancy that they are in a good ease. They have no trouble, therefore they think the Lord must be pleased with them. They forget that “whom on the Lord loveth chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Pious Job was afflicted almost beyond conception, while the wicked in whom David saw were not in trouble as other men, neither were they plagued like other men. They were in prosperity, and had more than heart could wish. And this was just because they were wicked. The devil can well afford to let his servants dwell in peace, but “all that will live God in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.1

    A happy death is not in itself any evidence of a person’s piety, nor an assurance that he is sure of final happiness. The psalmist says of the wicked, “There are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm.” Psalm 73:4. On the other hand, a good man may, like Hezekiah, be in sore distress at the thought that he is near death.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.2

    In a word, the honor and glory of God should be placed before our own happiness. Indeed, happiness should never be sought. If we seek for happiness, it will be sure to escape us, although we may be satisfied with a spurious article. If we glorify God, that is of itself true happiness or blessedness, for Christ declares that they that mourn are happy. And this should show the folly of trusting to feeling in any case. The basis of the Christian’s hope and trust is not feeling, but knowledge. In the midst of terrible trial he can say, “I know that my redeemer liveth;” and although he may feel that because of poverty and low station, he is despised by men, if he keeps “the commandments of God and faith of Jesus,” he may have, not the feeling, but the assurance that he pleases God. W.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.3

    “Brief Comments on Romans 7” The Signs of the Times, 12, 23.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The seventh chapter of Romans may be said to be Romans 6:14 expanded. It is a masterly argument for the holiness and perpetuity of the law, and is all the stronger because the nature of the perpetuity of the law is not the subject under discussion. The apostle showing, in the sixth and seventh chapters, what true Christian life is, and how one is brought to be a Christian. The reference to the law are, we may say, incidental, and show how impossible it is to ignore law when speaking of Christian experience. We should give this chapter a brief exposition, dwelling only on the portions that are often misunderstood by the casual reader.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.4

    We have already shown from Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:18-23; 4:4, 5; and 4:21-31, that “under the law” indicates a condition of condemnation on account of sin; and that persons are freed from the law, or redeemed from under the law, only through faith in Christ, by which they are thenceforth enabled to comply with its just demands. In this chapter the apostle carries out the figure of life and death, introduced in the sixth chapter, representing the one still under the condemnation of the law as alive, and the justified one has been dead. The relations of the man to his sins, to the law, and to Christ, are first indicated by an illustration, which we quote:-SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.5

    “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” Romans 7:1-3.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.6

    In this illustration we have four terms, namely, a woman, her first husband, and her second husband, and the law. The law says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and thus defines marriage as the union of one woman and one man. Such a union the law sanctions. Not only does the law sanction such a union, but it binds the parties during life. While her husband lives, the law binds the woman to him; but when the husband dies, then of course the union is at an end. Now, says the apostle, she may be married to another man, and she will be no adulteress, because she is freed from the law that bound her to her first husband. How was she freed from that law? By the death of her husband, which rendered further union impossible. But did the law itself change in any particular? Not in the least: It performs the same office that it did before. The law binds the woman to the second husband just the same as it did to the first; and if while her second husband lives she should be married to a third, the law will condemn her as an adulterous just the same as it would if she had married her second husband while the first husband was living. Thus we see that the law is the one thing that remains unchanged. Now read the application.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.7

    “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:4-6.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.8

    Here, as in the illustration, we have four parties, namely, the man, his sins, Christ, and the law. In the first place, the man is united to his sins. That is when he is “in the flesh,” under the law (Galatians 5:17, 18), and unable to please God. Romans 8:7. Here is a union in which the law holds him fast. “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of since, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit and to death.” The apostle says that the sins were “by the law.” This is the same as “where no law is there is no transgressions.” If no law existed, there could be no such thing as sin, and therefore Paul says that the motions of sin were by the law. “The strength of sin is the law.” Now we say that the law holds the man fast in this union with sin. That does not mean that the law delights to have the man a sinner; nothing of the kind. The law has no choice in the matter. By his own voluntary action the man has transgressed the law and thereby become a sinner, and now the law can do nothing else than declare him to be such. If the man, through fear of the consequences of his sins, or for any other reason, wishes to escape from this union, he cannot. The law still reiterates, “You are a sinner.” If the law could die, or could be made void, then the man at it once would be free; but that cannot be.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.9

    There is, however, a way by which the man may be freed from the galling bondage to sin, if he feels it to be a galling bondage, and that is through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ. He may be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed, to the forbearance of God.” Romans 3:24, 25. When “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ,” has been imputed to the man, the law no longer calls him a sinner. He is justified, freed from the body of sin.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.10

    But this freedom from sin, and consequent deliverance from the condemnation of the law, has been accomplished only through Christ. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new. And all things are of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17, 18. Now the man is united to Christ, and by the same law which before held him to be a sinner. While he was in the flesh, the law could not for a moment allow that he was righteous; now that he is in Christ, the same law witnesses to his righteousness. The law remains the same; the man only has changed.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.11

    Notice the parallel between the illustration and the application. The law binds the woman to her husband. She cannot escape from that union, even though it be disagreeable to her. But the husband dies, and she is a free woman, and may legally be married to another man. So a man is united to sin, and the law, true to itself, holds him to that account. But by Christ the body of sin is destroyed; and now the man, being free from sin, is a united to Christ, and the law sanctions the union. As a woman cannot legally be united to two husbands at the same time, so no person can be united at the same time both to his sins and to Christ. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 16:24. Union with Christ while we are in sin is impossible; and if, while professing Christianity, a person still clings to sin, he is guilty of spiritual adultery. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship with the world is enmity with God?” James 4:4. The law sanctions no such union as that.SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.12

    The reader may, however, think that he detects a flaw in our reasoning, because in the application the apostle tells us that we have to die in order to become united to Christ. This, he will say, is not an exact parallel to the case of a woman whose husband dies that she may be joined to another. The difficulty is only apparent, not real. The parallel is as close as it is possible for any parallel to be. In the illustration the husband dies, and thus the woman may be united to another. Now if you should suppose a case in which the woman died with her first husband, and then have a resurrection, and was thus united to another, we have an exact parallel to the case of the sinner being freed from sin and united to Christ. The case is of sufficient importance to warrant a more detailed investigation. The following verses contain the whole argument:-SITI June 17, 1886, page 359.13

    “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.”SITI June 17, 1886, page 360.1

    “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. The law demands the death of every sinner. But “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. For Christ “bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24. By baptism we show our belief in the death and resurrection of Christ, and our acceptance of him as a propitiation for our sins. Indeed, by baptism we are joined to Christ: “As many of you as have been baptized in the Christ hath put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27. But we are baptized into Christ, by being “baptized into his death.” “We are buried with him by baptism into death.” And thus it is that we receive the penalty of the law; not in person, but in figure. Christ has suffered for sin; and if we are “in him,” we also are accounted as having received the penalty. And since it is by baptism that we become united to him, we become dead to the law and united to Christ at the same time.SITI June 17, 1886, page 360.2

    “Dead to the law.” What does the apostle mean by that expression? Simply that we have (in Christ) received the penalty of the law, and that it now regards us as dead. To illustrate: A man guilty of stealing is by the law sentenced to a term of years in the penitentiary. He serves his sentence, and then is set at liberty. Now he has no fear of the law. He may go boldly into the court-room, and even into the prison; for he knows that, having received the penalty for his crime, the law will not molest him. Now carry the illustration a little further: A man commits murder and is sentenced to death. When he has been executed, the law is satisfied. Suppose now that it were possible for the man to come to life again. Having received the full penalty of the law, he is, so far as his past offense is concerned, thenceforth considered by the law as a dead man. So with the sinner’s relation to the law of God. It condemned him to death. In Christ he received the death penalty, and now that he is raised to walk in newness of life, the law considers him to be a dead man. He is now a new man; the man who sinned is dead, and the man who takes his place shuns those things which the former man did, and therefore the law declares him to be righteous. In harmony with the above quotation and explanation are the following words:-SITI June 17, 1886, page 360.3

    “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3.SITI June 17, 1886, page 360.4

    Read also of the following statement by the same apostle: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.SITI June 17, 1886, page 360.5

    Now why was it necessary for us to go through this process of dying and being raised to new life? Because we have upon us a burden of sin from which we could not otherwise be free. Did we get rid of this body of sin by that means? Yes; hear the apostle: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” The body of sin was the first husband. We became disgusted with that union, and desired to become united to Christ, but could not as long as the first husband was living; and in order for that husband to die, we ourselves have to die. For the moment, both are dead; then we are raised to be henceforth joined to Christ in a new life, because the first husband, the old man, the body of sin, remains dead. So long as that body of sin remains dead, we, although alive in Christ, are dead in the eyes of the law. But if at anytime the old man should come to life by our calling back going back to our old sins, that moment the law would condemn us as adulterers. W.SITI June 17, 1886, page 360.6

    (To be continued.)

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