"And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself" (Genesis 3:10).
Fear is the first effect of sin. Man is born with a dread of God, whom conscience regards now only as a judge. Sin produces fear and distance. The heart of man is alienated from God and beginning with fearing Him, he ends in hating Him. The great problem of the gospel is how to win the heart of man and reconcile him to God-to restore him to right relationship with Him, from whom he has "deeply revolted," in order to the accomplishment of Godï¿½s purposes in respect of him, and the glorious destiny for which he was created. To this end-
- his confidence must be won (Luke 7:37-38);
- his conscience must be purged (Hebrews 9:4);
- his state must be changed (Acts 15:9);
- his soul must be saved (Titus 3:5);
- his faculties must be renewed (Romans 12:2); and,
- his future must be secured (Ephesians 2:7).
Hence we have 2 cï¿½s, 2 sï¿½s, and 2 fï¿½s; a memoria technica, to keep before us the plan thus proposed to follow.
(1) HIS HEART MUST BE WON
His confidence in God restored, and his sinful distrust of Him corrected.
"Conscience doth make cowards of us all"; and in that state man seeks only to hide himself from God. He only thinks of Him in the consciousness of his own sinful state, and he judges of Him by the evil that he finds within himself alone. The slavish dread of God through sin is the inheritance of fallen man, and, as the "lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it" (Proverbs 26:28), so the offended Majesty of God becomes the object of hate to those who offend against it.
What, then, can restore the needed confidence in man, but love? Pure, perfect, divine love, exceeding all the sinfulness and aberration of the heart of man. To this end, therefore, Jesus came. He brought the knowledge of the love of God, and in His life on earth He showed the grace of God, so as to win the sinnerï¿½s heart, and undo in it all that sin had wrought before. Adam hides in fear and shame from the presence of God. The woman of Luke 7 comes openly in the Phariseeï¿½s house, regardless of all shame, under the greater power of soul-need within, and the attraction of grace in Jesus without, and thus reverses the story of Genesis 3.
(2) HIS CONSCIENCE MUST BE PURGED
As the life of Jesus was needed to win the heart, the blood of Christ can alone cleanse from sin. "Without the shedding of blood is no remission." Distrust of God is the ruin of man; sin is an offence against God. Grace may meet the one; blood alone can atone for the other. The life of Jesus is the vindication of the grace of God; the blood of Christ is the vindication of His righteousness, so that grace might freely act (Romans 3:25-26; 5:21).
(3) HIS STATE MUST BE CHANGED
But while the attitude of God towards man is thus expressed in the life and death of Jesus, there must be wrought in man a corresponding change in his attitude towards God. His natural attitude is one of distrust and uncompromising hostility (Colossians 1:21); and, in the very root and spring of it, this must be changed. To this end Christ came incarnate, not only to express the mind of God towards man, but so to impress manï¿½s mind thereby, as to change the spring and tide of his thoughts towards God; to purify his heart by faith; and, as the magnet reverses its action in opposite poles, so the pollutions of sin that once attracted him are now repelled, and the purity of the presence of God that once repelled him becomes the delight and home of his soul (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
(4) HIS SOUL MUST BE SAVED
And this is immediately connected with his salvation. The grace of God brings salvation, and teaches us an entirely new order of living (Titus 2:11-12; 3:5). The whole circle of relationships towards God and man is changed, and now marked by sobriety, and righteousness, and piety. The whole system of evil, in which the world is built up, is displaced by the true knowledge of God, and the soul is saved, from the domination of evil, to serve the living and true God.
(5) HIS FACULTIES MUST BE RENEWED
But not only so, his faculties also are renewed in the power of spiritual life. It is forgotten sometimes that sin has ruined man in all his parts. Now, by the Spirit, his mind is renewed, so that he can intelligently take account of his responsibilities and the obligations incidental to the system of relationships into which grace has introduced him; and thus prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). Moreover, he has "the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16); and the new faculty which he now possesses is the capable instrument of all the expansion which his new powers demand, so that he is able, under the leading of the Spirit, to enter into the mysteries of the "deep things of God."
But not only is the mind functionally thus renewed, but also, in the very spirit of it (Ephesians 4:23), the same renovating power is operative; and, as the man is new (Î½ÎÎ¿Ï‚), so is he renewed (ÎºÎ±Î¯Î½Î¿Ï‚) in knowledge after the image of the Creator Himself, so as to enter intelligently into the apprehension of that world of universal blessedness, according to the glory of God, where "Christ is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:10-11).
(6) HIS FUTURE MUST BE SECURED
But what a future is thus assured to him! Present grace and future glory! Grace, that meets a man today where he is, in a world of sin, superabounding over it; glory by-and-by, in a world where all will be in accord with the essential nature of the Creator God, and in effect the full and unrestrained expression of His good pleasure. There, through succeeding ages, we shall be the examples of the "exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness towards us, in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 1:19: the exceeding greatness of His power.
Ephesians 2:7: the exceeding riches of His grace.
Ephesians 3:19: the exceeding knowledge of the love of Christ.
The life of Christ wins the heart.
The death of Christ annuls the power of him that has the power of death, i.e., the devil.
The blood of Christ purges the conscience.
The resurrection of Christ brings deliverance.
The ascension of Christ gives the Spirit and power; and,
The return of Christ brings in the glory of the kingdom.