A. T. Schofield
Plain Papers for Young Believers
In the last paper we considered the two natures that are in the Christian, and the relation of the man himself to them. We saw that the great point was for the man himself to let the new nature be the life in which he lives every day, and to treat the old nature as a foreign body to be kept in death. Before passing on to consider the channel in which the new life flows, let us pause a moment to make this still plainer by a well-known simile.
The Two Tenants
Suppose a landlord has let his house to a bad tenant who drinks, gambles, swears, is a disgrace to the neighborhood, and never pays his rent; and suppose that at last (the law allowing him) he forgives all the back rent and puts a new tenant, a quiet, respectable, industrious man, in the house, with full authority to keep the bad tenant in custody in one of the rooms, not to let him go about the house, and, above all , never to allow Him to open the door . We should then have a rough picture of the Christian. His body is the house, his old nature the bad tenant, his new nature the good tenant, and God the owner of the property; for our bodies are not our own, but the Lord's. So to speak, we do not live in our own houses, but are merely tenants at will—a solemn and often forgotten truth.
The Comforter—the Holy Ghost
Now comes a difficulty. The bad tenant is a very strong old man; the new tenant is a weak young man, and, though he has full authority, he has no power to carry out the landlord's wishes. He appeals for help, and the landlord sends from his own house a strong friend to help him to overcome the old tenant, and to keep him in custody. This strong friend is the Holy Spirit—“Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph.3:16), and hence we often read of His overcoming the old tenant, rather than of the new tenant's doing so. See Galatians 5:17,25, etc. We must, of course, understand that this friend never interferes unless the new tenant wishes it.
Suppose now, I call with some boon companions at this house to spend a pleasant evening with my old friend who lives there. I hear there has been some change going on at the house, but I do not exactly know what. The door is opened by the old tenant, but he has a cowed look on his face; and when I tell him what I have come for, he says, “Well, of course I should like to ask you in, but I cannot, because the new tenant would not like it. You see he is responsible now to the landlord for this house, and he is very strict in having it kept quiet and respectable. I'm only out now because he is asleep, but if there was any noise in the house, he would soon shut me up again.” It is clear, in this case, the same man answers whom I have known all along, the only difference being that there is a new tenant in the house, of whom he is afraid. Now, suppose that I call again in a few months to try and induce my old friend to come and spend a gay evening with me. It is quite dark when I knock at the door, so that I cannot see who opens it; but, supposing it is my old friend, I say, “Come along to the theater with me.” “I never go there,” is the reply. “I know that,” I say, “for you are afraid now.” “No, I am not afraid; I do not care for it.” “Come now,” I say, “that won't do; I know you like it well enough, but you are afraid of the new tenant.” “I am the new tenant,” answers the voice.
Now, in this case, I do not find the old man, but a new man altogether, answering all my questions, and declaring that he does not care for worldly pleasures at all. Here is quite a new thing, but this is also the true Christian position; that is, always to let your new nature answer the front door, never the old. Suppose now that I continue calling for some months, and invariably get the same answer. No wonder that I think that the old man must be dead, for he never answers the door. So he is, as far as any outward expression of his existence is concerned. The new tenant, however, could tell me of many a desperate attempt he makes to break loose from his close confinement, when nothing but the strength of the friend prevents him from being as bad as ever.
We must remember this is but an illustration, but still it may help a little in understanding the two natures. Let us now pass on to consider the new nature—the eternal life the Christian possesses.
Christ is Our Life
The eternal life that is in us is the life of Christ. In the Gospel of John we read of it being in Christ; in the epistle, in us. It has been manifested once in all its divine perfectness, in the walk of the Man Christ Jesus. In us it is only shown in broken bits, and very imperfectly. Now Christ is this life, and He is also its Object. This is expressed in Colossians 3:11. “Christ is all (as object), and in all” (as life). This life gives a capacity of communion with the Father and the Son (1 John 1), also necessarily (being the same life in all) with one another.
“ With the Father .” This life on earth was the object of the Father's perfect complacency. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” There were none then to share the Father's joy, because Christ must be in all, before He can be all. We must have the life before we can understand or appreciate it. Now, however, we have fellowship with the Father in His pleasure in Christ. Again, “ with the Son ,” His Father was ever His object. We too have now an object outside ourselves. His will is ever our delight. In this we have fellowship with the Son. “ With one another ,” in our life, our hopes, our aspirations, our objects, our worship. Now, if God has given us no less an object than that which fills His heart, it is evident it must overflow ours. Therefore, if occupied with Christ, our hearts must overflow, and the overflowing of the heart is called praise.
The Conscience and Heart
Now the life of Christ was manifested in two ways, as grace and truth, or, in other words, as love and light. We, on the other hand, are complex beings, having both a conscience and a heart. The life is thus beautifully adapted to control the entire man, the conscience being guided by the light , and the heart ruled by the love . O beloved reader, well may we ask what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness! Consider for a moment our present glorious position—all our sins forever gone, justified and sanctified in Christ Jesus, and thus made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, having a new, a perfect, an endless life, strengthened by the constant presence of an Almighty Friend and Comforter, Christ's love using and filling and swaying our hearts. His light guiding and controlling our consciences. Listen for a moment to these words, and think that we “ ought to walk , even as He walked.” “Christ was at once a conqueror, a sufferer, and a benefactor. What moral glories shine in such an assemblage! He overcame the world, refusing all its attractions and offers. He suffered from it, witnessing for God against its whole course and spirit; He blessed it, dispensing His love and power continually, returning good for evil. Its temptations only made Him a conqueror; its pollutions and enmities only a sufferer; its miseries only a benefactor. Jesus did good, and that, hoping for nothing again. Never, in one single instance, as I believe, did He claim either the person or the services of those whom He restored and delivered. Jesus loved, and healed, and saved, looking for nothing again. Surely there is something beyond human conception in the delineation of such a character.”
One cannot leave a subject like this without a sigh, as one thinks of how far, how very far, we come short of such a glorious example, and of the purpose God has in leaving us in this world. We see many men, godless men, men who deny everything we believe, seeking to lead upright, noble lives. Not knowing God, they are seeking to live unselfish lives for others, to spend and be spent for mankind; and shall we, with the whole horizon of our life lightened up with these eternal realities, live for ourselves? or shall we live for Him who died for us and rose again? “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” May the Lord seal home to our hearts in living power the subject we have been considering, and give us each to feel the controlling power of the love of Christ that passes all understanding.
In our next paper, the Lord willing, we will consider some of the qualities of this eternal life or new nature.
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