We now turn to that aspect of our subject which has to do solely with the future. Sin is yet to be completely eradicated from the believer’s being, so that he shall appear before God without any spot or blemish. True, this is his legal status even now, yet it has not become so in his state or experience. As God views the believer in Christ, he appears before Him in all the excellency of his Sponsor; but as God views him as he yet is in himself (and that he does do so is proved by His chastenings), he beholds all the ruin which the Fall has wrought in him. But this will not always be the case: no, blessed be His name, the Lord is reserving the best wine for the last. And even now we have tasted that He is gracious, but the fullness of His grace will only be entered into and enjoyed by us after this world is left behind.
Those Scriptures which present our salvation as a future prospect are all concerned with our final deliverance from the very inbeing of sin. To this Paul referred when he said, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11)—not our salvation from the pleasure, the penalty, or the power of sin, but from its very presence. "For our citizenship is in heaven: from whence we also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20). Yes, it is the "Saviour" we await, for it is at His return that the whole election of grace shall enter into their full salvation; as it is written, "Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28). In like manner, when another apostle declares, "We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last time" (1 Pet. 1:5), he had reference to this grand consummation of the believer’s salvation, when he shall be forever rid of the very presence of sin.
Our salvation from the pleasure of sin is effected by Christ’s taking up His abode in our hearts: "Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20). Our salvation from the penalty of sin was secured by Christ’s sufferings on the cross, where He endured the punishment due our iniquities. Our salvation from the power of sin is obtained by the gracious operations of the Spirit which Christ sends to His people—therefore is He designated "the Spirit of Christ" (Rom. 8:9 and cf. Gal. 4:6, Rev. 3:1). Our salvation from the presence of sin will be accomplished at Christ’s second advent: "for our citizenship is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3:20, 21). And again we are told, "We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). It is all of Christ from beginning to end.
Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God, reflecting the moral perfections of his Maker. But sin came in and he fell from his pristine glory, and by that fall God’s image in him was broken and His likeness marred. But in the redeemed that image is to be restored, yea, they are to be granted a far higher honour than what was bestowed upon the first Adam: they are to be made like the last Adam. It is written, "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). This blessed purpose of God in our predestination will not be fully realized until the second coming of our Lord: then it will be that His people shall be completely emancipated from the thralldom and corruption of sin. Then shall Christ "present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having any spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27).
Salvation from the pleasure or love of sin takes place at our regeneration; salvation from the penalty or punishment of sin occurs at our justification; salvation from the power or dominion of sin is accomplished during our practical sanctification; salvation from the presence or inbeing of sin is consummated at our glorification: "Whom lie justified, them He also glorified" (Rom. 8:30). Not so much is revealed in Scripture on this fourth aspect of our subject, for God’s Word was not given us to gratify curiosity. Yet sufficient is made known to feed faith, strengthen hope, draw out love, and make us "run with patience the race that is set before us." In our present state we are incapable of forming any real conception of the bliss awaiting us: yet as Israel’s spies brought back the bunch of "the grapes of Eschol" as a sample of the good things to be found in the land of Canaan, so the Christian is granted a foretaste and earnest of his inheritance on High.
"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). It is to the image of a glorified Christ that we are predestinated to be conformed. Behold Him on the mount of transfiguration, when a fore-view of His glory was granted the favoured disciples. Such is the dazzling splendour of His person that Saul of Tarsus was temporarily blinded by a glimpse of it, and the beloved John in the isle of Patmos "fell at His feet as dead" (Rev. 1:7) when he beheld Him. That which awaits us can best be estimated as it is contemplated in the light of God’s wondrous love. The portion which Christ Himself has received, is the expression of God’s love for Him; and, as the Saviour has assured His people concerning His Father’s love unto them, "and hast loved them as Thou lovest Me" (John 17:23), and therefore, as He promised, "where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3).
But is not the believer forever done with sin at death? Yes, thank God, such is the case; yet that is not his glorification, for his body goes to corruption, and that is the effect of sin. But it is written of the believer’s body, "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown m dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown m weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:42-44). Nevertheless, at death itself the Christian’s soul is entirely freed from the presence of sin. This is clear from "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth, yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13). What is signified by "that they may rest from their labours?" Why, something more blessed than ceasing from earning their daily bread by the sweat of their brows, for that will be true of the unsaved also. Those who die in the Lord rest from their "labours" with sin: their painful conflicts with indwelling corruption, Satan, and the world. The fight which faith now wages is then ended, and full relief from sin is theirs forever.
The fourfold salvation from sin of the Christian was strikingly typified in God’s dealings with the nation of Israel of old. First, we have a vivid portrayal of their deliverance from the pleasure or love of sin: "And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning" (Ex. 2:23, 24). What a contrast does that present from what we read of in the closing chapters of Genesis! There we hear the king of Egypt saying to Joseph, "The land of Egypt is before thee: in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen" (47:6). Accordingly we are told, "And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew and multiplied exceedingly" (47:27). Now Egypt is the OT. symbol of the world, as a system opposed to God. And it was there, in the "best pan" of it, the descendants of Abraham had settled. But the Lord had designs of mercy and something far better for them: yet before they could appreciate Canaan they had to be weaned from Egypt. Hence we find them in cruel bondage there, smarting under the lash of the taskmasters. In this way they were made to loathe Egypt and long for deliverance therefrom. The theme of Exodus is redemption: how striking, then, to see that God begins His work of redemption by making His people to groan and cry out under their bondage! The portion Christ bestows is not welcome till we are made sick of this world.
Second, in Exodus 12 we have a picture of God’s people being delivered from the penalty of sin. On the Passover night the angel of death came and slew all the firstborn of the Egyptians. But why spare the firstborn of the Israelites? Not because they were guiltless before God, for all had sinned and come short of His glory. The Israelites, equally with the Egyptians, were guilty in His sight, and deserving of unsparing judgment. It was at this very point that the grace of God came in and met their need. Another was slain in their room and died in their stead. An innocent victim was killed and its blood shed, pointing to the coming of "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." The head of each Israelitish household sprinkled the lamb’s blood on the lintel and posts of his door, and hence the firstborn in it was spared from the avenging angel: God promised, "when I see the blood I will pass over you" (Ex. 12:13). Thus, Israel was saved from the penalty of sin by means of the lamb dying in their stead.
Third, Israel’s wilderness journey adumbrated the believer’s salvation from the power of sin. Israel did not enter Canaan immediately upon their exodus from Egypt: they had to face the temptations and trials of the desert where they spent not less than forty years. But what a gracious and full provision did God make for His people! Manna was given them daily from heaven—figure of that food which God’s Word now supplies for our spiritual nourishment. Water was given from the smitten rock— emblem of the Holy Spirit sent by the smitten Christ to dwell within us: John 7:38, 39. A cloud and a pillar of fire guided them by day and guarded them by night, reminding us of how God directs our steps and shields us from our foes. Best of all, Moses, their great leader, was with them, counseling, admonishing, and interceding for them—figure of the Captain of our salvation: "In I am with you alway."
Fourth, the actual entrance of Israel into the promised land foreshadowed the believer’s glorification, when he enters into the full enjoyment of that possession which Christ has purchased for hint The experiences Israel met with in Canaan have a double typical significance. From one viewpoint they presaged the conflict which faith encounters while the believer is left upon earth, for as the Hebrews had to overcome the original inhabitants of Canaan before they could enjoy their portion, so faith has to surmount many obstacles if it is to "possess its possessions." Nevertheless, that land of milk and honey into which Israel entered after the bondage of Egypt and the hardships of the wilderness were left behind, was manifestly a figure of the Christian’s portion in Heaven after he is forever done with sin in this world.
"Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). First, save them from the pleasure or love of sin by bestowing a nature which hates it: this is the great miracle of grace. Second, save them from the penalty or punishment of sin, by remitting all its guilt: this is the grand marvel of grace. Third, save them from the power or dominion of sin, by the workings of His Spirit: this reveals the wondrous might of grace. Fourth, save them from the presence or inbeing of sin: this will demonstrate the glorious magnitude of grace. May it please the Lord to bless these elementary but most important articles to many of His little ones, and make their "big" brothers and sisters smaller in their own esteem.
A. W. Pink