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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 58 - Romans 8:54 - The Life-Long Putting on of Christ Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


Often throughout Scripture is the figure of clothing or putting on, used, both in reference to good and evil. It is man who first tries the thing with his fig leaves; but he fails. Then God steps in and clothes man with skins. After this the figurative use of clothing is very frequent. Judges 6:34, "The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon" (so it is in the Hebrew); 2 Chronicles 6:4', "Let thy priests be clothed with salvation"; Job 7:5, "My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of the dust"; Job 29:14, "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me"; Psalm 35:26, "Let them be clothed with shame"; Psalm 93:1, "The Lord is clothed with majesty, the Lord is clothed with strength"; Psalm 132:9, "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness"; Isaiah 61:10, "He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation"; Isaiah 59:17, "He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing', and was clad with zeal as a cloak"; Isaiah 52:1, "Put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem"; Luke 15:22, "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him"; Romans 13:12, "Let us put on the armor of light"; 1 Corinthians 15:53, "This corruptible must put on incorruption"; Ephesians 4:24, "That ye put on the new man"; Ephesians 6:2, "Put on the whole armor of God"; Colossians 3:52, "Put on bowels of mercies"; Colossians 3:14, "Put on charity." These passages shew us the use of the figure in Scripture. Something in addition to what we had before, or to what we possess in ourselves, is supposed to be taken on as a garment; something which makes us to appear and to act differently from what we did before; something suited to a peculiar office, or service, or action. The king puts on his royal robe, the priest the priestly robe, the captain his military robe; the robe thus, as it were, altering for a season the individual, and investing him with another character, or office. Clothing is not merely to cover or conceal uncomeliness and shame, but to beautify; to give weight and dignity to our person and our actings; to represent an office.

I. What this is that is put on. It is Christ himself that we put on; not one thing merely, such as righteousness, but everything which makes us comely and acceptable to God. Christ himself is here described as a robe. The figure is not of His giving us a robe, but of His being that robe. It is Himself as our robe, that we are to put on. "As many of you as are baptized unto Christ, have put on Christ." "We are complete in Him." He covers us so that no part of our former selves is seen. In looking at us, God sees not us, but Christ himself; and He treats us according to what He sees in Him; He blesses us according to the completeness which we possess in Him; He will recompense us hereafter according to the worthiness and perfection which belong to Him. Christ's person represents ours before God as the high priest represented Israel. His work is the substitute for us, and for all work of ours in the matter of acceptance, so that we get according to what He did on earth, and not according to what we do. His righteousness comes in room of ours, so that it is on His righteousness, and not on ours, that the great questions turn in regard to which we deal with God; for He is the end of the law for righteousness. His whole life comes in place of ours, His sufferings in place of ours, His death in place of ours; and in regard to every one of our transactions with God, we may plead what He is, not what we are; what He did and suffered, not what we do or suffer. It is not an infusion or transfusion into us of His goodness or perfection. It is the legal reckoning of these to us by God in all His dealings with us, so that in every transaction between us and God, the question is not, what we deserve, but what Christ deserves. Thus we put on Christ, and are "found in Him"; treated as if He and we were identical or interchangeable. It is a whole Christ whom we put on; it is with a whole Christ that God deals in dealing with us.

II. How this putting on is done. The link by which we become personally connected with Christ is our own believing. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." We put on Christ simply in believing. Our reception of the Father's testimony to the work and person of Christ is the "putting on." There is no other. Full and large is that testimony. It is the declaration of what the Father sees Christ to be; and whoever comes to be of one mind with Him in regard to this Son of whom He testifies, is regarded by Him as clothed with Christ. There is nothing mystical about this putting on, nothing unintelligible, nothing laborious. Men may dislike or reject the idea that a man is saved by believing the divine testimony,—that a man puts on Christ by believing what God says about Him,—but Scripture leaves us in no doubt at all. "Believe," and straightway thou art clothed with Christ. He covers thee from head to foot. Not according to thy works, or prayers, or feelings, or convictions, but according to the simplicity of thy faith,—thy acceptance of the Father's testimony to the person and work, the death, and burial, and resurrection of His only begotten Son,—thou art, from head to foot, clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ; and in the great day of the Lord thou shalt be "found in Him."

III. What is the effect? There are two aspects or sides which are to be regarded in this: (1.) God's side; (2.) the beIiever's.

(1.) God's side. God looks at us and sees us as if we were His own Son. He sees not our deformity and imperfection, but His beauty and perfection; not our sin, but His righteousness; not our unworthiness, but His worthiness. "Thou art all fair," He says; "there is no spot in thee." He loves us accordingly, and deals with us accordingly.

(2.) Our side. (1.) Our consciences are completely satisfied. Not only have we the blood to purge the guilt, but we have the perfection to cover all imperfection, so that we feel that God "sees no iniquity in Jacob, and no transgression in Israel." (2.) Our bands are completely loosed. The certainty of possessing God's favor in such surpassing measure gives the fullest liberty. (3.) Our joy overflows. Such love! Such favor! Such nearness! Such dignity! Such glory! Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us! "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me maybe in them." (4.) Our motives to a holy life are increased. What manner of persons ought we to be who are so regarded by God, so beloved of Him! (5.) Our zeal is quickened. Loved with such a love, and treated in so divine a way, what is there that we are not willing to do for Him?

Our whole life is to be a daily putting on of Christ. Put on, put on! And regarding the sinner He says, "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him."