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

Chapter 68 - 1 Corinthians 6:2 - The Past, Present and Future of a Christian Man Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


These words describe a Christian's past, his present, and his future. In the past he was all unrighteousness. In the present he is washed, sanctified, justified. In the future he possesses the kingdom.

I. His past. It is one of sin, utter sin. It may, or it may not be marked by those horrid sins which the ninth verse describes; but it is all unrighteousness; from beginning to end, unrighteousness. The past of these Corinthians had been fearful. In outward sin among the worst of heathendom; the chief of sinners; scarlet and crimson sins; overflowing with abominable crimes. We may not have reached the same pitch of daring wickedness; but we have been "unrighteous," and that is enough; transgressors of the law. The rest is simply a question of degrees; a little more or a little less. One might say, I was not an idolater, or a fornicator, or a drunkard. Be it so. You were an "unrighteous" man, and that is enough. You may have done good deeds, spoken good words, borne a good character, lived a good life, yet you were an "unrighteous" man; and if you do not know this, you are no Christian, You know nothing of yourself.

II. His present. It is the complete reversal of the past. Not reformation merely, but transformation; such a transformation as God only could accomplish; so complete, that he who has undergone it could hardly know himself again. It is God's work; it is through the name of Jesus; it is by the Spirit of God. And he who describes the change was one who knew it by experience; one who had been a blasphemer, a persecutor, a murderer, but who can now tell of his washing, his sanctifying, his justifying; and who can say, "our God." The transformation is threefold:

(1.) Ye are washed. Or it may be, "Ye washed off these." The figure here is not that of baptism, but of the ritual washings, the Levitical purgations, which David referred to when he said, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than the snow"; to which Ezekiel referred when he said, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you"; to which Zechariah referred when he spoke of "the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness." The man is turned from an unclean into a clean thing. His filthy garments are taken off. "Now ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you." This is the "cleansing with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26).

(2.) Ye are sanctified. This is more than the washing. It is something to which the washing is preliminary. It refers specially to consecration or setting apart for the service of God. As the vessels of the sanctuary were first washed, and then set apart with blood,—the blood of consecration,—so is it with us. We are first washed, and then the blood is sprinkled on us for consecration or sanctifying. With this setting apart for God begins the inward work of sanctification; for the two things are inseparable. Formerly we were vessels dedicated to the world's service, or Satan's service; now to the service of the living and holy Lord God.

(3.) Ye are justified. This is yet another step. It is the stamping of these consecrated vessels with a far higher value than they possessed. We are not only consecrated to God's service, but made righteous with the righteousness of God,—justified, raised up to a higher level, because of our oneness with the righteous One. First of all, we are clean as He is clean; then, we are set apart as He is set apart; then, we are righteous as He is righteous. Cleansed, sanctified, justified, these are the three conditions or privileges into which a believing man is brought. All this in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. The name washes, sanctifies, justifies. It is a name of power, containing everything in it that a sinner needs. He who consents to use it gets all that it contains or can procure! The Spirit washes, sanctifies, justifies. He has His part to do in all these; and He does it as the Spirit of Omnipotence! Oh the transformation which that name and that Spirit can accomplish!

III. His future. It is the possession of a kingdom. The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God; but they who are washed, sanctified, and justified shall! They are kings and priests, and shall sit upon the throne of Christ, and inherit the kingdom that cannot be moved. It is

(1.) The kingdom of God. His in every sense and aspect; God's kingdom; Christ's kingdom; the kingdom of heaven.

(2.) An eternal kingdom. It cannot be moved, but shall stand for ever,—unchangeable, incorruptible.

(3.) A holy kingdom. Into it nothing that defileth shall enter. No sin, no imperfection, no death, no evil thing pertaining either to soul or body.

(4.) A glorious kingdom. There the glory dwells, illuminating it in all its circuit. No night there; no darkness; no shadow. All glorious; the King, his princes, his subjects, his palace, his dominions everywhere. Glory dwelleth in Immanuel's land!