Now it is God who establishes both us and you in Christ. He anointed us,
I. THE ANOINTING OF THE SPIRIT.
1. This rite received a significance from its employment under the old covenant in the designation of the prophet, the priest, and the king.
2. This significance is enhanced by the application to the Son of God of the official appellation, the Christ, i.e. the anointed One, the Being consecrated and commissioned by the Eternal.
3. The anointing claimed by the apostle is the qualification, by a supernatural and spiritual power, for holy and responsible office.
II. THE SEALING OF THE SPIRIT.
1. By this sealing the apostle was stamped with the mark which was the sign of Divine property in him.
2. And he was thus inwardly and graciously authenticated as the Lord's messenger to men. By the seal we understand the mark set upon the moral nature, the character, indicating Divine possession and Divine authority.
III. THE EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT. The other operations of the Holy Ghost relate to this present state; this refers to the future.
1. The Spirit within the heart is the earnest of a fuller indwelling; they who receive the Spirit are assured that they shall he "filled with the Spirit."
2. The earnest of a clearer revelation. The light shall brighten until the dawn shall be succeeded by the splendour of noonday.
3. The earnest of a richer, purer joy. The measure in which gladness is experienced in the present is a foretaste of the joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.
4. The earnest of an eternal inheritance. They who are possessed by the Spirit and pervaded by his gracious influences have within them both an anticipation of heaven and a preparation for heaven. To whom the Lord gives the pledge, he will give the redemption; to whom he gives the promise, he will give the glorious fulfilment and the eternal possession. - T.
Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.I. THE CHRISTIAN NEEDS NOT ONLY CONVERTING BUT ESTABLISHING GRACE. He that hath begun any good work in us must perfect it. The weakest with this grace will stand, and the strongest without it will fall.
1. The life of a Christian is a perpetual dependent life. He not only lives by faith in his first conversion, but ever after. He depends upon God for protection and strength throughout his whole course.
2. A Christian, then, should set upon nothing in his own strength (1 Samuel 2:9). God is all our sufficiency (Proverbs 3:6). What do we but make ourselves gods, when we set upon business without invocation and dependence?
3. Let God, therefore, have all the glory of our establishing, and depend on Him by prayer for the same. As all comes of His mere grace, so let all return to His mere glory (Psalm 115:1).
II. BY WHAT MEANS MAY A CHRISTIAN OBTAIN THIS STABLISHING GRACE? Labour for fundamental graces. If the root be strengthened, the tree will stand fast.
1. Humiliation. The foundation of religion is very low. Every grace hath a mixture of humility, because they are all dependencies on God.
2. Dependence upon God, considering our own insufficiency.
3. Beg it earnestly of God. Our strength in Him is altogether by prayer. Bind Him, therefore, with His own promise; beseech Him to do unto thee according to His good word.
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)I. THE NATURAL CHARACTER OF MAN WITH REGARD TO STABILITY, AS DRAWN FOR US IN THE SCRIPTURES. If you look throughout the Scriptures, you will find instability stamped upon it. The instability of the natural man easily discovers itself. His understanding is not capable of comprehending the things of God; the natural affections of men will not embrace the things of God. It follows, then, very obviously that, while neither the understanding nor the affections take hold of the things of God, men may put on religion for a time, but the corruption of their vitiated nature soon breaks out, and they put off the form of godliness with as much indifference as they put it on. Thus did Saul, who seeks the Lord in his difficulties, but when he receives no answer he turns aside to enchantments. But while man is thus unsteady in the pursuit of that which is good, how determined is he in an evil course, even when the pursuit of it brings labour and toil, he makes light of the difficulty, and presses forward (Isaiah 57:10). Yet even in doing evil, man's fickleness betrays itself. As the sick man soon loathes one kind of drink, and calls for another, or when his symptoms are more aggravated, desires to be shifted from one couch to another, so the men of this world continually affect endless variety in their gratifications, finding no rest or satisfaction in any one of them. Let not any, therefore, who is stricken with a sense of his own shameful instability in everything good, draw back from closing with the terms of the gospel, and laying bald of the immovable rock of ages. It was for such Christ died, and such being transformed by the renewing of their mind He at last fixes in the firmament of eternal glory.
II. WHAT MEANS GOD HAS TAKEN TO CORRECT THE NATURAL CHARACTER OF MAN. He has ordained His own Son as the ground and pillar of a building which shall be immovable for ever. But when a man has closed with the Saviour, is he henceforth delivered from all tendency to the fickleness? Not so. Too speedily is he tempted to break his engagement with Him. The operation of the third person in the Godhead is necessary that the goodwill of God towards His people be not defeated. As the jeweller sets the precious diamonds to secure them, even so God by His Holy Spirit secures those who believe by firmly engrafting them into Christ. This operation of the Spirit is expressed in the text in three forms of speech. The first figure is that of anointing. Now the first communications of the Spirit, sweet and fragrant as they are known to be, are well represented by the pouring out of ointment'; but as its sweet savour wastes after a time, another figure is employed to represent His continual influence, to show that the savour of this ointment is not lost — that of sealing (1 John 2:27). There is something to express sweetness; there is something, moreover, to express perpetuity. It may be that your sweet experiences, which you felt, when first you were joined to the Lord, are greatly decayed; but God has given you something more fixed, He is sealing you with His Holy Spirit, and making more abiding impressions upon your souls. The visible impressions of holiness which are discernible in the servants of Christ, and more especially after a season of trial, when after having suffered for a while, they are established, strengthened, settled (1 Peter 5:10), are the broad seal by which they are known to be His. The apostle speaks here of another, a privy seal, "And hath given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (ver. 22). This is the inward testimony and pledge in the heart by which the children of God know that they have been adopted into His family.
III. WHAT SHOULD BE THE RESULT OF THE APPLICATION OF THESE MEANS? If God's purpose of love to us in Christ be so immovably fixed, and so continually testified by the gifts of the anointing, sealing Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance, there ought to be a corresponding purpose of heart on our part to cleave to Him, there should be no halting between two opinions, no lukewarmness, but an entireness of devotion to Him (Colossians 2:6, 7; Hebrews 13:9). Whatsoever labours at love you are engaged in turn not back, break not off from them lightly.
I. THE DEEP SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN STEADFASTNESS. "Anointing" is the means of "establishing" — i.e., God confers steadfastness by bestowing the unction of His Spirit.
1. Notice how deep Paul digs in order to get a foundation for this common virtue.(1) From beginning to end of Scripture "anointing" is the symbol of the communication of the Spirit. Note the felicity of the emblem. Oil smoothes the surface, supples the limbs, is nutritive and illuminating, and is thus an appropriate emblem of the secret, silent, quickening, nourishing, enlightening influences of the Spirit.(2) And inasmuch as here this oil of the Divine Spirit is the true basis of Christian steadfastness, the anointing cannot be consecration to apostolic or other office, but must be the possession of all Christians. "Ye," says John, speaking to the whole democracy of the Christian Church, "have an unction from the Holy One."
2. This anointing is derived from, and parallel with, Christ's anointing. The "Christ" is the Anointed One. "He that establisheth us with you in the Anointed, and hath anointed us, is God." Does not this mean, "Each of you, if you are a Christian, is a Christ"? You, too, are God's Messiahs. On you the same Spirit rests in a measure which dwelt without measure in Him, and consequently you are bound to a prolongation of part of His function. Christians are prophets to make God known to men, priests to offer up spiritual sacrifices, and kings over themselves, and over a world which serves those that love God.
3. It is plain, therefore, how this Divine unction lies at the root of steadfastness. We talk a great deal about the gentleness of Christ; but we do not sufficiently mark the masculine features of the Christ who "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem," and was followed by that wondering group, astonished at the rigidity of purpose that was stamped on His features. That Christ gives us His Spirit to make us inflexible in the pursuit of all that is lovely and of good report, like Himself. We are all too like aneroid barometers, that go up and down with every variation of a foot or two in the level; but if we have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us it will cut the bonds that bind us to the world, and give us a deeper love. The possession of the Spirit sets a man on an isolating stool, and all the currents that move round about him are powerless to reach him, If we have that Spirit within us, it will give us an experience of the certitude and the sweetness of Christ's gospel, which will make it impossible to "cast away the confidence which has" such "recompense of reward." When storms are raging they lash light articles on deck to holdfasts. Let us lash ourselves to the abiding Christ, and we, too, shall abide.
II. THE AIM OR PURPOSE OF THIS CHRISTIAN STEADFASTNESS. "He stablisheth us with you" into or "unto Christ." Our steadfastness, made possible by our possession of the Spirit, is steadfastness —
1. In our relation to Jesus Christ. What Paul here means is —(1) A fixed conviction of the truth that He is the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, and my Saviour.(2) In regard to Christ of our trust and love. He loves ever; we therefore should be steadfast in our answering love to Him.(3) Habitual obedience, which is always ready to do His will. So we answer Him "Yea!" with our "Amen!" and having an unchanging Christ to rest upon, rest upon Him unchanging. "Be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord."
2. Such steadfastness has for its result a deeper penetration into Christ and a fuller possession of Him. The only way by which we can grow nearer to our Lord is by steadfastly keeping beside Him. You cannot get the spirit of a landscape unless you sit down and gaze, and let it soak into you. You cannot get to know a man until you live with him. "As the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in Me."
III. THE VERY HUMBLE AND COMMONPLACE SPHERE IN WHICH THE CHRISTIAN STEADFASTNESS MANIFESTS ITSELF. It was nothing of more importance than that Paul had said he was going to Corinth and did not, on which he brings all this array of great principles to bear. The highest gifts of God's grace and the greatest truths of God's Word are meant to regulate the tiniest things in our daily life. It is no degradation to the lightning to have to carry messages. It is no profanation of the sun to gather its rays into a burning-glass to light a kitchen fire with. And it is no unworthy use of the Divine Spirit to say it will keep a man from precipitate decisions as to little things in life, and from changing about without a sufficient reason. If your religion does not influence the trifles, what is it going to influence? Our life is made up of trifles. If your religion does not influence the little things, it will never influence the big ones. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much."
2. And you can do no good in the world without steadfastness. Unless a man can hold his own, and turn an obstinate negative to temptation, he will never come to any good at all, either in this life or in the next, and there is only one infallible way of doing it, and that is to let the "strong Son of God" live in you, and in Him to find your strength for resistance, for obedience, for submission.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
I. WHAT ARE THOSE GRACES WHICH WE RECEIVE FROM CHRIST'S FULNESS?
1. The grace of favour and acceptance; for the same love that God bears to Christ, He bears to all His, though not in so high a degree.
2. The grace of sanctification, answerable to the grace of sanctification in Him.
3. The rich privileges and prerogatives that issue to persons sanctified.
II. WHY IS IT CALLED HERE AN ANOINTING? Because, as the holy anointing (Exodus 30:31-33), was not to be applied to profane uses, so neither are the graces of the Spirit to be under-valued.
III. WHAT ARE THE VIRTUES OF THIS OINTMENT?
1. It hath a cherishing power; it revives the drooping soul, and cheers a fainting spirit.
2. It hath a strengthening power. It makes our limbs vigorous. So doth grace fortify the soul.
3. Ointment doth excellently delight and refresh our spirits (John 12:3). So grace is a wondrous sweet thing, and that which makes a man sweet is grace. This cures our spiritual distempers, beautifying the inner man, and making the whole frame of a Christian's carriage sweet and delectable —(1) To God, who loves the scent of His own grace, wheresoever He finds it.(2) To angels (Luke 15:10).(3) To the Church. So far as a man is gracious, he improves his abilities to glorious uses. Grace is offensive to none but to wicked men.
4. An ointment consecrates persons to holy uses. Anointed persons are raised above the ordinary rank. The graces of God's Spirit elevate men above the condition of others with whom they live. (Psalm 105:15).
5. An ointment is a royal liquor. So the graces of God's Spirit, where they are, will be uppermost, they will guide and govern all.
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)
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