For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind…
I. THE PROPER CHARACTER OF SANCTIFICATION. This, as it is an act of God upon the human soul, consists in the establishment in it of a divine principle of holiness, expressed, here, as the putting God's laws into the mind and writing them in the heart. This is begun in regeneration. The law of God, the principle of true holiness, is re-established in the inward parts; the man is brought into habitual conformity to it, in all its spirituality, as the one governing principle of his life. This is the proper character of sanctification, as it is a grace of the true Christian.
II. THE SEAT OF SANCTIFICATION. This is, in general, the soul of man: the mind and heart. In both these this blessed principle has its throne, and exerts its paramount, though not undisputed, dominion over the whole man. The body of the believer, itself, experiences the benefit of the sanctification (Romans 6:13; Romans 12:1). Divine grace, in the renewed mind, is a pervading principle, that, like leaven, to which it is compared, never ceases its operation, till it have assimilated to itself all with which it comes in contact. It attacks not one vice, and spares another; corrects not one evil habit, and tolerates the rest. The law of the new creation is nothing less than God's law; and whatever in thought, word, or deed, whatever in tempers, habits, and dispositions, consists not with perfect love to God and man (which is "the fulfilling of the law"), that the renewed man instantly detects, by a kind of spiritual instinct before unknown; an antipathy of nature, as true to itself, as uniform in its actings, as that of water to fire, or of darkness to light. The two cannot exist together in peace. The man now hates sin; strives against it in all its shapes — against corrupt reason and passion both. Satan and his allies in man — the lusts of the flesh and of the mind — are driven into corners; they cannot tyrannise as before; but they yield not easily. The words of the promise lead us to distinguish two parts in this great work, the sanctification of the human soul.
1. The enlightening of the understanding, expressed by putting God's laws into the mind.
2. The engagement of the affections, expressed by writing them in the heart. Both these go together when the man is born again of the Spirit. The soul is sweetly but powerfully drawn to choose what the judgment has been taught to approve. There is given, not the rule only of obedience, but the spirit of obedience; there is a taking away the stony heart out of the flesh, and giving a heart of flesh.
III. THE AUTHOR OF SANCTIFICATION. "I will put... I will write." God, then, is Himself the agent in the establishment of His law in the hearts and minds of His people. None beneath Himself is equal to this great work. The outward means which He uses as preparatory and auxiliary to this great work, are endlessly diversified.
1. The mercy which distinguishes one man from another is not the result of holiness foreseen in the subjects of it. The terms of the covenant of grace run directly counter to such a notion. Sanctification is promised in it to sinners, as a free gift.
2. Holiness is connected with mercy, as the effect with its cause. The revelation of mercy to unrighteousness is God's great means for winning the sinner from his enmity, to love and delight in Him. I will sanctify, saith He, for I will be merciful. These two can never be disjoined.
3. Sanctification is never perfect while the believer is in the body. The conflict between the flesh and the spirit continues to the end, with various success; but, upon the whole, the actings of corruption get weaker, and the habit of grace strengthens in the soul. Still, the spark of evil is not extinguished. Satan lives, and, if permitted, can easily re-kindle it into a flame.
4. The law of the Ten Commandments is still the rule of life to the believer. From the law, as a covenant, we are eternally delivered, through Christ. As a means, therefore, of meriting life, we have nothing whatever to do with the terms of it. Eternal life is given us in Christ (1 John 5:11). But we are therefore "delivered from the law," "that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:2, 4, compare Romans 7:6). The law of Christ is indeed a law of love; but still this " new commandment" is "the old commandment which ye had from the beginning" (1 John if. 7).
5. The security of the believer in Jesus. God has put His hand to the work, and who shall let it?
(Francis Goode, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
WEB: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days," says the Lord; "I will put my laws into their mind, I will also write them on their heart. I will be their God, and they will be my people.