The Three-Fold Overthrow of Sell
Ezekiel 21:27
I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.

I. THE LORD REPEATS THREE TIMES THE EXPRESSION, "I WILL OVERTURN IT." It may indeed be said with respect to this repetition of the words three times, that it may signify the positiveness and certainty of God's determination. But still I believe, if we come to look at it in a closer point of view, we shall find that it is literally true, — that the repetition of it three times does not merely intend to express the certainty of God's overthrow of self in the soul, but that there are three distinct occasions — three clear, positive, and direct overturnings of self, and bringing it into utter ruin, in order to the setting up of Christ in His glory and beauty upon the wreck and ruins of the creature.

1. The first prominent feature of self is in some cases profane self; that is, many of God's elect, before they are called by the blessed Spirit, are living in open profanity, in drunkenness, swearing, and the barefaced practice of notorious sins. But whenever the Spirit of God begins to work in the heart, He overturns profane self, that is, He brings such solemn convictions into the conscience — He shoots such arrows from the bow of God into the soul, that self in its profane shape is overcome and overthrown thereby.

2. Here, then, is a soul which stands overturned before God; a wreck and ruin before "the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." But what will a man do when he is reduced to these circumstances? Why, he will begin to build, and will endeavour to set up a temple in which he believes God will take pleasure, of which He may approve, and which shall, in some measure, recommend him to Jehovah's favour. A second overturning, then, is necessary, an overthrow of righteous or holy self. And what is the Lord's lever to overturn this second temple, built out of the ruins of the first, but not "the place of His rest," as being still the work of men's hands? A spiritual discovery of the deep pollution of our hearts and natures before Him. Profanity is overturned by the application of the law with power to the conscience; but this false holiness, this mock spirituality, is overturned by the discovery to our consciences of the deep pollution that lurks in our carnal minds; this is more or less the breaking up of "the fountains of the great deep," and discovering with power to the conscience the truth of those words: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." As we try, then, to be holy, sin rises up from the depths of our carnal mind, and overturns that fabric which we are seeking to erect.

3. Now let us trace a little what course self will steer. Why, this rest. less wretch now runs in another channel, which is to slight the solemn inward teachings of God, and to take hold of the doctrines of grace by the hand of nature, without waiting to have these heavenly truths applied, from time to time, by the mouth of God to our hearts. And as some sweetness has been felt in them there seems to be some warrant for so doing. But presumption creeps upon us in such imperceptible and subtle ways, that we scarcely know we are in thus delusive path before we find a precipice at the end of the road. And what has led us there? Our pride and ambition, which are not satisfied with being nothing, with occupying the place where God puts us, and being in that posture where He Himself sets us down. We must needs grasp at something beyond God's special teachings in the soul; we must needs exalt our stature beyond the height which God Himself has given us, adding a cubit to our dwarfish proportions. Here, then, is the third form of self which is to be overturned, as much as the two preceding forms, and that is presumptuous self.

II. THE SETTING UP OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON THE RUINS OF SELF. "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him." There is one then to come "whose right it is," there is a King who has a right to the throne, and to the allegiance of His subjects; a right to all that they are and to all that they have. But whence has He gained this right? "Until He come whose right it is." It is His right, then, first, by original donation and gift, the Father having given to the Son all the elect. "Here am I," says Jesus, and the children that Thou hast given Me." "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." Then, so far as we are His, Jesus has a right to our persons; and in having a right to our persons, He has, by the same original donation of God the Father, a right to our hearts and affections. But He has another right, and that is by purchase and redemption, He having redeemed His people by His own blood — having laid down His life for them, and thus bought and purchased them, and so established a right to them by the full and complete price which He Himself paid down upon the cross for them. This two-fold right He exercises every time that He lays a solemn claim to any one of the people whom He has purchased. "Until He come whose right it is." Then there is a coming of Jesus into the souls of His people; not a coming into their judgments to inform their heads; not a coming into their minds merely to enable them to speak with their tongues concerning them, but there is a solemn coming of Christ, with power and glory and grace and majesty into the souls and consciences of His elect family, whereby He sets up His kingdom upon its basis, erects a temple for Himself, and builds up His own throne of mercy and truth upon the ruins of self. But this is not a work which is once done, and needs no more repetition. For we must bear in mind that this wreck and ruin of self is not a heap of dead stones. Self is a living principle; not a slaughtered and buried rebel, but a breathing antagonist to the Lord of life and glory. Self will ever work, then, against His supreme authority, and will ever rebel against His sovereign dominion. And therefore if we look into our hearts we shall find that day by day we need this overturning work to be done afresh, and again and again repeated in us.

(J. C. Philpot.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.

WEB: I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: this also shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it [him].

Social Changes Subservient to the Kingdom of Christ
Top of Page
Top of Page