THE BLEND OF GRACES IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
KH I have been thinking about some lines of a hymn that we often sing to the Lord Jesus,
In Thee all human graces blend,
And to Thy Father e’er ascend
As incense rare.
From these passages we might enquire into this wonderful blend of human graces seen in perfection in the Lord Jesus. In the Old Testament, and in the Gospels and epistles, a range of different qualities are often used to describe the Lord Jesus.
Isaiah 11 looks on to the Messiah, to Jesus: it speaks about the Spirit of Jehovah resting upon Him, and then mentions these different qualities: “The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah” (v2); different aspects that are blended in the Lord Jesus in a way that is so delightful to Heaven.
The Scripture says, “A Shoot out of the stock of Jesse” (v1). In David the son of Jesse, to a limited extent, we see faithfulness to God, concern for justice, and compassion for others. We see his beautiful lament for Saul in respect of the anointing; his Psalms with praises to God; and his concern for the Ark. In David there was a blend of features, so that God could say of him, “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My heart” (Acts 13:22; see also 1 Sam 13:14).
In Psalm 45, we again see a variety of moral qualities: truth, meekness, righteousness (v4). And then in relation to His garments, “Myrrh and aloes, cassia, are all Thy garments” (v8) – these were some of the spices that were used in the holy anointing oil that was put upon the high priest and also put upon the priestly family (Exod 30:23‑25). The high priest was anointed without blood (Exod 29:7), and then the priestly family were anointed after the blood was put upon them (Exod 29:20‑21). God intended that this wonderful blend of qualities, seen in perfection in Jesus, should also be seen in His people.
The expression, “Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made Thee glad,” would remind us that an animal had died. As a result of the death of Christ, the anointing should be seen in the people of God. All believers who have come to Christ, who have received forgiveness of sins, are anointed with the Holy Spirit, and therefore the graces of Christ ought to be manifested in them. Paul says, “For we are a sweet odour of Christ to God, in the saved and in those that perish” (2 Cor 2:15).
Galatians 5 refers to “the fruit of the Spirit.” There are nine different qualities that compose the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, self-control” – one fruit, but different aspects to it. God intends that these aspects, seen in perfection in Jesus, might come into expression in each of us.
Finally, Colossians shows that saints as set together should be marked by a blend of qualities: “bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another.” Such qualities, again, were seen in perfection in Jesus.
I think if we are honest we are often rather one-sided. Some of us perhaps emphasise one aspect, others perhaps emphasise another aspect. I think we continually need to go to the Lord to view how every feature was in harmony in Him. As we feed our minds on Him, and seek to make way for the Holy Spirit in our lives, I believe that there would be more of the graces of Christ seen in us.
I wonder if we can help one another, to consider firstly some of the perfections of Jesus as Man, and then the bearing upon ourselves as we are left here, in the absence of Christ, until He come.
BED There is a beautiful blend with nothing predominant in Christ. Everything was held beautifully in Him. But in Isaiah 11 it says, “A Branch out of his roots shall be fruitful.” Does that bear on what you said later, that God wants some fruit for Himself?
KH That is right. All that delighted His heart was seen in Jesus. The Father’s voice was heard, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I have found My delight” (Matt 3:17). But, as others have pointed out, it does not say ‘all My delight,’ because it left room for God’s people to be fruitful for Him so that God might have delight in our lives as well.
KEGB When you speak about these wonderful features being seen in Jesus in manhood, you are not limiting it to what came out when He was down here, are you? Do they not still reside in Him as a Man in glory?
KH Oh yes, I hope I did not give the impression that it was only when He was down here that they came into expression. As we sometimes sing:–
No trait is lost, each beauteous grace we see,
All brought through death to shine eternally.
All these traits are still there in Christ risen and glorified at the right hand of God. We could have read another passage in James about the seven different aspects of wisdom. This wisdom that comes from Jesus glorified, is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, and so on (Jas 3:17). Thank you for emphasising that they are not lost, they still reside in Jesus in glory.
TRP Would you say something as to what prefixes these qualities, “The Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon Him” (v2)?
KH That happened to Jesus. All the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him (Col 2:9) throughout His life on earth. But when He was about 30 years of age the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Luke 3:22), and He was anointed in view of public service. These qualities were displayed in His service here below, and He is a Pattern for us. The Holy Spirit came upon Him as a dove. It does not come upon us as a dove. It came upon believers in the beginning of Acts as cloven tongues as of fire (Acts 2:3), because there was sinful flesh to be kept under control. Yet God intends that these qualities seen in Jesus might be also seen in believers.
TRP The Spirit of God found perfect rest in the Man Christ Jesus. Therefore these qualities shine in their perfection there.
KH They do, and that is why we need to feed our souls on Christ. We need to spend time in being occupied with His beauty so that He might become our standard in every way.
KHW Are you thinking that the Holy Spirit’s service in the present day would be in view of us entering in to something of the joy that the Father finds in the Son as these features are marked out in expression in Him and seen in the saints?
KH Yes. It was the Father that said, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I have found My delight” (2 Pet 1:17). Think of God’s joy in finding a Man here on earth that glorified Him in every aspect. Even as a boy of 12 we see Someone Who was both dedicated to the Father’s business, yet fulfilling the position that He had come into by returning to Nazareth and being in subjection to Joseph and Mary. What a wonderful blend was in Him then!
AND Did the wickedness and the iniquity of man, that showed itself in the time of the Lord Jesus and also throughout man’s history, provide a backdrop to the beauty of His holiness and righteousness? Would you say that the wickedness of man provides a backdrop?
KH Yes, I think that is right. Before the Flood, when there was violence and corruption, “Jehovah repented that He had made Man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart” (Gen 6:11,6). In Jesus we see something that is completely different. We see meekness; we see holiness. We see an absolute commitment to the will of God as He lived in a hostile world. We see the Lord’s compassion toward others, but we also see that He would not be diverted in any way from the path of God’s will in a lawless world.
DJB These are not just arbitrary qualities, are they, that God has chosen that some features should be approved and others not? But rather, these are the qualities that man needs and that are expressive of the heart of God towards man and man’s proper response to Him, do you think?
KH That is right. This passage sets out that there will be peace and harmony produced when the sway of Jesus is publicly seen. In the history of man there has sometimes been misery for people as a result of dictatorships and arbitrary rule. But when the world comes under the benign rule of Jesus, there will be blessing for men and glory for God.
TRP We see His wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, in the Gospels. We also see it in the epistles, do we not? And we also learn it as we walk with Jesus Himself. We look back over our lives and we see the incredible wisdom of our Lord in how He has ordered things.
KH That is right. In John 15, Jesus says “I am the true Vine” (v1). He then refers to the branches of the Vine abiding in Him and being purged, or pruned, by the Father as the Husbandman. I think, as we look over our lives, we can see at times the Father’s discipline so that we become more ready to take on some of the qualities seen in Jesus and give more fruit for God.
TRP Do not forget that in the parable of the Vine the Vine Itself does not produce the fruit. We have the privilege of being branches and being the fruit producers for the Vine.
KH That is right – the Lord was here for the pleasure of God, but He intended that others would produce fruit too. And so he says, “Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4), a close, intimate connection between the Vine and the branches with a view to you and me producing fruit.
MJC Do these three features of the Spirit of God have any working out now in the assembly?
KH Yes, I think they do. How many features did you say?
MJC I was thinking of what we have just been considering, “the spirit of wisdom,” “the spirit of counsel,” and “the spirit of knowledge.”
KH Yes, I had always thought of them as being seven features. God’s intention is that we derive from Christ, and that what comes from Him should permeate the saints of the assembly. Take, for example, “counsel and might:” in the assembly Christ’s rule should be supreme. It should be supreme over each one of us individually and in our links with one another. “Counsel and might” would show that Jesus gives advice as well as providing absolute rule over our lives.
MJC As seen supremely in the Lord it works out in millennial rule, and as you read through these verses you see that first of all wickedness and evil have to be put down, and then there is peace and joy.
KH Yes, that is good.
MJC That should be so as there are assembly conditions.
KH That is right. Assembly conditions require Christ’s rule. Evil is dealt with, righteousness is predominant, and other features that belong to Christ are seen in harmonious conditions. That is why we read in Colossians 3, because the rule of Christ and the peace of Christ preside there.
PJC I am interested in your thought as to the balance. Could you say some more about the way these features are seen in balance as blending in the Lord Jesus? I wondered if you could help us as to how we can see that in Him and how it might work out in us.
KH One example is in Mark 3 when the Lord healed a man on the sabbath day. He was angry, righteously angry, at people who wanted to prevent Him healing (v5). He also showed compassion towards the man so that he would be set free to serve God. If we think about that we say, ‘Well, can I learn from that?’ Jesus said, “Learn from Me” (Matt 11:29). We begin by admiring His qualities. Psalm 45 refers to “truth and meekness and righteousness” (v4). Jesus always stood for the truth. He was marked by meekness in the presence of His enemies. He practised righteousness. As I admire this blend, then the Spirit of God would help me to take these qualities on.
DJB In Exodus 30, both the anointing oil and the incense were deliberately composed of a blend of spices so that no one would predominate. What do you think?
KH You are quite right. The blend in the holy anointing oil might suggest the graces of Christ towards men, and the incense that which was offered up to God. I have seen people who emphasise righteousness, yet who have been marked by hardness, a bad spirit, lack of love and compassion. That was not what was seen in Jesus. On the other hand it was not all compassion and kindness. He stood for the truth of God and He suffered to maintain that, which would emphasise the myrrh aspect – the sufferings of Jesus to maintain all that was due to God. There is in Jesus, as the perfect Man, a wonderful balance that gave pleasure to God.
TRP Would it be right to say that the blending agent is love? Love for His God, and love for you and me.
KH Yes, that is right. In Exodus 21 the Hebrew bondman says, “I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go free” (v5). This devotion and commitment was displayed in Jesus: love for God, love for His assembly, love for His people.
BED What was so perfect in Jesus came out in those who followed Him when they received the Holy Spirit, do you think? Do we need the Holy Spirit to get these qualities?
KH We do. We must first of all accept the death of Christ, accept that we are sinners and we deserve the wrath of God. Thankfully we learn that Christ has washed us from our sins in His blood and has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Exodus 30 it says of the holy anointing oil: “Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured” (v32). The Israelites were also not to make anything like it. We cannot produce these qualities without the help of the Holy Spirit.
KHW Do you think that the disciples in John 13 had an illustration of “the spirit of counsel and might” when the Lord stood to wash their feet? And yet they would have witnessed the might of the Lord set out in John 11 when He raised Lazarus.
KH That is very good. There was certainly might there. “Lazarus, come forth:” no one else could say that but Jesus. But in John 11 we also see the compassion of Jesus. He wept (v35). He felt sympathetically for Martha and Mary. And yet He had said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (v25). He had the power to bring Lazarus out of the tomb and He also could enter sympathetically into the situation. And I like what you say, too, about John 13 because Jesus says, “Ye call Me the Teacher and the Lord, and ye say well, for I am so” (v13). Well, that means we come under His authority, and accept His rule over our lives, and then we have to learn from Him. We have His wonderful precepts but we also have His example, do we not? God intended that Christ would have companions. Christ is unique, but He has secured companions through His death. He is anointed “with oil of gladness above Thy companions” (Heb 1:9). Those companions would be those who are like Himself.
JB This seems to be the result of His loving righteousness. God took account of that, did He not?
KH He did.
JB Do you think that is how we should be?
KH We should indeed love righteousness. Jesus spoke about His disciples suffering for righteousness when He began His teaching in Matthew 5 (v10). Righteousness is the first thing in the gospel, the “righteousness of God …, on the principle of faith, to faith” (Rom 1:17). God has a righteous basis to put away sin and bring us into His kingdom. “For the kingdom of God is … righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). There is a blend of things again in the kingdom, is there not?
JB So that Scripture is quoted in Hebrews 1, referring to the glory of His Person. “Thy throne, O God” (v8). And then in Hebrews 2 He has His companions (vv11-13).
KH Yes, that is very good, there are companions: “Both He that sanctifies and those sanctified are all of one” (v11). So the same qualities are to be seen in the sanctified as in the Sanctifier. He is unique, of course, but believers are set aside through the death of Jesus for holy purposes, for praise God-ward. In the incense and the holy anointing oil there was, in type, a savour of Christ.
DJB What would you say about the ‘therefores’ in Psalm 45? “Grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever” (v2), and “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee” (v7), carefully repeated in the first chapter of Hebrews (v9).
KH Well, say something yourself. I would be glad of your thought on it.
DJB I recall that Mr Bellett was much impressed with the moral glory of the Lord Jesus, which is not quite the same as His eternal glory as God but rather what He has displayed that is suitable and excellent in man even in a scene of adversity. Do you think that has anything to do with these ‘therefores?’
KH I think that is right. Grace being poured into His lips would remind us of Luke 4, when He stood up to read and He stopped in the middle of the verse (v19, cf Isa 61:2). We are in a day of grace. We should never forget it. But then, in Matthew there is perhaps more emphasis on the side of righteousness that our brother has alluded to. Mr Bellett in his book ‘The Moral Glories of our Lord Jesus Christ’ sets out many instances of the beautiful blend of moral glories seen in Jesus. We are alluding to several of them, but we can find many as we look through the Gospels.
MSB It is interesting that you draw attention to the Lord in Luke 4, because the result of His preaching there was that they wanted to throw Him over the precipice (v29).
KH That is right. What did He then do?
MSB He went out from the midst of them, did He not (v30)?
KH We see how He acts in adversity. I think we see there something of the meekness of Jesus as well as the maintenance of the truth of God.
MSB I was just thinking that in our natural hearts there is no appreciation of these qualities, is there? There was no appreciation of Christ when He moved amongst the Jews when He was here.
KH There was an appreciation with some in whom God was working, but there was also considerable opposition. But what you say is true, God has to work in human hearts. Our hearts naturally are unregenerate; they do not appreciate the beauty of Jesus: “When we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isa 53:2). It is a wonderful thing if God has wrought in our hearts so that we see beauty in Jesus. We then say, ‘I would like to be like that.’ He is our Model so that we might follow in His steps (1 Pet 2:21).
DJB I wonder if you could say something about the first chapter of John’s Gospel in this connection. The disciples contemplated His glory, the “glory as of an Only-begotten;” and then it says, “Full of grace and truth;” and then it says “For of His fulness we all have received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:14,16). How did that work out, and does it work out as well for us today?
KH “Full of grace and truth” stresses the blend in Jesus: there was grace, He showed the favour of God towards men when He was here; but He always maintained the truth of God in every situation. Then, as you point out, “Of His fulness we all have received, and grace upon grace.” We are told that “in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” That is now, is it not? And, we “are complete in Him” (Col 2:9‑10), which would mean that there is something flowing down from Christ into us to affect our walk and our ways in a practical sense, do you think?
DJB Yes, I am sure of that. But say some more about how it works out in practice, because all of us, older and younger, need a supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. There are few things more attractive than to see a soul that is formed by the grace of God, but how is it to work out?
KH First of all, as our brother has rightly said, we commence by realising that the human heart naturally has no place for Jesus. If in the sovereign mercy of God we turn to Christ as our Saviour, then virtue flows into us. When the woman touched the hem of the garment of Jesus and received a blessing from Him, that was initial; virtue from Christ went out from Him to her, she received of His fullness (Luke 8:46). That was a start. Our brother alluded to abiding in Christ. That would mean we receive grace upon grace. I think it works out individually. It also works out as we are together: we can receive something from Christ as together. I received this impression for our reading when I was in a meeting in Croydon a few weeks ago: when someone gave out that hymn, ‘In Thee all human graces blend,’ it touched a fresh chord in my heart. It is not a question of age or maturity, but each believer needs to derive from His fullness daily, to keep our minds fresh and clean, and also to form us after Christ.
TRP In John 6, the manna and the feeding all flows out of the Lord personally, feeding the five thousand. It is recounted there that He personally gave food to every individual and every individual was satisfied with it (vv11‑12).
KH John 6 is a good Scripture because it speaks about ongoing feeding – ‘He that eats Me’ (vv54‑58). It is not just coming to Christ once and that is the end of it: we need to keep feeding on Him. We are to feed on the One Who has laid down His life. Now He is in glory, and He would give us a supply to keep us going day by day. Both individually, and in our links together, we should get something for our souls. We can get it personally, and we can get it through one another. That is the value of being together. In a meeting for prayer, for example, you can get food for your soul from the offering, the prayer, that goes up from another.
MJC Can you say some more about receiving, because what any of us may have we have received, have we not?
KH That is right. Paul says that – “What hast thou which thou hast not received?” (1 Cor 4:7). It all comes from Jesus. We do not see Him personally because He is in glory, but we can receive from Him. That is how we grow and develop. There are bountiful supplies in Him. If we are not receiving from Christ, there is something wrong with the channel of communication on our side. It may get blocked up through sin, or perhaps through other things, on our side. That is why we become dull in our souls and drift off into bad things.
MJC That makes us very thankful for the service of the Holy Spirit.
KH He takes of Christ’s things and He shows them to us (John 16:14). In Genesis 24, at different stages in Rebecca’s life, she received jewels from the servant: “All the treasure of his master was under his hand” (v10); when the servant saw her service at the well, he gave her jewels (v22), and he did so again later before she journeyed and came to Isaac (v53). The Holy Spirit loves to bestow wealth where there is a desire for it. We have in Galatians 5 the fruit of the Spirit. We are in a world that is marked by the works of the flesh. Yet the Holy Spirit is indwelling believers to produce this fruit.
TRP The Holy Spirit is a Person, so that God is dwelling in each believer. Do I really recognise that? Do I let Him take control? Am I subject to Him in heart, in mind and soul? That is the test. We accept the truth that He is here. We accept the truth that He is indwelling. But do I really own that He is really dwelling in me as a divine Person?
KH That is a challenge. It is interesting that Ephesians 5:18 refers to being filled with the Spirit, and the parallel passage in Colossians 3:16 speaks about the word of Christ dwelling in us richly. A practical evidence of what you are saying is in letting God’s word sink into our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit challenges us, and He would convict us as to anything we do that is not right, so that we judge it before God. He also occupies us with the beauties of Jesus.
BED Do you think it is very striking the way Scripture teaches us by contrasts? In this section here we have the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19) – a list of them – and then the fruit of the Spirit – a list of it. It is very practical. We can see what the works of the flesh are and we can see what the fruit of the Spirit is. And the latter is what we are to pursue, is it?
KH That is right. The works of the flesh involve people pleasing themselves. When we become believers we should live for Christ; the Holy Spirit makes Christ our continual object, and produces this fruit in our lives that is for the glory of God.
MSB Can you help us as to how, practically, we can give place to the Spirit? We have a struggle, do we not?
KH We do. That is right. The struggle is mentioned in verse 17, “The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” The question is, Who is going to win? Romans 7 provides details about the struggle that goes on in believers. You and I still have sin within us, and we have a tendency to do what is wrong. In Romans 7 the person cries out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?” (v24), and then says, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ” (v25). As we look outside of ourselves to Christ as our Deliverer, the Spirit of God then helps us. And that is why, in the preaching and in the ministry, Christ should be prominent, so that souls are freshly attracted to Him and away from other things. But it is an ongoing struggle that does not stop as we get older. We might not have the same strength to do certain wicked things, but yet it is a struggle all the time. Sometimes people talk as if it were always other persons that were wrong; I have to recognise that the flesh is in me, and that I am quite capable of all these works of the flesh. By knowing my own weaknesses I become dependent on God. I then seek His help by prayer, and the study of the word that has a cleansing effect upon my life. But you have more thoughts; we need to help one another, since your question is very important.
MSB You spoke about Romans. It is the Christian requiring deliverance, and we find that we have a resource in the Spirit there to help us (ch8). I was just thinking of the young ones, because they come up against a lot of temptations, and how are they going to overcome?
KH It is important to remember that “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). There is power in the Holy Spirit to fulfil responsibility. I might fail; alas, I do fail; but there is power in divine Persons to enable us to fulfil our responsibilities. We should not forget that, therefore we need to pray and seek God’s help each day. If you are conscious of danger and trouble, you seek advice and you seek strength. It is like being in a foreign country which has a different currency. You make sure you have some local money available so that you can spend when you are away from home. It is the same with us believers, we need divine resources during our pilgrim life.
DJB The man who speaks, or who is spoken of, in the seventh chapter of Romans has a fundamental desire to please God and do what is right. That would be a good starting point, would it not – acknowledging Christ as Lord, and desiring to come under His will and be subject to Him?
KH That is why we need a good start in Christian life. That is why Paul preached a sound gospel, repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the kingdom of God. That establishes a Man to be an Object for faith and Whose word is to be obeyed. The Lord Jesus then becomes a Model for us as well.
AND Could you say something about being delivered from the law? I was noticing that the law is mentioned a lot in Galatians, but in verse 18 of this chapter it says, “If ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under law,” and then at the end of verse 23, “Against such things there is no law.” It is a wonderful thing to be delivered, but I wonder if you could say something more about that.
KH Coming back again to Romans 7, we “have been made dead to the law by the body of the Christ, to be to Another” (v4). We are not left in a vacuum. When we come to Christ we are not left to do what we like. On the other hand, we are not under the law of Moses, we are under the rule of Christ. It says, “To be to Another” – in other words, instead of the law controlling me, Jesus controls me. I would rather have Someone Who has died for me on the cross to govern my life than just be governed by a code of rules.
JB The flesh is a great hindrance to these features coming out. I was thinking of the next verse after where you read, “They that are of the Christ have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts” (v24). Can you help us as to that?
KH We all have to recognise that we still have the flesh in us. I may have a bad temper, naturally, but I need the Spirit’s help to overcome that. I think that, if we are honest before God in our prayers, and we recognise our weaknesses and our frailties, then we ask Him to help us to overcome them. I remember a situation some years ago when I was in contact with some people who were opposed, and I was angry with them. I had to meet them, and I sought God’s help not to lose my temper while we spoke. I think the Lord helped to subdue me so that I said only the things that were needed. When we recognise our weaknesses, we turn to the Lord Who can supply us with strength. He is an all-the-way-home Saviour. “Of His fulness we all have received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16).
PJC It is very encouraging that the last of the qualities that are mentioned is self-control. The Spirit can actually help us with self-control, so that we are able to display that true blend that we see in Christ.
KH That very important feature needs to be seen in our lives, because we discredit the name of Jesus if we are not marked by self-control. Paul said he buffeted his body and kept it under control “lest after having preached to others I should be myself rejected” (1 Cor 9:27). He recognised that he could be ruined as far as the testimony of the Lord was concerned. Certain evil things have more appeal when we are young perhaps, but others, such as schools of opinion, when we are old. We can get under the power of the flesh in these things instead of being under the control of Christ. We need the help of the Spirit of God.
MJC How far do you think that the first three features have a more important starting point in our experience? It says, “Love, joy, peace.” “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5). We are filled with spiritual joy, and we have spiritual peace. The other features have to be worked out in us, do they not?
KH Yes, they all have to be worked out in us because they need to be continued. Take joy, for example. Sometimes we get down in ourselves and lose hope. But the Spirit of God would help us in continual joy. Naturally, I might have a short fuse and not be marked by long-suffering. But we see from the Gospels how Jesus treated the disciples with forbearance. They said wrong things at times, and argued amongst themselves. In one instance He put a child in their midst and taught them by a practical example (Matt 18:2). The Spirit of God is still producing this fruit in us. We have not yet reached the perfect state.
MJC Neither are we left to our own devices.
KH That is right, we are not left to our own devices, whether individually in our daily lives or in our links together. As someone has said, ‘the Holy Spirit has come to indwell us.’ How powerful is the Sprit of God! “God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of wise discretion” (2 Tim 1:7). He has come to indwell believers. We have a resource. But we must make use of it, not turn the tap off, as it were.
KHW Is that why the Spirit’s normal service is to occupy us with Christ, because that is where the blend of these features is seen so perfectly?
KH That is right. He does that so that we might become more like Christ.
I thought we might speak a little on Colossians 3, where there is emphasis on believers as in their relations with one another. We are still in mixed conditions. I have to remember that not only have I still got the flesh in me, but you have as well, and so has every other brother and sister. So we are told to be marked by “forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any should have a complaint against any; even as the Christ has forgiven you, so also do ye” (v13). That is one of the features that should mark the Christian circle where Christ’s authority and His peace preside in our hearts. These are important things in working out relations with one another while we are still in mixed conditions.
DJB This does have to do with “Having put off the old man … and having put on the new” (vv9‑10). Could you say something about that?
KH This epistle, like others, contains important teaching at the beginning: the apostle emphasises the greatness of Christ and His many glories, some of them connected with His deity, others with His manhood. He draws attention to spiritual dangers and the need of holding fast the Head (ch 2:19). He then exhorts them to seek the things which are above (ch 3:1), and to put to death certain things (ch 3:5). We have therefore to be hard with ourselves. We have to put to death certain things because they are just what mark men and women in the flesh. But then there are certain things we put off like taking off dirty clothes, and then we put on features of Christ. Putting off and putting on are deliberate actions, do you not think?
DJB Yes, I just noticed in verse 10 that it is “according to the image of Him that has created him.” That is God’s mind for man, that we should be like Him. It was seen in measure at the beginning of Genesis and it soon failed. But this is an image which we are to bear, is it not? It is to be seen practically.
KH God has “predestinated” us “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29). That will be physical when Christ comes and we have bodies of glory. But the Spirit of God is working to form us morally like Christ now, is He not?
MJC Is that the force of “elect of God” (v12)?
KH It is “as the elect of God.” All believers are the elect of God, but are we up to the calling? Are we in keeping with it? So we are to put on the new man. There are things which do not belong to us as persons who are saved by the grace of God and called by God, and they should be put off.
TRP We have to put them off, as you say, because these things are natural to us, are they not?
KH I think that is right. Naturally I think of what is best for me. But if I put on bowels of compassion, I am thinking about others and how I can serve others and how I can meet the needs of others; even perhaps serving some people who might irritate me and against whom I might have a complaint. Can I do something that would show somebody the grace of Christ? These are things that we need to think through. We are to “consider one another for provoking to love and good works” (Heb 10:24).
TRP It comes back again to our Lord. He never considered for Himself.
KH In Romans Paul brings that in, “For the Christ also did not please Himself” (Rom 15:3). It is a very striking thing how often the apostle Paul, when he is giving exhortations to God’s people, keeps bringing in examples about Jesus. For example, when he is referring to giving to the saints in 2 Corinthians, he brings in the beautiful gem, “For your sakes He, being rich, became poor, in order that ye by His poverty might be enriched” (2 Cor 8:9). That is how the Spirit of God helps us. That is how we can help one another, too, by projecting Christ and speaking of Him to one another to draw attention to what is excellent in Jesus. The Spirit of God would then help us to put on these excellencies ourselves.
TRP So it is sharing what I have personally learnt from being in the presence of Christ. It is not sharing just knowledge, is it?
KH Knowledge is important, but we want to share what we get from the Lord. So He says, “Learn from Me” (Matt 11:29). I remember hearing long ago a brother saying we do not learn anything properly until we learn it from Jesus.
2 October 2010