by Arthur W. Pink
“For the kingdom of God (or our service to Christ) is not (consists not in) meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men” (Rom. 14: 17, 18). By which word “righteousness” he meaneth, as James doth, the royal law, the perfect law, which is the moral precept evangelized or delivered to us by the hand of Christ (James 2:8, 9). The law was given twice at Sinai; the last time it was given with a proclamation of grace and mercy of God, and of the pardon of sins going before: Exodus 19 and 34:1-10. The second giving is here intended: for so it cometh after faith, which first receiveth the proclamation of forgiveness. Hence we are said to do this “righteousness” in the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit. Now he that in these things serveth Christ, is accepted of God, and approved of men. For who is he that can justly find fault with him that fulfilleth the royal law from a principle of faith and love? “If ye fulfill the royal law according to the Scriptures,—Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself—ye do well”; ye are approved of men. Again, he that hath loveth another, hath fulfilled the law, for love is the fulfilling of the law. He then that serveth Christ according to the royal law, from faith and love going before, he is a fit person for church communion. God accepteth him, men approve him. Now, that the royal law is the moral precept read James 2:8-12. It is also called the “law of liberty” because the bondage is taken away by forgiveness going before; and this it is by which we are judged.—John Bunyan, 1660.
by Arthur W. Pink
But alas, Satan and sin work upon our native corruptions, and with open eyes we go again and again into sin, and bring a heavy load of guilt upon our consciences. The “law” which Paul speaks of as being at work in his members (Rom. 7:23) is nothing else than a love of sin. This is too strong for the Christian, and though he seeks to be more diligent in reading, meditation, prayer, repenting and believing, the victory he longs for comes not to him. Yea,--we will not gloss over the solemn fact, but honestly acknowledge it,--matters get worse and worse. We read the Word, but it seems to have no power over us; we pray, but it seems all in vain, for the more we pray against sin, the stronger it works; and perhaps we go to the Throne of Grace with increasing reluctance. As for repentance, our hearts seem like stone, till perhaps we are ready to believe that God has given us up entirely.
Now all of this, and much more that might be said, is to teach us that we are altogether “without strength.” God Himself tells us that when the Ethiopian can change his skin and the leopard his spots, then can those who are accustomed to do evil, do well (Jer. 13:23); and we are brought to realize this in our experience. And how can we find it out in any other way, except by testing our own arm and discovering our supposed strength to be but weakness! But is this all? No; emptied of self, we are then ready to again find Christ a “very present help in trouble.” Only those who are truly sin-sick apply in earnest to the great Physician of souls!
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13). The “fear of the Lord” is one of the many names given to that new nature or principle of grace and holiness which is communicated to the Christian at his new birth. Evidence we have received this Divine gift is, that sin is now a burden and a grief to us. The longing of the renewed heart is to be completely done with sin, but this longing is only realized when we are called Home. Meanwhile, sooner or later, God makes the real Christian learn by humbling experiences that he is without the least power of help from himself. It is easy to say “I have no power,” but not so to actually realize the fact; and therefore does God allow us to try and overcome our secret lusts and besetting sins, and to cast out our idols. We pray Him to help us, and every fall we have are sorry for it, and are determined not to act so foolishly again, and we really expect we shall not.