Disease & Remedy

by J. C. Philpot

As no heart can sufficiently conceive, so no tongue can adequately express, the state of wretchedness and ruin into which sin has cast guilty, miserable man.

In separating him from God, it has severed him from the only Source and fountain of all happiness and all holiness. It has ruined him, body and soul. The body it has filled with sickness and disease. The soul it has defaced, and destroyed the image of God in which it was created. It has . . .
shattered all his mental faculties;
broken his judgment,
polluted his imagination,
alienated his affections.

It has made him love sin—and hate God. It has filled him from top to toe with pride, lust, and cruelty, and has been the prolific parent of all those crimes and abominations under which earth groans, the bare recital of some of which has filled so many hearts with disgust and horror. These are the more visible fruits of the fall.

But nearer home, in our own heartsin what we are or have been, we find and feel what wreck and ruin sin has made! There can be no greater mark of alienation from God than willfully and deliberately to seek pleasure and delight in things which His holiness abhors.

But who of the family of God has not been guilty here? Every movement and inclination of our natural mind, every desire and lust of our carnal heart, was, in times past, to find pleasure and gratification in something abhorrent to the will and word of the living Jehovah.

There are few of us who, in the days of our flesh, have not sought pleasure in some of its varied but deceptive forms. The theater, the race-course, the dance, the sports, the card-table, the midnight revel, "the pleasures of sin" were resorted to by some of us.

Our mad, feverish, thirst after excitement—the continued cry of our wicked flesh, "Give, give!"—our miserable recklessness or headlong, daring determination to 'enjoy ourselves', as we called it, cost what it would, plunged us again and again into the sea of sin, where, but for sovereign grace, we would have sunk to rise no more!

Or, if the 'restraints of morality' put their check upon gross and sinful pleasures, there still was a seeking after such "allowable amusements" (as we deemed them), as change of scene and place, foreign travel, the reading of novels and works of fiction, fine dress, visiting, building up airy castles of love and romance, studying how to obtain human applause, devising plans of self-advancement and self-gratification, occupying the mind with cherished studies, and delighting ourselves in those pursuits for which we had a natural taste--as music, drawing, poetry, or, it might be, severer studies and scientific researches.

We have named these middle-class pursuits as less obvious sins--than such gross crimes as drunkenness and vile debauchery in the lower walks of life. But, viewed with a spiritual eye, all are equally stamped with the same fatal brand of death in sin.

The moral and the immoral,
the refined and the unrefined,
the polished few or the crude many,
are alike "without God and without hope in the world."

We are often met with this question, "What harm is there in this pursuitor in that amusement?" The harm is, that the amusement is delighted in for its own sake; that it occupies the mind, and fills the thoughts, shutting God out; that it renders spiritual things distasteful; that it sets up an idol in the heart, and is made a substitute for God.

Now this we never really know nor feel, until divine light illuminates the mind, and divine life quickens the soul. We then begin to see and feel into what a miserable state sin has cast us; how all our life long we have done nothing but what God abhors; that every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts has been evil, and only evil continually; that we have brought ourselves under the stroke of God's justice, under the curse of His righteous law, and now there appears nothing but death and destruction before our eyes, and unless we poor slaves of sin, Satan, and death were redeemed, we could not be reconciled to God.

And yet, with all this misery and wretchedness, through all this remorse for the past—and dread for the future, there are raised up desires after God—the fruit and work of his grace in the heart. These are the first breathings after communion with God, the first movement of the soul quickened from above towards its Father and Friend.

But whence comes this movement of the soul upward and heavenward? What is the foundation on which a sinner may venture near, yes, as brought near, may realize what holy John speaks of, "And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ?" (1 John 1:3.)

God himself has laid the foundation in the gift of his dear Son. Had Jesus not taken our nature into union with his own divine Person, there never could have been any communion of man with God. This is beautifully unfolded by the Apostle. (Heb. 2.) "Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that, through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage." "The children whom God had given him" were partakers of flesh and blood. But this flesh and blood had sinned, was become alienated from God, was tyrannized over by the devil, was subject to death, and the judgment that comes after death, and the fear of death held them in continual bondage. Unless these poor slaves of sin, Satan, and death were redeemed, they could not be reconciled to God, or brought near so as to have any fellowship or communion with him. But the Son of God "took on him the seed of Abraham," that is, he assumed human nature as derived from Abraham; for the Virgin Mary, of whose flesh he took, was lineally descended from Abraham; and thus was "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." And so "in all things being made like unto his brethren," (sin only excepted, of which he had no taint or stain,) "he became a merciful and faithful high priest to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."

Without this redemption, without this reconciliation, there could be no communion. Communion means fellowship; fellowship implies mutual participation and mutual interest. It is not single, but twofold—a community of nature, or interest, or affection, in which each party gives and takes. Thus the foundation of all communion with God is laid in this blessed truth, that the Son of God has taken our flesh; this gives him communion with man. He is himself God; this gives him communion with God. In the ladder that Jacob saw in vision, the lowest part rested on earth, the highest was lost in heaven. Thus the human nature of Christ touches earth with its sorrows, but his divine rises up to heaven with its glory; and man, poor, wretched man, may, by having communion with Christ in his sufferings, have communion with God in his love. John blessedly opens up this in his first epistle—"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life." (1 John 1:1.)

What had John heard from the beginning? What had he seen with his eyes? What had he looked upon, and his hands had handled of the Word of life? What but the Son of God in the flesh? His ears had heard the voice; his eyes had seen the form; his hands had handled the feet and hands of the Word of life; and not merely bodily, for that would no more have given him life than it did the Jewish officers who bound his hands, or the Roman soldiers who nailed him to the cross. It was the spiritual manifestation of the Word of Life to his soul, (as he himself declares—"For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us,") which enabled him to say, "That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3.)

Now, as this divine way is opened up to our hearts, we begin to find access to God through Jesus Christ, as "the way, the truth, and the life." Until he is in some measure revealed and made known to the soul, there is no ground of access to God. Sin, guilt, and condemnation block up the path; the law curses, conscience condemns, Satan accuses, and in self there is neither help nor hope. But as Christ is revealed and made known, and the virtue and efficacy of his blood is seen and felt, faith becomes strengthened to approach the Father through him, until after many a struggle between hope and despair, the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and this gives fellowship with God.

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Ephesians 1:7