NO CONDEMNATION IN CHRIST JESUS by Octavius Winslow

"The Enmity of the Carnal Mind"

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans viii. 7.
"the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." Romans 8:7

Having spoken of carnal-mindedness, the Apostle naturally proceeds to describe the carnal mind itself; exhibiting its great distinctive feature- hostility to God as manifested in non-subjection to the Divine government. To each of these particulars let us in the present chapter direct our attention.
"The carnal mind is enmity against God." There is something appalling to our moral feelings in the bare announcement of the subject. The spectacle is an awful one in the extreme, of the finite armed in dead hostility to the Infinite- of a creature measuring his power with God- opposing his will to God's will- his way to God's way- his end to God's end. And yet how disproportionate are our profoundest feelings of horror and commiseration to the atrocious nature and the tremendous consequences of the crime! Enmity against God! the greatest and holiest, the best and most powerful, of beings and of friends! And why this enmity? Upon what, in the character of God, or in the nature of his government, is this sworn hostility grounded? Is it because he is essential love? perfectly holy? strictly righteous? infinitely wise and powerful? For which of these perfections does the sinner hate him? Is it because he gave his Son to die for man, laying him a bleeding sacrifice on the altar of justice for human transgression? Is it because the sun of his goodness shines upon every being, and that he opens his hand and supplies the need of every living thing? Is it because he exercises forbearance and long-suffering, and is slow to anger, and of great kindness? For which of these good works does the sinner hate him? And to what extent is this enmity displayed? It rests not short of the destruction of the Divine existence. Man is at war with the very being of God. Atheism is not so common a crime of our humanity as some suppose. Theism is the natural conviction of the human mind. The idea of a Supreme Being is consistent with man's existence. Where has there ever existed a people without a God? or a nation without a temple? Paganism, prostrate at the shrine of idolatry; and apostate Christendom, bathing the standard of the cross in the blood of the martyrs; and Formalism, solemnly strutting in the crimson and purple of its gorgeous rites– each owns its belief in the existence of a God. But what God? Plainly not the God of the Bible; but a deity of its imagination. But in the existence of absolute atheism we are slow to avow our belief.
From the idea of a Deity it is impossible for the human mind to escape. "The fool has said in his heart, No God;" that is, "I desire no God." He does not deny His existence; he does not say there is no God, but he desires no communion with Him. He may at times attempt to reason himself into a belief in the utter negation of a Deity; but in the still hour of night the truth flashes upon his mind with irresistible and overwhelming conviction- "There is a God! and I cannot overcome, I cannot escape him." Yes, the carnal mind is enmity with the being of God. Sin is destructive of all being. Man is a suicide- he has destroyed himself; a homicide- his influence destroys others; a deicide- he would, were it in his power, annihilate the very being of God. What a proof of this have we in the crucifixion of the Son of God! When God brought himself as near to man as Infinity could approach, he exclaimed, "This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him!" and then proceeded to consummate the crime by nailing him to the tree!
But if further evidence were needed of man's decided and deadly hostility, we have it in the sentiments and feelings he cherishes towards the Lord Jesus Christ: "He that hates me," says our Lord, "hates my Father also." How completely this declaration sweeps away all the fancied reverence and admiration for God which floats before the imagination of the carnal mind in its profound slumber! The God of whom he has thus been dreaming is not the God of revelation, but the god of his own creation. He is not the holy God whom the Bible makes known- of whom Jesus is the living and visible embodiment- but an imaginary being clothed with attributes, and administering a government harmonizing with the corrupt tastes and sinful propensities of his carnal mind. Away with your religion of nature, of sentiment, of poetry! All that you know of the music of God, is the Eolian breathing of the wind; all that you see of the glory of God, is the brilliance of the star; all that you understand of the eternity of God, is the expanse of the ocean; and of the omnipotence of God, is the fastness of the mountain and the rock. A disciple, not of Christ, but of Spinoza, your religion is sheer Pantheism, confounding with His material works the Maker and Governor of the universe. The god whom you profess to adore and worship is not the God manifested in Christ, whose justice and holiness, whose wisdom and truth, are blended and harmonized with grace and love in the cross of Calvary. Of what value is your fancied admiration of God's character, while yet hating, despising, and rejecting the Son, who is the "brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person"? Your heart is a stranger to holiness, and your mind to peace, while prostrate before a deity of your own imagination- a fictitious god. "Oh! give us some steady object for our minds to rest upon!" was a common exclamation in the prayers of the great and good Chalmers, in the days of his unregeneracy, when tossed amid the breakers of Mirabaud's pantheistic philosophy. Of this want, you, my reader, are perhaps deeply and painfully sensible. There is nothing in your creed; nothing in your vague, shadowy, unreal conception of Deity, to fix your thoughts, to soothe your spirit, to allay, your fears, to awaken your affections, and to inspire your hope. Your altar is reared, and your incense is offered, but it is to the "unknown god."

But what is the alleged ground of this hostility, of the carnal mind? The non-subjection of the mind to the government of God. "It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." The secret is now revealed. God is the moral governor of the universe. Oh! this is the real issue between him and the sinner. This constitutes the real secret of his alarming, inveterate hostility to the Divine Being. The question at issue is- Who shall govern- God or the sinner? The non-subjection of the carnal heart to God's law- its rebellion against the Divine government– clearly indicates the side of this question which the carnal mind takes. You may, my reader succeed in reasoning yourself into the belief that you admire, adore, and love God as your Creator and Benefactor, and only feel a repugnance, and manifest an opposition, to him as a Lawgiver. But this is impossible in fact, however poetic or specious it may be in theory. In a purely human government we admit that the person and the office of the judge may be separable. For example, an individual may be a personal friend of the sovereign, and yet an avowed opponent of his government. Doubtless, during the Commonwealth there were many who loved Cromwell for his piety, and admired him for his manliness, who yet condemned many of the measures of his government as harsh and despotic. But the moral government of God does not admit of this refined distinction. His nature and his office, his person and his throne, are one and inseparable. No individual can possibly be a friend to the being of God, who is not equally friendly to the government of God. Now the moral law is offensive to the carnal mind. And why? Because of the holiness of its nature, and the strictness of its requirements. It not only takes cognizance of external actions, but it touches the very springs of action, the motives that lie concealed in the human heart, and regulate the life. It demands supreme affection and universal obedience. To this the carnal mind demurs. If Jehovah will relax the rigor of his law, and abate the stringency of its requirements, and soften the sternness of its demands- if, in other words, God will lay aside his regal character, descend from his throne, forego his sovereignty, and lay aside his scepter- then the war is at an end; the controversy ceases; the rebel lays down his weapons. It clearly appears, then, that the whole ground of dispute between these two extremes of being resolves itself into the question- "Who shall reign, God or the sinner?" But will God yield his right to the throne? Never! Can he relax one iota of the strictness of
his law? Impossible! Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one tittle of his law shall fail. If in any single case this could have been done, surely it would have been in that of his beloved Son. And yet, Jesus neither asked as a favor, nor accepted as a boon, the slightest abatement of the law he came to fulfil. He entered into no negotiation for the least compromise either of the stringency of the precept or the sternness of the penalty. It was the glory of the law that it demanded all from Christ, and it was the honor of Christ that he gave all the law demanded. Sinner! behold the true cause of your present hatred and hostility to God. You are not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, because your mind is unregenerate. Your heart is unholy, and you dispute God's right to govern you.
There are some solemn conclusions to which we may arrive from this subject.
The utter impossibility of the sinner's admission into heaven with the carnal mind unchanged is most clear. Suppose an opposite ease. Imagine an unrenewed soul suddenly transported to heaven. In a moment it finds itself in the light, and holiness, and presence of God. What a scene of wonder, purity, and glory has burst upon its gaze! But, awful fact! horror of horrors! it is confronted face to face with its great enemy, the God it hated, loathed, and denied! Is it composed? Is it at home? Is it happy? Impossible! It enters the immediate presence of the Divine Being, its heart rankling with the virus of deadly hate, and its hand clutching the uplifted weapon. It carries its sworn malignity and its drawn sword to the very foot of the throne of the Eternal. "Take me out of here!" it exclaims; "this is not my heaven!" And then it departs "to its own place." But we are supposing an impossible case. For it is written of the heavenly city, "There shall in no way enter into it anything that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie; but those who are written in the Lamb's book of life." Listen to the declaration of the Great Teacher sent from God, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Do you ask what this new birth means? We reply, you must become a new creature in Christ Jesus. You must throw down your weapons before the Eternal God of heaven and earth. You must give up the quarrel. You must relinquish the controversy. You must cease to fight against God. You must submit to the law and government of Jehovah. Your will must bow to God's will. Your heart must beat in unison with God's heart. Your mind must harmonize with God's mind. Implacable hatred must give place to adoring love- deep ungodliness, to a nature breathing after holiness- stern opposition, to willing obedience- the creature, to the Creator- yourself, to God. O blissful moment! when the controversy ceases, and God and your soul are at agreement through Christ Jesus. When, dropping the long-raised weapon, you grasp his outstretched hand, and rush into his expanded arms, fall a lowly, believing penitent upon his loving bosom, take hold of his strength, and are at peace with him. O happy moment! No more hatred, no more enmity, no more opposition now! It is as though all heaven had come down and entered your soul- such joy, such peace, such love, such assurance, such hope do you experience! What music now floats from these words: "No condemnation in Christ Jesus." How blessed now to lean upon the breast which once you hated, and find it a pillow of love; to meet the glance which once you shunned, and find it the expression of forgiveness; to feel at home in the presence of him to whom once you said, "Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of your ways."
What an evidence of the reign of grace in the soul, when the mind fully acquiesces in the moral government of God! "The Lord God Omnipotent reigns," is the adoring anthem of every heart brought into subjection to the law of God. To the Christian how composing is the thought, that the government is upon Christ's shoulders, and that he sits upon the throne judging rightly. From hostility to the law of God, his heart is now brought to a joyful acquiescence in its precepts, and to a deep delight in its nature. "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." "O Lord!" he exclaims, "my holiness is in submission to your authority. My happiness flows from doing and suffering your will. I rejoice that the scepter is in your hands, and I desire that the thoughts of my mind, and the affections of my heart, may be brought into perfect obedience to yourself. Be my soul your kingdom, be my heart your throne, and let grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life."