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same chapter that there were some who desired to make a fair shew in the flesh, and so constrained others to be circumcised that they might glory“ in their flesh.” But Paul says—“ Circumcision availeth nothing, and uncircumcision availeth nothing. That which is everything is "
a new creature in Christ Jesus." Now, you see what these Galatians were doing in the way of sowing to the flesh. They were professedly Christians,-mark a little word in this first part of the verse,- you must look at it carefully. He that “ soweth to his flesh," to his own gratification, for the sake of pleasing himself :- 16. He that soweth to his flesh,”—-what then ? What shall he reap ?- “ He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.'
This brings me to the third question under the first head.
What is it to reap corruption? Since the fall of Adam we have never been able to get anything out of flesh, but that which is flesh. We reap sin, misery, condemnation, death, corruption, and hell. I do not care whether it be flesh in the Christian man, or flesh in the unregenerate man, you can only reap corruption from it. It is equally true of all who sow to their flesh, they shall of the flesh reap corruption. Now, turn with me to the 17th chapter of Jeremiah, and the 5th verse, and there you will find that this truth was known to the prophet—he Says “ Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm. Here you see that he who puts his trust in man and rests upon an arm of flesh reaps a curse. This is the sting in the tail. “ He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption,”—and why? Because the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ; who can know it?” Well, the Lord knows it, and because He knows it He tells us something about it, and about its workings too—this is what He has revealed in His word. I cannot leave this first part without asking you a few questions. Are you sowing to the flesh? What about your fleshly prayers ? Your fleshly faith? Your fleshly doings ? Has the Lord cleared you out of all but Himself? In the 30th of Isaiah we read that the children of Israel went down to Egypt foc counsel and assistance, but they reaped shame. They trusted the staff of a broken reed, on which if a man lean it will pierce his hand. Israel reaped confusion, because they had sown to the flesh. Cease from man. Are we seeking to cover ourselves with the fig leaves of our evangelical doings ? If so, look out for a harvest of corruption. “He that is covering himself with his own righteousness, is clothing himself with filthy rags. There is only one covering for a sinner—the righteousness of Christ. God is pleased with this and He will have no other. We have no language at command to describe human depravity, for fallen man, when driven out of the garden of Paradise, was a helpless wanderer, without spiritual life and without spiritual power. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov. xxviii
. 26). It is a bag full of holes. Our text is true—“He that soweth to his fiesh shall of the flesh reap corruption."
We shall now proceed to consider the second part of the text—“But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
There are three questions which we shall ask, and then try to answer them. 1. What is meant by the Spirit? 2. What by sowing to the Spirit ? and 3. What by reaping of the Spirit everlasting life?
The first question is, What is meant by the Spirit ? I shall tell you what I think is meant by the Spirit in the text. It is the Holy Ghost. And He is sometimes spoken of as the Spirit of God, and sometimes as the Spirit of Christ, or of the Son of God. It is the Holy Ghost's work to regenerate the sinner. That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. In the 1st chapter of St. John, it is said that to “ as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name ; which were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,”—not of noble ancestors, nor of circumcision, nor by man's free will, nor by princely power and influence—not by any, nor all of these put together,—but of God. When I speak of God's Spirit I do not mean an influence of the Spirit, although He produces all gracious influence in believers, but I mean the Third Person in the Glorious Godhead—The Holy Ghost. The Saviour speaks of Him in three chapters, the 14th, 15th, and 16th of John. He sets forth the Holy Ghost, as He is, the Spirit of truth, or in other words, the true Spirit, so that He it is who reveals the truth of the Gospel of Christ. He never brings a lie to a man's heart, for he is the Spirit of truth. In the same chapters He is called the Comforter-for He comes to comfort the disciples in all their tribulations. He only can convert and comfort the sinner, presenting the blood of Christ to his conscience. The sinner is made to feel his need of deliverance, and then the Holy Ghost says : “I have found a ransom-deliver him from going down to the pit.” The Holy Ghost, we are told, comes from the Father, and the Son sends Him, as the Teacher, Remembrancer, and Guide.
" He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, and shall guide you into all truth,”-into the Gospel of Christ, and unto holy obedience. He glorifies Christ to, in and by the saved sinner.
In the 8th chapter of Romans this Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of God, or as “the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead.” He is the Spirit of Christ which dwells in a man. Now, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His,” that is, he is not a regenerated man, there is no sign of it. But, if a man have the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Word, this man is a regenerated man, and he will go to heaven, for the Holy Ghost has come down to take possession of him. The Holy Ghost has given him life from the dead. “You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Now, bear in mind what He does in the hearts of the regenerated. He is the Spirit of life in them—the Spirit revealing their adoption—their witnesser and intercessor. Now, in preaching the Gospel, we must always keep before you this fact, that the Holy Ghost goes first in everything. If I contradict this at any time write behind it—“He does not mean it.” I always mean to say that God the Holy Ghost is the first mover in man for good ; He lays the foundation of Spiritual life or new man in the sinner. And having laid it firmly and securely He works
up the new man to bring forth Spiritual fruits to the honour and glory of God.
Our second question is- That is it to sow to the Spirit ? Now, this concerns a Christian man. It is only Christian men who can sow to the Spirit. But what is it to sow to the Spirit ? In the 2nd chapter of this very Epistle I find these words in the 20th verse—“ The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." 66 Christ liveth in me.” This is how Christians live, and it is life in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then the Spirit of God produces in the heart His own fruits. And what are these fruits ? « The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance : against such there is no law.” There can be no charge brought against these fruits of the Spirit. Now, to sow to the Spirit is to mind the things of the Spiritto walk according to the Spirit, to live according to the Spirit, and through the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the body. This is that part of my text which connects itself with the second man, who is the Lord from heaven. Everything else must go to pieces and perish for
"But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
This brings me to the third and last question- What is it to reap of the Spirit life everlasting ? Now there is a reaping in time as well as in eternity. What is the harvest to be? “Life everlasting.” Who produces this life? Will anyone say that poor fallen man can do it? Such an idea might please a number of merit mongers. No doubt some will have it that half the work depends upon themselves. But this betrays ignorance, blindness, and hardness of heart. Life eternal is all of grace, it is all of the Spirit of God. He begins it, He will carry it on, and He will finish it. The Spirit together with the Father and the Son must have all the glory of the salvation of the sinner. “He that soweth to the Spirit shall reap,”—what? Why! “Life everlasting.” It is just possible there may be some one here to-night who says—“ if he keeps up to the mark, if he holds on his way, if he does this or that thing then all would be well." My text does not say so—it says that it is of or by the Spirit. Not by your faith, nor by your prayers ; these
well as evidences of Spiritual life. All your Spiritual doings are effects and not causes; the Spirit of God is the moving cause. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” “ Not by might, nor by the power of the creature, but by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost,” we reap life everlasting. now made partakers of the heavenly seed which lives and abides for
What is this life? This everlasting life? How I like the word— eternal !—everlasting ! The umregenerate man is dead and knows nothing about it, and yet he will talk and say how easily he may get it, and that it is his own fault if he does not. If we read the 36th Psalm we shall find whence this life comes—“With Thee" (God) “ is the fountain of life.” Life comes from Him. Where did God place this life for His children? In the 5th of John, we read that it is with the
Son—“For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the , Son to have life in Himself." The Lord Jesus Christ says—“I give to my sheep eternal life.” You see it is a gift, you cannot beg it or buy it, it is a free and sovereign gift, and when given, it is given for ever. The believer has everlasting life. Alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
He that hath the Son hath life eternal. The Spirit of our God undertakes to see this carried out. Hence the Apostle says that it is by the Spirit. Oh! Yes. The Eternal Spirit of God put this life into my soul when He took all the old legal life out of me. Now, the Christian man will manifest signs of life. We
mention some of them. You have 66 your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life.” I understand by everlasting life, life without end, and I do not think that devils can destroy it. The Christian man, as far as his flesh is concerned, sees only corruption, but he sees also that he who “soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. I know this is a very grand thing. Now, some persons would give all they possess to be sure of going to Heaven. I will try and gather two or three things, by way of evidence, from the Word, in order that you may know whether there be any life in your
souls. Have you ever been made to feel sick of yourselves—thoroughly sick of yourselves, and this too by the
power of the Holy Ghost? If so it is a good sign--a sure sign. The sick need a physician. He kills and He makes alive. He brings down a
. and He lifts up. He takes the beggar from the dunghill that He may set him “with princes, even with the princes of His people.” Now, have
you this mark ? A second mark, or evidence, is this. Whilst made sick of yourself, have you been made to fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ? In love with the Lord Jesus? We find in the Song of Solomon :
-“How my soul loveth Him who is the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." Now, have you been made to fall in love with the “fairest among ten thousand,” the “altogether lovely,” the Lord Jesus Christ? He is always loving and lovely. Well, “ what is thy beloved more than another beloved ?" The answer comes forth :-He is "chiefest among ten thousand," "yea, He is altogether lovely." Altogether lovely in His person, altogether lovely in His offices, altogether lovely in his work, altogether lovely in His grace, altogether lovely as my Surety and my representative at God's right hand, the altogether lovely. Is this the case ? If so, no man has wrought this in thee. It has been done by the Spirit. This is the very work of the Spirit.
Is it so in your soul ? If so, these are excellent signs of life.
Religion does not consist in having heard a few sermons preached, or in saying :-“I went and heard so and so. I think there is something in him. He believes in the doctrines of grace. I can gather from him an occasional remark to this effect. I can gather from him that he believes in substitution, and in final perseverance." This is sheer nonsense! Is it a mere chance, I ask you, that I let slip from my tongue any doubtful phrase as to the worth of grace. With me sovereign grace is first, sovereign grace is middle, sovereign grace crowns the whole. There is no chance, no slip in this. Grace first, grace middle, grace the end;
grace and grace unto it. Oh! my Lord, if I persevere, it is Thy Spirit persevering in my soul ! Yes, persevering, yes, persevering in me-persevering in me, inclining me to pray and praise, strengthening me, raising me with Thy strength—with Thy glorious and eternal strength. This is positive, there is no chance about it. The soul's eternal happiness is the Spirit's work, and is perfect for evermore. If this be so, then let it be the care of the Church of God among you to cherish the words of David :- Though ten thousand encamp themselves round about me, yet will I be confident, the Lord is on my side.” Well ! and
Sin may encamp itself against me, God's law may be set up against me, the devil and the grave may encamp themselves against me, but with God on my side I will be confident, I will not fear. I shall leap over every wall-over fleshy prayers and doings—over mountains of sin-over doubts and fears-over the walls of death and hell. Many are the persecutions and afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. The believer has to battle with a deceitful heart and a lying tongue. We tremble when we think of a lustful David, a swearing Peter, and a faithless Thomas. O Lord, undertake for us, help us, and save us for Thy great name's sake. And now lead us into the corn fields of Thy holy word, that we may glean a few ears of precious promises on which to feed and feast while here below. Vouchsafe to us a little harvest of love, of joy, of peace, of righteousness, of hope, and of glory, as a pledge that Thou wilt show us the path of life which leads into Thy presence, where there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. We may often sow in tears, but bye-and-bye we shall reap in joy. O God, grant it for Christ's sake. Amen.