A Study of 1st Corinthians 6:19-20
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. “
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I will assume that you are utterly ignorant of the Gospel– of its doctrines, of its promises, of its precepts, of its motives, and of its general influence and power upon believing hearts. And I will assume also that you were called upon to lay down some plan whereby men might be restrained from the commission of crime, and influenced to the practice of every moral and social virtue. Now what plan would you adopt? You would, most probably, make crime the subject of severe punishment, and proportion the penalty to the offence; and you would also propose certain rewards to virtue and to good actions, graduated according to a rising scale. And you would do this, that on the one hand you might by punishment deter men from the commission of crime, and on the other by suitable rewards induce them to the practice of such actions as society at large generally approves of. Well, after you had done all this, had drawn up your scheme, laid down your punishments, and proposed your rewards, you would only do what has been done or attempted to be done in all ages by the law of the land, though, for the most part, the various legislators have adopted punishment and omitted reward.
Take another case. I will still assume you are ignorant of the gospel, and of God’s way of preventing evil and of bringing about good, and were called upon to point out some plan whereby a man might be most effectually restrained from the commission of sin, and made obedient to the law of God. Now, what plan would you adopt? Most probably you would lay down strict rules of life; you would appoint certain seasons of prayer and meditation; you would call upon a man to withdraw himself from all worldly society, and prescribe to him a certain path of religious exercise in which he is to walk all the days of his life, that by fasting, self-denial, and continual mortification of the flesh he may tame and subdue his rebellious lusts and attain unto perfection and holiness. Well, in laying down all these plans and schemes, you would be doing what Popery has ever done, and what is the main foundation of all the monasteries and nunneries that are now everywhere springing up in this country.
So you see, that you have been already envisioned in your plans and projects; and that hundreds of years before you were born, only what the ‘wisdom of man’, such as it is, had labored hard to restrain men from evil, and to bring forth in them that which is good. And how have all these attempts succeeded? Is there less crime in the country? Do severe laws deter men from the commission of theft, violence, and even murder? Has not sin always proved too strong for every restraint which human laws have put upon it?
And the very law of God itself, which threatens a solemn curse against all who are found guilty under it, revealing the wrath of God against all transgression and all transgressors– has it ever restrained men from evil? Has it ever subdued and tamed the carnal mind? Has it ever produced obedience acceptable to God, or brought forth any one good word or work? No! on the contrary, has it not rather, as the Apostle speaks, put fresh life into sin, “for without the law sin was dead,” and thus sin, taking occasion by the commandment, works in us all manner of evil? We thus find that no law, whether the law of the land, or the law of Moses, can restrain or subdue sin, or bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
But now, I will assume that you know something, spiritually and experimentally, of the gospel; that you have been led to see, that what is called the moral law never has been able to subdue sin, for the carnal mind is not subject to it, neither indeed can be; that though holy in itself, for the law is “holy, just, and good,” it has never produced any inward sanctification of soul and spirit; that all its works are dead works, and that though the soul is naturally wedded to it, it has never yielded thereby a living offspring, or brought forth fruit acceptable to God. You may have tried to keep it– have set it daily before your eyes as your guiding rule– have endeavored to obey it and conform your life to it; and yet after all your labors you have never been able to satisfy the breadth of its demands, or render to it an obedience which could pacify your own guilty conscience. All that you reaped from it was hard bondage, guilt, doubt and fear. You never obtained by it one gleam of mercy, one answer to prayer, one breaking in of the light of God’s countenance, one visitation of the presence of Jesus, one testimony that you were in the right way, or one evidence that the Lord was at work upon your soul. If ever, amid all your hard bondage, any beam of light and life, any ray of hope, any prospect of mercy, any intimation that you should not perish, came into your soul, it was from a different quarter; it was through some beams of the gospel which broke in through the mist and fog of your legal bondage.
I will assume, then, that you have tasted, felt, and handled something of the sweetness and power of the gospel. Now you set another way to work, and you are able to show, from your own experience of its power, the effect which it has had both upon your heart and upon your life; and this has wrought a change not only in your views of what the gospel is as the power of God unto salvation, and what the Gospel can do, as influencing both heart and life, but has also put a new speech into your lips and turned you to speak the pure language of Canaan.
You do not now urge the law as a binding rule upon those who have believed through grace, and make Moses their husband instead of Christ. You know from your own experience that the law never made you fruitful in any one good word or work, and that nothing ever attended it but darkness, bondage, guilt, barrenness, and death. You cannot, therefore, urge that as a guiding rule upon others, which in your own case you found so ineffectual either to guide or rule you; and therefore when you would endeavor to persuade those who fear God to live to his glory, you would set before them not the law with its curses, but the gospel with its blessings. You would set before them the exceeding love of God in the gift of his dear Son, the surpassing grace, mercy, and condescension of Jesus in dying for a guilty race. You would point to his sufferings in the garden, and to his agonies on the cross, and show that there is no other sacrifice for sin but his precious blood shedding and death; and that every poor, guilty, self-condemned wretch who comes unto him, casts himself upon his free mercy and grace, and looks to him and to him alone as his all-sufficient Savior and complete salvation, will not be cast out, but sooner or later will obtain pardon and peace.
You would further tell him, that when he feels the bleeding, dying love of the Lord Jesus Christ in his soul, it will constrain him by every sweet constraint henceforth not to live unto himself, but unto him who died for him and rose again. And as you set these things before his eyes and speak of the influence which they have produced upon your own heart and life, you bind him, as it were, by every gospel motive to live to God’s praise and to walk in his fear.
Now such a mode of persuading to obedience would be right, would be consistent with the promises and precepts of the gospel, would be in harmony with the preaching and teaching of the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, would be more or less accompanied with the testimony of the blessed Spirit and the approbation of God, and so far as owned and blessed of him, would make itself manifest in the hearts and lives of those among whom it was preached.
But why have I sought in this way to introduce my subject? It is because this is the line of truth which is firmly established in my own conscience, which I see shining as with a ray of heavenly light all through the pages of the New Testament, which thoroughly harmonizes with the language of my text, and which I must therefore preach both now and at all times as long as I am enable to preach at all.
If then, this evening, in opening the words of our text, I should seem from infirmity, either of speech or knowledge, to deviate from the strict line of gospel truth which I have laid down– if I should seem to any, in my earnest contending for the fruits of the gospel, to step aside into what is called legality, for the line between liberty and legality is so narrow that it is easy to overstep it, you must excuse it as being an act of infirmity, not of intention. I may have to cut very close, to pull you up, it may be, somewhat sharply upon points where you have already taken considerable license, and might like a little more liberty, or rather licentiousness, than I can consistently grant you. But though I may seem to do this, especially to those who would gladly shelter themselves under my real or fancied infirmity, that they might take a larger field for the indulgence of the flesh, than truth or a conscience made tender in God’s fear would rightly allow them, yet I wish to stand wholly and solely upon gospel ground; to bring before you no other than gospel motives; and if I urge gospel precepts, it is only in their connection with gospel promises and gospel liberty.
Now look at our text in this mind and spirit. Bear in mind these observations, and then look at it with firm, steady eye. What do we see in it? If you and I look at it with the same eyes, we shall see in it these three things–
First, a declaration from the mouth of God– “You are not your own.”
Secondly, a reason why we are not our own– “You are bought with a price.”
Thirdly, an exhortation– “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
I. A DECLARATION from the mouth of God– “You are not your own.” To whom does God speak here? To his people– not merely his redeemed people, but his regenerated people; those who know the truth by its application to their hearts with a divine power. It was to such that the epistles were written. It is a great mistake to think that these blessed epistles were addressed to men generally, or even to those who made an ordinary profession of Christianity. They were written to churches, and therefore, to people called both out of the world and out of the congregation, to be the manifested body of Christ. Thus this epistle, and with it the words of our text, were addressed, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” (1 Cor. 1:2.) We must also bear in mind that the church of God at Corinth, though it had many grievous defects, was upon the whole a highly favored church. It was “enriched in everything by Christ Jesus in all utterance and in all knowledge, so that it came behind in no gift.” (1 Cor. 1:5, 7.) To such a church, therefore, the words of the text apply with a power and force which would be lost and, so to speak, thrown away upon such a congregation as now collects together even to hear the truth, in which so many are to be found to whom the word of God has never come with life-giving power. And as these epistles, with the truths which they contain, the doctrines which they set forth, the promises which they hold out, and the precepts which they enforce have become our inheritance. And so far as we have succeeded to the faith and experience of the New Testament churches, we should consider that the Holy Spirit speaks in and by them to us as much as he did to them.
With these observations, which I desire you to ponder well in your mind and to lay closely to heart, I will now attempt to bring before you the declaration of God in our text, “You are not your own.”
A. The idea is this, that once we were our own, or at least thought we were; for we never really were our own. We dreamed of liberty when we really were in the hardest, cruelest bondage. We thought we had no master when we were serving the hardest of all masters. We boasted of our freedom, that we could do what we liked, and say what we liked, without being called to account for it by anyone, could roam at will, like a bee, from flower to flower, nursing up the sweets of sin, and promising to ourselves as rich a feast on the morrow as we were enjoying today; and little dreamt that all the time sin held us fast in fetters which, though they seemed made of silk, yet really were of iron.
Now during all this time of ‘imagined freedom’– but real servitude, it seemed as if we were our own lord and master. If our body were not our own, our soul was; if our hand were bound to work for a master to earn a living, our thought was free; if the day claimed us for its servant, night was ours; and with the setting sun came the rising of pleasure and amusement. The idea of independence was sweet to us, and to be dependent upon any one, even upon the God who made us, was a slavery too galling for our proud heart to bear!
But now assume that grace has made us free from this ‘imagined independence’– but real slavery; that the gospel has been made the word of salvation to our souls; that we have been brought under new obligations; live under fresh constraints; are influenced by different motives, are led by another spirit, and are brought into a child-like dependence upon God, both in providence and in grace. We can now feel the force of the apostle’s words, “You are not your own.”
There was a time with you when you thought you were your own, and would have highly resented any idea of being in bondage to any man. This was exactly the feeling of the Jews of old when our Lord said to them, “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” What was their proud reply? “They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man– how do you say– You shall be made free?” (John 8:33.) They saw not, they felt not, that they were in bondage to any man, though at the very time they were in bondage to Caesar, as regarded their bodies, and to sin as regarded their souls. Our Lord, therefore, said to them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:31-34.)
It is a rule in grace as well as in nature, in things spiritual as in things temporal, that he is our master whom we serve, as the apostle speaks– “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey– whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16.) It is then, the greatest delusion to think and call ourselves free when we are slaves to pride and lust; and it is a positive act of rebellion against God to claim freedom from him, and to say with those wicked men of old, “Our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?” (Psalm. 12:4.)
Now can you not look back upon a time when you served hard masters, and yet loved their service? The world had possession of your affections; sin domineered, rioted, and raged in your carnal heart; SELF was uppermost in all your thoughts and desires, and whatever line of conduct it prompted, I had better say, ‘commanded’, you willingly obeyed. Now when you were under these hard masters, though their servitude was sweet to you as long as you thought you were your own, you could do, to a certain extent, as you pleased with yourself. Your jailer, though he watched you narrowly as being able to pounce upon you at any moment, like a cat on a wounded mouse, yet gave you a certain latitude, as knowing thereby you would do more effectually his work and bind his chains more strongly round your neck. In this way, therefore, your time, your talents, your money, the members of your body, the faculties of your mind were your own; you could spend your time as you pleased, use your abilities as you thought most conducive to your worldly interests, do with your money as your inclination best prompted, and use the members of your body to minister to your natural desires.
And in all this there was no one to check you at the time, no one to call you to account for what you had said or done. You did not, indeed, see that all this time sin was your master, and the love of the world deeply rooted in your heart ruled and governed you. Nor did you see what ignorance and blindness held your eyes in the grossest darkness. Thus you imagined you were free, when you were the greatest bond slave of sin and Satan!
But now assume that you have been brought out of all this miserable bondage, and having been convinced of sin by the law, and been brought in guilty, have found peace and pardon through the blood of Jesus Christ. Now what is the effect of this blessing from on high? Has it not liberated you from that miserable bondage to sin, Satan, the world, and self which I have described? Has it not set your feet, as it were, into a new track, opened before you a new field, laid upon you new obligations, and to crown all, in one word, brought you under the easy yoke of a new Master?
Now, it is to such as these the text speaks– “You are not your own.”
B. Let me, then, endeavor to show this a little more in detail, for it is by thus entering into particulars, that truth becomes, not only more plain and clear, but more personal and practical.
1. If this is true, then, your TIME is not your own. It is not for you to say, “I can do what I like with my time; it is all my own, and I can spend my days and nights just as I choose.” But this is not true even actually and literally. If, for instance, you are a servant, whether domestic or under an employer, your time is not your own. It is your master’s who pays you wages, and to whom you have sold your time when you sold your labor. Again, if you are a tradesman, your time is not your own, for unless you give it to your customers, your business would soon all be gone, your capital all spent, and your family ruined. Or if you are in a profession, your time is not your own, for if you are not found in your office, or do not go when you are sent for, you will soon have neither client nor patient. Or even if you possess an independent income, you have still duties to perform, and sometimes very laborious ones; so that even in that case, a singular and a favored one, your time is not your own.
But now view it spiritually. If you are a partaker of grace, and the Lord has laid his gentle yoke upon your neck, your time is not your own. You cannot say, “I can spend this hour in carnality and worldly-mindedness, in amusement and company.” You may say so, and even try to do so, but in saying so, and much more in doing so, you are stepping aside from gospel paths, and may soon manifest that you are out of the way altogether. Your time is not your own– it is God’s. And yet, though our time is God’s, and we are bound by truth and conscience to consider and spend it as his, he does not bind us to strict hours, as if he would tie us down to a rigid popish rule, which would not be gospel liberty, but legal bondage. He leaves us at liberty upon this point, knowing how various the circumstances of his people are, and that when he says to one of his dear children, “My son, give me your heart,” he virtually says, “If you give me your heart, you will also with it give me a portion of your time.” One day he has especially given us, his own day, the Lord’s day, and that he expects we shall give wholly to him, both in resorting to his courts, and spending what other time we have in reading his word, or some such employment as shall be for our profit and his glory; but he does not tie us to fixed hours or certain seasons of prayer.
2. The Lord may have given you mental or spiritual ABILITIES. Now, those abilities of yours, be they great or small, are not your own. You cannot say of the faculties which God has given you, be they of nature or grace, that you can use them just as you please. If you could do so, you might use them in the service of sin, of self, of Satan, of the world, just as if grace had laid no obligations upon you, and as if you were free to use or abuse God’s good gifts. God may have given you an insight into his truth, a spiritual and experimental knowledge of the meaning of his word, an acceptable gift in prayer, an ability to speak, with power and savor, of the things he has done for your soul, or a boldness of spirit and readiness of speech to contend for the faith and to conduce the gainsayers. Now, these gifts are not your own. They are to be devoted to the use and service of him from whom they came. They were not given you to feed your pride, gratify your vanity, and foster your natural love of human applause, but to profit and edify his people; and, if used in any other way, he who has given them, may withdraw them, or leave you in the exercise of them, to barrenness and death.
3. Again, your MONEY is not your own. You may not spend it just as you please, without check of conscience, without restraint of godly fear, without putting to yourself any inquiry how far you are spending it aright. You should be like a miser who looks at every shilling before he parts with it. So should every shilling be looked at, carefully and narrowly, by a Christian, whether it is spent for the honor and glory of God or not. I grant that this may seem to tie us up very closely, and that is one reason, perhaps, why the people of God are kept, for the most part, so tight in hand, that they have very little loose money to spend as they like. But even if we have a competency, or perhaps more than a competency, if we are under divine influences and gospel obligations, although we may have the money, we cannot throw it here and throw it there to please and gratify the flesh; adorning the body with costly clothing, either for ourselves or our children, and decorating the house with new and unnecessary furniture. We might do such things, according to the present lax church, without outward reproof, when we can scarcely tell, by external appearance, who are, and who are not, the people of God; but this is not the gospel. This is not the obligation of gospel grace. Your money is not your own if you are a Christian. You are but a steward. If you have much, the more responsible you are for the right use of it; if you have little, still you are a steward for that little.
4. The faculties of your body are not more your own than the faculties of your mind. Your eyes are not your own, that you may feed your lusts, that you may go about gaping, and gazing, and looking into every shop window to see the fashions of the day, learn the prevailing pride of life, and thus lay up food for your vain mind, either in coveting what must be unbecoming to your profession, or applying your money to an improper use, or disappointed because you cannot afford to buy it.
Your ears are not your own, that you may listen to every foolish tale, drink in every political, worldly, or carnal report which may fall upon them, and thus feed that natural desire for news, gossip, and even slander, which is the very element of the carnal mind.
Your tongue is not your own, that you may speak what you please, and blurt out whatever passes in the chambers of your heart, without check or fear. James warns us against allowing this little member to get the better of us. “Behold,” he says, “how great a matter a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity– so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body.” (James 3:5, 6.)
Your hands are not your own, that you may use them as implements of evil, or employ them in any other way than to earn with them an honest livelihood. Our hands were not given us for sin, but for godly uses.
Your feet are not your own, that you may walk in the ways of the world, or that they should carry you to resorts where you will not find the company or countenance of the children of God, and where all around you are engaged upon errands of vanity and sin.
Thus, if you look at the whole matter with a gospel eye, you will see that there is not a single thing belonging to us as a gift of God, whether of body or soul, of time or circumstances, of station or employment– which we can properly and truly call our own. All must be held according to the disposal of God, and under a sense of our obligations to him. Even as being creatures of his hand, he claims for himself all that he has given us. And when we look at it on higher grounds and see the obligations laid upon us by his grace, we shall see and feel more clearly and thoroughly, that he has taken them all under his own keeping, and only entrusts us with the stewardship of them, that we may render him an account.
But perhaps you will say, in the rebellion of your carnal mind, “What restraint all this lays upon us. Cannot we look with our eyes as we like, hear with our ears as we please, and speak with our tongues as we choose? Will you so narrow our path that we are to have nothing of our own, not even our time or money, our body or soul? Surely we may have a little enjoyment now and then, a little recreation, a little holiday sometimes, a little relaxation from being always so strict and so religious, a little feeding of our carnal mind which cannot bear all this restraint?”
Well, but what will you bring upon yourself by the roving eye, the foolish tongue, the loose hand, the straying foot? Darkness, bondage, guilt, misery, and death. “But,” you say, “we are not to be tied up so tightly as all this. We have gospel liberty, but you will not allow us even that.” Yes, blessed be God, there is gospel liberty, for there is no real happiness in religion without it, but not liberty to sin; not liberty to gratify the lusts of the flesh; not liberty to act contrary to the gospel we profess, and the precepts of God’s word, for this is not liberty but licentiousness.
But I will bring matters into a narrower compass. What pleasure have you felt– assuming you are under gospel motives, know the power of gospel truth, and feel the sweetness of the gospel in your heart, (for to such only do I now speak)– what real pleasure have you found when you have broken away from what you call restraint, and been for a short while your own master? Why you have been like the cage-bird which has escaped out of the window. Sometimes foreign birds, in London, escape from their cage and fly away. And what often becomes of them? They become the sport of some cruel boy, are hunted down by a prowling cat, or caught up and devoured by a roving dog! Or, if they escape this death, and are caught at last on some housetop, it will be with, perhaps, a broken wing, and their beautiful plumage all soiled with dust and smoke. This is the end of the liberty of this cage-bird– and what he gets for forsaking his kind mistress.
So if you could leave your gospel cage, and fly about as other birds fly, where would your present golden plumage be? Where would be your bright wings? They would not be like those of the dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. They would soon be soiled and tarnished like those of a London sparrow. As a saint, you would escape with life; but is it not better and safer for you to be a cage-bird, than to have the liberty of flying about with street sparrows, to roost with them at night under a smoky chimney pot, and pick up your food by day at a dirty cab-stand?
But now let me put the matter in another light. This is the Lord’s day. You have come here to hear God’s word, and to assemble yourselves with his saints. Assume, what I fear is the case with many of you, that this evening you are sitting under the word cold and dead; that though the words enter your ears, and in some degree, may enter also your mind, yet they touch no secret spring of inward grace; move no tender feeling; bring no life nor power into your heart. Are you happy with all this coldness and insensibility? Do you feel in the right place, that you are now so much your own, and are not bound to give me either your ears or your heart, but are taking a little holiday, a little relaxation from being tied up so tight to listen for yourself? Is it a matter of indifference whether the word should reach your heart, comfort you in your trouble, be a word of encouragement, or whether it be a mere sound that enters into your ear and approves itself to your judgment; and then you may go home as if there had been no Lord’s day, no sermon heard, no people of God met together, and all your religion and everybody else’s religion a perfect blank?
Would you go to bed happy if you spent the day in this cold, lifeless way, and this, not only today, but repeatedly? Am I then too hard upon you when I say, “You are not your own?” Your eyes should be looking up to God for his blessing to come down into your soul; your ears should be hearing God’s truth, as if you were listening for eternity; your lips moving in secret prayer that the Lord would speak a word to your heart; and every avenue barred, as it were, against the entrance of unbelief, vanity, and sin.
Thus, there is a blessed sense in the words, “You are not your own.” Remember, you must be someone’s. If God is not your master, the devil will be; if grace does not rule, sin will reign; if Christ is not your all in all, the world will be. It is not as though we could roam abroad in perfect liberty. Someone will have us. We must have a master of one kind, or another; and which is best, a bounteous, benevolent Benefactor such as God has ever shown himself to be; a merciful, loving, and tender Parent; a kind, forgiving Father and Friend; and a tender-hearted, compassionate Redeemer, able to save us to the uttermost; or a cruel devil, a miserable world, and a wicked, vile, abominable heart? Which is better, to live under the sweet constraints of the dying love of a dear Redeemer; under gospel influences, gospel principles, gospel promises, and gospel encouragements; or to walk in fancied liberty, with sin in our heart, exercising dominion and mastery there; and binding us in iron chains to the judgment of the great day? Even taking the present life, there is more real pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness in half an hour with God, in sweet union and communion with the Lord of life and glory, in reading his word with a believing heart, in finding access to his sacred presence, in knowing something of the droppings in of his favor and mercy– there is more solid happiness in half an hour thus spent in the real service of God, than in all the delights of sin, all the lusts of the flesh, all the pride of life, and all the amusements that the world has ever devised to kill time and cheat self, thinking, by a death-bed repentance, at last to cheat the devil.
II. But now for the REASON. Why are we not our own? “You are bought with a price.”
The Lord would not let us be our own, for he knew what the consequence would be. Would you like for a favorite child, before he arrives at years of discretion, to be his own? You who are parents, have you ever allowed your children to be their own masters? If you have, you have regretted the day, and they have regretted it too. Now shall God allow us to be our own masters when we are not fit to rule and govern ourselves? Shall he allow us to have our own way, when we are not fit to have our own way? And shall he leave us at liberty to walk in paths which he knows will bring misery and wretchedness upon us in the end? “No!” he says “these are my people– they shall not be like other people. They are bought with a price. I gave my dear Son to die for them. He has shed his precious blood to redeem them from death and hell, and bought them with no less a price than his own sufferings, his own most precious death upon the cross.”
But now look at the VALUE of this price. Who can estimate it? Not all the intellect of angels. Let there be assembled a council of angels; let them all consult together, and attempt to value the price which was paid to redeem the church of God. Angelic intellects would all fail to determine its real value. Can what is finite understand and appreciate what is infinite? Believe, for a moment, in your heart that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true and proper Son of God; believe he is one with the Father in essence, glory, and power; in a word, believe he is God as well as man; and believe that the blood which he shed upon the cross is invested with all the value, validity, and merit of Godhead. Now, what value can be set upon a price like this?
We could set a value, an imaginary value, upon what a man might do. We might go a step further, and set an imaginary value on what an angel might do. But when we come to put our intellect into the scale with what God is; and when we attempt to value that precious blood, which was the blood of the Son of God; then you might as well attempt to grasp the stars with your hand; you might as well attempt to gather up the Atlantic ocean in a bucket; you might as well attempt to count the sand upon the sea-shore, as to estimate it at its right worth. We are lost in a blessed confusion, lost in a holy admiration, lost in wondering gratitude, lost in a sense of what that blood must be in worth and value, when it was no less than the blood of him who was the Son of God.
It is thus we seem to get a glimpse of the meaning of the words, “You are bought with a price.” How deep, how dreadful, then, of what awful magnitude, of how black a die, of how ingrained a stamp must sin be– to need such atoning blood as this to put it away!
What a slave to sin and Satan, what a captive to the power of lust, how deeply sunk, how awfully degraded, how utterly lost and undone must guilty man be to need a sacrifice like this. “You are bought with a price.” Have you ever felt your bondage to sin, Satan, and the world? Have you ever groaned, cried, grieved, sorrowed, and lamented under your miserable captivity to the power of sin? Has the iron ever entered into your soul? Have you ever clanked your fetters, and as you did so, and tried to burst them– they seemed to bind round about you with a weight scarcely endurable?
But have you ever found any liberty from them, any enlargement of heart, any sweet going forth from the prison-house, any dropping of the manacles from your hands, and the fetters from your feet, so as to walk in some measure of gospel liberty? “You are bought with a price.” You were slaves of sin and Satan; you were shut up in a dark cell, where all was gloom and despondency; there was little hope in your soul of ever being saved. But there was an entrance of gospel light into your dungeon; there was a coming out of the house of bondage; there was a being brought into the light of God’s countenance, shining forth in his dear Son. Now, this is not only being bought with a price, but experiencing also the blessed effects of it.
Being, then, bought with a price, WHAT were we bought from? The service of SIN. Shall we then serve sin again? The service of the WORLD. Shall we serve the world again? The service of SELF. Shall we serve self again? Forbid it, heaven! forbid it, love! forbid it, gospel! forbid it, every constraint of free, sovereign, super-abounding grace upon a believing heart!
You say “Ah! I wish it were so with me. But alas! I am so entangled; sin is so strong, I am so weak. I would use my eyes aright; I would employ my ears aright; I would guide my tongue, my hands, my feet, every member of my body aright– but I cannot.” Does not all this teach you what a miserable wretch you would be unless you were bought with a price? This misery, this bondage, this darkness, and death– have these no lessons laid up in them? Do they convey no instruction to your heart? Will you never learn anything from them? Will you go on still adding to your darkness, getting further from God, walking more and more in the ways of carnality and death? Forbid it, God! forbid it, heaven! forbid it, grace! forbid it, every sweet constraint of gospel mercy and gospel love! Then you are bought with a price that you may not walk in ways that would bring with them bondage and misery.
But there is hope in Israel even in this; for here is the blessedness of being bought with a price. If we fall into bondage, leave for a time the service of our kind Master, listen foolishly to Satan’s temptations, get unwarily entangled in his snares, then does our Master say, “Away with you! Away with you! I will have no more to do with you. You have listened to Satan; you have gratified self; in this instance you walked wrong; in the other you spoke what was amiss. I will have no more to do with you. Away with you! Go and serve your master, and let your master pay you his wages. I turn you out as a master turns out an unfaithful servant.”
If the Lord would say so to us, well we might answer, “I have deserved it all. If you never should appear for me again; if you should give me up to the service of sin, Satan, and the world, and banish me forever from your presence, I have deserved it. I could not lift up my hand in hell and say, ‘You have done unjustly;’ –I have deserved it all.”
Now when the soul is brought here, mourns and sighs over its base entanglements, looks again to the Lord, seeks mercy at his hands– then comes this word from the Lord, “Return, O children of men; I will heal your backslidings.” And the Lord once more takes us into his service, and shows us we are bought with a price. He won’t let us go! Satan shall not have us! The world shall not reign and rule as before! He has cast his blessed cord of love round our heart, and though we wander to the utmost, he brings us back, and we can look to him again and again, as our Lord and our God. “You are bought with a price.”
III. Then what follows? The EXHORTATION– “Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The Lord does not deal with us in his precious gospel as the law does; bidding us do– and giving us no power to do. But what he bids us do he gives power to do, and to do it willingly, cheerfully, and with the obedience of a son– not the fears of a slave.
A. Now when do we glorify God in our BODY? When we use the faculties of our body in the service of God, and glorify him by their employment.
1. When, for instance, we use our EYES– not to feed our carnal mind, not to pamper the flesh, and entertain every roving imagination or base and wicked desire, but to read the word of God with reverence, earnestness, diligence, and a desire to know and do God’s will, we glorify God with our eyes. When we look up, as we do sometimes, as though our eyes would pierce the very heavens, to see Jesus at God’s right hand, though we expect not to see him by the eye of sense, we use our eyes aright, because we are looking up to him who has bid us look unto him and be saved.
When we turn away our eyes from beholding vanity, and keep them fixed simply upon gospel truths and gospel ways, then we glorify God with our eyes; for we use them as God would have us use them. When we can drop a silent tear over our sins, we use our eyes aright; for then the tear drops down the cheek under a sense of real penitence and godly sorrow for our great and grievous sins. When we can look at the dear people of God with eyes of affection; when we view not their infirmities, nor their sins nor short-comings– but see only the mind and image of Christ in them, then we glorify God with our eyes. When we can sympathize with those under affliction, look upon them with eyes of pity and tenderness, instead of staring upon them with cold, lack-luster eye– then we glorify God with our eyes.
2. When we hear God’s truth; when his word enters through the ear into our very heart; when everything falls down before it opposed to God and godliness, and Jesus comes in the power of his word into the soul to make himself precious, then we glorify God with our EARS. When we listen to the experience of God’s people, and what they say touches our heart and reaches our affections, then also we glorify God with our ears. And when we turn our ears away from lying tales and slander and detraction, to prejudice us against any of his dear family, we glorify God with our ears; because we stop them against ungodly lies and anything which detracts from the love and affection we should bear to God’s saints.
3. We use our LIPS aright when we employ them in prayer and supplication, when the heart and lip both go together, and as we seek the Lord upon our bended knee, our mouth utters the earnest desires of our soul. We glorify God also with our lips when we speak well of his name, praise and bless him for his manifested mercy, thank him for all his goodness in providence, and ascribe to him all that we are in grace. We glorify him with our lips when we speak a word in season to his people, to encourage the fainting, comfort the downcast, and strengthen the exercised. And we glorify God also with our lips when we speak words of condemnation to the ungodly– and, if a minister, searching words to hypocrites, faithful words to loose professors, and warning, rebuking, reproving, or encouraging words to all who desire to fear God– which shall be in harmony with his truth and our own experience, and be spoken in a right spirit.
4. We glorify God with our HANDS when we give to the poor and needy according to our ability, and administer to their needs as circumstances may require. When we keep our hands from cheating, or pilfering in any secret way, from practicing fraud in business or other matters, and set a strict watch over our fingers, to employ them only in the service of God– then we glorify God with our hands.
5. When our FEET bring us to the house of prayer, to assemble ourselves with God’s saints, and take us away from places of error and where God is not, then we glorify God with our feet. When we walk also in gospel paths, in obedience to gospel precepts, are found attending to gospel ordinances, and live in a way becoming our profession, then we glorify God with our feet– for we then run the way of his commandments.
B. But we are to glorify him in our SPIRIT as well as our body; for both body and spirit are his.
1. We glorify him, then, with our spirit, when we have the spirit of FAITH in our breast, when we are not always doubting nor unbelieving; but believe God’s word, receive God’s truth into a tender, feeling, broken spirit, and feel the effect of faith as purifying the heart from the love of sin and the world. We glorify God with our spirit when our faith embraces the Son of God as revealed in the word in his beauty and blessedness, in his grace and glory, in his blood and righteousness, in what he is as the Son, and Christ, and the Lamb of God. We glorify God in our spirit when our faith embraces every truth of the gospel, lays hold of gospel promises, and gives heed to gospel precepts.
2. When we have a GOOD HOPE through grace, cast anchor within the veil, and by the power of this good hope press on through hosts of evils, we glorify God in our spirit, because a good hope through grace, anchoring within the veil, draws us onward to him, who is where the anchor is firmly fixed.
3. We glorify him in our spirit when we LOVE his name, his Person, his work, his word, his truth, his people, and all he has sanctified and consecrated by his Spirit and grace. A spirit of love is especially that whereby we glorify God in our spirit; for what is a Christian without love? He is a nonentity, a monster; he is not a Christian man. He is only a mannikin, an imitation of a Christian, one born out of due time, and not a man in Christ. To be called a Christian, and not love God’s truth, nor God’s word, nor God himself, and his dear Son, this is not being a Christian, this is not Christianity, this is not the spirit of the gospel; this is not glorifying God in our spirit. If you have no love in your breast, you are no Christian. And if you have love in your breast, you will glorify God in and by that spirit of love.
4. A spirit of MEEKNESS, HUMILITY, GENTLENESS, AND PEACEFULNESS made manifest in us is to glorify God in our spirit. Will quarreling glorify God? Will strife and contention in a church glorify him? Will bitter words, angry speeches, reviling accusations, cold looks, not speaking even to members of the same church– will that spirit of the world and of the flesh glorify God? Is that adorning the doctrine? Is that bringing forth the fruits of righteousness? Is that manifesting you are under gospel influence, and walking in the love and spirit of the gospel? If you are to glorify God in your spirit, it must be by a spirit of humility, meekness, gentleness, quietness, and peace. Does God sanction war, strife, contention? It is what God hates.
5. You glorify God also in your spirit when you submissively bear the weight of your AFFLICTIONS; when you endure your daily cross with a humble mind. It is for your good to submit to it as the will of God. Then you glorify God by a spirit of submission. Does rebellion glorify God? Does fighting against God’s word glorify him? Do peevishness, fretfulness, murmuring glorify God? No! meekness, submission to the will of God; embracing the cross, whatever it be, with thankfulness, seeing the rod and him who appointed it, feeling he lays upon us much less than we deserve– this is glorifying God in our spirit.
6. A spirit of separation from the WORLD; a sweet spirituality of mind; delighting in the things of God for the pleasure found in them; feeling the truth of God to be a feast in itself, and desiring ever to walk in the enjoyment of gospel mercies and gospel blessings– this is glorifying God in our spirit. And so I might enlarge, running through the various ways in which we glorify God in our spirit, if I did not fear to weary you and take up too much time and attention.
I have laid these things before you, but I have not laid, at least designedly, a burden upon you. I have sought to keep myself from urging these things in a legal way, or speaking of them in any but a gospel spirit. I feel at this present time in a gospel spirit; I feel to be in a good spirit; and what I say to you I speak in the spirit of the gospel, in the love and affection of the gospel, for your souls’ good. If I came with a thundering law, laying these things upon you as something to be done in the flesh, you might rebel, and say, “I came this evening to hear the gospel, to hear a precious Christ exalted, and his truth set before me. I did not come to be flogged.” Have I flogged you? Has not rather conscience flogged you? If the word I have spoken has been a word of reproof, has that reproof not been needed? Does conscience back that reproof? I have administered it in a spirit of affection– how have you received it? Do you see that you are not your own? Do you wish to be your own? If God gave you your liberty, would you take it? If he said, “Do what you like– I give you full liberty;” would you take it?
“No!” you would say; “I would dread to be left to myself! I know what a fool I have been in times past; I know what wrong things I have said and done, left to myself. I should do the like again. Keep me, Lord, as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wing; leave me not a single moment. Keep my eyes, keep my ears, keep my hands, keep my feet, keep my lips, keep every member of my body. And O that I may glorify you in my body and spirit, which are yours; live to your praise, walk in your fear, and do the things which are pleasing in your sight.”
Is this gospel or is it law? Is it truth or is it error? Is it the word of God, the experience of the saints, and what good men have always contended for, or is it the word of man, the spawn of a legal spirit, and without any sanction, testimony, or approbation of believing hearts? I leave the verdict to your own conscience.
Preached at Gower Street Chapel, London, 1868, by J. C. Philpot