Romans 6:22
Some memories are best forgotten, like a horrid dream. Not so the Christian's recollection of his conversion. As the Corinthians were reminded of their previous wretched career - " such were some of you" - so here the Romans. In reading the Authorized Version stress must be laid on the past tense, "were;" then it suggests the clearer translation of the Revised edition.

I. THE FORMER SLAVERY. Absolute freedom is impossible to man, who is surrounded by higher powers, and has a Divine law impressed on his nature. The headstrong youth is really in bondage to sin; and the recluse in his solitude, whilst free from some of the restrictions of civilization, yet deprives himself of some advantages, and thereby imposes on himself certain limits. The description of sin as bond-service is just when we think of the manner in which men are worn out by vice. The silken cords of pleasure become adamantine bonds. The man who delays to reform his life becomes a prisoner, unable to turn the key in the rusty lock. Dislike of the epithet, "servants of sin," must not blind us to its accuracy, in spite of the euphemistic terms which would hide the flagrancy of our transgressions. Without supposing that statistics of the members of Churches accurately embrace all servants of righteousness, the condition of slavery is all too common, even in Christian England. Press home this fact, and remember that the great, question is not whether we can fix the date and enumerate the details of our conversion, but whether we are conscious of a renewed heart and life.

II. THE NEW SERVICE. The text speaks of a changed state of obedience to God and adoption of righteousness - a state sanctioned by conscience, ratified by the judgment, pleasing to the Almighty, and every way beneficial to ourselves and others. Its cause is the new teaching concerning Jesus Christ. The tense is definite; these Christians had received the doctrine and embraced it gladly. Perhaps the good news is today too much encumbered with technical phraseology, or, having been frequently listened to from infancy, fails to excite in us the glad wonder which it evoked when fresh to the ear. To the Romans it brought tidings of the abrogation of the Sinaitic Law as a covenant of life; it told of the one perfect Offering whereby those that believe are sanctified; it spoke of the all-providing love of the Father for his erring children. The gospel comes as a law to be obeyed, but supplies adequate motives and spiritual power for its fulfilment. The code is discipleship to Christ, hearkening to his preaching and copying his life. This doctrine is represented in the text as "a mould" into which the life of the obedient is cast, imparting to them a righteous form - a likeness to their teacher - Christ. And in hearty obedience true freedom is realized. The father, toiling home laden with gifts for his children, does not look upon his load as a wearisome burden. The mother, with her fresh responsibilities and cares, delights in the maternal yoke. Love alters the bias, oils the wheels of duty. Christ has won the hearts of his people, and to serve him is an honour and a joy. He strikes off the shackles of sin, and we welcome the golden chains of righteous obedience. We do not deny that sin has its pleasures; but, in comparison with the sense of purity and elevation which the service of Christ furnishes, there is the difference between the hot, stifling atmosphere of the music-hall and the sweet bracing air of the mountain-top.

III. THE THANKSGIVING FOR THE DELIVERANCE. None could think that the rendering of the Authorized Version implied Paul's delight at the former unrighteousness; but the Revised rendering is less ambiguous to the hurried reader. The phrase, "thank God," used to be a stock insertion in ordinary letters. Here it is no unmeaning ascription, filling up the interstices of speech, but a devout acknowledgment of sincere gratitude to him who instituted the gracious plan of salvation, giving up his beloved Son, and by his Spirit opens the hearts of an audience to attend to the message of everlasting life. It is the outpouring of the heart for the safety and honourable obedience of fellow-Christians. A pastor may offer it for his flock, a teacher for her scholars. Give glory to God! thank him with lip and life, by seeking to understand and obey the statutes and principles of the Word of truth, and by leading others to know the joys of redemptive obedience. - S.R.A.







But now being made free from sin.
I. WE ARE "FREE FROM SIN."

1. We are free from —(1) Its guilt and pollution. Sin is represented as an evil of enormous magnitude. It is said to be a plague and a leprosy, foul, odious, detestable. But now there is a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."(2) Its curse and condemnation. "So many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." The acts of our disobedience are innumerable, and the curse of heaven comes down where sin is. But "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Therefore is there now to us no condemnation.(3) Its tyranny. Before our conversion it did reign; we obeyed not God but sin. Since our conversion sin has not had dominion over us; for we are not under the law, but under grace.(4) Its sting and bitterness. There is no comfort, no peace, as long as we are indulging sin and under the power of it. Christ makes us free. His precious blood, presented to us, pacifies and purifies the conscience.(5) All its consequences perfectly and forever. "The wages of sin is death"; but "he that believeth My sayings," says Jesus Christ, "shall never see death." "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ."

2. We are made free. There is some power exerted upon us distinctly Divine: we call it grace or the work of God. God calls us to come forth from our bondage; and we, hearing His voice, do come; but the power which gives us the ability to assert our freedom is His own. This freedom is ascribed —(1) To the Father: "You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins"; "We give thanks to the Father, who hath translated us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son."(2) To Christ. He was anointed to preach the opening of the prison doors to them who are bound; "and if the Son shall make us free, we shall be free indeed."(3) To the Holy Ghost. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." The plan emanates from the Everlasting Father; the carrying of it into execution is the work of the Son; and its application to our minds, by which we are personally made free, is the work of the Holy Ghost.

3. The instruments employed.(1) The truth. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."(2) Grace; and the more we know of it, the better we understand the riches of the grace of God.(3) The ministry. "I have sent thee to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light," etc. And all these conspire and unite.

II. WE BECOME "SERVANTS OF GOD." Our deliverance from sin is in order to this.

1. This name, "servant," is a name of glory because it has been borne by Christ, and by the most distinguished men that ever lived. Moses, Job, David, Paul, James. These triumphed in nothing so much as rendering service in their free state to God. His service is perfect freedom.

2. How is it brought about? We first receive the truth; the blessings of the gospel, freeing us from sin, are brought by faith and knowledge into our nature. The natural effect of this is confidence and love towards God. We cease to be afraid; the spirit of bondage gives way; and the Spirit of adoption comes in its stead. This new view of God induces consecration. We yield ourselves unto God as those that are alive from death, and our members as the instruments of righteousness unto God.

3. What will the Master have us to do? It is required in a servant that there be —

(1)Integrity.

(2)Faithfulness.

(3)Diligence.

(4)Affection.

III. OUR FRUIT IS UNTO HOLINESS.

1. Beautiful fruit; "fruit meet for repentance." "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering," etc. "Holy fruits": that is, fruits that are vital, fresh, blooming, luscious.

2. There never has been any fruit unto holiness separate from the principles of the gospel. There may be morals, dry and barren, but there is no holiness but as it arises out of faith and love towards Jesus.

3. In order to fruitfulness there must be cultivation. There must be a diligence and a care that we show forth in our tempers and practice the various points of that blessed light and beauty which is called in the text holiness.

IV. THE END IS EVERLASTING LIFE. The end is everything. If it were so that the course of religion in this world were a course of sorrow, if the end were everlasting life, it were worth the while to walk it. But it is not: the way is peace, the path is light, the progress is joy, and then the end is everlasting life. The more I see of this life, the more I feel that it is a poor, dissatisfied life. Irrespective of God, it is not worth having. And I am increasingly persuaded that the life to come is unbounded, and perpetual, and everlasting activity, conscious purity, splendid glory, and rest in His beatific vision.

(J. Stratten.)

I. AS GLORIOUSLY EMANCIPATED.

1. It is "made free from sin" — from its power, its guilt, and its consequences.

2. This emancipation is the most real, valuable, and lasting of any.

II. AS DIVINELY CONSECRATED. "Become servants to God." His service is the most —

1. Reasonable.

2. Free. It insures the free action of all the powers of the soul.

3. Honourable. What an honour to be employed by Him!

III. AS PROSPEROUSLY EMPLOYED. "Fruit unto holiness." Holiness is the perfection of being. "Having the fruit to holiness" implies that every thought, word, and deed bears towards perfection.

IV. AS EVERLASTINGLY BLESSED. "The end everlasting life." Life without end.

1. Free from all evil.

2. Possessed of all good.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. The first stage of the Christian journey is CONVERSION, "now being made free from sin." What, then, is this "freedom from sin"? What, then, this emancipation we get at the Cross? Sin is here. Sin is in us, sin is on us. Sin has flung on our soul the double coiled chain of penalty and power. We are prisoners bound by the two-twisted grapple of guilt, but it is all snapped and shivered in the surrender of the soul to the Lord. "He hath sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Here's the gospel for you. "The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Every fraction of my awful debt Christ has rendered, and now I am pardoned, justified, "reconciled unto God by the death of His Son," and God righteously bestows upon me the full remission of my sins, "that He might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." I am, in conversion to Christ, free from sin, its penalty. Yet once more, conversion brings freedom from the power and presence of sin. Slaving in the rice fields of sin was I! hoeing along in the heat of the plain of hell was I! manacled was I! But, "happy day!" on the horizon a broad sail appeared, and a vessel bore down to the terrible shore, and lo, the blood-stained banner of the Cross of Christ waved its welcome to my weary soul, and I lifted myself from the swamps and fled, and plunged into the deep with a cry for help. "Lord, save me, I perish." Help came, salvation came, the Lord walked on the wave and brought me on board, and "I fell down at His feet as if dead."

II. The second station on the line to glory is what we call, for want of a better name, CONDUCTION, "become servants to God." You know what conduction in physical science is. It is the communication of heat from one body to another by contact. There must be touch, or there will be no passing along of the caloric wave. Can't you realise this "natural law in the spiritual world"? It is the secret of effective service to God. Examine the extremities and see that the touch is certain. Is your soul, Christian worker, in contact with God? Is your soul, Christian worker, in contact with man? Have you regeneration from God? Have you sympathy with man? A soul saved, and soul seeker. That is service. Bring the soul into living contact with the living God, and the Divine heat by the law of conduction will ripple its waves through the mass of humanity till all the earth shall acknowledge Him; "and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord." But where shall I work? How shall I serve? how labour for God on the earth? Where you are called, there preach. Serve God with your new life where He gave it you. Serve you your God by doing His will in "the trivial round, the common task." "Who sweeps a room as for His laws makes that and the action fine." Be a "servant to God."

III. The third platform we reach on this royal route to heaven is CONSECRATION: "Ye have your fruit unto holiness." Rowland Hill says truly, "he wouldn't give a fig for a man's religion if his very cat wasn't the better of it!" Be a fruiter in the Christian life, not a florist. It was said of one of those perfection florists, "Ay, he's perfect, he says, but ask his wife!" Many will pray that will never pay, and yet paying not praying is the "fruit unto holiness." To one of those florists of holiness I once lent my last coin, and I've never seen it nor him, and it's ten years now since he, with three or four hundred more of the coins of others to keep mine company, took his spring-heeled flitting in the bonnie moonlight! Many will talk that will never walk, and yet walk not talk is the "fruit unto holiness." The world needs Christs, be you a Christ! Live holiness by living Christ, for the blessing is not an it, but a "He." Christ in you, working through you, that "we should be to the praise of His glory."

IV. And now, the terminus of this railway journey to "the regions beyond" is what we call, also for the want of a better name, and to keep to our "cons" for your memory's sake, CONGREGATION, "the end, everlasting life." Right has been, left has been, right again has been, it is now straight on! On screams the engine whistle, and the piston plunges, and the wheels move. Night! Thunders the iron steed on its ringing track, smoothly on, steadily on, into the darkness.

(John Robertson.)

I. THEIR FREEDOM FROM SIN. Consider —

1. Wherein this freedom consists. It does not mean that they are made free from the being of sin. This will be the case by and by, when they shall be like Christ as well as see Him as He is. But it does mean that they are free from —(1) Its penal consequences. Christ hath redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them.(2) As to its empire. "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace." And what is grace if it suffers sin to conquer?(3) From its love. Persons may leave what they do not loathe, and still may be hankering after it. This was the case with the Israelites and Lot's wife, but it is not the case with the real Christian. The streams of sin are embittered to him; he can never love that again which killed Him, who is all his salvation and all his desire. And this aversion extends not to sins to which he has no propensity, but to his darling lusts, to those which are as dear as a right eye or a right hand.

2. But a deliverance supposes a Deliverer. Did they make themselves free? Did creatures, ministers, or angels? No, it was the work of God Himself.

II. THEIR CONSECRATION TO GOD'S SERVICE. Negative religion is not enough. It is not enough that you cease to do evil; you must learn to do well. It is not enough that you are made free from sin; you must become the servants of God.

1. God has every claim. We are His absolutely. He made us. Were He to suspend His sustaining influence we should relapse into nothingness. And you are not your own in a much nobler sense; you are bought with a price, and therefore you are bound to glorify God, etc.

2. Notice the nature of this service.(1) There is a sense in which all are God's servants. Nebuchadnezzar was "the rod of His anger and the staff of His indignation, but he meant not so, neither did his heart think so." He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him, and restrains the remainder of it, just as the miller draws off the hatch and lets in as much water as the grinding requires, and then lowers it again and restrains the rest.(2) But there are servants from conviction and disposition. They are made willing in the day of His power, and hold themselves at His disposal, asking, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"(3) This service is not confined to official characters. Moses, Job, David, etc. Ministers are called the servants of God, but the name itself is applicable to all real Christians. The highest angel is no more than a servant of God, and the poorest believer on earth is nothing less. The man of five talents can serve God as well as the man of ten.(4) This service is not confined to attendance upon the means of grace. These are not religion, but are the means, because they are those things in the use of which we obtain the supply of the Spirit to go forth and live to God entirely. Whether, therefore, a Christian is on the throne or on the bench, in the shop or on the road, he may be still serving God and have the testimony that he pleases God.(5) This service is passive as well as active. They also serve who wait, and they who suffer. And perhaps God's people never glorify Him more than in the fires. Perhaps nothing impresses others so much as the passive graces in Christians.

III. THEIR PRESENT PRIVILEGES. The fruit of a tree is something from which we derive pleasure and profit, and by which it is known and identified. "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." What fruit?

1. True profit. In the days of Job, infidels asked, "What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?" etc., and in the days of Malachi they were audacious enough to say, "It is vain to serve God," etc. To all which the apostle returns a perfect answer: "Godliness is profitable to all things," etc.

2. Safety. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

3. Peace. "Great peace have they that love Thy law." "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace," etc.

4. Pleasure that deserves the name, pleasure that reaches the very soul, and produces sunshine and satisfaction there. "Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound," etc.

5. Health, if it be good for you; sickness, if it be good for you; wealth, if it be good for you; reputation, if it be good for you; for "no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." Therefore the Saviour says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," etc.

IV. THEIR FINAL BLESSEDNESS. "The end everlasting life."

(W. Jay.)

Biblical Museum.
I. THEY ARE FREE FROM SIN.

1. Its accumulated guilt.

2. Its tyranny.

3. Its love.

4. Its defilement.

II. THEY ARE THE SERVANTS OF GOD.

1. Governed by His will.

2. Supported by His grace.

3. Interested in His cause.

III. THEIR FRUIT IS UNTO HOLINESS. The fruit of their —

1. Heart.

2. Lips.

3. Lives.

IV. THEIR END IS EVERLASTING LIFE. A state of —

1. Uninterrupted and eternal union with Christ.

2. Active and delightful employment.

3. The highest enjoyment.

(Biblical Museum.)

Servants to God.
I. THE GROUND OF THEIR SERVICE. They are God's property (Titus 2:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 1 Peter 1:18).

II. ITS DIGNITY. It is a great thing to be a servant of an earthly monarch; but what a dignified and dignifying service is spoken of here! Contrast it with that out of which we are taken.

III. ITS FREEDOM. Observe the words "become servants." Although the introduction to His service is an act of grace towards you, you are not forced into it contrary to your will (2 Corinthians 5:14). It is a service of love, the yoke is easy and the burden light. This service is perfect freedom.

IV. ITS PRIVILEGES. A good master —

1. Provides for his servants, thinks for his servants. Oh, how God's servants are provided for! what angels' food, what raiment, what protection!

2. Upholds his servants, and our Master will uphold His. His name is upon them, His honour is identified with them, their cause is His. If one of the servants of the Queen, representing us in a foreign land, be insulted, in a moment the whole country is in arms.

V. ITS CHARACTERISTICS AND DUTIES.

1. A good servant is described to us in Scripture; he has —(1) A watchful eye. "As the eyes of servants look unto the hands of their masters," etc. In Eastern countries instead of giving directions by word of mouth, they are often given merely by indications of the hand or of the eye. A good servant will have the eye of faith on the Master's hand, and watch the indication of the Master's eye, that there may be no delay in serving; and the promise is, "I will guide thee with Mine eye."(2) A listening ear: "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."(3) A ready foot. "I will run in the way of Thy commandments."(4) A ready heart. "An offering of a free heart will I give Thee."(5) A submissive, obedient will.

2. There is a beautiful directory for servants of the Lord in 2 Timothy 1 and

2. A good servant must —

(1)Be a praying servant. "Stir up the gift of God that is in thee."

(2)Not be ashamed of his master. "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord."

(3)Hold fast the truth. "Hold fast the form of sound words."

(4)Be true to his trust. "That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us."

(5)Be "strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

(6)"Endure hardness."

(7)Study "to show himself approved unto God."

(8)"Flee youthful lusts: but follow righteousness," etc.

(9)Persevere (Romans 3:14).

VI. ITS FUTURE. How the Spirit loves to light up that future (Colossians 3:24; John 12:26; Revelation 22:1.; Luke 12:37)!

(M. Rainsford.)

Ye have your fruit unto holiness.
I. GOD'S GLORY REQUIRES IT (John 15:8).

II. CHRIST'S FULNESS REQUIRES IT. For what purpose has He this fulness, but that He may give it out to us as the root to the branches grafted into it. What we want is faith to draw upon that fulness. There is life, truth, strength, holiness enough in Jesus, to carry us triumphantly through every difficulty; but the stint and straitening is in our own faith.

III. THE SPIRIT'S INHABITATION REQUIRES IT. Will God put His Spirit into us, and be content that we should walk at the low rate at which men walk who have no such privileges? "The fruit of the Spirit is love," etc.

IV. THE SAINT'S PEACE REQUIRES IT. How much unhappiness we bring upon ourselves by the devious ways we take, the dark paths we wander into, and by the neglect of the means God has provided for our being strengthened and helped, and for our having the joy of the Lord for our strength.

(M. Rainsford.)

1. Two great principles pervade and rule the universe — sin and holiness. There are but these two. There will ever be these two. Now that the second has entered, it would seem neither can be wholly destroyed.

2. It is to one of these two principles we are directed in the text. As the dark ground on which it may best appear, look first at the other. Evil, wrong, sin — the first word betokening its nature, the second its opposition to right, the third its relation to law — what a curse it has been to creation! Gather in thought all the evils which now afflict humanity, add to them all those under which creation groans, add still all those which in another world will continue forever — and you see the elements of that evil thing which has mysteriously sprung up in God's universe; which He hates, which angels deplore, and which we call sin. It is like emerging from a dark tunnel to sweet air and clear sunshine, to turn from this subject to the one before us.

I. WHAT IS HOLINESS?

1. It has many counterfeits.(1) You see yonder the Pharisee. Men call him holy, because he wears a holy garment with a broad phylactery, is unctuous in his speech, loud in his profession, fluent in his prayers.(2) In ancient times you might have seen another sort of man, in a cell, wearing a filthy garment, living upon roots, scowling on the outside world, for which he did nothing, and pretending thus to "mortify the deeds of the body."(3) Yonder is another character, absorbed about spiritual subjects, a great authority on abstruse doctrines, yet withal exclusive, proud, "soon angry," intolerant, unlovely at home.(4) Or look at a collective scene. See that crowd thronging to hear a favourite preacher, or to swell the enthusiasm of a public meeting, or to observe some saint's day, all wearing the air of religiousness, and all yielding themselves to the fascination of spiritual excitement. Now far be it from me to suggest that it may not exist in some of these, but they are not the thing.

2. The simplest definition of holiness is conformity to God. So far as we can understand God's holiness, it consists in infinite rectitude of thought, feeling, nature, and it is essential to Him, so that without it He could not be. He is the Holy One. This holiness regulates all He does. But who can stand in His holy place to gaze upon and imitate Him?Though we cannot do this, however, recollect He has given us reflections of His holiness.

1. God's Word is a reflection of Himself. In a book you get a man's thoughts and spirit. All its injunctions and prohibitions are on the side of holiness. By common consent it is "the Holy Bible," and we are like God, holy as He is holy, in proportion as we "look into the perfect law," catch and reflect its image.

2. Not in a book only, but in a living person has God exhibited His holiness. How holy Christ was! If you cannot imitate the original, then look at the copy. Our holiness consists in being like Christ. As you look at Christ, too, you see what holiness is not, as well as what it is. It is not asceticism. Christ "was in the world"; yet He was holy. It is not absence from temptation. He was in "all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." It is not morbid sensibility, ever weighing experience and scrutinising motive. Christ was active, "went about doing good," was healthy in His moral temperament. It was not unnaturalness, the assumption of anything peculiar, whether in dress, speech, or behaviour. Christ was perfectly natural; the light shone because it was there.

3. Though this is perhaps a sufficient definition, it is not a complete one, for there are elements which go to make up our holiness which could not exist in Christ. In order to holiness in us there must be contrition for sin, and this of course Jesus had not.

4. Still, the definition is not complete. Were it possible to express in a word the nature of absolute holiness, we could not do better than adopt the word "Love." God is love, Christ was love, and the nearest approach we can make to perfect holiness is pure love.

II. WHY SHOULD WE BE HOLY? Why should we not; what reason can be urged for sin? It is unreasonable. Holiness is the highest reason.

1. Consider —(1) It was God's original purpose with regard to us. And this first purpose He has steadily adhered to. How holy the creature He formed! "God made man upright." In the "image of God created He man." How powerful this motive! God meant us, made us, to be holy. As sin does not destroy law, nor alter the Divine perfection, so neither does it disturb the Divine purpose.(2) If anything can be stronger as a motive than that "good and acceptable and perfect will of God." it is to be found in She great work of Christ. "God so loved the world." Why? To promote the interests of holiness, to vindicate His own and to secure that of His creatures. The atonement of Christ does both.(3) Nor did He only die for this. For this, too, He lives and reigns. The first gift He bestowed after His ascension was the royal one of the Holy Spirit, whose work is emphatically to promote holiness.

2. In thus gathering motives from the throne, the Cross, the work of the Spirit, forget not personal ones. The apostle urges these strongly.(1) Your profession. You have made this, have been baptized, taken upon you the badge of discipleship. What means this? "How shall we who are thus by profession dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Consistency with what you profess requires holiness. Either give up your profession, or give up sin — the two are incompatible.(2) Nor this only. If believers, you are one with Christ; as such, should be like Him. He was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father; we should rise too.(3) Still farther; recollect your sinful nature. "The old man," corrupt according to deceitful lusts, is legally destroyed. Not only are motives to sin withdrawn, but right is removed. Therefore "reckon" this to be your state, and "yield not your members as its instruments."

3. Motives of a less personal kind yet remain. As believers formed into a collective fellowship, the object of the Church is two fold — its own culture, and the benefit of the world. Both these will be best secured by growing holiness.

III. HOW MAY HOLINESS BE BEST SECURED?

1. Negatively.(1) Not without effort. Wishing, desire, will not avail. If this fruit is ever to be secured, it must be cultivated, nurtured, tended, and sometimes watered with tears. A careless soul will never be a holy one. As little is it to be obtained without Divine help. With a corrupt nature, a vigilant adversary, and a sinful world, as little can a spark live in the ocean, or fruit grow on a rock, as the celestial principle flourish without help from above. Divine in its nature, it requires Divine succour, and none but the Spirit of God can sanctify the soul.(2) Not suddenly, all at once. As the sun does not at once reach the zenith, nor the summer its solstice, nor the fruit its maturity, so neither does holiness at once secure the ascendency in any soul. It is a habit rather than an act.

2. Positively. Holiness —(1) Must have a basis of intelligence. How often the apostle prays that believers may increase "in knowledge." Would you be holy? Think on Divine things. The mind grows by what it feeds on.(2) Is a thing of the heart. If you would be holy, "keep your heart with all diligence." It is the citadel.(3) Is a matter of practice. Sin within is bad; allowed to come out, it is worse, not only for its influence upon others, but on self too. There is no exercise so hallowing as communion with God. Entering into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, we are surrounded by the fragrant incense which will perfume our very garments, and be exhaled in the breath of our lips. As Moses, radiant from the Mount, so shall we reflect the glory of the Lord. Like him, we may "wist not," but others will see, and will take such knowledge of us as will bless and stimulate them.Conclusion:

1. Holiness is within the reach of all. Many things are not so. Wealth, fame, honour, position may be coveted by many, who strive to obtain, but win not. The highest distinction to be won on earth is open to the meanest.

2. Holiness is not destroyed by occasional failures. Try, try again; the steps backward may help the spring forward; the wave receding becomes stronger in its rebound.

3. The conscious absence of perfect holiness should endear the atonement. "If any man sin" — and who does not daily? — "we have an Advocate with the Father," etc.

4. In heaven holiness will be complete.

(J. Viney.)

As the glory of a healthy apple tree is its fruit, so the glory of a genuine Christian is his usefulness. He does not merely blossom out with a good profession; he bears fruit with all his might and main. There is not a sapless twig or a barren bough on the whole tree which is planted by the rivers of grace but yieldeth its fruit every month.

(T. L. Cuyler.)

It is remarkable that Paul speaks of holiness as the fruit, and not as the principle of our service to God — as the effect which that service has upon the character, and not as the impelling moral power which led to the service. And this accords with ver. 19, where they who had yielded their members servants to iniquity are represented as having thereby reaped fruit unto iniquity — or, in other words, as having, by their own sinful work, aggravated and confirmed the sinfulness of their own characters. And, on the other hand, they who had yielded their members servants to righteousness, are represented as having reaped thereby fruit unto holiness — or, in other words, they, by doing that which was right, rectified their own moral frames; and a perseverance in holy conduct made them at length to be holy creatures. This is the very process laid down in the verse before us. In virtue of having become servants to God, they had their fruit unto holiness. No doubt there is a germ of holiness at the very outset of the new life, but still a coarser principle of it may predominate at the first; and the finer principles of it may grow into establishment afterwards. The good things may be done, somewhat doggedly as it were, at the will of another; but the assiduous doing of the hand may at length carry along with it the delight of the heart; and this certainly marks a stage of higher and more saintly advancement in personal Christianity. It evinces a growing assimilation to God — who does what is right, not in force of another's authority, but in force of the free and original propensities of His own nature to all that is excellent. By such a blessed progress of sanctification as this do we at length cease to be servants and become sons; the Spirit of adoption is shed upon us, and we feel the glorious liberty of God's own children. And when the transition is so made that the work of servitude becomes a work of felicity and freedom, then is it that a man becomes like unto God, and holy even as He is holy. One most important use to be drawn from this argument is, that you are not to suspend the work of literal obedience till you are prepared for rendering unto God a spiritual obedience. In every case it is right to be always doing what is agreeable to the will of God. There may be a mixture at first of the spirit of bondage, so that the apostle would say of these babes in Christ, "I speak unto you not as unto spiritual but as unto carnal"; yet still it is good to give yourselves over, amid all the crude and embryo and infant conceptions of a young disciple, to the direct service of God. Break loose from your iniquities at this moment. Turn you to all that is palpably on the side of God's law. Do plainly what God bids, and on the direct impulse, too, of God's authority; and the fruit of your thus entering upon His service will be the perfecting at length of your own holiness, purified from the flaw of legal bondage or of mercenary selfishness — a holiness that finds its enjoyment in the service itself, and not in the hope of the great reward which is to come after the keeping of the commandments; but a holiness upheld by the present experience, that in the keeping of the commandments there is a great reward.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

And the end everlasting life
I. THERE IS SOMETHING VERY SOLEMN IN THAT WORD, "THE END!" (Proverbs 23:18). What of our end? Look around you and see the speculations, the anxieties, the labours of the men of this world — they all will have an end; see men of pleasure, living for pleasure — the laughter, the songs, the entertainments and revellings will all have an end; and this world will have an end. Every day, every journey, every conflict, every life has an end. What of our end? It is sure; the end will come, and it may be very near. "Oh, that we were wise, that we did consider our latter end." Yet death is not the end of you. The dust will return to the earth whence it came, but the spirit will have gone to God who gave it — whether clothed in the righteousness and washed in the blood of Christ, or not, is the solemn question.

II. But the text speaks of THE BELIEVER'S END. The end of his pilgrimage, his conflict, his prayers, his faith; "receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls," or as it is here expressed, "everlasting life." Who can fully comprehend the subject? Life is the perfection of being, and everlasting life is the perfection of life. All that the love of God can bestow, all that the blood of Christ can procure, all that the indwelling Holy Ghost can enable us to enjoy, this is everlasting life — the fruition of the fruit of all the travail of Christ's soul, the enjoyment of all the fulness of God, everlastingly to behold His glory, to be assimilated to Christ, to have mortality swallowed up of life — this is "everlasting life." The consummation of all possible privileges, the fulfilment of all Divine promises, the issue of all God's purposes, God's rest of love. How small the world looks in contrast with such an end, and what a poor consolation will it be for any of us to have attained even the whole world, if we lose it.

(M. Raisford.)

More than 1200 years ago, when Bishop Paulinus came to Edwin, king of Deira, and asked permission to preach the good news to his people, that monarch gathered his nobles and wise men to take counsel together. Then one of the thanes arose and said, "Truly the life of a man in this world, compared with the life we wet not, is on this wise: It is as when thou, O king, art sitting at supper with thy aldermen and thanes in the time of winter, when the hearth is lighted in the midst and the hall is warm, but without the rains and the snow are falling, and the winds are howling; then cometh a sparrow and flieth through the house, she cometh in by one door and goeth out by another. While she is in the house, she feeleth not the storm of winter, but yet when a little moment of rest is past she flieth again into the storm and passeth from our eyes. So is it with the life of man; it is but for a moment; what goeth afore it, and what cometh after it, wot we not at all. Wherefore if these strangers can tell us aught, that we may know whence man cometh and whither he goeth, let us hearken to them and follow their law." This beautiful parable is a witness to us both of the darkness of man without Christ, and also of the greatness of the gift which God has given us through His Son. God has not made us for Himself, redeemed us through Christ, given us His Spirit to dwell in and sanctify us, to cast us into the abyss of death. The whole revelation of the gospel, as admirably summed up in the Apostles' Creed, is a pledge that our end is everlasting life. Note by way of introduction that this life will be —

1. A continuation of a present personal life.

2. A fully developed and perfected spiritual life, of which we have the pledge and foretaste here. Hence our Lord speaks of both in the same terms (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36; John 5:24; 1 John 3:14, 15). From what we know, therefore, of the spiritual life here, we may gather what it will be by and by. Everlasting life will be —

I. THE COMPLETE AND FINAL EMANCIPATION FROM SIN. Here we have victory over its dominion, but it never ceases to harass us. Here we may go to the fountain for cleansing, but the defilement which necessitates this is a sore trial. But yonder there will be no tempter, no predisposition to evil, no bad examples, no world to allure, no flesh to weaken and ensnare.

II. THE IMMEDIATE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. We have that here too (John 17:3), but how fragmentary is it! We know but in part, and see only through a glass darkly. We know Him, yet we know Him not. We hear but a whisper of God's ways and see but the skirt of His robe. But we shall then see Him as He is, and know even as we are known — know His character, attributes, work, ways, and have in that knowledge fully, as we have it now in a measure, everlasting life.

III. A LIFE OF ACTION. True, heaven is described as a perpetual Sabbath; and compared with this feverish state the life to come will be a life of rest — rest from sorrow, suffering, conflict, doubt, weariness, and, above all, from sin. But rest without action is monotonous, and more irksome than toil; and it cannot be that the whole condition of our existence will be changed, and our very nature unmade, when we enter the heavenly rest.

1. What is the rest of the heavenly host? They indeed cry "Holy, holy, holy," as they veil their faces, but they have wings and feet as servants ever ready to do the will of Him that sitteth on the throne. And we read that they are "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1), and surely if we are to be "like the angels" we shall be like them in this. As for the service, I do not imagine that the glorified will have reached such perfection as to need no instruction or aid. There will be no sin and no infirmities, but there will still be diversities of character and attainment. And then who knows what opportunities of service will be afforded in the distant provinces of God's kingdom, and on what errands of mercy and hope we may be employed.

2. God "worketh hitherto." His rest has been a rest of action. And if we are to be like Him our life will be one of ceaseless beneficence.

IV. A LIFE IN THE IMMEDIATE, UNVEILED PRESENCE OF CHRIST. One element, of course, will be reunion with those we have loved on earth; but eternal communion with Christ will be its perfection, in that will be comprehended all that the heart can desire. Paul had dear friends, yet when he looked forward to his heavenly rest, everlasting union with Christ was the burden of his hope. Yet that was because to him to live was Christ. Here we enjoy Christ's presence by faith; but our communion is interrupted, and He is unseen. But in the life to come we shall see Him as He is, behold His glory, inherit the kingdom He has prepared for us, and share His throne for evermore.

(Bp. Perowne.)

Eternal life is not a gift as of something fixed, finished, accomplished, and passed over. It is a gift as education is. It is something wrought patiently and long in a man. Eternal life is a gift to us as the sunlight is to the flowers — an influence which enters into them and fashions them. Eternal life from the hand of God is a gift to mankind, as healing is a gift from the physician to the patient. It is that which is slowly wrought in them. Eternal life is wrought in us by the power of the Highest, by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. And the hope of the future is that God's Spirit, entering into the soul, will give it eternal life.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Eternity will be one glorious morning, with the sun ever climbing higher and higher; one blessed springtime, and yet richer summer — every plant in full flower, but every flower the bud of a lovelier.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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