The Mystery of
by William S. Plumer
"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of
the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree
of glory to another. For this comes from the Spirit of the Lord." (2
There is a great mystery in sanctification. It is a
mystery for the love it displays, for the power it manifests, for the method
it employs, and for the work it accomplishes. When Moses looked upon that
bright effulgence in the mount, he gradually caught some of the same glory,
so that his face shone. When we behold the image of the invisible God, as it
is presented in the person and character of Christ, we too are made like it,
not indeed by a mere natural effect, but "by the Spirit of the Lord."
Likeness to God alone is holiness. Growth in this likeness is growth in
grace. It is all by Jesus Christ.
It is true that "the best of men are men at the best,"
and so are far from being as perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect.
There is no man that sins not. "Yes, there is not a just man upon earth,
that does good, and sins not." But the godly man is not a willing captive of
sin, whereas the unrenewed man rejoices in iniquity. The child of God is
becoming more and more like God. The wicked wax worse and worse. The saint
longs for God's salvation. The sinner cannot sleep--unless he has done some
The heart of a believer is the best part about him. If he
could have things as he would, he never would sin any more. The life of an
unconverted man is commonly not nearly so bad as his heart. He is restrained
in many ways from acting out the worst that is in him. The holy man blushes
at a sinful thought. The wicked man loves to have vain thoughts lodge within
him. It is the business of a godly man's life to please God and perfect
holiness. It is the business of a sinner's life to please himself and commit
sin. The work of purifying the heart shall be finished in due time, and all
the godly shall be satisfied, when they awake, with the likeness of God,
fully drawn upon their souls.
If we are called to be saints, we are not called to serve
any but the Lord Christ. Holiness may be out of fashion here on earth, but
not in heaven. It is infinitely better to be "a peculiar people, zealous of
good works," than "a people, laden with iniquity." When a prince was about
to travel, he asked his tutor for some maxims, by which to govern his
behavior, and received this: "Remember that you are the son of a king." Let
all Christians remember that they are the sons and daughters of the Lord
Almighty," and "if sons, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with
Jesus Christ." With what force and point the exhortation comes to such
gospel. Truth never generates licentiousness. Actual participation in
Christ's righteousness is always manifested by the possession of his image
It is sad proof of a wicked heart when a professor of
Christ's gospel attempts to live as near as possible to the line separating
sin from holiness. Let him eschew and abhor evil. Excess in many things is
easy, but no man fears or hates sin too much. So far as we know, sin is the
only thing which God hates. There are many filthy reptiles, unclean beasts
and venomous serpents from which we instinctively turn away; yet God's
tender mercies are over all of these. He opens his hand and supplies the
needs of every living thing. To the end which he proposed in their creation,
they are well adapted. But sin is in its own nature and tendency, only evil.
God abhors it. It dishonors him, it grieves him, it vexes him. It is the
only thing which dishonors or offends him. He is angry with the wicked every
day. When one of Christ's people sins, it is wounding our Savior "in the
house of his friends."
An alleged work of grace on the heart, which gives no
outward signs and leaves the life wicked, is good for nothing. True holiness
is not dormant but active, not merely a negation of evil, but the
positiveness of good. For a while, Joseph and Nicodemus may be timid, but
when the great question is raised by the crucifixion, we find them open and
bold disciples. The fruit of a holy nature--is a holy life.