No More!

Arthur Pink
 

There are a number of deeply interesting and most important passages in which those two words are found, several of which are misunderstood by many of the Lord's own people. Some of them are most blessed and precious, others unspeakably solemn and awesome.

For example, how comforting is the divine assurance contained in the first occurrence of them, "And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh" (Gen 9:15). That was said over four thousand years ago, and each generation of mankind since then has witnessed the verity of it.

Equally assuring is the promise given in connection with the last reference, "And there shall be no more curse" (Rev 22:3), but, instead, perpetual blessing for the new earth.

But in between those passages are others that tell us, "Many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6:66). "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews" (John 11:54). "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins" (Heb 10:26). But we turn now unto those verses which more directly concern the believer.

We begin with the following one, not only because it is of first importance, but because it lays a foundation for all that follows, "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more death has no more dominion over him" (Rom 6:9). That declaration is profoundly mysterious, unspeakably solemn, yet inexpressibly blessed. It is brought in for the purpose of confirming what had been affirmed in the foregoing verse that since believers legally died with Christ, they must also share in His resurrection life. Death once had "dominion" over the Prince of life! It did so because He was its lawful captive. He had taken the place of His guilty people, was bearing their sins, and therefore received the full wages of them. How absolutely awe-inspiriting to behold the Lord of glory in the jaws of death!

But blessed be God, that is the case no more. Having fully discharged the awful debt of His Church, the Law had no further claims upon Him. Its penalty had been met, justice had been satisfied, God glorified. Therefore, we read, "Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it" (Acts 2:24) Divine righteousness would have been traduced if the sepulcher had continued to retain that blessed One. The design of His death being accomplished, He was freed, and is "alive for evermore" (Rev 1:18). Nor has death any "dominion" over those who are in Christ. He has secured for them a perfect and inalienable standing before God in grace and glory.

"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:18-19). Whatever is the true interpretation of the passage, we are certainly warranted at least to apply those words to the case of one who has been quickened and convicted by the Spirit.

First, there is a frank and contrite acknowledgment of sin, for, as Matthew Henry (1662-1714) truly remarked, "The confession of sin is required and insisted upon as a necessary condition of peace and pardon."

Second, there is an honest avowal of the heinousness of his case, mentioning the aggravations thereof. So far from attempting to extenuate his highhanded crimes, their enormity is emphasized. That which renders sin so abominable, is that it is against God the abuse of His goodness, contempt of His authority, despising of His holiness.

Third, there is a condemning of himself, utter abasement, a feeling sense of his worthlessness. He perceives he can merit nothing good at the hands of God, but must cast himself on His grace and mercy. He is deeply conscious of his unfitness and vileness that he is deserving only of Hell.

"I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Heb 8:12). That is what God says unto all who truly take the place of the penitent prodigal. The word which is here rendered "merciful" means propitious, for it is not the exercise of absolute mercy apart from any satisfaction having been rendered unto justice, but the showing of clemency on the ground of an atoning sacrifice. Christ died in order to render God propitious (Heb 2:17, Greek), and it is in and through the Surety that He bestows forgiveness.

Just as long as the sinner rejects Christ, he is under the curse; but as soon as he contritely receives Him by faith he enters into all the blessings of the new covenant. He is completely delivered from under guilt, and henceforth God acts as though He had wholly forgotten, for as Judge He will never bring up those sins to pass sentence upon them. He is entirely absolved. Christ has cancelled his guilt, fully and finally, and before God. The Law can no longer prefer any charge against him. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1), that is, they are as guiltless as though they had never sinned.

When the heart rests on God's I will "remember no more," then there is "no more conscience of sins" (Heb 10:2) the terrifying sense of them is removed, and we no longer dread God's judgment upon them.

"You are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph 2:19). Like almost everything in the preceding verses, this one contains a double allusion a dispensational and experiential. There is an obvious reference here to what had been said in Ephesians 2:12, "That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." Then it is said, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off, are made near by the blood of Christ" (Eph 2:13). As that "far off" and "made near" included both the separation and then the union of Gentile and Jew, and of men and God, so the terms of verse 18 have a twofold scope.

They, who had previously been excluded from the earthly Jerusalem, are come with a gracious welcome to the heavenly Jerusalem, to find their names enrolled among the firstborn sons of God (Heb 12:22-23). Gentile believers enjoy equal privileges with Jewish believers, for they have been brought into "the Israel of God" (Gal 6:16), made joint members of the body of Christ.

But more. By nature, we were strangers to God Himself. We neither knew Him nor wished to do so "Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of your ways" (Job 21:14) was the language of our hearts. But when we were renewed and received, the atonement enmity was slain, and God in Christ adored, and we enjoy familiar fellowship with Him. Formerly, we were "foreigners" to the saints, though we mixed with them, we were not of one heart with them but now, we love them. Previously, we were cut off from the holy angels, but are now fellow citizens with them and they minister to us.

"And Jesus said to her: Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:11). In the above passages, we have viewed some of the benefits and privileges of the saint. Here we have that which is addressed to his responsibility. Observe well the order of it not as the legalist would put it, "Sin no more, and I will not condemn you," but rather, Christ deals with a soul in "grace" and then the application of "truth" to the heart. Note too the perfect balance of it not a bare, "Neither do I condemn you," and nothing more, as the libertine desires, but the added, "Go and sin no more," to protect the interests of holiness.

The Gospel sets before us a standard of conduct no less perfect than that of the Law. No indulging of the flesh is permitted, no self-pleasing tolerated. Pardon places us under additional obligations to cease doing evil. "Awake to righteousness, and sin not" (1 Corinthians 15:34) is the rule set before us. The One who has redeemed us, requires to be obeyed as Lord. The command is peremptory and unqualified. Sin must not be regarded as the natural element of life, nor is commission considered as inevitable. It is not, "Sin as little as possible," but, "Sin no more" rather sin it to be hated, resisted, and forsaken. There must be a thorough watchfulness over our ways and a resolute determination to live to God's glory. Reformation is the best evidence of gratitude. Turn the precept into earnest prayer. Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. Let the love of Christ constrain you to holy living.

"Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me" (Rom 7:17). The context supplies a vivid description of the fierce and ceaseless conflict which is waged between the two natures in the Christian, and which, in varying degrees of perception, is verified in the experience of every saint. By regeneration, the prevailing disposition and desire of the believer is to be fully conformed to the divine will, but (despite his having been delivered from the dominion of sin) his corruptions prevent the attainment of his longings and efforts, so that he daily fails in the doing of the good he essays, and is lured into that which he hates and seeks to avoid.

Thus, in the eyes of Him who knows the heart, it is not the believer as such who is the guilty agent, but rather the enemy and traitor who lurks in his soul, and therefore, the guilt is not imputed to him unto condemnation, for the gracious tenor of the new covenant accepts the willingness of the spirit and has provided pardon for the weakness of the flesh. The "no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me," traces the actions back to their source, and makes known their real cause, as is the case in 1 Corinthians 15:10 and Galatians 2:20.