This anomalous connection of beauty and barrenness; of preciousness and worthlessness; the incorruptible with the perishable; of glory and vanity; affords a very striking type of the present dispensation.
The heavens have been opened over our head. We worship and hold converse with God in the highest glory. And yet our members are here upon this earth; and we walk in the midst of a groaning creation, in a world defaced by sin; marred by the presence and power of death; still lying under the curse, and traversed as to its whole length and breadth, by the serpent’s path.
The blessed work of Christ, and the mighty power of His resurrection, have as yet accomplished nothing with regard to this lower creation. Redemption, instead of effecting any improvement in things around us, has delivered us out of this present evil world; has translated us out of the power of Satan, who rules and reigns here, into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
The power of Satan, the state of men in general, and the condition of creation itself, remain totally unaffected by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The devil goes about still as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He is still the god of this world--the prince of this world--the prince of the power of the air. The whole world lieth in the wicked one; and man’s heart has not received one gleam of heavenly light. He remains even in grosser darkness; notwithstanding the wondrous cross and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One universal groan reaches the ears of the Lord of Hosts from the whole creation, resulting from the vanity--death--bondage of corruption, to which it is subject. And we ourselves, by reason of the very intercourse with God, into which we have been brought by the blood of Christ, and because of the very hope of glory, which through the Spirit’s power we already taste by anticipation, even we ourselves, groan within ourselves, feeling what a wilderness this is through which we are hastening; and eagerly waiting the glorious body of our risen Lord.
No wonder the Lord’s people have such strange and mingled experiences.
In one sense, they are already raised with Christ: in another, they yet expect the resurrection.
By faith they can say, that even how they are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: and yet they find themselves toiling in the midst of a restless, unprofitable, heartless world; and having to wage a ceaseless warfare with the rulers of darkness.
With truth they are able to declare, that they have already died, and that their life is hid with Christ in God: and yet, at the very same time, they have to put to death their members upon the earth, which are full of sin and uncleanness.
Already by the help of the Holy Spirit, (the first-fruit of the land of glory,) they behold a new creation, altogether of God, stretching out, with its unspeakable joys and glories, everywhere around them. Yet still they sojourn in a world where Satan’s seat is, and where all is old, and full of decay and corruption.
They are even now, created anew in the image of their glorious God: but the old man, with its affections and lusts, is yet present, and has constantly to be resisted.
They are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; for the Spirit of Christ dwells in them: but alas! daily and hourly, the flesh continually lusts.
Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; but strangers and pilgrims: kings and priests, yet beggars and outcasts: possessing all things, and having nothing: utterly helpless, and yet able to do all things through Christ that strengthens them: with (as it were) heads in the glory, and feet in the wilderness.
Such are the experiences of the people of God, during the present dispensation, whilst the tabernacle of glory is connected with the wilderness path.
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