Life or Judgment: John 5:21-27

John 5:21‑27  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
OH 5:21-27{THE Lord Jesus Christ is set forth in these scriptures as the One who gives life and judgment. He occupies that position in respect to man as such, that every child of Adam must receive from Him one or other. The fullest and most blessed testimony had been given to the fact that in Him was life, and the condemnation of men consisted in this, that they would not come to Him that they might have life. That He is despised and refused, is even now the condemnation where the name of Christ is named. Man was in death, but judgment was not yet executed. It is the same now. But whenever a person has listened to Christ's voice, and owned the Father in sending Him, he hath, everlasting life; he is passed from death unto life. Here is the escape; and here begins all the exercises of holy affections towards God. A child cannot love its parents before it is born, but it does love long before it can express it. There is life and love before there is intellectual explanation. Here is the difference between law and gospel Law sets a man to do before he gets life, whilst christian holiness and affections flow from the fact of having life. We get life first, and then begin to walk. Christ is the life-giver to His people: first to soul, and then to body. The Son comes forth from the Father, dies, and then communicates His life. That into which life so communicated brings us is immense, namely, all the Father's purposes in the Son. But the link to the soul is as simple as possible. What is the effect? Why, that Christ becomes everything. There is a distinction between judgment and life. Now, Christ gives life. When He comes as a judge, He does not give life; He comes then for judgment. There is no confusion or mingling of the two. If judgment comes in before grace has given life, no man can stand it. (See Psa. 143:22And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. (Psalm 143:2).) Christ now gives life in grace, then He will exercise judgment. Man might have continued in paradise, but he did not, he gave ear to Satan, exalted himself as God, followed his own lust and was disobedient, and consequently he first flies away from God, and then is judicially driven away. Man, whilst in enjoyment of blessing, trusts Satan. The suggestion of the devil was, "ye shall be as gods," and God said, “the man is become as one of us." Satan can tell the truth if it subserve sin. If we have the truth, nothing can touch us; but Satan can tell a great deal of truth if he can deceive by it. Here Satan did not tell the consequences of their eating. The first Adam listened, and he came by the ways of Satan to know good and evil; but it was by disobedience, and he continued not with God. Thus lust worked, disobedience followed, and consequently exclusion from God's presence.
Until Christ actually came, sin and Satan's power over man's heart is revealed throughout the word; for being a sinner he was driven out of paradise; but instead of becoming better by this judgment, Cain kills his brother. Then comes the flood: the world, save eight persons, is destroyed; yet afterward they are as bad as ever. Noah gets intoxicated, and Ham dishonors his father. After this, idolatry enters. In the same way afterward, the whole history of the children of Israel as a nation is stamped with this truth, that the principle of the heart was wrong; nay more, the nearer a man is to God externally the worse he is, unless there is a godly principle-that is, if the soul has not living fellowship with God. And how awfully can conscience deceive itself! The chief priests took the silver pieces and said, it is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood (Matt. 27:66And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. (Matthew 27:6)), but there was no scruple about giving the money which was to buy it. They were exact about external ceremonial points, but callous as to moral pravity.
But grace has risen over the whole state of man; however bad man may have been proved to be, the Son of man comes down in grace. But here we find the final proof of the evil principle which governs his heart put to the test by the ways of God towards him. His testimony is rejected: "ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." What is the consequence? “another shall come in his own name; him ye will receive." Here is a new form of evil. Man becomes an adversary. Man shall set himself up, and shall be received because he comes in his own name. It is the same principle as in the beginning of the world, only it is after Christ has appeared, so as to be without excuse or hope. Then man exalted himself to be as God to act after his own will, but he was really the tool of Satan. And the same thing will happen again, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.
Previous to this open manifestation, Satan introduces himself by a form of godliness. He does not show himself all at once. He would introduce all that would lead away from the simplicity of reliance upon the death of Christ and so ensnare.
How are we to detect all this? First, the believer must be set in heaven, not in body but in spirit, in the presence of God Himself. It was not so with the Jew. God was, so to speak, not then revealed in His full estimate of good and evil; but now the Holiest of all is open. The veil is rent. “The true light now shineth." There is nothing between us and God. Nothing will do that cannot stand in the light of His holiness. There were many things before which God did not approve, but which he permitted (see Mark 10:55And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. (Mark 10:5)), but when Christ died, the full light of God was revealed. In Him divine goodness made its brightest exhibition in the world, displaying itself in all grace. The death of Christ was the expression of man's deliberate hatred to God. The full evil of the world and the full grace of God both came out at the cross; here God's perfect love was shown. The case of man before God since the death and resurrection of Christ, is, that if man stand before God at all, he must stand in the full light of His holiness. It shone out in the absolute putting away of sin, and that by the worst act of man's sin. Trusting to the perfect work of Christ, the more the searching eye of God rests upon me, the more does He discover the perfect value of the blood of Christ. The clearer the light, the more it is to chew that not a spot is on me. He sees the efficacy of the blood of His own provided Lamb-His own Son-in putting sin away. The same light that detects it, manifests its being utterly put away, yea, has burst forth and shone in the putting of it away.
J. N. D.