"But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatever does make manifest is light." Ephesians 5:13
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, Ephesians 5:13
Feeling is the first evidence of supernatural life; a feeling compounded of two distinct sensations, one referring to God, and the other referring to self. The same ray of light has manifested two opposite things, "for that which makes manifest is light;" and the sinner sees at one and the same moment God and self, justice and guilt, power and helplessness, a holy law and a broken commandment, eternity and time, the purity of the Creator and the filthiness of the creature. And these things he sees, not merely as declared in the Bible, but as revealed in himself as personal realities, involving all his happiness or all his misery in time and in eternity.
Thus it is with him as though a new existence had been communicated, and as if for the first time he had found there was a God. One ray of supernatural light, penetrating through the veil spread over the heart, has revealed that dreadful secret—a just God, who will by no means clear the guilty. This piercing ray has torn away the bed too short, and stripped off the covering too narrow. A sudden, peculiar conviction has rushed into the soul. One absorbing feeling has seized fast hold of it, and well-near banished every other. "There is a God, and I am a sinner before him," is written upon the heart by the same divine finger that traced those fatal letters on the palace wall of the king of Babylon, which made the joints of his loins to be loosed, and his knees to smite one against another ( Daniel 5:5-6).
"What shall I do? Where shall I go? What will become of me? Mercy, O God! Mercy, mercy! I am lost, ruined, undone! Fool, madman, wretch, monster that I have been! I have ruined my soul. O my sins, my sins! O eternity, eternity!" Such and similar cries and groans, though differing in depth and intensity, go up out of the new-born soul well-near day and night at the first discovery of God and of itself. These feelings have taken such complete possession of the heart that it can find no rest except in calling upon God. This is the first pushing of the young bud through the bark, the first formation of the green shoot, wrapped up as yet in its leaves, and not opened to view. These are the first pangs and throes of the new birth, before the tidings are brought, "A Prayer of Manasseh -child is born." "What shall I do to be saved?" cried the jailer. "God be merciful to me a sinner!" exclaimed the tax-collector. "Woe is me, for I am undone!" burst forth from the lips of Isaiah.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Ephesians 5:25-26
View the Church without the sanctifying operations and influences of regenerating grace. She is far from Christ; she has no desire towards him, no manifest union, no communion with him; no faith in his blood, no hope in his mercy, no love to his name. Were she left always thus, where would be her fitness for heaven? But when the word of truth comes with power, and is accompanied by the influences of the Holy Spirit to the heart, then there is not only a cleansing of the conscience from the guilt and filth of sin, but the communication of a new heart and a new spirit. How plainly is this spoken of by the prophet Ezekiel, where, after the promise, "From all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you," it is added, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you."
We have not only therefore to be washed from our sins in the blood of the Lamb, not only to be pardoned and forgiven and thus have a title to heaven, but we need a fitness for heaven; we need a new heart and a new spirit given to us, whereby we may taste, handle, feel, and enjoy the love of Christ as shed abroad in the heart, and experience the flowings forth of love to him in return. As then the blood cleanses, so the Spirit sanctifies. John therefore says, "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood" ( 1 John 5:6). The blood is the blood of the atonement; the water is the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit.
Observe the order in which these blessings come. First, is the love of Christ in eternity; secondly, the gift of himself in time; thirdly, the cleansing by blood; fourthly, the sanctifying by the Spirit. Now look at these things for yourselves. Are your sins pardoned? Have you any evidence that you are washed in the blood of the Lamb? Do you believe that you are going to heaven? What does your belief of this, or your hope in it, rest upon? Where are your evidences? Surely not from merely seeing these truths in the Scripture as the bare revelation of God, or believing them from my statements. Such a faith and such a hope, if you have no better, will prove delusive, and will leave you in the hands of him who is a consuming fire. If your hope of eternal life is well grounded, it is because the word of life has come into your SOUL, and you have been not only cleansed by the application of the blood of sprinkling to your conscience, but sanctified and renewed by the power of the word, through the Holy Spirit, upon your heart.
"That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:27
We do not now see what the Church one day will be, and what she ever was in the eyes of Jesus. He could look through all this time-state, through all the sins and sorrows of this intermediate period, and fix his eye upon the bridal day, the day when before assembled angels, in the courts of heaven, in the realms of eternal bliss, he should present her to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy, and without blemish.
O what a day will that be, when the Son of God shall openly wed his espoused bride; when there shall be heard in heaven, "as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia—for the Lord God omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him—for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready" ( Revelation 19:7). How cleansed, how sanctified, how washed, how clothed must the Church be in that day when the very eyes of omniscience, which can read the slightest departure, even a wrinkle, from infinite purity, will find in her neither spot nor blemish, so that God himself in all the blaze of his holiness may say of the Church, "I have viewed her with an omniscient eye; I have looked at every member of the mystical body of my dear Son; I have examined each with all the eyes of Godhead; but there is no spot, there is no wrinkle, no blemish in any one of them; all are complete in him; all stand accepted in the Beloved."
But you may ask, and this is an inquiry well worth pressing upon your conscience, "How am I to know that I shall stand at that day without spot or wrinkle?" To answer that inquiry, what do you know, I ask, of the cleansing, sanctifying influences of regenerating grace, of the word of truth laying hold of your conscience, of the word of power coming into your heart, of the blood of Christ being applied, and the love of God shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit? If not now, yet before you are called away from these lower scenes, you are blessed with a living faith in the Son of God, with the application of his love and blood to your conscience, when time ends with you, it will open to you a glorious eternity, and forever delivered from all your present sins and sorrows, fears and anxieties, you will be presented at the great day among that glorious Church, which has neither spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing.
But if you live and die without any saving interest in these heavenly blessings, would I be faithful to my commission and to my conscience, if I were to say it will be all well with you?—that you have only on your deathbed to send for a minister to pray by your bedside, give you the sacrament, and speak a few comfortable words, and it will be all right with your soul? Would I be faithful to my commission to encourage such a delusion as this, a delusion by which thousands are continually deceived? I dare not do it. Yes, I would lift up my voice and cry aloud, "There is no salvation past, present, or future, but what flows through the precious blood of the Lamb, and is made experimentally known to the soul by the power of the Holy Spirit."
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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany