Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 2:12–16
The believer has three principles, the body, the soul, and the indwelling spirit, which is none other than the Holy Spirit of God abiding in the faithful continually. Just such a relationship as the soul bears to the body does the spirit bear to the soul; for as the body without the soul is dead, so the soul without the spirit is dead in trespasses and sins; as the body without the soul is dead naturally, so the soul without the spirit is dead spiritually. And, contrary to the general teaching of modern theologians, we do insist upon it that the Spirit of God not only renovates the faculties which were there already, but does actually implant a new principle—that he does not merely set to rights a machinery which had before gone awry, but implants a new life which could not have been there. It is not a waking up of dormant faculties—it is the infusion of a supernatural spirit to which the natural heart is an utter stranger. Now, we think the first verse, to a great extent, sets forth the secret and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit in the creation of the new man in the soul. Into this secret no eye of man can look. The inner life in the Christian may well be compared to an enclosed garden—to a spring shut up—to a fountain sealed. But the second verse sets forth the manifest effects of grace, for no sooner is that life given than it begins to show itself. No sooner is the mystery of righteousness in the heart, than, like the mystery of iniquity, it ‘doth already work.’ It cannot lie still; it cannot be idle; it must not rest; but, as God is ever active, so this God-like principle is active too; thus you have a picture of the outer life, proceeding from the inner.
For meditation: Whenever God does a work on the inside, it will result in works on the outside. Otherwise the obvious conclusion is that it is not a work of God in the first place. ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.’ (James 2:26) Saving faith is a secret and yet no secret.
Sermon no. 431
26 January (1862)