Life of Faith 16: Faith, Love, Death and Life

By Richard Sibbes


Christian affections are as the wind, to carry us on in a holy life.  Thus strength, reason, and affections, these make a man work.  First, love sets us to work : “we love him,” the apostle says,  “because he loved us first,” (1st John 4:19).  We have his love first shed abroad in our hearts, inflaming the affections, and kindling the heat of divine love; and then we send back a reflex of love to him.  God cares for nothing but faith which works by love.  This love is a most operative affection stirred up by faith.  Indeed, all our Christian graces are set to working by faith in Christ.  Thus you see faith apprehending Christ, as God offers him; and these things which I have mentioned following, we come to live the life of faith in sanctification: an example of this is the woman, who because many sins were forgiven her, loved much.  Love is bountiful.  All obedience comes from love.  Love is the keeping of the law.

This affection is stirred up by faith, yes, by Christ, for by him we have the promise of the Spirit, from whom all graces come, and promises of the new covenant, to have fleshly hearts given, and his Spirit put in us.  All promises of justification and sanctification are derived from Christ.  They are in him, made for him, and effected for his sake; for he is ” yes and amen,” the center and ground of all the promises.

Now being brought by faith to live in justification, we must of necessity also live by faith in sanctification.  There are two parts of a holy life: First, In mortification , dying to sin; Second, in being made alive, living to righteousness. For the first, What happens to a man in this case? Why, he looks at what brought Christ to suffer so much; my sin.  So this affection stirs up the same passion in him, in a kind, which was in Christ, and makes him hate sin with a perfect hatred, as in Zechariah it is said, “They should look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born,”. (Zechariah 12:10)

Secondly, It looks on the love of Christ, that made him give himself for us. This makes us to hate sin, and provokes us to live to him who has done so much for us. These two things in the death of Christ stir up hatred to sin. Then again, in being made alive, the same Spirit which quickened him also quickens us: as in (Colossians 3:1-2), “If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.” So that the same Spirit which is in Christ, being sent into us, quickens us also to have rising and heavenly thoughts.

As the foot and little finger, though distant, live and stir by the same life and spirits diffused through the whole body, so the same Spirit quickens every Christian this way.  As also by imparting strength, he imparts reasons from the resurrection of Christ to make us heavenly-minded, so when the soul dies one  way, it lives another way.  For Christ having by the Spirit discovered a better state, and life to come, of eternity, immortality, tranquility, and glory; then a Christian dies to all worldly things, and has the affections taken up that way.

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