“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
[The mortal body] is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam was made a living soul’; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:22,44,45,47-49,57).
Mankind’s failure in Adam
Flesh showed its weakness. The word to Adam [Gen. 2:16,17] did not provide for sin, and supposed no lust in man. In the garden of Eden lust came in, sin came in, and the separation was complete between God and man. Adam then became head of an excluded race.
Law, given afterwards [1440 B.C.], supposed men needing life, but invoked responsibility. Man left to himself became corrupt before God. The earth was filled with violence. Then a flood came. Then came the law as a trial of man. Promise was not a trial of man, but it manifested grace without a question of man. There was no promise to Adam; the promise was to the second Adam, the Seed of the woman [Gen. 3:15]…
We too often may little weigh what the terms of the law imply … When God said to man, “Do this and live,” it implied his being dead. Man did not think so, but it was the ministry of death and condemnation, because it demanded obedience, which man could not render. Law does bring out man’s guilt; he cannot be subject to the law of God [Gal. 3:21-25].
But there was another thing that proved his guilt far more thoroughly. Will they accept God’s terms when He came to them in grace? Christ came, and in His life was the perfect manifestation of goodness. He came amongst men to do them good, healing the leper, etc. But could flesh find anything attractive in Him? He was an outcast among the people to whom He brought home the goodness and love of God [John 1:10,11] … Man, tried in every way, is proved to be bad.
In other circumstances, namely, that of the Christian, there is the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the same impossibility of its pleasing God [Gal. 5:17]. All flesh shows utter rejection of God Himself, and is proud of itself all the time. Before God executes judgment, man has entirely cast God off.
The Believer’s Victory in the Second Adam
The wonder of the cross is that He came — the sinless One came into the very place where flesh is. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us” [2 Cor. 5:21]. He finds Himself in the fully revealed position of man before God; He puts Himself there in grace and in obedience too. There was more than that: “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree” [1 Pet. 2:24]. He was “made sin,” and put it away by giving up the life in which He bore it. God deals with Him about sin, and the very life ceases in which He takes it, and then He rises up. God had dealt with it, putting an end to it entirely on the cross.
There was an end of the old man; and now it is said, “Reckon yourselves to be dead” [Rom. 6:11], etc. “He that is dead is freed from sin” [from sin’s authority-Rom. 6:7]. Christ has taken the place of the first Adam in sin. All that I was in, Christ has stepped into and borne. He rises up, and I have an entirely new position. I am now in Christ. He has closed for ever the history of the flesh (we have it as an enemy — but its history is closed for ever before God) and commenced a place for us in Himself, the second Adam. “Father, glorify thy Son” [John 17:1].
Christ returned to His place before God, having accomplished righteousness. He is Head of a new race, a family of His own. He has new glory as thus Head of a race. We are livingly united to Him, being in Christ. “As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly” [1 Cor. 15:48]. We are not in flesh, but before God in virtue of accomplished righteousness. All God’s dealings with man before were grounded on sin having come in; so law, promise, government, until Christ came. Now His dealings with us are founded on righteousness. God has His righteousness before Him in a man [Heb. 7:25]. The Son of Man has glorified God on the earth, and God has glorified Him in heaven. It is as a man He is there, though He is much more to be sure.
Life I have in Him and righteousness. Life is in the Son, the Second Man, and I can treat the flesh and all connected with it as an enemy. As to that, I am dead: flesh has no place now … “Reckon yourselves dead,” for Christ has died. It is not said, Die, to the flesh. The flesh will keep itself alive as long as it can. It will try to mend itself — try to be better. There would be no sense in telling the flesh to die. But Scripture says, “Ye are dead” [Col. 3:3]. Flesh has been judged in Christ, and therefore I am entitled to say, “I am dead and am a new man.” Then walk in the Spirit, walk as Christ walked, as the second Man, not as the first … As surely as the first Adam was turned out of the earthly paradise and became head of a race, so He, the second Man, is Head of a race for the heavenly paradise.
Faith takes absolutely what God says. Where does it take its place? Half way, or entirely, with Christ? Flesh never can take its place before God. Faith says, ‘I have no place before God but in Christ Himself.’ He is righteousness on the throne of God. Any half-savior or half-place would not do. We grow up into His likeness, but our place before God is the same as at first. Christ’s life upon earth is a perfect pattern for us, manifesting God in all His ways. Our position before God is one of full favor.
And we have the hope of glory before us. How it elevates the heart — not us! Grace humbles us, but elevates the heart. I have boldness before Him in the day of judgment [1 John 4:17]. When we reach the heavenly tribunal, we shall be like Him, the heavenly One. Grace alone does it.
Excerpt from JND Vol 21, http://www.mcclean.me.uk/mse/jnd/jnd21.htm#215 pages 222-226.
John Nelson Darby (1800 – 1882) was an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher, prolific writer, Bible translator, and one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth Brethren.
Scripture quotations from the Holy Bible, KJV.
Bracketed Bible references and headings added, spelling updated – JBW
New Christian movie release: The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story. As the social fabric of life in rural India disintegrates in the 1990s, journalist Manav Banerjee and his pregnant wife move to the town of Orissa for new opportunities and the promise of a lucrative career. When speculation mounts that local Australian missionary Graham Staines is illegally proselytizing leprosy patients, Manav launches an undercover investigation for his newspaper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj7-I8MlKZw