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This parable spoke Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spoke unto them.  Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.  All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. – John 10:6-10

Christ is the kindest of all teachers.  He was speaking to a crowd of ignorant and prejudiced Jews, and yet how kindly he deals with them.  He told them one parable, but they understood not.  ‘This parable spoke Jesus unto them; but they understood not what things they were he spoke unto them.’  And yet, we are told, Christ spoke unto them again.  He hath given them a description of the true and false shepherd and of the door into the sheepfold; but they seem to have been at a loss to know what the door meant; therefore he says, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.’  You see how kindly he tries to instruct them.  My brethren, Christ is the same kind teacher still.  Are there not many stupid and prejudiced persons here? And yet has he not given you ‘precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little’ (Isaiah 28:10)?  He has broken down the bread for you.

Let us now examine this explanatory parable: (1) Christ is the door into the Church. (2) The invitation here given to enter in. (3) The promise to those that enter in.

1. Christ is the door into the Church.

‘I am the door.’  The only way into the Church of God, either for ministers or members, is by Christ, and through faith in him.  Many try to enter in by learning; learning is not to be despised, but it is not the door.  There are many who have entered into the ministry by having eminent gifts, but these are not the door.  And those who enter in such a way are thieves and robbers, for they enter not in by the door.  Again, many enter in by the door of worldly favor, some by the favor of the rich, some by the favor of the common people, some by the favor of the patron; but still they are thieves and robbers, for they enter not in by the door.  Remember then, and never forget it, that the right way into the ministry is through Christ.  None can tell of sin but those who have felt its burden.  None can tell of pardon but those who have tasted of it.  None can tell of Christ’s power to sanctify but those who have holiness in their hearts.  Brethren, hold such in reverence; flee from all others: they may have learning, they may have gifts, they may have the flattery of the common people, but they are thieves and robbers.

But further, there are many members who enter into the fold another way; they also are thieves and robbers.  There are many who enter in by the door of knowledge – they have got acquainted with Bible knowledge, they can tell of the way of a sinner’s acceptance with God; but if you have not come into the fold by being washed in the blood of Christ, you are a thief and a robber.

Some enter into the fold by a good life.  As touching the law, they are like Paul, blameless.  You are not a thief, you are not a swearer, you are not a drunkard, and you think you have a right to enter in – a right to sit at the Lord’s table; but Christ says it over and over again, you are a thief and a robber.  Ah, brethren, remember, if you are admitted into the fold on account of your morality, your outward decency, your good life, you are a thief and a robber.  Brethren, there is a day coming when those who have entered into the sheepfold, not by the door, but some other way, will look back and see their guilt when they shall enter an undone eternity.

Observe, brethren, before I leave this part of the subject, that Christ is a present entrance.  Brethren, there is a time in each of your lives – or rather I should say, history – that the door of the sheepfold is open to you.  ‘I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved;’ but that time will pass away.  It is but a moment compared to eternity.  This is a solemn truth.  Brethren, if I could promise you that the door will stand open for a hundred years, it would still be your wisdom to enter in now; but I cannot answer for a year, I cannot answer for a month, I cannot answer for a day, I cannot answer for an hour; all that I can answer for is, it is open now – tomorrow it may be shut forever.

2. I come now to the second thing proposed, and that is, to show you Christ’s invitation.

‘I am the door; by me if any man enter in he shall be saved.’  There are many sweet invitations to sinners in the Bible; I have often felt these words to be the sweetest.  There are some invitations addressed to those who are thirsty.  It is said in Isaiah, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters’ (Isaiah 55:1).  Christ said on the last day, that great day of the feast, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink’ (John 7:37).  And he says, near the end of the Book of Revelation, ‘I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely’ (21:6).  Again, there are some invitations that are addressed to those that have a burden: ‘Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).  Again, there are some that are addressed to those who are prisoners: ‘Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope’ (Zechariah 9:12).

But this appears to me the sweetest of all, for it is said, ‘If any man’.  It is not said, if any thirsty man, if any weary man, if any burdened man, but if any man enter in he shall be saved.  I have seen some rich men’s doors where none could enter but the rich and where the beggar must lie at the gate.  But Christ’s door is open to any man, whatever your life, whatever your character may be.  Christ is not like the door of some churches, where none can enter in but the rich; Christ’s door is open to the poor: ‘To the poor the gospel is preached’ (Matthew 11:5).  Some, perhaps, can say, ‘I am the most vile one in this congregation,’ yet Christ says, ‘Enter in.’ Some, perhaps, can say, ‘I have sinned more than all; I have sinned against a father, I have sinned against a mother, I have sinned against mercies and against judgments, against the invitations of the gospel, and against light,’ yet Christ says, ‘Enter in.’

Observe still farther that the invitation is not to look at the door, but to enter in.  There are many that hear about the door, but that is not enough; it is to enter in at it.  And there are many that like to hear about the door, but yet they do not enter in.  Ah, my brethren, that’s a great cheat of the devil.  I am persuaded many of you will go away this day well pleased because you heard about the door, but you do not enter in.  There are many that go a step farther, they look in at the door, but yet they do not enter in.  I believe that many of you are often brought there; but when it comes to the point, that you must leave your idols, that you must leave your sins, you do not enter in.  ‘By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved.’

Again, there are some who see other people enter in, but they do not enter in themselves.  You, perhaps, have seen a father, or a mother, or a neighbor enter in; you have seen a change come over them and a peace possess their minds, and you say, ‘I wish I were them;’ but you do not enter in.  Ah! if you would be saved, you must enter in at the door; convictions will not do, tears will not do, etc.  And this is the reason why so many of you are not happy: you do not enter in.

3. I now come to the third and last point, and that is, the promise:

‘If any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture;’ ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’

The first part of the promise is, ‘They shall be saved.’  Christ pledges his word for it: that those who enter in shall be saved.  Those who do not enter in shall be damned.  If you are not Christ’s, you are without, and ‘without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie’ (Revelation 22:15).  But those who enter in shall be saved.

It is immediate pardon. There will be even now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.  O my brethren, it is immediate pardon we offer you from the Father: ‘If any man enter in, he shall be saved.’  And then, ‘He shall go in and out, and find pasture.’  That is to say, you will have all the privileges of a sheep; it goes out to the well; it goes out to the pasture.  So, if you are his, you can go in and out to find pasture.  My dear brethren, there may come a time in Scotland when there will be little pasture, when there will be no undershepherd, when the witnesses will be slain.  Yet the Lord will be your shepherd, he will feed you.  You shall ‘go in and out, and find pasture.’ Amen.

Sabbath Forenoon
11th September, 1842

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“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:22-25

A believer is to be known not only by his peace and joy, but also by his warfare in distress. His peace is peculiar; it flows from Christ, it is heavenly, it is holy peace. His warfare is as peculiar: it is deep-seated, agonizing, and ceases not till death. I have chosen the subject of the Christian’s warfare that you may know thereby whether you are a soldier of Christ—whether you are really fighting the good fight of faith.

The Believer Delights in the Law of God. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”

1. Before a man comes to Christ, he hates the law of God his whole soul rises up against it—”The carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God” (Romans 8:7).

First, unconverted men hate the law of God on account of its purity—“Thy Word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loveth it.” For the same reason worldly men hate it. The law is the breathing of God’s pure and holy mind. It is infinitely opposed to all impurity and sin. Every line of the law is against sin. But natural men love sin, and therefore they hate the law, because it opposes them in all they love. As bats hate the light, and fly against it, so unconverted men hate the pure light of God’s law, and fly against it.

Second, They hate it for its breadth—Thy commandment is exceeding broad” (Psa. 119:96). It extends to all their outward actions, seen and unseen; it extends to every idle word that men shall speak; it extends to the looks of their eye; it dives into the deepest caves of their hearts; it condemns the most secret springs of sin and lust that nestle there. Unconverted men quarrel with the law of God because of its strictness. If it extended only to my outward actions, then I could bear with it; but it condemns my most secret thoughts and desires, which I cannot prevent. Therefore ungodly men rise against the law.

Third, they hate it for its unchangeableness. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle of the law shall in no wise pass away. If the law would change, or let down its requirements, or die, then ungodly men would be well pleased. But it is as unchangeable as God: it is written on the heart of God, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning. It cannot change unless God change; it cannot die unless God die. Even in an eternal hell its demands and curses will be the same. It is an unchangeable law, for He is an unchangeable God. Therefore ungodly men have an unchangeable hatred to that holy law.

2. When a man comes to Christ, this is all changed. He can say, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” He can say with David, “O how I love Thy law: it is my meditation all the day.” He can say with the Lord Jesus in the 40th Psalm, “I delight to do Thy will, O God, yea, Thy law is within My heart.” There are two reasons for this:

First, the law is no longer an enemy. If any of you who are trembling under a sense of your infinite sins, and the curses of the law that you have broken, flee to Christ, you will find rest. You will find that He has fully cancelled the demands of the law as a Surety for sinners, that He has fully borne all its curses. You will be able to say, “Christ hath redeemed me from the curse of the law, being made a curse for me, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). You have no more to fear, then, from that awfully holy law; you are not under the law, but under grace. You have no more to fear from the law, than you will have after the Judgment Day. When that awful scene is past-when the dead, small and great, have stood before the Great White Throne—when the sentence of eternal woe has fallen upon all the unconverted, and they have sunk into the lake whose fires can never be quenched; would not that redeemed soul say, I have nothing to fear from that holy law; I have seen its vials poured out, but not a drop has fallen on me? So may you say now, O believer in Jesus! When you look upon the soul of Christ, scarred with God’s thunderbolts, when you look upon His body, pierced for sin, you can say-He was made a curse for me; why should I fear that holy law?

Second, the Spirit of God writes the law on the heart. This is the promise: “After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer. 31:33). Coming to Christ takes away your fear of the law, but it is the Holy Spirit coming into your heart that makes you love the law. The Holy Spirit is no more frightened away from that heart; He comes and softens it; He takes out the stony heart and puts in a heart of flesh; and there He writes the holy law of God. Then the law of God is sweet to that soul: he has an inward delight in it. “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Now he unfeignedly desires every thought, word, and action, to be according to that law. “Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes: great peace have they that love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them.” The 119th Psalm becomes the breathing of that new heart. Now also he would fain see all the world submitting to that pure and holy law. “Rivers of water run down mine eyes because they keep not Thy law.” Oh that all the world but knew that holiness and happiness are one. Try yourselves by this. Can you say, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man?” Do you love it now? Do you long for the time when you shall live fully under it—holy as God is holy, pure as Christ is pure?

Oh come, sinners, give up your hearts to Christ, that He may write on it His holy law! You have long enough had the devil’s law graven on your hearts. Come you to the Lord Jesus, and He will both shelter you from the curses of the law, and He will give you the Spirit to write all that law in your heart; He will make you love it with your inmost soul. Plead the promise with Him. Surely you have tried the pleasures of sin long enough. Come now, and try the pleasures of holiness out of a new heart. If you die with your heart as it is, it will be stamped a wicked heart to all eternity: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Rev. 22:11). Oh come and get the new heart before you die; for except you be born again you cannot see the kingdom of God.

A True Believer Feels an Opposing Law in His Members:

“I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

When a sinner comes first to Christ, he often thinks he will now bid an eternal farewell to sin: now I shall never sin any more. He feels already at the gate of heaven. But a little breath of temptation soon discovers his heart, and he cries out, “I see another law.”

1. Observe what he calls it—”another law,“—quite a different law from the law of God—a law contrary to it. In vs.25, he calls it a “law of sin”—a law that commands him to commit sin, that urges him on by rewards and threatenings. In Rom. 8:2, it is called “the law of sin and death”—a law which not only leads to sin, but leads to death, eternal death: “the wages of sin is death.”

It is the same law which in Galatians is called the flesh: “the flesh lusteth against the spirit” (5:17). It is the same which in Eph. 4:22 is called “the old man,” which is wrought according to the deceitful lusts. The same law which in Col. 3 is called “your members” which is wrought according to the deceitful lusts: “mortify therefore, your members which are upon the earth” (vs.5). The truth then is that, in the heart of the believer, there remains the whole members and body of an old man, or old nature-there remains the fountain of every sin that has ever polluted the world.

2. Observe again what this law is doing—warring. This law in the members is not resting quiet, but is always fighting. There can never be peace in the bosom of a believer. There is peace with God, but constant war with sin. This law in the members has got an army of lusts under him, and he wages constant war against the law of God. Sometimes, indeed, an army is lying in ambush, and they lie quiet till a favorable moment comes. So in the heart the lusts often lie quiet till the hour of temptation, and then they war against the soul. The heart is like a volcano, sometimes it slumbers and sends up nothing but a little smoke, but the fire is slumbering all the while below, and will soon break out again. There are two great combatants in the believer’s soul. There is Satan on the one side, with the flesh and all its lusts at his command; then on the other side there is the Holy Spirit, with all the new creature at His command. And so “the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these two are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things which ye would.”

Is Satan ever successful? In the deep wisdom of God, the law in the members does sometimes bring the soul into captivity. “Noah was a perfect man,” and Noah walked with God, and yet he was led captive: “Noah drank of the wine, and was drunken.” Abraham was “the friend of God,” and yet he told a lie, saying of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Job was a perfect man, one that feared God and hated evil, and yet he was provoked to curse the day wherein he was born. And so [it was] with Moses, and David, and Solomon, and Hezekiah, and Peter; and the apostles.

Have you experienced this warfare? It is a clear mark of God’s children. Most of you, I fear; have never felt it. Do not mistake me. All of you have felt a warfare at times between your natural conscience and the law of God. But that is not the contest in the believer’s bosom. It is a warfare between the Spirit of God in the heart, and the old man with his deeds.

If any of you are groaning under this warfare, learn to be humbled by it, but not discouraged.

First, be humbled under it. It is intended to make you lie in the dust, and feel that you are but a worm. Oh! What a vile wretch you must be, that even after you are forgiven, and have received the Holy Spirit, your heart should still be a fountain of every wickedness! How vile, that in your most solemn approaches to God, in awfully affecting situations, you should still have in your bosom all the members of your old nature. Let this make you lie low.

Second, let this teach you your need of Christ. You need His precious blood as much now as you did at the first. You can never stand before God in yourself. You must go again and again to Him to be washed. Even on your dying bed you must hide under Jehovah, our righteousness. You must also lean upon Christ. He alone can overcome in you. Cleave closer and closer to Him every day.

The feelings of a believer during this warfare:

1. He feels wretched. “O wretched man that I am.” (vs.24) There is nobody in this world so happy as a believer. He has come to Christ, and found rest. He has the pardon of all his sins in Christ. He has as near approach to God as a child. He has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. He has the hope of glory. In the most awful times, he can be calm, for he feels that God is with him. Still there are times when he cries, O wretched man! When he feels the plague of his own heart—when he feels the thorn in the flesh—when his wicked heart is discovered in all its fearful malignity-ah, then he lies down, crying, “O wretched man that I am!” One reason of this wretchedness is that sin discovered in the heart takes away the sense of forgiveness. Guilt comes upon the conscience, and a dark cloud covers the soul. Another reason is the loathsomeness of sin. It is felt like a viper in the heart. A natural man is often miserable from his sin, but he never feels its loathsomeness; but to the new creature it is vile indeed. Ah brethren, do you know anything of a believer’s wretchedness? If you do not, you will never know his joy. If you know not a believer’s tears and groans, you will never know his song of victory.

2. He seeks deliverance. “Who shall deliver me?” In ancient times, some of the tyrants used to chain their prisoners to a dead body; so that, wherever the prisoner wandered, he had to drag a putrid carcass after him. It is believed that Paul here alludes to this inhuman practice. His old man he felt to be a noisome putrid carcass, which he was continually dragging about with him. His piercing desire is to be freed from it. Who shall deliver us? You remember once, when God allowed a thorn in the flesh to torment His servant, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, Paul was driven to his knees. “I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” Oh this is the true mark of God’s children! They of the world have an old nature; they are all old men together. But it does not drive them to their knees. How is it with you, dear souls? Does corruption felt within drive you to the throne of grace? Does it make you call on the name of the Lord? Does it make you say, like the importunate widow, “Avenge me of mine adversary?” Does it make you, like the Canaanite woman, cry after the Lord Jesus?

3. He gives thanks for victory. Truly, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us; for we can give thanks before the fight is done. Yes, even in the thickest of the battle we can look up to Christ, and cry—Thanks be to God! The moment a soul groaning under corruption rests the eye on the Lord Jesus, that moment his groans are changed into songs of praise. In Christ, you discover a fountain to wash away the guilt of all your sins. In Christ, you discover grace sufficient for you-grace to hold you up to the end—and a sure promise that sin shall soon be rooted out altogether. “Fear not, I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by My name; thou are Mine.” Ah, this turns our groans into songs of praise. How often a Psalm begins with groans, and ends with praises! This is the daily experience of all the Lord’s people. Is it yours? Try yourselves by this. If you know not the believer’s song of praise, you will never cast your crowns with them at the feet of the Lamb. Dear believers, be content to glory in your infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon you.

The current formatting and editing is copyrighted by Jim Ehrhard, 1999. You are permitted to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author; (2) any modifications are clearly marked; (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction; and (4) you do not make more than 100 copies without permission. If you would like to post this material to your web site or make any use other than as defined above, please contact Teaching Resources International

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