Are those reborn still associated with the old man or, sin nature? Though it is yet indwelling, in what way could they ever again be related? One might think that sinning confirms a continuous relation to the old man, but what would that say of being under the Blood of Christ? Can it ever become insufficient, it being applied to the believer “once for all time” (NLT)? Herein is the wonder of it all—that though believers still sin, they are no longer considered to be cohorts of the sin nature (flesh), i.e. as a sinner (Ro 8:9). What’s the difference between our sin now and our sin before?
On the observable, outward-side we see continually decreasing severity and frequency of sin; and on the spiritual side (which is the most important) we see a continually increasing desire not to sin—but rather an ominous desire to do “His Good pleasure” (Phl 2:13). Does sinning less make the difference? Only on the outward side, presenting good examples and testimonies; but it’s on the inward side—the work of the Spirit—that makes the difference, in that we are no longer “after the flesh,” i.e. no more desire to pursue after sin in any way (Ro 8:9), being forever separated (sanctified) from the Adamic-sin nature by the Blood!
The thing in Hebrews is whether I can go, sinful as I am (sinful – possessing the old man but never again its guilt—NC), into God’s presence. Yes, the veil is rent, and the Person who put away my sin (the continuous leaching of the old man into the soul of the believer can never again effect desire after it, which is the whole point of the matter—NC) is sitting there. He is my Witness that I have been perfected, “for by one offering He has perfected them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:14)—a perfection that never changes, for He is sitting there for me. He is sitting there because He has nothing more to do (concerning effecting redemption—NC). There are these two points in the Epistle: having by Himself purged our sins, He sat down; and being perfected forever (in position, not yet condition—NC) I am walking on earth with temptation, but He is always giving grace to bring me through this world of difficulty and “contradiction of sinners” (Heb 12:3).
Now the question is raised of how I can have fellowship in the light with the Father and the Son, where, if I have an unspiritual or uncharitable thought, it is sin. The smallest thing interrupts communion with my Father and my Lord. They cannot have fellowship with that which is unholy (power to simultaneously fellowship with the saint, but not with the old man—NC). Now I get what the Lord Jesus is as Advocate: “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sin.” What is the ground of it? “Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Thus not a question of imputation arises (of guilt—NC), but of communion and fellowship. I cannot bear the thought that I should grieve the Holy Spirit of God and turn Him into a Reprover, instead of communicating the joy of my Father to me—the One that gives me fellowship with Him. As I confess my sins, Jesus Christ the righteous is there, and He is the propitiation for my sins—His Blood “cleanseth me from all unrighteousness” (1Jo 1:9).
But what makes me find it out? My personal Advocate has been there about it, to bring my soul back into fellowship with the Father and with Himself, which has been interrupted; but the righteousness has not been interrupted. Therefore it is “an Advocate with the Father,” and does not talk about God in that sense, because it is a question of communion with the Father, not of righteousness.
Thus I have got grace acting, not the law; no question of imputation. It does not put me back under the law; but it is the Lord Jesus being Advocate for me there, and the Spirit of God in me to act in my conscience. Grace brings me into humiliation before my Father, and restores the communion of my soul. Some chastening or other is applied. It is the maintenance of fellowship practically, or the restoration of it when broken, with the Father and with His Son, while the righteousness and propitiation remain, so that it is advocacy, not imputation.
We are to “walk in the light” as God is in the light (1Jo 1:7). Nothing unfit for God is tolerated. There is propitiation; there is provision of grace if we sin (remember believer’s sins are not “willful” - Heb 10:6—NC). As to imputation, all is settled, perfected forever. But we are to “walk worthily of God” who has called us unto Himself (1Th 2:12), to “walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing” (Col 1:10), “worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called” (Eph 4:1). Now how is it with our hearts? I am sure there is growth in this fellowship with the Father and the Son. Is that where our souls live? It is to what we are called.
It is not saying we have no sin. The sin is there, but in the power of the Lord Jesus dwelling in us we are called to this fellowship. The power is there in the Holy Spirit, so that I have no excuse for allowing anything that will interrupt communion (there is not a sin that’s not already Blood-covered—NC). We do interrupt, when careless about walking in the Spirit, prayer, watching, reckoning, etc., but there is no excuse for it. Our place is to always walk in fellowship with the Father, and as with poor Peter, He mercifully restores us. Do you suppose that the work of the Lord Jesus has not placed you in the light as God is in the light, that there is not that perfecting for us forever? There is grace for us to walk aright (by which we disallow the old man to trouble us – Jn 14:1, 27—NC). It is not saying I am weak (i.e. “in the Lord”—NC); if we always said that, we should get the strength we needed.
— J N Darby