It is a hard lesson to live above the law, and yet to walk according to the law. But this is the lesson a Christian has to learn, to walk in the law in respect of duty, but to live above it in respect of comfort, neither expecting favour from the law in respect of his obedience nor fearing harsh treatment from the law in respect of his failing.
Let us never surrender our judgments or our consciences to be at the disposal and opinions of others, and to be subjected to the sentences and determinations of men… It is my exhortation therefore to all Christians to maintain their Christian freedom by constant watchfulness. You must not be tempted or threatened out of it; you must not be bribed or frightened from it; you must not let either force or fraud rob you of it… We must not give up ourselves to the opinion of other men, though they be never so learned, never so holy, merely because it is their opinion. The apostle directs us to try all things and to hold fast that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21). It often happens that a high esteem of others in respect of their learning and piety makes men take up all upon trust from such, and to submit their judgments to their opinions, and their consciences to their precepts. This should not be so.
We still have the presence of sin, nay, the stirrings and workings of corruptions. These make us to have many a sad heart and wet eye. Yet Christ has thus far freed us from sin; it shall not have dominion. There may be the turbulence, but not the prevalence of sin. There may be the stirrings of corruption. It was said of Carthage that Rome was more troubled with it when half destroyed than when whole. So a godly man may be more troubled with sin when it is conquered than when it reigned. Sin will still work, but it is checked in its workings. They are rather workings for life than from life. They are not such uncontrolled workings as formerly. Sin is under command. Indeed, it may get advantage, and may have a tyranny in the soul, but it will never more be sovereign. I say, it may get into the throne of the heart and play the tyrant in this or that particular act of sin, but shall never more be as a king there. Its reign is over; you will never yield a voluntary obedience to sin. Sin is conquered, though it still has a being within you.
When you see that men have been wounded by the law, then it is time to pour in the gospel oil.
If there was anything of man’s bringing, which was not of God’s bestowing, though it were never so small, it would overturn the nature of grace, and make that of works which is of grace.
If Christ has borne whatever our sins deserved, and by doing so has satisfied God’s justice to the full, then God cannot, in justice, punish us for sin, for that would require the full payment from Christ and yet demand part of it from us… God does not chastise us as a means of satisfaction for sin, but for rebuke and caution, to bring us to mourn for sin committed, and to beware of the like. It must always be remembered that, although Christ has borne the punishment of sin, and although God has forgiven the saints for their sins, yet God may correct His people in a fatherly way for their sin. Christ endured the great shower of wrath, the black and dismal hours of displeasure for sin. That which falls upon us is as a sun-shine shower, warmth with wetness, wetness with the warmth of His love, to make us fruitful and humble… That which the believer suffers for sin is not penal, arising from vindictive justice, but medicinal, arising from a fatherly love. It is His medicine, not His punishment; His chastisement, not His sentence; His correction, not His condemnation.