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A City of Refuge


I count all things to be loss . . . so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith

—Philippians 3:8–9

In the previous verses, Paul writes of his willingness to lose everything for “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” In verse 9, he begins to describe the end goal of obtaining that knowledge: to “be found in him,” and enjoy the benefit of that union, namely, the imputation of his righteousness.


When by virtue of his being in Christ a believer is secured from what he fears, and hath that procured for him which he most wants; when he hath in Christ acceptance to life, and by Christ is delivered from the curse and threatening of the law; when he obtains the blessings . . . and escapes vengeance, as the malefactor by being in the city of refuge; these were typical, and very significantly shew us what it is to be found in Christ.

To be found in him is to be covered with his righteousness, held forth in the notion of a garment, Isa. lxi. 10, Rev. xix. 8. Every sinner is full of uncleanness and deformity, the pure eye of God cannot behold him without loathing, nor will he admit any unclean thing into his presence. If he seek a covering of his own righteousness, it helps not, it is but as a menstruous rag, it adds to his uncleanness rather than hides it.

How then shall a wretched sinner stand in the sight of an holy God? Why, the Lord hath made provision; when the sinner returns as the prodigal, the Father bids bring out the best robe, he covers, he adorns him with this; he takes order with a returning sinner, as with Joshua, Zech. iii. 3, 4. A believer puts on Christ, Gal. iii. 27, Rom. xiii. 14, Rev. xii. 1. This is his robe, his garment, and when he is found in it, then he is found in Christ; his person, his services are accepted, the way to heaven is opened for him, the Father delights in him, and blesses him with spiritual, eternal blessings. So that to be found in Christ is to be found in his righteousness, and that the apostle explains himself, ‘Not having,’ &c.

Then for security from evil: to be found in Christ is as the malefactor to be found in the city of refuge. The man that had slain his neighbour casually was to fly to the city of refuge; if the pursuer overtook him before he was in the city, he had liberty to slay him without mercy; if he found him in the city of refuge, he was not to touch him. Thus here, every sinner out of Christ is liable to the stroke of revenging justice, but when he is found in Christ he is secure, justice then will not touch him. To be found in Christ is to be found as in the city of refuge.

—David Clarkson, Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:274–275.

Posted 2017·10·23 by David Kjos
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Posted in: David Clarkson · Union with Christ · Works of David Clarkson

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