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Not to Wound, but to Heal


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

Punishment is a function of the Law. Where the law has been satisfied, there is no punishment.


Those afflictions which befall believers are not punishments, it is to be ascribed to the righteousness of Christ. A sweet privilege, &c. That is a punishment which is inflicted for the satisfaction of justice. A father corrects his child, not to satisfy the law, which is the intent of a judge. Under this dreadful notion must those that are excluded from Christ’s righteousness receive their sufferings, they are inflicted by a Judge for satisfaction of offended justice; and because they can never fully satisfy, they must ever suffer, sometimes here, always hereafter; but he that is found in Christ’s righteousness, shall never be found under the stroke of punishment. Whatever he suffers there is no revenge in it, no intention thereby to seek satisfaction; the sting of affliction is gone, the bitterness of death is past, Christ’s righteousness hath disarmed, hath sweetened, the sharpest sufferings; the Lord requires no satisfaction of them, and there fore he inflicts no punishment on them. And why? Because the righteousness of Christ hath fully satisfied offended justice on their behalf, and it is not agreeable to justice to demand satisfaction twice; and when the Surety hath fully satisfied for the offence, he will not require satisfaction also of the offender, Isa. liii. 5.

The sufferings of believers are not to wound, but to heal them; when this Head hath been wounded even to satisfaction, he will not wound the members also. On that account their afflictions are the chastisements of a father, not the revenges of a judge; to reclaim the offender, not to satisfy for the offence. Christ’s righteousness hath done that in abundance, nothing now can be laid to their charge; no ground of punishment, since all their sins have been punished in Christ, ver. 6.

A believer may say upon another account as Christ did, John xviii. 11, It is but a cup, and it is a Father’s cup; how bitter soever it seems, it was love that mingled it; and it is given me, it is a gift, a pledge of love, the gift of a friend, of a father; not the wounds of a judge, of an enemy. It is not a deadly potion, as given to a malefactor who is sentenced to death, and must die to satisfy law and justice. Christ took this cup out of my hand, and drank it up all in my stead, even the dregs of it; though the bitterness of punishment, of penal, cursed death, was in it, he left not a drop of this nature for me to drink.

That which is reserved for me is a draught of physic, a medicinal potion; how bitter, how distasteful soever it seems, the design of it is health and life. From Christ’s righteousness it is that the most afflicted condition of a believer is more happy, more desirable than the most prosperous estate of the ungodly; affliction is with the people of God to be chosen rather than the pleasures of sin. The bitterest things that befall Christ’s people are more [desirable] than the sweetest enjoyments of sinners, the very pleasures of sin. Oh the wonderful virtue of Christ’s righteousness! were it not for this, every suffering would be a foretaste of hell, and the first-fruits of eternal sufferings, a spark of those everlastings burnings. The sufferings of finite unbelievers on earth, and the sufferings of the damned in hell, differ but in degrees; they agree in common nature of punishments, both for satisfaction of revenging justice. If thou beest not in the same condition, if thy sufferings are not the beginnings of hell on earth, it is because of Christ’s righteousness.

—David Clarkson, Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:319.

Posted 2017·11·09 by David Kjos
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