And this hope serves to make us unashamed.  When the world mocks, we need not blush and hide our faces, as though our religion is doing nothing to help us.  It is the folly of carnal religion that expects God to keep us from suffering any hardship in this life.  There is no such promise to God’s true children, in this life or the next.  But if we clearly understand the security of our position in Christ, we need not be ashamed of the faith God has given us, even when we are the offscouring of all things to the world.  What matters it when men mock, if God approves?  What matters it if men’s courts rule against us, when the Judge of all the earth has pronounced us righteous in His dear Son?  We have a hope of which we ought never to be ashamed, but should rather confess it boldly before men, regardless of how they may scorn or persecute us.

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But we do not come to the position of being unashamed because of our own personal shrewdness and spiritual insight; rather, it is the effect of the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  I know that some good men have preached this shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts as though it is some great height of spiritual joy which occurs but seldom in a believer’s life, and which some never experience at all.  I do not deny that there are rare experiences of spiritual ecstasy which God pours out upon some for His own purposes, but I cannot agree that this is being pointed at here.  Let us not forget that the theme of the passage is justification, and the believer’s security resulting therefrom.  Paul has shown us that we can even glory in tribulation, because it serves to mature us, and increase our hope of future glory.  We can only do this because of the grace of justification which we have through Christ’s mighty work.  But it is through the application of this grace to the heart and conscience that we attain to this spiritual maturity.  It is the love of God, in justifying the ungodly (which the apostle is set to elaborate upon yet more) which the Holy Ghost sheds abroad in the heart of a believer.  It is He Who encourages us with these blessed remembrances when we are tempted to wilt under the heat of the furnace of affliction.  It is He Who reminds us of our interest in Christ, when our hearts within us are overwhelmed.  By shedding abroad the remembrance of God’s great love for us in Christ, He keeps us upright and steadfast, and permits nothing to overwhelm us.  In fact, I daresay the apostle is probably telling us that the very reason we do mature through trials, instead of being overwhelmed and our faith destroyed by them, is because the Holy Spirit graciously sheds abroad the knowledge of God’s love for us in Christ, which encourages us to stay in the fight, and not yield to the temptation to abandon the cause of God under the pressure of difficult circumstances.

 

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