THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The law of sin and death consists of our sinful nature interacting with the Law of Moses such that we live in condemnation continually. There is another law, as Paul told the Jewish believers, that sets us free from the law of sin and death. Paul terms that law the law of the Spirit of life.
Precisely what is the law of the Spirit of life, and how does it set us free from the law of sin and death?
THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
The law of sin and death consists of our sinful nature interacting with the Law of Moses such that we live in condemnation continually. There is another law, as Paul told the Jewish believers, that sets us free from the law of sin and death. Paul terms that law "the law of the Spirit of life."
Precisely what is the law of the Spirit of life, and how does it set us free from the law of sin and death?
What is the law of the Spirit of life? The law of the Spirit of life is the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He gives us the desire to live a holy life, wisdom concerning how to overcome the world, bodily passions and self-will, and the power to choose holiness in place of spiritual uncleanness.
The sins that bind us produce a passion to perform the sinful acts. When we say the Spirit furnishes us with the power to choose holiness in place of spiritual uncleanness we mean the Spirit overpowers the passion produced by our spiritual bondages.
The Spirit provides us with the desire, the wisdom, and the power that enable us to gain perfect victory over every sin that binds us.
It often is claimed that as long as we are in the world we have to sin. This is not scriptural.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligationóbut it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12)
God through Jesus Christ has given us a program of redemption that enables us to gain victory over all sin. This does not mean we instantly are sinless. It means the Spirit will lead us one step at a time so we have more victory each day.
Our sinful nature consists of two main components. The first component we will term alien sin. The second component we will term original sin.
Alien sin is that collection of nasty behaviors we were born with, although some we acquired during our life.
Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:20)
The sin living in us is what we mean by "alien sin." We do not approve of it. It is alien to our desires, especially if we are seeking to be righteous, as was the Apostle Paul.
It is extremely important for the believer to understand clearly that he or she has only a finite number of such alien behaviors. They can be dealt with one at a time and overcome, through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is perfectly and scripturally possible for each such behavior to be addressed and its power over us killed.
Alien sin is not an integral part of us. We were born with it and we do not approve of it.
Original sin, on the other hand, has to do with our will. Such sin is not alien to us, it is what we choose to do, how we choose to behave.
And in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (II Thessalonians 2:10)
"They refused to love the truth." This refusal does not come from alien sin but from the deliberate choice of the individual.
Let us say we are following the Holy Spirit and the Spirit points out to us that we tell lies from time to time.
We know from the Scripture that we are to confess to the Lord our sin of lying. We are to denounce it as sinful and thoroughly renounce it, determining to have nothing more to do with it. Then we are to draw near to God and resist the temptation to lie.
The Bible tells us that if we will confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This He always will do, for it is written in the eternal Word.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
If we choose to deal with lying in this manner, God will deliver us.
However, we may choose to not cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the program of redemption from lying. In this case we have committed an original sin. God will not condemn us for our lying if, when it is brought to our attention, we confess and forsake the practice of lying. Jesus Christ died to make an atonement for the sins of the world, and so we have been forgiven in advance.
But if we do not confess and forsake our lying, when it is pointed out to us, then we are under condemnation. Then we are in clear danger of being condemned as a lazy disobedient servant.
I donít suppose there is any truth more in need of clarification in Christian thinking as is true of the distinction between alien sin and original sin.
As long as we are following the Spirit of God in the program of redemption, confessing and forsaking our sins as they are pointed out to us, we are without condemnation in the sight of God, even though there is much in our personality that is sinful.
But in order to remain without condemnation we absolutely have to be following the Spirit of God in the program of redemption. If we are not following the Spirit of God in the program of redemption, we are under Divine condemnation and will be judged and chastened by the Lord.
Does the Scripture teach that our freedom from condemnation depends on our forsaking our sinful nature and obeying the law of the Spirit of life?
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
If we choose to not live according to our sinful nature but according to the law of the Spirit of life, then it is as though we have obeyed the Law of Moses perfectly and are completely righteous in Godís sight at all times.
But if we are not choosing to forsake our sinful nature and are not careful to follow the law of the Spirit of life, as may be the case with numerous Christians, then we are not righteous in Godís sight but are under Divine condemnation.
The law of the Spirit of life is the eternal moral law of God, brought to us by the Holy Spirit, written in our mind and heart by the Holy Spirit.
Our conscience reflects the eternal moral law of God. The material creation reflects the eternal moral law of God.
The Law of Moses is an abridged, covenantal, largely negative form of the eternal moral law of God.
The eternal moral law of God is what God Is. It never changes from eternity to eternity.
Jesus summed up the eternal moral law of God as loving God with all of our strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
An ant could master algebra quicker than our sinful nature could ever love God with all its strength or its neighbor as itself.
God begins the program of redemption by planting the Divine Seed in our heart. If we spend our life nurturing that which has been born within us, Christ will be formed in us.
God also, through the Holy Spirit, begins the long program of unwrapping the graveclothes of sin from us.
As I understand the program, it operates whether or not we are alive on the earth. It is a continuing process.
The removal of every vestige of Satan from us is a finite program. Soon it will be complete. Redemption from the hand of the enemy has a definite point of completion. But it is my point of view that the transformation of every saved person into the image of God will continue for eternity. "Of the increase of His Kingdom and of peace there shall be no end."
The new covenant assumes that we, once having received Jesus Christ, will never sin again. This is not to say we do not have in our personality a number of alien sins. We certainly do. But we never, never, never are to disobey God by committing original sins of rebellion against what we know to be Godís will concerning us.
Let me explain.
Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Heb 10:14)
Unfortunately, Christian thinking seems to include only, "Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever."
The idea in current thinking is that once an individual "accepts Christ" he is perfect forever.
However, there is an additional clause to consider: "those who are being made holy."
It is Godís will that once we begin accepting Christ (we have to accept Christ every moment of every day of our life!) we never commit an original sin; or if we do, we rapidly repent and begin to obey God diligently.
We are bound with a number of alien sins. These God will deal with cheerfully and effectively. But God cannot deal in the same manner with our original sin. He can chasten us. Then, if we do not repent, we are guilty of willful sin. There is no sacrifice in either the Old Testament or the New Testament for willful sin. We have become an enemy of God and are facing eternal fire.
But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the LORDís word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him. (Numbers 15:30,31)
There was no animal sacrifice for defiant, willful sin. The same is true of the atoning blood of Christ. It does not forgive defiant, willful sin.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, But only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
There is no excuse for original sin. There is an excuse for alien sin. Alien sin is a bondage that provokes us to sin when we do not wish to do so. But Christ provides deliverance when we go to Him in prayer.
Original sin is not like that. Original sin is present when we are in full possession of our faculties, not driven by the passions of our flesh, and yet choose to disobey God.
Let me give you an example.
Some years ago a young lady, a professing Christian, approached me. She said, "My boyfriend and I are going out in a car tonight and we are going to do things we should not do. But tomorrow I will ask the Lord to forgive me and everything will be fine."
She is mistaken. This is presumption. It is willful sin and the Lord will not accept her request for forgiveness. She was well able to refuse to go in the car but chose instead to sin. She will not be forgiven. Perhaps after she has gone through many fires later in life, and repents wholeheartedly, she will be forgiven her presumption.
The New Testament is filled with various commandments. We are to study the Word continually, thinking about what the Holy Spirit has stated through the Apostles of the Lamb.
From time to time we will notice an exhortation that applies to us. Then we are to go to the Throne of Grace to obtain the necessary wisdom and strength to obey the Scripture.
As we do this the Spirit leads us from victory to victory.
But if we do not read the New Testament with the thought in mind of doing what it says, believing God does not expect us to do what the Spirit stated through Christ and His Apostles, we will not participate in the program of redemption from sin.
It is fashionable to say, "We are not worthy; only He is worthy." This is not scriptural. The New Testament often speaks of the need for us to live in a manner worthy of our calling.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)
If our earthly father commands us to do something, we are not to claim he has given us an impossible commandment in order to demonstrate he is worthy and we are unworthy.
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (I John 5:1)
If our earthly father is truly a father, as God is, he will command us to do only that which is possible for us to do. If we do not do it, claiming he is worthy and we are unworthy, he will wonder what is the matter with us.
God never, never, never commands us to do something we cannot do with His help. We cannot throw up our hands and cry "You are worthy but I am unworthy. Therefore I am not going to do what you have commanded."
What nonsense it this? Is it true that Christian teaching is filled with such nonsense?
But, someone will say, Christ commanded us to be perfect.
Yes, He did. He did not command us to be perfected, but to be perfect.
What does this mean? It means to do whatever God has told us to do.
When the rich young ruler asked the Lord how he could be perfect, the Lord told him what to do in order to be perfect. The young man chose not to do what the Lord commanded. Yet it was something he could have done, in Godís wisdom and strength.
Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matthew 19:21)
What is the law of the Spirit of life? It is the eternal moral law of God applied to our life by the Holy Spirit.
How does it operate? It operates as we obey God. We are to pray, read our Bible, gather on a consistent basis with fervent Christians (if possible), give of our means, serve when we have the opportunity, covet fervently the gifts of ministry so we may build up the members of the Body of Christ, and do all else we have been commanded.
We are to present our body a living sacrifice that we may prove the will of God for ourselves.
We are to turn away from the spirit of the world, take up our cross, and follow Jesus faithfully.
If we will obey the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles, the Holy Spirit will lead us in the program of putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)
How does the law of the Spirit of life set us free from the law of sin and death?
By furnishing us with the desire, the wisdom, and the power to overcome the bondages of sin that keep our personality in chains.
In order to appropriate the grace that sets us free from the law of sin and death we have to keep in step with the Spirit at all times.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)
Learning to keep in step with the Spirit requires considerable experience.
In the Pentecostal ranks we speak a great deal about the Spirit doing this or that, leading us, moving through us, speaking to us and so forth. In numerous instances we are mistaken and are not hearing from the Spirit at all.
In any given church service there are numerous spirits present. First of all, the guardian angels of the believers are there. There are various gifts of ministry and service. There is a considerable amount of self-seeking and some presumption.
Satan and his demons are there to a greater or lesser extent. In addition there are spirits of enthusiasm, adventure, excitement, romance, lust, covetousness, jealousy and envy, hatred, division, and similar personalities and forces.
There also is the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father, and warrior angels.
Being certain of the source of any action during the meeting is the responsibility of the elders. The sheep know the voice of Christ. The lambs usually do not.
In our day it sometimes occurs that there are no experienced elders present. Then anything can take place under the guise of the Holy Spirit with few believers being able to recognize that something is not right.
It is true also in our personal walk with the Lord that we can be deceived. Satan is able to imitate any spiritual experience we have had with remarkable accuracy.
How, then, can we tell what is of the Spirit of God and what is not?
The only reliable way is by patiently bearing our cross after Christ, praying much, spending time in the Word each day, gathering with fervent saints, being in submission to one another, particularly to the elders that God has provided.
When we begin to doubt an experience we have had we should be especially careful. The Spirit of God is never insulted when we ask the Lord repeatedly to cleanse our minds and hearts from all that is not from Him; to keep us from hearing or thinking anything that is not coming from the Throne of God in Heaven.
Remember that at one moment Peter was speaking by the Spirit of revelation, and the next moment was speaking by the voice of Satan, advising Christ not to go up to Jerusalem to suffer there at the hands of the priests.
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:16,17)
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:21-23)
Be especially watchful if anything you think is from God has an aura of haste or confusion.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)
Be especially watchful if there is something you desire intensely. Intense, flaming desires will pervert the prophetic word in almost every instance.
If you find yourself becoming angry with your fellow believers, this is a reliable indicator that you are not abiding in Christ as you should.
The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God leads us to put to death the sinful desires of our flesh and to press further into Christ.
The Spirit of God always leads us to remove our attention from people, things, and circumstances, and to concentrate on Jesus Christ.
We have to pray about every decision we make. We have to be willing to take small steps that we think are the Lordís will, and then watch very carefully to see if the results of our action are godly and beneficial.
There is no need for haste. The bombast of todayís evangelists is of the flesh, not of the Spirit of God. He who believes does not make haste. The Spirit of God is always peaceful, never a source of confusion.
So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed [make haste in panic; be forced to act in a hurry]." (Isaiah 28:16)
It is easy to fall into deception, particularly if we have a flaming desire of some sort. We can tell when we are in deception by our inability to make a clear decision and stick with it. If we find ourselves thinking we are being led by the Spirit, and every few days we are changing to another direction, we need to seek the counsel of the elders of the church. We probably are in deception.
The Christian who thinks he or she can never be deceived is deceived already.
The Lord Jesus Christ destroyed the power of Satan when He died on the cross. Now Satan cannot use power to cause the Christian to sin, he must deceive the Christian. Satan is extraordinarily skillful at persuading the minds of the believers. He studies their personality until he knows the avenue that will be the most beguiling.
Since the angel of the Lord protects the believer, Satan must convince the believer to act in some manner that removes him or her from the protection of the Lord.
Deception is common among Christian people.
It is a mark of maturity when we can distinguish the Holy Spirit from the multitude of spirits that surround us and strive for our attention.
We must recognize that the Holy Spirit is God. He is a member of the Divine Godhead. He is to be obeyed. The gifts of the Spirit are subject to the believers receiving them. But the believers themselves are to be subject to the Spirit.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2)
The Holy Spirit is not sentimental. He is not touched by the feeling of our infirmities, as is the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit did not die for our sins. He is not the Bridegroom nor the Head of the Church.
The Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church by the Lord Jesus. The Spirit has one goal in mind, and that is to obtain a helper suited for the Lord Jesus.
The Spirit never points to Himself nor does He invite worship. He is as Eliezer who is intent on finding a bride for Isaac. He does not desire to tarry with the churches but to be on His way back to the Son with the bride.
But he said to them, "Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master." (Genesis 24:56)
The Holy Spirit brings many gifts to the churches. But the Spirit has not come to give but to take.
We are never to attempt to command the Spirit. If we obey God, God will give us of His Spirit. But we indeed are to pray to the Lord for more of the Spirit so we can overcome sin, and so we can bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord.
The Holy Spirit always guides us in the way of holiness. The reason is, He is preparing us to be a counterpart of the Lamb of God. The Spirit is single- minded in this endeavor, for so He has been charged by the Father.
The law of sin and death keeps on slaying us as our sinful nature interacts with the Law of Moses. But the law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death by providing the willingness, wisdom, and power we must have if we are to escape the body of death in which we find ourselves.
This program of redemption is always based on and authorized by the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.