Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Spirit's Law of Life

Dear Kingdom workers, I know that there are some preachers who speak against God's Law, as though it were something sinful, so I want to encourage you today not to listen to the enemy's lies.  He twists the Scriptures, but the Holy Spirit leads us into all Truth.

The Spirit's Law
In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul referred to the Law as the law of the Spirit of Life.  “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom 8:2). First of all, this means it is the Spirit’s Law, which should not surprise us, since it is God’s Law, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself.  As Paul says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2Ti 3:16-17). 

“What shall we say, then? Is the Law sin? Certainly not!” (Rom 7:7a).  Yet most preachers treat it as though it is sin.  Quite the contrary!  “We know that the Law is spiritual.” (Rom 7:14a). Since the Law is spiritual, and it is the Spirit's Law, pure and holy, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we need to be careful never to treat it as if it is sinful.

The problem is not with the God’s Law.  The problem is with man’s sinful nature.  However, through Christ Jesus, I am set free from sin and death. This is the same Christ Jesus that was typified in the Law and about whom Moses prophesied in the Law.  It was through Christ Jesus that the law of the Spirit set me free.  Now that I am free from sin and death, I have power over sin and death.  And although I am no longer under the Law, yet because I am in Christ Jesus, I approach the Law differently now.  Now “the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Ro 8:4b).

Proper Understanding of the Law
Here is the way you must understand the Law. 

Law Leads Us to Christ to Be Justified by Faith
God’s Law was a tutor that led you to Christ. "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith." (Gal 3:24).  We could illustrate the relationship between us and the Law (before we know Christ) like this:
Law -- > Christ.

Christ is the Goal of the Law
Another way to put this is to say that the goal of the Law is to lead us to Christ. Christ is the goal of the Law. "For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Rom 10:3-4)

In Christ, the Righteous Requirements of the Law are Fulfilled in Us
Once you enter into Christ by faith, and are in Him, then the Spirit’s Law sets you free from the law of sin and death.  Once you put to death the sinful nature, which was the real problem to begin with, you approach the Law differently.  You are now a dead person as it relates to sin.  What was once a law of sin and death, because of the weakness of my sinful nature, has now through Christ Jesus become for me the Spirit’s Law of Life and love.  We could illustrate the relationship between us and the Law after we know Christ like this:
Christ -- > Law of Life (righteous requirements of the Law fully met in us).

The Law leads sinful man to Christ.  Then Christ leads the one, whom He sets free from sin, into the Spirit’s Law of Life.  Now I can truly love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself, which are the two commandments that fulfill all the Law and the Prophets. Now I approach the Law not to be justified by the Mosaic covenant, but desiring to obey God’s commandments by the Spirit, so that the righteousness requirements of the Law might be fully met in me.

The New Way of the Spirit
I am not living according to the sinful nature any more, but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:4b). I do not serve in the old way of the written code, but in the new way of the Spirit (Rom 7:6).  I am no longer looking for instructions about circumcision, various gifts, sacrifices, food, drink, and ceremonial washings, which were merely shadows of the realities we have found in Christ (although I can still learn about God through those passages).  What matters now is keeping God’s commandments (1 Co 7:19). And that is only possible by the power of the Spirit.

I live my life for Christ by the Spirit, being led by the Spirit.  “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Rom 8:13-14).
Any good fruit you see coming forth from my life is the Spirit’s fruit, not mine. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23). 

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5). I am no longer a slave to sin, but now in Christ I have become a slave to righteousness.  “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Rom 6:18)

If we claim to live by the Law of the Spirit of Life, then let us always say, "Yes, Lord!" to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Let's be controlled by the Spirit, Who takes from the Law.  Let's live for righteousness, and submit to God's righteousness, rather than seeking to establish a righteousness of our own.  

The Difference Between Serving in the New Way vs the Old Way
Here is an example that shows the difference between serving in the new way of the spirit, rather than in the old way of the written code.  If we were serving according to the old way of the written code, we would read, "You shall not murder." Since our sinful nature would still be alive, as soon as we would receive the commandment not to murder, we would be tempted to do just that.  There would be times when we would get angry enough with people that we feel hatred toward them and say angry words against them like, "You fool!" or "You idiot!"  But as long as we did not physically take the life of another human being, we would assume that we have not broken the commandment and that we are righteous. 

On the contrary, if we are serving in the new way of the Spirit, our sinful nature has been put to death. So the Holy Spirit leads us to go beyond simply not murdering our neighbor, and we also do not even utter angry words like, "You fool!"  We do not harbor bitterness and resentment toward others.  We actually pray for our enemies, forgive them, and even love them.  Thus through Christ Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, we live a truly holy life, and the righteous requirements of that commandment are fully met in us.  That is the Law of the Spirit of Life.

As Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."  (Mt 5:22-23)

Now take that illustration using that one commandment, and apply that to any other commandment.  In every case, the Law of the Spirit of Life goes way beyond the written code.  It is the high and holy intent of God's Law that the Holy Spirit always fulfills in those who are led by the Spirit.  It produces the fruit of the Spirit, against which you will never find a Law in the Bible.

It’s as if the written code was the maximum level of righteousness that one living under the Law could attain, but it is the minimum level for the one set free by the Law of the Spirit of Life.  For those of us who are in Christ, we are already righteous by faith, having received God’s own perfect righteousness.  Therefore, that is our starting point, in the realm of the Spirit; and the maximum level of fruitfulness we could potentially produce by the Spirit is without limit, since God is infinite, and He gives The Spirit without Limit.

For the man living under the Law, the glass of righteousness is half full, and he is always seeking to fill it.  For the man living by the Spirit, the glass of righteousness is already full to the brim, and he is always overflowing.  That is, he is always overflowing, provided he practices righteousness and doesn't practice lawlessness.  "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness." (1Jn 3:4; cf., 1 Jn 3:8-10)

Those Led by the Spirit Can Submit to God's Righteousness
The apostle Paul explained it like this: "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." (Rom 8:6-9).

The implication of this passage is that while those who live according to the sinful nature cannot submit to God's law, those who live in accordance with the Spirit can and do in fact submit to God's righteousness, because their minds are set on what the Spirit desires. He enables us to put to death the misdeeds of the body (Rom 8:13), and leads us to pray and live according to God's will (Rom 8:27).

The Law is Profitable
As I have already mentioned, Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2Ti 3:16-17). 

For those who are in Christ, the Law will always continue to be profitable, along with the rest of the Scriptures.  We do not neglect to teach from the Law, and focus only on the Scriptures written after Christ. It is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. The reason we are supposed to use all Scripture for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, is so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  If we omit parts of Scripture that are unpopular, then the man of God will not be adequate or equipped for every good work.  Therefore, we must preach the whole counsel of God, as Paul did.

Seven Different Laws?
Scripture speaks of "the law of God" (Rom. 7:22,25; 8:7; 1Co. 9:21), "the law of Christ" (1Co. 9:21; Gal. 6:2), "the law of faith" (Rom 3:27), and "the law of the Spirit of Life" (Ro 8:2).  Then there is the "royal law" (Js 2:8), which is the law of love, also known as the "law of liberty" (Js 2:12).  These are not seven different laws are they?  Even if you think they are, do you think they contradict one another on principle? There is one God and Father, one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ His Son, and one Spirit.  God's will is supreme and there is no contradiction within Him.

Jesus said He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, indicating He was in full agreement with the law of God.  "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:17-20).  

This is something to consider and pray about.  There is law and order in God's kingdom.  It's not a lawless kingdom. "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness." (1Jn 3:4). Christ will one day tell those who practice lawlessness to depart from Him (Mat. 7:23), and they will be thrown into the furnace of fire (Mat 13:41). 

On the other hand, when you are living according to the law of the Spirit, He will convict you concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;  (Joh 16:8).

Moreover, when you are living by the law of the Spirit, He will guide you into all truth. "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you."  (Joh 16:13-15).

The Spirit of God does not speak on His own initiative.  He takes of what is Christ's and discloses it to the disciple of Christ. And all things that the Father has are Christ's. Therefore, what the Spirit discloses to the disciple of Christ is that which belongs to the Father. This is how the law of the Spirit of Life works.  He discloses to us the law of Christ, the law of faith, the royal law of love, also known as the law of liberty. And since the Author of this law is the same as the Author of the law of God, there is harmony between the law of God and all things that the Spirit discloses.

Obedience is Essential for Disciples
Here are just some of the other article I have written, which provide a clear and biblical response to the concerns that my obedience doctrine is legalism, especially the first three in the left-hand column:

Is Obedience Optional?
The Law of Christ 
Faith Works!
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The Cost of Discipleship
The New Covenant
Costly Grace
Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?
Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross?
Practical Righteousness, a Lost Truth?      
The Obedience of Faith
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God
Aim for Perfection
Righteous Deeds and White Robes
Doing What is Right
Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice
Partaking of the Divine Nature
Walking in the Perfect Will of God
Pressing on Toward the Goal
Obedience by the Spirit
Led by the Spirit                        

Putting it All Together
The Law is not sin.  On the contrary, it is spiritual.  It's the Spirit's Law and it brings life for those who are in Christ. It was intended to lead us to Christ, so we could be justified by faith.  But once we are in Christ, through Him, the Spirit's law of life sets us free from the law of sin and death.

Then the Spirit of God leads the one who is in Christ to walk in love (in fulfillment of the Law) without interference from the sinful nature and without death.  Now in Christ and by the Spirit, the righteous requirements of the Law may be fully met in us. I emphasize "in Christ," since we can do nothing apart from the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:5). We have our minds set on what the Holy Spirit desires (Rom 8:5), and He enables us to actually produce the fruit of the Spirit, against which you will never find a Law in the Bible.

We are no longer under the Law, as if it were our means of justification. We are not under a law of works! You cannot rely on your obedience to the Law to save you, because it is only by grace that you are saved through faith (Eph 2:8-10).  We are not keeping up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel. However, we profit from the lessons in righteousness found in the Law, as the Spirit takes from the Law.  Since we live for Christ, as slaves to righteousness, our hearts are beating to keep God's commandments, and to find out what pleases Him.  "As the apostle Paul said, "Find out what pleases the Lord." (Eph 5:10).  The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a clear conscience and a sincere faith.  And if you keep His commandments, you will abide in His love (Jn 15:10).

The Spirit of the Law (Part II of this article)

 Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Love the Lord with All Your Heart" by my fifteen-year old daughter, C.V. on the blog, A Brush with Life

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, please see Part II, called The Spirit of the Law, as well as Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell, in which she saw a man of God in hell for relying on His obedience to the Law to save him.  You may also like Law of Love in the New Testament, Led by the Spirit, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Garments of Godliness, Keeping Sundays Holy, Is Tithing Required?, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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