Saints, Not Sinners: Part Four, Conclusion
The Law of the Spirit of Life: Romans 8:2
Now, as we said before, we move immediately away from “ourselves,” and begin to see what has happened as we come through into this fullness of God.
Paul takes us right into the total, as he describes how this new law has taken over, the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” and that law, which we now find operative in us, has accomplished a final release from the former law under which we were held – the “law of sin and death.”
What Is Law?
Before we move further, let’s review just a moment regarding this word “law.” Paul uses the word several different ways, and it may clear up some confusion if we can get a handle on these meanings.
There really are two different kinds of law. One definition is simply the natural way by which something works. We call what happens when you let go of an object and it falls to the ground, an example of the law of gravity. In this case, the law of gravity is not some outside separate influence on matter, telling it that it must fall if it is released. The law of gravity is instead the description of how things function normally in this universe. Gravity is a force that operates on all physical objects in our universe, and everything works according to its function. That description we call the “law of gravity.”
For example, if I held a rock up chest high and then let it go, it would immediately fall to the ground. The rock would function according to the natural law of what it is, a rock, and would be automatically attracted to the earth by its irresistible gravitational force. That is an example of a naturally functioning law.
There are no written instructions for the rock to refer to, nor does anyone have to tell the rock to fall. It just does because it is natural to it. It would be silly to tell the rock it should or ought to fall. Let it go and it falls, without instruction or extra encouragement. This is something working according to the natural law of what it is.
The other use of the term has to do with codes and admonitions that outwardly tell us how things should or ought to work. Elsewhere Paul has told us this outer set of codes and precepts regarding human behavior, called “the law,” are not for the righteous, but for the unrighteous. In the beginning there was no law contained in precepts. It only entered the picture when things malfunctioned. Going back to our law of gravity picture, if we were to let go of the rock and instead of falling down it were to fall up, then it would be necessary to apply an outer law to remind or even force the rock to keep its own inner law.
That is what has happened now that unbelief has entered the picture. We have been taken captive by another law through the spirit of error, using the knowledge of good and evil as the instrument and implementer of the law of sin and death. Through that captivity, we no longer naturally function according to the inner law out of which our being is compounded, the law of self-giving love – (which is really not a law, but is the image of God with which we are all stamped and in whose single existence [being] we find our own existence). We still are functioning in love, but it is love in malfunction, because that love has been captured and turned inward on ourselves. God mercifully then sends the law of precepts and codes to us, which, since we are caught in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, makes some sense to us because we know we should be “good” and we each know secretly our own “evil.” It strikes home.
God then uses this law of precepts variously in our lives so that we are brought one way or another to full acknowledgement of our deep selfishness in thought, word, and deed, and then finally by the same law of precepts we are brought to this current threshold. This is where by the Spirit we have seen the breaking of this lifelong consciousness of a self spiritually deluded into a consciousness of false independence, which has manifested all our lives as self-righteousness, self-effort, self-responsibility, etc. This is the absolute core, rock bottom, the axe laid to the root of the tree.
Now we have come to the “end of ourselves.” We have come firmly to see by the Spirit’s revelation that we died with Him in His cross; we were crucified with Him, dying with him to the spirit of sin who held us all captive. And now by virtue of His death and resurrection comes this inner word of revelation to us, that thereby we now know we are dead to the law, dead to sin, and, being dead, we again now know to the uttermost we can do nothing of ourselves, because dead people cannot do anything at all.
What is the law of the Spirit of life?
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
Up to now in our discussion we have approached our object – a real life of walking in the Spirit, thus not fulfilling the “lusts of the flesh” – as if this object is something we can put up for display on our table, dissecting the parts, and by doing so can learn the answer which we can then apply and reach our goal.
But everything in our discussion changes now, because there is an impasse here at this point. What we are speaking of must of necessity move from outside to inside in order to enact itself in our consciousness. I don’t mean from outside as if it is actually outside, but only that what I am speaking of is outside our own consciousness of “what is,” and that to grasp anything outside anyone’s consciousness of what is, there must be a total shift in one’s awareness of “isness.”
Such as, let’s say, running into a real live werewolf in the woods on a full moon night. For most of us, werewolves are creatures in late-night movies, and nothing more. That same most of us, I suspect, don’t really believe werewolves exist in real life. Movie life, yes. Real life, no.
However, suddenly running into a real live werewolf on a moonlight walk in the forest, being forced on the spot to accept an immediate and shocking change of “what is,” of necessity causes an immediate and hopefully timely total shift in thinking – one’s consciousness of reality. One moment, werewolves are fantasy and do not really exist. Next minute: THIS IS A REAL LIVE WEREWOLF GROWLING AT ME AND TRYING TO BITE ME!!!!! WHAT THE …. ????!!!!”
Now that’s the kind of shift in thinking, or awareness/consciousness, I am speaking of. That which a moment before couldn’t possibly have been true, suddenly in a moment we see has always been true, and we just hadn’t seen it.
This “death” we have experienced in coming to the end of ourselves, in “forsaking all that we have,” (how much more complete can death be?), is now the open door for the floodwaters of the Spirit. Though the Spirit has been there all along, still, as long as we were full in ourselves, He could not be recognized. It is only in our continual human emptiness that we find the fullness of the Godhead bodily living in us.
The reason why everything changes at this point is that the focus has been changed. Everything about the law, whether we are obedient or not obedient, up to the condemnation by the law, operates because of a wrong self focus. Under the law, the focus of our spiritual sight is not God in ourselves, but ourselves as if we are alone and everything is up to what WE do about ourselves. It is all about ourselves and no efforts of any kind can rescue us from that self-focus.
But now in this death, this falsely independent, self-relying self, on which we had focused so long, has died. Even the self that tries to obey the law has died.
This death makes way for the new self which can now be seen. The new self has only one awareness, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth,” and has only one food and delight, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” which is Christ, because that is now who is living.
Now the focus of our knowledge and understanding has been “taken up” as it were, into a higher truth, a greater reality, where God reveals Himself as the hidden propagator in everything. This new self that comes up as us, is taken up into the rapture of the Spirit, because its life pours out of One Who is everywhere present in all things.
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is simply this revelation having come into fullness in us: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is being taken up into the knowing of God. Here we leave truth “about.” True “knowing” is not conceptual knowledge. It is not the accumulation of facts and evidences. It may start there, but if it stays there is it a trap.
True knowing is being. One becomes, or is, that which he knows. That’s why Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruit.” One is known by what he is, and one is what one knows.
For instance, if one truly knows truth, he is truth. It isn’t because he has learned facts about what truth is, or that he has practiced them. It is because to know truth is to be truth. One cannot speak or be what he does not know, because it is not familiar to him. But if you know truth, then truth is what you are, what you do, what you say. There is no separation between you and truth, as if truth were something outside yourself that you could put on. It is simply you. That is, it is you if you truly know truth.
And that is how it is with us and God. Now that the veil of separation is out of the way, we are taken into the oneness of God.
One with God – what can that mean?
I almost contradict myself to give an answer, because anything I say can only be a signpost or a pointer. Anyone who goes past this point goes up to the mountain alone and hears God himself.
One means first of all solitary. There is only one God. To be one with the One means to be solitary in yourself. That is, in yourself you are not two, but one. There is no other except One who is all in all, containing all, through all, above all, below all, in all, One and the same. Without distinction (which is division) but only One, everywhere One. In ourselves One. I and my Father are One.
One means in the world but not of it. Everywhere there is, He is only One. There is a world, spoken by Him, consisting by Him, upheld by Him, but He is to the world as one who does not break a bruised reed or quench a smoking flax, whose sun and rain shine and fall on all, blessing it in His being, blessing with Himself the very state of flux in the world, for He is One even in the world.
One means that everywhere that is, in everything that is, there is a lamb slain. The Word of the One is a lamb slain eternally, and it is by this Word, and therefore by this lamb slain, that all things consist and are upheld. Therefore before there was substance, before there were stars and there was water and an earth, before there was a man and before there was a woman, there was safety and certain hope in the heart of all the eternal, and in creation that same safety and hope equally complete and total in every particular as much as in the universal.
What that means is that we live in the oneness of God, and everything that is at its heart is the same lamb slain, equally everywhere, including in ourselves, and in all life and events. One means that as Paul we continually “bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus.”
One means if He is the light of the world then I am the light of the world. It is simply the truth. We do nothing to evoke it. He IS and we are. One.
One means completion and perfection.
Nothing brings more rancor out of folks than this one. In all our travels this year, in almost every place, someone would say something like, “What, you think you’ve arrived?” Or, “Are you saying you don’t sin?” Or, “Who do you think you are – God?” Or, “Sure, we’re one with God. But there are still things in us blocking that oneness, and we all have to be on a quest to find out all those stumbling blocks and get rid of them as we approach closer and closer to oneness.” And such like.
There is no argument against such things. This comes in its day. The Spirit gives His own witness.
That is what it is to “know” God. It means to be Him in the world. It means more than being a container of His. It means more than being His temple. It is more than being a branch on the vine. It is more than being His servant. Not that all those things aren’t continually true in their place as we are helped along in our understanding toward the total.
But the total is “one.” He and I are one. One person? One heart? One mind? One Spirit? One intent? One will? One everything? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,YES!
This is outside of experience as we have always known experience. Walking around and living in the world is the experience. We walk around being ourselves, unconscious of ourselves as ourselves, and that is what it is to know God. We know Him by being Him which is being ourselves.
That is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus which now holds and works in us. It is the kingdom of heaven grown up, we know not how, in us even as ourselves, which is truly a wonder of wonders. We are at first as surprised as Jacob who said, “Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not.”
So we then conclude our series on Saints, Not Sinners. In the cross we are made the righteousness of God. In Him we are One in the Father, Son and Spirit, in the same oneness in which they are One.
From here on out, now that we know that, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death,” we are now His in the reconciliation of others.
So let us move on then with our various assignments as God gives them!