About life in the Spirit. The following passage speaks to the issues driven non-believing person and the Believer who lives a religious life towards God.
‘Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God’ Romans 8.5-8 NIV.
Have we embraced a culture in which we cannot please God?
I have a friend who unable to make sense of life in the Spirit as described in Romans 8. No matter that this life is central to our new testament living and the essence of what Jesus achieved for us through the cross and Pentecost. No matter that the meaning of Paul’s remarks remain a mystery and life in the Spirit elusive to his understanding. Of course it does matter when we live religious but miss the core of what Jesus did for us. The problem for my friend and those like him, is that life in the Spirit is the only way the gospel of the Kingdom can advance. It multiplies not from a sense of duty or obligation but by the outflow of Christ’s spirit/ life through God’s daughters and sons.
The law of the Spirit of life is Christ in you. In fact it is more radical than this. It is Christ as you. This is the meaning behind Francois De Toit’s teaching on ‘The Mirror.’ To see Jesus is to see yourself. Similarly when Jesus looks at you He sees himself. This is the natural consequence of what Paul calls ‘Christ your life’ and our union with God in the Spirit. It is by this means that the life of heaven gets to be multiplied on earth, through you and I.
CHRIST AS YOU
The reality of Christ our life is the new testament way of living - the new and living way that is Christ as us. In eating Him, eating His flesh and drinking His blood He becomes us, the result of which is that we become ourselves in spirit and in truth. We are who we are not figuratively or poetically but in the reality that constructed and affirmed by God in Christ. Yet we are not clones of Jesus of Nazareth. We are perfectly ourselves as sons of our Father - distinct yet one by kinship and the spirit of Sonship.
With Christ as our life we become life-multipliers without effort. We intuitively multiply love, life, joy and creativity because this is who and what we are. But we will never be life-givers in this fashion from a position in the law or engaged in religious effort.
Recently I watched the movie, ‘Tomorrow When the War Began.’ A devout Christian girl found herself in a war that she did not start and which encompassed her in the form of an invasion by a foreign enemy. She was torn between her desire for survival and the commandment, ‘You shall not kill.’ Circumstances meant that she did kill and that she did so to protect her friends and the lives of her countrymen. She was greatly traumatized as a result. While this was a fiction work, there was a truth revealed to my mind from the viewing. ‘There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.’ There is no event, no circumstance that God has not provided for and which is not covered by the vicarious life of Christ. But this applies not only to ethical dilemmas. It is the essence of the business of living.
Because Christ is our life all we need do is to be ourselves in Christ and do what we have to do. This applies in problematic circumstances and even more so in ministering His life in happier situations. Here, because Christ is our life by the Spirit, we are free to be ourselves. Not carnally but as sons and daughters of I AM we are who we are and are fruitful as a result.
In being ourselves, by following the design of our being and because Christ is our life we multiply spirit and life. But not if we are living from a sense of duty and obligation. I know people who get together because they believe we should be engaged in community. But there is no life, no sense of God or genuine community and no Kingdom effect in what they do because it happens as the result of a sense of duty and obligation - not the natural expression of Christ as ourselves. How can it when the flesh ministers nothing that is Kingdom. We can be ministering spirit and life or the dry sands of religion expressed as duty and obligation. If this is our motivation, it is certain that there is none of heaven’s life in what we do.
In his book, God Believes in You, Francois Du Toit writes of the law of liberty, which by the way is not the law of Moses or Moses’ laws written on any persons’ heart.
The law of perfect liberty does not rely on man's ability and
disciplined performance to obey and perform routine regulations
and commandments. Like the law of gravity, this law works
spontaneously within a specific 'magnetic' field of influence.
Living under the law of Moses or any moral law for that matter, depends
entirely upon the individual's willpower and self-discipline to
consistently adhere to and obey the requirements of the law. Thus
the law of obligation became the basis of man's experience of
condemnation, and a sense of failure and shortcoming.
What keeps religion enslaved to this law is fear of punishment and a
hope for reward, whether it is the thought of escaping hell and
gaining heaven one day, or at least the pious feeling of applause
and recognition now. Any measure of success achieved produces a
'holier than thou' attitude, which could easily become the breeding
ground for hypocrisy.
… Under the law of obligation, doing remains a duty and not a
spontaneous lifestyle. So much of religious zeal and energy
involves man's endeavor and effort to do things that will
hopefully qualify him to be accepted by God. But sadly, within the
day-to-day experience of most, the sense of distance between the
Creator and the creature seems to prevail.
Distance not only prevails. Frequently it increases and the inmate of one’s own performance mentality passes on to fatigue and resignation. Soon he may give up altogether, all because he has followed a myth of his own making and of the religious motions Jesus came to liberate him from. Then again his frustration may stimulate him to get a grip on the new and living way of Christ in you.
My friend, who cannot comprehend as yet the meaning of life in the Spirit and its untrammeled joy and crazy, uncontrived fruitfulness, was socialized from a child into the spiritless life of law, self-effort and duty-mongering. Others have a less acrid form of try-harder gospel. The effect of both is to deny the life of God. It contains us in the flesh and denies the world the Spirit and life that is theirs from the new and living way. A way that is simply the life that enters their dry spirit when they come in contact with you. The you who is being unobtrusively yourself in Christ.
‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. “But there are some of you who do not believe’ John 6.63-64 NIV.