By The Book #14: Living Under Grace or The Law
A forgiven sinner is quite different from an ordinary sinner, and a consecrated Christian is quite different than an ordinary Christian.
Grace means God has done something for me; law means I must do something for God.
The law makes our weakness manifest. Had it not been for the law, we would have never known how weak we are. The law is what exposes our true nature.
The law was not given with the expectation that we would keep it; it was given in the full knowledge that we would break it. And when we have broken it so completely as to be convinced of our utter need, then the law has served its full purpose. It has been our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that in us He may fulfill it (Gal. 3:24).
What does it mean to be delivered from the law? It means that I am henceforth I am no longer going to try to do anything to please God; if I do I immediately place myself under the law. Therefore I have no alternative; I must allow Christ to fulfill the law in me. And finally, I see that this alone is what is pleasing to God (Matt. 5:17). This is deliverance from the law!
It is only after reaching the point of utter despair in ourselves—so that we cease to even try—that we put our trust in the Lord to manifest His resurrection life in us. The sooner we give up trying, the better. For it is only by ceasing in ourselves that we give place to the Holy Spirit. And then, we will see a power stronger than ourselves carrying us through.
As long as we are trying to do anything, He can do nothing. It is because of our trying that we fail.
We all need to come to the point where we say, ”Lord I am unable to do anything for You, but I trust in You to do everything in me.”
One faulty line of thinking prevalent among Christians is this: we know that justification is our through the Lord Jesus and that it requires no work on our part, but we think sanctification is dependent on our own efforts. We know we can receive forgiveness by our entire reliance on the Lord, yet we believe we can obtain deliverance by doing something on ourselves. After salvation, the old habit of “doing” reasserts itself, and we begin our self-efforts again. However, the bible declares that, in both justification and sanctification, He is the doer. “It is God who works in you (Phil. 2:13).”
Living in the spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. It is not a case of struggling, but resting in Him.
The cross has been given to procure salvation for us; the Spirit has been given to produce salvation in us.
We think of the Christian life as a “changed life” but it is not. What God offers us is an “exchanged life,” a “substituted life,” and Christ is our substitute within.
Many believers have a wrong understanding of sanctification. It is commonly conceived that every item of our lives should be holy. But that is not holiness; rather, it is the fruit of holiness. Holiness is Christ.
I cannot please God, but there is no “I cannot” in Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
If we let go of our own will and wholly trust Him, we will not fall to the ground and break; we will fall into “the law of the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2). God has not only given us life, but He has given us a law of life.