CALLED to LIVE and WALK IN THE SPIRIT (by permission; chp 3 from Ray Prinzings Book - Whispers of His Call)
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." [Galatians 5:25].
The Phillips translation gives some added dimension of thought,
"If our lives are centered in the Spirit, let us be guided by the Spirit."
Wuest Expanded: "In view of the fact that we are being sustained in spiritual life by the Spirit, by means of the Spirit let us go on ordering our conduct."
What a challenge it remains for every believer. Especially in view of the contact pressure by religious institutional systems to become involved in self-effort, in the programs of man, works of the law as prompted by the will of man, rather than being the normal manifestation of HIS LIFE through us. On the one side is the letter of the law, on the other side is the very Spirit of truth. We are called to a life IN, with, and by the Spirit.
"Forasmuch as we are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." [2 Corinthians 3:3-6].
Verse 6, Phillips, "The Letter of the Law leads to the death of the soul: the Spirit of God alone can give life to the soul."
The more we become apart of GOD'S HIGH PROCESSION which is making its way to Zion, to become a part of the new creation of Himself-- as His life and image are brought forth in many brethren, the more we also see the necessity of partaking of that NEW COVENANT which He has instituted, and that we leave off the bondages of the old covenant-- of the letter, and of stone.
An interesting thought that God gave two thousand years before the Cross, and two thousand years since the Cross, to make a total of four thousand years. Knowing that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," [2 Peter 3:8], we have, as it were four days-- four is the number of earth with its world-wide coverage, as in the four directions, east, west, north, south. And for these four days man everywhere has proved again and again that he cannot keep the righteousness of the law in himself. Man has tried by every means and program to bring forth law and order in righteousness, and continually fails. It may rise and flourish for a time, but the seeds of decay are inherent in the carnal nature, and soon it goes into death.
Lazarus also becomes a parable for this. When he was dead, buried in a tomb, and Jesus finally came-- though He had known Lazarus was sick, He waited until he had fully died-- then at the tomb, "Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." [John 11:39].
It is applicable many ways. There had been four days (four thousand years) from Adam to Jesus, and truly man was dead and stinking, "dead in trespasses and sins," [Ephesians 2:1]. Proving that the way of man is not in himself. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." [Proverbs 14:12]. Then Jesus came! And what a message He brought! "Jesus said unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" [John 11:40].
Who is He that can stand at the tomb of the dead, and declare the glory of God, connect this happening with that revelation? It was this One that came to bring forth the NEW COVENANT -for HE "hath abolished death, and hath brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel." [2 Timothy 1:10]. HE was the essence of the SPIRIT OF LIFE, eternal life in truest sense "IN HIM was life; and the life was the light of men." [John 1:4].
Again, there have been four days (four thousand years) from the time of the giving of the law and the establishment of the first covenant, until the time of HIS COMING AGAIN for the full establishment in manifestation of the NEW COVENANT. Again, world -wide, man has proved that you cannot establish righteousness by setting forth a law. Morality cannot be legislated, not even when "the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good," [Romans 7:12] as that which God gave to Israel at Sinai. "The law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh." [Romans 8:3]. Man does not have the inherent ability to live out the righteousness of the law, therefore it can only condemn him unto death. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." [Ezekiel 18:4]. And since we have "all sinned, and come short of the glory of God," [Romans 3:23], therefore "death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." [Romans 5:12].
Yet now, bless His holy name, there is One who comes to stand upon mount Zion, who shall declare that all of this death-- and all of those who are now condemned to death by the law-- shall ultimately result in the GLORY OF GOD, because, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." [John 10;10]. Therefore, "As in (by) Adam all die, even so in (by) Christ shall all be made alive." [1 Corinthians 15:22].
One thing is certain, man in his self effort shall never bring in the kingdom of God. "Fear not, little flock," for it is your Father's good pleasure to GIVE you the kingdom." [Matthew 12:32]. This is a hard thing for the flesh to bear, and especially for Babylon's religious programs which are based upon TO THE WORK-- TO THE WORK! And to cease from these works, and to enter into rest, this is as much a challenge today, as it was when the writer to the Hebrews set it forth in his day. [see, Hebrews 4:1-11].
Realizing that they had been taught that the kingdom would be GIVEN to them, not gained by self-effort works, then "they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel." [Acts 1:6]. But He only answered them that the times and seasons were kept in the Father's own power (authority).
While they had no authority over the time element, one thing Jesus did declare, was, "Ye shall receive power (ability), after that the holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me..." [Acts 1:8]. For He promised that the Spirit would dwell within us, and be that power, ability, to live out a life of righteousness, regardless of what time it was or how long it would be before the kingdom would be fully manifested in the earth. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," [Matthew 6:10] remains the prayer even today, but the power to live our lives pleasing to Him, while we wait for that fullness, is ours in the indwelling Spirit.
Further more, He clearly stated that the principle purpose of this power was not spoken of as "to do" but, TO BE. A state of being that would witness to the reality of His indwelling, proclaiming Him as Lord!
Over and over again throughout the New Testament, we pick up the words, to BE, or BECOME. The word "become" as used in this verse, is a verb of BEING, not of action. "As many as received Him, to them gave He power (the right, privilege) to BECOME the sons of God." [John 1:12]. It is to bring us into a STATE OF BEING, where HE is revealed in and through us, by what we ARE, not just by what we would try and do.
All of this is to BE "unto Me." For all that we become in Him is to redound to the glory of God. It all witnesses TO HIM -- of how great He is, how glorious is His love for man, and how mighty He is to save.
Therefore, in that hour when "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; (and), every one of us shall give account of himself to God." [Romans 14:10,12], there is one paramount question He will ask of us: "HOW MUCH OF MY SON HAS BEEN FORMED IN YOU?" For we are to be "conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." [Romans 8:29]. The question is not-- What are your works? How many hours did you pray? How often did you fast? How many tracts did you pass out? How many meetings did you attend? How many sermons did you preach? How many books did you write? NO! None of these are the issue! What He will be looking for IN US is a reduplication of Himself. And when He sees His own image in us, He will say again, as He did of Jesus long ago, "This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." [Matthew 3:17]. And truly, "For Thy pleasure they are and were created." [Revelation 4:11]. In the bringing forth of this people who are truly OF HIMSELF, He does not destroy our individuality or personality concept and fundament of being. He wants every kind, every one of us, in the uniqueness in which He made us, but He would immerse us all into Himself. To be partakers of His divine nature, manifesting His character, His holiness, His love, etc.
God is ONE! He is wonderfully singular. "There is none else; there is no God beside Me." [Isaiah 45:5]. Furthermore, all of His works are equally original. Each of us are a singular piece of His divine handiwork. Yet it is to be SO MUCH OF HIM, that it becomes apart of HIS ONENESS, to be a further manifestation of Himself. Thus we are becoming apart of HIS expansion. For all of His works are a revelation of Him-- revealing more of His power, more of His wisdom's design, and the multiplication of His originality. That's why we read, Jude 14, Literal translation, "Lo, comes the Lord, in holy myriads of Himself." Every unique, individual expression, is another facet of expression of Himself, in a way that no one else can express Him.
So we go on to read, "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God." [Romans 2: 28-29].
There are contrasting realms spoken of here:
1) outward in the flesh-- inward of the heart,
2) not in the letter-- but in the spirit,
3) not of men-- but of God.
There is that which is outward in the flesh, written in the
letter, and seeks for the praise of men. Then there is that which is inwardly
of the heart, being of the spirit, and seeks only for the praise of God.
A brief thought concerning the "Jew." The Greek word is "Iouda" and means, belonging to Judah. Judah was one of the tribes Israel. And while Paul was writing to the Romans, perhaps he knew there were some of these Jews among them, who may have trusted in themselves, in their genealogy-- as if they had an "in" with this way. So Paul would make it clear, that while we do not deny our natural heritage, yet it is not our natural, national genealogy which counts the most, but what GOD HAS DONE INWARDLY in our hearts. For, when we "have put on the NEW man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him: there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all." [Colossians 3:10-11]. There is nothing in the realm of the flesh wherein we are to boast, or to glory. There is an inner state of being OF THE HEART, IN THE SPIRIT, which is to be OF GOD.
So now, "we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit," and not in the oldness of the letter:" [Romans 7:6].
Oldness-- from the Greek word "palaiotes" which means: worn out, or antiquatedness.
There are some people who have a great interest in antiques, while others consider it old, to be forgotten, they are more interested in new things. But there is one ANTIQUE we all need to leave behind, the antiquatedness, the old, the worn out realm of the letter, that we might go on into the NEWNESS, the FRESHNESS of the Spirit.
God has promised, "I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them." [Isaiah 48:6- 7]. There is a newness and freshness to the moving of His Spirit which can only be known by receiving from the Spirit. No searching of the history's page will tell us what God is going to do in this day-- it is TOO FRESH to have been written about, except as HE is now writing it upon the tables of our heart.
"In that He saith a new, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." [Hebrews 8.18].
The very moment you say there is a new model of a car on the showroom floor, you have relegated the previous model to being old. You may sell it to a man who has never seen the NEW model, and he will think he has a new car, until the new model comes on the scene, and then he will know that his is not of that new order. So likewise, we have a lot of preachers that keep selling what they call new -- but it is actually of the old order of the first covenant, with just another twist to its works and program. But when GOD said there was a NEW covenant, He immediately relegated the first one to the realm of being old. The very moment He said, "A NEW," the other one became OLD. So no matter how many try to sell the old covenant as being new, it is still old, because God has already decreed the NEW one which takes its place.
The writer to the Hebrews realized that the old covenant was still around in his day, though the book of Hebrews is supposedly written at least thirty-five years after Jesus came forth declaring A NEW TESTAMENT. But, he said, the old is decaying, ready to vanish away, because it "waxeth old."
Interesting word, "waxeth old," from the Greek "gerasko" which comes from "geras" which literally means: senility.
There is a realm which has gone into senility! God says, "Leave it, and rise to walk in the newness of the life of the Spirit." There are those who "turn again to the weak and beggarly elements (rudiments, first steps),-- to observe days, and months, and times, and years." [Galatians 4:9-10]. But the CALL is to rise and walk and live out of the realm of SPIRIT, with all of its newness, freshness, and not to return to that which is antiquated and gone into senility.
Certainly the "righteousness of the law" is not being done away with, for it shall "be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." [Romans 8:4]. It is the administrative order which is being done away. It is no more legislated outwardly, by works, according to the rigid commands inscribed upon a stone, but it is now the ministration of the Spirit which dwells within us, to live out the Christ-life to the glory of God.
But this much we do see, that the failure of one thing, THROUGH GRACE brings in a better thing. "Where sin abounds, grace doth much more abound." [Romans 5:20]. Often we are so short-sighted in our vision, we would prevent anyone from falling, or experiencing failure, and by doing so would prevent them from progressing into higher things. Yet each advancing form of life, which God takes up, springs out of the failure of that which preceded it. The seed falls into the ground, and dies, becomes rotten, but the result is the resurrection of many seeds. The juice of the grape is put into the still, decomposition and fermentation (both forms of corruption) take over, yet it evolves into a higher purity, producing a good wine. Thus we see that death to the old realm means TRANSITION, from the letter, to the Spirit, from the outward to the inward, from that which is of men, to that which is OF GOD. Only God can work such miracles of conversion, and bring forth that which is to His praise.
Significant that the same Greek word, "gramma," which is given as LETTER is also given in the phrase "WRITTEN in stone." The letter of the stone! It was indeed "the stone age." The law was written in tablets of stone, and people have used it to stone others ever since. They throw out their "thou shalt not" at every twist and turn. But for all their stoning of one another, they could not change the inner nature.
They brought to Jesus "a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto Him, Master; ...Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?" [John 8:3-5]. How quick they were to STONE, for all they had was the letter written in stone. They knew that Jesus was OF ANOTHER ORDER, and they would tempt Him, test His way concerning this. Jesus knew they were not ready to walk a path of the love of the spirit, and so He dealt with them on their own level. "And said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." [verse 7] He left them on the stone-level, but turned them inward just enough so that their own conscience convicted (stoned) them, and they slipped away.
All this action of the stone has one result, a ministration unto death. Stephen had dared to touch the temple, and challenge their whole religious order, how they "received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it." [Acts 7:53]. And what happened? They "cast him out of the city and stoned him," so that he died. The stone age leads to death!
Even Israel's God, in Old Testament times, was likened unto a Rock. "For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." [Deuteronomy 32:31].
Certainly one can draw applications from this, lifting it up to spiritual realities, but the figure remains, the types and shadows were in the outward, the letter, the stone. But Jesus taught, "GOD is a SPIRIT" [John 4:24], "and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."
Jesus knew their mentality, and their stony nature, so He used the same metaphor to teach them, saying, "Whosoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever IT shall fall, IT will grind him to powder:" [Matthew 21:44]. If you are in the stone age, I'll deal with you as stones, and the GREAT STONE will fall on you, and utterly diminish you. Ah, yes, we know there is a precious message here for us, we thrill to the fact that we can fall upon Him, and be broken, and sharing His cross come into His life, but the illustration remains-- the terminology is of stones.
But after Pentecost, and Peter's infilling with the Spirit, we see it all lifted ever higher. Now we come "As unto A LIVING STONE, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as LIVELY STONES, are built up a SPIRITUAL HOUSE, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." [1 Peter 2:4-5].
The stones have COME ALIVE, and as soon as they are filled with HIS LIFE we will drop the term stones, and talk about being a SPIRITUAL HOUSE, and we will offer up SPIRITUAL sacrifices. For everything is being called to the higher dimensions, to be not of the letter, but of the Spirit.
Concerning the new, we read, "No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish." [Luke 5:37 -38]. Then verse 39 from Phillips, "Of course, nobody who has been drinking old wine will want the new at once, He is sure to say, The old is good sound wine."
How often we have heard it, "Stay with the familiar." The fact that it does not satisfy, never did get the job done, etc. is ignored. Perhaps, we can alter it just a little and do better. So they cling to the old, prop and bolster it up, and try to carry on with it, seemingly unaware that it has long ago gone into senility, and is ready to vanish away.
But even more distressful is when one comes along with a touch of the new and tries to mix it with the old-- it only causes a severe rent, and both are marred in the happening. Those who insist on retaining the letter will never be able to fully embrace the new of the Spirit-- not until God has let them go down into absolute failure with it, and death, and then HE can raise them up to walk in the newness of His life. And for those believers who have heard the call for the new, and responded to walk in His life of the Spirit, let them be careful how they try to sew it back into the old garment, they will only cause the rent to become greater, and endure much extra suffering themselves.
"Therefore leaving the principles (rudiments, first steps) of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection...and this will we do, if God permit." [Hebrews 6:1,3].
For sure, God still controls the speed of our progression. You cannot walk any farther than He has given the revelation, light upon your pathway. Perhaps this is one of the biggest challenges in our development. When you know that the Spirit has brought you to the edge of new dimensions of glory and revelation, and leaves you standing at the gate, unable to go on, because HE has not yet revealed the next step. Man will immediately want to revitalize the old letter, and somehow try to fulfill the vision with his own works. And because they have not a God-given vision, but one of their own making, it only adds to their confusion. Only the God who imparts the revelation can fulfill it in us, for HE is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith. If the vision "tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come." [Habakkuk 2:3].
The time element for our change remains a big question mark. "Prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." [1 Peter 1:10-11].
They PROPHESIED OF THE GRACE-- and the Christ who would bring forth the ministration of that grace. But they knew not the time for its coming, and little did they know that the promise would be PUT ON HOLD for four thousand years, but not forgotten!
"The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of FAITH are blessed with faithful Abraham." [Galatians 3:8-9].
What a marvelous glimpse into the GOSPEL-- of the grace that should come. Four hundred and thirty years later, after this promise to Abraham, the law came on the scene. "Imposed on them until the time of reformation." [Hebrews 9:10]. Reformation-- Greek, "diorthosis," to straighten thoroughly, to make thoroughly right. Until the time for this change from the old into the new, there has remained this IMPOSITION of the ministration of the law, with all of its carnal ordinances.
"God's purpose therefore is plain: that the blessing promised to Abraham might reach the nations through Christ Jesus, and the promise of the Spirit might become ours by faith." [Galatians 3:11-12, Phillips].
How long we have waited for the promise to REACH THE NATIONS, yes, and even that the promise of the Spirit might be ours BY FAITH. We are yet in a transition, going from Sinai to Zion. Thank God the high procession is daily ascending, and we are drawing nearer-- "for now is our salvation nearer than when we (first) believed." [Romans 13:11].
It is a fact, the law which eventually was imposed upon man, did not change the original contract, the promise given to Abraham. "For if the receiving of the promised blessing were now made to depend on the Law, that would amount to a cancellation of the original contract which God made with Abraham as a promise." [Galatians 3:18, Phillips].
"Wherefore then serveth the law? it was added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made... and it was ordained by angels in the hands of a mediator." [verse 19].
Then Phillips reads on, "The very fact that there was an intermediary is enough to show that this was not the fulfilling of the promise. For the promise of God needs neither angelic witness nor human intermediary but depends on Him alone."
Praise God for such a revelation of truth! The fulfillment of the promise for the establishment of the kingdom of God in every man is not dependant upon angelic intervention, nor human intermediary, for it is by GOD ALONE, and He hath promised, "I WILL pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh." [Joel , 2:28], His Spirit will accomplish that which He poured it out to do! "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth." [John 16:13]. "The anointing which ye have received OF HIM abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach, you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him," [1 John 2:27].
So what does He want us to do? First of all, to cease from .our own works, and enter into His rest. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." [John 6:29]. It all becomes ours BY FAITH! And that very faith is the gift of God to us. We cannot believe for it any faster than He imparts the revelation of the promise, and the faith for our believing into its fulfillment. Thus it remains GOD ALL THE WAY, working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
The law, with all of its ministration of works, was not a contradiction of the promise, for had it produced righteousness, it would have been in full harmony with the purpose of the promise, but it could not produce, for it is NOT OF THE LETTER, but by the Spirit. The creature starts nothing, continues nothing, finishes nothing!
But the glory of the new covenant is that God makes promise both for Himself, and for us, saying, "I WILL be their God, and THEY SHALL be My people." [2 Corinthians 6:16]. HE is the Fulfiller of the promise, and HE dwells within us by His Spirit, to live out the reality of the promise. Only Christ can live out the Christ-life, No wonder HE is the administrator of the new covenant. He hath called us to live and walk by His Spirit, for in doing so we shall fulfill all the righteousness of the law, and with the glorious liberty and freedom which only HE can impart. Precious are these in working changes, as we are "changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD. " [2 Corinthians 3:18].
Sustained by the life of the Spirit,
The flesh can never avail,
Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Is one that shall never fail.
It's no more to walk by the letter,
Or carnal dogmas of men,
The stone age surely is ending,
The outward-- written by pen.
Far too long we lived by the letter,
Too long we threw men our stones,
To castigate every man's failure,
To bruise and batter their bones.
But God gives a new ministration,
The Spirit controlling within,
His laws have now become inward,
Ending allegiance to sin.
To walk by the Spirit brings freedom
From condemnation's dread snare,
The guilt and shame He abolished,
His righteousness He doth share.
Thank God for the life of His Spirit,
Abundant-- never to end,
The former things vanish completely,
Redemption's glories transcend.