The LAW OF THE SPIRIT
This dispensation is pre-eminently the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. In other ages God had other laws which His people had to observe in order to find out His will and to please Him.
The people for the most part had to find out the mind of God through mediums, and God seems to have communicated through these mediums to the common people. God talked with the leaders of the children of Israel; with the Judges, the Priests and the Prophets, and through them to the people, and in this way they got to know God’s will; “But it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on My servants and on Mine handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” Now these days are upon us, and God challenges each one of us “To talk to Him face to face as a man talks with his friend.”
The law of the Spirit is direct individual contact with God the Spirit. There are no more priests except it is every man being a priest in his own household, and all followers of Jesus being Kings and Priests unto God. There is no need now for Urirn and Thummirn, as conductors of the Spirit of God to the mind of the Priest, and through him to the people.
Jesus said, quoting from Isaiah: “It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God.” Paul states in Hebrews, “For the law made nothing perfect, and the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God” “But now He (Jesus) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah : . . . . for this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts : and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest.” ” In that He saith a new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
Here we see that the old dispensation of getting the mind of God through other human beings, is no longer a necessity. Each person has the privilege of direct access to God, through the Spirit, and of getting the mind of God upon all life’s problems. Blessed as was the lot of those who sojourned with Jesus while in the flesh; unspeakable as their privilege was to listen to His matchless words, and dwell amid the glory of His sacred presence, yet their condition was vastly inferior to a man living under the law of the Spirit, and having constant, unbroken, individual contact and communion with God.
Jesus taught this to His disciples, most emphatically. He told them His stay with them was transient, that in fact it was necessary for Him to go away, for said He, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send Him unto you.” He was to be with them in the flesh only for a short time, but the Son, through the eternal Spirit, abideth for ever. As Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”
The Holy Spirit is the constant guest of the faithful soul. Feelings and emotions are as variable as the wind, as fleeting as a summer cloud, as transient as the morning dew; friends come and friends go; outward circumstances are often an unknown quantity, but the blessed Holy Spirit abides for ever, and is a satisfying portion. Jesus in the person of the Holy Spirit is ” The Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
“Earthly friends may fail and leave us, One day soothe, the next day grieve us, But this Friend will never leave us, Oh, how he loves?”
Then again, Jesus could not while in the flesh, teach those who listened to His words, as much or as well as He can teach us by His Spirit. Those who are under the direct control of the Spirit, recognizing Him as the supreme law of life, are taught of God grander lessons, and in a shorter time than Jesus could teach his disciples while He was with them. I am not called upon to explain the philosophy of this, nor do I pretend to understand it; I simply give you the words of Jesus and I personally bow to them in implicit faith. After telling them all, and in fact more than, their minds could fully grasp; He said; “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you.”
Jesus could not teach them, try as He would, the spiritual nature of His Kingdom. He was three years trying to enlighten them, but up to the very last they did not understand Him. Hear the pathetic speech of the two whom Jesus overtook while they were on the road to Emmaus, on the day of His resurrection: ” But we trusted (say they) that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel”; and they talk like bitterly disappointed men as they were. Jesus retorted on them. “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” as He opened up the Scriptures to them.
There was something so mysterious about the work and mission of Jesus that no man, it seems, could understand it by a natural process. The Scriptures about the Christ, looked to be so paradoxical, that the natural man could not understand them. But God taught the disciples more in one hour, when the Spirit was given to them in Pentecostal fullness, than they had learned during the three years of the ministry of Jesus. And so it is to-day; there are truths so subtle that they cannot be grasped with words, they are literally “Unspeakable and full of glory”; human language cannot convey them from the soul that knows them, to the soul that knows them not. A man must come in contact with God direct, and commune with Him; must learn the voice of the Spirit, in order to learn ultimate spiritual truth. Spiritual blindness and ignorance, are laws of sin and death, that we can only be freed from by “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”
The law of the Spirit implies being indwelt of the Spirit. Paul puts this clearly: “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” The Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart of the believer is the explanation of a great many of the Bible figures of speech that cannot otherwise be explained.
Jesus said to the woman at the well in Samaria, that, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” And, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water,” and the sacred writer adds, “But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”
These two wonderful promises of Jesus clearly indicate a perpetual, conscious experience of joy and satisfaction for the believer. The source of the joy being within himself; but not of himself, and yet proceeding out of himself. A state of constant satisfaction and rest of soul. From these promises of the Master it seems to be the privilege of Christian, not to be dependent upon anything outside of himself for happiness. He is independent of circumstances and fears neither adversity nor prosperity, courting neither the frowns nor the smiles of his associates; a truly blessed man morning, noon and night, each day of the year. If you will think calmly, you will see that my interpretation of these words of the Savior are underdrawn rather than overdrawn. Now do not, I pray you, bring down the standard to your own experience, but take the plain and sober meaning of Christ’s words.
And now I will state that no mans experience can come up to this standard, who is not consciously indwelt of the Holy Spirit. In saying this, I do not unchristianize those whose experience do not come up to this wonderful provision. Far be this from me; I simply call attention to the great salvation which has been provided for all of us; “For the promise is unto you and unto your children, and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call.” No blessing, or grace, or emotion, no zeal, no watching, no fasting or prayer, no faithfulness showever scrupulous, can bring such heartfelt satisfaction and perennial peace; this is an experience that can only be received by accepting the Holy Spirit; and can only be RETAINED by recognizing Him as literally dwelling in our hearts. We receive Him by faith, and faith is just believing the words of Jesus and acting them out; but the faith is turned into actual realization when the blessed Comforter Divine comes in to make His abode in our heart.
Do not let the thought bother you, in the way it has me; as to how the great God the Spirit can actually dwell in your body. Solomon however seems to have been solving the same problem in that wonderful prayer at the dedication of the Temple. He says, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; much less this house that I have builded.” And yet we know, that God did dwell in that Temple even though He filled immensity at the same time. That is He revealed himself there, and manifested His power and glory, so that all the people felt the glory of the Lord in the house of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is God and is everywhere present; He dwells in the heavens, He stands upon the earth. He broods over the face of the great deep. His presence permeates all space, and impregnates all there is of matter and of mind; there is no getting away from God; “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” ” Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.”
So that actually the Lord the Spirit is as much in a sinner’s heart as He is anywhere, but the sinner does not want Him there, and will not have Him there so far as his consciousness is concerned. And it goes without saying that the Holy Ghost is in every Christian’s heart; but He does not manifest Himself and display His glory, only where He is clearly recognized and honored. Practically the Holy Spirit as Comforter, as Teacher, as Guide, dwells only in the heart of those who consciously entertain Him. Hence one of the laws of the Spirit is that, the Christian must believe himself indwelt of God, in order to get the full benefit of ” The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.”
Receiving the Holy Spirit by faith, to come into one’s heart and make His abode there, is just as much a practical fact, as though the blessed Spirit were actually away from us, and came to us in answer to our prayers. Hence for the Christian to recognize the Holy Spirit as his indweller, is equivalent to being baptized with the Holy Spirit in a Pentecostal sense.
The law of the Spirit includes complete guidance in all things. Under other dispensations, some things were secular and some were sacred, but under this dispensation, to the Christian man there is nothing secular. We are exhorted to do our eating and drinking to the glory of God, and to glorify Him in our bodies and spirits which are His. To the man of God everything is worship.
Swinging the sledge, driving the saw, holding the plow, selling goods over the counter, buying and selling, are all acts of worship, and all go up to God as a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savor.
Life is such a sacred thing, that no man has wisdom enough to perform its holy functions without God’s guidance. Life is a pathway that we travel over only once, hence we need guidance. We know not a single step of the way. The past is gone and cannot be recalled, the future is known to God alone; all we can control and that only partially, is the single step we are now taking. We cannot see a foot ahead of us; it is all a blank, and impenetrable. We do not know what a day or an hour may bring forth. We do not know what effect the decision of today will have upon the future of our lives, and we are wholly dependent upon God.
It is true that we can in some measure judge the future by the past; but the past is no certain, criterion of what the future will be. New circumstances, new problems, new emergencies are constantly arising; events that never happened before to us or any one else, and may never happen again, are frequently transpiring. Now if God requires of us at all times, to do the right thing, and He clearly does; then we certainly need His guiding eye in all the events of life.
There are times in our history when we have to make decisions that will affect the entire future of our lives. We use the reason God has given us, we look into all the circumstances, we make full and complete inquiry, and sometimes we know as little about what is best to be done, at the close of our investigation, as when we began. But the time has come to decide; the supreme moment has arrived; YES, or No, must be said; we must take the road to the right or the road to the left; necessity is upon us and the decision must come.
Now the question is, “Can a man so decide, that he may know when the decision is made that it has been made right? Dare he walk in confidence over the new road, feeling he is on the right track, and with head erect and heart and nerve steady, pursue the way with all the assurance of a man who is certain of the steps he is taking? Or must he constantly feel that perhaps he has made a mistake?”
If a Christian man under such circumstances, may not know with certainty that he is right, then life is certainly a lottery, to the best of us, and God has left us as orphans and wanderers to grope our way in the dark as best we may, and we are indeed under ” A law of sin and death.” But if a man may know he is right; and realize that he is Divinely called to the sphere he is now in, then doubtless God supplies our needs, and His fatherly care is equal to all the emergencies of life.
Yes, says one, I believe that God directs in the great things of life and in all spiritual matters, but He has given us our common sense to guide us in all the little and trivial things.
If you will reason a little deeper, my brother, you will see that we need Divine Guidance just as much in the so-called little things, as we do in what we regard more important matters. If guidance is needed at all, it is needed always, and all around the circle of life. I have only to mention it, to make it clear to our minds that the most momentous events often result from very small and insignificant causes. It was the fall of an apple through which gravitation was discovered, and the lid of a kettle lifting first suggested the mighty power of steam.
It was only a little pebble on the track that wrecked the express train, and hurled scores to death; it was only a slight cold, which resulted in consumption, and the wife was left a widow and the children fatherless.
It seemed purely an accidental meeting which introduced you to the woman who became your wife. It was a most annoying thing that the train steamed out of the station, just as you got there and you were left behind; but you were horror-stricken an hour afterwards when you learned that the train you were going on had been wrecked and nearly all on board killed. But why give more illustrations of the truth I am teaching, when it must be so plain to everybody? The terms great and small, as applied to human actions are not absolute, they are only relative; for what we call small God often calls great; and what we all great is often of small moment to Him who sees the end from the beginning.
Certainly we need Divine guidance in all things, and all our hearts breathe the prayer,
“Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah!
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou are mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.”
We all desire Divine guidance. The burden of our prayers in the morning is to be guided during the day, and at night we pray in reality, if not in fact;
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”
In all things the Christian feels his ignorance and weakness, and constantly prays to God for guidance.
Are all these prayers vain? Are our devout aspirations after God as the Guide of our pilgrim feet, only inspired in us to mock us? Has God made provision to take us to Heaven and left us to grope our way thither in the dark as best we may? Nay verily: the guidance that we need, and that our hearts long after, is ours to enjoy; and we may be just as sure we are right in the daily affairs of life, as we are that” God is God and that right is right.”
“The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice,” and He causeth “ALL THINGS to work together for good to them that love Him.”
One of the chief offices of the Holy Spirit is, that of Guide for His people. Jesus said, “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all truth.” And John states, “But 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.”
On the one hand Jesus promises the Holy Spirit as the Teacher and Guide of His people, and on the other hand John many years after the Spirit had been given, emphatically declares that the Holy Spirit taught them all things, and taught them the truth and no lie, and that this Divine Teacher should abide in them.
It seems unnecessary to follow out the scriptural proof at any greater length, but this doctrine of the Spirit’s guidance is as clearly taught in the Bible as the doctrine of justification by faith. Certainly it is the birthright of all believers, and it is just what a man needs to make him well-pleasing to God, and his life satisfactory to himself.