The Law Of The Spirit Of Life
The apostle had just told the Romans that their service to God should no longer be “in the oldness of the letter,” but in “newness of spirit” (Rom. 7:6), and declared, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” He also declares that “the Spirit is life” (8:10) . Hence the person who has the Spirit is quickened and made alive unto God; has spiritual life.
Not only so, but he also speaks of “the law of the Spirit of life.” We suppose that this means that the Spirit operates according to a certain law; that spiritual life is subject to certain spiritual laws, or rules. We are told that law is “a rule of being or of conduct established by an authority able to enforce its will. The rule according to which things proceed.” It is well to understand that God does not do things in a haphazard way in the realm of the spiritual any more than He does in the material universe; that in the spiritual as in the natural, He operates according to certain established laws, so it is not so much a question as to what God could do, but rather what He does do. Doubtless there are many things God could do, if it were simply a question of power that He does not do, simply because it is not in accord with His plan.
When once we can ascertain “the rule according to which things proceed” in a given matter, we can speak with confidence and assurance, seeing that with Him there “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Hence we declare that if God accomplished the work of entire sanctification in one person at the time of regeneration He evidently does this in all whom He regenerates; for with Him there is no partiality. But if it can be shown, by the word of God, that men have not been entirely sanctified co-etaneous with their regeneration, then we are safe in concluding that such is not “the rule according to which things proceed” in the spiritual realm; and that, therefore, they who make such claims are mistaken. For if we allow that there is a divergence from this rule we would be under the necessity of believing that God has no regard for the laws He has Himself instituted, and that He must not only show a disregard for “THE LAW of the spirit of life,” but evidently must be partial, as well as haphazard in His dealings with His children.
We think it is not difficult to prove by the scripture that the apostles, nor the Galatians, nor the Ephesians, nor the Thessalonians, nor the Corinthians — with many others — were not sanctified when converted; but, as believers, were urged on to this experience and prayed for, and in at least some instances, obtained this experience subsequent to their regeneration. It would be absurd to urge them on to that, and pray for that which they already possessed.
Of the Corinthians, Paul said, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ” (1:4). He says to them in the third chapter, “Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” “All things are yours . . . and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” He addresses them as “brethren,” and as “babes in Christ” and speaks of having fed them with “milk,” thus indicating that they were born and had spiritual life, but after this he tells them most emphatically, “Ye are yet carnal.” So it is evident that the Corinthians were not sanctified wholly at the time of their regeneration.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, we note that the entire first chapter is an acknowledgment and commendation of their spiritual experience, even saying they were “examples to all that believe,” and that their “faith to Godward is spread abroad; so that we need not speak anything;” he then proceeds to tell them in the fourth chapter, “This is the will of God even your sanctification.” In the fifth chapter and fifth verse he declares, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day,” and concludes his letter with the prayer, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly,” and gives the assurance, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” So it is evident they were not sanctified when regenerated, or the apostle would not have subsequently urged it upon them, nor prayed that they might yet receive that experience. We must then conclude that sanctification, according to “the law of the spirit of life” is an experience subsequent to regeneration.
The Spirit and the Word always agree. The Word of God is always “the rule according to which things proceed” when wrought out by the Spirit.
When we speak of law, or think of law, we do not refer to something that is variable, nor optional, but to something that is unalterable and obligatory — if not compulsory. And the failure to conform to law incurs guilt and penalty.
In order to live, in the physical world, there must be the observance of certain laws of life, known as the laws of nature, and the laws of health, the failure to observe these laws of life invariably brings one under another law, namely, the law of death. It is precisely so in the spiritual world. The apostle testifies, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” By this we see that there is such a thing as deliverance and freedom not only from guilt and sinning, but from “the law of sin,” which he said in the preceding chapter, was in his “members,” and brought him into “captivity” (7:23).
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum:”
1. To belong to Christ, we must have the Spirit. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.”
2. He that has the Spirit of Christ has spiritual life. “The Spirit is life.”
3. He that now has spiritual life must observe “the law of the Spirit of life.” “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
4. That they who are “led by the Spirit” — that is, follow on and observe “the law of the spirit of life,” will find a deliverance from the “law of sin” which is in their “members.”
5. That this deliverance is an experience subsequent to the quickening of the Spirit, or the impartation of spiritual life.
6. That this experience brings freedom from that inward condition that brought us into captivity, and is the divine rule according to which things proceed.”
Praise the Lord!
We mean to say that the foregoing is a fixed rule designated as “the law of the Spirit of life,” and that all who truly obtain the experience of entire sanctification obtain it according to this law; and, therefore, conclude that every other claim or teaching is erroneous. That they who claim they were sanctified at the time of their conversion, or expect to attain it by growth, or by death, or whatever the theory, are wholly unscriptural, and out of harmony with “the law of the Spirit of life.”