Words of Wisdom and Revelation # 17
Life In The Spirit # 1
Read Matthew 3:16; 4:1-3; 4:8-10; 6:13; Romans 8:14; Acts 2:2-4
In the first of these passages we see the link between the Holy Spirit and sonship: the Spirit is seen lighting upon the Lord Jesus and a voice out of the heavens is heard saying, "This is My beloved Son." That truth is taken up again in the passage in the Letter to the Romans, chapter 8:14, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." In the second passage, Matthew 4, the Son, under the government of the Spirit, is led into the wilderness, and the issue of that particular leading of the Spirit was a mighty victory for the rights of God.
"Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth Him," as Luke adds, "for a season." That is the end of that battle and it is victory in the hands of the Son under the government of the Spirit.
What I feel the Lord wants us to recognize at this time is what a life or church that is led and governed by the Holy Spirit does; what it means to be led and governed by the Holy Spirit so far as we personally and collectively are concerned: in other words, what are the marks of sonship. You see, beloved, we have to begin here, that sonship is proved by our being led by the Spirit. How do we know that we are sons: what is it that evidences sonship: in what way does sonship manifest itself and work itself out? The clear, precise statement of the Word of God is that it is by our being "led of the Spirit." It was so in the case of the Lord Jesus. The marks of His Sonship were in His being led of the Spirit. The statement moreover is quite positive in Romans 8:14. How tremendously important it is, therefore, that we both have the Spirit and are governed by the Spirit. That is fundamental to everything.
I venture to say that if that which I feel the Lord wants to bring to us now could be truly got over to us, it would be a matter of tremendous value to every one of us. Let me repeat, the basis, the foundation of everything so far as our relationship with God and with God's purpose is concerned, is the presence and the government of the Holy Spirit and that government, of course, means and presupposes the absolute Lordship of the Holy Spirit: because the Holy Spirit does not come save on the ground of death, burial and resurrection. It was when Jesus was baptized and came upon Him;and baptism, as we all well know, sets forth in testimony the fact that, so far as any other government is concerned, be it the government of satan, or that of the world, or be it the government of the self-life, that government is broken and we are out of it; and our resurrection, typified in our coming up out of the baptism, means that we are alive, and alive unto God only. Thus the ground is provided for the Spirit to come in as Lord, and so becomes the basis of everything in our relationship with God and God's purpose. The thing that I feel we want to recognize is what that really means.
A Principle of Spiritual Guidance
There are a great many questions which arise, and which we are often asked. They sometimes seem to be theoretical questions, technical questions about the Christian life. Now, we may seek to help one another by giving what we might call a technical answer, an answer, for example, from the Scriptures on some passage or some interpretation. But I am always doubtful as to the real helpfulness of that kind of answer. I think, beloved, there is an answer which goes deeper and which is much more satisfactory.
I have recently been asked a question, and I will answer it publicly so that what help there may be in the answer will be afforded to others. The question turned upon the difficulty over the difference between soul and spirit, and the place which the soul is going to have in the future life. Is it going to have any place at all or is it going to cease? Now you know I might answer a question like that with passages of Scripture, but I do not think that would be the most helpful way, because it would probably only raise more questions. But I am going to answer it in this way, because, although we are not dealing now with the matter of soul and spirit, I am seeking to get at a principle of guidance, a principle of spiritual guidance, the law of sonship.
I would ask you, What is your experience as a child of God in the matter of soul and spirit? Perhaps those words are too technical. Let me put it more simply. What is your experience with regard to that side of your life which is directly in touch with the Lord (in the measure in which you have a conscious life in the Lord: I think every child of God ought to have some little measure of a conscious life with the Lord), and that other side of your life which you know to be yourself - not the Lord, but yourself, your natural life; your spiritual life on the one side, and your natural life on the other. Now when, as a child of God, you take just a little excursion into that region which is your natural life, what is the result? It may happen through a slip, a momentary breakdown, an indulgence - "overtaken in a fault" is how the Apostle expresses it - anything which means that, just at that moment, you drop down into the natural life, or the natural life rises up and gets the advantage for the moment, asserts itself and becomes the dominating thing. What is the effect of that upon you? If you are a true child of God and are really seeking to live with the Lord, you have a terribly bad time, and it is not just a matter of your conscience in the same way as any man might have a twinge of conscience. You know that there are other factors in this, that of the Lord being grieved, of something between yourself and the Lord having been damaged. It is something much more than just conscience. You have a bad time and you react, you rebound, you are stung by that, and you make haste to get back on to the other side. You seek to recover your spiritual ground as soon as you can, with considerable regret and remorse and repentance. What has happened? Well, you have come out of your spirit in its union with God into your soul. You have learned a lesson. You take account of this thing and you say, "How was it that I slipped up there? Why was it, what accounts for that? I will prayerfully watch that in the future. I know now what that means.
(continued with # 17 - 2