The question of the hour is this: Why are most mature Christians not yet living in accordance with the Holy Spirit as the first century Christians did, miraculously healing and delivering the diseased and troubled souls with whom we interact in Jesus’ name?
Here is a humorous hint: as Watchman Nee mused, we know that all men are sinners, so each of us concedes that we are a sinner also; the problem is, we believe we are not as bad a sinner as most others! As we chuckle, we see the answer to the question: self-righteousness, that is, pride, keeps us bound by the law of sin and death instead of enjoying the glorious freedom and eternal life that our Lord procured for us. We know that in Christ we are justified before God, but yet we foolishly try to please God, erroneously believing that we have some inherent righteousness of our own, and forgetting that God is pleased already, for we have the righteousness of Christ!
This is an important message of the great seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans: the law was given to completely expose our sin. To those around us? No, they already know it! To God? (Sorry – we don’t even have to ask that!) The law was given so that the wretchedness of our own sin may be fully exposed to each of us, so that we may receive deliverance from the law through Jesus Christ! As Paul explained, I would not have known what sin was except through the law. …what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Romans 7:7b, 15b). The law humbles us so that we may repent and receive deliverance from self-righteous works through Christ (see Isaiah 2:12; James 4:6; 1Peter 5:5). God must bring each of us through straights (embarrassments) in order that we realize how utterly unable to please God our natural self truly is. The Way is narrow – there is no room for the old self. Christ alone is the Way, and, praise God, He has already made us one with Him through Christ! In Christ we are already the righteousness of God – we do not need to try to attain it (as if we could)!
The purpose of the law is to completely unveil our sin to us, that we may realize our utter inability to obey/please God of ourselves – of ourselves we can do nothing (John 5:30, 15:5). The law was given to bring us to the point where we can cry out with Paul I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out…. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law…. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7:18, 21-22, 24) Praise God, Romans 7 teaches us that our Lord Jesus Christ saves and delivers us from the law as well as from the sinful nature!
Dear brother or sister in Christ, in love I now ask you a question even more important than the first: Have you realized the futility of your old (already crucified!) self yet? Prayer, Bible study, and serving one another are absolutely essential, but do you realize that they are not means by which either of us can please God or attain sanctification? Paul admonished the churches in the region of Galatia for attempting to do so: Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal [sanctification] by human effort? (Gal. 3:3)
Christ alone is our righteousness! He alone is the Way of sanctification! May God pour forth the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in order that all members of the glorious Body of Christ apprehend this truth at this crucial moment in time! The flesh counts for nothing (John 6:63) – we are to put no confidence in it (Phil. 3:3).
It is as you and I realize and confess our utter inability to please/obey God of our old, already crucified selves that we are released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit. …through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set [us] free from the law of sin and death (Romans 7:6; 8:2). Only then will we cease from prideful works, enter into His rest, and live fully in accordance with the Spirit, with whom our new self is united!
Christ will then manifest through us, the members of His glorious Body, just as He did through the members of the first century Church. Those for whom we travail in prayer will behold Him and receive His salvation. Hallelujah!
Released from the law to serve fully in accordance with the Spirit with you, your sister deanna