...My brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another’s, to One raised from the dead, so that we may bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin were working in our members through the law for the bearing of fruit unto death. But now we have been set free from the law, having died to that in which we were held, so as for us to serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter.
(Romans 7:4-6, LITV)
Holiness is not merely a way of living, it is the very Life of God reigning freely in a man who is given over to Him. We shall only authentically live like Christ from the inward parts to the degree that His impending Life is at last allowed to replace our own. To seek for anything less from God in light of our sins reveals the pride of life that is born of the self-deceived sinful flesh. “I am simply too weak Lord” is the inevitable cry of the man who has evidently tried to accomplish by the fleshly nature the holy Life which he himself can never live. But the proper cry of the new creature is, “Lord, you are all that I have, my very Life: as I bring nothing except what You work in me.”
For the “weakness” of God cannot even be lowered to comparison with the “strength” of man: it is a comparison of the very nature of God with the nature of that which cannot but oppose and fall short of His glory. The strength for which we must cry is not strength of ourselves, but rather the strength which is His very Life; because except for Christ, I do not even have life before God! Yes, even the new creature is not mine to operate: it is HIS vessel, meant to be operated by the power of His Spirit.
No other is able. Not I, but Christ – Christ in me.
The fear and trembling with which we work out our salvation is the sweet fear and trembling of surrender; for it is only God Himself who can work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The law of sin and death is set aside by the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus – and by no other means. And these two laws, which work in their respective subjects, were spoken of by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians…
For through law I died to law, that I might live to God.
(Galatians 2:19, LITV)
By faith’s surrender to the law of the Spirit of Life, we are released from the law of sin and death that is at work in the sinful flesh. That which causes us to walk against the will and pleasure of the Spirit may truly be done away with to continually receive the Life that is in Christ Jesus! “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
Without Christ, I lived after the flesh and was dead to God. But by faith, although still living in the flesh, I died in Him; so that my only Life may now be securely hidden with the risen Christ in God. For the righteous shall live by faith! And by a faith which has no motive except God’s own glory at every expense, we may lay hold of His Life in actual experience…
I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness is through law (that is, apart from the Spirit through faith), then Christ died without cause.
(Galatians 2:20-21, LITV)
Christ is the end of that which ministers condemnation through the fleshly attempts of outward observance: He is the very law God’s Life at work in those who keep HIS faith in themselves. The great sin of disobedience which caused the children of Israel to fall away, according to the writer of Hebrews, was unbelief. It was this bitter root of dissatisfaction with the original and unchanging promise of God by which they kept themselves from entering His rest. In other words, they judged God by what their carnal eyes saw rather than walking after the Spirit by faith which is the substance of things hoped for. Those who kept no faith in the promise instead longed again for the bondage of Egypt: rather than looking for the city of God, the heavenly kingdom, in which we now may be immersed by the Holy Spirit. For the King of glory has arrived to His people: let Him come in and reign! Is not the kingdom within His own? Are they not His temple? But when we have no trust in Christ to be our present sustainer and only strength, we shall likewise come short of entering that rest (Heb 4:1). Meanwhile, the promise of entering still stands, waiting to be reached by the steps of faith that can only be made in the very Spirit who labors graciously to that end. Let us therefore not insult Him by disallowing His rule in and over the entirety of our being.
“This is the work of God: that you believe into Him whom that One sent.” – Jesus spoke of faith as the key to the very powerful working of God. It cannot the work of a man; for the best that any man can do is revive the old man to rule over the new and so deceive himself. “You cannot serve two masters…” It is only by God that all things are possible, and this is given to those who actively believe. The key to holiness is surrender – nothing less. “It is finished” must become an ever-nearer reality in our lives, bearing the righteous fruit that can only be apprehended by unfeigned faith, trusting in God to increase in us as we ourselves decrease. All we can bring to the table is surrender on all fronts. It is finished: and by the grace of God through faith not pretended, let it continue to be finished within the purchased possession! For by blood of His covenant we are sanctified; as the the Spirit actively works even in the present moment through our faith – faith which surrenders the whole being to the refining fire of God. We take hold of Him as we let go of our own ways and things, knowing the love of God toward those who so believe Him with their lives. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.” (Heb 4:9-10) Today, let it no longer be we who live, but CHRIST!
…for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them to be trash, that I might gain Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness of law, but through the faith OF Christ, having the righteousness of God on faith: to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, having been conformed to His death, if somehow I may attain to a resurrection out of the dead. Not that I already received or already have been perfected, but I press on, if I also may lay hold, inasmuch as I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-12, LITV)