Summary: IV. YOUR NEW AND IMPROVED IMAGE FOUND IN JESUS A. The Law Of Life B. Christians Under Construction VII. CONCLUSION AND REVIEW
When we teach the subject of the Christian life, we offer the content of the life of Christ dwelling within us by the Holy Spirit. Any of the principles that I have been sharing with you regarding setting your mind on the things of Jesus, confessing His Word, and stirring up praise and thanksgiving are not to be viewed as laws.
They are principles governing the life that we received in Jesus. When a hungry child sits down at the supper table to eat, he is not being good and obeying a law. He is following the principle that if you do not eat, you will not live. It is a law of life.
Life produces spontaneously. It does not bring forth results because of effort or willpower. When Jesus walked upon this earth, His behavior, attitudes, and responses to situations were not the result of self-conscious obedience to a set of moral rules and dictates. He simply lived, spoke, acted, and responded, and His life produced the results. You may say, "But Jesus was God. He had a perfect divine life within him. He didn't worry about the Law." Of course, this is true, but the wonderful news is that this same life of Jesus dwells within us by the Holy Spirit. Think about what it means to live by this life that is within you.
A. The Law of Life.
All forms of life possess various attributes. For example, a robin flies south in the winter because such an action is an ingredient of robin-life. Obviously, the action is not motivated by a conscious decision to be a "good robin" (obeying the external code for living a responsible robin-life) but is simply a spontaneous result of life. It's a law of life. The robin is not doing the Law. Instead, the Law is "doing the robin." If you graft a branch into an apple tree, and the life of the apple tree fills the branch, it will bear apples. It is a law of Life.
Natural human life, gained from Adam, possesses various attributes. Death, sickness, emotional and mental problems, pain, worry, fear, and frustration are built in to Adam's life. Adam's life is, by nature, selfish, rebellious, proud, and disobedient. In addition, self-giving love, peace in the midst of adversity, and joy in the face of sorrow are most certainly not a part of Adam-life. Paul speaks of this reality as the "law of sin and death." Adam's life does not contain within itself the spiritual standards expressed in the divine Law any more than the life of my dog contains within itself human standards, or than a petunia bear apples. If you leave Adam-life alone and allow it to "do what comes naturally," you will have moral chaos.
1. 1 Corinthians 1:30 "It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our RIGHTEOUSNESS, HOLINESS, AND REDEMPTION."
a. The life that is in Jesus also contains numerous attributes. The life in Jesus is eternal. The concept of "eternal life" is not a future existence but is the quality of the life received in Him. Love, joy, peace, and contentment are all a part of the ingredients of Christ-life. Christ-life spontaneously fulfills the will of the Father in heaven. It contains the desire for good works. Whereas rebellion, sin, and death are built into Adam-life - obedience, righteousness, and eternal life are built into Christ-life.
b. Watchman Nee describes trusting Jesus to be our life as a giving up of our own strength and efforts and trusting the life of Christ in us to produce results. He says: "We refuse to act; we depend on Him to do so, and then we enter fully and joyfully into the action He initiates. It is not passivity; it is the most active life, trusting the Lord like that; drawing life from Him, taking Him to be our very life, letting Him live His life in us as we go forth in His Name."
c. The life of Jesus within us is productive of good works.
2. Philippians 4:13 "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ"
a. Giving up on yourself is the key to a new life, the key to finding help. Are we willing to reject ourselves if we are able to accept Jesus Christ as our alternative, as our substitute, as our life?"
B. Discovering our need.
"I am not what I ought to be, and I am not what I am going to be, but praise God, I am not what I used to be!"
a. Discovering Jesus as our life usually comes about as the result of discovering some need or lack within ourselves. As we discussed in the previous lesson, divine strength is made perfect in the midst of human weakness. Watchman Nee describes the importance of the awareness of need: "How can we know more of Christ in this way? Only by way of an increasing awareness of need. Some are afraid to discover a deficiency in themselves, and so they never grow. Growth in grace is the only sense in which we can grow, and grace, as we have said, is God doing something for us. We all have the same Christ dwelling within, but a revelation of some new need will lead us spontaneously to trust Him to live out His life in us in that particular."