Christian Life, True Spirituality, Conclusion.........

When we explore the term, or concept of true spirituality, the Christian life, is even way beyond what is normative in all other spirituality circles . So far we have moved from the concept of a small, limited list of things to the whole Ten Commandments and the whole Law of Love. And then we have moved from the external to the internal. But in both of these cases we have dealt largely with that which is negative. But true spirituality, the Christian life, is deeper than even a profound concept of a proper negative. True spirituality, the true Christian life, is finally positive. We have touched on this in “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). But let us now especially emphasize that true spirituality, that true Christian life, is not even simply the proper negative in the deepest realms of our being. There is a biblical negative and then a positive.

As this study goes on, we shall deal more extensively with the following passages, but let us look at them quickly at this stage. Romans 6:4 is a biblical negative (and the tenses I read are the tenses as they are in Greek rather than the way they are translated in our King James translation): “Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death.” This is a negative.Wewere buried with him by baptism into death. We find the same thing in the first part of the sixth verse: “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him.” When I accepted Christ as Savior, when God as Judge declared me justified, these things became legally true. My call in the Christian life is to see them become true in my life in practice. In Galatians 2:20 we find the same thing with a negative emphasis: “I have been crucified with Christ.”

These negatives must never be overlooked, either in justification or the Christian life, or we will not be able to understand the following positives. In Galatians 6:14 we have this word: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [or whereby] the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” This is a tremendously strong negative. And this is not to be just a theoretical proposition; it is to be (as we shall see later) practiced, by the grace of God. There is a place, therefore, for a true biblical negative. But now let us go on and notice that the Christian life, true spirituality, does not stop with this negative. There is a positive.

So in Galatians 2:20 again, “I am crucified with Christ.” Then there comes a break in the verse. In my own Bible I have marked it with two little lines, so that the break would be strongly apparent to me, even in a quick reading: “I have been crucified with Christ: [break] nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” So although there is a negative, it swept over into a positive, and to stop at the negative is to miss the whole point. The true Christian life is not an external life, or thought-life, of basic negatives; it is not hating life, in the way that we are apt to do when we get into despondency or other psychological problems. The Christian negative is not a nihilist negative—there is a true biblical negative—but the Christian life does not stop with a negative. There is a true life in the present as well as in the future.

In the book of Romans we feel the same force (6:4): “Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” This is the way it should be read: that “we may walk in newness of life.” This is it; there is a positive. There is a possibility of walking in newness of life in the present life, right now, between the new birth and our death, or the second coming of Jesus. In Romans 6:6 it is the same: “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” So we died with Christ, but we rose with Christ. That is the emphasis. Christ’s death is a historic fact in the past, and we will be raised from the dead in future history, but there is to be a positive exhibition in present history, now, before our future resurrection. As an illustration, we read the negative in Galatians 5:15: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another.” He is talking of Christians. This is a negative. But there is a positive (verse 14): “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And there is also a positive in verses 22 and 23 of the same chapter: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” So the context leads us from the negative to the positive in our considerations of the Christian life.

In summary then, of this chapter, which is an introduction to all that follows:

1. The true Christian life, true spirituality, does not just mean that we
have been born again. It must begin there, but it means much more
than that. It does not mean only that we are going to be in heaven.
It does mean that, but it means much more than that. The true
Christian life, true spirituality in the present life, means more than
being justified and knowing that I am going to heaven.
2. It is not just a desire to get rid of taboos in order to live an easier and
a looser life. Our desire must be for a deeper life. And when I begin
to think of this, the Bible presents to me the whole of the Ten Commandments
and the whole of the Law of Love.
3. True spirituality, the true Christian life, is not just outward, but it
is inward—it is not to covet against God and men.
4. But it is even more than this: it is positive—positive in inward reality,
and then positive in outward results. The inward thing is to be
positive and not just negative; and then sweeping out of the inward
positive reality, there is to be a positive manifestation externally. It
is not just that we are dead to certain things, but we are to love God,
we are to be alive to him, we are to be in communion with him, in
this present moment of history. And we are to love men, to be alive to
men as men, and to be in communication on a true personal level
with men, in this present moment of history.

When I speak of the Christian life, or freedom from the bonds of sin, or of true spirituality, the four points listed above are what the Bible says we should mean, and anything less than this is trifling with God—trifling with him who created the world, and trifling also with him who died on the cross. This is what we are to have in mind when we begin such a study; otherwise, there is no use even beginning to talk about experiential freedom from the bonds of sin or about an experiential reality of the Christian life, of true spirituality. If this is not in our minds, at least in some poor comprehension and at least in some poor aspiration, we might as well stop. Anything else is trifling with God, and because it is trifling with God, it is sin.
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1 Response May 23, 2012