The need to cling to even a smidgeon of self-validation prevents some Believers living in the Spirit. Some Believers are unable embrace Romans 8 because it abolishes what they imagine is their personal dignity in earning some aspect of their salvation. So they stick with a version of self-vindication that is actually some version of the law and the tenets of the knowledge of good and evil. Thus they are encased in the lie in which we have been seduced into thinking there is something we must add to ourselves to be like God or be worthy of God.
In Christ we are not sinners by identity because we have a new identity as sons of God. In the law we remain sinners, stuck in the identity of sinners who constantly attempt to manipulate the law in order to construct a ‘worthy self’ and make us look better than we are and so to escape God’s judgement. But in doing so we judge ourselves and insulate ourselves from the grace of Christ our life, who is our grace and our transformation into His own image.
DON’T LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND
A versioZn of the new birth in which we live from sin-consciousness attempting to be an overcomer is the inheritance left in the ground with the charge that Jesus is a hard man, reaping where He did not sow. But’ that is exactly what Christ our life is – we are remade in His image because we agree with Him that He is our life and our righteousness. This is life in the Spirit with the mind of Christ. It’s not rational-legal but it has eternal substance where the law has none.
The law-worker assures herself and others that she belongs on account of some adherence or performance that earns her entitlement in the eyes of God. But in doing this the worker implies - whether she realises it or not - that those who have not purchased this ‘entitlement’ which is a fragment of the law, are excluded from belonging in Christ.
A law outlook focusses attention on the self, making us obsess over sins and sins consciousness or clutch at iconic denominational righteousnesses when our inheritance is to obsess over Christ as our life so that His life is our life in spirit and truth – which means in actuality and unfolding adventure.
Paul writes, ‘You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you’ Rom 8.9-11 NIV.
This life in the present that is the Spirit of Christ in us is the spirit of life that will eventually manifest in us as eternal life. This life is creative, it is re-creative. It is the life of Christ in you that is transforming you into His image.
Others have difficulty in accepting that Christ in them, Christ come in their flesh, replaces the regulations and stipulations of the law because their faith is in the letter, that they can see. The letter has limitations and we can persuade ourselves that we are being righteous by living a list – which is almost always selective, sufficing as a self-made form of grace. But written down and marks on paper as it is – it lacks substance and is a vapour when compared to Christ your life which is Christ as you. This gospel just is and it is the Spirit come in our flesh.
In his commentary on Romans, Karl Barth observes that, “The Gospel does not expound or recommend itself. It does not negotiate or plead, threaten, or make promises, it withdraws itself always when it is not listened to for its own sake…The Gospel of salvation can only be believed in; it is a matter for faith only. It demands choice. This is its seriousness. To him that is not sufficiently mature to accept a contradiction and to rest in it, it becomes a scandal—to him that is unable to escape the necessity of contradiction.”
Holy Spirit will come with gifts, manifestations and power out of grace and love. But Holy Spirit lives to manifest Christ and draw us to Christ. If our gospel is not Christ’s Gospel but some aberration that depletes the power of the cross re-instating Adam, Moses and the law - Holy Spirit will withdraw and leave us to our own formulations until we are astute enough to realise that Holy Spirit will not continue to anoint an aberration that binds believers in degrees of Adam’s non-life. Holy Spirit comes to vindicate Christ our life and establish us in Christ’s Gospel of unlimited life.A