It is important to distinguish life and the Spirit, as the two are quite distinct. The new life which the believer receives in Christ is not God, though of Him; but the Holy Spirit is very God. The believer’s life is a new creation, while the Holy Spirit is the Creator. It is not because we have a new life that our bodies are the temple of God, but because the Spirit dwells therein.
Hence, when believers do not properly distinguish this, it is very possible to use that life as a thing to comfort oneself with and set at ease, leading us to say, I know that I am saved, and all spiritual exercises may close there. How often souls settle down with the satisfaction that they have life, or exercise that life only in the desire to win souls to Christ!
But, blessed as this zeal is, it is a very inferior thing to the enjoyment of His love to us; and I believe this to be the true order in the souls of the saints of God. The great thing that the Father calls upon me for is to admire and delight in and learn more and more of the love of His Son. What is the effect? Love to the Lord Jesus is produced in the very same ratio that I know His love for me.
What is it that judges the old man and keeps it down, and raises a person above all the groveling ways and ends? Entrance into the blessedness of His love! Being filled with the realization of it, we love souls in a different way, because we see them in His light, and we view them out of His affections, and not merely as having some link with ourselves. This is the true secret of all spiritual fruitfulness, at least in its highest forms.
Take, again, any little suffering we undergo for Christ’s sake, any work undertaken for Him—whatever the Father calls us to: in all these things the true blessings of the believer is not to abstract them from Christ, but to have Himself as the spring and pattern and measure of all our service, so that it all should flow from our enjoyment of and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 6:17—NC).
In one way, worship is a nearer thing to the Father than even service; whereas it is no uncommon thing to find zealous servant who know very little of true worship. I say this, not that we should serve the Lord Jesus less, but that we should enjoy Him more, and serve Him in the spirit of enjoying what He is, apart from all circumstances.
What is the basis of this measure of enjoyment? It is the absolute peace and rest of our heart in Him and His work on our behalf on the Cross. We see how completely every sin is met and every need of our soul supplied in Him. We are put as children in the presence of a father; one knows that his father uses all his resources for the good of his child.
In the poor sinner there is the sense of need, and the soul must go through that first. In the experience of every regenerate soul there is a state where there is life, but in the midst, perhaps, of the greatest ignorance, yet with deep feeling of sin.
This is not properly the Christian state*; which, when rightly apprehended, supposes rest in the Lord Jesus, with the consciousness that all is given me of the Father in Him. I have received the Spirit of adoption, not the spirit of bondage. It is not merely that my soul is awakened to feel sin, but the Holy Spirit dwells in me; and the result of that indwelling is that I know I have received this full blessing from my Father.
* I believe we are not to allow ourselves to get caught up in the feelings of our sinful nature as we are made more to understand it and are made more aware of it. Since we can trust in the provisions of Christ addressing all matters concerning it, we “should have no more conscience of sins” (Heb 10:2). NC