Law, or Life?

Oct 8, 2011
Winfield, Mo.
It is a given that there is greater ease in exercising self-dependence than dependence in another, and such is the difference between the two dispensations; and is also why the prior is so often acquiesced to (in ignorance) and the latter so misunderstood in many of its operations. The prior Covenant arranged forgiveness according to the obedience and power of man, e.g. do this or that and receive forgiveness and blessings, as the obedience manifested faith in God’s method of forgiveness through His Covenant with man (Lev 4:20; Num 15:25, etc). The present Covenant is arranged so that forgiveness and blessings are received according to the Lord Jesus’ obedience, and man’s obedience still manifests faith and love in God, and not of his own power but through the power of His Spirit and His Eternal Covenant with His Son; and man is only the recipient of its eternal benefits.

Law, or Life?

Consistency if being true to a given standard. The constant taunt is that there is more consistency when a lower position is assumed than when a higher one is insisted on. It is said, for instance, and with some show of justice (i.e. truth—NC), that they who make the law their rule of life are more consistent than they who believe and assume that Christ is their Life in everything (of course the prior being no longer extant - Heb 7:11, 18, 19; 8:6-8; 10:9; Gal 3:23-25—NC). The force of the reproach is this, that they who do not profess such high ground are on the whole better men, and less erratic than they who do.

It must be remembered that the law address a man in the flesh; but the Lord Jesus is only known and maintained by His own Spirit (Rom 8:9; 1Pe 1:11). I do not disown and count dead the old man by the law; I cultivate and restrain him, and according as this is successful, I add to man’s self-respect and self-distinction. On the contrary, as the Lord Jesus is received and followed, man as he is in the flesh is counted dead; and the Spirit, who controls and uses his body and mind as belonging to Christ, is alone acknowledged and depended upon. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

Now there is a great difference between these two standards; and not only so, but the effect or demand which each has on me is vastly different. In the one case I am required to exalt man to the only true, proper elevation for a man; in the other I am required to be a dead man and accept Another and higher Life, and in the power of it to manifest Him who is the fountain and source of it to me. Surly the difference is immeasurable.

Hence, if I analyze the history of a disciple of each of these standards, I cannot fail to see that the one who is required to exalt himself to his highest moral point makes a better appearance, and walks apparently with more consistency (but to no avail, its method no longer existing—NC) than the one who is called to set aside the Adam-life at every point—which is the ground he has professed to take—to walk outside that which is of the flesh, in the Spirit of Christ, as a heavenly man.

No doubt that the latter surpasses the former when he is consistent with his standard, but this can only be in proportion as he is held by the power which transfers him from his old nature and into Christ. If his hold on, or faith in, the power relaxes he is (appears—NC) worse off than one who only seeks to conform himself to the moral standard of the law, because he has nothing to fall back upon, or to act on as to himself, his calling being to live outside himself in the risen Lord Jesus; whereas the other is called accordingly to live in himself.

It is plain that if I made myself my study with any true purpose, I cultivate myself to exhibit a certain commendable appearance. The law was to set up the first Adam-life in its best estate. But if through grace I seek to live outside the first Adam, and to live in the Lord Jesus who is my Life, I am infinitely worse off in appearance, when I fall back to myself, than one who had never abandoned the old man at all.

Another thing has to be taken into account. The one who cultivates self obtains commendation from others in a measure that the one who cultivates life in the Lord Jesus will never receive or elicit. The one cultivates what exalts man, and therefore what suits man; the other, cultivates that which ignores man and which rises above him. We must not forget, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the site of God” (Luk 16:15 – “among men” intends the majority of mankind, as believers esteem God the highest—NC).

—J B Stoney (1814-97)

MJS excerpt for April 2:

“The Lord Jesus not only died for every sin in our life, but He lives for every second of our life. We cannot rest in Him until we realize that there is never an instant that He is not caring for us. It is as though each of His own were His only one.” –Miles J Stanford

“So many saints are disturbed, so many are restless, because they are not living in the knowledge that they are under the care of the Lord; and then there is no power to walk. Why have you so little power in walk or service? It is because you are not yet clear that the Lord is caring for you, that He is in all watchfulness over you, that He has let down the strong pinions of His protecting care till they sweep the ground around you, and, if you are wise, you will creep up close under His wings, into the very down.” -J.B.S.