In my own revival journey, I began to use the terminology of grace and the Spirit-filled life, but my focus was still on “It’s gotta look like this….” This is ultimately a law-focus. Further in my journey the Lord opened my eyes not only to Jesus as the source of life (power), but also as the goal or focus of life (leader). This is a vital correction. Without this understanding you look to Jesus as the power to get to your version of how you think things should play out—as if those things are better than Jesus. But Jesus is the goal, and when you access Him, things play out right.
I find that many who use the terminology of the Spirit-filled life get derailed because in practice they are still looking to the law as their leader. This is not the obvious self-reliance which they now rightly warn against, but the more subtle self-reliance that comes unwittingly when you look to the law as the leader instead of the Spirit.
The Scripture says, “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Gal. 5:18). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22). When this is the case “all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Gal. 5:14).
The bottom line is no one can serve two leaders. Do you look to the law as your leader or to the Spirit? The Scripture clarifies that in salvation, there is a leadership change. “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster….And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts” (Gal. 3:24-4:6). The law leads sinners to Christ, but the Spirit leads saints in Christ. Therefore, once you’re saved, don’t look to the law as your leader, look to the Spirit. We have the ultimate leader—God Himself—Not just with us, but in us!
So what is our relationship to the law? “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12). But like the Psalmist, we must love the Lord, which is a matter of focus, and as a result of that relationship, we love His law. When we love the Lord, we walk with Him. When we keep in step with the Spirit, trusting His power to obey His leadership, He imparts to us the life of Christ. “The fruit of the Spirit is love … against such there is no law.” The fruit of the Spirit never violates the law, because the fruit of the Spirit is love, and love fulfills the law.
If you are led of the Spirit, you are not under the law. Some acknowledge this and then in essence say you really are. But the version of law-living varies from person to person and church to church, picking and choosing certain aspects of the law, but dismissing others. But if you choose part of the law, then you’re under the obligation to keep it all (Gal. 3:10).
You cannot have two leaders. Either you’re under the law’s leadership or you’re under the Spirit’s leadership. And the law without the Spirit kills (2 Cor. 3:6). It brings you into the frustration and disillusionment of Romans 7. If you look to the law for leadership, that means you are not looking to the Spirit. Your focus reveals your dependence. When you look unto Jesus, the Spirit authors faith in your heart (Heb. 12:2). God-focus leads to God-dependence. But if you look to the law for leadership, then that law-focus reveals a law-dependence, which is ultimately flesh-dependence—your attempt to obey the law in your own strength. But the law kills and the flesh fails.
However, when you allow the Spirit to convince you that you really are a saint, that you really have been liberated from the old master of indwelling sin, and that the indwelling Christ really is your victory, so that you yield to His leadership and power, at that point, sin will not have dominion over you, because you are not under the law, but under grace (Rom. 6:1-14). In contrast, if you look to the law for leadership, then you are no longer under grace—Spirit-enabling. But when you yield to the Spirit, trusting in His power, you’re under grace. Grace enables you, so that sin will not have dominion over you.
Some fear that if you don’t emphasize the law, everyone will go crazy into sin. But this thinking reveals blatant unbelief in the Holy Spirit—the real leader. How tragic! The reality is if you emphasize the Spirit, so people really look to His leadership, He never leads them to indulge the flesh. What a wonderful relationship between law and grace!
John Van Gelderen
About This Blog
Hello, I’m John Van Gelderen. I am an evangelist and the president of Revival Focus Ministries, an organization for the cause of revival in hearts, homes, churches, and beyond, and for evangelizing. This blog is focused on experiencing Jesus. I believe in order to really live, you must access and experience the very life of Jesus Christ.