The Standard for Holy Living

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
To “walk in the Spirit” is the only right measure of holy living for the Christian.
Do you inquire, “What is it to walk in the Spirit?” It is to walk in communion with God the Father, by the Holy Ghost, having Christ as my one object. Nor am I left in this to the sentimental fancies of my own mind, nor to the fickleness of my own impulses, nor to the bias of my religious likes and dislikes. The word of God must necessarily be my only chart. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word” (Psalm 119:99BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9)). Look at the martyr Stephen for a blessed pattern of it. What engaged the attention of this man of God, “full of faith and power,” this man full of the Holy Ghost? Two things. The word of God on earth, and the Christ of God in glory (Acts 6 and 7).
Many Christians fall into the serious mistake of making the moral law their standard of holy living. This statement may startle some; but let us explain. The law never gave man an object outside himself; grace does. If I am trying to keep the law for salvation, whom is it for? Myself. Yes; self is my real object.
If, when I have once possessed salvation, I am trying to keep the law in order to retain it, what is my object? For whom do I want to retain it? For myself, to be sure. Then self is my object. On the other hand, grace puts a new object before the saved one, and the Holy Ghost supplies a new spring of action entirely. Self is displaced by Christ, and human efforts by the Spirit's activities. “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:1515And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)). And to this order of living the previous verse states, “The love of Christ constraineth us.”
But I thought,' says some reader, that though we are not under the law for justification, we are under it for holy living.' No. There is no lower standard of holiness than “walking in the Spirit,” and on this point the word of God could not possibly be plainer, “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Gal. 5:1818But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)).
Now do not be alarmed, dear reader, about what we have been saying as to not being under the law. We are not fostering the lawless spirit of the age, nor granting to any one, much less the Christian, a license to break the law. No, the very opposite. We heartily believe the teaching of God's word in Romans 8:44That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4), which says that the righteous requirement of the law is “fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (JND). Now we have seen (Gal. 5:1818But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)) that if we are led of the Spirit we are not under the law. So that it is as though the apostle had said, The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who are NOT UNDER THE LAW.
In order to make this a little plainer, let us take an illustration.
A man has a well of water near his house, and a splendid pump placed over it. Although this pump is in itself a perfect piece of mechanism, he has for years never been able to get a drop of good water out of the well. Nay, the more he pumps the worse appears the water brought up.
One day a visitor in the locality, and an expert in such matters, tells the man that if he were to bore into a large rock close by he would get an ample supply of pure water. The experiment is tried, and after a few days' boring the expected spring is tapped, bringing forth a gushing stream of sparkling pure water.
Now do you think he will remove his pump from the bad well, and place it over that gushing stream? Certainly not. It is not that he has any fault to find with the pump. It is as good as ever it was. But he now gets from a new source, without the pump, what he could never get from the old source by the pump.
Now let us apply this simple figure,
“The law is not made for a righteous man” (1 Tim. 1:99Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, (1 Timothy 1:9)). In itself it is “holy, just, and good”; but when it was applied to man in the flesh, like the perfect pump applied to the polluted well, it only made manifest what was there.
What then was the requirement of the law?
Galatians 5:1414For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Galatians 5:14) tells us: “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt LOVE thy neighbor as thyself.” Yes, it demanded love, but there came out perfect hatred; yea, hatred to the One who deserved nothing but love. “They hated me without a cause.” Yet these very people made their boast in the law. What a demonstration of the truth of the word, “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:77Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans 8:7)).
So much then for the old well, and the pump that made its polluted condition more and more apparent.
And what do we get from this source?
Why, the first fruit produced by the Spirit is the very thing which the law demanded, but could not produce; namely, LOVE. Compare Galatians 5:1414For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Galatians 5:14) with 5: 22.
God did not love us because of any merit in us to draw it out, but because of what was in Himself—because of what His own heart was. Our love, as Christians, is after the same order; it is divine in its character. So we read, “Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:77Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (1 John 4:7)). “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4: 12). “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:1919We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)).
Thus we see that the love produced by God's Spirit in us, is the very thing which the law demanded from us.
Henceforth we are exhorted to “walk in love “; that is, we are to allow the divine life—this life after a new creation order—to have, so to speak, its own way in us; we are to follow its divine instincts, and to find our happiness in its unhindered display. We are not to use our liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but in
LOVE to serve one another. The only thing that can now avail, says the apostle, is the “faith which worketh by LOVE” (Gal. 5:66For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (Galatians 5:6)). In other words, the very thing which the law vainly demanded, grace has richly supplied. Thus the righteous requirement of the law will be fulfilled in us who are not under it—who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
What a blessed thing to be a Christian!