The Spirit of Life
The Spirit of Life
James Smith, 1864
"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2
All true religion is experimental — and all experimental religion is produced by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, most of the names and titles assumed by the ever blessed Comforter, in the Holy Scriptures, indicate his relation to us, and his work within us. We are under infinite obligation to him, and ought to realize our dependence upon him, and constantly endeavor to honor him. If we honor the Holy Spirit — he will honor us; but if we neglect or despise him — our religion will be formal, our gifts will wither, and we shall be of little use in the church of God.
Paul is here assuring the Romans, that all true believers in Jesus are free from all condemnation; and assigns as a reason, that the everlasting gospel, which is the law of the Spirit of life, has set them free from the legal covenant, which is the law of sin and death. Let us take a little notice of this title of the blessed Spirit — "the Spirit of life".
He is the Life-giving Spirit. Life was given to us by the Father, in the person of Jesus, before the world was; Jesus came into the world to suffer, bleed, and die, that we might have life, and have it abundantly; but it is the Holy Spirit who conveys the life that is in Christ to us — and so quickens us from a death in trespasses and sins. He imparts a divine and holy principle within us, in consequence of which, we . . . perceive our lost condition, pant for the favor and presence of God, and begin to seek the Lord with all our hearts.
Religion now becomes a reality. We seek, and cannot rest without enjoying the bread of life, and the waters of salvation. The one object of our desire is Jesus, and, to possess him is the one aim of the soul. This new spiritual life . . . breathes in prayer, acts in faith, works by love, and finds rest only in the enjoyment of God in Christ.
The Spirit not only implants spiritual life within us — but bestows all the comforts of spiritual life upon us. He leads us to . . . submit ourselves to God, embrace the atonement, and be reconciled to our heavenly Father.
Then peace is enjoyed in the soul — for God appears as our Friend. We now can draw near to his throne. We perceive that . . . his justice has been satisfied for our sins, his mercy is honored in our pardon, and his grace will be glorified in every part of our everlasting salvation.
We now have nothing to fear from his wrath — and we have everything to expect from his love.
The troubled spirit is now sweetly tranquilized.
The weary soul finds rest.
The wounded heart is healed.
Joy springs up and flows forth, like streams from the smitten rock in desert of Horeb.
The inner man is happy.
God is the health of our countenance.
We rejoice, for our sins are pardoned.
God is at peace with us.
The whole work of Christ is placed to our account.
Provision is made for all our needs.
And we have nothing to fear, except sin.
We now become active for God. We wish all to enjoy that we do. We desire to do something to honor that God — who has done so much for us. We go to his throne and ask, "What will you have me to do?" and, however arduous the employment, however lowly the situation, whatever self-denial it may call for — we are willing to engage in it. Spiritual life will be active, more so than mere natural life. It will be active with God — in seeking blessings from him; and active for God — in endeavoring to bring honor to him. The peaceful soul, the happy heart, are prepared to be employed in God's vineyard, and find pleasure in observing his holy commands.
The result is salvation. That is, deliverance from all that is dangerous in this world; and from all that is dreadful in the world to come. Salvation flows freely from grace, it is brought near to us by the precious blood of Jesus — but we receive, realize, and enjoy it — only under the gracious teachings of "the Spirit of life."
Oh, ever blessed, and life-giving Spirit of God — fill me with divine life, make me lively in God's work and ways, and quicken millions of souls who are now dead in sin, that they may seek and find the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory!
He is the Life-preserving Spirit — or he preserves the life which he imparts. When he quickens us — he takes possession of us; and having once taken possession — he never abandons us.
When grieved by our conduct — he refuses to comfort us, assist us, or honor us — until we see our folly, feel our criminality, and return to the Lord with weeping and supplication. But he secretly preserves the principle of divine life, when he does not put forth his power within us.
He preserves divine life in our souls, by many, various, and painful afflictions. Sometimes by sickness of body; sometimes by trying dispensations of his providence; sometimes by the wrath of men; and sometimes even by the temptations of Satan. These things he employs and overrules . . . to exercise our graces, to subdue our corruptions, to wean us from the world and to draw or drive us to a throne of grace.
"By these things men live, and in all these things is the life of our spirits." He preserves us alive, if not lively, by the ordinances of his house. Sometimes the song of praise, sometimes the fervent prayer, sometimes the preached gospel, and sometimes the communion of saints — is employed by him . . . to quicken — or comfort us, to reprove — or instruct us, to humble — or elevate us.
But his inward operations are the grand means of preserving our spiritual life. He reveals Christ to us — and stirs up our affections to go out after him. He exhibits sin in its own native deformity — and excites hatred and opposition to it. He stirs up our principles, draws forth our desires, and leads us to hold communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Everything is only what the Holy Spirit makes it to us. Therefore, we sometimes find, that the very things which we thought would dampen our zeal — inflame it; what we imagined would destroy our hope — strengthens it; what we feared would drive us from God — draws us closer to him; and what appeared likely to prove our destruction — turns to our salvation.
Let us, then, eye the Spirit's operations, let us watch the Spirit's working, let us seek the Spirit's influences, and let us beware, lest we grieve the Spirit's love.
He is the Spirit of life — and without his constant operations we cannot live holily, happily, or usefully.
He perfects the life he imparts. He nourishes it up unto eternal life. Having made the heart his home — he never abandons it. Having claimed the person — he keeps possession. Hence the apostle says, "If the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you — He who raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you." (Romans 8:11.) So also, John, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear — we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2.) Once more, Paul says, "Our citizenship is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (Philippians 3:20, 21.)
Thus we see, that where the Holy Spirit is, there is spiritual life; and that the life he imparts, he nourishes, until the possessor of it rises up from the grave, in the exact likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ! Oh, glorious privilege! Blessed, thrice blessed, Spirit of God, make our hearts your home, your temple, and your glorious throne forever!
Reader, have you received the Holy Spirit? Have you been quickened from a death in sin — to a life of righteousness? Does the Spirit of God dwell in you? There is no spiritual life without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God does not dwell in us — if we have not been quickened . . . to feel our need of Christ; to seek a saving interest in Christ; to receive Christ by faith; to live upon Christ; and to consecrate ourselves to the praise and glory of Christ.
The blessed Spirit always honors Christ; and, in order to this — he always humbles the sinner, and lays him in the dust. We must be nothing — that Christ may be all.
We must live upon Christ — or perish without Christ.
We must live like Christ — or we do not possess the Spirit of Christ.
We must live for Christ — or we shall not be owned and acknowledged by Christ. "The Spirit of life" from God, must enter into us, new-create us, conform us to Jesus, and consecrate us to his praise — or we shall perish forever! Spirit of God, now, now, take full, entire, and everlasting possession of us, and preserve us to the coming and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!