Derek Prince - Living In The Spirit
We have now completed the 10 stages of our Roman pilgrimage and we stand now at the entrance to our destination which is, as I’ve told you before, Romans 8, a beautiful unfolding of the nature of the Spirit controlled Spirit filled life of the Christian who’s met God’s conditions. Just by way of interest, I speculated out loud as to how many therefore’s there were in the areas of the passages that we’ve been reading. One diligent member of our congregation has supplied me with the answer for which I’m very grateful. So if you want to know how many therefore’s there are in the New Testament, there are 370. In Paul’s epistles, 120, which means Paul accounts for about one third of them. In Romans, 28. So that’s just an interesting little statistic.
Now we come to the entrance to this destination. It’s extremely important. Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The critical phrase there is no condemnation. As long as there is any kind of condemnation in your life, you cannot live and function in Romans 8. The purpose of God in the previous 7 chapters was to eliminate every possible cause of condemnation in our lives. If we have faithfully followed through, understood it and believed it, we should be able to say now, There is therefore now no condemnation in my life. I personally believe that condemnation is the devil’s favorite and strongest weapon. I have encountered countless numbers of Christians who are not free from condemnation.
I believe the reason is they haven’t taken the pilgrimage, they haven’t worked through the percolator. A lot of people, as I said, want instant Romans 8 but that doesn’t work. You have to deal with every possible cause of condemnation. We can’t enumerate them all now but bear in mind that in chapter 3, we dealt with the fact that all our past sins could be forgiven. Then in chapter 6 we went through the execution of the rebel, the old man. Then, as I said, what I believe is the hardest of all, in chapter 7 we came out to the place where we’re under no condemnation from the law.
In Colossians 2 Paul describes what God accomplished for us through the death of Jesus on the cross and he says he spoiled or stripped principalities and powers. That’s the principalities and powers of Satan. I think we’d better look there for a moment. I didn’t intend to, but keep your finger in Romans 8 if you’re there and turn to Colossians 2. Let me say something about Colossians while you’re turning there. If you’re dealing with people who have been in any kind of a cult, Colossians is the best answer. A person who read and believes Colossians can never become involved in a cult again.
Colossians chapter 2:13: You who are dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Jesus], having forgiven you all transgressions [that’s the past dealt with], having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us. That’s the law dealt with. Jesus nailed the law to the cross and that’s where it ends. Beyond the cross the law has no claims on you. Remember, he that is dead is justified, you’ve paid the last penalty, law has no more claims on you. Then it says in verse 15: He disarmed the rulers and authorities That’s Satan’s evil hosts in the heavenlies that seek to dominate us and destroy us. And then... now here’s another therefore, this is where I was headed, verse 16: Therefore, let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink, or in respect of a festival or a new moon, or a sabbath day.
Notice that? Paul doesn’t say we’re not to observe the sabbath, that’s a matter of personal decision. But we’re not to let anybody condemn us in respect to that. Being free from condemnation demands a certain amount of backbone because there are a lot of religious people whose favorite occupation is to bring you under condemnation. You’ve got to learn where you stand in Christ and you have to say I’m not going to let anybody condemn me in respect of any other requirements of the law, including the sabbath. Which, as you know, is the fourth of the Ten Commandments I can see some of you haven’t fully completed the journey yet but at least this is where we ought to be.
Now we’re going back to Romans 8. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. There are two laws at work. One is the law of sin and death which pulls you down. The other is the law of the Spirit of life only operating in Christ Jesus. It does not operate outside of Christ Jesus. That lifts you up. To give you a very, very simple example, take this booklet that I have in my hand. If I let go, the law of gravity operates. What will happen to it? It will fall We all know that. However, if I take this book with my left hand and put it into my right hand, in my right hand the law of my will overrules the law of gravity and my right hand can lift that book up which otherwise would be falling. That’s what it is to be in Christ. You’re delivered from the law of sin and death and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus works the opposite way.
Going on, verse 3: For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh And always Paul points out there was nothing wrong with the law. It was our fleshly nature that was the problem. weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh. In the flesh of Jesus on the cross God finally condemned and disposed of sin. There are two Scriptures in Hebrews that we need to glance at for a moment. Hebrews 9:26. I’m only going to read the second half of the verse. but now once at the consummation, He [that’s Jesus] has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. What did He do by the sacrifice of Himself? He put away sin, He disposed of sin. He put sin right out of the way, he terminated its power and its claims.
Now, side by side with that we need to glance at Hebrews 10:3, talking about the sacrifices of the law, it says: In those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year The sacrifices of the law never put away sin, all they did was remind people of their sins and cover their sins until the next sacrifice was due. So far from disposing of the sin question, the sacrifices of the law constantly and continually brought it up again. But Jesus, when he offered his sacrifice of himself, put away sin and therefore there now remains no further sacrifice for sin. Nothing more will ever be needed, it has all been done by the death of Jesus on the cross.
Now we come on to the important practical issue which comes out in Romans 8:4. God did this through the sacrifice of Jesus: in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Now notice the law is not to be fulfilled but the requirements of the law. Now that’s a word I’ve commented on already. I’ll show you two other places where it’s found. We’ve seen it once in Romans 5:18. If you want to turn there for a moment and we’ll just look at the second half of the verse, speaking about what Jesus did again: even so, through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. That’s the same word, an act of righteousness.
Then, as we’ve seen, in Romans 8:4 it says the requirement of the law. And I think the NIV says the righteous requirement of the law, because the word is connected directly with the word for righteous. And then in Revelation 19 verse 8 we have a picture of the bride ready for the marriage supper. This is a glorious picture. I’d like to take time to dwell on it but I don’t have time. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. That’s the same word again. So it’s the righteous acts of the law or the righteous requirements of the law that is to be fulfilled in us. We are not going to keep the law but we are going to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law.
Now, the $64,000 question is what is the righteous requirement of the law? And if you don’t know that, you’re groping, you’re stumbling, you have no real idea what’s expected of you or what direction to face. I can answer that question in one short word of four letters and it’s a good word. It’s a four letter word but it’s a good word. How many of you know what it is? Love, that’s right. L-O-V-E. Very simply, very practically, very definitely the righteous requirement of the law is love. Now we’ll look at a whole series of Scriptures which state this. Turn, first of all, to the words of Jesus in Matthew 22. I always like to turn to Jesus as the first authority. Verses 35 and following. This is a conversation between Jesus and a teacher of the law.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the prophets. So Jesus gave a very clear, specific, unequivocal answer. Which is the greatest commandment? Number one: Thou shall love the Lord thy God. What’s the second one? Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. What’s the key word in both commandments? Love, that’s right. And Jesus said, On these two commandments all the law and the prophets hang [or depend]
Imagine for a moment I wanted to hang my jacket up and there was a peg over there. I take my jacket off and I go and hang it on the peg. Very simply the peg has to be there before I can hang my jacket on it, isn’t that right? So these two commandments were there before the law and the prophets were hung on them. Do you see what I’m saying? They are the basis of all that’s in the law and the prophets. The whole impact and direction and purpose of the law and the prophets is summed up in love for God and love for your neighbor. That is the righteous requirement of the law. Oh, how good to make it simple, isn’t it?
I always appreciated Corrie Ten Boom, whom I had the privilege of knowing just a little. And my favorite saying from her is: Kiss, K-I-S-S, keep it simple, stupid. That’s my sincere aim. When I get complicated, I get frightened. When other people get complicated, I think where’s the Holy Spirit gone? Let’s go on looking at these Scriptures. Romans 13:8–10. Owe nothing to anyone And incidentally, that applies too. Don’t be in debt. But I’m not going to preach on that, aren’t you glad! Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, [now we get the commandments] You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neigbor; love therefore, notice the 'therefore' love therefore is the fullfilment of the law.
Very very clear. God doesn't leave us with any reason to doubt. And then in Galatians 5:14. You'll find there is a close correspondence between Romans and Galatians. Galatians 5:14 For the whole law is fullfilled in one word, in the statement: you shall love your neighbour as yourself. How much of the law? The whole law, that’s right. And then one of my favorite Scriptures, 1 Timothy 1:5–7. I particularly like the New American Standard translation. 1 Timothy 1:5–7. But the goal of our instruction The goal of our instruction, the one thing we’re aiming at when we preach and teach is what? Love, that’s right. from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. There are three requirements for love. A pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. But the aim is love.
Verses 6 and 7: For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. In other words, any kind of talk about the law that doesn’t direct people to love is fruitless discussion. How much fruitless discussion have we had in our churches? I can’t get past this Scripture without a little story. I don’t have any funny stories of my own, I borrow them from other preachers. I borrow this from another brother in the Lord but I won’t give his name away, he might be embarrassed. But the story is about a mother and her son who are arguing. The mother wanted the son to go to church and the son didn’t want to go to church.
So the son said, I don’t want to go to church. I don’t like those people and they don’t like me. Why should I go to church? Give me two reasons. And the mother replied, First of all, you’re 40 years old. And second, you’re the pastor of the church! What volumes that story tells, doesn’t it? He’s the pastor of the church but he doesn’t like those people and they don’t like him. Are there any churches in America like that? What a lot of wasted time on religious activity that didn’t produce the one thing that really matters. I take this very seriously. From time to time I check on myself and I say, Brother Prince, what are you producing by what you teach? Because if you’re not producing love, you’re wasting your words, your time and your strength, and the time of all the people. Brothers and sisters, how much wasted time there is in church today. And the results show we are not loving one another the way we ought.
Jesus said to his disciples, By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. I was on a program just recently where somebody was complaining that the world was judging the church. I want to tell you that Jesus has given the world the right to judge the church. By His own words He said, If the world doesn’t see you loving one another, they’ve got every right to say you’re not my disciples. Now we know what the requirement of the law is. the righteous requirement. Do we know? What is it? Love, that’s right. Now you know, now I know. Now we are answerable for what we know. I’m going to talk briefly about the nature of this love and of course, you could preach for a week on this subject but I’m going to deal with it in brief outline. First of all, this love is supernatural. It can come only from God. There is no way you can work it up, religion won’t give it to you. It comes only through the new birth.
1 Peter 1 verses 22–23. Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. Notice, what Peter is saying, Your ability to love one another only comes from the fact that you’ve been born again. If you hadn’t been born again of the seed of God’s word, this kind of love would be impossible. What’s brought into being by this seed is fulfilled by the Spirit. We go back to Romans 5, a Scripture we’ve looked at already, Romans 5:5. Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us. First of all, it’s brought forth out of the seed of the word of God as a nature within you. And then the whole of the fullness of God’s love is poured out into your heart through the Holy Spirit. It is totally supernatural. No human effort can ever produce anything that’s even a counterfeit of the love of God.
Now, the next thing we need to say is love is inseparable from obedience. Love is not sloppy sentimentality and sweet words, it’s manifested in obeying Jesus in everything. Let’s look in John chapter 14 verse 21. John 14:21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. Who is the person who really loves the Lord? The one who prays the loudest and the longest? Not necessarily. The one who has his commandments and keeps them. That’s the proof of love. Furthermore, love is the motive for our obedience. John 14:15 Jesus said, If you love me you will keep my commandments. So if we don’t keep his commandments, the problem is we don’t love Him. We can say we love Him, we can talk a lot about it but if we’re disobedient, we don’t love Him.
Love is the motive for obedience. And in verse 23 of John 14 He comes back to them with this same truth. Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. Obedience is the test of our love and it’s the motive of our love. We are not motivated by fear. Paul says in Romans 8:17: You have not received the spirit of slavery again to fear You haven’t come back under the law where you’re threatened with penalties every time you do something. We are motivated by a totally different motivation. It's love. Now you who are parents, you can see the wisdom of this. If you have small children in your home, you can make them obedient by threatening them and punishing them and shouting at them and doing whatever you will. You’ll get obedience but when they become teenagers, you’ll have rebels. Is that right?
Some of you did it and some of you are the rebels. But if you really cause those children to love you, even when they’re 40 years old they’ll still want to do what you want. Love is a much more powerful motive than fear. And God is wise enough not to base His relationship to us on fear, but on love. Then let me say something which I think will relieve you. The moment you’re born again and even baptized in the Spirit, you are not perfect in love. You’ve only just started. Love is progressive. Paul says in Philippians 1:9: And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment so that you may prove things that are excellent.
So we have love but it needs to abound more and more. We need to increase in love. Our love needs to expand. And the more we have of love, the more sensitive we’ll be about the things that please God. Again, parents know that. The child that really loves you is sensitive to your smallest requirements. You don’t even have to say, is that right? That’s the relationship that we should have with God. An ever increasing love which expresses itself in ever increasing sensitivity to what pleases our Father. Then another piece of good news, even if we fail and some of us perhaps have failed. It’s possible none of us have been perfectly loving. It’s certainly true of me. But listen, here’s the good news. Even when we fail, our faith is still reckoned to us as righteousness.
So we don’t have to be perfect the first five minutes or the first five years. As long as we are in the faith God will deal with our imperfections just as He dealt with Abraham. But even when Abraham was doing the wrong thing, his faith was still counted to him as righteousness. If anything is good news, that is. That’s been held back from the people who believe most in justification by faith. They haven’t seen this truth. That even when we’re doing wrong, as long as we’re in the faith, our faith is still reckoned to us for righteousness. And God says, I’ll take care of the consequences. I’ll straighten them out. I’ve got my way to do it. But meanwhile, their faith is reckoned to them as righteousness. Then, closing, 1 John 2:5, how is love made perfect, how do we come to perfect love? Whoever keeps His word [God’s word], in him the love of God has been truly perfected.
How do we perfect the love of God? By keeping his word. Don’t try to feel loving, that’s not the way to get love. Suppose I said to my wife, I’m really trying to love you. Do you think that would please her? I’d have a problem. We don’t have to try to love. Listen, don’t focus on your feelings, focus on obedience. Do everything God says. A good many years ago now in the midst of a whole forest of religiosity I came up against this tree. The thing that really matters is love. I said to myself I’m not a very loving person. I was an only child, I grew up without brothers or sisters, I always fended for myself and I did a good job. It was difficult for me to be really concerned about other people. I said, What am I going to do? I got this Scripture, 1 John 2:5. Don’t try to be loving, obey His Word. That’s my recommendation to you.