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3. God Raised Us Up With Christ


(4) The law of the Spirit of life (B)



Prayer:  Oh Lord!  We are so thankful to be able to come before you.  Lord, we are so eager to become people who are of one mind with you and walk along with you.  Oh Lord, although our hearts are so undisciplined but dear Lord, we give thanks to you, through the daily cross you take captive of our every thought, we earnestly ask that the Holy Spirit continually demolishes the strongholds in us to recapture our hearts and thoughts for Christ, thank you Lord.  Lord, we offer our hearts and wills to you; we believe you will work in us to fulfill what we are asking for, thank you Lord.  In Lord Jesus Christ’s name we pray!  Amen!

We are so thankful for God’s grace, so thankful for Lord Jesus Christ who completed the plan of “recreating the human race” for us; through faith our old-selves were crucified with the Lord so that we are freed from the sin nature; we were resurrected to belong to Christ, becoming new-selves and Christ is the head of new-selves.  The cross is the divide between the old-self and the new-self, we no longer live under law but under grace; we should not follow the desires of the flesh but follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to act.  Living according to the sinful nature and living according to the Holy Spirit will lead to two completely different lives.

To live “according to the Holy Spirit” is to live under “the law of the Spirit of life”; let’s continue to study “the law of the Spirit of life”.

In the previous lecture we talked about the three aspects of the law of the Spirit of life, here we will further explain the first and the second aspects.

The first aspect is God’s requirements:  God’s requirements refer to the daily cross that we talked about.  To everyone who has been saved and born again, God has designed a set of plan to grow our lives:  He allows us to face different cross every day that are measured just right –not too light and not too heavy, because God designs it according to the level of our life progression.  The requirements of God are the “all things” mentioned in Romans 8: 28: “in all things God works for the good of those who love him”, God allows all things to be intertwined together for the purpose of building us in the likeness of God’s Son.  When faced with the requirements of God – our daily cross, we should first pray and call on the name of the Lord.

The second aspect is calling on the name of the Lord:  Facing the things that happen to us, we should pray: “Lord, save me from ‘myself’.  I no longer live but Christ lives in me.  … Lord, I ask you to guide me in what I should do.”  After praying, the peace we have in our heart given by the Holy Spirit, is called “the peace of Christ”.  Some people are very emotional, so when they see an unwed Christian couple living together, they feel obligated to say something otherwise they don’t have peace in their heart.  This “not having peace” is different from the “not having the peace of Christ” after we pray.  Because this “not having peace” is actually “I don’t have peace”, is “I want to be zealous”, or “I am having righteous anger”; they all stem from “I”.  After you pray, “the peace of Christ” comes from your letting Christ be the Lord in you to guide your actions.  Please distinguish clearly the “emotional impulses” from “the moves of the Holy Spirit”.  Some people say that “emotional impulses” will cause your heartbeat to increase so praying is the last thing on your mind; while “the moves of the Holy Spirit” bring calmness and quietness, as Isaiah 30: 15 says: ”In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”  The Holy Spirit may use a scripture passage, or a hymn, or extraordinary peace and joy to comfort, support, enlighten, rebuke, guide, and teach us, this is the content of the law of the Spirit of life.  The content of the law of the Old Testament was engraved on stone tablets, the content of the New Testament law (the law of the Spirit of life) is written in our heart.  Where does the content of the law in the heart come from?  When you are faced with your daily cross and after you have prayed to the Lord, the word of God that comes to you is the content of the law in your heart.

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; …. Test everything.  Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5: 19, 21).  I need to explain further regarding this statement:  The content of the inner peace that comes after praying is the content of the law of the Spirit of life”.  Brothers and sisters, we are all human living in our flesh, so it is inevitable we may mistake our will as God’s will.  Therefore, regarding the content of our inner peace, we must test everything. (1 Thessalonians 5: 19, 21), we must not claim that after praying whatever we are thinking must be the work of the Holy Spirit.  Test everything:  First, after praying, do you have peace in your heart continually? (if you have peace in the beginning but then you start to flip back and forth, saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in the same breath, then it is not from the Spirit.  [See 2 Corinthians 1: 17])  This peace must not be contrary to the fundamental truth of the Bible; if you follow this peace to act and the result is outer harmony, then you are on the right track. (The fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace – not only inner peace but the outer action should lead to harmony also.)

Why “the law of the Spirit of life” is also called “the law that gives freedom”?  Because God’s requirements of us are according to the level of our life growth (God’s requirements of us don’t mean God purposely created this situation to test us, rather God allowed these things to come together to build our character of holiness.), so we should be able to bear and to meet these requirements, therefore we call it the law that gives freedom; looking from the perspective of “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”, a servant of God said this: “This law gives freedom because God on the throne is the law maker (the daily situations we encounter are the requirements of God), when we pray, our union with Christ becomes closer, Christ is our life, so inside us Christ becomes a law abider.  Since the Triune God makes the law, obeys his own law, and also uses the mighty power of the Holy Spirit to do the work so it is guaranteed to meet the requirements because it is not done by “me”.  Brothers and sisters, let’s not misunderstand the way of the cross, if we feel the cross has been too heavy with no relief in sight, then we probably are not doing it right.  God gave us Jesus Christ, and he said: “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.  Let me repeat, when faced with our daily cross, in all things we should just through praying, supplicating and thanksgiving, hand over the matter to the Lord; then under the principle of not contrary to the fundamental truth, follow the Spirit’s guidance to act that brings both inner peace and outer harmony.

Now that we don’t live under law, do we still need to meet the requirements of the law?  We have said many times, the righteous requirements of the law must be met.  But because men are incapable of attaining the requirements on their own, so through the salvation plan of Jesus Christ, God gave us the law of the Spirit of life that we may live not under law but under grace (live under the law of the Spirit of life), “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”  Hallelujah, the amazing salvation plan!  “Relying on myself” is to live according to the sinful nature, therefore relying on my own efforts to meet the requirements of God is wrong.  Isn’t it true?  Whenever we live by relying on ourselves, we have criticizing and slandering among us.  Andrew Murray once said that we should learn to describe ourselves: I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.”  Brothers and sisters, we should pursue activities that will stop or free us from the sinful nature, but how can we stop it?  We humans are of the flesh; it is so easy for us to fall back into our old-selves.  In order for us to know our true nature, God allows us to go through some failures, just like Peter disowned Jesus three times.  Only when we realize that we are totally incapable then will we rely on the Lord and give up on our self-reliant activities.  Romans 8: 1-4 say: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”   Please note that it is not because “I” don’t live under law, so “I” can live under the law of the Spirit.  Rather, it is when we live under the law of the Spirit then we are not living under law.  For example, when you come upon something that is not right, you shouldn’t approach it by saying “I don’t want to rely on myself, I cannot rely on myself”, because when you do that, it is still your “self” in charge.  Rather, you should say “Oh Lord, save me”.  Please note that only when the Lord first becomes stronger, I will become less; this is possible only through calling on the name of the Lord and exalting the Lord.  When the Lord is exalted, “I” naturally will become less; when “I” become less, the Christ’s life will manifest in me.  Each one of us should conduct ourselves according to the level of our life progression and let Christ’s life be in charge in you.  Just like when a child is little he will often ask his mother many questions and often times the mother will tell him that he will understand when he grows up.  Likewise, how much you understand depends on the level of your life growth.  This is the works of the Holy Spirit in us.

The above is our supplementary explanation of the first and the second aspects of the law of the Spirit of life.  Now we will continue to explain some practical problems associated with the third aspect of the law of the Spirit of life:  Obeying (or relying on) the Holy Spirit to act.                                    

1.      How do you know that “the guidance of the Holy Spirit” is in all things?  (Romans 8: 28; Philippians 4: 6; 1 Thessalonians 5: 18; 1 John 2: 27)

      In the past I often thought and often heard brothers and sisters asking:  “Is this the guidance of the Holy Spirit?”  “Is that the guidance of the Holy Spirit?”  Brothers and sisters, God leads and guides us in all things.

      The “all things” in Romans 8: 28 “… we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him …”, in the original text is “everything”.  Other examples are: the “all circumstances” in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 “give thanks in all circumstances”; the “in everything” in Philippians 4: 6 “…but in everything, by prayer and petition …”; and the “all things” in 1 John 2: 27 “… But as his anointing teaches you about all things …”.  Therefore, whether it’s a big thing or a small thing, or even a tiny thing, God is always guiding us, and we should just relax and follow the Holy Spirit to act.       

2.      How do you explain the characteristic of “following the law of the Spirit of life to act” is “peace” (inner peace and outer harmony)?  (Colossians 3: 15; Galatians 5: 22-23; James 3: 13-18; Romans 8: 6; 1 John 3: 21; Hebrews 12: 14)

      The Holy Spirit is invisible so how do I know I am following him to act?  When we follow the peace in our heart to take actions that bring harmony around you then you are following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Colossians 3: 15 says: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.”  Regarding God’s requirements, we have said that when faced with things that happen to us daily, we must pray until there is peace in our heart before we act.  If there is uneasiness then you shouldn’t make any move; if you still want to do something while feeling uneasy, like consulting with someone hoping to be comforted by him, then you are not letting Christ’s peace be in charge in you.  Christ’s peace is the inner peace you have after you pray, granting Christ the full power to be your master.  Therefore we must spend time to pray and pay the price to pray.  Why are we always in such a hurry?  Why do we always have to do something immediately?  In reality, you don’t need to make a decision on many things right away.  If something needs to be decided immediately, then you just pray “Oh Lord, I hand over this thing into your hands, I ask you to lead me and guide me!  If it is your will, then let all things go smoothly; if it is not your will, then let it be stopped.”  Let Christ be in charge!  Not only should we follow the inner peace to act, but also follow the outer harmony to act.  For example, someone said that the Holy Spirit moved him to talk to a brother but ended up having a quarrel.  Maybe the Holy Spirit did move him to talk to the brother, however talking turned into a quarrel indicated that the manner he approached this brother was not moved by the Holy Spirit.  Especially for people like myself, outspoken and straight to the point, often pay little attention to how others feel about what I have to say.  Is that kind of approach from the Holy Spirit?  If it is the work of the Holy Spirit, then it must be love, joy, peace, patience …. . (see Galatians 5: 22-23)  If the result of your actions was not love, joy, peace, patience …, then how could you say that you were moved by the Holy Spirit to act?  Therefore, for sure there is peace when you live in the Holy Spirit.  The Bible stresses over and over that if it is possible we should pursue living at peace with everyone; here “if it is possible” means on the basis of not in contrary to the fundamental truth of the Bible.         

3.      Is the outer harmony that we are pursuing, unprincipled compromises?  (2 Corinthians 13: 4; 12: 9-10; Isaiah 53: 7-12; 1 Peter 2: 21-25)

We pursue to live in accordance with the Holy Spirit and to live in harmony with everyone but it shall never be unprincipled compromises or accommodations.  James 3: 13-18 talk about “the wisdom that comes from heaven”.  From the original text of the Book of James, we know that the term “the wisdom that comes from heaven” in this passage means the teaching of the Holy Spirit.  The teaching of the Holy Spirit must first of all be pure; then peace-loving.  So the result of the guidance of the Holy Spirit must be pure and must be peace-loving.  If something is contrary to the truth of the Bible then it is not pure.  How do I know that I am living in accordance with the law of the Spirit?  First you must have peace in your heart, and then you must be in harmony with everyone else.  To tell you the truth, people of the world also wish to live in peace; everyone gets along with everyone else.  But the “harmony” we talk about is completely different from what we generally called “getting along”, because our harmony is based on the cross of Christ.  Our harmony is to lift the cross of Christ up high, believing that as long as I die with the Lord (“I die” does not mean to compromise), then I will be raised with the Lord; and as long as “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”, then Christ will be in charge of everything.  For example, I am talking to someone and he/she said something that shouldn’t have been said.  Although I didn’t like what he/she said but I was following the Spirit, “Thank you Lord, all is well, all is well, all are for the purpose of building up my character of holiness.”  When I submitted to the Spirit, I was in effect experiencing dying with the Lord, so the great power of Christ’s resurrection will manifest in me and also take control of this matter:  As for me, I am filled with peace and joy because the Lord reigns in me, and I lose a little bit of my old nature because of my submission to the Spirit; as for the other party (may or may not be a believer), because the Lord is in control (the Lord does his work in his own time and in his own way) so maybe one day he/she will realize the wrong that was done and apologize for the offensive language.           

4.      Try to list some factors that affect harmony.  (James 3: 18; Colossians 4: 6; Ephesians 4: 2-3; 5: 21; Titus 3: 2; 1 Corinthians 11: 3-4; 14: 40; Romans 7: 14, 18; 13: 7; 14: 1; 15: 1, 7; 1 Peter 5: 5; Philippians 1: 9-11; Luke 5: 23)

The must-do’s for living in accordance with the Holy Spirit:  Have a regular time for the devotional daily; have a regular time for Bible reading and praying; offer willingly to the Lord a heart of wanting to please God; always ask the Lord for his guidance; and then just follow the inner peace and outer harmony to act.

But, here is the reality:  We were very willing to pursue inner peace and outer harmony; we even prayed in tears: “Oh Lord, I am willing to submit and obey.”  But for whatever reason, after the prayer we again encountered situations that resulted in disharmony.  What was going on here?  Let’s examine some factors that can affect harmony:

(1)   Peace:  “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3: 18)

      We all desire peace, but first we should note that if you sow in peace you will raise a harvest of peace.  For example, God moved me to talk to someone, but whether I was peaceful in the attitude I had, in the words I used, or in the circumstance I chose would become factors affecting the overall harmony of this interaction.  For instance, I said to a sister in private: “I would like to exchange ideas with you on this one thing; I felt what you said the other day was inappropriate; what do you think?”  This is one way to handle this.  Or I could talk to that sister in front of everybody: “Sister, how come you said those things the other day, that wasn’t right; that was offensive to God and to brothers and sisters.”  This is another way to handle it.  Which way is more likely to lead to a peaceful result?  Of course it is the first one.  Brothers and sisters, when God moves us to talk to someone or to do something, we should also pray and ask what attitude, or what words, or what approach we should use.  Let’s memorize this passage: “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”  Although God may move you to do something or say something, but because of the attitude, the words, and the approach you use are not peaceful, the result will be disharmony.  When disharmony occurs, we should pause and pray: “Oh Lord, I don’t know what the problem is between that sister and me or why there is disharmony between us, may the Lord enlighten me.”

(2)   “accept each other” (see Romans 14: 1):

      Many issues arise due to the differences in personality and style, and not a matter of right or wrong.  For instance, some people speak slowly and some speak quickly; some people are more outspoken, and some are less inclined to speak out, everyone is different.  An elderly sister told me: “I like that person the least.”  So I asked: “what’s the problem?”  She answered: “Whenever she sees me she just comes near and holds my hands but says nothing.”  I said: “This sister is an introvert, she doesn’t like to talk but we should accept her.”  This elderly sister is an extrovert and likes to talk, so she is not fond of people who are of few words, and even complains to me about it.  This is not an issue involving the truth or principles, as a matter of fact it’s not even an issue; it’s just a matter of different personal traits.  Sometimes the disharmony stems from our not accepting others; therefore we should train ourselves in accepting each other.

(3)   “The strong ought to bear with the failing of the weak.” (Romans 15: 1)   

      Some brothers and sisters think they are very spiritual and strong: “I have read the Bible plenty times; I have a good understanding of the truth; I am full of zeal; and I passionately serve in all church ministries.”  Then these brothers and sisters ought to bear with the failing of the weak in the church.  But the funny thing is, in society and family life we all understand the teaching of “the strong ought to bear with the weak”, yet in the church the opposite is true – “the weak must bear with the strong” because the strong exert high pressure on the weak to drag them along.  What happens if the weak cannot keep up with the strong?  For those who are introverted, they won’t say anything on the outside but are full of resentment inside; for those who are more outspoken, they will talk back right there and then, so the end result is disharmony.  A crucial point of the law of the Spirit is that it makes demands on us according to the level of our life growth.  The strong can pray for the weak, can provide support and exhortation, but should never exert pressure on them.  Often times because the strong cannot bear with the failing of the weak, resulting in many arguments and disharmonies.

(4)   “Be submissive toward one another”  (1 Peter 5: 5)

      Among the co-workers, there should be no arguments about who ranks above whom, such as: “Who do you think you are?  Why should I listen to you?”  The attitude of this kind of thinking is not the attitude of submitting to each other.  We must pursue to have a God-fearing heart, to be submissive toward each other, and to have the mind of taking up the cross to follow the Lord:  “Lord, now the co-workers are of different opinions, I hand over this matter to you; it’s in your hands now.”  After having expressed your view, with a heart of submitting to one another, you should follow the way of the cross by laying down your sovereignty and setting aside your opinion.  Do you believe that our God is the one “who calls things that are not as though they were and gives life to the dead”?  Do you believe that your opinion or view, if it is from God and even though you have set it aside, God will turn it from nothing (having been set aside) to something (being brought up again), and resurrect it?  Today we are constantly fighting and arguing with each other because of our lack of faith, we don’t believe that if we die with the Lord, we will be raised with the Lord; and don’t believe that if we die, the Lord will live.  We cannot submit to each other because we are not walking on the way of the cross; thinking that if I die I go to the hades to rot and decay and to be taken advantage of.  It is all the same at home, in church, and in society, not being able to submit to each other, is a factor affecting group harmony.  Only through the way of the cross will we be able to submit to each other.

(5)   “One’s responsibility and duty”  (Romans 13: 7)   

It is difficult to achieve harmony if people don’t fulfill their responsibilities and duties.  For example, the Bible clearly teaches us:  how the wives should treat their husbands; how the daughters-in-law should treat their in-laws; how mothers should treat their children; and how people should treat their elders in church, etc.  Often times, because of our ignorance in our responsibilities and duties we cannot maintain harmony.

(6)   “self-control” (Galatians 5: 23)

      The lack of self-control is often the cause of disharmony.  I am a person who is seriously lacking in self-control; I like to over-book my schedule to the point that if anything pops up then I will run out of time.  When that happens, I would get mad and blame the whole thing on the thing that popped up outside of my schedule.  Over time, God gradually let me realize that it all stems from my lack of self-control.  Regarding time management and schedule arrangement we should really pray to the Lord for guidance; we should pray about what we should be doing today as well as how to go about it.  As an example, if we don’t pray earnestly and just zealously go out to try to spread the Gospel, we will find ourselves so exhausted that we lose our appetite; on one hand our body is not in harmony, on the other hand our temper will flare up for sure so we are not in harmony with others.  Therefore, lack of self-control will bring disharmony.

(7)   “self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-centeredness”

      “Self-centeredness” is a fundamental factor that can affect harmony:  As soon as we put out the notion that the center of attention is “I (or me)”, there will be disharmony.  For example:  Why did others look at “me” that way?  Why doesn’t he respect “me”?  Why?

      So, brothers and sisters, how do we live under the law of the Spirit of life?  In our everyday life, the Holy Spirit guides us in all things; all we have to do is “to submit to” and “to rely on” the Spirit, and follow our inner peace and outer harmony to act.  When we are faced with our cross but cannot “submit” to the Spirit by saying, “Yes, Lord, all these things are to build up my character of holiness ….”, then we should “rely” on the Spirit through our prayer: “Oh Lord, save me, save me, set me free from myself; I hand over myself to you and ask you to fulfill all things in me.  I am looking up to you, looking up to you …”.  If there is any disruption of inner peace, or outer harmony, then the absence of peace and harmony is also our cross to face; we should quiet down and call on the Lord, “Oh Lord, Where did we go wrong?  We pray that you would enlighten us if we have any iniquities.”  When we are willing to call on the Lord, the Holy Spirit will shine on us and show us what the cause of our disharmony is; we should immediately follow the Spirit by taking actions to eliminate the cause and thereby attain harmony.  The way God leads us is very simple: just submit, submit and submit; rely, rely, and rely.  Brothers and sisters, all disharmonies that have happened, we must acknowledge that is the sovereignty of God; don’t treat them as other people’s problem.  Focus on the disharmony and ask God to enlighten you, do not try to argue your case with reasons and causes, just acknowledge that this is God’s will in light of your condition, God wants to set you free from your “self-centeredness”, and is a small but very important step on the journey of “the way of the cross” to free you from your old nature.  The true nature of us humans:  If there is disharmony, it is always someone else’s fault.  But now that we are journeying on the way of the cross, living under the law of the Spirit of life, uniting with the Lord through prayer in all things, and acknowledging that whatever happens to us is a part of God’s plan to build our character of holiness and to free us from our old-selves so as to put on the new-selves; it is important for us to fully understand this.  As for others, because of our exalting the Lord’s cross, dying and being raised with the Lord; the Lord will teach them – when death is working in us, then rebirth will be working in them.  Brothers and sisters, let’s experience this together through our faith!

5.      Have you ever experienced the following: “peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness”?  (James 3: 18)

I once saw a man accidently stepped on another person’s shoe and apologized right away, as he was saying “I’m sorry”, he also reached down to wipe the shoe of the other person, and that was the end of that incident.  However, sometimes the same thing happened, one person would say, “Are you blind or something?” and the other person would reply, “I didn’t do it on purpose”, then verbal altercation followed.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness!  Many things started out as trivial but were not handled in a peaceful manner and ended up as big problems:  sometimes our words were not peaceful, our attitude was not peaceful, our actions were not peaceful, etc.         

6.      What should our attitude be when faced with disharmony?  (Ephesians 3: 14-17)

      When we face disharmonious situations, we should not blame others but just say: “Oh Lord, I thank you; all these are for the purpose of building up my character of holiness; for sure there are areas that I need to build up on; Lord, I pray and ask that you enlighten me and lead me.”  Acknowledge God’s sovereignty:  All that have happened to me are to help my life grow; all that have happened are just one step in God’s plan to make me take off my “self-centeredness”; all that have happened to me are just one step in letting God be in charge in my life, so that I may pursue a life of “God-centeredness”.  Our attitude is: “Lord, all that happened to us are good, Lord, I thank you, in all things we see your goodness.  As for others, Lord you will deal with them so we shouldn’t concern ourselves with them.”

7.      How to train on the law of the Spirit of life – to what extent should we train ourselves?  (Hebrews 5: 14)

Hebrews 5: 14 says, “…who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”  What is the meaning of this passage?

(1)   “by constant use”

      We have repeatedly talked about the things that we encounter every day (our cross), are all for the purpose of building up our character of holiness.  The things we face daily let us practice this sentence: “Give thanks to the Lord, this is my cross, God is in charge with absolute sovereignty, all are for building my character of holiness.”  Use just this one sentence, and practice just this one point.  Through constant use of this approach, we can train ourselves to the point that:  When something happens, acknowledge that this is our cross.  Then just go back in front of the Lord and acknowledge the sovereignty of God and acknowledge that all is for the purpose of building me up.

(2)   “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil”:

      What does it mean to be “able to distinguish good from evil”?  That is being able to tell what is good and what is not good.  “Good” in the original Bible text means “without blemish, pleasing to God, and conform to the truth of salvation.”  That is to say, those who by constant use of their minds have trained themselves to distinguish what the true preaching of the cross is, and what is the way to please God.  Brothers and sisters, this is so important for us to learn, whenever there is disharmony among us, instead of constantly using our spiritual minds to train ourselves on the way of the cross, we would begin to reason with each other.  Brothers and sisters, why don’t we walk on “the way of the cross”?  Co-workers, if the families of our brothers and sisters have issues, let us exalt the cross together instead of discussing the situations; let us pray together, “Oh Lord!  Oh Lord!  You save this family; you bless this family; you also free us from ourselves so that you may be the Lord and the king in us, oh Lord!  All that happen to these brothers and sisters are their crosses; may the Lord open their spiritual eyes and strengthen their inner fortitude.”  We must train ourselves to have a spiritual mind and say, “This is my cross, its purpose is to build up my character of holiness; since God allows it to happen to me; there must be God’s good intension in it.  Give thanks to the Lord, for letting me rely on you, Lord, I ask you to teach me how to face this situation, teach me, oh Lord.”  When you can do this then you have been trained to distinguish good from evil.          

8.      How to train on the law of the Spirit of life – how to train yourself to be godly?  (1 Timothy 4: 7-8; James 1: 26; Philippians 2: 14-16; 1 Corinthians 9: 27)

(1)   “Train yourself to be godly”:

      In “training yourself to be godly”, what we are training on is achieving the inner peace and outer harmony.  If your heart is not peaceful then take no action (that includes saying nothing); even if there is inner peace but without outer harmony, again take no action (or saying nothing).  For example, a corrupt person like me always likes to reason with people; my favorite saying is this: “I don’t argue with people, I just reason with them.”  If my husband criticized me on something, I would always give him my reasoning.  In the past I would often say: “See, I was justified, there was a good reason for what I did, why would you want to wrong me and not give me the chance to tell you my reasons.”  When that happened, we were not in harmony.  Give thanks to the Lord for his grace, after I got on the way of the cross and started to train myself on obeying and relying on the Holy Spirit to act; if I did something inappropriate and my husband said something, I could catch myself on the verge of trying to justify my actions.  Gradually, I have trained myself to accept that this is my cross, and it’s a step in getting rid of my old nature.  So the occasions of my trying to justify my actions became less and less or even stopped all together.  Brothers and sisters, to train yourself to be godly is to practice the following:  When you don’t have complete peace in your heart, do not take actions, when the outer harmony is lost, you should stop.  Andrew Murray once said that disharmony arose when we were controlled by the sinful nature.  Brothers and sisters, can the Holy Spirit exhibit disharmony?  Therefore, if there is any disharmony between us and others then we should take a pause (whether it’s action or speaking).  Quarrel is the beginning of strife and what comes next is fighting.  We must train ourselves to be godly, and train ourselves to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to act.  When there is inner peace and outer harmony then we can speak up, however, if half way through and disharmony surfaces, then we should stop.  In fact, just like driving a car, if the traffic light is green you may go, if it’s red then you must stop.  It’s that simple, just train yourselves to submit and to rely on the Holy Spirit to act, then your bad temper will improve little by little, though it is far from being able to completely eliminate it but I know for sure that during your training to be godly, God will fulfill his work in you.  There is an old Chinese saying: “It’s easier to move mountains than to change one’s true nature”; indeed, aside from Jesus there is no other way for our salvation; our true nature is being broken up and crushed by the power of God (the great power of the cross) (see Matthew 21: 44).  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Lord!  We praise you!  Just crush it and never mind about whether it will cause any pain in us.

(2)   “Keeping a tight rein on one’s tongue”:

      There is a very important thing discussed in James 1: 26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”  When disharmony occurs, it is very easy for people to want to offer their opinions; therefore, a very important point for us to remember is to “keep a tight rein on our tongue”.  This is analogous to our driving a car, every car has a brake, if the brake is out of order we must fix it right away; when we journey on the road of taking up our own cross to follow the Lord and train on submitting and relying on the Holy Spirit to act, our “brake” is “keeping a tight rein on our tongue”.

      When we train ourselves to be godly, we are training to have inner peace and outer harmony.  If we detect any hint of disharmony, the first thing to do is to apply the brake.  We should pray to ask the Lord to keep a tight rein on our tongue (it’s not by our own self-control, rather to look up to the Lord to save us), so we would stop talking.  We pray like this: “Lord, keep a tight rein on my tongue, keep a tight rein on my tongue.  Lord, guide me in every step I take …..”.  And then we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” in asking the Lord to guide us.                 

            Prayer:  Oh the Triune God, we are so thankful to you, you gave us the law of the Spirit of life; it was just that simple, you didn’t ask us to do anything in return.  Because on the throne you are the law maker; when we call on the name of the Lord, you are the law-abider in us; you guide us according to the level of our life growth; that is why we feel so free.  Give thanks to the Lord, in our everyday life, when faced with our daily cross, all we need to do is to train on having inner peace and outer harmony, and to train on looking up to the Holy Spirit to restraint our tongues; may the Holy Spirit constantly train us to distinguish good from evil.  Lord, we desire to continually train ourselves to be godly, may the Lord guide us and lead us.  In Jesus Christ’s name we pray!  Amen!