The Preeminent Mark of a Life Governed by the Spirit
The mark of a life governed by the Holy Spirit is that such a life is continually and ever more and more occupied with Christ, that Christ is becoming greater and greater as time goes on. The effect of the Holy Spirit's work in us is to bring us to the shore of a mighty ocean which reaches far, far beyond our range, and concerning which we feel - Oh, the depths, the fullness, of Christ! If we live as long as ever man lived, we shall still be only on the fringe of this vast fullness that Christ is.
Now, that at once becomes a challenge to us before we go any further. These are not just words. This is not just rhetoric; this is truth. Let us ask our hearts at once: "Is this true in our case? Is this the kind of life that we know? Are we coming to despair on this matter?" That is to say, that we are glimpsing so much as signified by Christ that we know we are beaten, that we are out of our depth, and will never range all this. It is beyond us, far beyond us, and yet we are drawn on and ever on. Is that true in your experience? That is the mark of a life governed by the Holy Spirit. Christ becomes greater and greater as we go on. If that is true, well, that is the way of life. If ever you and I should come to a place where we think we know, we have it all, we have attained, and from that point thins become static, we may take it that the Holy Spirit has ceased operations and that life has become stultified.
Let us take the example of one who is given to us, I believe, as amongst men, for this very purpose of showing forth God's way, the apostle Paul. The words which he uses to define and express what happened to him right at the commencement are these: "It pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me"(Galatians 1:16). Now that man did a very great deal of teaching and preaching. He put out a great deal. He had a long and very full life, not only in the amount that he put out, but in the concentrated essence which has defeated all the attempts to fathom. At the end of that long life, that full life, that man who said concerning its commencement, "It pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me"; is crying from his heart this cry, "that I may know Him" (Phil. 3:10); indicating surely that with the great initial revelation and all the subsequent and continual unveiling's even being caught up into the third heaven and shown unspeakable things, with all that, at the end he know nothing compared with what there is to be known. That I may know Him! That is the essence of a life governed by the Holy Spirit, and it is that which will deliver us from death, from stagnation, from coming to a standstill. It is the work of the Spirit in the School of Christ to present and to keep in view Christ in His greatness. So God, right at the beginning, brings Christ forth, presents Him, attests Him, and in effect says, This is that to which I will to conform you, to this image!
Yes, but then having the presentation, the basic lessons begin. The Holy Spirit is not satisfied with just giving us a great presentation: He is going to begin real work in relation to that presentation, and we are, under His hand, brought to two or three basic things in our spiritual education.