Examining Our Plane of Life
{From Chapter 10, From the Book  "The Way to Eternal Life" by Steve Brayay}  

Can you begin to see how we are expected to live on a heavenly plane of life far above what anyone can achieve through their own efforts? Jesus was serious when He said that we cannot do anything apart from Him. The branch can only bear the fruit that originates in the genetic makeup of the plant. (John 15:5) It is His Presence within us that lifts our spirit into this heavenly life on the highest plane.

The branch never strains to make the fruit develop into maturity. There is something placed inside a plant by the Creator that naturally produces the fruit. The fruit is to naturally flow out of the inner nature. While man can train himself to produce a crude facsimile of the Spirit's fruit, a close examination will reveal how it does not have its source in the ever-flowing life of Jesus Christ.

We know that certain traits can be developed by people who do not profess to be Christians. The people of the world, as they seek to display their own glory, will go to great lengths to make themselves look good in the eyes of others. An Olympic athlete will "flee youthful lusts" and even "keep himself unspotted" from sinful conduct so he may win the prize. A businessman will "control" his temper to improve his business. You can expect a society lady to remain outwardly "sweet" in order to maintain her image, even when you spill tea on her lovely dress. It is in this sense that many Christians have learned to "school" themselves in religion. But these efforts to be "right" will never result in a nature that naturally and consistently produces God's life of holy love in every situation.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. (Jam. 3:17)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

We all start out trying to imitate Christ by conforming ourselves to God's Word. We might refer to it as "The Promising Way." It looks so attractive and right; and it appears so likely to succeed. Surely it is a splendid thing to imitate Christ. But can it be done? You say, "I can try." But let us reply with Paul's response to the Galatians: "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect {in love} by the flesh {your own human strength and efforts}?" (Gal. 3:3)

Jesus promised to come and dwell in our hearts by faith. Surely this is much better than having Christ as my helper while I strive to make myself like Him. We are to abide in Him, and He in us.

You may be saying to yourself, "There is nothing new in this." No, indeed; but have you acted upon it? Many have known these truths for years without fully responding to the conditions. There must be a day when we die to the independent and self-sufficient ways of the world. God's way for insuring that each of His children would be enabled to live on the highest plane of spiritual life regardless of their own abilities, was by making the life available through faith.

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all... (Rom. 4:16)

When God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,"(Gen. 1:26) He knew that it would be necessary to have the Living Word residing within the heart of man. He did not give Adam an instruction book to follow. God supplied Adam with life from heaven. The Living Word—the Son—was in him, manifesting God's image through Adam's human body. The Son has always been the "light of life" and the "light of men." (John 8:12; John 1:4) It was only after man lost the eternal zoe life of God out of his soul that he needed an instruction book to teach him how to live. But today we have access to the eternal life that Adam lost. And so we can get by without a teacher or an instruction book if we will truly abide in Christ by responding to every leading of His Spirit.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth... He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine {the eternal zoe life} and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father {the life that originates in Him} is mine... (John 16:13-15 NIV)

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is will abide in Him {share with Christ in His eternal life}. (1 John 2:27)

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life {zoe}, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 5:11)

There are people in the church who think they have made themselves right by conforming to certain outward standards as the Pharisees did. But it requires a great deal of rationalization to come to this conclusion. There will inevitably be discrepancies between what the Word requires and what is taking place in their life.

The real trouble is that so many people who deplore "higher criticism," tend to indulge in what might be called the "highest criticism." They do not deny the truth found in God's Word, but they are always toning it down to levels that will permit them to remain comfortable with their current Christian experience. They do not honestly search the Scriptures to see if they are meeting every mark that God requires of them.

Even when they see something amiss, instead of acknowledging the discrepancies in their life, which would eventually turn everyone to Christ for His heavenly life, there is a tendency to rationalize why certain commands do not apply. Oh, if we could only take Christ at His word and recognize the need for complete conformity!

At this point, we want to remind every earnest soul of the need for confessing everything coming out of them that is not in complete agreement with the light of life as revealed through Jesus. People who have built their spiritual life on a foundation of self-effort do not like to confess what is wrong in their life. The pride of life keeps them from acknowledging their faults because it would continually tear down the psuche life they are attempting to build. But once we understand how we cannot produce our own righteousness and that nothing from the self-originated form of life is any good, it becomes easy to confess the corruption that God exposes. This is what prepares us to count everything from ourselves as loss, so that we may come to a knowledge of the life of Christ and receive His gift of righteousness by faith. (Phil. 3:8-10; Rom. 5:17)

The key to entering into this heavenly life is the confession of everything that is contrary to the life that Jesus revealed. If we will confess the discrepancies, yield to the light of truth, and look to Christ to make His life a part of our very nature, He will save us from all unrighteousness.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Our responsibility is to confess everything that is wrong. It is Christ's responsibility to cleanse us from "all unrighteousness."

Holiness people tend to rationalize why the "wrong" is not sin. Since they believe they are sanctified wholly and cannot sin, they must call their inappropriate behavior something other than sin. This is what has prevented many of them from being turned into a true display of Christ's life of perfect love. In spite of their high religious standards, many of them continue to have attitudes and carnal traits that have turned many away from Christ. The children are being lost at a very high rate because they do not necessarily want what they have seen in the nature of their parents. They see the hypocrisy between their profession and what frequently comes out of them.

We should also acknowledge that the rich young ruler was able to see the eternal life in Jesus. There was something very special in Christ's nature that he wanted to possess. Everyone would like to be consistently filled with God's eternal life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. But this young ruler was unwilling to give up the psuche life he had developed from the things of the world in order to receive it. Jesus can only give His eternal life to those who die to self-will so they may follow the leading of His Spirit. "My sheep hear My voice...and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life..."

The point being, that if people turned away from the eternal life that could be seen through Jesus, we can expect some children to turn away from the eternal life no matter what. They will choose to live by their own will and develop their own psuche life from the things of this world. But the problem today is that they are seeing religion without the eternal life. And mere religion has little drawing power in comparison to living for self in the world.

We definitely need more people revealing the eternal life. And if we are to have them, it will be necessary to confess everything in the nature that is contrary to the fruit of Christ's Spirit. Those who truly die to everything that is self-originated and begin looking to Christ alone to be the source of their life, have nothing to fear when they confess these discrepancies to Him. If they can see that their hope is in Christ rather than in themselves, they will be willing to confess everything He reveals so that He may cleanse them from all unrighteousness.

There are many examples that could be used in considering this matter of fully conforming to God's requirements. His command to love "as He loved" would be high on the list. But we have attended enough Bible classes to know that most Christians believe they do love God and others. Even though we have previously discussed how Paul defined love to the Corinthians, the English word remains so nebulous and adaptable to so many different opinions that it is difficult to use it as a marker of life on the highest spiritual plane.

We will therefore consider God's command not to be anxious. This is a hard one to get around. "Be anxious for nothing..." (Phil. 4:6) Those who have been empowered by the Spirit to consistently obey this command can know they are now living on the highest spiritual plane.

It does not take us long to discover how the flesh-life becomes anxious about many things. At the same time, we need to realize that the Spirit does not become anxious because there is in God's very nature a deep sense of heavenly peace.

Even earnest Christians will find themselves coming up against situations they believe gives them a right to disobey God by being anxious. They will insist that obeying this command is beyond their power. And while in once sense this is true, it is within the grasp of faith to be filled with Christ's Spirit. And since the flesh-life can be crucified {the source of anxiety can be "done away with" – (Rom. 6:6)} and the Spirit is available to fill our soul, we can potentially be set free from this sin. For the Kingdom-life of our Lord is a consistent display of "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

The only way we will ever obey this law is by sharing with God in His heavenly life. It is the "peace of God" filling our soul that keeps us from ever being anxious about the things of this world. His conscious Presence within us makes us fully aware of His absolute sovereignty. And so regardless of the apparent difficulties taking place around us, we know that everything is working together for our eternal good and God's glory.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His be conformed to the image of His Son... (Rom. 8:28-29)

People who live by their own strength and try to control the providences of their life will naturally have many things to worry about. The more a person attempts to dominate and control his environment, the more he can expect to have anxious moments. These self-sufficient Christians will also have a very difficult time trying to display Christ's nature of love when their will has been crossed and things are interfering with their plans. It will be obvious to those who are close to them how they are not sharing fully with Christ in His divine love.

While anxious thoughts can rise up without the consent of our will and not be sin, they become sin if we permit them to go on. The real sin comes from not seeking out the remedy that God has provided to do away with this carnal trait.

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son...that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled {fully met - NIV} in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3-4)

Many Christians will admit they are anxious about many things. A physician once said, "May I make a remark about you clergy? Many people consult me, but I find that you leaders of religion are just as anxious about your bodies as men who profess no religion at all." What a rebuke! If our spiritual leaders do not obey this command, how are we to ever lead the multitudes into a faith that will look to Christ to enable them to fulfill all the righteous requirements of the law?

Paul had learned the secret to being content in every situation. Contentment excludes anxiety and worry. He did not care if the Lord kept him in this world to spend more time suffering for the work of God's kingdom or if the Lord chose to take him from the world. He left all those decisions to the Lord. He had died to his own will and had entered into a deep rest in God's will. His one purpose in life was to respond to the leading of the Spirit. Because He had complete faith in His Sovereign God, he could keep His mind on things above and remain hidden with Christ in the heavenly realms. (Col. 3:1-3)

Do you remember when Paul and Silas were in the inner prison locked in stocks after receiving a severe beating? We do not find them either anxious about their future or complaining about their unfair treatment. They did not lose their spiritual life when they had a "bad day." Because they were receiving their "life" from another realm, they were in a spiritual state that permitted them to sing praises to the Lord in spite of their painful situation. We are not surprised that the jailer and all his family sought out the salvation that both Paul and Silas revealed before their eyes.

Paul never tired of speaking about the peace and joy he received from the Lord. And if anyone might have a reason for being anxious about each new day, it was Paul. But regardless of his hardships, he spoke of rejoicing always. He had found the secret for being content. The secret was the Presence of Christ's heavenly life dwelling within his soul. "It pleased reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles." (Gal 1:15-16)

From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things... (2 Cor 11:24-28)

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content {there is no anxiety in contentment}... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:11, 13)

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Phil. 4:4)

The fact that earnest Christians become anxious about certain things does not mean they do not have a saving relationship with Christ. But it is something that needs to be confessed and acknowledged as wrong. It is a sinful trait that prevents others from seeing the true salvation of the Lord. And the fact that it still rises out of the heart also reveals how there is a higher plane of salvation available through faith. "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit..." (Matt. 7:18)

Read again the earlier statement about what divine love does and what it eliminates {in Chapter 3 – New Testament Salvation}. Included in the list of things it expels are impatience, unkindness, jealousy, envy, boasting, self-assertion, pride, foolishness, selfishness, self-seeking, selfish anger, irritability, bad temper, fretfulness, uncharitable remarks, complaining, despair and despondency. We cannot consistently reveal Christ's life of holy love when some of these traits are a part of our nature. It results in a carnal darkness that prevents others from seeing the Saving Life of Jesus. But praise the Lord, we have a Savior who can deliver us from everything that is contrary to His divine nature!

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him... (Heb. 7:25)

"We may be quite sure of three things," says Francis Ridley Havergal. "First, that whatever our Lord commands us, He really means us to do. Secondly, that whatever He commands us is 'for our good always.' And thirdly, that whatever He commands He is able and willing to enable us to do, for 'all God's biddings are enablings.' " Let us therefore submit to His full salvation so that as His church body, we may begin displaying to the world the true glory of our God.