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The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy

The trouble with legalism is that it is fear based and fails to realize that all things are ours in Christ. Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man.

The trouble with anti-nomialism (prodigality) is that it fails to see that the law of God is the way of life.

I am always inclined toward both because I am always forgetting that I am the Temple of the Living God.

A. W. Tozer once wrote:

Deep inside every man there is a private inner sanctum where dwells the mysterious essence of his being….

The deep-in human entity of which we speak is called in the scriptures the spirit of man….

From man’s standpoint the most tragic loss suffered in the Fall was the vacating of this inner sanctum by the Spirit of God. At the far-in hidden center of man’s being is a bush fitted to be the dwelling place of the Triune God. There God planned to rest and glow with moral and spiritual fire. Man… must now dwell there alone.

If the Spirit of God is united with my spirit, then I delight in the wisdom of God and yearn to walk the paths He has revealed. When I drive Him away, I have, by doing so, chosen other paths, or no path at all. These other paths, even no path, are the way of death.

In my desperation on those paths, I grab anything I can to feed my famished soul. I rob and steal, even from my own soul. Others are a threat to me, so I strive to rise above them. I take what they want for fear that if they get it I can’t have it.

Judging that there is not enough to go around, I take blessed things, and curse them. I make my words a curse. I make my actions a curse. I make myself a curse.

I become anxious and worried about many things, and chase those many things – especially my own security (impossible to secure) and my own glory (impossible to attain).

Am I saying too much to suggest that the movement described is the foundation of what we call “civilization”? It is civilized if the negotiations are orderly and governed by principles. It is barbaric if the negotiations are dominated by nothing but power.

But perhaps we ought to opt out of the negotiations all together.

We are not paupers living off the approval of the world and what it allows us. We are the temple of the living God and heirs with Christ of all things.

It’s not the big issues like political power and careers that concern me. It’s the quotidien: the little things that make up every day life. I remember reading some reflections from Amy Carmichael, collected in a book called If. She wrote things like this (I don’t have the book in front of me and she was much more poetic):

If an unkind word from another causes me to react with wounded pride, like water spilled from a cup, then I know nothing of calvary love.

If I judge a task beneath me because it smells bad or bothers my senses, then I know nothing of calvary love.

It’s that last little phrase that hurt me so much. I would read it like a prodigal being scolded by his older sister. I heard, “You don’t know anything about the love of Christ and you prove it by the way you live.”

I doubt very much that a spirit as focused and wise and devoted to Christ intended it to be taken that way. First, she wrote them, if I recall, as reminders to herself. Second, she was the embodiment of cavalry love.

What then? How can I read these without missing the point?

Let me know what you think. But here’s my initial thought:

If we welcome into the inner sanctum of our spirit the love that Christ expressed for us on cavalry, then insults and losses and pain don’t distract us. Not because we are tough and disciplined, but because the love of Christ is so great and rich and complete that, frankly, we barely notice the other things, which are attempts by the evil spirit to remove us from His love.

Here’s something I read elsewhere:

The return journey from this remote and inhospitable land is not an easy one, and there is no hunger more fearful than that of a heart laid waste by sin. Those in whom the heart is full of the consolation of incorruptible grace can endure all external deprivations and afflictions, transforming them into a feast of spiritual joy, but the famine in a hardened heart lacking divine consolation is a comfortless torment. There is no greater misfortune than that of an insensible and petrified heart that is unable to distinguish between the luminous Way of God’s Providence and the gloomy confusion of the ways of this word.

Deprivations and afflictions transformed into a feast of spiritual joy.

I want that.

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