"The Spirit's Law of Life"
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 - Resurrection Life

(Romans 8:2)

The first thing in experience on the subjective side is not the Cross, if by the Cross you mean the death. The first thing in experience on the subjective side is the Resurrection, and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus made experimental by the inward reception of His Risen Life is the basis of everything else. The Cross has a place prior to that, but not subjectively. Where then, and how then, does the Cross take the prior place? Objectively! Now it is important that we recognise this, that death union with the Lord Jesus Christ is a thing to be recognised as having already transpired, long ago, millenniums ago - "The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world," but of course this thing was put into action on this earth in Calvary, and if you like to begin there you may. We will, for our purpose begin there, that, as we so often say, the Lord Jesus Christ died an inclusive death - "We thus judge that one died in the stead of all, therefore all are dead." Now that is an objective fact. He did that, and we have got to recognise that we died at least two thousand years ago in Christ. By faith we accept that. That is objective.

"My faith would lay her hand on that dear head of Thine." That is the objective fact that the all-inclusive, all-meaning death of Christ was mine, by faith. I accept that, and take my position in that. I look at that, and I say there I am in Calvary; there I died.

Now most of the trouble has arisen through an inadequate recognition of that fact; that we have merely seen that Christ did something for us in the matter of our sins, and not that He did something as us. There is a lot of difference, and what so many of the Lord's children come to recognise after many years of trusting in the Lord for salvation from the guilt and penalty of sin is that they did not know that they, with all that they are, good as well as bad, were abolished in that death. They thought of someTHING having happened, someTHING of themselves having been in that death, and not THEMSELVES as having died. It is most important that we should have the inclusive and conclusive recognition of that fact, and accept it by faith, for that is the basis upon which God begins His activity in us. Now faith begins by recognising and accepting and submitting to an all-inclusive fact as objective there in Christ. Faith immediately demands obedience, for faith and obedience are one law with two sides, and you cannot separate them. You have to be obedient unto that death by faith, and give a very definite declaration of faith to that fact and bear testimony thereto. There is a practical side to it in which you are involved. Now having in the obedience of that faith in the objective thing come to that point where you accept your death, you have come just to the point where God gives you the gift of Eternal Life.

Now the first thing which is subjective, and not objective, is that union with Him in His Risen Life, and having taken your place in the objective fact you come to know the subjective result that you are raised together with Him. That is, you receive the Life of His Resurrection. You only receive it, true, in its beginnings as it were, as a babe, an infant, but you have IT, and then from that time that Life is the basis of everything. It makes possible everything. Beloved, if you were to come experimentally into Calvary without that Life there would be nothing left of you. The Lord dare not take us experimentally into Calvary until He has got something in us that will bring us up, but He can do anything with us when once that Life is really there.

Now the order is firstly, faith in the objective fact, and our obedience of faith in an acceptance thereof, and a declaration of our position therein. That is the first phase of the divine order. The next is the inward, the subjective, the receiving of His Risen Life by faith. Then the third thing is the Cross being made subjective.

I am perfectly certain that much confusion and a terrible amount of paralysis and death is resultant from a continual emphasis upon the subjective death of the Lord Jesus before the Life has had a chance. I wonder if you understand me. I don't want to confuse you, but a continual emphasis upon death, crucified! crucified! will bring you into death, unless you really do know, and unless you do count utterly upon the power of His Risen Life within you. Every bit of the prospect in Life and in service depends upon His Resurrection. If you study that as a truth in the Word of God right through, not only in the New Testament, but in the Old, and especially in the New Testament in the actuality of the thing, you will find that everything rested upon the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. You will find that every movement, the slightest gesture, every step of progress toward the realisation of the Eternal Purpose of God, was by reason of an uprising of that Risen Life; was upon a basis of Resurrection. Now you are launched out into a fairly large realm, but once you get that key, and once the Lord says that in your spirit you will find that your Bible will become a new book, absolutely alive, and wherever you look you will see the law and truth of Resurrection. You know that Pentecost was upon Resurrection ground. Listen to Peter preaching again and see what He is saying. What is his theme? Here is the church merging into its great world testimony, its world vocation by the uprising of the Risen Life of the Lord within it. Now I dare not stay just for the moment to show how far-reaching that truth is: but we must recognise this as the law, that everything, without a single exception depends upon the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ being made a subjective reality in us, and it will only be by that life that we are able to put to death the deeds of the flesh. That is, to make the Cross subjective it will only be as that Life is the actuating principle, the dynamic of your experience that you are able to do anything at all inside, or outside.

The Cross becomes subjective when the Life has become subjective by reason of an attitude and an obedience of faith toward all that the Cross means objectively. You see the order. Now I am not saying this without, I think, an indisputable background - I am as confident of this, as I am of anything in the universe, and the Lord has shown me this so clearly and so thoroughly for sometime past now that I can see that this is the way through, the way out, the law of everything, and there are no possibilities at all until we recognise this fact, that the Resurrection is the supreme thing in the universe. It gives birth and rise to every other possibility in our union with God, and that fact of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus becoming an inward reality in the members of the Body of Christ is the guarantee - provided it is given a clear way, a free course and not checked - of the accomplishment and the achievement of everything that is in the mind and will of God.

Now one is not for a moment putting the Cross in a secondary place - do not misunderstand me - the Cross is absolutely essential, you never get into the Resurrection until you have recognised the Cross; you will never get into the fulness of the Life until, firstly, by faith, you have accepted all that that Cross means for yourself and your whole life, and then having so accepted it you receive the Life of the Resurrection within your spirit. The order of spiritual experience is this: There stands the Cross, there is Christ crucified, and in that One Person God has included all of us, we are all in Him. We recognise that His death is our death. His death is not only the pardon and propitiation for our sins (it is that, blessed be God); it is not only our salvation from hell, and our assurance of heaven (it is that, blessed be God), but that is not enough, it is that it is linked with that great Purpose of God before the world was, to have for Himself an instrument for the universal manifestation of His glory, and that instrument a glorified humanity. It is that the Cross represents the putting away of a humanity that can never be glorified, and in the Resurrection the producing of a humanity that can be glorified. You get an adequate background for this, and you see why you ought to mortify the deeds of the flesh by the power of His Risen Life. Not just because the Lord wants you to go without this and that, and to rob you of anything that is yours, and to narrow down your life and cut off.

When people get that conception of the Cross, that the thing is one continuous cutting off, giving up, saying, die, die, all the time, oh, they get such miserable, such lifeless people, such confused and confounded people, always introspective, looking round to see whether this ought to be, or that ought to be. Oh, it is an awful state of things to be there. Get your background, this vast thing that God has concerning the universe, the revelation of His glory in the universe through a glorified humanity, then put the Cross there, and say, I can never have a place in that as I am. My humanity, thus poisoned at its very spring by sin, God can never glorify, therefore that which is impossible of being glorified must be put away, and I pass out in the humanity that is sin-poisoned and impregnated. But I accept that by faith, I cannot bring that about in myself, but I accept His act for me in that by faith, and I give my deliberate and definite and practical testimony to the fact that when the Lord Jesus died He died in my place - I died. Now I take that as the objective fact by faith, then claim, upon the ground of my faith in that death of the Lord Jesus, His Resurrection Life, the gift of God, which is the Life of the ages, Eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord, and then that Life becomes the principle and basis of making all that that Cross held objectively in itself subjective in me. I can now by a law put to death the deeds of the flesh; I can now, because I am in a place of risen ascendency, say no to my "old man," to my own natural will, No! I could not do it whilst I was down there in death. You see what people are trying to do - dead people are trying to get the better of dead people! Death cannot cast out death! It wants LIFE to conquer death - "The Life whereby Jesus conquered death," says Paul. Now we, by the Life, have a spiritual ascendency and can say, No! effectually from a vantage ground of our Life with the Lord. That is to be our attitude, so that what was in the Cross objectively, can now be made by God subjective in us, and the life increases and abounds as by the Life we conquer the death. We take our position over death in all its forms of expression. Now you see that is the order. I hope it is very clear. Just ask the Lord to write that within.

Resurrection Life

Now one has said this is the basis of everything. You have received a new Life; it is a brand new one such as you knew nothing of before. It is so absolutely fresh to us that in most things we are utter strangers to it in all its laws and workings; so that we now in a new life have got to learn everything over again from the beginning. We are babes - "Except ye become as babes ye cannot enter into the realm of the heavens." You cannot enter the Life of the Heavenly Man without beginning all over again. In the first place you have got to know all over again how to live by a new Life, and not by an old one which is called life, but which God calls "Death," and you will discover if you are really going on with the Lord in His own power, He will teach you that your life is utterly incapable of meeting the requirements of a Heavenly Life; that in no phase or resource of our own natural life can we rise to the demands of a Heavenly Life, and the Lord will all the time be smiting our life, and saying to us, no, you cannot attain unto this in your own resource, this thing can only be done by this new Life. Some of us who have so much of this old life - it is so strong in us - have to be very badly broken all the while in that realm and shown in a very drastic way that this can only be done by His Life, and it will be utterly fatal for us to attempt to do it otherwise. It will be fatal to all the purpose of God in us and through us if our life tries to get in there to do it. It is His Risen Life which is the accomplishing, the achieving, the executive principle of this new realm, and oh, it is so new.

That is where you start, and you will find the Lord works that out. If your life gets up and tries to intrude into the realm of things heavenly, the things of God, you will get smitten, and you will go down. You will discover the Lord simply brings you back to where you were, and you have to start all over again. That is the history of Christendom; it is the history of multitudes of those who profess to be the Lord's people, and everything has got to be learned all over again from babyhood. You have to learn how to walk in this Life and according to this Life, and the baby learning to walk just takes one step at a time - it may be in too much of a hurry with sometimes a tumble and much reaching out to cling on to something. It is learning to walk, finding its feet. It is just where we are in this thing, it is all so new, but we are learning how "to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," and we are learning by the law of this Life.

I do not want to be guilty of underrating your intelligence, but I wonder if you are able to see how this works; how this Life operates to dictate to you in the simplest things, the most commonplace things. You are about to say something, and if really you did listen inside you would hear something, not in word, but in feeling saying, "steady, careful now"; but then you say it. You did not give heed to that Life principle - what is the result? Well, a mess, and you know it; and when you come to sit down and reflect upon it you say, "really I did have a check inside, if only I had listened." It is "the law of the Spirit of Life" trying to "make you free from that law of sin and death." But you see you have learned now, and next time you listen. So in deed, so in methods; and the remarkable thing is that things you never for one moment had any shade of a doubt as to whether they were right and proper come into a realm of question. That is quite all right, you are moving on, you are discovering things, you are in a new world altogether. Things which were to the highest moral sense of the natural man quite correct, come into doubt now you have come into another realm so much higher. You see, you are learning how to walk by a new law of Life. And, beloved, listen, you may have accepted some system from without of laws for daily life, but the Life dictates what you should do, and what you should not do. You have this thing inside which is saying all the time, "yes," and "no"; "you may," and "you may not," and what we have to learn is to walk by that - the Life. And we learn very often by violating it, as we discover by its violation, death, and we have to have in that a hand to hand tussle with the Lord's enemy, with the death which has resulted from the resisting of that very, very sensitive still small voice of Life within. Of course, it is the Holy Spirit in all His intelligence working by the law of Life, because this is "the law of the Spirit of Life." The Spirit of Life in intelligence is not an abstract influence of some kind that is given unto us, it is the Holy Ghost Himself resident within, but His law is Life, and when the Holy Spirit is against the thing, there is death, and that is how we know.

Resurrection Tongues

Now we want to get right back here at the beginning. I have not got past that stage; here I make lots of blunders, and when I sit down and think it over, I know that I was warned, if only I had paused and waited and listened a little longer inside. But we are learning to talk all over again. Then we have to learn to TALK in newness of Life. You remember the word of the wise man "Death and Life are in the power of the tongue." You remember what James says, "The tongue is a little member, but see how great a forest is kindled by this little fire. A ship is a mighty thing, but see how mighty a ship a little rudder can turn," and he says "You can tame any beast in creation, but the tongue can no man tame." "Death and Life are in the power of the tongue." And what we need is Resurrection tongues! Oh, the death streams that go out through our talk, our conversation, our criticism, our talking people over; no bad intention, but just talking them over - death; and you know it. And after a little bit of that you know things have gone wrong; you have dropped down somewhere, and your spiritual life has been checked, blighted, and you have got to have a real good time with the Lord to be able to breathe freely again. You are learning all over again how to talk life. The Lord wants to make us talk in life, instead of death; to cut off by this life the stream of death. You cannot do it until you get life, more life to overcome the deadly poison of talk. You begin there, and don't let anybody think that the Lord will be able to use them with a message of life out to the world until they have learned how to speak in the ordinary way of life, according to life. Your testimony in the gospel, in spoken ministry, beloved, will be based upon this, that He hath touched your lips. "I am a man of unclean lips," and that testimony in that ministry will be completely crippled, paralysed, if in the ordinary conversation of life there is not this principle of Life at work controlling the death. Well, the Lord must teach us that.

I can see that more and more clearly we have got to learn how, by the Spirit, to refuse to discuss people, criticise people, talk people over. With some it is a greater besetment than with others, but with all of us there is a need for this hold of life over death in our lips. We learn to talk all over afresh, we stutter and splutter to begin with and put things wrongly, but we learn by this inward law that says all the time "you know you ought not to have said that." If only you had waited, you knew there was something that would have stopped you from saying it. There is this all the time - to live - to walk - to talk - to know.

Resurrection Knowledge

We are learning a new knowledge according to the heavenly wisdom. One need not stay to speak about that at length, but we have got to come to know things all over afresh from a heavenly standpoint, and our natural wisdom as an expression of our natural life and resource, can never get us through on spiritual matters. You come up against some of the simplest spiritual matters, matters of God, and you will find your most highly and fully developed natural wisdom and knowledge cannot stand you in stead. You are beaten, you cannot handle this thing, and it is only a simple spiritual problem. You cannot get through with any resource of natural understanding, and you come to see that there is something behind these familiar admonitions of the Word - "Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding." There is a big truth there, that your understanding can never get you through on spiritual matters, and that though we may have all knowledge according to this world, we simply fall right short of the simplest Divine knowledge, the gift of wisdom and revelation. It is a new knowledge. You can break that up into its many phases.

We know we cannot do things now as we used to do them, we have come to see that our works for the Lord are not necessarily the works of the Lord; that our multitude of activities in the Name of the Lord with the very best of motives and the purest of desires do not accomplish the end of God. We do not get through, we are beaten; we have gone out to do the Lord's work instead of coming to the place where He can do His own work through us. A big difference, a mighty difference! Beloved, unless the Lord does every bit of the work it will never be done, and the Lord's end will never be accomplished. And that is why the Lord has to tie us up sooner or later so that our own work - that is - our works for the Lord come to an end, and we recognise that it is death.

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