Watchman Nee might have said that to many Christians the normal Christian life is some strand or variation of the old covenant mentality - a mindset where people live from a system of ethics, a belief system and a community of morality in the supposition that this is the Kingdom. But in the new covenant age we need to understand that sin is not the transgression of the law. It is a refusal to live in our union with God and the reality of Christ our life.
‘Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children’ Gal 4.25 NIV.
Men and women of God had the anointing in the Old Testament. But none lived in The Spirit of Sonship and none were incarnated with The Trinity. This is because they were potentially sons but not yet sons in spirit and in truth. This had to await our Messiah and the incarnation of His life as ours. This was the result of the cross, the at-one-ment and the Spirit poured out. The anointing is not life in the Spirit. The anointing is the result of our life in the Spirit of Sonship. The latter is our life in God as established sons, rooted in Our Father through the at-one-ment accomplished by God and gifted to us.
‘In the Spirit’ is entirely a new testament entity. It did not just miraculously appear because it could. It is not self-sustaining and is never a thing in itself. Without our embrace of the at-one-ment, charisma and the gifts inevitably fade and are a dead duck. As with Jesus so with us - the anointed life happens because we and our Father are one. Jesus’ had the Spirit without limit because He and His Father were one. Under the principle of the vicarious humanity of Christ, what belongs to Jesus is ours. No one can undo this. Thus we and Father are one and more. We have been drawn into the heavenly family to live in our inheritance as the sons and daughters of God. But this is an offence to religion just as it was to those who wanted to stone Jesus for declaring the truth about Himself that is now the truth about us.
‘No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. IandtheFatherare one. At this, the Jews again picked up stones to stone Him’ John 10.29-31 NIV.
Fullness in Christ never happens because everyone is operating in the gifts. The gifts happen because we are in the fullness of union with God. But this oneness is diminished and we are enfeebled in spirit should we remain in the law and the old covenant mindset and culture. If here we live in partiality and lack. Fullness refers firstly to individually living in the entirety of what Jesus achieved for us. Secondly fullness means living in the inheritance of all Believers who are living as sons rather than as workers and slaves. This is Paul’s point in Galatians in regard to the sons of the free woman and the sons of the slave woman. The point is, whose sons are we?
‘But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman’ GAL 4.30-31 NIV.
The meaning of ‘fullness’ is to be living to the full potential of sons firstly as individuals and secondly as the church. Fullness happens as we live in the gospel of the Kingdom. Fullness is negated and vitiated when we live in the law and old covenant. Fullness will not be ours because we have the Holy Spirit. Fullness is ours because Christ is our life and we are one with our Father. Fullness is our inheritance when we live in the at-one-ment of God.
‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’ Eph 2.14 NIV.
The state of being we call 'in the Spirit' is the result of our rootedness in the person of God as opposed to our rootedness in Adam, the law and old covenant. Jesus the vine roots us in God so that we are the Sons and branches of our Father in Spirit and in truth.
Planted in the law we are but notional sons unable to realize our potential as real sons because we are outside the reality that is Christ. Joined to Father we are new creation beings alive in the spirit of Sonship. We are the emanation of Our Father. Not notional or theoretical sons but expressions of Father in spirit and truth. The gifts of the Spirit and power from on high are a function of our new covenant union with God. This is the basis of our competence to minister the gospel of the Kingdom rather than merely being career managers of religion and institutionalism. ‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV. The new covenant is not a theological curiosity or an extra that we are at liberty to pick up or lay down according to choice. As Christ our life it is the foundation of the Kingdom and the difference between the life of God and well-intentioned religion.
Life in the Spirit flows out of Sonship and the better covenant that is ours when we are separated from the law. It is significant that the anointing of the Spirit with power, came on Jesus following the declaration that 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!' The state of being spirit-filled is a function of our living in 'I and the Father are one.' This is our status in the new covenant. But not under the law or when we live with any attachment to the law or even if we live in the quasi-law of churchianity and the Christian Stuff. Legalism is more subtle and pervasive than many imagine . Oneness is ours when Jesus is our life. But not when we or a bunch of externalities are our life.
‘I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me’ John 17.21 NIV.
One with His Father, Jesus was His representative. This was the ground of His being and apostleship. Separated from Father by attachment to law and old covenant we cannot be apostles or apostolic people in a Kingdom sense. Sure we can be apostles of religion but not apostles of the Father and the Son.
Old covenant and life in the spirit are contradictory. Old covenant and apostle are a contradiction in terms. Law is a negation of apostleship and the Kingdom of God because it is a negation of the Spirit of Sonship in favour of the flesh..
The kingdom of God will not grow out of the old covenant. The anointing and gifts of the Spirit will never become the Kingdom of God should we not have abandoned, Moses, the law, any kind of performance gospel or the more subtle deceits of religion. A law culture is incapable of nurturing the Kingdom and promotes death in the name of life. The gifts that come initially to reveal the glory of Jesus will fade when planted in the garden of the law. Holy Spirit, who lives to bear witness to Jesus does not remain if we ignore the new covenant, seek nurture in an identity separate from Him or plod stubbornly onwards in an Old Testament mindset. First we will just go dormant. Secondly we will become extinct. But there is always resurrection in Christ our life.
‘Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”John 11.25 ESV.