Divine Life And Love Through The Spirit
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (1 John 2:15). But all experience proves that loving not is only possible through loving, the worldly affection being overcome by the heavenly.
We find this method clearly exhibited in the Word. "The love of the Spirit" is given us for overcoming the world (Rom. 15:30). The divine life is the source of the divine love. Therefore, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). Because we are by nature so wholly without heavenly affection, God, through the indwelling Spirit, gives us His own love with which to love Himself. Herein is the highest credential of discipleship: "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). As Christ manifested to the world the love of the Father, so are we to manifest the love of Christ Ė a manifestation, however, which is only possible because of our possessorship of a common life. As one has truly said concerning our Saviorís command to His disciples to love one another: "It is a command which would be utterly idle and futile were it not that He, the ever-loving One, is willing to put His own love within me. The command is really no more than to be a branch of the true vine. I am to cease from my own living and loving, and yield myself to the expression of Christís love."
And what is true of the love of Christ is true of the likeness of Christ. How is the likeness acquired? Through contemplation and imitation? So some have taught. And it is true, if only the indwelling Spirit is behind all, beneath all, and effectually operative in all. As it is written: "But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18). It is only the Spirit of the Lord dwelling within us that can fashion us to the image of the Lord set before us. Who is sufficient by external imitation of Christ to become conformed to the likeness of Christ? Imagine one without genius and devoid of the artistís training sitting down before Raphaelís famous picture of the Transfiguration and attempting to reproduce it. How crude and mechanical and lifeless his work would be! But if such a thing were possible that the spirit of Raphael should enter into the man and obtain the mastery of his mind and eye and hand, it would be entirely possible that he should paint this masterpiece; for it would simply be Raphael reproducing Raphael. And this in a mystery is what is true of the disciple filled with the Holy Ghost. Christ, who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15), is set before him as his divine pattern, and Christ by the Spirit dwells within him as a divine life, and Christ is able to image forth Christ from the interior life to the outward example.
But we must surrender ourselves to the divine action by living in the Spirit and praying in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit, all of which conditions are as essential to our development in holiness, as the rain and the sunshine are to the growth of the oak.
Taken from The Ministry of the Spirit by A. J. Gordon.