One Sunday, the preacher gave a sermon on shopping carts. He said that it’s righteous to return your shopping cart to its proper place, and it’s unrighteous to leave it in the parking lot, because it’s selfish and inconsiderate of others. Afterward, many people thanked the preacher and said they had been guilty of leaving their carts in the parking lot, but would begin returning them to the storage area. A few were already in the habit of returning their carts and wondered why the preacher thought the children of God had any need of being told that it was the righteous thing to do.
During the next week, all the church members were returning their shopping carts to the storage area. The next week, fewer were doing it, the next week even fewer, and by the fourth week all were back to leaving their carts in the parking lot, except those who had been returning them to storage anyway. Their excuses for leaving them were….the baby was crying; it was raining; they were running late; they were tired; or the store was paying somebody to do it — reasons that justified the decision in their own mind.
This is an illustration to show the difference between a soul that is under the written Law and one that is under the Law of Love, which is one and the same as being under grace. Those professing Christians who began returning their carts, but soon quit doing it, are an example of people who are under the written Law and have not partaken of gospel salvation. Their knowledge of righteousness and their incentive came only from outward instruction. A will to all goodness was not their nature, so their own self-will, self-love, self-seeking, and self-exaltation soon overcame the outward instruction. The preacher’s statement, though correct, fell short of proclaiming the power of the gospel to regenerate them with the Divine nature, which would move them to always, on all occasions, do what is right, and just, and good. Subsequently, they left the church building with good intentions, but were still under the power of sin, so their good intentions were soon overridden by the spirit of this world dwelling within them. The few, in the habit of returning their carts, are examples of souls who have partaken of gospel salvation and are under grace. They had believed the gospel and their souls had turned away from self-love, self-will, and self-seeking to be solely under the illumination of Jesus and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They didn’t need any form of outward instruction or outward incentive to do what was truly good and righteous. It was in their heart because they had received the power of the gospel to free them from the sin nature and regenerate them with the Divine.
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Galatians 5:14). The Law of God can’t be fulfilled by man attempting to love with his own corrupted love, or by his fleshly attempts to follow outward instruction, but only by God’s Divine Love being born in his soul to generate the mindset, all that is allowed, all that is consented to, said, and done (1 John 4:7-21).
All we are and everything we have from the fallen nature is in opposition to Divine love, so it must be given up and absolutely denied in order for the birth of Divine love to occur within us. The fallen nature can no more be made good than darkness can be altered, made better in itself, or transmitted into light—it can only be subservient to the light by being lost in it and swallowed up by it. Since we have our own will, dying to self is the only way the Light or Love of God can have a birth in the soul and overcome the darkness within us (Luke 9:23-27).
Jesus says there is only One who is good and that is God, so there can only be one goodness and that is God’s goodness (Matthew 19:17). Therefore, we are not called to a human, worldly, partial goodness that is suitable to our selfish reason and natural tempers, but to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). The reason being, that if the Heavenly life is that for which man was created, and is that which man has lost, it is not any human goodness, but only a Heavenly birth and Spirit of God’s own goodness working in us, as it does in God, that can make us to be children of the Heavenly Father. Remember that Christian perfection does not consist of having all wisdom, knowing the end of all things, or never making a mistake. Something is “perfect” when it is exactly as it ought to be. We are exactly as we ought to be when our mindset, all we allow, all we consent to, say, and do is being generated and governed by the Spirit of God according to the level of our spiritual maturity.
God is a universal, impartial love—loving and doing every kind of good for its own sake because it is the highest and most perfect working of life, and because everything else but goodness for its own sake is imperfect and is a degree of evil, misery, and death. No creature can come out of its imperfection but by the pure, free, unmixed goodness of God being born in it.
A person’s life is not being generated by the Spirit of Love until their will is to all goodness at all times and on all occasions. They may do many works of kindness, especially when they are not inconvenient, or contrary to their current mood. But the Spirit of Love is not the spirit of a person’s life until they are living freely, willingly, and universally by it. Every spirit acts with freedom and uniqueness according to what it is. It needs no command to live its own life or be what it is any more than wrath needs to be told to be wrathful. Therefore, when Love is truly the spirit of a person’s life, they will always live and work in love, not because of this or that circumstance, but because the Spirit of Love can only love wherever it is and wherever it goes. It is always on the same course just as sparks only fly upwards in both the darkness and the light. The blessing of blessings is to have the God of Love dwelling in your soul and killing every root of pride, lust, envy, and wrath. All needs are satisfied, all the disorders of the fallen nature are removed, no part of life is any longer a burden, every day is a day of peace, and everything you meet becomes a help to you. Since Love has no selfish will and wills nothing but its own increase, everything is like oil to its flame. It must have that which it wills and can’t be disappointed because everything naturally helps it to live its own way and bring forth its own work. The Spirit of Love does not want to be rewarded, honored, or esteemed. Its only desire is to extend itself and become the blessing and happiness of everything it encounters. And therefore, it meets wrath, evil, hatred, inconvenience, and opposition with the same will as the light meets the darkness — to overcome it with all of its blessings.
People may have many outward virtues, and may seem to be doing a lot of good deeds, but if their saying and doing is not generated by the same Spirit within them, by which God Himself is good, all is but a fleshly labor that can have no communication with Heaven, or produce any Heavenly good here on earth.