Deciphering Lanyon

Introduction: I quite often find Walter Lanyon’s writings difficult to wrap my mind around. Some say his prose is not meant to be read with the mind, but with the spirit. However, for me that approach isn’t satisfying. What does it benefit me if I merely understand a thing with my spirit? While reading Lanyon’s “Conception” again (have read it several times before) three paragraphs stood out and I asked some of my friends to help me decipher the text.

After having read Fred Pruitt and DeeDee Winter’s responses the Spirit in earnest began His teaching within me and took me on a journey into the deep things of God and He challenged me concerning many things. While He was working in me it occurred to me that it was not a coincidence that those three paragraphs were highlighted for me and that I was to ask others help me interpret them. Beforehand, I had basically told the Spirit: “I am dumb as a lamb so you have to explain what Lanyon writes here in such a way that it makes sense to me.”

The following is an extract from the exchanges with Fred and DeeDee, respectively.

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Ole Henrik: I am reading old Union Life Mags. Lanyon is given a lot of room. I have to be honest and admit that I do not always understand much of what he is saying. I know Norman spoke highly of him and I know you and I have made some exchanges on Lanyon before. But, if you have time, what on earth is he saying here:

No two men having a given desire will bring out an identical manifestation. If you desired substance, the measure you bring forth would be different from the measure of every other man who desired the same thing. Each one brings out the degree they are able at that time to accept. What is wealth to one might be poverty to another,-and yet it is all one substance. No limitation is put on the measure except the degree of acceptance.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions” – many stages and stages of manifestation. As soon as you have finished with one “mansion”, you enlarge the borders of your tent and move on to another. The degree of acceptance is wholly up to you and it is not determined by your human desires – but by your ability to accept this wonderful revelation of Christ Jesus.

“Who did hinder you, that you should not obey the Truth?” You have blamed everything from birth on to the people and conditions about you – and will continue to do this until you discover that YOU hindered yourself. No one holds you back,-no one stops the flow of Light through your body-temple. At first this is not easy to accept. It is bitter to the taste,-but sweet to the digestion As a good surgeon cuts deep with the first incision instead of cutting away the difficulty bit by bit, so you rid yourself of the hateful habit of blaming everything in the world for your present plight.

Fred: I don’t see anything unclear in this, Ole Henrik. I think it is more straightforward than most of Lanyon. We don’t necessarily have to agree with it all, but what he is saying seems plain enough to me. What is unclear to you?

Ole Henrik: I am trying to articulate myself, but I can’t. I believe I understand the second paragraph pretty clearly. And I think I have a grasp on the third….there are not few who blame their present condition on their past….seemingly unable to get over it and hence look forward and obey the truth; that Christ is that person’s life now.

Is the first paragraph another way of saying: According to your faith be it unto you?

Fred: Yes to your last question. But Lanyon does introduce another matter, the matter of “substance.” When he says it is all the same substance, that forms itself into different things according to the desire of the speaker or maker, according to its ability at that time to bring forth. The “substance” we might say is unformed spirit which is brought into form by our word. It is always working in both the natural and the spiritual, bringing forth everything that comes forth. Same thing in physics more or less. Mark 11:24. It is why the children of Israel could not go into the land the first time but they could go across the Jordan the second time. Where they were in their faith prevented it, they could not, and that was the point of the attempt, to show them themselves, as men of flesh, afraid of the giants and great walled cities. Though they were under the command of God, as was Paul when told “You must not covet,” and though they tried, they could not do it. You see it.

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Ole Henrik: Can you shed some light on what Lanyon is saying here?

DeeDee: It speaks of our individual uniqueness and how we move into the desires God gives…one person one way and another, another way. He challenges in the last paragraph that no one but ourself is responsible for what our lives hold today.

Ole Henrik: Do you agree with Lanyon’s last paragraph? Is it another way of saying: According to your faith be it unto you?

I believe I have seen something today which I haven’t seen before. A part of this dying so that others may have life or this giving up our lives is to turn every negative into something positive in our consciousnesses.

DeeDee: Yes, I do. He is simply stating that we, and only we, are responsible for our lives. A good example is infant baptism in the Catholic Church. They believe that a parent taking a child to be baptized and the priest who performs the rite are responsible for that infant having eternal life. I do not believe Scripture supports this nor does my personal experience. Only I can choose or reject God’s call to me.

This is the same with everything that comes my way. That is why we see two with similar life-events and one goes one way and the other another way. The events are the same, but our response to them is ours alone.

Yes, we can speak life or death…

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Endnote: I was by the Spirit challenged chiefly concerning two things. With a clarity never given me before I saw the difference between works and rest. God rested when creating everything visible by only speaking the word: “Let there be…..” Then on the seventh day He created rest for what He had created. From our position of being in the seventh day of rest we also speak spirit substance into visibility by our words of faith. God’s Word was made flesh. Likewise, by faith our words are made flesh. Again, I so clearly saw how spirit takes form, not by works, but by faith and that includes speaking spirit substance into manifestation.

Next, I was reminded about something the Lord said to Jeremiah: “……you shall be as my mouth” (Jer 15:19). I have to tell you that there was a huge wrestle or fight in me before I could take that in faith and say that this is true about me, and then from that position speak out the things that was pressing on me in that moment.

“If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth.” Like DeeDee said: “Yes, we can speak life or death….” Personally, I prefer to fulfill that “if” by saying that I utter what is precious.

This year I have a class in math where it on the surface seems like an impossible task to bring every pupil in the class through the curriculum with a grade that will make them pass. Confronted with this I have two options: Agree with how things look or speak what is precious. I chose to say that every student will pass and that I have the wisdom and creativity to make that happen. Norman Grubb said: “Faith costs”. There is a sort of death in stating the opposite of what a thing looks on the surface.

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Does the Union-Life perspective encourage license?

By Dan Stone (Union Life Magazine March 1978)

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Does the union-life emphasis upon” Spirit as ultimate reality” encourage license? Directly or indirectly this question is asked of me more than any other.

My first response is the same as Paul’s: “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” (Rom. 6:15). My second response is that I prefer to label as “growing pains” that which others call license. Some might prefer to say that what looks like license is God’s unique way of working His truth into our inner consciousness. At any rate, this subject certainly needs further clarification, for to many observers union-life teaching appears at times to encourage license.

THE PROBLEM PRESENTED BY DUALISTIC THOUGHT

When people first hear union-life or spirit teaching, they tend to express the only point of view available to them. Because they are entrenched in a dualistic outlook, they just naturally translate what they hear as an encouragement to sin. Society trains us to be objective persons (see-aters) who distrust the unseen, the spiritual, or the metaphysical. We are the products of the educational system in which we grew up. Unfortunately, that system has taught us to judge by outer appearances, even though Jesus expressly warned against it. “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

In addition, society has dictated certain standards of conduct for each peer group. These standards are enforced by a reward system which we might call the Law of Rewards. Each peer group extends or withholds favors to its members based upon their conduct. The system is totally based upon performance, on outer actions. Since the system is the dispenser of approval and rewards, persons governed by that system are led to believe that the system is inherently sacred. From such a belief these persons naturally but erroneously conclude that spiritual maturity, begun in Grace, can somehow be completed in works. Of course, union-life teaching intrudes as an unwelcomed contradiction to the Law of Rewards.

An added error emerging from our compliance with the Law of Rewards is the ridiculous notion that we can somehow repay God for His redemptive work. We are led down the path of “commitment to Christ,” of “consecrated self,” and of a myriad of other designations for the same dead-end. We become enmeshed in the Romans Seven syndrome of attempting to do good, but we seldom attain the desired inner consciousness of satisfaction. Our attempts to discipline ourselves or refrain from doing “wrong” end with equally disappointing results. The only way our frustration can ever be appeased is by comparing our meager actions with someone else’s failure; or by excusing our failure in the light of another’s grosser wrong. We find comfort in measuring ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. That approach gives us an outside possibility of overcoming the Romans Seven syndrome.

THE TRANSITION TO INNER CONSCIOUSNESS

To those who hear union-life teaching and know they have, the “eyes of the heart” (Eph. 1:18) have been enlightened. They have taken the Spirit’s bait. They differ now in their inner consciousness, for they are becoming “see-through-ers” rather than “see-at-ers.”

Though the Spirit is beginning His work in the inner man, the new see through-er does not yet live from a fixed inner consciousness. He vacillates between a new awareness of his fixed union with God and an old consciousness of separation from God. But in the process his perspective on life is moving from the level of what is visible to the level of the invisible, which is spirit.

During this period of vacillation, some spectators will inevitably conclude that the believer has fallen into license if his conduct fails to conform to the acceptable pattern of the peer group. This license may take the form of smoking, social drinking, swearing, using make-up, being divorced, an unacceptable sexual practice, or a hundred other activities. The spectators are even more appalled when the believer now takes these deviations not as gross license, but as God’s intended path for him!

What is happening? The believer is moving into a fixed inner consciousness by personally experiencing and acknowledging the Spirit’s work in his humanity. I am the first to admit that many who hear union-life teaching initially interpret it as a green light for increased permissiveness. Some people need to experience a total overthrow of their old standards. But in time they will put aside promiscuous activities, for they will realize that those outer crutches offer nothing more than a new bondage.

This process will appear as license to those who only perceive reality on the performance level. However, what is needed at this juncture is not condemnation, but a patient awareness that God is at work producing a fixed inner consciousness in each believer.

UNION-LIFE TEACHING DOES NOT ENCOURAGE LICENSE

As the inner consciousness becomes his fixed consciousness, the see-through-er discovers in himself the full identity of the One he contains – his ..not I but Christ” Spirit. Colossians 2:9,10 says, “For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have come to fullness of life.” Since all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ, and Christ dwells in the believer, the fullness of Deity (at least qualitatively)dwells in each believer.

Union-life trusts the Spirit to woo and illumine each individual to the awareness of his true position in Christ. We know that God uses alternatives in this matter-life to cause us to know him, to act, or to do whatever He desires from us at the moment. God means us to have the results of our actions. But these results have the purpose of leading us into a fixed inner consciousness of Oneness. Admittedly, some actions appear to plunge the person into further fires of purification .However, these experiences are personal and private, and we dare not judge by unrighteous judgment what God is doing in another’s life. To do so is to tread on holy ground. We must see that life’s actions are designed to purge a person from dualistic living -from separate seeing, from separated choices. These fires of purification drive him to see all outer conduct as the work of the Spirit.

The home-base for the see-througher is the awareness of his own life as an expression of God, the other-lover. This position knows no reward system for good conduct. This path results in a death for us, and in life for others. “So death works in us and life in you” (2 Cor.4:12). Paul also calls it a weakness (2 Cor. 12:5, 9, 10). No one seeks this type of “death”; it is thrust upon him. It is the life for which God has been preparing him. It is summed up in the statement, “a body have you prepared for me” (Heb. 10:15). Temporary excursions into what objective persons call license is but a chapter in the preparation for throne living.

Again, the principle is not life unto life, but death unto life for others. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Life for others comes spontaneously as the container (the person) becomes fixed in his real reason for being. Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 10:39).

Remember my earlier statement, “The work of the Holy Spirit for each person is private and personal.” The work of the Spirit is to transfer one’s perspective from temporary appearances to Spirit reality. He is transferring us into the fixed inner consciousness that the Spirit realm is the realm of Ultimate Reality. As a form of Christ, the see-through-er exists for others. The see-through-er has moved from seeing temporary, outer appearances as Reality to seeing permanent, inner Spirit Reality.

We need not be side-tracked by the seeming inconsistency of outer conduct, for in the spirit realm God has produced the finished product. Outer conduct is never the yardstick for Holy Spirit persons whose inner consciousness is fixed on the permanent reality. Jesus’ own outer conduct was a puzzle to the religious community of His day. Most of them rejected Him. Union-life persons know themselves to be available to God for His purposes, even in the apparent inconsistencies.

Union-life does not encourage license. However, it does see through the temporary outer events of our lives to the inner working of the Holy Spirit. This teaching accepts as the work of the Spirit what some may call license. It speaks the word of faith: “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His own good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

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Thy Kingdom Come

Late last evening I found myself marveling at the word “heart” which we find several places in the Scriptures. My human flesh heart pumps blood which supplies my cells with oxygen. It struck me that my heart consists of two chambers which when the heart contracts or expands work as one unit. It is not so that one chamber suddenly begins to operate on its own as if it is not a part of the heart. While my thoughts were lingering on this physical fact it seemed not far fetched to me to assume that my flesh heart is a parable of what the Bible calls the heart. In other words the “heart” is the spirit/Spirit union – “two chambers” working as one.

I also thought it interesting that what comes into the heart goes out from the heart, or, perhaps: issues from the heart (Proverbs 4:23). So, when Jesus speaks about oneness or we speak about union our physical heart is an outer representation of a spiritual fact. It also seems pretty clear to me that when Jeremiah prophetically speaks about that God will give us a new heart it must mean that the chamber that is evil is circumcised and removed and replaced by a new chamber, that is, God’s Spirit. All this again points to that we humans have no nature of our own. A thought some of you are well familiar with.

This “what comes into the heart goes out from the heart” is Jesus’ main theme while discussing with the Pharisees as recounted in John 8. “You manifest and do the desires of your father” Jesus bluntly told them. “I, however, manifest and do the desires of my Father.” The heart beats with one rhythm. The heart’s other “chamber” decides which rhythm. Notice that Jesus said: “I only do what I see my Father is doing.” Not: “My Father is doing whatever He sees me doing.”

Next, my thoughts were occupied with what happened in Jericho when the walls came tumbling down. God said that He had given the Israelites the city, but what was done in His sight saw its manifestation in the temporal by faith. Everything is done in His sight, but what is done in heaven is only manifested on earth by faith. In heaven all have a new heart, but in the temporal not all have a new heart unless they receive it by faith. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” I am thinking right now based on what I have just penned down that this in many ways explains the uses of the word “all” in some verses in the NT, but in other verses there is a dividing line between those who are “in” and those who are “outside”. Both are true.

There is one thing in particular the Spirit has been pressing on me the last couple of weeks: “You must learn to have two thoughts in your head at the same time.” He Himself fulfills this “must” in me.  So, this is not another subtle law. Why is this so important? Firstly, because the Bible isn’t a book of doctrines. Whatever written must become flesh in us, that is, go from outer knowledge to inner knowing. Secondly, it will keep us from losing balance. I am not very fond of the word “balance”, but in the context of “both are true” it is crucial.

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Making Sense of Spirit-Soul-Heart Part 4

By Fred Pruitt

Now, in the same way these things operate in God in the Spirit, they operate exactly the same in us in the Spirit.

In our innermost being, these same properties I have crudely described “about” God, are working the same way in us. We live and operate in our inner “knowing,” whether we are aware of it or not.

We are driven by the love-fire of God, whether we know it or not. It is our fire, too! (Because we are His!)

And finally we live in a union of wills, Spirit-to-spirit will. Union, almost more than anything else, implies only one will, one determination, one heart and mind. To say we are in union with Christ and then to turn around and say for whatever reason, “I do not will what God wills,” is a total contradiction. Union of persons means union of wills.

Not my will, but thine be done.” That’s the verse everybody uses to “prove” we have a separate will from God and have to work to align it. But that is not what the verse says. Jesus makes no effort to “align” His will with God’s. He simply rejected a “my” will. There is only One Will, the will of the Father in heaven. When we are in His Kingdom, just like we would in any kingdom, we live according to the will of the king. In a system like that, there is only one will, the king’s will.

And that is a little parable about our living now in the kingdom of heaven (though we do not yet see it fully, even though it is already in our midst). Jesus was not struggling against what “He” wanted to do, as opposed to what God wanted Him to do. When did Jesus – ever – say He did any other will except His Father’s? That was the only true inner will He recognized. This separate appearing ‘human will,’ the “will” that wanted to get out of what was coming, was not really Him. He recognized only the Father’s will as valid, and the struggle in the garden against great temptation, was in getting that straight there just before just before the Temple guards came to arrest Him.

What then of the soul?

As I said above about 50 times, soul is not its own boss. It is where Spirit-expression is brought into temporal visibility. It has no life of its own, and is completely and totally driven and moved by spirit, either spirit expressing from inside ourselves, or spirit expressed through others that first touches us on our soul level.

Soul is part of the house where Christ lives and manifests Himself. Hebrews says we are His house, (Heb 3:6), and that means He owns the whole of this house He has come to live in, and the running of this house we can leave to Him and to the servants appointed to help Him. Soul has all kinds of expressions, emotions, reasonings, hurts, depressions, joyousness – a whole host of stuff! And sometimes it all seems to be running amok!

We are not fully free until we realize this soulish part of us is not wayward, does not stick out of Christ in us, as if it is outside the house we are that He lives in, nor is it left on its own to flail about in this dry and thirsty land we live in. No, now that He has moved in, it is Christ’s soul now! It had been the devil’s soul, with all the same attributes and faculties, but used wrongly to express self-for-self. Now it is Christ’s soul, used rightly to express self-for-others. It cannot be otherwise, because “our conversation is in heaven.”(Phil 3:20) James asks can sweet and bitter water come from the same fountain, and of course the answer is no. We are the sweet water, and once His, we cannot help but be it, the “savor of Life,” in them that believe! (2 Cor 2:15,16).

Which brings me back to my freeway parable.

Bottom line, I know a lot about “soul,” and a lot about “spirit,” and that is all well and good. But I have to know how it “works,” so I can work it! In Norman’s model mentioned above, soul being mostly involved in temporal things and reacting temporally, the point of it was not so much to make solid ironclad definitions of these things, but to know the difference first of all between eternal and temporal, and to give us a little bit of knowledge about what these things are and how they work, and finally to bring us into a simplicity of “the Father that dwells within Me, He does the works.”(Jn 14:10)

Earlier I mentioned the chaos of the freeways around big cities, in my case, Atlanta. And then I said that even though it looked like there was enough danger for 1000+ accidents or fatalities a day, still most people made it through every day, despite the chaos and the danger.

That’s what “soul” life is like. It is scattered, chaotic (in emotional or intellectual highs and lows), sometimes seemingly self-opposing, and very often looks “wrong” by its reactions or consternations. This is where EVERYBODY cracks up, where soul (reactions, feelings, psychology, intellectual confusion, etc.) is often seen as the enemy within my very own being, since it seems such a wayward part of us, and we do not seem to have much of a tight control over it.

If we think that, and we are in Christ, we are wrong. God came into the whole of us. It is His house, to do with as He pleases, including the soul. It no longer belongs to us (actually never did), but to Him, and He determines its times and expressions, not the world, not the devil, not the circumstances of our lives. None of those things instigate us whatsoever, because we are not reactors to life, but instigators of life. Soul filters the world back into us by the Spirit, and soul filters Spirit-expression back out into the world.

Just like the unseen higher power at work on the Atlanta freeways that keeps it all going miraculously with little loss of life and property, we have that same unseen “higher power” within us, and the chaotic freeway that is soul life, His perfect expression.

So, to conclude, we are Christ in our form, and because of that, that is what our “soul” expresses. The “divine nature” that is within us! The chaos of soul, stressful though it may be, is the road to our destinations.

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Making Sense of Spirit-Soul-Heart Part 3

By Fred Pruitt

Love cannot be “love” except there be an object to love. Love does not simply exist in an uncaring mystical bliss recognizing nothing except itself. Love is moving; love is dynamic; love has to reach out; love has to reproduce itself; keep itself alive by re-begetting itself in an ever expanding effluence of desire. Love and desire cannot be taken from each other. That is the first attribute of love – it is a desire to go out and find the object of its affection. It is a drive – love must love, desire must desire.

Up until now I have been treating “love” and “desire” in a neutral fashion, ascribing to them neither good nor evil. Because this love-fire that has to reach out and find the object of its affection and possess it, can either be in a “for you” love-desire, or a “for me” love-desire.

This fire is the source of the glories and unbounded blessings of heaven, just like giant turbines turning generating electricity (by friction – heat, fire) are what make our world possible. But turned around into self-glorification, that same fire becomes in us the fires of wrath. It is like taking the energy of the fire into a nuclear meltdown consuming everything around it to feed its fire, rather than generating gentle light and precious sounds and indescribable colors, that come from the right use of fire. The fire-source is the power-source!

That is the origin of evil in the universe, when Lucifer sought the power source for himself and turned that love-fire in on himself in self-worship, and claimed equality with God – “I will be like the Most High,” and even in that fire to ascend higher than God, “I will ascend higher than the stars of God.” (Is 14:12-14).

That same fire that is the love-fuel to the manifold blessings coming through Father Son and Holy Spirit, producing light and gentleness and color and warmth and nurture, turns into wrath in everyone who seeks to save himself (in a denial of God), for the purpose that they might be divested of that wrath while still in this life.

This is what “God’s wrath” is. It is not God getting really mad at everybody up in heaven from His Throne. God does not live in wrath. He only lives in love. He does not see evil. William Law called God the “eternal will to all goodness.” There is nothing “wrathful” about God! Yet there is wrath, and it has its origin in God because it is taking the created “fire,” which is meant to be a source of power, beneficence and drive as an expression of the “other love” of God, and turning it inward in self-deification and self-elevation, and that produces the fire’s “negative” effects, defined by Boehme and law as, “pride, covetousness, envy and wrath. That kingdom eternally consists of the pride of self-sufficient self, covetousness (wanting what others have), envy (being mad that they have it and you don’t), and finally hatred, rage, anger or wrath, which produces violence of spirit, soul and body. No one is locked there, and may hear the Lord’s Word at any time and turn the other way, toward the Light, and we see those the Lord gives us in this way. We see the Father drawing them.

But no one cannot make the guaranteed promise, though some do (but how could they?), that after this life there is “another chance.” That is quite a promise to make to people who are currently living in their hells. In our effort to have God be “nice,” the failure to offer them the free grace available if they want it, and the water of life to quench the inner fires of wrath they are living in right now in this life, where Hebrews says, “Today is the day” to believe, is an unbearable tragedy. It does absolutely nothing for a person; we may be “nice” and want to spare their feelings, and we may want them to know God is “nice,” but it leaves them in HELL!

And not only that, but to divert them from necessary repentance (turning toward God), while falsely promising “grace” in the afterlife, which we do not have the authority to determine, is really an ultimate presumption. “Don’t worry about it. You won’t die spiritually and live in separation. It doesn’t matter whether you turn to God or not.” It reminds me of another voice, a long time ago, speaking to the woman when she was looking and desiring a certain fruit, though she had been given the commandment that to eat of it, would cause her to die. But a friendly, “nice” voice said, “You shall not surely die.”(Gen 3:4). Surely we do not speak out of that voice!

It is the same “nice” voice, expressing genuine “human” concern, that through Peter tried to get Jesus to not go through with His commission and its end at the Cross in Jerusalem. Peter tried to get Jesus to think better of it, in his “nice” concern, and Jesus turned to him and hit that nail on its head when He said, “Get thee behind me, Satan:  thou art an offence unto me:  for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”(Matt 16:23).

God needs no defense, no one to protect His reputation, nor anyone to apologize for Him. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And no one sits in judgment of Him, nor is anyone able to mitigate His truth as He has spoken it.

But that is not our discussion here. Though when speaking of love as “fire,” this is part of it.

God Is Will:

Finally, God being Spirit, God is “will,” or (speaking from the crudity of human understanding), God is “Spirit choice.”

It is this faculty that in every spirit being, turns it this way or that. It is the faculty that decides between “me for you,” or “you for me.”

We are not able to determine a “moment” when God made a “choice” about Himself, though there are multitudes of Biblical moments when God expresses “will” regarding this world and the people in it. So we have to speak of God in some sense as if He is human, because it is only in this sense we are able to have any understanding.

It is too much to go into a full explanation at this moment, but let me just interject here, that “choice,” or even “will,” implies alternatives and limitations. The alternatives are obvious, either we choose this or we choose that. But what is not so clear, is that in making a choice between alternatives, this or that, I place myself in a limitation because I chose “this,” and not “that.” Again marriage is a perfect example. Before I was married, I was not “limited” to only my wife. In that sense, I was “free.” But in taking someone in particular to be my spouse, I have willingly limited my freedom in order to keep my marriage vow, to “keep only unto her.” I have unlimited freedom within the “borders” of my marriage, but there are borders.

So in a way we cannot possibly understand or grasp even a little bit, God has forever “chosen” to be “other love.” The greatest example of this we see in Revelation, where we see in the center of God, in the Throne, there is eternally a“lamb as it had been slain.” (Rev 5:6).

What kind of God is this? A slain lamb in the midst of the Throne? What it is telling us, is the “attitude” of God, the attitude that simply says, “I will die for you.” I think it quite a telling thing that this little helpless lamb sits in the throne, instead of a throng of great warriors, who have won the day by slaughtering thousands, or a great conqueror, who is able to subjugate whole races of people to him. No, none of that, just a weak little helpless lamb bleating in Heaven, and that is the mighty power of God!

Scripture says God “cannot lie,” even though we know God can do all things. Why can He not lie? If God is truly God, and there is no one who preceded Him, then it follows (again in the crudity of human understanding), that He is “self-determined” to be Who He is. In other words, somehow, some way, God eternally “decided” that He would not be a self-lover, but an other-lover. And also that the ultimate expression of Himself would be an embodiment of that other-love, through the One Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the whole family of eternal sons is raised up. That is the reason it says that, “God cannot lie.” It is part of His own self-limitation to be for eternity the “will to all goodness.”

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Making Sense of Spirit-Soul-Heart Part 2

By Fred Pruitt

And before we might approach a solution to this dilemma, there are also the added scripture terms, “outer man” and “inner man,” as well as, “natural man” and “spiritual man.” It can be quite confusing! And there is simply no set of scriptures that clearly explains all these things. There is validity in the Nee model, and validity in the NPG model. How do we reconcile these things?

And that is really the beauty of it! One does NOT have to figure it out! It is completely “livable” even without a deep understanding of it. Don’t get me wrong, knowledge and understanding are much to be desired! And wisdom even more!

Therefore, I am going to champion NPG’s model because of its simplicity, and ultimately reject the Nee model, mainly because it ends up being dualistic, and the fact that nearly everyone I’ve ever met who has been “taken” by that model, maintains some sort of separate personhood. That is the reason I say the Nee model ends up being dualistic, is because of the tendency to turn the “soul man” into another person, instead of what it is, the servant of spirit. In fact, I do not really believe in the “soul” man, only the “spirit” man.

But that flies in the face of my everyday life, doesn’t it? All day long I am mostly taken up with things having to do with “soul life,” e.g., eating, drinking, thinking, health, work, finances, marriage, kids, car repair, etc. Isn’t that all in the “soul realm?”

Yes and no. Yes, it is all “soul” stuff. And yes, there is a mental process and a decision making faculty which acts on that level. It is not about deciding eternal things, but things like where we will park or what we will wear. It has been called a “world consciousness,” not necessarily meaning it to be a bad thing, but simply the “consciousness” that we must have in and of this world if we are going to live in it. Norman called it a “self-consciousness,” not meaning it as a negative term, but just simply what we are saddled with in this life. We will never get out of it, nor are we to expect to, because we could not relate to this world or the people within it, if we did not live in it ourselves.

The “no” part, is that it does not originate in soul. Nothing does. “Soul” is not its own master, nor is it a source of anything. Any “activity” in the soul is stimulated by spirit. The “I” that speaks when we are in our “self” or “world” consciousness, is the same “I” that speaks when we speak the things of God by the Spirit of God – Christ as “I.”

Adam became self-aware, i.e., a “living soul,” when God breathed His breath into him. And that is where we have the sure source of our understanding. “Soul” consciousness is an outworking of spirit reality, not the other way around. Soul did not begin to know itself and then entered into spirit. Spirit entered into the “man” God made, and he then became “a living soul.”

Now right there is spiritual “proof” for the whole outworking of God and His processes. When spirit moves in, self-consciousness (which we can loosely call “soul”), begins. Spirit is the source of soul. And it is always that way!

When we were the kidnapped children of the false one, we did “his lusts.” Where was it expressed? In soul, in tangibility, in feelings, thoughts, in physicality. Soul expressed spirit, in our former case, the “spirit of error.”

Same soul. Same faculties. Which spiritual source?

God Is Knowing:

I think I stand on solid ground when I put all the important stuff, as Norman did, in spirit. God is spirit. Never once that I am aware of, is it said, “God is soul.” God says His name is, “I AM THAT I AM.” So basic “I AM” is Spirit. God is “I AM,” inclusive of all the other derived, little “i am’s,” and that is spirit. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” He is “father of spirits,” as it says in Hebrews, and my favorite, “The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” (Pr 20:27) Isn’t that verse something? Great meaning there! This “I AM” is also, is the ultimate of “knowing.” I can say (speaking as if God is speaking),“I AM THAT I AM” because I am aware and KNOW that I AM. I am here. I exist.

This same inner knowing that is the heart of God, is also in our deepest center as well. Norman used to always say, “all of life is inner consciousness.” It took me a long time to grow into understanding that. We are what we are on the outside, which is perceptible to us, because of who we are on the inside, which may or may not be perceptible to us. If we are children of light and walk in light, we radiate that light outward, whether we know it or not, and we usually do not, because the light does not radiate for us, but out to others. We cannot even see our own form, but only images in mirrors or photographs. The fact that our faces look “out,” and our eyes see “out,” is clear proof that we are not to be about ourselves in this life. Everything is geared to this “going out.” But the kingdom of darkness is exactly the opposite. If the light in us is “darkness,” (Matt 6:23), then instead of radiating light, the “light” in us which is darkness seeks to draw everything into itself to magnify itself, like a spiritual “black hole,” because it lets out no light, since there is no light.

God Is Love:

God is love. What is love? Paul describes God’s love, that it seeks not its own, does not envy, does not judge, etc., but those are attributes, not the love itself. What, exactly, is love?

For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” (Deut 4:24)

Passions burn the hottest, when they are the strong desires to have someone else fully as your own and be one with them, whether we are speaking sexually or more metaphorically – do they not? There is something in the heart of God that is a FIRE!

Every time I think about it, I marvel and wonder that this earth, this “solid planet” we live on, is at its center a rolling mass of magma burning with the intensity of the sun inside the inner belly of this planet. Yes, there is the light of the Son coming from 93 million miles away with the perfect sunlight effects to make our world come alive. Besides making our crops grow, the Son also stirs up the winds and the sea, creating all our surface weather. But below us is also what is almost an “eternal” fire, that is daily issuing itself out into the surface world, that also daily affects our atmosphere, weather, and many other things. It is also creating new land everyday, as we can see with certain volcanic islands, which grow day by day before our eyes!

All of this, whether in the earth below, or from the Son above, starts with FIRE! Even we ourselves, in the physical, have an inner “fire.” Human beings are consistent within a degree or two of a constant inner fire, inner temperature, regardless of outer conditions. 98.6 F is “normal,” and that is usually my operating temp. Whether it is 95 or 35 outside, inside I am 98.6, if I am functioning properly.

But the moment the body dies, the heat begins to drain out of it, until it reaches room temperature, like everything else. No more life, no more inner fire, and what had been a living organism while there was a Life inside it, begins to putrefy. No fire, no life. No life, no fire.

The fire must have something to fuel it to keep it going, and even to temper it so that it does not consume everything. Which way will it go?

God is love, God is fire, because fire comes from love and love generates fire. Our God is a “consuming fire” and it is said his angels, his ministers, are “flames of fire,” (Heb 1:7), and man’s spirit is fire – The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord ….

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Making Sense of Spirit-Soul-Heart Part 1

By Fred Pruitt

My dear brother ______,

Let’s see if I can get started here on this heart/will issue. I guess I better barrel on in, especially since tomorrow John Bunting is coming and we are leaving Wednesday for Texas, and I won’t have any time probably for the next week or so.

I have to admit that I have dragged my feet on this one; it is a tedious exercise for me, though I know necessary. And I am not leveling that at you, dear friend, not at all, just my frustration a little bit about this topic.

What is at bottom of it (the frustration) for me, is I naturally shrink from too much “defining” in these realms which are to me quite ethereal, when juxtaposed with hard-edged facts and the solidness of the physical universe. (I don’t have problems with the “realms” themselves, just the ability to communicate them in an articulate manner.)

I don’t know higher mathematics but I know basic math and our world works because those things are always true, 2+2=4 and so on. I can even relate on the macro-cosmic level with Einstein or the microcosmic world with quantum mechanics, and though those laws are more fluid, we have found a way to use them that makes our modern technology possible.

So I see, in that realm, that definitions and specialties and organizations are absolutely necessary to keep it all going. Somebody has to know how to mine the stuff’; somebody has to know how to take the stuff mined and turn into useful material; somebody has to know how to combine all those useful materials to make things for our world, and somebody has to be there to receive and use all the stuff that comes from that system. Even though it looks quite chaotic sometimes, still it all seems to hold together pretty well and go on day by day by day.

When I drive on the freeways, especially in big cities – Atlanta is 70 miles from here and is like this – every time I go there I am convinced that the world is running on unseen miracles every day on the freeway. I don’t know why there aren’t a thousand accidents and fatalities a day just in the city of Atlanta. Cars speeding inches side by side with each other, little front-back distance, racing, changing lanes, everybody trying to get a leg up and get wherever they’re going in a mad hurry, most people far exceeding the inner city 55 mph speed limit, usually 80+ if they can, near-misses constantly, the occasional crackup and bad accident, but the vast majority do it day by day by day, and get through.

My dad paid for private driving lessons for me (after he tried teaching me and I hit a car) when I was 16, and after a few practice days around the lot, the first place the instructor took me to drive on public streets was the inner city freeway of Atlanta. He said, “Turn right here,” and I said, “But, it’s the freeway!”, and he said, “Yes, I know!” He had nerves of steel I think. Well, I made it and have been driving on those freeways for 46 years or so, and I have nerves of steel, too, but these days only have to exercise them for that occasionally.

Why did I stray there? I wondered that myself, too, and then it occurred to me that this little freeway “parable” is exactly what I am talking about. Funny God!

First the world of definitions. Like I said, they are, or can be, important. To “define” something is not necessarily to limit it, as in “put borders around,” but rather to give it particularity in my consciousness, in my understanding. You know I’m kind of rebellious and in the past I have probably railed against “defining” more from that “put borders around” way of looking, but now I am seeing it a little differently. It’s alright. We’re allowed!

However, there is a little hitch when we get into things that are essentially, pretty intangible, i.e., soul and spirit. As you said, scripture is not particularly consistent in the usage of the words. And then there’s “heart,” another rather intangible word, because we all know it is not talking about our physical heart, and no one has ever seen or detected the intangible one. It is used “in the world” in the same way. It means something different in the context, but everyone knows the “heart” of a lover is something poetic, intangible, in the realm of feeling or sense, known only to the one experiencing it. How do we describe it? (Now, I may be speaking in ignorance here, because Dutch may have different words that have more clarity than the English word “heart’s” different meanings. Those nasty English! We’ve just got this one word that has to mean so many things, and we’re all supposed to know the difference!

As a young Christian the spirit/soul issue didn’t come up that I remember. I know it was mentioned in the charismatic church but I don’t remember it being in the forefront of my consciousness. Though I do remember there was a whiff of curiosity about it, because I had seen, again in pastor’s office, Watchman Nee’s ‘The Spiritual Man,’ and I think that’s where Nee expounds somewhat on that realm. So I WAS interested, but it was not the soul/spirit issue that intrigued me as I remember, but rather “becoming the spiritual man.” It was a moot point anyway, since I never got to read it, and haven’t until this day, other than excerpts.

So my first real “teaching” on the subject was Norman’s. You have probably read it yourself in your reading of Norman’s books, but I want to comment on it. Before that, however, I wanted to talk a little bit about what Norman did, I think, as the Spirit brought these truths through him.

As I’m sure you know, Norman had many influences, though he consistently said Jacob Boehme and William Law were his main lights after the Bible, but there was also Kierkegaard, many of the mystics, the classical Christian writers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and a few odd ones which are surprising.

What I think Norman did with all that stuff, rather than focusing on any one of those influences particularly, and putting all his sharings in the strict interpretations of their particular “doctrine,” was to filter a lot of that stuff down to a great simplicity. The simplicity of “what works.”

With that in mind, here is NPG’s model of spirit, soul and body.

Spirit is will (spirit will), love (or heart or desire), and knowing (inner consciousness, inner mind).

Soul is emotion or feelings, and rational mind or intellect.

We don’t need to define “body,” really, since it is obvious, but it is important to know that the “soul” (speaking in NPG’s model) is “tied” to the body and its functions and needs especially.

There is another common model of spirit, soul and body in evangelical churches, and I call it the Nee model. Though I’ve never read it from Nee myself, others have explained it to me. It seems the main difference, and maybe it is not a difference, is that the Nee model puts some of those faculties NPG described as spirit, in soul.

The first time I encountered that (the Lord likes throwing some curve balls my way sometimes), was at a brother’s house in Louisiana. We were holding a little session, and one of the people there started talking about his different “wills,” a “spirit” will and a “soul” will, that one must work to align, etc. In a sense I was not really prepared for that encounter, because had I begun to answer him on that level, I had no ammunition really, except, “Norman said it.” He was speaking out of Nee’s model, and told us that he was. So it would have ended up with a little battle between, “what my ‘teacher’ says,” vs. “what your ‘teacher’ says.”

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Let There Be Light

“And God said: Let there be light.”

I had one of my small epiphanies some days ago when out of nowhere it struck me that this verse also is an illustration of how we bring life to a person or situation by our spoken word.

In this context it is interesting to note that Paul begins and ends his letter to the Romans with something he calls the obedience of faith. It is my conviction that whenever we pray or speak words of faith we exercise this obedience which Jesus learned by what he suffered and which we learn the same way, not least when the “obedience” of the law has done its work in us and “killed” us.

In order to get a deeper understanding of what obedience is according to Paul let us consider the word “reckon” he uses in Romans 6:11: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” If I am to paraphrase Paul’s words it would be something like this: “Reckon this to be true without any evidences save what the Spirit has revealed to you in the Scriptures. Our emotions, our reason, appearances and experiences will contradict and oppose this truth, so our starting point is the obedience of faith.” To reckon us alive to God we might say is turning on the light when we are stuck in a quagmire of condemnation, or when doctrines of men temporarily blow us out of course.

This obedience of faith is also progressive leaps of faith as we go from faith to faith. Casting all caution to the winds and “blindly” trust God isn’t something that always is an easy thing to do, but the faith of Christ that works powerfully in us is God’s trust in Himself that wells up in us. This obedience will in due time produce substance in whatever form it comes. Norman Grubb in one of his many writings pointed out that Hebrews 11:1 also can be translated: “Faith is giving substance…..” Faith is both the substance (spirit facts) and giving substance (the inner witness) or outer manifestations.

While reading Romans 1 the other day this jumped out of the screen: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son…”

Intriguing choice of words: “Serve with my spirit.” That pretty much turns everything upside down because we are so used to think in terms of: My soul, my body, my good deeds, my adherence to the law or whatever. The beauty and simplicity of Christian service and being is summed up in “with my spirit”. One verse that comes to mind is: We cannot serve two masters. If we have Christ we serve God. If we do not have Christ we serve (with our spirits) the god of this world i.e. satan (1 John 3:10, Eph 2:2, John 8:44).

Let us go back to our mainline of investigation. We have already pointed out that this obedience of faith is contrary to sight (emotions, experiences, appearances etc). A verse in 1 John took on a new significance the other day, and I think what John says there pertains to this obedience of faith because what he states is so contrary to “common sense” and sight.

It is one of several black and white statements in his epistle. When I some years ago inquired God whether universal salvation was true or not this was the verse I was given and which settled the matter for me. John says: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” To all appearances, those who do not have the Son have life, and even abundance of life. Which is true? Appearances or what John says? What I mean with that this verse took on a new significance is that it became a symbol to me about how strong and convincing appearances can be, and how contrary they are to spirit facts.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebr 10:39). The obedience of faith is evidently soul preserving, but why is the word soul used here and not spirit?

In occult thinking the prevailing idea is that after death we lose distinction and become an I that is neither subject nor object, but a nameless thing swallowed up in the bliss of Nirvana. In other words, our I is dissolved. This totally at odds with the Christian hope about a heavenly body and an afterlife on a new earth and a new heaven. Perhaps we can put it like this: Oneness in occult thinking is extinction, whereas oneness in God’s logic is diversity, distinction, expression and uniqueness.

All these qualities are expressed in our soul, but in true fact it is our spirits that are expressed through our souls, spirits that are one spirit/Spirit with God; spirits that serve God so that we are God-expressors. We can thus demise from the above verse that it is those who serve God with their spirits who will have the ability for self-expression after we leave this temporary realm.

Light always radiates from its source and benefits others. So, when God spoke, “Let there be light” it was for our sake. Likewise, our light proceeds out from us to others and for others. This light will take on very concrete forms whenever we speak our words of faith, let there be light words, for others, saved and unsaved alike.

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How to Handle Temptation and Failure Part 3

By Norman Grubb

So, when temptation draws me and would grab me, it is now easy for me to transfer my initial tendency to respond as if I’m an independent self back to who I really am. I don’t have to seek and pray and try to find a Christ who will deliver me. I simply recognize myself as crucified with Him. Now He is the real me, and I recognize Him as me. He, the love or purity or power or peace or whatever virtue, swallows up the pull of the attraction. We can’t see two ways at once. When I am drawn to see and respond to some negative temptation, I take the place of faith by denying the existence of this false self with its negative seeing and affirm it as now crucified with Christ. I replace it by the positive seeing of Him as my true self. Then where is the temptation or pull? The positive swallows the negative!

In other words, I don’t fight against darkness in a room, or stop to condemn it, or struggle against it. I just turn on the light, and where is the darkness? And when we inwardly know we are that light (He in us), it is quite easy to recognize Him in us, and that is how we inwardly turn on the light. Life swallows up death, Paul says, and likewise light swallows up darkness.

Temptation is really a means of temporarily diverting my believing into some flesh attraction, for what the Bible calls unbelief is really negative believing. I am temporarily grabbed by that thing-some fear, depression, tension, lust, resentment, sense of inability, or weakness-and sometimes the hold may last for a long time. As soon as I awake to the hold that a thing has on me through my negative believing in it, then I can always exercise my freedom of will (which is not soul-emotion but spirit-action) and affirm who I am, Christ in me. I do this by the word of faith, quite apart from feeling or reasoning, and I am restored and free.

Above all else, I must rely on Romans8:1 – no condemnation! James says we are to count temptations all joy (count in spirit, not feel in soul!), because they provide practice in becoming established in faith-in the faith of Christ as the real me. So when I am tempted and snap back from illusory self to Him, my true self, then give thanks and enjoy that little bit of good practice, but I never take condemnation.

When His own disciples remained in negative believing fearing a storm, not having food for the multitude, or no fish, or not believing the resurrection – Christ did not condemn them as sinners, but He did call them “fools and slow of heart to believe,” and He did chide them for their lack of faith. So I don’t mind being often a fool and a slow believer, but I don’t mistake foolishness for sinning. No condemnation!

And if I go beyond temptation and indulge in the thing tempting me, then I have sinned and will undoubtedly feel guilty. But I must not remain in that guilt, for God does not see the sin, but only the blood which cleanses from all sin. So I see the same. I confess (a word in 1 John 1:9 which means “say with”, so I am inwardly saying with God, “Yes, I did sin”), then` immediately the sin is no longer there. Since He remembers it no more, neither do I. I immediately change from guilt to praise. That is why it says in Hebrews 9:14 that the blood cleanses the conscience from the dead works. It is adding sin to sin, if I choose to remain guilty instead of replacing it by the positive believing that I am righteous as He is righteous.

And I refuse to step into the added false bondage of that illusory self which says, “I’m sure I’ll do it again. How can I be delivered from this wrong habit?” I am not there to be delivered! I am now Christ in one of His human forms, and all I am told again and again is to walk, walk, walk. And “walk” means that I take one step at a time. So I don’t say, “What about that habit grabbing me tomorrow?” Take no thought for tomorrow, Jesus said. I only say, “I am my freed self now. As for tomorrow, He is my keeper. He has taken on the keeping of me. I’ll surely do it again unless You keep me, but You are my keeper.” So I only live in the present.

In order to live the “Not I, but He” life, I must have that inner consciousness. That is the faith being substance. When I was saved as a sinner, I had to transfer my negative believing in my sinful condition to my positive believing that Christ is my substitute who bore my sins in His own body on the tree. As I said that word of faith, the Spirit witnessed with my spirit that I am a redeemed child of God, and I live in that consciousness.

In the same way, I now turn my attention (my negative believing) away from my flesh-consciousness as “the wretched man; who shall deliver me from this body of death,” and I say the word of faith (positive believing) that I have been crucified with Christ and now I do not live, but He lives in me and as me. Then what happens? Into my inner consciousness (my know-how) comes the inner witness, “Yes, you are no longer your old lonely you. You are Christ in you, the real you.” And now, with Paul, in place of saying “I’m a wretched man,” I am saying, “I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord that I am a delivered man, and that He who is the Spirit of life is my real inner self” (Romans 8:2).

And the outcome is significant, for it changes my attitude – not just toward Christ, but toward myself. I no longer regard my human self as a wretched liability, always bugging and tormenting me. I now see and accept myself as Christ’s precious asset. My human ego is His holy temple, His branch form of Himself the Vine for reproducing fruit, His body agency by which He the Head operates in every phase of saving love activity. So I accept myself and love myself as He accepts and loves me! This is precisely what Paul said when he knew he was Christ in His Paul form.

He came out boldly to be himself in all freedom; “the life / now live in the flesh I live (not Christ lives) by faith, the inner substantial consciousness of the fact that He loves me; and He gave Himself for me, so I can now give myself for others.”

I live spontaneously, for I say with St. Augustine, “Love God and do as you like!” I think, I will, I choose, I plan. It looks like it, but it is really He. I live with a kind of wink. I, yes I, yet actually He!

In that freedom and spontaneity, temptation is less bothersome, for I am no longer living in suspicious fears and anxious watchfulness lest some temptation grab me again. Job said what we greatly fear comes on us, so that a lot of our temptations come because we are temptation and sin-minded, and fearful of our illusory selves. As we become self-accepting in place of self fearing, temptations will be all the fewer.

Finally, there is a sense in which we forget God and live. For when I have an inner know-how of my profession, I forget about the know-how and just do my job. I don’t keep reminding myself, “I’m a cook, I’m a teacher, I’m an engineer.” I just cook, teach, design. I don’t keep saying or remembering, “I am Christ in me, I am His human form.” I just immerse my human self in my thinking, speaking, and acting-and that is Christ.

Actually all this is only the background for living. It helps me find out who I really am in God’s eternal predestination of us as sons. It helps me to be who I am, and when I am that person, what am I? I am in my God union. I am a co-lover, co-savior, and co-worker with Christ in God’s eternal outgoing love-purposes and love action.

I move with Paul from knowing Christ in me for my liberation to knowing this same Christ as “mighty in me towards the Gentiles” (Gal.2:8). That is, I know Christ not for my own benefits, but for the sake of others. The inner fountain is now an outflowing river. But, that is altogether another aspect of things. It is the third stage from infancy, through adolescence, to adulthood; from co-crucifixion in Galatians, through co-resurrection in Colossians, to co-ascension in Ephesians; from Christ as our Moses, to Christ as our Joshua, to Christ as our Melchisedek. Daniel puts it simply: “The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” That is the final reality of our Christ-union.

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How to Handle Temptation and Failure Part 2

By Norman Grubb

Now these are two radical statements: 1) that I am crucified with Christ and thus actually dead to sin and the spirit of error, and 2) that I am no longer just my Norman Grubb I, but Christ is in such an eternal inner union with me that it is He expressed in my human form. It is difficult to make that confessed word of faith which says straight out, “I am not I, but Christ in me,” because for so many years as a born-again Christian I have been such a flesh-conscious, oppressed, failing, guilty, and self-condemning I. How then can I honestly say that this I – so tempted, so often stressed and strained, hurt and angry, resentful and lustful – is not only dead to sin, but is Christ Himself?

First, let’s get it clear: the human self is always a tempted self, and temptation is not sin. We know that because Adam & Eve were tempted before they sinned, and Jesus, the one sinless man, was tempted so totally that He is the only one ever named in the Bible as tempted in every way in which we are tempted, and that is saying a big thing. So I can be as perfect as Christ is perfect, yet constantly tempted in every channel of temptation through my bodily desires or soul emotions or feelings or reactions, or through mental doubts or questionings.

What then is temptation? It is the drawing and pulling of a world which in its fallen condition is totally geared to self-interest and self-gratification (John’s “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life”), continually pulling at me to respond to some independent self-reaction or self-desire. James describes it as being “drawn away by our own lusts and enticed” (James 1:18).

Temptation is a subtle attempt to make my human me forget who I really am (Christ in my human form), and act as if I am back off the cross as an independent human being responding to some drawing of my human desires or appetites. In other words, it is the presence of sin (self loving desires) enticing me back to the illusion of, being my old independent self (not joined to Christ), enticing me to commit spiritual adultery (James 4:4). It is the pull back to that illusory, independent, struggling self that Paul so completely describes in Romans 7:14-24, and from which he says in verses 1-4 we have been delivered by Christ’s death cutting us off from the old control of the law. For the law held us in its tight grip while we were independent of God, presented us with impossible demands, and thus exposed us to the realization of our captivity to sin.

But now we have died in Christ to being those independent selves in the power of sin, and instead have become united selves to Christ, so that there remains no independent self. “Dead to the law” must mean that there is no separate self on which law can make its demands. To put it another way, my old marriage to sin and the law of “ought to”, which gave sin its control over my independent self, is dissolved eternally in Christ’s death, and is replaced in His resurrection by the new marriage in which my Husband has taken over my redeemed human self. This human self is God’s beautiful creation in His own likeness, which for a time had been stolen and made captive in a false independence by sin and Satan. But God graciously gave the law to expose our blinded selves to the fact that we were captives in our false independence, so that now we are released to be our true selves.

Therefore, temptation is the agency by which sin would deceive me (Romans 7:11) and pull me back to the illusion of responding as my old independent self, which was subject to the laws of “you ought” and “you ought not”. Then sin, “taking occasion by the commandment,” makes me react as an independent self. I temporarily forget that I am Christ in my human self, and thus in my illusory independence once again I become a slave to sin, doing what I ought not, for the independent I can never fulfill the law. So there lies the snare. If by temptation I can be tricked and deceived into responding as if separate from who I truly am, I am caught, enslaved, and defeated, and guilt and condemnation then follow. The full implication of Paul’s insistence that I am dead to the law is that this apparently independent I is an illusion, because that “I” comes under the law. Being dead to the law means there remains no independent I for the law to give commands to! The new I – Christ in me and as me – is the law; and thus in my union relationship “the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in me.”

So what do I do when temptation pulls at me as though I am an independent self? I act as quickly as I can. I can always be who I am. To be competent in a profession means that I have a settled know-how in the use of my tools. It is perfectly easy and spontaneous for a carpenter to use his tools and make his measurements, because he operates by his inner know-how of how to do his job, and not by the outer tools. His years of apprenticeship and training transferred his outer learning into inner know-how. He now enjoys practicing his profession. Recently when I was admiring the paneling of a friend’s new house, he happened to say, “Yes, I have a good carpenter. But he would be insulted if you were to tell him how to do his job. You only tell him what to do, not how to do it.”

We operate happily, freely, and spontaneously when we know our profession by an inner know-how. That knowing is being (just as the Bible word for knowing always means being mixed with a thing or person), and so we are the carpenter, cook, or doctor.

And that is precisely how I know I am not I, but Christ, the real me in my human form. The faith that changed the apprentice with his outer learning into the professional with his inner knowhow is the same faith by which I possess my possessions (as crucified with Christ, and now Christ replacing me in my resurrected I). Faith, being substance (Heb.1 1:1), has become my fixed inner consciousness that this union and replacement is the eternal fact, so that I now live freely, spontaneously, and happily by my permanent know-how.

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