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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How to Handle Temptation and Failure Part 1

By Norman Grubb

“How do you handle temptation and failure?” I was recently asked this question by a pastor anxious to have the right answer for himself and for his people, and I myself found it both profitable and confirming to discuss it with him.

Obviously it is the big question of the vast majority of born-again Christians. We want to be Christ-like, but we are caught in the same syndrome of which Paul wrote in Romans 7: “I delight in the law of God after the inward man … to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

What is the answer? First and essentially, I must know who I am in Christ, and be consciously, freely, and happily that person. And who I am is most perfectly expressed and defined in Paul’s great Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

First Paul says, and I must say with him, “I am crucified with Christ.” That means in actual fact-not just doctrinally and positionally. My previous fallen I, independent of Christ and in the dominion of Satan and sin, is now cut off from sin as the reigning principle of my life. I am in fact dead to sin and to the indwelling satanic spirit of error.

Regardless of how I feel, I have to say it and confess it with my mouth: “I am crucified with Christ.” I must say, “I am dead to sin” as boldly as when I got saved. Then I said I was no longer a lost sinner, but was now justified in Christ as though I had never sinned. All we born-again people have said just that in our own terms, haven’t we? And we had to say it by looking away from our lost sin condition and the bondages of which we had become so vividly conscious, and transferring our believing and inner seeing to God’s written word, which tells us God sees us as though we had never sinned. We have been justified by faith and so have peace with God. God sees us in Christ as perfect and sinless as Christ Himself.

So now we have to go a step further. In the face of our flesh weaknesses, our temptations, and our lapses into sins, we now boldly say: “I am dead to sin in Christ. I am crucified with Christ.” And then further still. Just as I once said, “not only am I no longer a lost sinner, but now righteous in Christ as He is righteous,” so now I say, “not only am I no longer a separated self in an old marriage under sin control, but I am now a newly married self (Rom.7:4) joined to Christ.” I carry Paul’s Galatians statement through to its completion, that now I live, yet it is not I living, but Christ living in me.

Christ is the Real Person expressed through my human I, totally replacing the spirit of error who previously expressed his sin-self through me. I am not saying Christ lives in me as though side by side with me; rather, He replaces me as my real inner self. I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. That is replacement, and not just a partnership or relationship between two. It is two having become one, for “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” It is He and I as Vine and branch. We operate together as one vine. The vine expresses and reproduces itself in its branch forms, the sap always flowing through the branch and producing the fruit. So now I am Christ being Himself through my human self. I am not just I, Norman Grubb, but Christ expressed in His Norman Grubb form.

In the same way, a body is the head expressing itself in its body form. A body is a head in outer action. When we enter a dark room, we should say, “Turn on the lamp,” not “Turn on the light,” for it is a light manifested through its lamp form. But we don’t even remember that it’s a lamp; we just call it a light! So are we in our redeemed form, being called by Jesus the light of the world. For He is not only the One who died for me and is now my Savior; He is also my Indweller-not as a separate one in me, but as my replacement. “I live, yet not I, but He. “Christ is my Permanent Identity, and am His means of manifesting Himself.

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Dead – Not Divorced

By Dan Stone (From Union Life Magazine 1979)

In one of our recent meetings the main sharing centered on the truth of our death with Christ and how this affected our lives. After the close of the meeting I overheard a person inquiring of their minister if she really was dead in Christ as Romans Six taught. He gave a curious reply. It went something like this, “Yes, you are dead, but not quite.” I had to smile. How can you be dead, but not quite?

Paul’s immovable stance is highlighted in Romans 6:7, “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” I think it is consistent to reverse the sentence and say, “For he who is freed from sin must be dead.” You are only free from what you are completely separated. The primary problem people have with Paul’s statement stems from “appearances”.

They do not appear to themselves to be dead. At this point appearances are more real to them than God’s statement concerning them. Most Christians know little about Spirit Reality. By Spirit Reality we simply mean that to them their true position (dead in Christ) is not their true condition. Spirit Reality is not a realized reality in them. If we live by appearances we still accept the devil’s old lie. The lie is that we have an independent, dualistic nature – under the influence of God when we are good and obedient, and under the influence of Satan when we are bad and disobedient. We reason that this is true for we see the appearances of inconsistency in our daily actions. But these appearances are not our position. We never were an independent nature under “influences”. We are vessels who contain a spirit nature. We were born containing the spirit of Sin. We are now containers of Christ, because we are born of the Spirit (John 3).

Our true position, as stated in Romans 6, was not difficult for a Jew like Paul. Jews had no difficulty in calling themselves “sons” of the head of their extended family. There is a good illustration of this in John 8 where the antagonists of Jesus are quick to label Abraham as their father and themselves as his sons. In doing so they jump approximately two thousand years of appearances (history).

Another classic illustration of this is in Hebrews 7:9. This writer says that Levi paid tithes to Melchizidek because he was in the loins of Abraham. Physically Levi was Jacob’s son, not Abraham’s. Abraham was the head of the race, their race, so they saw themselves as Abraham’s sons. Several generations separated Abraham from Levi. Equally relevant is this point: whatever the head did, they did, and whatever happened to the head happened to them, as they were “in his loins”.

It is against this background that we must see Romans 6. Paul, the writer, was a Christian. He would easily see Jesus Christ as the head and himself “in His loins”. In I Corinthians 15 Paul calls Jesus the second Adam, the head of a new race. So, Paul saw himself “in the loins” of Jesus Christ, because he was part of that new race – a Christian. Whatever happened to Jesus happened to Pau I.

What happened to Jesus? Did he really die? Yes. In Matthew 27:63,64 the antagonists of Jesus were satisfied that he was dead. They took special precautions to prevent Jesus’ disciples from stealing his body and thus claiming that he had not died. Our emphasis on the shedding of the blood also underscores the fact that Jesus died.

Since Jesus Christ really died, Paul saw that he too had died. Died how and to what? Paul had died to being a vessel of Sin (Paul’s frequent name for Satan). Romans 6:6 is blunt in its assertion “our old man (Paul joined to Satan) is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

This approaches the heart of the matter. What does crucified mean? It means “put to death by suspending from a cross.” Paul even claims that he is crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). I agree that in our own case we do not appear dead. We appear very much alive. But remember, we are only alive to what we believe we are alive to. Whatever you may think you are alive to, you are not alive to being a vessel of Sin. We need not be alive to appearances or absolutes.

The same truth is evident in Romans 7:1-4. This illustration centers on a death that separates the wife from her former husband. She can no longer produce seed (offspring) from a husband who no longer exists. In these verses Paul emphatically says that having two husbands is illegal. He calls it an adulterous situation. We would call it bigamy. Either way he sees the having of two husbands at one time as an impossibility.

If you know a widow with children, these children are the seed of her first husband. Should the widow remarry, any offspring will be the seed of the second marriage. There is no way that she is going to have children by the dead husband. You would not call the children of the second marriage the children of the first. You know better. This is precisely what Paul says is our position in the Spirit realm.

Based on appearances, Christians believe they are only divorced from Sin, not dead to him. But this is an error. In believing that they have only divorced the former husband, they conclude he may still enter to control them. They think he can periodically slip in again and occupy the house. But we are not divorced from sin – we are dead to Sin.

There is a second marriage. Paul saw that when Jesus died the Spirit He contained as a representative of Paul left the body. This is a general fact of all deaths. The spirit, or life, leaves the body. He coupled this with the resurrection truth that the Father raised Jesus by placing into His dead body the Spirit of life. Thus Paul can say, “If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” For me the “if” is out. I have been planted together in the likeness of his death. Paul knew it and says so in Galatians 2:20: “Christ lives in me”.

We are not divorced from Sin, we are dead to Sin. Never again can the vessel be a container of Mr. Sin. We have the faith privilege of climbing over appearances, which include the horrendous foolishness of divorce, dualism and an independent nature. We can claim our full salvation. We are not saved from past sins and then sent on our way struggling and striving. He takes us all of the way just as Ephesians 2:6 states: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

We are “not quite dead”, or divorced. We have died to sin and we are alive to God in Christ Jesus.

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A Pastor Speaks Out

By Dan Stone (Union Life Magazine March 1976)

Let me share an experience which has totally altered my life. I was a pastor when it took place. In fact, I had served several churches when God showed me this “new thing.”

As so many young theological students before and since, I had wrestled with the various schools of thought concerning Jesus Christ and who He was. I settled for an external Christ whose death was a substitute for the sin of the world. I knew my sins were forgiven. My past was clean. This was the Christ I preached.

I was less concerned with the future. Actually I was not very emphatic about the future because I felt a pastor only needed a word on the future at funerals. I trusted God to take care of the future, for the Bible said I had eternal life.

This then is what I had. The past was forgiven; the future was covered by a wise and provident God. I had confidence in what Christ had done for my past, and I knew that life after death was in His hands.

But where did this leave me? It left me with a great big void in between. It left me with the day-to-day existence to handle. And that day-to-day existence was without the awareness of the Abiding Christ. The day-to-day is the arena of action, and here I was in deep trouble. I had experienced the truth of Romans 1-5; but I had not been mixed with the truths of Romans 6-8 (though I sometimes preached about it). I lived a miserable, unfulfilled, Romans 7 Christian life (“wretched man that I am”).

I sought to prove my love for God with acts of consecration. I failed repeatedly. The Holy Spirit’s life within a believer was a vague, vague concept to me. (Notice, I said “concept” rather than Person). I served the Lord from the ‘flesh’ and taught others to do the same. Try harder, do more, prove yourself, these were my themes.

Then a major crisis came (though there were many minor crises before then). My crisis was in the form of one of my dejected moods. This one was particularly severe. It was to result in a learning experience I desperately needed.

During this period of intense depression, some friends had invited me to teach at an interdenominational prayer retreat. However, a second teaching was also taking place at that retreat. One I was doing for them, and one God was doing through them on me. I observed a life-style and an attitude in them that was radically different from what I had ever seen before. It was surely different from my own life. Most important, they were talking about Christ living in them with power.

By the end of the retreat, the teacher had been taught. I left recognizing ‘Christ in me.’ I finally had something (really Someone) for daily living. From the past and the future to power for day-to-day living. I was thrilled to discover “The Helper.” No longer did I need to battle Mr. Everyday in my own strength.

I had learned my first lesson, but I still knew nothing of a fixed awareness of the Person in me. Since I was still subject to moments of exhilaration as well as moments of dejection, I assumed that the power of the Presence of Christ in me varied in proportion to my emotional temperature. I tried to maintain my “high” by seeking “spirit-filled people” and “spirit filled leaders” and “spirit-filled meetings.” All of this resulted in an up and down “high.”

The problem was that I was not locked in. I did not understand that faith is fact regardless of the emotional confirmation. But one cannot run from “spirit-filled meeting” to “spirit-filled meeting” forever. God in me was getting tired of that jag! You see, I had not learned I was caught. I ran the whole gamut of feelings. In desperation, I cried out in anger for God to let me alone. I said, “If this happens to a person who is spirit-filled, who has consecrated himself to You, then just go on Your way and leave me alone.”

This experience caused pain for others beside myself. In the end I saw that God had set me up to expose me to myself in an area where I had thought I was untouchable. He showed me what could happen if I did not learn His lesson for me. When all my hostility subsided I said, “I’ll stand on the truth of ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me’ if I never feel another thing emotionally.”

I had discovered the awareness of a fixed union. It was no longer just Christ in me, but Christ is me. The inner witness of the Spirit said, “It is so.” I was cemented in a Person. I was no longer my problem or even my opportunity. I was His problem and His opportunity.

Finally I understood what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches;… apart from Me you can do nothing.”

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Is God Still In Me?

Beautiful and comforting…..and it leads us to the still waters of rest…only believe.

Voice in the Wilderness

(After Not Feeling Him for Years and Years)

by Fred Pruitt

Some time ago someone wrote me with the question I have used as the title. I took this one question below as a summary of the all the questions that person had. This below is a much-expanded version of the original.

I wonder–do you know anyone like this–who has hurt for years and years–and made it out? It’d sure be good if God is still in me, because I have no hope anymore. It’s been too long.

—————————————————————————————————

Hi _______,

To answer your question, yes, I do know someone who hurt for years and years, and made it out — ME!

For YEARS I felt like you. God has a great purpose for it, so if for now, you do not yet see it, you can still praise because all this that you are experiencing is God teaching you…

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The Beatitudes

For many years the beatitudes were a source of great disturbances in me. Whenever I approached Jesus’ words I was overwhelmed with a sense of failure, not to mention the condemnation that clouded my consciousness. Frankly, I preferred to skip that part of the Bible because of its negative effect on me.

Let us not think that we are not meant to face these negatives, because we learn by contrasts and the luster of the positives that swallows up the negatives are greatly enhanced by what they are contrasted against. We know how light and darkness are two sides of the same thing, but when light swallows up darkness the only thing we are aware of is the light, not the absence of darkness.

The beatitudes are an outline of who God is, and not something I have to become. It is the demarcation line between self-effort and faith, between outer and inner life. The question we all face and which we have to answer each by ourselves when reading Jesus’ words is: Is this something I am to fulfill, or is it already fulfilled in me by the simple fact that I am one person with God?

A most crucial question for me has been: Am I really the light of the world? My word of faith is: “Yes, I am!” I couldn’t, however, answer this question with faith before the negatives had done their work in me pressing me from outer facts to inner facts.

Faith always speaks against what appears to be, and is what connects us with spirit reality, and spirit reality will in its time come back and give us the full assurance of faith. Let us not mistake this with the fleeting sensations of emotions or experiences. It is consciousness, that is, our personal inner knowing or know-how. It is the Kingdom growing up in us and we don’t know how. We only know that what once was insubstantial to us becomes substance by faith, that is, what we take by faith.

The mystics maintained that matter is darkness to spirit, and spirit is darkness to matter. Faith is hence what turns on the light in the realm of appearances.

When I read Jesus’ words, “Be perfect as God is perfect” that seemed to me as an unattainable goal. Three paths open up at this juncture. The first is the one of self-effort and when on this path we with gritted teeth and determination set out to be perfect. Of course, we fail miserably. But, it is a glorious path because it leads to our nothingness and from nothingness faith springs forth.

The second path is the one which sign reads: “God is satisfied if I do the best I can.” It is the less desirable path for one obvious reason. It takes us nowhere. Those who have eyes will read the small print on the sign which plainly reads, “Lukewarm” and get off that path as fast as they can.

The third path is the one of faith. It is our detour into the wilderness (taken there by the Spirit) that conditions us for the glory that never fades. Am I perfect as God is perfect? “Yes, I am, because He is my life! Whatever He is I am.”

The beatitudes are places to which the Spirit takes us so that the various blessings become “flesh” in us. “Aha, now I see what it means to be poor in the spirit!” which is a discovery we make when we face our utter nothingness, and we thus agree with Jesus: “I of myself can do nothing.”

The beatitudes are being, not doing. They are who I am by God’s grace. A revolution takes place in our consciousness when the Spirit who gives life swallows up the letter that brings death. We no longer see the absence of the things we should be –by faith we only see the light of who we are. Two sides of the same thing, but the one who is operative swallows up the other and gains its strength from its negative.

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