Free At Last!
What about those continual pulls that we still have to that old opposite—those invasions of fear, hate, worry, lust, self-seeking and weaknesses? Now we are alive to Satan’s subtlest assaults on us. The subtle trick occurs when we feel those constant pulls on us and we go back to the old habit of thinking we ought not to respond to them. Bang! We have been caught out in the old habit of thinking we are independent, and thus need to respond to an “ought to” or an “ought not.” This is the subtle trick. Those pulls make us think we are independent human selves again, and the moment we think that, back comes the law saying, “No, you ought not to.” And we are caught right up into false condemnation. That “ought not” only reaches us because we have slipped back into thinking we should be watching ourselves, running our own lives and combating the wrong pulls. That is where Satan has his laugh on us. There we are, inwardly condemned as if we ought not to fear, hate, anger, lust, or to want or react to these negative desires. And there we are struggling and condemned, or maybe following through to some actual sin.
Why? Here comes Satan’s final subtle trick. We are tricked into thinking that having those pulls is sin; whereas the real sin is the unbelief of thinking we are again independent selves who should not have these pulls. But independent self is really Satan-self again having his hold on us, and we then again “carnal, sold under sin.” That means we are back again under the law with its “thou shalt not.” But we are bound and unable to keep that law because our false sense of independent self, to which the law addresses itself, is really Satan as us with his temporary control of us.
Paul puts the essence of Romans 6, 7 and 8 into three verses to the Galatians—Galatians 5:16-18. “Walk in the Spirit,” he writes, “and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” We are Spirit people, but still in our flesh humanity, and thus open to all Satan’s pulls on us in our soul-body emotions and appetites. So now what happens? We become conscious of flesh pulls, for, says Paul, “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other.” These contrary pulls make us conscious of the antagonistic opposites, “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” We are Spirit people bearing Spirit fruit and loving to be so, but we now also feel the pulls and desires of the flesh—Satan’s agency in this Satan-filled world for attracting us back to his self-for-self ways.
This consciousness of the flesh-Spirit antagonisms is the danger spot. Satan thereby seeks to drag us back to that separation through the Fall, in which we again think we are independent selves instead of Spirit-united selves. This independent self outlook is really the touch of the old Satan-union on us. It also means that we immediately put ourselves back under the law again. And with what consequence? We are bound by that Satan-self in our separation and cannot respond to the law or Spirit, and so Paul says, “Ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Thus we are under the condemnation of the law and experience guilt that we cannot fulfill it. Being in the lie of independent self temporarily puts us back under Satan’s control. Therefore, we cannot do the things that we would. Properly caught, properly bound and condemned!
But now Paul says, “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” In other words, if we are temporarily in unbelief, which has resurrected the lies of the independent self, we then suddenly remind ourselves of who we really are—Spirit bound and Spirit led, our self expressing Himself. We then say, “Wait a minute. Of course I am not an independent self feeling these pulls of Satan. That is his lie. No, I am a Christ-self.” I do not deny or fight the reality of my flesh pulls (and those are precisely what my Elder Brother equally, continually had according to Hebrews 4:15).
I accept and recognize the reality of these flesh pulls, but I am dead to them in Christ (“always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus” as in Corinthians 4:10). They can shout at me by temptation, but have no hold or right to me (Rom. 8:12). I am alive unto God, a Spirit person and led by the Spirit. The only law on me is what I now instinctively fulfill, that “law of the Spirit” by which I spontaneously do the things of the Spirit. Through Christ, the Spirit has replaced that old “law of sin and death” by which I spontaneously did the things of the flesh. So I go free—back to who I really always was.
This is Paul’s definition of daily freedom under daily flesh-assaults or pressures. It is what James told us to be very thankful for—good constant practice in the application of our faith walk. We admit those lying pulls back to unbelief, but now we are spontaneously faith-conscious of walking as Christ as us. Therefore, we “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free” (Gal. 5:1). By admitting Satan’s right to pull at us through the flesh, we are also free to affirm our right to our faith-consciousness of being Christ as us. Thus we express Christ’s nature of love, joy and praising. We swallow up the negative pulls, or rather use those very pulls to express His pulls: love replacing hate; faith, fear; rest, strain; strength, weakness; self-giving for self-gratifying; and so on.
Because of its importance, and because it is the main reason for this whole “walking in the Spirit” sharing, I will address again what we do in meeting the assaults of the flesh. The answer is that we do not fight temptation or take condemnation for it. The very opposite. We recognize that the real temptation is to make me think I am the independent self that I am not. Then I am again “under the law,” yet cannot fulfill it, because independent self is really Satan as me (Matt. 16:23). It is the sin of unbelief. What then do I do? I quickly recognize that the problem is not my having flesh temptation, but rather my temporarily forgetting (2 Pet. 1:9) that I am no longer an independent self. Who I am is simply and solely an expresser of Christ in His nature.
Therefore, as quickly as I can, I accept the fact of being tempted, for we live in a totally tempting world. Accepting that, I don’t deny or resist the temptation. Instead, I resist the tempter (James 4:7) by saying, “That’s not me you are pulling. That’s only my outer soul emotions and bodily appetites, which of course are open to all that can reach me from your outer world (for his is ‘the spirit of the world’—(1 Cor. 2:12). But I am not a bunch of outer responses: I am Christ as me. He is the real Self expressed by my human container self.” As I do that, I am in fact doing what Paul said in Corinthians 4:10: inwardly recognizing my place of death in His death to those old pulls of Satan on my human self. In place of these temptations, I am seeing myself in my true self-relationship of Christ in me as me. As I do that, the consciousness of myself as a Christ expresser swallows up the negative consciousness of Satan and his pulls on me. Satan flees (James 4:7). I resist him by replacing false belief in him by true belief in who I really am—Christ as me. Light swallows up dark. We don’t fight the dark; we recognize its right to exist, but we replace it by turning on the light.
Our danger, then, is not the fact that temptation pulls us. We shall always have plenty of that on all levels. The danger is that it tricks us back into thinking we are the selves who must respond to these pulls. But now we know that trick of Satan. We accept the pulls as normal and right on our humanity. And then we say, “That’s not my real me. Those are only pulls on my outer clothing of soul-body. My ‘me’ is Christ as me, and the light is on and the darkness swallowed up.” And if we are tempted to think, “But yes, we are constantly assaulted by the same things,” then we equally say, “And yes, that gives me continual practice in recognizing again and again who I am—Christ as me!”