Life Really Works
The following pages are a brief sharing from my heart of what is for me the Total Truth of the “mystery which hath been hid from the ages which is Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26, 27). This is the truth lived out, in, through, and as me. Some have suggested that putting this into print might help other members of the Church understand what I and those of like mind with me believe.
My Conversion to Christ
I was born again twenty years ago, having received Christ, as the Holy Spirit worked in me through a Sunday School teacher. The truth she shared set me free from the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:21) and made me Christ’s slave, or as the Scripture says, “servant(s) of righteousness” (Rom. 8:18).
I had come to realize that I desperately needed a Savior. I knew what Paul meant when he said that “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), and when I received Christ, I rejoiced that I had been redeemed from under the law and had received the adoption of a son (Gal. 4:5). I knew putting “off the old man with his deeds” (Col. 3:9) and being reborn was the result of grace (Eph. 2:8, 9), and from that time to this day I continue to be enamored with Him of whom the Scripture speaks (John 5:39).
Immediately after my conversion, came a glorious period during which God focused my attention on the Scriptures, soul winning and right living. Then and now I take all I know from the Scripture–infallible, inerrant–as the Holy Spirit interprets it to me. From the first, my confidence has been: “And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good words” (2 Tim. 3:15-17). I became very active in all phases of church activity. My wife, four children and I were regulars.
First Failings as a Christian
Soon after that glorious period, which so many enjoy immediately after being saved, Satan (the deceiver–Rev. 12:9; “a liar, and the father of it”–John 8:44) seduced me into believing that although saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8, 9), somehow I was called to live by myself. Thus, my life, begun in grace and ending in grace, had to be lived out in between by me.
Although (with Paul) I found myself wanting to live right, no amount of Scripture reading, soul winning, rededication, surrender, quiet time, prayer or submission worked. I just could not live right. I sinned when I didn’t want to and couldn’t do what I really wanted to do (Rom. 7:15) It seemed that the harder I tried to be what I knew inside I wanted and was intended to be, the more difficult and more impossible my life became to operate (Rom. 7:11).
Obviously (and almost everyone I observe also experiences the same thing) I began to believe that the misery and defeat of Romans 7 was the “normal Christian life.” I missed the Biblical principle that sin–through things which were described as good and which I believed were good–deceived me into believing that I could actually do those good things. The result was total death in me. Paul expressed it thus: “For sin, taking occasion from the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me” (Rom. 7:11).
Then I began to learn one of the key Scriptural principles: “Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11). In a very difficult time for me, when everything else had failed, I decided for the first time that I would speak against what appeared to be true and say that indeed Christ is “all, and in all” and that “by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). I began to agree with God that having “begun in the Spirit” (Gal. 3:3) by grace (Titus 3:5), I would likewise live by grace–God in action. When I began to agree with the Scripture that God was all and in all, I began to see that God was all and all in me; I could begin to say that He was not only my salvation but all of my sanctification. I came to understand that the problem wasn’t me, but the “law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23).
Over the last several years, that understanding has unfolded to me more and more. I have come to know that if the problem isn’t me, then I am simply a container and have always been a container. The problem, therefore, must be in who I contain; thus, I have never operated apart (independently) from the deity which lives in my container. Before I was born again, I was a container for Satan to express himself by me, masquerading falsely as “just me.” As a Christian, I am a container for Jesus Christ to be all in all, in and as me.
All of Us Are Containers
Since this point is central, I will cite some of the numerous passages which teach that I don’t now, nor have I ever, operated independently:
Vine/Branch: Christ is the vine, I am the branch, I “cannot bear fruit” of myself (John 15:4-5).
Servants: We are always servants of a master–once of sin, now of Christ (Rom. 6:17).
Husband/Wife: Christ is the Husband, I am the wife. I bear the fruit of the Husband (Rom. 7:2-4).
Vessels: We are vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy. The difference is what deity the vessel contains (Rom. 9:22-23).
Temples: Obviously the issue is which deity lives in your temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Head/Body: The head of the body (me) is Christ. He controls the body, which does nothing unless the head first tells it to act (Eph. 4:15-16).
Old Man/New Man: The “old man” is Satan, the “new man” is Christ. There is no middle man or independent nature (Col. 3:9-10).
Satan the Main Culprit
Therefore, prior to being saved, I had housed Satan, and they were his deeds that were being done through me (Col. 3:9, old man with his deeds). As Christ said to the unsaved: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44a). Earlier in the same discourse Christ said, “Ye do the deeds of your father” (John 8:41). I was responsible for my wrong believing and agreement with Satan and his deeds, and therefore deserved perdition and needed a Savior. My sin was in my believing, and as I believed incorrectly, Satan did his living out through me.
Now I realize that the Cross changed my original Satan nature eternally, since when I died with Christ, the sin nature went out, and the Holy Spirit came in with His nature. As Peter wrote: “…by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature…” (2 Pet. 1:4).
The Deceit of There Being a “Just Me”
I began to understand the truth of Galatians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 6:17, and John 17. Yes, I and those who also see this, boldly say now that the problem has always been that Satan deceived me and the rest of the world into believing that there was a “just me” which not only needed improving but was capable of being improved. Actually, there was nothing wrong with me, the container: the Cross cleansed and threw all that out. The sin producer who lived his life out through me prior to my rebirth experience was no longer present within me. I was “dead to sin” (Rom. 6:2) and “dead to sins” (1 Pet. 2:24). Thus I came to learn that I had no “independent human” nature. I had always been a container of one deity or the other.
I realize that the problem of frustration and defeat I had experienced after my salvation came from the original Satan lie, the lie that I had a nature that was bad. In fact, my sin was in wrong believing, and then Mr. Sin did his deeds through me. Once I received Christ’s gift of eternal cleansing from the just reward of my sin believing, I could then see that my container was all right and always had been.
—continued next issue