The Sole Purpose of Our Creation
Independence: The Lie of Lies
What follows from this is another facet of “truth” which is fundamentally important, indeed central to our own understanding of ourselves in our relationship to God. What can be more central than our relationship to God, because in the end we only have ourselves and how we live and operate! It is the relationship of God, the Positive, to us the negatives. We are back where we have just been, when we say there is only One Person in the universe, and no such thing as independence. We simply trace it back and acknowledge the life of God in all nature as “full of His glory,” and He “filling heaven and earth.”
But it is a different matter when we come to persons who have their own consciousness and are able to make choices. And here entered the lie of lies and the root meaning and origin of sin (1 John 3:10). The first and only person who sought to exalt and declare himself as an independent self, self-relying self, was Lucifer, Satan, saying: “I will be like the Most High.” I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit upon the mount of the congregation” (Isa. 14:13-14). And therefore he was the first self-deceived person, because there is no such thing as an independent person in the universe. Satan is “creature” like the rest of us. Therefore, he operates by false imagination when he acts as though he is independent. Finally we catch on to the fundamental truth that Satan is always God’s convenient negative agent, no matter how much he appears to be in command.
Our Involvement in that Lie
It is here that we see sin in its fundamental form in the fantasy of independent self: “I will do my own thing.” Then we see the importance of and the reason that Satan’s first effect on us humans (when he entered Adam and Eve) was to deceive us with the same deceit of being an independent self with which he himself is deceived (for we always transmit who and what we are). It was God’s purpose to put us humans within the influence of that deceiving serpent, for if we are to function through eternity as reliable sons of God (just as Paul wrote that God counted him as reliable—1 Tim. 1:12) in the management of His universe, then we must have gone to the roots in our own experience of this false meaning of being a person. That is the reason why the experience described in Romans Seven (with its final insight into that final lie of the independent self) is where the Spirit has to take us before we can fully know Christ as us, in place of Satan as us, and be safe as well as saved sons. And so Revelation 12:9 puts in one phrase Satan’s still present worldwide effect on us, “The serpent of old who deceives the whole world.”
Also, this is why the final effect of the law upon us is to expose as a lying deceit our so-called ability to operate as independent self-relying selves (see Romans 7:11). It is really Satan in his form expressing his deceived, self-relying self-nature as though it is we, and making us think that it is we, till we cry out, with Paul, “What I would, that I do not. But what I hate, that I do,” and “to will is present with me, but how to perform I find not.” Hence, we are brought to Paul’s great word of revelation on the self–that it is not I trying by self-effort and failing to get the victory, but it is “sin that dwelleth in me” (7:17, 20). Sin laughs at my helpless self-effort (7:11), because that very self-effort is Satan expressing his lying independent self-nature as though it is I, and has all the time made me think it is I. The lie exposed at last! “It is not I that do it.” It is Satan in his sin-form, the invader, the intruder since the Fall, the false former owner and operator of my human self (for we have no nature of our own), expressing his self-relying and self-gratifying self in me as me, and deceiving me by having tricked me into thinking that those sinful flesh responses in me were really me, when in fact they were “sin dwelling in me.” And this apparent fact of indwelling sin is only a bluff and deceit, for Satan as sin was cast out of me in Christ’s body-death (in which He as me was made sin and died to sin–2 Cor. 5:21 and Rom. 6:10), so that our bodies are no longer sin’s dwelling place (Rom. 6:6), and it is “Christ dwelling in me” (Rom. 8:9-10). “But while I did not know that, and still believed in my own self-efforts (which was really Satan), that believing are obviously more than inanimate pots and pans. We are people! Humanity has spent all the years of its history running amok with the claim to be autonomous selves, like a horse with the bit between its teeth. Therefore again we say, active self must be thrown right out, as it were, and replaced by receptive self, before we can allow the usurper back into favour again. But if the expulsion has taken place once and for all, and the lesson learned, then the self-in-action can be recognized again in its rightful function, although all our lives it will have to be reminded of where it belongs and snubbed when it tries to take over again.
Its rightful place and function is portrayed for us by Christ’s parable of the Vine and branch, and Paul’s analogy of Head and body. The Vine and branch truth emphasizes the indissoluble union of Christ and the believer. We are organically one. One tree, one life; yet in that relationship Jesus underlined the fact that we, the branches, are merely channels of the sap from the vine. A branch is more than a channel, because a branch is alive whereas a pipe is not, and a branch does absorb and utilize the sap to produce the fruit. It is not entirely inactive, though entirely dependent. But it was the dependence Jesus was pointing to: “apart from Me, ye can do nothing.” So that illustration is taking us one further than the vessel. First, we are merely containers. Then, having absorbed and accepted that fact, we are more. We are united to Him whom we contain in a way a vessel can never be united to the liquid in it. We are united because we are living people as He is the Living Person; yet in that union, as branch to vine, we remain as totally dependent as the vessel. Without the sap flowing through us, we can do nothing. Yet it is this time a living dependence, for we are to “abide in the Vine.”
Once more then, Paul’s illustration takes us further. We are body to head. Again that makes one Person, just as it was one Tree. So one that the Bible even speaks of the body (not the head) as Christ (1 Cor. 12:12). Yet the body is as solely the agent of the head, as branch of vine. The total dependence is maintained. The union is maintained. But in head and body, the activity of the members comes to the fore. A body is made for action. A head is useless without a body, so the body in Eph. 1:23 is specifically spoken of as the fullness of the head, as the head of the body. They are necessary to each other. So here we come back full circle to active self, but dead, risen and ascended, and thus forever knowing itself as basically containing the Other, motivated by The Other, He living His own life and expressing His own Self through ourselves; yet we freely in action, just as if it was we, thinking, willing, working, laughing, talking, living as normal human beings in normal situations, and the world thinking it is just we, except for something unusual they can’t identify about us. What? We know: “your life is hid with Christ in God…Christ our life.”
But to get all this into focus, we must probe deeper. To recapitulate, God is the one real Person who lives. We live as persons, so that our derived personalities can be the means of manifesting Him. Humanity, as all creation, lives, exists by His life, all are forms of Him; but we being persons, spirits, are the only creatures who can refuse to be what we were made to be—persons who contain The Person. This is what happened, we humans receiving and containing another spirit—the satanic spirit of self-love, the enemy of God. Thus, though we live and move and have our being in Him, we actually live the life that is the exact contrary of His, the life of self-centredness; we express the reverse of God, and are therefore in His No, not His Yes; in His wrath, not His good pleasure; in His darkness, not His light; in His judgments, not His mercy.
How then can we become that for which we were created? Nothing can function harmoniously, except according to the laws of its being. Humanity in all its history is thus so patently out of gear, right down to each of our personal lives. How can we get into gear?