To All Believers…It’s As Simple As This
At Last Operating as a Truly Liberated Self
So we pass through the gateway of Romans 6 via Romans 7 into Romans 8! Romans 6 was the application of Paul’s second radical revelation about Christ on Calvary (Gal. L 11-12), and the meaning of the two levels of remembrance at the Lord’s Supper, the wine symbolizing the blood shed for sinners, the broken bread symbolizing the body dead and risen for the saints. Paul ran from Damascus because, under fierce pressure, he didn’t know how to stand as a Christ-in-him for deliverance, and his friends had to help him out by a rope-basket. He was "driven" into Arabia for three years as a result. There Paul saw and learned identification with Christ in its full meaning only given us by him in 2 Corinthians 5:14, 21. If He hung there on the cross as us, His body represented our bodies. But what do our bodies express? The nature of its indwelling spirit, which was sin. So Paul actually said that God made His sinless Son "sin for us." By His shed blood He "bore our sins," which were not His, and atoned for them in His blood. But now Paul was saying He actually was made sin in that holy nature representing ours, because our bodies express that sin nature and are thus "sin." No wonder He cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" But, as Paul said, if Christ died as us, expressing the spirit of sin in His body, then when He died, out went that sin spirit from His body, for a dead body has no spirit. And so too, therefore, out went that sin spirit from our bodies. And into the dead body in the tomb came His own Spirit, and thus also into our bodies. So Paul could say in Romans 6:10, "…in that He died, He died unto sin once," and so our bodies were annulled as occupants of sin (Rom. 6:6), and we reckon ourselves "dead indeed unto sin.
If Romans 6 is the presentation for us all of the fact of our deliverance, by Christ’s body-death, from the sin principle indwelling us, and we who believe are to state that to be so of ourselves, then we faithfully do so. But we say within ourselves, "I say that, but it isn’t working well in me!" "Reckon" means I count it as so and say so, but
that is different from realizing. There is a difference between me saying I reckon I have a book in my hands and saying I have a book in my hands! "Reckon" means that I’m not really sure. So honest Paul, and honest us with Paul, come to the desperate cry of Romans 7: "I say I’m dead to sin, but it isn’t working! Wretched man that I am. What’s wrong?" Calvary fact is no good to me unless it becomes Calvary experience, and in Romans 7, it doesn’t. That’s why Romans 7 is written in the present tense (Rom. 7:7-24), although Paul had just said it was a past fact for him (Rom. 7:4-6). Because all of us go through Romans 6 via Romans 7 to get to Romans 8, and only those who have come through can honestly give the glory statements of Romans 8:1-2. Paul must not say it for us, so he identifies himself with us in our stumbling, searching, faltering walk until we ourselves can say those "1 and 2" verses with him. At last, by this second travail of the believer, the light is lit, and very simply. "Why do I keep doing things I have been doing, and not doing what I want to do?" cries Paul in agreeing with the tenth commandment not to covet, setting himself not to do it, and then finding "sin wrought in me all manner of lusts." Now here is the secret and the answer. It was sin that wrought these in me and caused me to do and have them. Yes, sin, but not I!! That was the flash of Spirit-light. "Why," Paul says, "I didn’t want to do those things, so it wasn’t I doing them? Then who was it? Why, obviously that intruder who first got into me through the Fall and made me his dwelling place. It was not I, but "sin that dwelleth in me,"’ which he repeats twice for emphasis in Romans 7:17 and 20. It was sin, Satan in his nature, operating in me, but by his supreme deceit he has made me, from Adam onwards, think it was I doing it, as if I have an independent nature of my own. But I am only a vessel, branch, temple, slave, bodymember. The doer is the one I contain!
And so Paul saw it. He had, as in Romans 6, seen in his Arabia visit this total meaning of Calvary–that Christ’s body represented ours and our body expresses the sin-spirit. So did His on the cross! But, as He died, out went that sin-spirit from His body as ours, and in His resurrection in came His Spirit of Truth in place of that false deceiving spirit cast out forever. So, Paul moves on with his exclamation of delighted thanks in Romans 7:25 to his total statement of who he now is with no further condemnation, but set free by the law (the fixed principle) of the Spirit of life by Christ in him, from that former law (fixed principle) of sin and death, that lie of independent, self-relying self. Now it is Christ dwelling in him (Rom. 8:8, 9) where it had been sin dwelling in him.
The whole key to this lies in the understanding that we humans never had a self-operating, self-relying nature, but were solely created to express God in His nature. But we only became conscious, functioning humanity when we were voluntarily, though deceivedly, taken captive by that spirit of error, so that we each were Satan-I. Then, through our Last Adam and His Calvary death and resurrection, we change back to our True OwnerCreator and are Christ-I. Many believers know and claim the reality of Christ in you, as in Ephesians 3:17, but because we never knew the basic reality of formerly being Satan-sin dwelling in us, and mistakenly living in the deceit of a self-acting self, we have been falsely taught that we have a deposit of sin in our human selves (soul and body) and must therefore have some continual forms of warfare for the rest of our lives. Yet the glory of the revelation is that there never has been anything wrong with our human selves (spirit, soul and body) which God created as "very good." All that happened to our selves was the misuse of self by the Satan-god, and now right use by our true Christ-Indweller. This means that we can boldly accept ourselves as always having been right selves, only formerly in wrong hands but now in right hands.
The flesh, Paul’s common term for our humanity, is right in its right ownership, as with Jesus ("God manifest in the flesh"). With us, it had become "sinful flesh," but then in Christ the sin was condemned in the flesh (Rom. 8:3), and "they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts"’ (Gal. 5:24); and "the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20). Flesh as humanity is, of course, always available to temptations by its appetites (Gal. 5:16-18), and can catch us out if we foolishly go back to struggle with self effort. But if we fully recognize the Spirit expressing Himself as us/by us, then that old pull of sin and the "you ought not" law on our deceived self has no further power (Gal. 5:18). Flesh is not in itself an evil thing any more than the eye is evil. It is the lusts which are evil, not the flesh or the eyes (1 John 2:16).
We need expanded understandings of the completeness of Christ being expressed by our humanity, with a growth as in 1 Peter 3:18, and an everexpanding conformity to His likeness expressed in our humanity (2 Cor. 4:19 and Rom. 8:29). We thus have rescued and regained our human selves from any blame in themselves and those false condemnations we lived in while in a Romans 7 deceived consciousness of our guilt. We walk blameless and sanctified as Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:23. We regain our human selves, mortal in the physical and thus remaining in our world to be a light in it, but holy in our spirit selves expressed in our souls and bodies (Heb. 10:14-22).
The Way Is the Obedience, Not of Works, but of Faith
There is the faith entry into who we all really are. That is why our real obedience is that which Paul names it to be in almost his first and last word in his Romans letter (Romans 1:5 and 16:26)–the obedience, not of works and self-effort, but of faith, which requires only our inner heart acknowledgement of the actual truth concerning our Lord Jesus Christ as given us by Him. This is as real a faith committal as was our first act of saving faith, which then produced the Spirit’s witness. But this second faith committal may be said to be more difficult and radical because that first faith committal only concerned our sins and their hold on us and the guilt and fear rightly produced by them.
This second committal is our very selves, the apparent producer of the sins, and self is all we have. This is why this further total committal cannot be fully made until the fundamental fact has been cleared in our understanding, by the Word confirmed by the Spirit, that we never had a false self-acting self to give up its apparent selfhood. This was Satan’s lie. We were never more than containers, vessels, branches, etc., with no such self-relying, self-acting self; and so this second step, or rather stride, is only a recognition of a given fact about us as participators in Christ’s 2000-year old body death and resurrection. This is serious and radical because we have had these deceived concepts of our independent selves in action, and that includes what we might call our "`good"’ selves. It is radical to see in fullness that all the good we have done by our self activity has been Satangood (that "good" aspect of the false Edenic Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil).
Thus trying to be and do good is as much the product of our Satan self-forself nature expressed by us as are any of our "bad" doings. Perfect flesh living is really perfect sinning. Paul said in Romans 7:21 that "when I would do good, evil is present with me," and that was a "law,"a set principle, from which he by himself could not escape. By this he meant that while resolving to do good was right ("to will is present with me"- Rom. 7:18), the actual attempt to "do good," though unknown to himself at the time, was that same self-forself, self-relying Satan-spirit operating in his apparently good self efforts (Phil 3:4-6). Just as an apple seed can bring forth only an apple tree, with apples being its only fruit (some good for eating and some not), so too the seed Satan can bring forth only Satanic fruit, some good and some bad. Therefore, we cannot easily give up our total selves and move into our God relationship until we know that there never was any good in ourselves (Rom. 7:18)-that is, until we know the lie of independent self.
We cause great offense to our fellow believers when we make such
statements of faith as this one: "Once only Satan-I, now only Christ-I." They still think of us as having a sinful nature. As a result, our opposition often comes from churches and pastors so long accustomed to self-condemnation in our apparent sins and failures. To them, it is like blasphemy to say nothing was ever wrong with our human selfhood. This is why this stride of faith (really only the acknowledgement of fact in Christ) is well called by Kierkegaard (who deeply knew the human self)"the leap of faith." When taken, it must be as serious and openly confessed and once-for-all as was our faith step into receiving Christ. Once made, it is as marked an act as a marriage vow and ceremony.
It took me five hours in a Congo forest to say with finality that I, Norman Grubb, have been crucified with Christ and thus, in His death to sin, I have died to sin as an indweller. And then to say the "nevertheless I live" of Galatians 2:20. But there is no such thing as independent living and therefore, with Paul, to say, "yet not `I,’ but Christ lives in me" (where before it had been Satan living in me). That was as far as I really got on that crisis occasion, confessing with my mouth, together with my precious wife doing the same, by writing my statement on an old envelope which was all I had deep in that forest. But, once said, my confession of faith became fixed and was never to be gone back on.
The witness of the Spirit, the substance of faith as in Hebrews 11:1, comes when the believing is established enough to receive it. In 1 John 5:10, the inner witness is a given part of the believing, and while we do the believing, the Spirit gives the witness. Sometimes that takes time–for me two years; for my wife two weeks! I never went back on my established, spoken, written word of faith. The witness is from Him to me, not from me to Him, so I must avoid any seeking of it, or questioning of my faith. No! Any delay only stirs me to confirm my "obedience of faith" in that five-hour act of faith I made, and I just went on with my normal activities until one day He must have seen that I was in a right condition, and the sudden quiet light was He in me: "Yes, it really is Christ in me, expressing Himself in my form–He as me, He living, thinking my thoughts, speaking my words, doing my deeds." This was so total that for a time I almost thought I was Christ! That didn’t matter while the glory of the inner recognition settled in me.
Then Daily Living
What followed then was the real answer to this first question of "anthropology." What kind of person am I, now that it is settled by the Word and inner witness that my real inner self is Christ in me? How do I now in fact function as a human? Paul nicely slipped into his Galatians 2:20 statement, "yet not I, but Christ lives in me." He did not just say "lives," as if I am Christ. So back I came to realize that I am still the lamp–now absorbed in reflecting the light but still the lamp. But now all important–what a different understanding of the lamp!
Now it is no longer a soiled lamp under constant questioning, suspicion and condemnation. I now accept myself as a right self if I am good enough for Him to accept and dwell in and express Himself by, I am good enough to accept myself just as I am. It was perhaps the most important and revolutionary new recognition when at last I got Romans 7:17 into focus that I never I was a "bad" self in my God-created humanity, any more than I was a "good" self. Nor was I a soiled self, as if something had poisoned my humanity–my being as a human. No, I can accept myself because the bad or good is the expression of the deity nature in me/as me–change of deity, change of owner, not change of my humanity except that my physical body is the mortal part of me in which I long for a change (Rom. 8:23-25; 2 Cor. 5:1-8).
So I am free to be. Where I used to live in a continuous warning red light on my failures, sins and weaknesses, now I live in a green light. I think my thoughts, make my choices, do my daily jobs as right, not wrong. I refuse waves of that old sense of self-failure sweeping over me. Impossible indeed is that old false consciousness of a selfrelying self apparently running itself and merely "helped" by the Lord, and so often tricked by Satan. Now I do accept myself and act freely as a full self because I have that fixed inner witness that it is actually He as me. As C.T. Studd in the Congo used to say to the Lord, "We are put here to see Jesus Christ running about in black (and white) bodies!"
This makes my present daily living wholly "natural" and practical. I am just myself. I be! When I am practicing my profession, I am not always reminding myself I am a carpenter, plumber, lawyer, doctor, professor, nurse or housewife. No! I just do my job as such, but I am really expressing that know-how of my profession which was not part of my human self but which I had desired, accepted and trained for, and which became settled in me/as me so that I call myself by the name of my profession. So also now, as a Christian, I am not always saying I am Christ in me/as me! No! I am just myself most of the day, just being and doing. But underneath I know Philippians 2:13 is fixedly, continuously true to me. It is He working in me "to will and do of His good pleasure," and I boldly turn my "fear and trembling" of Philippians 2:12 into the kind of confidence John speaks of in his 1 John 4:17.
I am to take no condemnation of myself (Rom. 8:1), or doubt that it is He as me. This covers my whole range of activity of mind and body. I have so old a suspicion of the misuses of myself-whether of bodily appetites formerly misused and easily responsive to temptation, or soul reactions of disturbed, negative emotions about conditions or people, or questionings or doubtings of the mind–that it is new for me to accept the fact that He has taken me over. I am not to doubt or
question. It is for Him to keep what He has taken possession of. I didn’t choose Him. He chose me (John 15:16), so the "heat" is on Him to do the keeping. I might well question His choices, choosing me or you, but we are His choice, so I laugh and go free.
A pastor friend of mine, Keith Lamb of Kerrville, Texas, asked his folk, who are well taught in who they really are, "Hands up, those who, like St. Augustine, say `I love God and do as 1 like’." He said very few hands went up because we bemused folk still suspect that if we do as we like, we’ll go back down to the old flesh ways! But no, no, we who now know who we are "` do as we like" because what we like is His will and ways! It is no longer singing of myself, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love." No, no! No more wandering or leaving, for we are fixed as He. (We will talk a little later about temptation and soul-spirit responses.) This greatly changes our songs and prayers, for why keep asking Him to bless when He has said He is blessing? Why keep asking for the power when we say with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me"? Why not change "pray so" prayers into "say so" prayers?
Trials Are Adventures, Temptations Are Opportunities
There arises that constant question of our formerly sin-conscious selves: What about sin and temptation? This is where the revelation of there being no human nature but only the two deity natures (we having been formerly Satan-I but now Christ-I) answers our questions. the key is that temptation becomes asset instead of liability, just as James leads off his most practical of letters by saying, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations (trials is the same word)." How can that be? Because we are now loosed from that former suspicion that temptation is sin, and that therefore my responses to it are sin. Both are false.
The temptation question is plainly settled by that invaluable letter to the Hebrews where we see Jesus in His full human nature, particularly in chapters 2 through 4 with the one outstanding word in Hebrews 4:15, "Jesus…the Son of God…tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." Perfect Jesus, perfectly tempted. And sinless. Thus temptation is a necessary part of human living. The reason is obvious. We live in a world which is shot through with every form of self-sin solicitation, as we have said, so that in our mortal bodies we remain as light in a dark world, for we meet the same flesh-world assaults as all do. But we know how to turn them into assets and can show the way to others.
The vital difference is found in our new-mind consciousness. We used to mistake temptation for sin and were also suspicious of apparent sinful tendencies in our flesh. We rapidly took condemnation with every "drawing" of temptation on us (James 1:14). Actually, the "lusts" are just the normal strong desires (the correct meaning of that epithumia word in the Greek) by which the universe, on all levels, surges forward all the way from Einstein’s equation which proves that all mass is really energy (e=mc2), right up to the love-drives of personhood in God and man. So temptation is merely by whatever form our human desires of mind and body are excited to respond by the drawings of the deity spirit through our flesh (depending on which spirit). The philosopher Spencer rightly said, "Life is response to environment." We say, "Which environment?"
Now with our renewed mind–knowing that all humanity (flesh) was created "very good" by God and has no negative or positive inherent pull in it, but responds without condemnation to what draws it–we by infinite grace have been drawn to God (John 6:44). Equally, we often are drawn in our present life in the world by the lusting Satan-spirit, but the vital point is that we take no condemnation for such negative sin drawings. We live in the nocondemnation reality of Romans 8:1. If Satan can get us into taking condemnation for temptations or get us to believe again that we are independent selves, then what we believe holds us. But if, instead of being tricked into such negative believings, we accept temptation as Satan’s right by all his emissaries of people and things (for we are within his camp to rescue his captives), we then do not deny or oppose any forms of temptation. We recognize that they do not issue from our flesh, but from the sin-tempter of our flesh, and then we take no condemnation.
By this we are able to pull Satan’s teeth, and he becomes a roaring but toothless lion (1 Peter 5:8)–unless we give him teeth by responding by fear or condemnation. We "agree with our adversary quickly" as Jesus said in Matthew 5:25, or he will imprison us. If we agree with his right to attack us, we have well blunted his sword. By thus freeing Satan to exercise his rights, we are equally now free to exercise our own. We answer his assaults by affirming who we are, Christ in us/as us, which really is practicing the daily death-resurrection process of 2 Corinthians 4:10. The light of expressing ourselves as Christ (light through lamp) swallows up the darkness. Where we are tempted to hate, we love with God’s love, including enemies. Where tempted to fear (which is really negative believing in evil), we have the faith of God for the situation: anxiety with assurance; depression with affirmation of Him as our joy, though soul feelings may last. We "resist the devil," as James says (James 4:7) by submitting to God, and in that affirmation that coward of a devil flees.
We replace all negatives (without condemnation for feeling the pull of them, and thus accepting Satan’s right to pull) with the positives of Christ as us, and we as expressions of God as love, power, peace–recognizing who we are, Him as us, and we loving as He loves, walking as He walks, overcoming our world as He did by faith, just as John says in his letter. We even turn an infatuation for someone into a positive faith action so that, instead of being overwhelmed with condemnation that we should not have such an infatuation, we by faith see Christ forming Himself in that one. Depressions, tensions, compulsive jealousies, hurts and bitterness–perhaps going back a long time ago into our earlier life–are all transformed when they are not resisted with false condemnation (as if we were independent selves) but rather are received as temptations meant by God and which we therefore "count" (though we do not feel) as "all joy" (James 1:2). We deliberately replace all negative reactions by seeing them as His set purpose (we will later see how God "means" all things). We meet them by reversing our negative believing–and affirming that He works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11) and that there is no power but God.
When Temptation Becomes Sin
Sins are committed when we deliberately respond, positively or negatively, to temptation as an independent self. These responses James calls an adultery (not a fixed marriage union) from which a return is made by confession and the forgiveness and cleansing of 1 John 1:9. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God never sees sin because of the blood of His Son, and we therefore are forgiven. Thus, our guilty consciences are cleansed from the sin of the slip into independent self (Heb. 9:14), and we replace our sin consciousness with praise. John underlined that committing a sin is a rare, not a regular, fact when he adds, "My little children, I write this unto you that ye sin not; and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father." Thus the committing of sins is rare, whereas so often we have been mistakenly taught that it is continuous and common, so often by confusing temptation with sin.
The whole area of temptation and sin is most important for us believers, for this is where so much of our confusion and conflict resides. If we do commit a sin, we must be careful not to slip back into that false self effort which tempts us, if it is something we often repeat, to resolve that we won’t commit it again. When we are in such a situation, we stand in our total faith position: He as me is also my Keeper (Jude 24). So when we feel desperate through the weakness of an apparent habit, we boldly tell Him we can find no deliverance by our own false self effort or good resolution (that lie of the independent self). We are already delivered. We boldly say, "I shall do it again unless You keep me, but You are my Keeper." If we commit it again, we return by the same way of 1 John 1:9 and back again to that same position of faith as an already delivered person,and faith is the substance.
The same is true if it is something which is not sin in any specific form named in Scripture, but we find ourselves tempted to consider a harmful "habit" In this we walk the same way. We shall not look for "deliverance" by good resolutions or forms of that lie of self-effort. No! We boldly say that we do not even talk of a needed "deliverance." We are in that same position of faith that I as He know no such thing as a habit which is not He as me. I continue as before with no condemnation, and disregarding the condemnation of others; and in that freedom He will make any changes that please Him. Faith will produce changes that no negative false
condemnation can produce.
The Difference between Soul and Spirit
The soul-spirit differentiation of Hebrews 4:12 is a key Scripture for living in the abiding rest the writer speaks of as our continued experience in Hebrews 4:9-11. That rest, of course, means not indolence, but rest from the strain of the sense of incapacity in our daily activities to be replaced by the consciousness of capacity ("we’ve got what it takes"), which results in far fuller, not lesser, activities in God’s sufficiency. This is obviously so when we know that we are He as us, in place of the lie of independent self.
We may often be disturbed in our new freedom of living unless, as the Scripture tells us, we have seen clearly this difference between soul and spirit. Paul likens it to the difference in our bodies between joints and marrow. Marrow is the life of the bones. Marrow is likened to our inner spirit union where our selves are joined to His Self, and from which our new life flows. Joints are the means by which the marrow-life operates in outer form. They give flexibility. So our spirit joined to His Spirit, where our knowing who we are is the permanent flow, expresses itself by our outer forms of soul. The soul, like the joints, gives outer, emotional expression to our spirit-love, and mental reasonings and explanations give expression to our inner spirit knowing.
Thus, soul emotions and seasonings are of vital value to our Christmanifestation, but can equally be penetrated and assaulted by Satan on either feeling or thought levels. A great many of our unsolved problems find their answers as we continually differentiate between soul reactions and spirit fixed condition, and replace the soul disturbances by recognition of our true being as He. Spirit is like the sea–total and beyond disturbance. Soul is like the restless waves, but we are like the sea. So also is the difference in this verse between "thoughts" (variable soul level, good or bad) and "intents" (fixed spirit-life purpose).
This then covers the "young man" second level of true being as detailed for us by John in his 1 John 2:13-14 statement of the three levels. The young man now has "the Word of God abiding in him," Christ in us/as us, and therefore he is "strong"in God as strength in a permanent union. He must meet, confront and overcome all the negatives of "the wicked one" in his daily living. The "overcoming" is the "coming" of Satan in all pulls back to independent self, and the "over" of the "overcoming" is in who we really are, recognizing Christ as us. As we do this, the light of that recognition swallows up the darkness of the assaults–all that we have been looking into in relation to temptation and liberation. Here then is the complete young man, now graduated with his total personhood of spirit, soul and body, and now consciously and fixedly the spontaneous expresser of Him whom he had been predestined to manifest in his human form. "Ye are the light of the world." As "young men" we have found our true selves!
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 10 No 3
- To All Believers…It’s As Simple As This
- Easter Conference 1994
- Editor’s Note
- Excerpts from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Intercession: Part 8 of the Teacher/Trainer Outline
- A Body Has Thou Prepared Me
- To Think About…
- Questions & Answers
- God Will Restore The Years