The Deep Things of God
The Power of Christ’s Death
It is no mere figure of speech, no theological theory when the Scripture says, "We thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead." Spiritual realities are the true realities, and unchanging: and there is no greater reality in history than the death of Christ on the cross, and its effects. We say again, this is not something we read in a book, but real fact; not some-thing real in Christ "positionally" in the heavenlies, but real actually on earth. When Paul said, "Then were all dead," and "Ye are dead," and "We that are dead to sin," and "Your old man is crucified with Him," he meant exactly what he said.
What then died, when Christ as sin, as representative egoist, died? Death is never a dissolution, disappearance: it is a separation, a transference from one dimension of living to another, from one environment to another. So self did not die, for God made self to function in perfection in its right relationship to Him, the Creator Self. It was the separation of the human, created self from the false spirit of egoism and self-sufficiency of the self that took place in Christ’s
death to sin for us; separation from that thing of which devils are made and which is the sole characteristic of hell. That iron band was broken, the prison house destroyed–in the power of that mighty death. When He died, He died to that in our place. There could be no other effective remedy; death to the false must take place, separation from it, and it did–in Christ.
But then what lives when Christ arose? Self in its original, primal relationship to God. This is seen in the resurrection of Christ, in that He did not, could not as representative man, rise by Himself; for human selves are not created capable of doing things by themselves, and He died and rose as a man for our sakes. So He "was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father," by "the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead" He was "put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." And the new man in Christ is the helpless self quickened and indwelt by the Spirit. The implication of this we will see later.
But back first to our Representative in His death. "If one died for all, then were all dead" Can we actually accept that as a personal fact? Is it a fact in me? It is not only a fact in me, but in every one who has saving faith in Christ. A book by L. E. Maxwell has the title, Born Crucified. That is true, for everyone who is born of God is born in no other way than by Christ being horn in him, Christ becoming his new life, Christ becoming the new Self in his redeemed self. But that is only possible and actual because the Christ to whom we have become spiritually united is the Christ who first died as our representative and took into death the world’s falsely infected ego, which included my falsely infected ego. Therefore the first effect of our union through faith is the separation in His death of my ego from its Use infection. This is the meaning of the greatest passage of Scripture on this subject, Rom. 6:1-11. The proof that this is a fact, is that no born-again man is the self-centred man he once was. He is "a new creation," and he knows it. The very fact that he knows it is proof of his new birth, for those who are still fast bound in their fallen self-hood cannot know it; they are blind to any other dimension of life: "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." But when in Christ those iron bands were broken and we are born anew, we can look back and plainly discern between what we were in our unsaved condition, and what we are now, for "he that is spiritual judgeth all things." Let us make no mistake. We have died, so far as being the egocentric pervert we were from our mother’s womb, we have risen, the same person yet an altogether new man in Christ. Something that once was is no more. "Our old man is crucified with Him," "ye are dead with Christ," "we are buried with Him"–all statements in Rom. 6.
What then are we to do about it? Do what humans can only do–receive facts, rejoice in them, act as possessing them. We say again: Every born again believer is a crucified believer. They may not have realized it, because "the whole counsel of God" in its full range of revelation is so often not taught to believers. But whether they realize its implications or not, whether they understand their true position in Christ or not, they are living a new life which is Christ-centred and not self-centred, or they are not born again; and they can look back and plainly distinguish between what they were and what they are: and that is actual death and resurrection.
What Really is the New Man?
But now let us pass on to the resurrection side, and then later go back and seek to tie the two together. There is indeed a subtle lesson to learn here, and failure to recognize it, and the consequent confusion is, I believe, the greatest cause of the entanglements in both our Christian living and knowledge.
We have already stressed that the Scripture makes it plain that the last Adam, the Progenitor of the new race, the Saviour who ended the old by taking it into His death, and began the new by His resurrection, did not rise by His own efforts or power. For our sakes He had become the first Man of the new nation, "the firstborn among many brethren"; and men cannot do things by their own efforts. Therefore when we speak of the new man, we mean a people who have an entirely and radically new conception both of the powers and function of the human personality, a people "renewed in the spirit of their minds." Whereas they previously thought in terms of self-sufficiency and self-effort, now they use the same language about themselves as the Saviour on earth about Himself, when He said, "The Son can do nothing of Himself," and Paul when he wrote of himself "who am nothing," and the disciples to whom Jesus said, "Apart from Me, ye can do nothing." They have had a divine revelation of the created helplessness and nothingness of the human self. But that one is not enough. Even as, through faith, we have been joined to a dead and buried Christ, so far as our old selves are concerned; so have we also been joined to a risen Christ so far as our new selves are concerned, and so joined to Him that we are one: "he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." And that means nothing less than the new man being Christ and I made one, and in that union He is the all, and I the nothing; He is the Vine, the living tree, I the branch, the appendage to the tree, which it vitalizes with its sap, and through which it produces its fruits. Therefore for all essential purposes the new man is Christ: "Christ who is our life," "Christ is all and in all."
Galatians 2:20–Paul’s Master Analysis
The perfect Scriptural presentation of this relationship, given in complete and masterly outline with almost the stroke of a pen, and yet weaving together all the intricate threads that make the pattern of the new life in Christ, is Gal. 2:20: Paul’s master analysis of his own condition as a new man in Christ. The first half of that verse will repay unceasing study, until the Spirit illuminates in personal understanding and experience the fundamental and subtle balance of truth in the three operative statements–"I am crucified with Christ": "nevertheless I live": "yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."
The first is clear, in the light of what we have already been seeing of the death of Christ and of ourselves in Him. The "I" which has been crucified with Christ is, of course, the old ego-centric self with which we came into the world.
The second–"nevertheless I live"–is the new Paul, our new selves, risen from the dead in Christ, the same self as before so far as our organs and faculties are concerned, but "renewed in the spirit of our minds," "created in righteousness and true holiness," the dead and risen self to which Paul refers when he says, "Reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God…yield yourselves unto God as alive from the dead." This renewed "I" has a pure heart (Acts 15:8; 1 Pet. 1:22), a purified soul (I Pet. 1:22), pure mind (H Pet. 3:1), dedicated body (Rom. 6:13; 12:1) the temple of the Holy Ghost.
The Real New I–Christ in Me
But then Paul definitely qualifies this second statement by a third: "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" Why does he do this? Because the real new I is Christ in me. That is the crux of the matter, and takes us right hack to where we started. We saw that God Himself, He alone, is the All–the eternal life, light, love, wisdom, power, holiness. And He can only make creatures to contain Him. He cannot make other gods who are self-existent with all the attributes of the godhead, for then He would cease to be God alone. He can only create receivers, containers, and manifestors of Himself. And this is equally true of man, the summit of His creation, intelligent creatures with faculties like Himself with whom he can have fellowship and who can be His sons. They too can only be recipients and containers and manifestors of the One God. That alone is their highest privilege and the limit of their capacity. Therefore when the God of all grace redeems man from his false, deceived, imagined, impossible so-called life of self-centredness, He can only redeem him by ridding him of this Use attitude and restoring him to the true and only function of his humanity, to be the recipient and container of the Living God. And this, in the glory of His grace, takes place in our faith-union with Christ in His death and resurrection. Through the mighty power of His cross the "old man," Satan-infected, dies; through the mighty power of His resurrection the new man, which is Christ in us, Christ the a11, we the nothing, lives.
But, in the perfect balance of Paul’s statement, the dual consciousness in the new man must be carefully noted. It does not just say, "Christ lives in me"; but "I live" and "Christ lives in me" And it continues about "the life I now live in the flesh," but that it is lived "by the faith of the Son of God" There is a distinct division of consciousness between "I" as the new man, and "Christ in me" Jesus, as a Man, had that same consciousness in the Garden, when He prayed, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." Now in the final resurrection of the body, when we shall be "like Him," when we shall all together have become one "perfect man," Head and body, when we shall be beyond the reach of temptation, as God Himself now is (James 1:13), we will no longer have this divided consciousness, for it is a product of the fall which replaced the single knowledge of good with the dual knowledge of good and evil.
The Problem of Duality–Good and Evil
We will diverge for a moment to look more closely into this problem of good and evil. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the taking of whose fruit destroyed for humanity the single consciousness of good and replaced it with the divided consciousness of these two opposing forces, opens a window, I believe, into the very structure of life as we know it: how it was made to function, how it has gone wrong, and how it must be restored.
Life, as known to us, is universally duoform; we can conceive of no other basis to all knowledge, sensibility, and activity. Every known thing has its reverse side, and is only known by contrast with its reverse. We see it in positive and negative, light and dark, male and female, bitter and sweet, and so ad infinitum, right up to God and man. These pairs of opposites are not enemies, but friends; each pair is one unit, the one in each pair being the mate of the other. Each is necessary to the other, just as much as each is indissolubly part of the other. Their inter-play, their union, the one with the other but in the right proportion of each, is the source of all manifestation. Thus the mingling of sweet and not-sweet (bitter) in their varying proportions produces all the varieties of taste. The shining of light on solid substances which are not-light (darkness) produces all the beauties of form and colour. The friendly opposition of positive thinking in one direction to negative thinking in all other directions makes all the decisions of life; for if we say yes to one line of action, it is because we are at the same time saying no to all others. If we love one thing, it is because we hate any other things opposed to it. It is what philosophers have named the dialectic relationship, the thesis and its anti-thesis which form the synthesis. But what has to be noted is that in all the infinite number of pairs of opposites the positive is the dominant, and the negative the dominated element; the positive is the male nature, the negative the female.
In their love union the female’s relationship to the male is that of sub-mission. She is necessary to him, to receive his seed, and that his child may take form in her womb, but the child born is his child, and takes his name. Look again, for instance, at sweet and not-sweet (bitter). Sweet is the dominant, the positive, the male element; but all varieties of pleasant tastes are only in existence because the sweet is mingled with its opposite, its female, the negative, the not-sweet (bitter): the not-sweet gives proportion and reality to all these varieties. But the sweet is the dominant factor, the male, and all these varieties are its children. In yes and no, when a decision must be made, yes must be the dominant; but to make the positive decision, there has been a union with the no to all other possibilities; the all-embracing negative has been the mother which has given form and birth to the one positive.
In all these pairs, each opposite being part of its one whole, there is no disharmony; they are as husband and wife to each other, their interaction, each in its right proportion, reproduces their children of form and taste and colour, of deed and word, in fact of all manifest life. Polarization, the interaction of the positive and negative electrical forces in the atom, is the same principle in the basic structure of the universe. God and man are, by the grace of His creation, in the same relationship. Without His opposite, His creature, the female to His male, the wife to the Husband, the body to the head, He cannot manifest Himself. He is the positive. We are the negative, the not-God. Joined to Him in rightful submission, we die to ourselves, we say no to ourselves, and in doing that, His seed, which is Christ, is sown in us, formed in us and reproduced by us. Here the union is complete. It is symbolized for us in Scripture in the Head and body, Bridegroom and bride relationship of Christ and His church.
The Negative Opposes the Positive
But the trouble has been in that one form of the negative creation in which there could be a potential disunity with its positive, for it has intelligence and free will–angels and men. Here something has happened which has vitiated and disordered all the properties of life, and turned harmony into disharmony. The negative has opposed itself to the Positive, rivalled it and rebelled against it.
Indeed these "negative" created beings have acted as if they could exchange places with their Positive, and the creature act as the Creator, the female as the male. That has meant that the activities of the rebel negatives have had to be given positive names. What should be just a negative not-good had become positive evil. Not-light has become a positive power of darkness; the creature, who is the not-God, has been perverted and become a positive devil. That is why we come to regard evil, darkness, hate, lust and so on as positively bad things, and they aie called so in the Bible. They are bad and eternally bad, and produce their eternally bad fruits, and have their eternally had sphere of existence in God’s outer darkness and lake of fire. But in their original form they were merely the negatives of their respective positives and positive evil was meant to be non-existent.
The created beings, angels or men, should have been saying: "We are the not-good, not-God, not-light, not-wise. We know our emptiness (not-fulness). Knowing that we are the negatives, we delight to be filled with the one who is the Positive, the Good, the Wisdom, the Light, and that in and through our not-fulness He will manifest His fulness. We will be female to His male, receive and reproduce His allness, His beloved Son, through our nothingness." The obedient negative, in other words, instead of remaining a submissive emptiness to be filled with the Positive, the living God, was changed into a harmful, virulent, active so-called positive rebel.
That has necessitated God’s declared and manifested "no" to all that is the active opponent to Himself. His "yes" to all love, goodness, and light–the characteristics of His own self-giving self has necessitated His "no" to this rival kingdom of evil, to His created beings who instead of accepting their created condition of not-fulness to be filled by Himself, have changed themselves into self-loving selves, with the negative characteristics of not-good, not-love, not-light, becoming positive evil, lust and darkness. This "no" of God is His necessary hate of and judgment on all these perversions, the not-true, not-real (in its final essence), not-righteous, and His hell for those who persist in their blind delusion that the Use is a form of truth and the darkness a form of light, and the non-real a form of reality. To such, hell will be real indeed through all eternity where they dwell in the dark fire of their rebellious negative natures.
In this way division and opposition has arisen between the Creator and His created beings, and it has spread through and infected all the creation. That is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We live in a divided world.