Free At Last
In this discussion, Norman Grubb unveils the lost secret that delivers the Christian from the bondage of Romans 7 into the glorious liberty of Romans 8, our intended inheritance.
The Big Delusion
All the world’s people, including us the born-again, have always taken it for granted in their delusion that they were self-operating and therefore self-responsible persons, who could and would improve themselves. And at last I find that there never was such a person! Now I see I was always a slave of Satan-Sin–"sold under sin"–and it is he who is to blame. In my unsaved days I went along with Satan’s sin activities. In my saved days I have hated my slavery, been ashamed of it and wrestled vainly against it.
Sin is this "other law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin in my members" (Rom. 7:23). Now I have it clear that it is not I, but this evil power controlling me. Paul cries out for us all, as he had cried out for himself, "Am I tied and bound to this death in my body, or is there a deliverance?" (Rom. 7:24). At last I have come to my limit. In my hatred of this intruder of my body, I find that I am not to blame, but sin. Is there a deliverance from sin for me?
Now I can see what Paul had already revealed in its completeness in Romans 6:1-13 and which had become his own liberation. Yes, thank God, there is deliverance for me now by the personal application in my desperate need of what I had accepted in my head and reckoned on as told to do (Rom. 6:11). But while I remained ignorant of there never having been such a thing as human self-effort or human independence, l had not realized that all my own efforts to live a victorious life were really Satan expressing himself as me. And I had not realized that until I had made such a failure of attempts to live it. Only then was I ready to see that the only way to live the life is if Christ lives my life as me, in place of that self-effort which was really Satan-"good" or bad.
Paul had explained the key to total liberation (Rom. 6:1-13), and we had reckoned on it as fact as best we knew how. It was this: my death in Christ’s death to indwelling sin power, and my life in freedom from that power in His resurrection. But now I also have the human self in true focus as only the container and expresser, but never the originator. So I could see that the death and resurrection union with Christ which I had reckoned on as fact means not Him and me in action in place of Satan and me; but rather, Him as me, (with me the human expresser) in place of Satan as me (with me the human expresser).
The big difference and final liberation comes when, after my exposure by the Law, I have myself in my true eternal relationship to Him: not as kind of co-living with Him (or formerly Satan) as two on the same level of action, but as only He living His life in me, as me. I now spontaneously, delightedly and easily express Him with all the vigor of my God-endowed humanity. That is different! Seeing this as my total life, I move in from reckoning to realizing. Yes, I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord (Rom. 7:25).
Released from Prison
The doors of my prison swing open by this one key turned in the lock! It is now possible for me, as it was with Paul, to do one simple thing. And it is not some self-effort act of consecration, as if getting out of the prison depended on me. Rather, it is recognizing, by heart affirmation now combined with my understanding, that I have always been a person released from sin, as from sins. Jesus settled that 2000 years ago on Calvary in His body death, in addition to His blood death. But I have been slow to recognize and receive what He had settled for me, as me, because I still had that Romans 7 delusion about myself.
And what was that prison? I had to find what I was blinded to at first: my only prison was myself. Taken captive by my false owner, as we all were at the Fall, I had been deceived into thinking I managed myself, as he thinks he man-ages himself. The lie of lies! So down I had to fall in my many failures of self-management, compelled to follow in many false directions, until at last it dawned on me that actually I was the one who was managed and utilized by my thieving owner. At last, in misery, I was ready to call for help.
Was there any way out of this prison? It was already provided. My True Owner had already paid the full redemptive price to release me, so that the false one has no further claims on me. So now I am joyfully free from that wearisome lie of self-management (which in fact never was) and love every new interest and enticing adventure of my True Owner. And he is really not so much Owner, as Father and Lover. Along with multitudes of other freed prisoners, I share with Him in His multiple plans for the blessing of His whole huge universe.
With the veil of that independent-self lie removed, I can and do see that Christ freed me, a servant who had changed his owner–not change of me, but change of him! I am free. I just recognize, affirm and thankfully praise. I say, along with Paul in Romans 8:1, that there is no more condemnation, because there is no illusory self-effort self to be condemned. The reckoning of Romans 6:11 is now Paul’s and my word of realization in Romans 8:2–the law (principle) of the Spirit of Christ entering and indwelling me as He did Christ in the tomb has set me free from those lying claims of the law of sin and death. No longer a prisoner, I am now free forever in Christ by His body sacrifice on my behalf (Rom. 8:3).
The Spirit bears witness to what I affirm in faith (I John 5:10). Once I affirm, the settling in of that witness is His timetable. For me, it was two years; for my wife, it was two weeks. But hold steady, maintain your affirmation, and He makes you a knower.
The Lost Secret
Let us now review briefly what has been said. In essence, the lost secret now revealed is that we humans were never created to be self-dependent or self operating. There is no such thing as an independent human self. We were marvelously created in God’s likeness to function spontaneously as expressers of Himself. Ultimately we will manage His universe as co-heirs with His Son, permanently operating in His perfect other-love nature.
But by the law of the universe, referred to previously, we understand that nothing can function except by having its opposite, just as light operates by swallowing up darkness. So we can only know and operate our human person-hood by being confronted with the opposite: the false deity of the opposite "sin" nature, which is self-for-self.
We started our fallen human lives from the Garden of Eden by being occupied by that false deity and expressing his nature as though it were ours. Then our Saviour Christ, in His other-love nature, took our place as our Last Adam, representing us in His Calvary death and being "made sin" as us. In that death as us, out went that sin-spirit; and in His resurrection as us, in came His Spirit of self-giving love.
Paul’s main point, then, in Romans 6 and 7 has been to expose how we were deluded by Satan into thinking that we were self-operating selves. In actuality, it was Satan expressing his self-for-self (sin) nature as us. Then Paul tells us at length how God sent the Law with its requirements to expose us when we come honest. We first had to learn that we had not kept the Law as lost sinners, and then that we never could keep it because we have never been independent, self-relying selves. We were deceived by Satan to think we were, but actually we were only expressers of Satan’s self-for-self nature.
In unfolding the value of the Law in Romans 7, Paul makes a unique contribution to exposing and removing the main blockage to effective Christian living. At last, in our agony and desperation at our failures, light dawns upon us. We are then capable of seeing that the evil was not in our beautiful, God-created humanity, but in the lie of the independent self (sin dwelling in us). Through Calvary, we now move in by faith to see and recognize that it is He, the Spirit of Truth, expressing Himself in and by our vessels–branch containers–in place of that evil one.
So by faith in this revealed fact, we find ourselves free just to be our human selves with no fears or condemnations. Through the Spirit’s certain inner witness, we are expressers of Him: Christ in us, as us. And now, after a brief Law interlude, we go on into chapter eight of Romans, not as in our walking Satan forms, but as walking Christs -"more than conquerors."
A Crisis Moment
Now we move with Paul into Romans 8. Here he comes right out with who he is. at he said he had "reckoned" on in Romans 6:11, he now says he "realizes" (Rom. 8:2). The governing principle, ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," has set him free. So there is a settled knowing. In "reckoning," you say it is so; in "knowing," you know it is so. There is a crisis moment. The lives of the great men of the Bible–Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, right through to Jesus Himself–bear witness to this knowing.
So do I know? And how do I know? I began my new knowing at my new birth, and the Spirit bore witness. Now this is a total knowing. If you have seen this change through Calvary, from being Satan-Sin-indwelt and Satan expresser to now being Christ-indwelt and Christ expresser, then be sure you have spoken the word of faith and recognition, as Paul did. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," he says, "has set me free." And in Galatians he proclaims, "I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me."
Say your word now, and say it to someone else! Then what you say echoes back to you, and you know (I John 5:10). Maybe you cannot yet give a date for when you received that knowing, just as I mentioned about Pauline and myself. Only be sure not to pull back, if you do not yet know. at you have said, you have said. You stand on such a word as Galatians 2:20 or Romans 8:2, and God in His time makes you a knower.
Now at the summit there is no condemnation. We are freed from that false self guilt, for there is no wrong human self! We are Spirit people in outer bodies. There is nothing to condemn (Rom. 8:1). Our human selves are fixed expressions of the Deity Self, where we were formerly fixed expressions of that false deity self. That is the change.
Law (principle) is the way a thing works, and it works no other way. We used to be under Satan’s law with no escape, and now we are under Christ’s law with no escape. There is this change of governing principle controlling our lives. Strong terms, Romans 8:2! That makes it easy and normal to walk this new way.
On Calvary, Christ put the old sin indweller behind bars on death row (condemned sin in the flesh), from where he is able only to shout at us. That old Law standard, which had seemed unattainable, is now our normal way of living–Abe righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us" (Rom. 8:3-4). This is the Sermon on the Mount, top standard of living, and the one who lives it in us, as us, is "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus."
Paul lays unique emphasis on life being the Spirit in us. Nowhere else in the New Testament is this said in such plainness. There are 15 mentions of the Spirit in Romans 8, in place of those many "I’s" in the previous chapter.
Paul says, "Get this clear: we are now Spirit people. Christ is living our life. We are walking His way (Rom. 8:3). We think His thoughts (Rom. 8:5-6)." He in us counteracts those former selffor-self thought patterns, which set us at enmity with God.
"If you walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh…," Paul begins, for he could not speak our word for us. But speaking for ourselves we say, "Since we walk that way…." Again, when Paul says in 8:11, "If the Spirit dwells in you…, we say, "He does dwell in us." And the Spirit puts those old body habits to death (Rom. 8:13).
Because we live in a world of self-incitement all around us, to which our normal humanity (our flesh) has been formerly geared to respond, Paul does lay stress on walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh. Does that mean we had better be very careful, for surely we are inclined to flesh walking? The lie again! That would be guarding against independent self uprisings which might respond to those "ought to’s." But that is not our Spirit drive. We don’t walk fear-fully, as if we are still plenty of flesh. No! Our human selves are now Spirit-kept and Spirit-driven.
Certainly there are flesh pulls–sin’s self-for-self nature getting at us through all the world’s atmosphere around us. But we don’t resist them by any false self-effort. We recognize and admit them, but then we affirm who we are and know we are-Spirit expressers, Christ in our forms; and our faith affirmation puts to death those "deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13). Light swallows up darkness. The Spirit, says Paul, also now permeates our physical bodies, though we remain mortal. The Spirit is the quickener. So we walk not as body fussers. We accept where there are physical infirmities, but our bodies are His temples; and in freedom of faith-not in negative unbelief or foolish questioning-we often experience His quickenings and healings (8:11). The normal background to our daily lives is the Spirit’s witness with our spirits that we actually are God’s children (8:16). By the Spirit we are at home now with our Father/"Daddy," which is very different from our former fears of Him in our old false self-condemning life (8:15). We are naturally Spirit-led in the affairs and decisions of our lives, and take that for granted (8:14).
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 12 No 4
- It All Depends On God
- Editor’s Note
- Fooled By Our Souls
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Free At Last
- Who Will Me Deliver Me?
- Questions & Answers
- Faith Defies Difficulty
- The Mailbox
- Irish Conference Report
- One Requirement
- Tape Talk
- Summer Camp 1996: The Adults
- Summer Camp: The Youth
- See Ye First
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Words to Live By…