A Look at a Book
BOOK REVIEW: The Liberating Secret by Norman Grubb
If I had written this two weeks ago (when I was supposed to), I would have come up with what was expected–simply a book review. But God had other plans.
I must first make an admission. Until this week, Norman Grubb’s books had never made a life-changing impact on me. Oh, I admired his writing very much. He had such a way with words! And I loved his logic–how each point lead into the next. His message was the clearest, highest, most profound explanation of the ways of God I had ever read.
But his writings had never really touched my heart. I hadn’t allowed them to. I had never been willing to allow God to shine His search-light into the hidden recesses of my life and reveal the wickedness there, so I didn’t really need the answers Norman provided. I was determined to hold on to the view of myself as basically a good person who had had some "slip-ups" along the way–even some major "slip-ups"–but still basically a good person.
By the glorious grace of God, that view has now changed. Early this week, among a group of friends, I made what I believed at the time to be an innocent statement. But in actuality, that "innocent" statement exposed an attitude of superiority that I had operaated from for as long as I can remember. Why I was willing at long last for a ray of light to penetrate me is still a mystery to me. But God showed me a very recent, very specific, very wicked deed perpetrated against a very innocent victim. I was shocked–shocked because the incident had been so cleverly covered up by niceness that I wasn’t even aware of the evilness of it. I was overwhelmed. God had pierced the armor of my self-righteousness, and I knew that I had seen only the tip of the ice-berg.
So…The Liberating Secret. The next morning, as I was reading in preparation for this book review, I came across a phrase that jumped out at me: "…we so continually sense the presence of evil and are distressed by it" (p. 95). But that wasn’t my experience. I hadn’t been distressed by it. I felt very scared. How could I ever be delivered from something I didn’t hate? That question haunted me the rest of the day.
The next morning, as I picked up The Liberating Secret again, God had me perfectly primed for what He had to say to me. My bookmark was at the perfect place. For the first time in my life I grasped on to every word of Norman’s. It was as if he had looked into my heart and knew everything that was there. He gave words to what was as yet unnamed in me.
In the chapter, "Every Man is Tempted," Norman says that "the power of sin over us is that we love it." That is what I had not wanted to admit. I loved trying to make people feel stupid. I loved belittling someone and then covering it up with a joke or flattery. Norman explains further saying, "And sometimes it is possible to be sorry for a fall into sin, and to repent for the act, yet not to have recognized that behind the act is the love of it. Down deep we still do rather like to do that kind of thing, or feel that we had justification for that kind of attitude. Dig down to that false love. Expose it as the root of sin."
I would have thought that such an admission would be humiliating, and in a way it was. But, even more it was liberating. Norman says it so perfectly that I must quote at length: "Dishonesty, not sin, damns a soul. Unwillingness to part with sin and therefore refusal to admit ourselves to be what God shows us we are by His word, by preaching, by the Spirit that sends us to hell. This is true, as we have already pointed out, for the power and horror of sin is that we love it and hate that which would turn us from it."
"But just as the sinner can refuse to come to the light, so we who have come may refuse to walk in the light (1 John 1:6, 7). We may easily try to deceive ourselves and others. We may say we have fellowship with Him, but really walk in darkness, and refuse to admit what light is showing us to be sin. We may say we have no sin or have not sinned (1:8, 10). But one thing we shall certainly learn, the blood of Jesus does not cleanse excuses. It cleanses, but only sin admitted to be sin, for it was shed for that purpose alone."
As I flip through the rest of the book and notice my underlinings, I realize that even they have changed. I used to underline like I would my text-books–marking topic sentences and main thoughts. Now when I look at what I’ve underlined, I see lines that mean LIFE to me. Norman talks about the "hidden meaning of creation," the "centrality of the precious blood," becoming "sin-sensitive," the confession of sin to our brother being the acid test of the reality of our abiding in Christ. ("Confession before men does not leave me with a rag of self-righteousness, it is the capitulation of the final and most jealously guarded citadel of self.") Norman goes on to talk about the place of exhorting one another and the cost of being faithful to this, our ultimate purpose of being "priests unto God," speaking the word of faith.
Well, this has turned out to be more of a testimony than a book review. Of course, your experience in reading this book will not be the same as mine. Nevertheless, readers willing to be honest will find that God will use this book to penetrate the cords that have kept them in bondage and reveal the liberating secret of life in Christ Jesus.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 13 No 1
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- God’s Stormtroopers
- A Look at a Book
- A Christmas Letter
- Safety in the Crossfire!
- Food for Body, Soul & Spirit at the NY Conference
- To Think About…
- Questions & Answers
- The Mailbox
- The Contract
- The Self Can’t Be Improved
- Tape Talk
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- The Way of Release
- God’s Standards Have Not Changed: British Fall Conference
- Words to Live By
- One Lesson