No Independent Self
The next stage in our ongoing investigation of the foundations of our spiritunion with Christ is a thorough understanding of how we function as humansalways operated by a deityspirit, with no independent human nature of our own.
The basis of our total truth, which we are taking to the whole church in the whole world, is that the human self has no nature of its own. It is the expressor of a deity nature, whether the nature of the false deity, the spirit of error, or the true Deity, the Spirit of Truth (1 John 4:6). Because we have all become accustomed to speaking of ourselves as having a human nature, it may make it clearer if we speak of the self as never being an independent self. It has never been a self-operating self, and thus never operating by expressing a nature of its own.
There is no independent, self-operating self in the universe, except the One who calls Himself the I AM (Exodus 3:14) and says, "I am God and there is none else … There is no God beside Me (Isaiah 45:21,22).
But the Independent One has a limitation to His independence, for it is said of Him that He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). In other words, His eternal selfindependence is a fixed choice between two alternatives. (These alternatives are explained in the following paragraphs on the law of opposites.) Therefore, when we say that we created selves have no independent self, but express His eternal Deity Self, we are also saying that we express God’s fixed nature, which has eternally discarded the possibility of expressing the liar, self-for-self nature. We are fixed as He (1 John 3:9).
The Law of Opposites
The fundamental law of the universe is that there are pairs of opposites, and that nothing operates except by the one swallowing up the other (2 Cor. 5:4), the one using the other as its means of manifestationthus lightdark, heat-cold, sweet-bitter, hard-soft, yes-no, the positive-negative of electricity, and the proton-electron of the atom. Or taken into our own reality as selves, there is self-loving or self-giving self: self-for-self or self-for-others.
This is why it says of God Himself that He cannot lie. In other words, He is dead to being a self-for-self (a liar) and is unalterably fixed as being the Self for others. The eternal fact is that He has never been a loner, but brought His own Son into Being. Thus He is the eternal other-lover (John 5:20; 3:35).
Thus, created selves can only know themselves and function by being confronted by the choice of opposites. This was true also among those whom we speak of as heavenly beings. Lucifer was the chief one close to the throne of God (Is. 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-15). He was created to be the manifester of the Creator’s fixed nature of other-love (Lucifer means Light-bearer). But he chose in his freedom to be the expresser of the opposite, alternative nature of self-for-self to which God had died. He brought into manifestation the hidden fire-nature rather than the light-nature of God (Hebrews 12:29; 1 John 1:5). He imagines himself to be an independent self (Isaiah 14:12-14), but is deceived as to who he really is. Jesus called him the expression of negative light (Matt. 6:23). There was war in heaven and Lucifer was cast our (Rev. 12:7-9).
Gods Purposes to be Fulfilled by His family of Sons
God utilizes the choice between alternatives in us to fulfill His eternal plan "to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:3-14). He is bringing into being a vast family of sons in His image, whose created selves (with no independence of their own) express His fixed other-love nature. They will manage the universe with His Son (Heb. 1:2; Rom. 8:17) by ministering to it in His eternal otherlove, and thus serving and liberating it to fulfill itself in the love of one to the other (Isaiah 11:6-9; Rom. 8:19-21), so that the whole universe will be one eternal song of praise, worship, harmony, mutual love and delight (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
Our Confrontation with the Law of Opposites
This then necessitated that we who are created in His image be confronted by the reality of the opposites in ourselves and choose to express the deity nature of self-for-others or self-for-self. Therefore, the first created couple had to be confronted with the symbol of the two trees in the Garden. They were at first unconscious expressers of God’s other-love nature. Adam was in harmony with all creatures and could give each its proper name (Gen. 2:20); they knew no opposite to other-love in union with the Father.
In order to become conscious operating selves, and not merely continue like spontaneous infants, God used Lucifer, the wrathful expresser (Rev. 12:12) of that opposite fire-nature, to entice and deceive Eve. She responded to Satan’s (the serpents) lies about God and began to express his self-for-self nature in herself by taking the fruit which God had forbidden. Adam consciously chose to identify with Eve’s self-for-self disobedience (1 Tim. 2:14).
Thus they became conscious of the opposites through the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The good is self which expresses God and other-love; the evil is a self which expresses Satan and self-loving love. They became expressers of their Satanfather’s self-for-self nature, Satan’s "seed" (Gen. 3:15; 1 John 3:8-10; John 8:44). In their expression of him (Eph. 2:1-3), they became tricked into the false concept of seeing themselves as independent selves, even as their false father Satan was deceived into thinking he is an independent self. (In reality he expresses that negative fire-nature in God which, rightly used in God, became the source of the light-nature of other-love.)
So we transmit what we are or think we are. Therefore, it was God’s purpose that Satan, the serpent, should transmit his deceived concept of his independence into us, his seed. As a result, we fallen humans think we are independent selves. But in reality we are merely expressers of Satan’s selffor- self nature. Note the word "deceiveth" in that plainest word in Scripture concerning his lying effects on us (Rev.12:9). And thus by this deceitful means, we destined sons of the Father could once for all experience the bitterness of this lie and discard it through the Last Adam, Jesus Christ.
The Secret and Essential Value of the Law of God Through Moses
From this follows God’s gracious dealings with fallen humanity through the law given by Moses (John 1:17). Paul has been the great expositor of its necessary purpose. Actually the law, as outer manifester of God’s true nature, is inherent in every person. The law exposes eternal truth as well as our inability to perform it in our false union with Satan. Romans 1:18-21 makes that plain and traces our total falling away from it in the rest of the chapter. But here and there is a response in an honest heart, as in Romans 2:18-21, and the instance of Joseph in Genesis 39:9. And all nations have had their laws of right and wrong. But in the blindness of our deceived selves, we have not recognized our self-for-self nature as Satans nature in us and thus sin against God and its eternal consequences. This is the "ignorance" of Acts 17:23, Ephesians 4:18, and even of Paul in 1 Timothy 1:13. Thus, only breaking the outer pronouncement of God’s law is known to be sin (Rom. 5:13).
So when God began His eternal purpose of restoring the human family to its true being, He first gave His great call to Abraham to be the human father of the family of faith who would believe in the Living God, the "Possessor of heaven on earth. There had always been the thin line, like a nylon thread of believers and knowers, in this Satan-captured world, from Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, and Shem, to Abraham. But it was just a thread. Now it was to become a great nation of believers in the true God in that idolinfested world. In the "fullness of time" He would Himself come in the flesh to be our marvelous Savior.
In due course, the first little family became a great population in Egypt and then became a nation through Moses in its own promised land. It was Moses who gave them and us, in plain words inscribed in stone, the true characteristics of God’s holy nature (which in our later days we are to know as law all fulfilled in love). Yet in His fullness of mercy, He combined the law and its judgments (which we would inevitably break because it was given to us to expose the inevitability of our breaking it as slaves to the sin-deity) with the constant means of restoration and access to Him by blood sacrifices and various fellowship offerings of the Tabernacle and Temple. By these means, indeed there were always those (many more than we might think1 Kings 19:18) who had a living relationship with God. For the Lamb had been slain from the foundation of the world, and there was a spiritual Christ before the historic Christ (Heb. 11:26; 1 Cor. 10:3,4; John 8:56-58).
So in the blindness of our fallen hearts, the law was God’s merciful means of revealing sin as sin. Then, in that fullness of time, the True Lamb of God came to make the one complete and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. By His death and resurrection there is justification from the condemnation and eternal consequence of our sin condition. This is for all who move in by inner faith reception and outer word confession of Him in His finished work of atonement. Beyond that the Spirit gives inner witness of the replacement of the Spirit of Truth for that false spirit of error. This is the radical revelation to those who cannot stop short of our total inheritance.
Desperation Produced by the Law
We have come now to the law’s final revelation, which the vast majority of the redeemed remain ignorant of. It is for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness until they are filled (Matt. 5:6). What is revealed is the root of sin: the satanic deceit of thinking we are independent selves, who by ourselves can resist all Satan’s assaults of self-for-self. This is especially underlined for us by Paul in Romans 7. We know we have now become new creations in Christ and experience in our redeemed selves the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). But, at the same time, we are being constantly knocked off our steady walk in the Spirit by the assaults of all kinds of temptations. These drag us back toward sin-responses such as fear, hate, lust pride, etc.
Because we are still under the delusion of being independent selves, we respond to those temptations which the law says we should not respond to. We therefore say we don’t want to respond, and we make resolutions that we won’t (Paul’s Romans 7 statement "when I would do good"). But then we are hopelessly caught. We struggle and seek to resist the pulls, but there they are. We feel guilty for having such pulls which we call fleshand experience inward guilt and often outward response. We blame those responses on a supposed flesh-nature which binds and drives us, so that we see ourselves as what Paul said in Romans 7:14: "carnal, sold under sin." So we remain with our struggles and inner condemnations as being such flesh people. When we have actually sinned, we repeatedly return to 1 John 1:9 and thankfully accept the forgiveness and cleansing, though with the hopeless recognition that we shall very soon go through the same repeated syndrome of struggle, condemnation by the law, and renewed cleansing.
But at last some of us come to a place of desperation. Only those who become desperate can find the releasing secret. Paul himself went this way. In Romans 6 he leads us through the deeper meaning of identification with Christ, by which we reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive unto God. But while we reckon that in Romans 6, it just doesn’t work out in the life of Romans 7! Yet Paul then goes on to leave Romans 7 forever behind (except for occasional foolish visits) and live in the reality of Romans 8, where there is no further condemnation, and there is freedom. The fixed law of the Spirit of Life forever replaces the former fixed law of sin and Satan control.
Paul’s great discovery was that the human self is basically neutral as far as the kind of nature it expresses. He says in Romans 7:18 that no good thing resides in our humanity (flesh). But then he says that neither does any bad thing, though he had mistakenly and so deceivingly thought it did. No!If any good in him is expressed by the Spirit bearing His fruit through him, merely as a branch; so also, any bad is not in humanity, our flesh, but is equally the fruit of the bad spirit through us as a branch. Actually he said that in Romans 6:20-22. Which fruit were we formerly producing? Fruit is not a branch product, but a vine product. It depends on which vine our human selves are the branches of! So if the good is the Spirit of good expressed by me, the bad is the spirit of badwhat Paul called "sin that dwelleth in me" in Romans 7:17. This is now replaced by Christ dwelling in us (Romans 8:10).
We Finally See the Solution to Our Misery
So, at the point of desperation, Paul found a solution to his misery. He was not able to combat temptations under the pointing finger of the law’s "you ought to. The solution was the radical revelation that he never was an independent self combating temptation and challenged by the law. He came to see his created self (as are all selves) as the mere container and then expresser of the Eternal Self. We are all created to contain and express the Eternal Self. But we have to learn that nothing functions except by swallowing up its opposite. We learn the operation of God’s opposite by yielding our human selves to the Satan occupant, resulting in "sin that dwelleth in me." We are tricked into believing that we run ourselves (as Satan thinks he runs himself) and that we ourselves are the sin person doing the sins. But we are only branches, not vines.
God sent the law through Moses to challenge us to be doers if we think we can! Down, at last, we fall. We are, of course, unable to be self-operating selves because there is no such thing. Initially we saw our sins removed by grace. We did not yet see that they sere Satan’s sins by us and not ours (John 8:44). But then comes the final discovery that the sin-doer was never we, but he in us as us. The law caught us out as if we were independent selves. Then came the condemnation from the law and the struggling to rid ourselves of the sin-power holding us.
But at last we see! There never was anything wrong with our branch humanity made in His image. So therefore, we take no condemnation as if we were the culprit. It was he, "Mr. Sin," pulling at us and often knocking us over.
This brings us to Paul’s Calvary revelation that Jesus on the cross was we on that cross, for He came to be our representative. Because sin was indwelling and expressing itself by us, He died on Calvary as us, His holy body as ours. He was thus "made sin" (2 Cor. 5:21)made the sin expressor we were. In his death, the Spirit of error left that body. Sin as us left. In the tomb His own resurrecting Spirit came into His body and raised it. He comes into our bodies also as we receive Him by faith. So Paul saw the truth about our human selves. The created human self, created "very good" in God’s image, had never had anything wrong with it, except that it participated in physical mortality. Now it manifests the nature of the Spirit of truth and responds to His drives. It is dead in Christ to manifesting the nature of the spirit of error and responding to his drives. Therefore, we have also become "dead to the law," because the law only had an apparent claim on us while we were living in the deceit of thinking we were independent selves running our own lives. So now there remains nothing for this outer law of God to point demanding or accusing fingers at. We are "dead to the law," because there is no longer such a thing as an independent self to which the law can address itself.
For many years after his retirement as General Secretary of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, Norman Grubb traveled extensively sharing the truth of our union with Christ. He also carried on a huge personal correspondence with individuals throughout the world. He was the author of many books and pamphlets, a number of which are available through the Zerubbabel Book Ministry. Norman lived with his daughter, Priscilla, in Fort Washington, PA. Norman P. Grubb entered the Kingdom at 98 years of age.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 20 No 2
- No Independent Self
- The Real Problem: Satans Lie
- Tape Talk
- Editors Note
- Sin Ruled My Life
- Reminiscences of Rees Howells The Village Years, Continued
- For the Shame of Christ
- A Look at a Book
- BIBLE STUDY:The Letterto the Romans
- Yes, I Am
- The Faith Life Has Its Tight Times
- Letters from Norman