Book Review of Norman Grubb’s No Indpendent Self
Norman Grubb starts off the booklet "No Independent Self" with the statement that the basis of our total truth, to be taken to the whole Church in the whole world, is that the human self has no nature of its own. The self has never been an independent self-operating self. As humans we are the expressers of a deity nature, whether the nature of the false deity, the spirit of error, or the true Deity, the spirit ofTruth (1 John 4:6).
Satan tells us that we are "just ourselves" and when we believe that, he is then free to express himself by us. There is no "just me" and when I believe in a "just me," it is Satan expressing himself by me. This has been my personal experience. In my past Christian life, I thought "I" could be good, holy, do God’s will–with God’s help from within. I failed miserably because when difficult or perceived difficult situations or people came across my path, I very quickly became the opposite of good, holy, etc.
I love the way Norman goes into great detail on the various aspects of "No Independent Self." In the chapter entitled "Free at Last" Norman emphasises why we are free–because we know ourselves as nothing but the expresser, vessel, branch, temple, body member and slave of the Deity self, His Spirit joined to our spirits. We have moved into that place by the recognition of faith, as in Romans 8:2 and Galatians 2:20 to being right self-conscious selves, conscious of ourselves being Himself in expression.
This has become real to me. Because there is no independent Mary, my choice is to believe the truth about myself, that Christ is living as me. Because there is no independent self, I am freed from worrying about how to behave, react, or defend myself. The outworking (fruit) is God’s business. When I am now faced with a negative situation (losing my job is a recent example for me), I know that the people involved are not "just them" doing this to me, and I am not "just me" responding. That does not mean that I do not have negative feelings about the situation. Christ as me does not respond by being defensive or scared but carries on doing the next thing.
Norman makes very clear how to deal with temptation, asking, "what about these constant pulls we still have to fear, hate, worry, lust, self-seeking and weakness"? These pulls again make us think that we are independent human selves, and the moment we think that, back comes the law saying, "No, you ought not to." It is here, Norman says, that Satan tries to play his final subtle trick on us. We are tricked into thinking that having those pulls is sin; whereas the real sin is the unbelief of thinking we are independent selves who should not have these pulls.
This was very helpful to me. I had always heard James 4:7 quoted: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you," but I never really understood how that worked. I would try to quench the temptation, pre-tend it wasn’t there, and struggle with the sin when it happened. Now I know that there is no "just me" to be tempted. I fully accept the temptation, not denying or resisting it. Then I do as Norman and the Bible say and resist the tempter. I do that by affirming who I am–Christ as me–and replacing the false belief with the consciousness of myself as a Christ-expresser, which swallows up the negative consciousness of Satan’s pulls on me–and he flees. Norman says that our danger is not the fact that temptation pulls us, but that it tricks us back into thinking we are the selves who must respond to the pulls.
The first sentence of Norman’s booket is challenging, stating our commission to take the truth of "No Independent Self" to the whole church in the whole world. It feels like an awesome challenge. But knowing that it is Christ as me doing it makes it possible. I now know what my commission is–where I fit into God’s plan for the universe. I fulfil my part day by day, step by step believing the truth about myself and, when and where possible, sharing the full Gospel with others.
I recommend this booklet to all Christians and particularly those who are struggling, like I was, with besetting and wilful sin which prevented me from living the abundant Life that Jesus promises in John 10:10.