Independent Self, Not Religion, Is The Problem
By Fred Pruitt
Penetrating to the root — It is the definition of sin that needs updating for all of us. People think “sin” is stuff we do or don’t do, evil deeds or lack of good deeds, etc. But sin is from a spiritual source and that is what makes it sin. That is why I could say I do not see you in error the other night because you are not OF the spirit of error. We are OF whatever spirit that drives us. So a man’s works may be “good works” but his spirit is held captive by the spirit of error and so, while we do not repudiate good works from anyone, we also may recognize the source of good works may be the spirit of sin. So sin is the “sin spirit.” Righteousness, conversely, is the “righteousness spirit” within us. Bottom line, both “spirits” are spirit persons and each person is the originator of sin or righteousness. This is VITAL. It is the reason why we cannot just change our deeds or gain “knowledge” to attain salvation: first, because “salvation” is not “something” but SOMEONE (Christ), and secondly because it is impossible for us to do it except He does it in us.
That is why many other world spiritual philosophies, though they may have many beautiful and wonderful truths in them, cannot gain the kingdom of heaven for us, because for many it is merely a matter of making our way out of ignorance (which is their reason for the state of man) through good works, e.g., the 8-fold path to becoming Buddha, or “enlightened one.” All humanistic philosophies, gnosticism, etc. have this as their basis. Our problem, they say, is simply ignorance, i.e., we just don’t know our own innate “goodness” and if we know it we can live from it.
Many Christians accuse us of saying this, but miss that it is ONLY through the Cross and the shed blood and broken body of Jesus that this is made available to us, and then by His resurrection through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us.
So deliverance from “sin” is not just a change of deeds, but a change of persons within us, from Satan to Christ. The religious mind, whether “Christian” or some other, doesn’t really grasp this, and therefore tries to attain salvation or being “pleasing” to God by ordering our lives according to set patterns and certain deeds, and therefore fails, and often creates the very thing it seeks to avoid, self-righteousness rather than the righteousness which is God’s alone but which he imputes to us in the Son.
So I think it important to penetrate to the ultimate root, rather than just “religion.” This sort of “religion” is a symptom of the problem, but not the problem itself. The problem itself is the lie in all of humanity, “independent self mindedness,” which is the chief lie, but a lie which is real to us until it is destroyed by the Light of Christ Who Himself brings it to nothing when He shines in us. But it is a lie which at some point we must become conscious so that in our consciousness or understanding we see that it is departed from us and in fact never was the case. We were never independent selves doing our own thing, but were always either a container of wrath or mercy, a temple indwelt by an idol-god or now the temple of Christ through the Holy SPirit.
So we always go for the root, not just the stem, when getting out the weeds! “The axe is laid to the root of the tree,” said John the Baptist, and He was speaking of the Redeemer who had come to cut out the root — Satan — who had hidden himself everywhere — in the religious mind, in the good works of man, as well as in the blatantly evil things — even making mankind believe that he doesn’t exist at all, that it’s a silly thing to believe in — thus making US the responsible parties (we are responsible in our cooperation but not in its origins), as evil always does, shifts the blame to someone else while proclaiming its own good intentions. Like the serpent in the Garden who seemed to be a “friend” to Eve, giving her some much needed advice to help her become “wise as gods, by implying the Lord God was holding out on her, and then subtly undermining the clear Word Eve well knew, “Ye shall not surely die.”
Again, religion, legalism, moralism, ethics, humanism, aren’t the problems per se, but the spirit behind them and the lie that fuels it — independent self, i.e., we are only ourselves alone and we can add to or improve ourselves to become “wise as gods.” That IS religion, moralism, ethics, or legalism in a nutshell, but we must penetrate to the bottom and find the snake hissing there. Shining the light of Christ in us and ONLY CHRIST IN US, he slithers away as fast as he can to any hiding place he can find, which is where anyone will believe his lies.
But Christ has overcome Him fully, and this foul snake has no more place in us, and we can now say, as did Jesus, “the prince of this world comes, but he has nothing in me.”
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See also: The Real Purpose of Law vs. Grace