By Fred Pruitt
The Starting Point
To begin to look into the depths of God and His plan for humanity, the first place to start is in the Being of God Himself, because that is where the Scriptures start. “In the beginning GOD …. “ (Gen 1:1), and again in the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).
This is perhaps a mystery almost outside the realm of our understanding, but the Bible gives us great hints at the Totality of His Person in several places. We can understand these points from the Scriptures:
- In the beginning there was nothing but God. He SPOKE (the Word) out of Himself everything that is, and He Himself is the source and cohesion of ALL that exists.
- Genesis 1 (whole chapter – “Let there be”)
- Colossians 1:15-19 (“the image of the invisible God;” “by Him all things were created;” “he is before all things, and by Him all things consist;”)
- GOD is Love. By this we mean that from eternity God has been nothing but Self-for others, i.e. His primary characteristic is to fulfill Himself by blessing and being the Life of His creation.
- 1 John 4:8 (“God is love”)
- Revelation 13:8 (“Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”)
- GOD is Light. God is the Light of the Universe. “Light” is the Source of all things, and God IS Light, and in Him is no darkness.
- 1 John 1:5
- Ephesians 4:13b (“Whatsoever doth make manifest is light” i.e. nothing is made manifest, seen, known, except by light)
- GOD is the ONE pre-eminent, self-existent, uncreated Person in the Universe.
- Exodus 3:14 (“My name is ‘I AM’”)
- John 8:58 (“Before Abraham was, I AM”)
- All other “persons” are derivative persons of Him. (Proverbs 20:27 – “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” Hebrews 12:9 – “father of spirits” – We are “little” or created “I am’s.”)
- All “persons” (I am’s) have their existence IN HIM. (Acts 17:28)
How are “Persons” to live and express God?
Created persons can only express themselves by the Light and Life and Love of the Creator in whose Being they were created. As the Moon has no light of its own, but “moonlight” is actually the reflected light from the Sun, even so do created beings have no “light” of their own, but were created from the beginning to express and “reflect” the Light of another, i.e. God. “Persons” were created to be dependent persons, to contain and express the Light and Life of God, and not their “own light,” which in any case does not exist.
- We are called “vessels,” i.e. containers of God. (1 Corinthians 4:7)
- We are called “temples of God,” i.e. a place where God dwells. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
- We are called “branches” of a Vine. (John 15:5)
- Nowhere in Scripture is there any indication that there is ANY life apart from the indwelling of God. A “union” (He in us) is the hidden reality behind all truth about being a person. (Colossians 1:26,27; Galatians 1:15,16)
What is Man?
Man was created from the beginning to be a “son” of God. Not “THE” Son, which is Christ, the Eternal Second Person of the Trinity, but to be God’s created expression of His Personhood in God’s eternal outflow of love. For now, he is “a little lower” than the angels, who are sent by God to aid man, but man’s “destiny” is to be an expresser and manifestor of God’s being and Love throughout eternity. We are the “heirs of God.”
- The whole creation “waits for the manifestation of God’s sons.” (Romans 8:19-21)
- Man is to have dominion over all things. (Hebrews 2:5-8 — Made a little lower than the angels, but ALL will eventually be under his [man’s] dominion)
- Man is eventually “over” the angels. (1 Corinthians 6:3 — We shall judge angels)
- Heirs of all creation. (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:6,7)
What is Evil and where did it come from?
The words “free will” do not appear in Scripture, but we may derive from God’s personhood, in that He is “free” and “does all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11), that the foundation of “personhood” is to be a “free” person, i.e. to be able to choose. Anything else is to be an automaton, which would be less than a person. Therefore at the foundation of “personhood” is the awesome and terrible responsibility to be able to choose our own lives. Here, then, is the source and origin of “evil.” For if persons are to be truly “free,” then there must be “opposites” from which to choose – i.e. “I’ll do this, not that.” Even though from eternity God has, in His own freedom, chosen to be eternally “self-for-others,” there was another, the Bible tells us, in the eternal realms, who chose the opposite, “self-for-self” – Lucifer. He chose NOT to express the Light and Love and Person of God, which is the only means by which any person can be a person, but instead to express his own created light, i.e. to be his own god, which produced in him only wrath and rage and unfulfilled enmity. He was therefore the “creator” of God’s opposite kingdom of wrath and darkness.
- Isaiah 14:12-14 (“I will ascend above – I will be like the Most High”)
- Ezekiel 28:13-19 (“Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty”)
- Revelation 12:7-9 (“The great dragon was cast out … and his angels with him.”)
- John 8:44 (“He is a liar and a father of it” – i.e. the “creator” of lying)
- John 8:44 (“He was a murderer from the beginning” – the originator)
What is man’s nature?
As stated above, man was created from the beginning to contain and express God as a free person, i.e. to walk in union with God, God’s Life and Love and Light and Person being expressed through him and as him. He was to find his ultimate freedom, satisfaction and fulfillment in becoming a whole person, i.e. a Son, by the free and conscious union of God’s Spirit with man’s inner spirit or heart (his self-awareness — “I am”), expressed through his soul (psyche, emotions, intellect) and body (physical life and appetites).
There was, however, in the beginning of man’s history, a “fall.” Man, not having yet seen and known the fullness of the Life of God that was his destiny in maturity, was in his innocence (babyhood) placed in a Garden where he lived at first in fellowship with God and was in perfect freedom within that Garden with only one negative commandment: to not eat of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” As we all know the story, the serpent tempted Eve with the fruit of the tree, telling her it would make her wise, to be “as God,” and that she was seduced by the serpent and she then persuaded her husband, Adam, to also eat of the fruit.
The first result of “eating” the forbidden fruit in Adam and Eve is self-condemnation. Whereas they had before walked “with God in the coolness of evening” in the Garden, a picture of unblemished and unashamed fellowship in union, now they “knew they were naked” and hid, because they “were afraid.” In their consciousness they had become “separated” from God, and though in their innocence their “nakedness” (openness) had no “shame” to it, now, having received into themselves the divided (“good vs. evil”) outlook of the serpent (hereafter known as the Devil), they became ashamed of their own humanity, which had been created “Good” and declared “Good” by God in the beginning of creation.
- Genesis 1:31 (God declares ALL that He has made [including Man] to be “good.”)
- Genesis 3:1-24 (The story of the fall.)
Though man was created to live in and walk in union with God, through the Fall a false spirit came to live within man, the spirit of “self-for-self,” a spirit of independence, of separation from God, of rebellion against God, the false spirit of the devil, so that all that man does from then onward, (when not in God), is based in the false spirit of self-for self, i.e. selfishness (I, me mine) becomes the basic core of man’s being. A false consciousness of independence (“I am myself alone”) becomes the mindset of the whole human race born from Adam. This, then, becomes the “nature of man” when unredeemed through Christ. Man, whose basic being, created in God, still having the “stamp” of God in our conscience, is nevertheless empowered and driven by the unrelenting unfulfilling false god of independence and selfishness.
However, in the Cross, through Christ’s death and resurrection, man “eats” of the “Tree of Life,” the other tree which was in the center of the Garden. This “tree” represents Christ, which IS the new nature, the divine nature, replacing the old nature in the heart or spirit of man, so that Man is once again restored to that for which he has been created, i.e. the dwelling place of the Most High God, and walks again in “newness of life” in union with God.
The Old Nature
- Jeremiah 17:9 (“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Man’s heart, i.e. inner spirit, most inmost place, becomes the seat of wickedness, i.e. self-for-self.)
- Matthew 15:19 (“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” – The unregenerate heart, spirit, full of the spirit of the “enemy,” i.e. self-for-self.”)
- Ephesians 2:2,3 (“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” – Unregenerate, i.e. outside of Christ, our nature is the nature of the god of wrath, the liar and father of lies.)
- John 8:44 (“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” – The “source” of the “old nature” of man, i.e. unregenerate “human nature,” is the devil. Though man has been deceived into thinking he acts independently, Jesus and Paul plainly say he does not, but that he acts by the impulses of another.)
Jesus Christ, and His death on the Cross and subsequent resurrection, is prophesied even in the beginning story in Genesis. (Genesis 3:15) It becomes the theme of the entire Bible.
- As stated above, He is the “lamb slain from the foundation of the earth.” (Revelation 13:8). Before there was a human being to be redeemed, there was a redeemer, for that is the nature and love of God. His death and resurrection, the shedding of His blood, His body death, and the resurrection of His body, accomplishes for mankind what mankind cannot accomplish for itself, i.e. deliverance from the false spirit of independence and rebellion and death that held us inwardly captive through wrath, condemnation, and fear.
- He “tasted death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9) that He might destroy him who had the power of death, i.e. the devil (Hebrews 2:14)
- He freed the entire human race from the bondage of fear that we inherited from our father Adam. (Hebrews 2:15).
- By His Cross He took upon Himself the “sin nature” that infected man (2 Corinthians 5:21), i.e. sin/satan-infected humanity, died once and for all to it, (Hebrews 9:26-28), and in His resurrection a new Spirit raised Him up, and all of humanity that believes on Him with Him to newness of Life.
- By this He imparts to us a “new” nature, that completely replaces the old. (Romans 6.)
The New Nature
- 2 Peter 1:4 (“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” The divine nature, i.e. God Himself, is now, by the Cross, OUR nature.)
- Ezekiel 36:26,27 (“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. – God Himself becomes the “doer” in the heart of man.)
- 2 Corinthians 5:17,18 (“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ – The “old” wicked heart [the false spirit within us] is NO MORE, replaced by the “new,” i.e. the Spirit of God, and all things have become NEW, and all things are now “of God.”)
- 1 Corinthians 6:17 (“But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” – i.e. ONE person. Spirit is Person [“I AM”], therefore He that is joined to the Lord is now ONE PERSON with Him.
- 1 Corinthians 6:16 (“For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – We who are in Christ, individually and collectively, are the temple [dwelling place] of God, and God WALKS in us, i.e. expresses Himself, manifests Himself, through, as, and by US.)
- 6. Romans 6:3-5,8,11,18,22 (The “newness of life” chapter.)
A Summary thus far
God IS the preeminent, self-existent, One Person in the Universe. (Isaiah 45:5,6) All other persons, whether men or angels, are derivatives of Him, and have their being (existence) in Him. HE IS Love, Light, Wisdom, Power, and the One Source of all existence. He exists eternally to be an “other-lover,” a Self-for-others.
All created beings have only one purpose, to manifest and express in a union with God the One Life (God) who is the Source of all things.
Man was created, at first “a little lower than the angels,” to be an adopted Son, to be the heir of God, to participate in God’s Love purposes throughout all eternity.
Evil entered into the universe through the free-will of Lucifer, a high angel of God, who aspired in his heart to be greater than God, rejecting “union” with God as the source of his being, and attempting to “be his own light, and thus turned himself into a devil, opening the kingdom of wrath and lies and murder and the opposite of God, self-for-self.
Man’s has no independent nature of his own, but only that of the “god” who indwells him. Through the fall man took into himself the false spirit of selfishness and independence, and inherited through that fall the consciousness of separation and independence from God. His “fallen nature” is not actually man’s inherent nature, but the nature of the god of this world, the god of selfishness and wrath and “I, me, mine.”
Through the Cross of Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, Man is restored to the divine nature, i.e. that nature, which is God HIMSELF, comes to indwell him, and to be the Life within man’s life. The Life thus expressed through redeemed man is not some new separate “nature” given to man, but the Life of God HIMSELF living in man, and living His quality of life (other-love) by man.
Entering In By Faith
To end this study, we need add one more thing. And that is that the only way, the Bible way, the Spirit way, to enter into the Life of God, is by faith. Faith, as we are defining it here, is not an adherence to a philosophy or a teaching or a code, but a belief in, or more aptly, a reliance on, a PERSON, THE Person. It is a step out into what appears to our human eyes to be the invisible, that which does not appear. The Scripture gives us the “facts,” which to our human minds seem incredulous and ridiculous. But these facts somehow bear witness to us in our deepest center, in the place where God speaks. And it is here that, as free persons, we can make our inner choice to believe in an invisible Person, Who has promised to be our Redeemer, and our Life, and our Savior, and our Total Reality. It is a step that is once again to our human minds preposterous, but when once the step is made out into the “ridiculous,” we find He is there, as He promised, to be ALL He says that He is, and that when we step out by faith into what seems to be “nothing,” He is there to not only hold us up where there seems to be no footing, but He is also there to be Love and Wisdom and Righteousness and Holiness and Comfort and Rest as we NEVER could have imagined there could be.