By Fred Pruitt
We Are Pleasing to God
Jesus said, “I always do those things pleasing to Him.” How could even Jesus say that, except by the Father within Him who “does the works.?” Ezekiel says He CAUSES us to walk in His ways (Ez 36:26,27), and in our freedom we are delighted to be “caused” by the Lord God to walk in His light expressing Him only! And how could this be, except we receive Him by faith (our one capacity in freedom), and walk in agreement with God, that what He has promised in our lives, He HAS fulfilled!
Always remembering, “It is He who hath made us, and not we ourselves.”
We are not the creators of our own lives or the paths of our lives. God is. Neither will our mental machinations make a hill of beans. Our life is determined by our hearts – for out of it are the issues of life, and our hearts have been permeated by the Spirit of God, kicking out the old hidden indweller, so that in our center we are only One – Christ in us as one with us, so that in our lives we now know only God, as the All, in all. We see nor recognize no other reality, and when we are given by the Spirit to see this, we have finally come to our total rest in Him
In other words, our heart/spirit center (whether it contains the God of glory and love, or the god of selfishness), determines the path of our lives. Not whether we believe in free will or not. We don’t make God do our bidding based upon what we think. Jesus said we cannot accomplish the least little thing by “taking thought.”
However, Proverbs hits the nail on the head, when it says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:7). This is not outer mental thinking, referred to above, but spirit center. This scripture is saying our true colors show and manifest, no matter what our appearance on the outside to the contrary. The writer’s example in Proverbs is of a wicked man who flatters – who appears “for you” – but in his heart, spirit center, he is really not how he appears to be outwardly.
So then what wins out – the outer appearance of flattery, or the inner truth of self-for-self? The writer correctly says that whatever the heart is, that is what manifests, instead of focusing on the outer behavior, which might have appeared righteous. The converse is also true.
We live in our “choices” out of our spirit center, and being in Christ that is who we are, and that is where our choices from.
Bottom line, then, when we KNOW union with Christ, i.e. “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit (one self) with him,” so that we have been given the revelation and taken by faith the truth of it, we find that our human “I,” having been joined as one with Him, is now He expressing Himself as us. Therefore there is no separation between ourselves and Christ who lives in us. When I (He and I) see that we together are as one person functioning, then the question of free will does not come up. We will what He wills and delight to do so. We have no separate will, and we can’t look inside ourselves and figure out where He leaves off and we begin.
The reason is that there is no “place” in us where there is a separation. There is an inner wholeness in us, which permeates everything in our lives, so that all we see is the Lord God in manifestation in all His creatures, even those in opposition to Him. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
What is Freedom?
In this “idea” of free will, if we are to truly discover its meaning, we must first understand freedom in God Himself. Because if there is freedom, and the New Testament is overflowing with it, then it must originate in and be in God Himself. Yet what has happened?
God has limited Himself, describing it from a human understanding, by forever willing only love, and forever rejecting its opposite, a will to hate and devour. So now God’s eternal “freedom” is defined, or limited (still speaking only from the crudity of human understanding), by the fact that He has eternally chosen to be only Love, Light and a Lamb slain, i.e., self-giving to the point of death and hell, and in so doing God is seen and manifests Himself in Trinity, as the manifested outflow of His eternally fixed choice of other love.
And in freedom, in which He works all things after the counsel of His own will, He contains all the creations and all its sentient and non-sentient creatures, who contain Him also, though He is only truly known in those who have heard His voice and whose hearts have leapt and who in some way cry, “Abba Father.”
Now the point I am making here, is that in our freedom, which is out of the mysterious free depths of the Godhead, we make a choice, and then from that choice our freedom develops in its limitation by that choice. “Limitation” might not sound like someone’s idea of freedom, but chaos and freedom are two different things. True freedom occurs within the limitations of a course or choice made out of alternative possibilities.
I am speaking of things like marriage, loyalty to friends, the love of God, etc. In choosing my wife, I “keep only unto her,” as the traditional ceremony says. But in that supposed limitation, there is a lifelong freedom within it to discover the greater and greater riches of our union together in marriage. We are “taken” by our choice and our lives develop in freedom within the confines of that choice. Our choice then becomes the foundation of the freedom in which we live.
Now that is what I mean when I am speaking of Galatians 2:20, the most succinct statement of our personal literal reality that has ever been made, when I speak of God willing in us. In the Cross we have died to an “own life” — an “own will” (which finds its identity primarily in, “I, Me, Mine”). In that emptiness of death (having died with Christ in His death) we have been emptied into nothingness, and through the resurrection of Christ (enacted in US) we have now been filled with the exact sap that makes this tree grow to its greatest fruition. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
And as Jesus did in the Garden, we reject any idea of “my will,” and say there is only “Thy will,” and that’s the will that shall be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Whatever supposed “free will” we may have, it only finds its ultimate liberation in letting go of any supposed “own will” we might have, so that it is forever “not my will, but thine.”
There is a time in our lives where it is imperative that we choose our way. But, if there is to be a furthering of this life in us, we must also come to the place where we give our choosing up to Him, that there might be only one will functioning in us – “Thy will.”
The point of the freedom debate then, from God’s perspective, is not that we get all our head knowledge straight so that we can write better theology books. Perhaps we get our head knowledge crudely right in some “through the glass darkly” way, but we can’t work it, so its real purpose is that it presses us into God. The intellectual exercise hopefully breaks us, or if not that, then life leaks over our dams into our fortresses anyway. God gets our attention. And His intention in getting our attention, is simply to reveal Himself to us, in us, and as us, and for us concurrently to be able to see Him in all things. Therein is all our freedom, our will, and our identity.
We come to that place, in that breaking, where we realize our liberation is not found by our figuring out every point of how we work and operate, but that at some juncture we realize by the Spirit to the deepest uttermost that we have no ability to work any of it, and that it is only Christ in us who not only can, but will, and IS, the totality of our life in this present moment – the worker and doer of all.
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