By Fred Pruitt
(From a question stimulated by a blog post)
Here are some questions recently posed to me:
The question i have is about the process of ‘fixing’. The Lord has had me on this union path for some months now – well, technically all my life, but i’ve only recently come to know it! I wanted to know whether it’s been your experience that the ‘fixing’ in knowing Him as our life is a gradual process or something that just happens at some point. Reason for my question is that i find, curiously, that in some areas of my life – most noteably the areas i’ve struggled with the most – i now have a sense of being ‘fixed’ in that i don’t struggle as i used to because i know Him to be my keeper in those areas. But other areas, i still find myself “struggling”. It’s a strange thing. Just wondering if this is common.
You are already complete, but we never escape the “feeling” of being incomplete as long as we are in this life in the body. It is ALWAYS a walk of faith, trusting in what we do not see rather than what you do see (physically, intellectually or emotionally).
Over time, we go from “glory to glory,” which is really from faith to faith. What I mean by that is that each new spiritual “plateau” we reach, we “arrive” there by faith, and how we “arrived” on the plateau was by the perseverance of faith. What we find on the plateau is not necessarily something visible or tangible in the flesh, but a “fixed inner consciousness” sight on that level that you have received, so that the matter of that faith “transaction” is settled.
Like “salvation” in our beginning days. When I first came to know Christ, if I woke up one day and no longer “felt” saved, my faith “practice” at that point was to continually affirm my salvation by faith, trusting the Lord that He had done what He had promised. Then one day (we may not even notice it) the issue of our personal salvation is no longer in question (for the most part – temptations can always come). We just “know” we are saved and walk around out of that “knowing.” Walking around “knowing” we are saved is the “fixing” part of our initial word of faith of declaring our faith in Jesus. We took “Him,” trusted “Him,” which for a while is very tenuous, but one day we realize, as the scripture says, that “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself,” (1 Jn 5:10a), and we realize we HAVE that witness, so that for the most part it is no longer “questionable” that we are “saved.” We become “fixed” in it.
When that happens, God moves us on from level to level to level in understanding and consciousness, and it is pretty much the same at every level. We learn not just that we are “AT” this level, but we learn to operate at that level.
Like moving up that ladder financially. Most when they start out in life start at a lower income level, and hopefully build and grow on that throughout life. When we make $12,000 a year, we get used to living at that level. But if we move from there to a $20,000 job, then we operate out of that level, and it would be misery to go back again to a lower level. And so on.
It is somewhat the same with us and our “growth” in Christ. And coming into the “union” level is the same. We first approach it “by faith,” agreeing with what the Spirit has shown us by whatever means, that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” “Yes,” we say, “Yes, I see that, yes, I believe that is so.” And it is very tenuous for a while, because it seems too good to be true, or a hundred other things, but we keep affirming it as the Spirit moves us through our circumstances, though it may in the beginning seem barely as real to us as a passing mist.
The real major “final fix” is to come to realize that He and I are one “person” together. Just like in the instances above, we approach it (this truth) a little gingerly, but we “take it,” and trust the Lord that it is so.
We leave it to the Lord about any “fixing.” Not our job. Through grace we have believed in our hearts and confessed it with our mouths, and after that there is no more that we can do to “make it happen.” It is God Who gives the increase. We don’t “judge” our progress. We just live in God’s total adequacy in us in every current moment, and recognize Him in every one of those moments, whether consciously or unconsciously.
For some it breaks through gradually so that we just look around one day and realize we are “there,” and have been “there” always – the kingdom of heaven has grown up in us and we haven’t even noticed! “He knoweth not how!” (See Mark 4:26-29).
The simplicity of this is to just be “who” you are. Don’t worry about being “fixed,” or overcoming this or that. Some of those things you have trouble with will continue to challenge you from time to time (it is the same with all of us), and some of them will drop away. It does not matter. Part of our walk of faith is to see through all circumstances to God and His purposes. Those troubling things that we would “change” about ourselves if we could, we gradually begin to see that God (as the potter) made us that way for His Godly purposes! His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than ours!
The devil didn’t steal us and corrupt us with all these proclivities and habit patterns, so that our lifelong job is to “correct” the corruption the devil did to me. What futile folly! (Though we all try it!) Many people go down that path of “fixing” what they think the devil broke, which is just more eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The ONLY corruption was HIM! It was never anything about me, my “essential me,” so to speak. When Christ comes in He kicks out the devil – and when the corrupter goes out there is no more corruption. How can I say that? Because He says we are complete in Him. He says we are whole, entire and needing nothing. He says that NOW we are the very righteousness of God! (Col 2:10; 2 Cor 5:21).
When we truly see that we are “one,” we are bold to believe that He means even these “negative” things about ourselves that we have trouble with. The ‘weakness’ we learn there, dealing with those issues, transmutes into a life lived in Godly weakness, that the strength of God might be manifest not by our becoming strong, but by our remaining weak.
We actually become the opposite of what we thought we might become when we were starting out – “Spiritual Superman.” We are the opposite of Superman. We are vulnerable. We feel fatigued. It hurts. Some days look bleak –- and other days with no explanation seem all bright and sunny. We are human. But finally we accept this “humanity,” as it is as God has made it, not as something “evil” to be overcome, but as something perfectly created by the Father to be what it is, an “earthen vessel” filled with an Incorruptible Treasure, that we might testify to the omnipotent power of God through the contrast of my continual human weakness.
The fact that this “humanity,” as it is, is acceptable enough to God that He will dwell in it in His Person, is proved by the fact that the Son emptied Himself of His Divinity and in the earth Jesus Christ came and lived bodily in our flesh, i.e., “human flesh.” His body came from Mary, along with His other human attributes. This “flesh” Jesus came to live in was not the Paradisiacal flesh of the resurrection, but the same “flesh” you and I live in. He did not have the “corrupter” in Him as we do, and in that we are different from Him. But in every other way, humanly, we are the same. And scripture testifies that He lived in “weakness” in His human flesh, just as we must.
It has been only very recently that I finally received some satisfying “light” on the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. Of course I’ve heard and read what others have said or written about those temptations, and could acknowledge the truth in them, but there had never been anything to really “ring my bell” on that in all these years. I’m talking several decades!
I don’t know how it came to me or why, but just a few weeks ago it just popped into my mind, that Jesus faced those temptations just as a regular human man. Now, I’ve ‘known’ that forever, sort of, but really I think always in those places where a doubt or two can lurk, I pretty much thought He had a leg up on us. I mean, He was the Son of God, right?
But looky there back at that Philippians verse where it says the Son emptied Himself of His Deity, and became as much one of us, as one of us. (Repetitive phrase intentional.) (Phil 2:5-8).
So He could not have been facing Satan’s onslaughts as the Son of God, but only as the Son of Man. Now always before I had more or less thought that Jesus knew fully Who He was and was fully aware of His “power” to heal, perform miracles, etc., when He went into the desert.
So that makes the first temptation, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread,” (Matt 4:3), to be about whether He will use His “power” for Himself.
But I think this temptation is deeper and more human than that. One cannot tempt God. But a human man is fair game. What is getting settled here in the desert? What is getting “settled,” is Who He really is, that He is indeed the “Anointed One,” which all His life before He perhaps had had glimpses and inklings of it, but He is now at the juncture, where His own faith has to be settled, “fixed” as we say, because He is about to go and appear to all Israel.
“Is this true about me?” He must have asked, because He was tempted in all points like we are. The same temptations that every one of us experience. “Am I really the Son of God? Am I really the Deliverer of Israel? And is death at the hands of the Romans really my future? And yet I find myself driven here, into the middle of nowhere, a dry and thirsty land. I cannot help it, I deny myself food, I must find out the answer – Father – are you SURE it is I? This is insane! What am I doing here? I am so hungry I don’t know how I can go on, but I haven’t gotten my answer, the heavens are brass to me. Father, no, it cannot be, surely it cannot be me, look at me, I’m so weak I cannot stand. How can I deliver the people?”
The story of the temptation has the tempter appearing at His weakest point, after He has fasted 40 days and nights, and is famished with hunger. Raw human hunger, hurting hunger. Food, food, need food! Now the question has been in my mind (back thinking as Jesus in the story) this whole time, “Am I really the Son of God, and do I really have this power?”
And that is precisely what the tempter zeroes in on. Target dead center, “If thou be the Son of God …”
This is what is being settled, but before it is fully settled, the tempter comes. Jesus is hit dead center with His own questions and temptations – “Am I really the Son of God? What is the answer?” and that’s exactly what Satan puts into question. He isn’t holding back His Divinity which He could have used in an instant and sent Satan running. His temptation is not to use His Divinity for Himself (though eventually it goes there), but Satan’s first temptation boils down to, “Are you really? Prove it! Make some bread out of those stones.”
I really don’t think He knew He could do it, but held it back as a wrong “use” of His power. I think He had not come to full confidence yet in Who He was and what He could and would do. The devil hit at the heart of Jesus’ own personal temptation, what He had already been asking Himself, “Am I really?” and then here the devil shows up and throws it right up in His face. “C’mon, if you really are, prove it!”
What to do with such a challenge? It is a very subtle catch-22. But certain things were already in Jesus’ favor, the main one being that He really WAS Who He was seeing that He was. He was already “living by the Spirit,” since He had received the Spirit in power at the baptism of John. He no doubt already knew the scriptures that referred to Him, not the least of which was, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold…” (Is 42:1a). This is where this matter is getting finally settled, this “who am I?” matter, and “what am I to do?” question.
I think it could be vitally important to see that Jesus’ temptation was not to use His power wrongfully, but hit him on a human level of His own self-doubts, for if He did not have them, He would not have been human, since at some level, we all have them.
Here is where I believe this principle truth began to take hold of Jesus in fulness, the principle of “abiding in Him.” Jesus knew He could not answer the temptation, and His only option was to fall back on the Father. It was the opposite that father Adam had done before. When tempted, Adam had not fallen back on the Father in his weakness, and thus succumbed to the tempter. Now this man Jesus, as a man, must face the same temptation in Himself and be victorious, because since death came by man, then salvation has to come by man also. Man “fell” into darkness and sin from which he could not escape, and it must be by man that man must rise again and be restored, though greater at the end than at the beginning.
That is why I see that the temptation for Jesus was not to “do something” to prove Who He was, but struck at the heart of His own inner “belief” (and doubts) about Himself. This is where we see how God uses the devil’s temptations to “fix” us, because at this challenge His true Personhood rose up out of His weakness, and had the opposite effect that Satan was looking for. Satan was hoping to pull down the stronghold of faith Jesus was walking in, but instead the conflict made the stronghold of faith buck up, to affirm Him in Who He was, rather than the opposite. He opened His mouth and the Spirit said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4).
As I am seeing it, here is where the Word in Jesus began to finally solidify, to finally be “fixed,” which we can see we from the story was not something Jesus “did,” but rather something the Spirit did from start to finish. This is Jesus’ final “break” with His doubts, and then subsequently His full assumption of the Mantle of Who He Is.
To me, in all of scripture the most telling phrase Jesus said of Himself was, “The Son can do nothing of Himself.” To be able to do “nothing,” is as “weak” as anyone can get. And actually, it is also the hardest thing to do. It is impossible because it is contrary to everything we have ever been taught.
And that is what all our testimonies and talks, articles, etc., are first designed to do – to take us to that point where we know we can do nothing. Until that point we will try and try and try to “do something” that will … whatever we think “doing” is going to accomplish! But when we live that way, there is never enough “doing.” It is not my “humanity” that is my problem.
“Flesh” can mean many things in scripture. We confuse the concept of “flesh” which refers to “man in rebellion,” with our human body and emotional and intellectual makeup, so that we detract from the God-made perfect humanity (when considered alone as a vessel and not to the quality of the vessel’s contents), and think “we” are the problem. But our humanity is not the problem. Instead the “problem” has been this lifelong false consciousness we all grow up in, that we are ourselves alone, and have something in ourselves that can “be like” God, in an imitation of God. We try to obey the law because we think we CAN obey the law. And as long as we think there is something in us that can respond and obey, we’ll keep at it. And it’s all just more chewing on the fruit of the wrong tree.
But once we see “it is no longer I, but Christ” in me, and that we can do nothing of ourselves, there is no going back from that. There is only a forging onward, because we are beginning to get into the mainstream of this flowing river that comes out of our innermost being. Jesus promised if we “believe on Him” then we would be this flowing river, and there is absolutely nothing for us to “do” to make the promise work, except what He said, which was, “Believe on Me.”
It is all really that simple.
So, to sum up and finally answer your question, “Yes, you’re normal!” Praise God!
(And no, I’ve never been to South Africa. Would love to come! I’ve only been out of the states and north America once, in 1987 went to England for a couple of weeks. And right now all my travels are in the US, but I think all the time about going abroad, South Africa being one of the main spots I’d like to visit, since I’ve met many a Facebook friend in Christ who are from SA. So one of these days!)