By Fred Pruitt
(The core of this was originally written in an email in August, 2007. I posted that email almost verbatim on the VIW blog in August 2010. This is an updated, edited and expanded version of that.)
Some time ago I caught a Jesus movie on Christian TV. The TV guide had said it was a “superficial depiction of the life of Christ,” so I was only going to catch a minute or two, to see how bad it was. But I ended up watching the whole thing, raising my hands “Luli-style” with tears streaming down my face. It was a 1979 production simply called, “Jesus,” shot low budget in Israel with another “British” Jesus. But the actor wasn’t too much, played the part well I thought, and it was mostly scripture, very little messing with the story, except to put things together differently. What fell into place for me was this below.
They took the Sermon on the Mount and spread it around over several talks Jesus gives in different places — sometimes by a stream or the sea, and sometimes in a synagogue.
And then it hit me.
Jesus was reenacting Moses! The Sermon on the Mount, and most of the moral tales and admonitions of Jesus, mostly in the synoptic gospels, became for all the western world the basis of personal piety as well as the conceptual basis of a moral and just society. Jesus took the Law, and yes, to those with “seeing” eyes He fulfilled it in them (though it took Paul to reveal it), but Jesus took the Law from being merely a code for only Jews to live by, and put it on the whole world! He put the whole world under law!!!!
How can I say that? Because Jesus’ admonitions are impossible of fulfillment. No one can do all of them. Yet isn’t much of it the basic drive for all moral and humanistic (and I don’t mean that in a bad sense) teaching? Everybody, and I mean everybody who would confess “good” to be “good,” believes these basic things Jesus taught are the virtues of a better human life, whether or not they understand a spiritual connotation. Everybody, from New Agers to Baptists, from Buddhists to Catholics, quote Jesus and see him as either “THE” or “A” standard, albeit one of the highest and most unachievable standards, of perfect human behavior. “Act like Jesus,” people ignorantly think.
(People don’t know what they are meaning when they say they are trying to “act like Jesus.” Usually they mean, “Be nice, be respectful, be kind, be helpful, help people, try to show love, etc.” It is encapsulated in the code of the American Boy Scouts, in which many of us participated in our childhood. When we were kids they told us in school to live by the “Golden Rule”: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
(Do they not realize that “acting like Jesus” was what got Jesus crucified? Not for his great popularity! And not for being the nicest, kindest man in Palestine, either. The truth is, He greatly angered and threatened the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem, and He was completely deliberate about it! He offended them to the core, knowing full well what their reaction would be. He made them so mad they committed murder in their rage! He had NO kind word for them. He offered no tenderness for the “blind guides,” even though He wept for them at the edge of the city before He entered: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” [Lk 13:34,35].
(And it was not just the “Scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites” to whom He displayed His Divine/human anger, but even to those who blindly followed their lead as well. (“Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” [Matt 12:12-14].
(And of their fruit [disciples] He said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” [Matt 23:15]. Jesus gave no quarter to the devil nor to those who followed him, nor to the “plants” that His Father had not planted.)
And that is why law (should not, touch not, handle not, ought to) is so prevalent in the world. It is the same reason He spoke in parables. Law must reign until we are ready to receive the grace, and we know what it takes.
Natural man cannot see anything but the law. They don’t know it as the “law of God” since the natural man’s sight is only in this world, but being that the “law of God” [which is “other-love” rather than “self-love”], is imprinted on our very inner being, everyone knows the core basis of good and evil, what is right and what is not. Everyone knows when they commit “wrong” or “unloving” acts against others.
But man, in his natural mind, has taken it now to the extreme in every regard. The law (what is good and what is evil) is what they argue about on TV on the political shows. That’s what the candidates are all arguing about, and all stressing how they and what they believe and want to do are more perfect fulfillments of the law than those of their opponents. And of course the “Church,” which really has no idea what to do with it, partly sees grace, yet cannot let go of the law, and argue and complain about each other continually in the wilderness.
I have said this many times before, but I want to repeat it now, it was not the devil who brought law into the world. The “law” has always been “God’s” law. It was not the devil who led the children of Israel to Mt. Sinai. It was the Holy Spirit in the Cloud and the Fire. It was not the devil who brought Moses to the top of the mount amidst the thunderings, lightnings and fire, who wrote the “tablets” in stone with his own finger, but the Living God (mediated by His angels).
Paul told us that the law is God’s law, that it is holy and good, and nothing is wrong with it. However, he also told us that it did not really come from the true inner heart of God, so that in receiving the law they would find themselves “face to face” with God. Paul instead asks, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” (Gal 3:19,20).
In other words, the “law” does not give direct access to God. When we relate to the law from the flesh/natural/separated mind, as did the children of Israel, we tremble before it because we know we are guilty and we fear death at the hands of the law. There is no mercy in the law, but only certain retribution for each infraction. From that mind’s perspective, it produces condemnation, a continual sense of spiritual and/or mental anguish brought about by what Hebrews calls those “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”(Heb 2:15).
Condemnation is all about death, but not yet being dead. It is what we call in the US, being on “death row.” The area in prison where those who are to be executed await their day. They have been “condemned,” but not yet executed. And that is what “condemnation” is for us – the sense of being condemned to death (because at our core we are so awful [as some of us might be prone to think]), and the great temptation is to agree with this sentence supposedly imposed upon us.
This is greater than the fear of physical death, (which I’ll have to admit grows more temptingly available the older we get – since in this “morbid” sense, in this life we are all on “death row,” riding up an escalator at the same level as everyone else born when we were at the start. It’s all a big joy ride at first, though we begin to see some ahead, some level with us, and some behind “dropping off” the end of their escalators when they ended abruptly. And of course the higher up you ride, the more you see drop off, and then you begin to see folks in front of you way ahead start dropping over the edge in droves, until at some point all there is left before you is no scene of anything, but only an impending drop off into an unknown void. And then it hits you – “O my, that’s going to happen to ME!” Like Jim Morrison said, “Nobody gets out of here alive.”), but even that fear of physical death is often subterranean in us, and what is more prominent is a sense of hopelessness, a sense of self-loathing, a sense of “I can never be what I want to be,” or any other sense born in fear, which is death.
And that is the sense in which the law is prevalent over the whole earth. It is codified in much of man’s law, and it is imprinted in our being as well, which is where man’s law has come from. So we cannot take “the law” out of the world. It is inherent in its condition. It does not necessarily make us “preachers” of the law; it is simply that whether we like it or not, the law exists, especially outside the Body of Christ, and in that regard it is to convict the world and the individuals of the world, of sin. And the only reason it (the law) can do that, is that it is God’s law, codified or not, and in that we are convicted by our own “truth,” which we realize has always been really our own “lie.”
Because we have this “God-required-here” place in ourselves, which has been almost (but not quite) totally invaded by the enemy and sucker-out of our souls, we have been deceived and have worked “his lusts,” (Jn 8:44). It does not matter whether someone is able to articulate it as I have done, or even to put it into spiritual terms, the result is the same. Because we were all made in our beginning in the “image of God,” these “offenses,” (unloving, unforgiving, judging, self-above-others), that we have committed in word or deed against others, become dark places in our being. They weigh us down. We don’t have to go to a church and hear a preacher – the “preacher” is in us, the inner stamp of God in the creation of our individual being, which was intended to be Love as He is Love, and when we offend it is against our own inner being. That is where the “scar” is; and it is this somewhat “self” imposed scar, as the fruit of the lust of our false father, that stands against our vision of God.
Now Paul has told us, however, that we are not to go out to preach against the world’s sins, but that our true commission is to declare the reconciliation of God and man, AND that God is no longer imputing (i.e., “counting”) their sins. The reason we don’t have to go out and preach “law” to those still outside, is that they already know the law and it has killed them. That is why we offer a message of hope and reconciliation, instead of condemnation and judgment. “The breach between God and man has been healed – therefore whosoever among you will, come and partake …”
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Is 55:1).
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev 22:17).
Now before I go on, I must say at this point, that the whole sense of scripture, Genesis to Revelation, stresses that we don’t just consider all this, and then just submit it to a mere mental belief in the accoutrements of the Gospel, but that living in the Lord God as our Living Truth and Reality, is given by the Spirit, and it is received in our understanding and inner will, solidified by a specific word of commitment, which then activates the “Promise,” as it pertains to us.
That’s the “way” grace works, testified to over and over and over in scripture. God speaks, declares, commands, reveals, and as Paul said, man “believes, and out of that believing he speaks.” Paul is not talking about agreeing with what the Sunday School lesson said. The faith Paul spoke of and later reiterated by Martin Luther, was not just some “nominal” faith, in which we give a mental accession to the “facts” of Jesus and the Resurrection.
Paul’s faith, as well as Luther’s, was instead an apprehension of God, or perhaps better stated as an “in-taking” of God, a true receiving of GOD Himself as the Absolute and True “object” of our faith, rather than a set of ideas or truths about God. There is no comparison of the two. One receives theology; the other receives the Lord.
Who determines who makes what choices? At the point of the choice, it does not matter. It is a moot issue. Everyday life DEMANDS that we choose. We are always pushed to it. On one hand, it is all by grace. Our choices come out of the grace that is the foundation of our lives. That would also include the “choice” to enter into Christ, or to “recognize” that you are already in Christ. We do not “engineer” that for ourselves, but it is all by the Spirit. And yet in the moment of decision, we have no consciousness of anything other than it is all up to “us” and the “choice” we make, about whatever. And scripture from Genesis to Revelation exhorts us to not “halt between two opinions,” (1 Kings 18:21), and that, “the double-minded man will receive nothing of the Lord.” (Ja 1:6-8).
There only remains to say that there is also a purpose that the law accomplishes in those already in the Body, because that mindset of condemnation and guilt before the law, often continues for some time into our Christian walk. Some will not understand me, and some will, but it is clear to me that the real and true personal confrontation with “sin,” does not occur in our initial “born-again” experience. At that moment, for most of us, we are often more focused on “sins” we have committed, or ongoing problems with things we think or are told are sinful (some legitimate, and some not), because our “spirit-minds” have not yet been fully activated. They are just in a baby stage, and at that stage, because we have always only known and lived by and in the “outer,” we are not yet conditioned to see where the true problem is. The only things we know about “sin” are “don’t do this,” “don’t do that,” “don’t think these things,” etc., all “outer” stuff, because it is those deeds that we have been told have stood between us and God. So for some time it’s all about that.
The real “confrontation” with sin, where we are finally scoured out in our consciousness of the false consciousness of independence and self-focus, which is the real heart of “SIN,” synonymous with the author of SIN – Satan – is when one more time with finality we are confronted with the law. We still carry the consciousness of the world with us in our beginning days – all according to God’s plan – and that consciousness is a consciousness of independence and condemnation. And that is what is ripped out of us in the Romans seven dilemma, where, instead of indwelling Christ, Paul seems to feel himself helpless to indwelling sin. It is the final death throes of that false sense of self-for-myself, that thinks it can do the works of God, which is the heart of SIN. And at the exposure of that vile cancer to the Light of Jesus Christ, we are released into the liberty of Romans 8:2 – “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
(I have talked about that subject extensively on the VIW blog (https://thesingleeye.wordpress.com, and it is the theme of my short book, “The Axe Laid to the Root.” Therefore, I’ll skip this subject for now, and change the tune a little bit, back onto where we started.
Grace, union, oneness, has always appeared here and there, but I believe the whole of history until now has been the time of the law in the wilderness for the elect throughout the whole world, since at that time (the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ) the Passover was sacrificed for the whole world, and all God’s true children started eating of Him and drinking of Him from the time of the Resurrection and Ascension, and the Day of Pentecost, after which He made Himself universally available by sending the Holy Spirit to “fall upon all flesh.” The Sons and Daughters of God throughout whole world then started marching out of Egypt through the Red Sea into the wilderness to Mt. Sinai, and have been wandering in the desert ever since.
Those who have seen and are seeing now are the Calebs and Joshuas, who must continue to accompany their brethren to encourage them to faith in their sufferings in the wilderness, until the whole camp is ready to go in.
What a God! O what a God! How wonderful to be known of Him. How wonderful are His tender mercies. His comfort is past understanding. Who has known His mind, or can instruct Him?