by Fred Pruitt
(This below is an exchange from public comments on my blog. The reader was replying to the article, “Shedding the Consciousness of Sin,” and what follows below is the back and forth. I thought it important enough to bring it out to the whole blog.)
From the reader:
It begins to sound a lot like you’re simply trying to sanitize every feeling that comes through a believer, and say, since it is “Christ in us”… Such as, with your comments on “self-centeredness”.. You mention how Christ could desire us to have some form of self-conciousness, and our preconceptions of what that is or isn’t could be standing in our way. But, then, how do you rectify that with the clear passages in the other scriptures, where Paul is talking to believers, such as Colossians 3, where after discussing that we have died and been raised with Christ, he then immediately, in the light of that, says to “put to death therefore”, and, later, “you must rid yourself” of these things… Elsewhere in Galatians, he clearly delineates that the “works of the flesh are obvious”. And, finally, in Romans 8, where he is clearly writing to believers by the word “Brothers” (v12), says that if “we” (brothers) live according to the flesh, that is, don’t cleanse ourselves by the power of the Spirit with and put to death the deeds thereof, we will die… I don’t find your writing in keeping with the larger context of what the scriptures are getting at… ……………………………………………………………………..
Thank you for writing. You sure do draw some immediate conclusions about what I am “trying” to do. I kind of get stopped right there, because you don’t first point out where I may be misunderstanding something, according to you, but just right off question my motivations — “trying to sanitize every feeling.” I could only have a sinister reason for doing so, because I would be leading people into unrighteousness. Do I know you? Do you know me? Have you read any of my other writings on this blog, or have you drawn your conclusions, including my “writing [not being] in keeping with the larger context of scripture …,” just based on this one article? I’m just curious.
Anyway, as far as your objections, I understand them completely, and speak of all those things one way or another in other writings on this blog. I really don’t think I can say much more to you in the moment. I would be glad to discuss them with you if you have an interest, but given what seem to me your already drawn conclusions about “what I’m trying to do” and my writings … but still, if you are interested in any further dialogue other than debate, I would be glad to do so.
From the reader:
Hello, Fred. I appreciate your moderate reply.. After reading a couple more of your articles, I come to the same conclusion as I did on reading this one.. While I often tend to come to similar conclusion about the authority of living by the Spirit in the heart of the believer, that this is the one and only life there is in Christ, and to live by any other authority is to be misdirected, it is also completely apparent that this same doctrine, in the heart of a nominal or false believer is often misdirected. Now, that in no way invalidates your doctrine (or mine), that some are false, “tares” even, it only confirms it. However, it does not, in my opinion, address every aspect of the teachings of Jesus….
That is… Consider His statements in the sermon on the mount, Matt 5-7, considering that he is talking FROM The place of living by and being guided only by the Spirit within, he says that whoever breaks the least of the commandments and teaches others to do so is considered the least in the Kingdom, and whoever keeps and teaches them is the greatest…
See here, there are a few parts to this… First, the “commandments”, and their keeping. Next, I see that there are the greater and the lesser, even least, in the Kingdom.
So… The logic goes like this.. The Holy Spirit wrote the Law of Moses.. It was followed wrong by the teachers of Israel, so that went forward, stumbled, and fell back. They claimed they followed, but they didn’t, and hypocritically claimed their righteousness. However, this is the same Spirit that is said to guide us. This is the totallity of the Kingdom, as you describe, the life of the Spirit. It follows, however, that the life of the Spirit will only be in accordance with the Spirit, namely holiness, and that, as another facet of the same, will result, when perfectly lived, in the person living by the Spirit of Christ perfectly, that they will then live out the SPIRIT of the law of Moses, because, well, they are one and the same Spirit. The same outward “effect”, then, but a fulfilled without looking one iota at the original law, or the “book”, at all, in some cases..
But, the important catch is this… What about those who are the “least” in the Kingdom? Well, they are those who are not fully living by the Spirit… I see an interesting corollary, played out in the SotM [Sermon on the Mount]. Jesus clearly lists adultery (with lust), murder (with anger), and all these sins, and reiterates them in the New Covenant, as He is talking about the Kingdom. So, we see, that who ever breaks a command, that is, the spirit of the command, which is why Jesus could eat and heal on the Sabbath, when the spirit of the command is broken, one is by nature not living out the Spirit within at that point. When it becomes a point of doctrine, that they are teaching against the leading of the Spirit, therefore, which is evidenced by HOW THEY LIVE, they prove that, in that area at least, while they have the Spirit, in that area, and as it manifests to others, they are NOT following the Spirit. You can tell how well you are living by the Spirit by how well your life matches up to, well, the Spirit of the Law of Moses…. Not necessarily the physical requirements, as many of those, including the feasts, are merely types of Christ, and worshipping Him. We do not sacrifice animals, because we accept Christ, thus, the law of Moses is fulfilled in our worship of Christ.
Now, if the cup is clean, the outside will be clean as well.. What this teaching does is exactly Matthew 7:21 and on…. That is, on hearing it, you can either reject it, and you will see your life shipwreck in storms, or it will force you to “dig down deep” (Luke 6:48), until you find the bedrock, so that you are continually and only living and abiding in that Spirit, called Christ, the Rock. If you are willing to go deep, you will find, whatever it is within that prevents the 30, 60, or 100 fold harvest of the Kingdom of righteousness.
So, since Jesus says plainly that there are those who are less, and even LEAST in the Kingdom, and that this is directly tied to the behavior that the life produces, it bears to reason, therefore, most especially, your rationalization away of being close to or far away from the Lord is most certainly in error. This, then, is the whole of it. If you walk by the Spirit, you will not obey the deeds of the flesh, but if you walk by the flesh, you will reap corruption. The choice is still ours, even as Paul indicated that “you must rid yourself”.
Again, trying to stay out of the realms of debate…
I still feel the line of reasoning I hear is outside the example of scripture. I agree that it is Christ in us, but I disagree that it is therefore impossible to have something of the old flesh or old nature still direct us, even to our great hurt and peril, way from the leading of Christ. Let me offer this passage for analysis…
Paul, I believe, wrote that elders must not be recent converts, lest they fall into conceit, and be snared the same way the devil was. Here, there was consideration of the maturity of the believer, lest they get into a wrong attitude. First, that conceit was clearly wrong, not of the Spirit of Christ, and was a fruit of the Devil, not of God. Second, maturity was the safeguard, that, those further along would see more clearly that it was Christ within them, and BECAUSE of that, they would rely upon it, trust in it alone, and stay out of that evil pride. Now, that almost proves your point, if you were willing to say that as long as you stay out of pride and stay in the perspective that it is all Christ within, but it remains mentioned that there is still one sin you can fall into, namely pride, and one example seems sufficient to disprove the whole argument, which is saying that it is completely “Him”. In this example, and there are others, there were obvious practical steps taken (no new converts to eldership) to help the belivers stay, how shall we put it, “focused in Christ”…
Reply from me:
Well brother, you say many things. I like how you give me a chance to come out of my “error” (“almost prove my point”) “if I say as long as you stay out of pride, etc.” Well, thanks for that.
We are speaking from two different perspectives. You have written to me using terms like “prove my point” and “disproves your argument,” etc., and I am not trying to prove anything or overcome in an argument. Truth needs no defense nor proving.
As I said, we are seeing, I believe, from different perspectives. Many things you have assumed I am saying or meaning you have incorrectly understood me, and therefore objected to things I am not saying or meaning.
Again, however, since I am not trying to prove anything or promote an “argument” of my view of scripture, I see no reason to defend myself and what I have said. I went back and read “Shedding,” since I wrote it quite a while ago and hadn’t read it for a long time. I did not see anything in it that I would take back or say differently.
You speak of “life in the Spirit” and thus, “not fulfilling the lust of the flesh,” and certainly that is the heart of what I am giving. But the real heart is a personal discovery, by the revelation of the Spirit, of “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”
Everything I say is based on what I live and have lived for a long time, which is simply that “the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works,” and also, “I and my Father are one,” and also “What things soever the Son seeth the Father do, the same doeth the Son likewise.” My whole life, every moment of every day, is based upon the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
And as the Son prayed we would be “one” with Him and the Father in the same way He is “one” with the Father, therefore His confession is ours, if we’ll take it, “I and my Father are one.”
Likewise, as Paul said and through many years’ walk I have seen and testify to the truth of it, that our “conversation” (state, office, manner of life, conduct) is in heaven.” Meaning, to me, as I have inwardly discovered by the Spirit Who lives in me and testifies of Christ in me outward to the world, that I live based on the “life which came down from heaven,” the Life Jesus said that He was and “how” He lived, and know by experience that “he that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Now, brother, many years ago I “apprehended” that idea, concept if you will, of this truth, and went one step beyond just thinking it was truth, to believing it and trusting God to produce the “truth” or “experience” of it. It was nearly 30 years ago I took that by faith, and for years and years saw no “visible” evidence of its truth. Nevertheless it stayed in me intimately during all the time of wandering around. Just cast seed and water as the Spirit gives it to you. Believing one day there will be a crop. And now I am seeing an increase in the outer even as for years I only saw it inwardly. But during that time of apparent “no fruit,” the Spirit was teaching me Himself the Spirit life and the walk of faith. He is really the only One Who can teach it. Men help us, but only the Spirit brings it to life. Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase. I have seen that truth with my eyes.
Lest I go on with “testimony,” I’ll just finish with Jesus’ word on what a Spirit-led person is like, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
The key to understanding that scripture is the little word, “is.” So IS every one that is born of the Spirit.
Thank you for your efforts to help me out. I am not being facetious, I mean it. I know you come from a good heart and I liked the word, “fire” you used. Yep, I can tell you are one of God’s firebrands! Wonderful! I am all for that.
But I’ll just finish with this. I used to live pretty much by your understanding you have been trying to get across to me, so I completely understand it, as I said in my first to you. You might want to look further into what I am saying, because you haven’t really even reached the heart of it in your “arguments.” I believe there is something yet for you to see in this issue. For me, to take the “understanding” you are presenting, would be a denial of what the Father has shown me through the Spirit when He brought me out of that understanding into an inner knowing of being “one” with the Father. I “found” that when I lost my life. (He was the instigator.) As long as I was “in charge” of myself ultimately, remembering to yield at the right moments, resisting at the right moments, self-judging my “progress” by how my life “looks” on the outside, with me trying to be the ultimately responsible party to figure out the devil’s voice from the Lord’s or “my own,” and to become a “hundred folder” and not wanting to be one of the “Least,” all of that I identify with, even down to the Hebrews 11 statement that they would not take deliverance because they desired a “better resurrection.” Yep, all that, that was me! Everything you have said. But I was weighed in the balances and found wanting, and finally had to lay down and die, telling the Lord I could not do it anymore, and simply QUIT, saying, “I can’t do it, if it’s going to get done [yield to the Spirit and resist the devil] YOU’LL have to do it, I can’t, I quit!”
Blasphemy? No, Life came! It was already there, but I had somewhat missed it in all my “busy-ness” trying to live a life worthy of heavenly rewards. “I AM your Life,” the Lord says, “Rest in me.” “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” “Be still, and know that I am God.” That was 31 years ago, and it has only gotten clearer and more certain to me as each day has passed.
Anyway, brother, bless you!