To listen to an audio of this article: http://www.spreaker.com/user/fred_pruitt/the_mys_will_of_god_part_two_issues
By Fred Pruitt
“And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:32-35)
“But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain [which one] did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first.” (Matt 21:28-31)
When part one came out a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t even have an idea for part two yet. I just figured it would show up when it was time. And it did, in the feedback I got from the previous article (see below). The questions raised, the issues pointed out, have been the catalysts to bring out this second part.
Some version of the words or concept of “the Will of God,” is used in speech and writing, all the time all over the place, in the world and in faiths other than Christian. Even so, I think it may be one of the least understood truths of God, despite its vernacular usage. But I believe we can still gain some understanding of it, especially since we “live and move and have our existence IN Him,” and one of the things He “wills” toward us, is that we would perceive His will, because it is the only source of our own personal liberty, and of the Love that directs it.
Below is a list of questions or issues touched on when we speak of “the will of God.” Some of them are from readers and others I put in because in my experience they are the frequent questions that almost everyone has. They are in no particular order, listed just as they occurred to me while typing them. This is sort of the milieu of questions that constantly come up, and I just made a list of some of them, really to set the stage. I may or may not comment on each one, but if I do not, after we have this penned down, I think it will be clear what is the one principle that stands behind all the issues.
- What is “Sovereignty?”
- Is all the “bad stuff” God’s will?
- How can God “mean” evil to be evil?
- If His “will” is done automatically, why pray? The Lord’s Prayer says “that Your will may be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” If His will is already being done, why would we pray that prayer?
- If Christians sin, is that God’s will?
- Or, are Christians really able to commit sins, but in a sense get a “free pass” on just about anything, while people still “in the world” are held accountable for their misdeeds?
- Why would Jesus say that only those who do the will of God are His family, if God’s will is already being done by everyone in the world?
- War, famine, violence, hatred, murder, judgment, fear, suspicion, wariness – all those things that go on in the world – are THEY God’s will? How could it be God’s will that millions of men, women and children on the face of the earth are in the most extreme and dire circumstances, be it war, famine, disease, poverty, enslavement, degradation, that there is such a burden of unending and continuous suffering beyond the imaginings of those who have never seen it firsthand, that almost shuts down the individual mind because it cannot comprehend the enormity of it, all that is God’s will? C’mon! God is Love! How could that be love?
- How can anything be “judged” if it is all His will?
- If God’s will is for me to be “sick,” wouldn’t I be thwarting God’s will if I sought help from a physician?
In my previous article, “The Mysterious Will of God – Part 1,” I said that we are always walking in God’s will, that ALL do His will, in either light or darkness, since He works “all things,”according to His own will. (Eph 1:11). It was this assertion that some directly challenged, evidenced by some of the issues listed above.
In a sense, what we are discussing in this moment, is the key to everything! However, there seems to be an inherited aversion on the part of many Christians, for any statement or belief that seems to “link” God in any way with any responsibility toward evil. I have seen people get all hot and bothered over this, seemingly out to protect God’s “good” reputation. (We never need to “defend” God. He can take care of that quite nicely Himself.)
The fallacy of that position, attributing to God only those things that we consider “good,” leaves a great big giant hole in the universe, with billions of “loose ends,” that were made so by the incessant running around of the devil, running amok and unchecked in God’s “good” universe, with God rather impotent to keep him reigned in. It also nullifies everybody’s (including mine) famous port-in-the-storm scripture, Romans 8:28. If God is not the instigator and mover of all, then He cannot make the promise that Paul recorded, because all those “loose ends” that the devil made are still out there, running amok, doing their own evil thing. If God is only in charge of “the good,” then the “evil” remains evil and still retains its evil effects, since God has nothing to do with either its cause or effects. It makes the universe a far more dangerous place, because there would be no place of safety in it, even in God! It actually puts “evil” on equal par with God. (Do not make the mistake of interpreting any of this to come out that God does, or that God, as He is God and Love, “wills” evil. Read on and I believe this will make sense.)
It has been the case for me, and for countless others, that I did not come into full liberty, until by grace through the Spirit I was able to see God All in all – in light or darkness, in good or evil. That is what we mean by the “single eye” of faith: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matt 6:22,23)
“Single” means the eye sees only one thing, continuously penetrating all the way through every appearance and the lying assertions of self-will – to Christ (God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit)! Of course we are meaning an inner sight, in which we walk by faith, because the natural eyes cannot penetrate beyond the shell of outer appearances. The inner sight can penetrate beyond the external shell of appearances, and it does, because it is the Lord’s own sight within us.
(At this point, I want to pause a moment to say that what I write here, cannot be done without a certain amount of “fear and trembling.” No, I do not mean I am afraid of the Lord or afraid I’ll misspeak, but only that we are treading on Holy Ground, because we are considering things quite beyond all of us. Our explanations or expressions of our understanding, are at best crude, compared to the glory to which they point.
(The Lord gives us revelation and insights, and they are our validity as we walk through life. However, we see and speak only glimpses, really, of the Whole, because when one is a tree in a forest or a branch on a vine, we have no vantage point from which we could observe the whole forest or vine.
(Except the Lord by His Spirit opens us to these realities, we are as dumb about the Lord as goldfish are of the person who comes and puts fish food in their bowl everyday. They just know that every once in a while a shape approaches and then little bits of fish food begin appearing on the top of their world. If goldfish could talk or think (perhaps they do, I really don’t know), would they speculate as to the attributes of the “Great Shape” that appears with the food? Would they develop sects over time because of differing and conflicting points of view about what the “Great Shape” is, who deserves the food, how you get it, etc., and thus cause division and opposition among themselves, about things of which they have no firsthand knowledge whatsoever? Who would do such a thing?
(I feel like one of those goldfish sometimes, and indeed, except the Lord do it, I would know no more than a goldfish. Unlike the goldfish, however, we are not separated from our “Great Shape,” because His Spirit has come to dwell in us and has grafted us into the Vine which is Christ! Not only that, but in James he tells us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (1:5). So even though in our outer “natural” man we cannot penetrate fully into the spiritual, we do receive this inwardly in the Spirit, so that we may know God in ourselves and that we are taught of His Spirit.
(In that vein it becomes apparent that eventually our faith assumes an authority, that is, we now see the Lord has put out “double-mindedness,” in which I walked for a long time. It was believing the Lord, while not really believing the Lord. Not that I was trying to pull the wool over my eyes or God’s, it was just that was as far as I could go for a time. Like the man that said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:23,24). It was at least sincere.
(But after a while I dropped my belief in my unbelief, and things began to clear up. Linda Bunting dropped by the office where I was working one day, and I do not remember what prompted her reaction to me, but she pointed her finger at me (to those who have experienced that pointy finger, I need say no more), and told me that the double-minded man would receive nothing of the Lord, or something to that effect. Do I believe God, or my unbelief? In other words, “unbelief” had become a “thing” to me, and one does battle with a “thing,” to overcome it. However, if something is non-existent, but only an imaginary concept, then there is nothing to do battle over. The battle is the Lord’s! Who can withstand Him? HE has won the Day! Unbelief – what unbelief?!!?
(What do I mean by that? Only that one choice swallows up the other. “Belief” may lead to faith, but faith is a choice to receive what is given. Belief may “believe” in it, in an abstract sense, but faith apprehends and receives it firsthand.
Now, to get us started, I’m going to list a few familiar scripture passages:
- “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph 1:11)
- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
- “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph 4:6)
- “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45: 5-7)
- “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:24-28)
The first thing we can see, from the first two passages above, is that the Spirit unequivocally states that the Father works everything in the universe, everything, according to the “counsel” of His own will. “All things,” Paul wrote.
In man’s terms, I think the Lord has a plaque on his desk that reads, “The Buck stops here!” (I think he picked that up from Harry Truman!) I suppose it is an American expression, to “pass the buck,” but if there are any who do not know what that means, “passing the buck” means to refuse responsibility for something (usually for some foul-up or something negative), claiming it is the job or responsibility of someone else. For Harry Truman to say, “The buck stops here,” meant that he was taking personal responsibility for everything the government did while he was President of the United States.
It is the same with the Father. God is not sitting on His Throne in heaven wringing His hands, wondering what to do about all the stuff going on in the human world. He was not caught off-guard when Lucifer rebelled and took his legions, one-third of the angels, with him. Nor was He behind a step when He just happened to not be close by (in perception) when the Serpent tempted Eve. Could not the Lord God have “stepped into” the situation with Eve and the Serpent, reminding Eve of her truth, and stopped the devil in his tracks, thus foiling his evil machinations at the outset, so that “The Fall” would have never occurred? Would that not have been better, so that we would not have had the sad, tragic and violent history of humanity we have had up until this present moment? Why didn’t He, many ask.
Yes, He could have intervened. Nothing is impossible to Him. However, He did not intervene. Instead, He was noticeably absent in their confrontation with the Serpent and the Tree. It is as if Adam and Eve were left to fend for themselves, to contend with a foe far superior in every way, for ALL the marbles! Considering the innocence and childish understanding in which Adam and Eve walked, and the crafty, subtle, “I’m your friend,” glad-handing of the devil, the outcome is a no-brainer! God may have rolled the dice with Adam and Eve, but He knew how it would go! (Which is why when they sinned, the Lord God already had the remedy ready “standing by,” so to speak – He Who Is the Bruiser of the Serpent, as the Seed of Eve, who would one day be born as Jesus of Nazareth and fulfill the role of crushing the Serpent’s head!!! [Gen 3:15])
While they did know the commandment, “Thou shalt not eat of that tree,” still, they did not have the “stuff” they needed to resist the temptation when it came. They neither knew themselves, nor God in themselves as their Life and Power, for if they had, they would have known the resources in the Spirit to overcome the temptation, and quite possibly could have done it. Instead, however, they were more like Peter who thought by his own determined will he could keep himself from denying being with Jesus, but did it anyway because he could not help himself. His fear overcame his determination. Peter did not yet know the Spirit that night in Gethsemane, and neither did Adam and Eve on that fateful day in the Garden. And just as Peter “went down,” so did they.
It could not have been any other way. I do not say that because they were “made” to conform to this plan to bring forth the sons of God (conscious, safe sons, who know who they are), which included at its beginning their Fall. I say it could not have been any other way because it did not happen any other way. What they did, they did. All the parties – the Lord God, the serpent, Adam and Eve – simply did what the situation brought in the moment. I can say it works with God’s “overall plan” simply because it happened, and because, “He works all things after the counsel of His own will.” “What ifs” have no weight, nor rarely any need of consideration.
“Our” story actually begins with Adam and Eve out of the Garden. We know firsthand the effects of the Fall, but have no imagination of the true nature of the Eden-Paradise out of which we came. After we have seen that the first major “choice” our forbears made was to disobey the commandment to eat not from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, now we can ask, was the temptation by the serpent, and their subsequent disobedience, “God’s will?”
Let’s look first at the setting into which Adam and Eve were introduced, and the things “behind the scenes” of which they were most likely unaware.
The first thing I want to mention is the will of the Father. And the primary will of the Father is to beget the Son, as the “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power.”(Heb 1:3). All the manifest “potential” the Father sees in invisibility, all creation and His Eternal Purpose, comes via, out of, through, the Son. He is the first point of expression, the foundation of all the universe, whom Paul says in Colossians is the One in Whom the whole creation is sustained, even saying, “by Him all things consist,” (Col 1:17), saying all things are “made of” Him! And He is the Same One Who came to us as the Man Jesus Who is called Christ, in the bodily fullness of the Godhead, to accomplish all the Father purposed from the Eternal.
The Father, in Paul’s terms, is “invisible,” and Christ, “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” (Col 1:15). Paul writes it again to Timothy: “God, who quickeneth all things … dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting.”
What this means is that there is no “manifestation” of the Father except the Son. There is nothing the Father wills except the Son. He is the WORD, the LOGOS, of God, and all “particularity” (individual being) is out from Him, as further “words” contained in THE WORD. In the One WORD God spoke, was the opening of all things through the Son. The Son is the brightness of His glory, meaning that all that He is, He expresses by this Son. There is no reserve; everything the Son has the Father has given Him, and the Father has given Him all things without exception.
If we could step back from that picture a moment, I think it would be helpful to consider what is this “Son” that the Father desires to manifest with such a great desire, that He moves Himself within Himself out of the quietude of eternal stillness, where He is sufficient in Himself in all things, and has no maker or source before Him nor is there anything that could move or influence Him for He has no need of anything, since He is Himself All, in all.
Jacob Boehme says there are certain things that we are not to consider of the Godhead, because, as he said, “It confuses us.” One, is to consider “Where did God come from?” or, “How did He come to be?” It breaks the mind. Too much consideration of those questions could make the mind permanently broken.
We cannot penetrate beyond the simple statement, “God Is.” Or, as He described Himself to Moses and through Jesus, “I AM that I AM.”
Still, He has not only told us that “He is,” but by His mercy and grace He has made known to us what “kind” of God He is. He is Love, the God of “other-love,” that is. The Love of God is outgoing, not seeking to elevate itself but to elevate its object, to reproduce that same outward-going love generation after generation without end. As such He is blessing, and light, and wisdom, loving-kindness, grace, mercy, and all other “attributes” of God, manifest in the Son.
He is the Omniscient, Omnipresent, All-wise All-loving and All-powerful God, Whom nothing can withstand, but – He has a limitation! I had always believed God could do anything, but the scripture says He has a limitation – He cannot lie! (Titus 1:2). He “cannot” lie, because He is love. We might respond, well, sure, that’s one of His attributes, but this “attribute” limits Him. Why? Because it implies a choice, a division. When one says yes to one thing, one also says no to another. To lie is to be for oneself, which is the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of “I am for me.” To lie is to twist truth for one’s own gratification with no regard of any other but oneself. God eternally spoke, “I will not be that. I will not lie. I AM Truth!” Therefore, He cannot lie!
We must (or I believe we must) conclude that this limitation is Self-Imposed. What other influences were there, except that which He knew only in Himself?
Another very vital thing we can see here, which is in some sense the foundation of everything else, is the issue of “alternative” choices, sets of mind, eternal will, whatever anyone wants to call it. To say God cannot lie, implies some unmanifest possibility that He could lie, and to which He forever says, “No!”, to that possibility. If the opposite does not exist as a possibility, there is no need to say no to it. Because of His eternal, “Yes,” to other-love and, “No,” to self-for-self, in Him it is a possibility that forever cannot come to manifestation in Him. But it nevertheless remains as a possibility in all the sentient creatures of God, especially men and to a degree, angels, that all the “negatives” to which God has forever declared in Himself, “No,” still exist in the mystery of possibility.
Which is why Lucifer could rebel and become Satan, which God foreknew and foresaw. In the heart of God the issue had been eternally settled, from eternal to eternal, through all the ages and eons, that God is love and He cannot lie. But it nevertheless remained in the inner freedom of God as an alternative possibility, and Satan seized on the opportunity in his own freedom as a creature of the God Who is Love and not the God of compulsion, to attempt to supplant God from His place in his own being, by willing to “be like Him,” and to ascend above God, in self-might, not in other-love but in self-love, which did not exist in the Godhead but was awakened in the creature by his own self-imagining and self-hypnosis to his own beauty and glory. (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:13-15).
I think this is the very heart of things, not just with God in this “Grand scale” picture, but also in our being as well, because what it is getting to is the self itself, the human self and its coming into its true “own” (a gift of God), which is a finding and living of the “life hidden with God in Christ,” while at the same time finding full acceptance of our humanity also in Christ, which we will see more as we progress in this.
If we see that the Father is eternally begetting the Son as the Express Image of Who the Father is, then we can also begin to see that the Image the Father expresses in the Son, is out of this same self-Imposed limitation, and the desire in the Father toward the manifestation of this eternally begotten Son, begins to bring to substance the purpose, desire, and drive in the Father, not just to be “A” Son, but a particular Son, one Who is His Image of Love, and therefore the expression (the Son) must have form and definition to express the invisibility of the Father – the Spirit.
Form and definition then require some molding and shaping and using this and discarding that. Two things we easily see that describes the Father’s inner truth toward the manifestation of the Son: first, that He cannot lie, and second, that in the heart of God in the Throne from the foundations of the earth there is a “Lamb as it had been slain.” (Rev 5:6).
Both of these are indicative of what “kind” of God we have. A GOD WHO ALREADY HAD THE SOLUTION AT HAND BEFORE ANY OFFENSE OCCURRED!
Not only that, but even more astounding, is that this High Almighty Omnipresent etc God, who dwells above all things and nothing can touch Him nor is He moved by anything, to either His detriment or His good, for He already Is All and nothing can be added to Him nor taken away from Him – that GOD took it upon Himself to BE the answer!
He did not create a new creature and assign His New Super Creature to accomplish the salvation of the world. Angels could not handle it, either. Nor did He look among men to see which one could do the job. None of them were qualified. And yet, salvation had been lost by man, because the First Man could not stand in the test and fell. However, since by Man, man fell, it had to be by Man, that man was raised again. There had to be a second Man, to come to restore the First into the Second. (The last shall be first.)
(That is why I do not discard Adam, as some do, as if Adam could never be restored, and then identifying that irredeemable Adam as a nature, as in “Adamic nature.” “Adam” merely means “Man,” and God created man “good” and He has not cast aside His creation, with the introduction of the Second Adam, Second Man. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). The Son of Man came to take back that which had been stolen by the devil. He came to restore Adam (us) to our original glory, and then some! If we cast out Adam, we cast out ourselves.
(It was not “Adam’s” nature that was the cause of sin in us; it was the devil’s! “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44). The scripture never makes any reference to “Adam” as our nature, i.e., our inner indwelling sin. While Romans says, “As in Adam all die,” it does not mean we were filled with Adam, but that we inherited that which Adam became, which was two-fold.
(First he fell spiritually, out of Paradise, because the outcome of eating from the Tree was that Adam and Eve and all born from them would be infected with the same infection Adam and Eve had taken into themselves and then released into the world through all their progeny. That “infection” was an invasion in their inner sanctuary by a false usurper, which they took into themselves by “eating.” That usurper, the devil, hiddenly inserted himself in the place of God in the inner selves of every human being born of Adam. He brought with him his self-deception of independence, pride of self to be as God, and where there had been peace and rest within as long as they were in Paradise, their new harsh taskmaster brought with him, into them, the discord, fear and wanton need of self-for-self in all their ways, so that after a time, “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” [Psalm 14:2,3]
(It was a change of spirit, and not merely a slipping into “soul,” but a living wickedness within each of us until we come into the new birth. We did not just become ignorant; no, instead we each became the abomination of desolation, because thieves and robbers had come into our temple, the temple of ourselves – spirit, soul and body – and replaced God’s Love Life in us with a life of self-for-self, living for me and not you, which is the devil’s death-life in us. It astounded me one day to realize that the same wickedness that resided in Adolf Hitler which was responsible for some of the greatest suffering in all the history of the world, was in my heart as well, before I came to know the Lord. I was never more righteous than Hitler! The same evil one that drove him lived in me and drove me, too.
(Secondly, he fell in body and soul. Having been cut off from the Spirit of God, they fell immediately into the deceptive trap of the false spirit, and lost all sense of spirit-knowledge and understanding. Satan had not only hidden himself in man’s fallenness, but he also cut them off from any understanding of spirit, and brought them into an “earth-only self-only” consciousness, with all the attendant needs and issues that spring from body [physical being] and soul [sense of ego, intellectual reason and passionate emotion, with special attention for the preservation, pleasure and comfort of the body, which is directly tied into the soul, because the soul feels it all, and needs the workings of the body for its pleasure – food, sex, accomplishment, adulation of others, etc.]
(The body also fell completely into earthliness, and no longer had the protection of Paradise to shield them from the harshness of the now “cursed” earth. In Eden they had no bodily needs, because they ate out of the Light of God and Fruit out of Paradise and were wholly satiated with it. They also had total “protection” from the harshness of the elements, and nothing to fear from disease, insects, predatory animals, etc.
But once out of Eden, that protection left them, and all manner of foul things began to spring up in the earth because the Man who had been sent to care for and till the ground of the earth, to have dominion over it and all that was in it, fell out of his place, and could not exercise his dominion, which would have been the dominion of God, in which Paradise would have spread over the face of the whole earth, with nothing in it to hurt or to harm. Instead, in Adam’s fall the whole world lost its harmony and fell with Adam, and he became a victim of the world he formerly would have ruled. The body became wholly earthly, lost all its Paradisaical image and power, and man became what he is now and has been ever since, a lost spirit-person who does not know himself, and only knows to seek to scrape a living out of the cursed earth, by the sweat of his brow. And since self-for-self reigned in the world, as indeed it still does, with every man suspicious of his neighbor, the world became over the millennia a miasma of violence and oppression, of the strong over the weak, the law of the jungle at work everywhere – Kill, or be killed; eat, or be eaten!
(Thankfully, however, God also left many witnesses of Himself in nature and in the race of man, and still cries every day, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” [Isaiah 1:18])
In what I can only say crudely because of my human limitation, God knew that the only way to be what He had decided to be, the Son as the “Lamb slain,” who cannot lie, Who is eternally given for blessing and light and joy and the eternal purposes of Love, was to bring forth the Son in visible form, as a real man among men, in our world.
All of this we have been discussing, is really just the setup for the goal of this writing. And that is to explain, according to our understanding, how we can say God accomplishes His will in all things, when to us we cannot see how God could “mean” or “purpose” the evil.
He does it like this, as witnessed in Revelation: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” (Rev 22:11).
And also, according to this: “With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.” (Ps 18: 25,26)
Freedom is at the heart of everything godly. The New Testament as well as the old, promises freedom, liberty, and Paul exhorts us to stand fast in the freedom of Christ into which we have entered. And freedom, the right true freedom, we might also say is synonymous with love, because true love cannot operate any other way than in freedom. Like the Sting song says, “If you love somebody, set them free!”
And we were born, were begotten, out of that same freedom of God in our innermost being, our spirits. The scripture says, “the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” (Prov 20:27). That means that our spirits are the potentially heavenly part in us, for we were not born for just the earth, but for heaven and earth (heaven in earth).
Long ago I realized that man is in microcosm what God is in macrocosm, that is, as Paul said, “we are his offspring,”(Acts 17:28,29), and that is the “spirit part” of us. What I mean by that, is that since God is within us in His fullness, for wherever He IS, He is not a “part” of Himself but the Total of Himself. Everything about the Godhead and time and the eternal is in God, in me. So as I see His Life manifest in me, the Spirit’s wisdom uses that to teach me of God in myself.
And this spirit part of us, desires freedom and a return to its source, because that is freedom. Let’s examine this a minute. When I am speaking of “true freedom,” I am meaning freedom in its true sense, which is not simply being able to do any and every thing one wants, or anything else along those lines, which is chaos, but instead true freedom gives us necessary choices where we decide in a foundational sense what we will be, who we want to be, and whether we will be God’s instruments of love, or Satan’s instruments of self-elevating self. Of course, the choice is rarely presented exactly in those terms, but no matter what the trappings they may be, at heart that is the choice of choices and in one way or another everyone faces it.
Jesus said, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:20,21).
I wondered about that passage for years, because it sounds like those who come to the Light are already “doing truth,” before they come, and they come into the light to confirm it, so to speak. But if we are “sin” before we come, how could that be? One day I saw, that this is the same divergence mentioned in the passages above – we divide according to what we desire and want to be.
This goes right into the heart of the issue, because that is exactly the issue, what will be the heart, “our” heart? Outside the kingdom, we are darkness and our hearts are wicked, because they are indwelt by a wicked source. In the new birth, we are changed in heart, so that our new heart is Christ, and His Desires we desire to do.
Again, the issue is the heart, and what originates there:
“Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life!” (Pr 4:23).
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt 12:34).
“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. … But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” (Matt 15:11,17-20);
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”(Pr 23:6,7).
God’s will is freedom, an effluence of freedom in a universe of freedom. We have only one basic choice. Do we choose Him, and His life of love outpoured, or do we choose what we think is ourselves, (but Satan in disguise), so that we can look after ourselves? At the point of that choice we may not know that we are transacting with God at first. Something deeper in ourselves than our own minds moves us. We may not hear the Speaking Word at first, or have any clue whatsoever that God is speaking to and drawing us, but are just drawn to a new direction which we find ourselves following.
Let’s think of the Prodigal, with whom we all identify in some way. The very moment of his “turn,” the moment when Luke says he “came to himself,” (Lk 15), and thought of the provision of his father and decided to return, that was the moment all the angels of God met him and there was great rejoicing in heaven, for he who had been lost, had now been found. His arrival home and joyful acceptance by his Father were outcomes of what he discovered in the pig sty. In the pig sty he was justified.
Let us say we were traveling in his country at the same time he came to his senses and began his journey back to the home of his father. As we are walking along the road, our paths meet and join for a short while, and then he is off to his destination while we are off to ours. He was on his way home to his father, but he still had the smell of pigs and excrement about him. His clothes were tattered and he seemed frail and only marginally alive. We might conclude this was a destitute man, with no resources, no place to live, no money, no nothing, someone who had become a derelict because of the life he had lived, and bypass him on our way, never knowing what became of him.
But these appearances deceive us! THIS man is on his way home to his father! Though he does not yet know it, in spirit he is already wearing the robe the father will put on him when he returns. The fatted calf is already being made ready, for the son who has come home to be welcomed into his father’s arms. In the very moment of the turn, the Spirit met him and it was all accomplished there, the die was cast, the concrete set, the Spirit fixed him in His way and set him on the road home to his father, and He has done the same in all of us. (As Paul says, “No man can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit!”)
We manifest what our heart is. If darkness, we manifest darkness, even in the guise of good and light. If light, we manifest light. Jesus said we are the light of the world, and that He is the light of the world. Which is it, or both? In Him, it is both. We are the light that enlightens the world with Christ.
At some point, an individual encounters this divide. He cannot solve it for himself, but there is something in each of us that God has placed there that gives us this choice. It is our freedom, and we can only be real true persons if we are free. Even though at center we say that outside Christ we are wickedness, and I believe the scriptures say this in plain words, there is still also hidden in us this seed of Eve, the “light that lights every man that comes into the world.” It is possible to be “in the world” and under the dominion of “the prince of the power of the air,” as Paul said we all have been at some point, and at the same time hear God calling. We are not at home in darkness, because we were not created for it. We were created for light, to shine light, to be light. Our foundational being is stamped with that desire like a DNA.
It is God’s business, who “hears” and who does not. While salvation and life has been provided for all, the New Testament in no uncertain terms sends warning to those who do not respond. The New Testament in no uncertain terms says some do not hear, some do not respond, and some are even called “the children of the enemy.” In the parable of the wheat and tares, Jesus exhorts us to not try to cut out the “tares” as we might perceive them, but to leave them to come to full growth along with the wheat, and then it will be plain what each is. When they are young and immature they look alike.
And this is where we can see how He works all things after the counsel of His own will. Some might ask, “How can it be God’s will that tares grow up? Or how can it be God’s will that the tares would be thrown into the fire?”
As I said above, God’s will is Freedom. In a sense, I would almost call this “attribute” of God, a “choice” like we mentioned above, where eternally God has chosen to not be a liar. God “decided” that the best environment for anything to work, was an environment of Love based in Freedom. Love does not work with compulsion. Force and intimidation do work, but those are forms the Godhead has rejected, and left that kind of “motivating” to the devil.
When the first one, Lucifer, made that choice between Self-Giving Light and Love, or self-acquiring Might and self-elevation, and chose the way of pride of self, he opened the kingdom of wrath and darkness in himself, for himself and all his legions. That kingdom, the raging fire of consuming self, God had said an eternal “No” to it, and eternally dwells in Light and Gentleness, being nothing but blessing upon blessing. But when Satan became who he became, he was still within the “God in whom we all live and move and have our being,” and he opened that kingdom in creation. Even though he began a timeless campaign to steal, lie, and rob God in everything he set out to do, nevertheless he finds himself, though unaware most likely because he could never admit it, still working in the workings of Him, “who works all things after the counsel of His own will.”
God just changed the way He used him, from what it would have been, to bring about the fulfillment of His Eternal Purposes. Paul tells us we are all vessels, i.e., we are not a complete package in ourselves, but that our body-soul-spirit “form” exists to manifest the working of the inner deity who drives us. A “vessel” is an object that is used to carry something else. A jar is a vessel for liquid, or a cart is a vessel for goods being hauled to market. So a vessel exists not just for itself alone, but to carry, or manifest, another. We are also called “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” and several times in the New Testament we are called temples. In ancient times people went to temples because they thought their god or gods lived there. It was his house. That is the theme in which the NT describes us as “temples.” “Temple of the Living God,” Jeremiah called us. So, just as a human being is a vessel, that which transports something, we are also called “temples,” meaning the place where God, or a god, dwells. Paul says if we are in Christ we are temples of God, of the Spirit, that is, they reside within us, and our glory is not the “house” that we are, but the Living God in the innermost room in the temple. Likewise Jesus tells us in John 15 that we are branches on the “True Vine,” outgrowths if you will of Christ, and as such, we have His Life-Sap running through our being, and our branches bear His fruit.
Conversely, we can be vessels of wrath or dishonor, instead of vessels of mercy or honor, as Paul described in Rom 9:21-23). In other words, we are still vessels, and if we are “of” wrath then God’s “will” toward us “is” wrath, not because God has arbitrarily decided that for us, but because it is the way we have chosen. And in that sense, it is “God’s wrath,” though the wrath does not exist in God or show up in any way in His Kingdom. It is, instead, the inner life of those who seek to save themselves but end up losing themselves. Without the Son to cool the fires of wrath in us (John 3:36), we remain in wrath and express wrath.
The kingdom of wrath first comes from “pride of self,” a desire to ascend over others to build up oneself. Then comes possessive covetousness, in that we see things that others have, and we lust to possess them ourselves – we want them for our own! To hell with them! From that arises the sickness of envy – we see that THEY have what we want and we resent them for having it – we don’t want THEM to have it because WE want it! And then finally hell explodes into its full fury, in rage, anger and wrath, which produces murder and violence and every other abominable thing men have done over the millennia.
But God, through Paul in Romans 9, still calls those “wrong” vessels, His vessels nonetheless. They still accomplish the will and purpose of the Father, though it works in them negatively. To the saints, in every case the workings of evil are the exact right “disturbance” needed to bring forth the purposes of God in that particular situation, by the “negative” bringing forth God’s plan.
The two clearest example of this in scripture are Joseph and his brothers, and Jesus and Judas with the Sanhedrin and Roman authorities. I’ve said it a million times and I may say it a million more until we all see, but the key to seeing with “the single eye” is contained right here in this truth. The “single eye” demands that we see only God’s purposes at work, no matter what “evil” is afoot to demand our attention and thwart our situation or our faith. And Joseph demonstrates this clearer than anyone else in scripture, when he tells his brothers, who sinned grievously against him and their father, by selling Joseph to slave traders heading for Egypt, while telling their father a wild animal had killed him. They had done that out of jealousy for Joseph, who was their father’s favorite, and who also had claimed that God was going to raise him above his brothers and even in father in times to come. So when he showed up to check on them and then go back and “tattle-tale” to their father about their work (as they perceived it), they seized on the opportunity to get rid of him. And every bit of that plan, from its inception to its carrying out, and its effects on Joseph and their father Jacob, was pure evil, pure self-for-self on the part of the sons of Israel.
We know how the story went, that through Joseph’s miraculous rise to power in Egypt, his family, including all his brothers and his father, were able to come from Canaan into Egypt to be fed and safe during the time of the famine. When Jacob finally died, 17 years after they had come into Canaan, afraid of Joseph’s possible retribution, the brothers went to Joseph to reinforce their sorrow and repentance for what they had done to him years before. Joseph by all rights could have demanded of them more than he did. As regent in Egypt, he could even have them put to death at his word, or their wives or children, and no one would have questioned him, for who would not desire that kind of comeuppance for those who had so ill-treated him?
But Joseph does not do that. One thing we must note about Joseph at this point. In every sense, he is “Christ” in this story. Not the “Christ Who came down from heaven,” as if he were some sort of precursor or something. Joseph’s story shows us the grown up Christ in a grown up man. Even as Joseph was made Lord over all the land, second only unto Pharaoh, in the same sense, when we assume our maturity in Christ, possessing our possessions, we become “Lord” over all we survey, too, in the same way Joseph was. Joseph demonstrated that the power of authority is not for self-getting, which is the way of the world, but for self-outpouring. The office of authority makes one a servant, a caretaker, a builder and edifier, of all in the domain. The office exists to pour life out from itself, rather than to make itself fat by pulling everything into itself. That is what Joseph became, and it is who we are in Christ as well.
And in that regard, Joseph was a see-througher! He did not just see the “acts” of God, but he came to know the “ways” of God as well, and the “ways” of God, include letting evil be evil in its doings, in its motivations and desires (let the filthy be filthy still, let the unjust be unjust still), and he MEANS it to be what it is, evil as evil, because God uses it to work the perfect purpose of God – as Joseph told his brothers – “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” (Gen 50:20,21).
He did not entirely let them off the hook, because he plainly stated they had thought evil against him. Certainly there were some consequences for what they had done. But Joseph does not leave it at that. Instead, he sees the bigger picture, the purpose of God that could only have come about because of the particular things Joseph “suffered,” “to save much people alive.” Therefore, it was not really Joseph’s brothers who sent him to Egypt, but God, using the discord of evil, to bring about the salvation of the whole house of Israel.
The other completely clear example in scripture is the crucifixion itself, which in one sense was the blackest event on the blackest day in the history of the earth. Looking at it from that perspective, we can see the whole thing was engineered in its implementation by the devil. The devil was using the Jewish and Roman authorities to kill the son of the “lord of the vineyard,” so that they might take the inheritance for themselves. They fulfilled the very parable Jesus had told to the scribes and Pharisees! They were fulfilling it of their own will and desire! Even Pilate knew the priests had brought Him in and wanted to destroy Him out of envy, but because of his office his part was sealed.
To carry out their plan, they contracted with Judas Iscariot, for 30 pieces of silver, to betray him and lead the guards to him at an opportune moment. John 13 gives us a glimpse into Judas’ heart that night:
“And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God,” (13:2,3), and, “Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.”(13:26,27).
This can leave no doubt. The crucifixion was the devil’s plan, worked out by devilish means, by people who meant evil in their evil.
But what did Jesus say, when finally later in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Peter protests Jesus’ arrest? “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). MY FATHER’S CUP?
But the devil brought the cup!
Yes, He did, and Jesus still called it “my Father’s cup!” Who did it come from? Most immediately, it had come straight from Satan. But Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, stands up and proclaims the crucifixion not to be the work of the devil, but that He was delivered into the hands of the enemy to be killed, “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:23). The blackest, most evil thing ever done in the earth was when “we” (for we all participated both in his killing and in his death and resurrection), all humanity, killed the Lord of glory! And Peter boldly declares that it was done by the determinate, that is, purposeful, conclusive, settled, resolute, counsel of the Father, Who we remind us once more, “works all things after the counsel of His own will.”
What glory this is to see! Without this sight, we can never see wholeness. Everything will always look and be to us incomplete, and if it is “evil,” the only thing we can do is fight it and try to stomp it out, so that it doesn’t overcome and swallow up everything. Every day is a fight, and evil is a strong foe and never gives up!
But when we see through to the truth that even “evil” does not decide its own way, but that God takes the purposes of evil and uses them for the glory of the saints in light, we can then begin to see God All and in all. There is nowhere where He is not victory NOW – even if for the moment the appearances are contrary. If there is “evil” afoot, be assured it will be thwarted in its own selfish purposes, but instead its efforts to steal, destroy and kill will backfire and lead to the opposite of evil’s intents, and instead work out to the glory of God, who is above all, through all, and in us all.