by Fred Pruitt
1-Q: What about thoughts? What if we find ourselves cherishing “evil” thoughts?
1-A: Thoughts are just thoughts. We say Christ has us, even our thoughts. I just let the Spirit work it all out, and neither praise nor condemn myself for the crazy notions that run through my head like Niagara Falls.
As far as “cherishing,” I assume you mean stopping on one particular thought (temptation) and “dallying” with it a while. In other words, something gets your attention more than the normal, and it rolls around in our brain in some way. What your question “is that already sin?” at heart is asking, “is temptation sin?” The reason I say that is because if you are not drawn to something, it cannot be a temptation to you. If it has no effect, it is not temptation. It pulls us out. But it is not sin to consider it because one really cannot help it sometimes. You’re just drawn, your attention has been diverted in that direction for a season. I trust the Spirit to pull the plug on any diversions and trust Him to keep me on the path. What hope have I if He does not? But, I know He does! Everything has its perfect purpose in the Lord, even what we might call “sinful” thoughts. It may cause us to be aware of something we need to be onto, through the “negative” of the “sinful” thought.
I’ll just finish my “short” answer with this. Thoughts, in and of themselves, can neither be righteous nor sinful. They’re just “thoughts,” and exist, at that point, only in the realm of possibilities. That’s all they are, until we put “will” or “intent” into the picture, like when Jesus said, “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery already in his heart.” The key here is not the “looking on a woman,” but the intent, to “lust after her,” there’s the sin. (Matt 5:28). The same thing in James when he says, “when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.” Again, the sin is not the temptation itself, but “marrying it,” so to speak, owning it and saying in yourself, “Yes, that’s what I want!” in a decisive way.
But either way, we have no other choice to trust the Lord and believe in His mercy and grace, because it is only by Him that we overcome temptation and walk free in the Spirit. “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
2-Q: I’m so weary in my spiritual life. I think I despair that I will ever get there. But I am beginning to see how Christ is my Life, and have been uplifted just on that alone.
2-A: I couldn’t be more edified or glad that you have seen these things! Yes, for most of us it is almost like being born again, again! It is sort of a new birth, because in our beginnings we did not know these things and had to grow up in the Spirit to receive them at God’s appointed time.
Our first entry into the kingdom is mostly about ourselves, and our “need” of Christ, in whatever desperation we may been in that brought us to that point. We mostly only knew outer life, nothing of Spirit life, and really nothing of Christ’s life in us.
But the Spirit caused us to know we had been rescued out of the mire in some way, and we are now living a new life. And like we always had done before, the first thing we consider when we come into Christ, most of us anyway, is the desire to “order” our lives after this new truth. Most of us do not know that manifesting Christ is the job of the Spirit, so pretty much all of us set out on the road to “become more holy,” in whatever Christian environment we may be in, Catholic, Protestant, independents, etc., because the Spirit does not know denominations. But it’s pretty much across the board, common in and to all, that we set about to become pleasing to God, and God winks at this for a time, because He knows the only way we can find out that we cannot build the house, is for us to try to do it ourselves, only at some point to find our house crumbling beneath our feet.
All to God’s perfect purpose! This is how we grow up into Him. That conditions us to the fact that we have no inherent “goodness” in ourselves, not that we are evil, but that, as to goodness, we have none of our own. It belongs to God, as Jesus replied to the man, “Why callest thou me good; there is none good, save God.”
From that point, we can begin to understand what Jesus meant by, “the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works,” and, “The Son can do nothing of Himself — for what the Son sees the Father do, the Son does the same.”
Ah, there it is!!!! THAT is Who we are! We are the Life of the Father Son and Spirit expressed in our human form, and now we’ve been given the grace to see it, and it is the most glorious “sight” I have ever gazed upon, or will, because we see Him, and when we see Him, we ourselves are the Same. We are only looking into a mirror when we see Him! I suppose, like God, Who looked into a mirror before Him and saw the Son.
God All in all
3-Q: Was God in all my pains and hardships?
A woman recounted to me a period of years of suffering and never being able to find peace in Christ, because of all the issues of the life she was living.
3-A: My dear ______________,
Where else can you go, dear? Is He the faithful One? Is He the One Who promised all things would work together for good? He does not ever promise “ease” in the issues of this life. Your personal “history” has enough testimony of pain and suffering for ten people. I hear you. I actually do know some of the pain you experience because of some experiences in my life that from time to time have seemed to be like I was living “under a curse,” and for quite some time my real “faith” behind my “stated faith” was that I expected the worst for a long time, and I lived in fear. No one escapes the issues and trials of life, and Jesus never promised that we would. He said, “In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. In ME you find your peace.”
There is NO peace in this world and in the affairs of this life. But, you seem to have had an extra share, I’ll give you that.
And my answer may seem almost flippant, but where else do you go, who else is left to shake your fist at and scream, “Why?” except to God? Who else is left? The buck ultimately stops with Him, even if the “things” that have rained down upon me have come from my own faulty decisions, or from other people, or from the devil himself! The buck stops with God. He says that He “works all things after the counsel of His own will,” (Eph 1:11), which says in plain words he takes “counsel” with Himself and therefore takes “responsibility” for the whole universe and everything that happens in it, by declaring “all things” are working according to His will. I didn’t make that up. If we believe Paul, then we see this is truth.
“All things,” takes in quite a lot. It does not do any good to blame myself for decisions I made that didn’t turn out right. At the time you made what you thought were the best or maybe the “only” choices you could have made. You see, we’re working in the “blind” here. We do not see the full reality in which we live. We only see partially. So we don’t have all the “facts” to go on when we’re trying to make sense of this life we’re living.
We are not prognosticators, i.e., future predictors. None of us, in normal circumstances, can see into the temporal future. The “world” judges by its appearances of good and evil, but of course the world is in great disagreement over what is good and what is evil.
But we blame ourselves and each other for things we could do nothing about. An example of what I am meaning is below.
You’re driving with someone and you run into traffic so the driver decides on a different route, which at the time he thinks might be quicker. It’s purely a judgment call, and really a leap of faith, to say, “We’re going this other direction.” But then, they run into worse traffic going the alternate route. And then what do we often do, we blame ourselves for making the wrong choice, or the driver for making the wrong choice, and we end up late, and had we not changed our route, we would have gotten there on time. Is somebody to blame here for anything? One route is as good as another, and unless we have the gift of “future-sight,” we cannot know we will run into a worse traffic jam the other way, but we nevertheless take or level blame as if the driver should in addition to being a good driver, must also be an infallible prognosticator!
But when we begin to see and live from the higher reality, we are taken in our understanding to greater heights of understanding of the plan and ways of God in us. We see ALL ways as the ways of God, when understood correctly. That does not make evil to not be evil, nor does it take away all sense of “responsibility “ from us as persons, who must give an account of ourselves to God.
It does, however, begin to take the sting and pain out of the past, the present, AND the future, when even though these bad things have happened to us and they have almost put us under, we see that even though “they” (whoever may have mistreated us or perpetrated evil in our lives) may have done it with evil or malevolent intent, still – GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD! So we leave it in God, and
That is what Joseph said to his brothers in Gen 50:21. He did not completely let them off the hook for the evil they had done him, but He brought the higher reality of God’s purposes and plans into it. Instead of just looking at his brothers and what sufferings they had caused him, Joseph saw the greater plan of God. Not only did Joseph say that the evil deeds of his brothers, which they purposed to evil intent, that God MEANT for good; he boldly went beyond that statement, because what had transpired was to “save much people alive.” Joseph is telling his brothers that even the evil they intended toward him was, on God’s part (not theirs), redemptive and intercessory! This is astounding!
And in that particular case, it was for the physical survival of his father, Jacob and his family. By the deceit and evil purposes of his brothers, Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave, later falsely accused of attempted rape and sentenced indefinitely to prison, only to one day be called before Pharaoh to interpret his dream. And then, as we know, he became Vice Regent of Egypt, with all of Pharaoh’s power bestowed to him as if he was Pharaoh, from which position he was enabled to be the help toward his family when they appeared before him in the famine.
But it wasn’t even just about Jacob and his clan, was it? Because God had previously told Abraham that his children would be taken into bondage in Egypt, stay there 400 years, by that time becoming a great nation, and then He would bring them into the land of Abraham’s promise. So the actions of Joseph’s brothers, evil as they were, were part of the catalyst that brought about the plan of God. God always has a HIGHER and more GLORIOUS purpose than we can see, FAR FAR FAR HIGHER, and MORE MORE MORE GLORIOUS than we can even begin to imagine! Because again, this story was not just about Jacob and his family, but this was the family line out of which would come the One Who blesses all nations, and therefore this is as much my family as it was Joseph’s.
We are looking from a higher reality where we see the completion and ALL in all of God, so that everything, no matter how hard, no matter what suffering it cost, when seen in the light of “the sufferings of this present time, they are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be within us. (Rom 8:18).
Paul wrote to give thanks for all things. That’s a toughie, isn’t it? But there it is, in black words on white paper, in our Bibles. “Give thanks in all things.”
One day the Spirit spoke to me and had me do just that regarding certain life situations which had brought in an overabundance of stress, stuff I would have changed in a heartbeat if I could. But I could not change anything and I was hating it.
That’s where the Spirit told me to start – “Give thanks for the things you hate and give thanks that things are just the way they are at the moment.” So I did, I named off quite a few things I was currently “hating” and thanked Him for each and every one of them. I had to do it “by faith,” because I sure didn’t “feel” thankful. But when I did that, and sort of became ‘regular’ about it, a new glory opened up. It really didn’t change the emotional flavor of my life and my disregard or displeasure for certain things, but rather I saw the Life underneath it all, and knew within that He had been at the center of everything my entire life. Whether it had been good or evil things that had been done to me, or good or evil things that I had done to others “Lo, He was there!”
All we are left with in the end is God. The continual exhortation in all four gospels was to “be not afraid, only believe.” That is still His constant exhortation. Everything is there in faith. Either give it all to Him and say you can’t make sense of it but you’ll go ahead and say His love has been the undercurrent of your life and is now (since God knew you before you were born it says in Ps 139), or you’re just you alone trying to cope and you can’t cope.
But God is faithful, and as you begin to accept that and realize that ALL THINGS DO work together for GOOD for YOU, as well as everything in your life is worked by God together for good for others, then you’ll catch the truth of His Love even in hurt and pain, and like Paul, you will be able to comfort others with the same things God has comforted you with, which is what I am doing with you now.
You are His beloved! And, as His beloved, you are a participant in the “Lamb slain” for others, because now He is that in you, and believe me, that’s glory, when you begin to realize that your life has a value you could not imagine, and that your sufferings have value, too, when you see the enormity of the love of God in through and behind everything, good or evil, no matter what the appearance.
In the pit, when everything was lost, Job prayed, “Though you slay me, yet will I trust you.” Well, God brings each of us at some point to that kind of faith.
“Be not afraid, only believe.”
Q-4: What about reading Christian books?
A-4: When I was a new Christian, our pastor forbade the reading of Christian books to those who were in his full-time program. (Too much to explain at this point.) I have been a voracious reader my whole life. I give my mother the credit for signing me up to the summer reading program at the local library during school summer vacation when I was 7. Even in high school, though I wasn’t too thrilled about the books we were required to read, I continued to read other books, a lot of them having to do with spiritual or occult things, being that was all the rage in the mid 60s. When I was a “hippie” for about 3 years, I still read novels and then began exclusively reading “spiritual” stuff, mostly Hinduism and then finally landing and practicing Zen Buddhism, constantly reading books.
From the time I first knew the Lord until we joined our first church by moving from Georgia to California, there was a six month gap, and during that time I read a lot the current crop of Christian books, mostly Charismatic. But when we arrived in CA the Pastor said no more books (and during that time I had no desire to read a “worldly” book), I put them aside. so that stopped for 7 years except for one time pastor had me read a book by Pat Robertson, Shout It From the Housetops, the story of the origin of the 700 Club. Interestingly, in the book, one chapter talks about Pat meeting up with Norman Grubb. Pat (who was the son of a US Senator) having just graduated from Law school, now was “offering his services” to the Lord through WEC. Norman told him they didn’t need him and his services and sent him on his way, which was quite pivotal for Robertson, because it set in motion the events that led to the 700 Club. Funny how God threw Norman at me there, huh?
But boy, did I thirst to read books! Pastor had a large library in his office, with every Christian book imaginable in there, and I assumed he had read every one of them. Apparently he wanted to be our only “filter,” so they were off-limits to us, but not to him. He had everybody, all the old 19th and early 20th century stuff anyway – Murray, Moody, Oswald Chambers, F. B. Meyer, Smith Wigglesworth, Oral Roberts, Torrey, Tozer, and two or three NPG’s, too, Rees Howells and C. T. Studd and maybe one or two more! remember every time I was in his office I lusted after his books, but never during those years did I read anything. Never broke the rule.
So when we got out of there and not long after discovered union life, I could not read books fast enough. And like every UL newbie, I instantly felt the “difference,” when an otherwise “good” book turned to self-effort at the end to make it all work. You just don’t want to read stuff like that any more.
Unfortunately, quite a few babies go out with that bath water, because a lot of those people have some very good and important things to say, and said them and do say them still, by the Spirit, though God may have yet to bring them through to a full apprehension and being apprehended by Rom 8:2. We can’t make others responsible for what they do not yet know. But it’s right for us to “go out from them” for a while, as the Spirit leads, so we can get our own bearings in our union in Christ.
As a caveat, I do rankle a bit that folks seem so quick to throw all their past “history” in Christ onto the dump heap. Including the people who are still involved in that dump heap, and begin to “preach” AT the people still on the dump heap, not by telling them who they are, but by pointing out how wrong they are and they’re evil legalists etc. etc. We may have only been “evil legalists” just yesterday ourselves, and when we were just the same as them yesterday, we were still beloved of the Lord and held in Him without sin, and we walked in faith in that level while we were in it, and even then were Christ walking around though mostly unconscious of it.
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8)
Our Pastor, back in the long-ago days of the 1970s, a greater teacher and preacher, would often get into the Romans 8 scripture above in his closing. He must’ve seen it in his spirit, because we were all edified greatly by it, but most of us had little understanding of what this meant. Even though it was preached, it was a challenge to actually believe it!
Anyway, back to books. For my early years in union I did an awful lot of reading, every book that came around. And I would recommend it to others as long as the desire is there. The desire has pretty much left me these days. People are always giving me books or recommending them to me, but I rarely read one. One will come by every once in a while, but for years for me it has just been Bible and Boehme for the most part. I even quit reading Norman Grubb for a long while probably so that I could have my “own” voice, say things, know things, the way God gives them to me, and not to Norman. I was so “steeped” into Norman I didn’t know which were his words and which were mine. I did not disbelieve what he said – it just had to become “mine,” in the sense that Paul called it, “MY” gospel. There was no “authority” to speak in the name of Norman. What is that? In that case he becomes a university class, and someone can be hired to disseminate or comment on Norman’s “views.” They’ve done that with Thomas Merton up in Louisville, where I used to live. A whole section of a Catholic university there, Bellarmine, houses Merton’s papers and is his official “study” center. So people are always having Merton conferences, Merton seminars, to talk about Merton’s “ideas,” his views on this, his views on that.
But that isn’t what we are doing, is it? We are not university professors presenting academic options. We must speak and act as Christ, in the authority of Christ, which can only authentically come from an inward unction and assumption of the very Reality of which we speak. It is very different to not just be the messenger but also the message. You see, if, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” as He did in Judea, He Himself being the Messenger Whose Message was Himself, then it is the same in us – same Spirit, same glory, same mind, same authority, same Message. It is I, but not I, yet here am I speaking.
Thanks for including me. Always lovely to hear from you!