by Fred Pruitt
“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 Jn 4:15-17)
Someone recently asked me via email if I could comment on the last phrase in the passage above, “Because as He is, so are we in this world.” Reading it in context, the phrase is actually the culmination of John’s basic message that, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” So I thought we would look at it from that perspective.
People often think of the Apostle John’s writings as the most mystical, or perhaps “esoteric,” of all the New Testament writings. I think we can say that to some extent about his gospel, but not so much his letters. His letters are, to me, quite matter-of-fact and cut-and-dried! It is a shock to the fleshly psyche that John unequivocally declares things are either black or white, righteousness or sin, when speaking of the things of the Spirit, as well as life in general.
The flesh mind revels in murkiness, gray areas – “Well, it might be this or it might be that, we cannot be sure … ” – and that is why John’s letter shocks that mind. There are no gray areas with John.
1 John is like that. I had a hard time with some of it as a young Christian, and even today John speaks greater things than we can always understand. Here are a few of the phrases that disturbed me in earlier days.
“Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” (1 Jn 3:6)
“He that committeth sin is of the devil.” (1 Jn 3:8a)
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin …” (1 Jn 3:9a)
In those early days, I knew I had been born of God. Among other things, I had the “witness” mentioned in 1 Jn 5:10 – “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” But also, not yet knowing that He and I are “one,” and that we had been “one” since His beginning in me, and especially not yet knowing and understanding my humanity in Him, I thought I was still sinning all the time and never pleasing enough to the Lord. I knew I was born again, and at the same time I thought I was still “an habitual sinner.” The two understandings do not mix, and that is what made the epistle so uncomfortable to read sometimes. Which was I?
So while part of the letter lifted me up, e.g., “Beloved, now are we the sons of God,” the other part of the letter seemed to take me back down again. I read it with more than a bit of condemnation. Which is not unusual, because until the Spirit takes us over that self-condemnation hump, we cannot help seeing things that way.
The flesh mind, the satanic mind set on itself, loves those gray areas. That is why there has been a developed “sin nature” (or “total depravity,” or “deceitfully wicked heart,” etc.) doctrine throughout the history of the church, prostituted out of scripture by the deceiver to make the death and resurrection of Christ to have little to no effect in the present lives of the saints, its effects having been “canceled out,” or greatly inhibited by this nasty, pesky, inescapable, albatross-around-our-neck, imaginary “sin nature.” It is a bill of goods, sold to us by a flimflam man!
But what a great setting, even a podium, for the mind of unbelief, the mind set on itself! What a great setting for that pride of self, that instead of receiving its crucifixion in Christ and thus sinking into its subsequent death in His death, through which then comes its own personal resurrection unto newness of life, it substitutes its own self-admitted uncrucified sin nature as its primary self instead, and its life is according to its faith, nullifying the grace that would bring it into freedom.
It cries, “Lord,” to the Risen Jesus and piously desires to “be like Him,” but denies Him where He has come to be with them, by despising through unbelief His Life manifesting daily and hourly in our humanity. That was exactly the position of the unbelieving “scribes and Pharisees” of the New Testament.
Imagine the arrogance of telling a man who has grown into an adult and had never seen any sight the world had to offer because he was born blind, telling that man that the person who spoke healing to him and caused him to suddenly have sight after 40 years of darkness, was a charlatan! It is not hard to imagine the condescension dripping off their tongues as they verbally scourged the “man born blind who now saw,” “Thou art his disciple; but WE are Moses’ disciples. WE know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is … Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach US? And they cast him out.” (Jn 9:28, 29, 34). I know that voice because I have heard that voice close up. I have been that voice! But by the grace of God I got over it, but it is still out there trapping many in its lie.
Imagine the sheer force of will, to be so blatantly and obviously dishonest, yet calling their dishonesty the truth! He had healed a man born blind, for crying out loud! Of course they saw it! OF COURSE they sensed Who He was, but they could not face it, because they saw in Him a loss of their position, their money, and their status in this present fleeting world! Like Adam, Like Cain, like Esau, they sold their birthright and their blessing for a bowl of soup – the life of this world, which is here today, gone tomorrow.
They made their choice and their choice meant to deny the plain evidence of the truth and promote falsehood instead. That’s a tough road. Falsehood is so much harder to maintain than the truth, simply because the truth needs no maintenance, proof or defense whatsoever, whereas falsehood seeks on every front to shore itself up with “proofs” of its own sincerity and mounting every defense to continue to hold up the pretense. That is why falsehood is always so joyful and delighted to find and stomp out every evil out there in the world and in the brethren. But it is just razzle-dazzle, smoke and mirrors, sleight-of-hand, issues, doctrines, politics, sowing discord among brethren as everyone’s friend, which is all misdirection off itself and its own utter nothingness, held up only as long as the hypnosis works. It is made of nothing else.
Whereas truth sees only itself in clarity everywhere, and the truth is God is Love, and the truth is that we have only One with Whom we have to do, and the truth sees the Father above all, in all, and through all. Truth is content with its clear vision, because it extends through the eternal and the temporal completely and All in all. Truth is eternal.
Falsehood always eventually runs out of steam, and it fizzes away into the nothing it was in the first place.
Their “falsehood” was to deny that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” (1 Jn 4:2,3).
And really not much has changed. As my friend, Linda Bunting, and others have said, the church has been mostly right-on in understanding Christ in His Divinity. However, His humanity has been by and large completely misunderstood, and as a direct result of that, so has our humanity, since they are inextricably linked. Without understanding the humanity of Jesus Christ, and how the Father and the Spirit were working partners with that humanity and manifesting fully by and as that humanity, it is nearly impossible to understand the same issue happening in ourselves. What is happening, what has happened and what will continue to happen is that by God’s grace the Incarnation is occurring in each of us in the present moment – the Word is made our flesh!
Understand, I am not speaking of His after-resurrection humanity, which was a Paradisaical humanity. I am speaking of His regular mortal human body He had from Mary, and regular human “soul,” through which He lived a Divine Life manifested in mortal human flesh. And now, when it is still pre-resurrection on our side of things, we walk in that same humanity and express that same Divine Life manifested in our mortal human flesh that He did 2000 years ago.
But of course by God’s grace and the Spirit I’ve learned a thing or two since those early days, and have become comfortable with John’s black and white description of things, because once the Lord broke through that citadel of flesh-mind thinking (self-focus on-self for-self, whether toward “good” or “evil”) the only thing that rings the bell of truth in this regard, is that absolute division between the two – righteousness and sin, love and hate, light and darkness.
And that absolute division is what John is putting forth in this passage. It is stated in such a matter-of-fact way, in great simplicity, that the depth and importance of these words can be overlooked because of their simplicity. It is so simple, that it seems that it cannot possibly be true as stated, just because we find it hard to allow our minds (the Holy Spirit has to break through) to believe it.
There are really only three thoughts here.
The first says, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” Period. John is giving us an absolute couched in a foolish simplicity. The first time someone told me that and I really heard it, as an unbeliever, my initial reaction was that it could not be that “easy” to have the favor of God and be accepted by Him. But that IS the simplicity. It IS just that simple.
Understand, I am not meaning he is speaking of some formula of words, that we put on a card or in a book and say, “Repeat these words and this will happen to you.” These are not magic words, like an incantation or a mantra, that if we repeat correctly, will attune us to some higher realm of existence or put us on a plane closer to God. Rather, as these words or thoughts come up out of our inner depths in particular moments of immediacy, they are really the first act of the Spirit, as us. Because Paul told us that “No man says Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:3). Therefore, the utterances out of our mouths are us, and at the same time the Spirit, rising up in us with the faith of Christ, by which we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and out of that belief the Spirit as us declares or confesses Christ the “Son of God” to us!
Then after this Spirit confession, John informs us of our absolute. The confession is the proof positive of the reality, since it is generated by that reality, since no one could make that confession unless God dwelled in them, and they in Him. The absolute, in one sense brought on by the confession and in another sense the confession came from the reality which was already in place, is that God dwells in us, and we in Him.
To those who have trouble with the concept of “confession,” as I said above, it is not magic, saying formulaic words that we are instructed to say in order to achieve some certain goal. Confession is just another word that is talking about the most basic thing God has done and is doing, is that His created universe has all come about because of and out of His WORD. Until the WORD came, there was nothing manifest.
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. … And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Gen 1:2,3)
“And God said …” This is the “how” of the creativity of God – the WORD. And what God speaks, IS. And this is the “how” by which that same creativity works as us – by the WORD! The SON is both the WORD SPOKEN and the SPEAKER, and as “sons” in Him, so are we! We work as He worked. “The Father that dwells in us, He does the works.”
How were the works done? By the speaking WORD of God!
“And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matt 8:2,3).
“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. … And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” (Matt 8:5-10,13).
So we start off our Christian life doing two things unconsciously (without understanding) that later we see are the foundation of everything else. Our first “act” IN the kingdom, is our confession, in some way, of Christ as Lord, and this first “act” is two things. First, it is the Spirit as us, but make no mistake, it is US as much as it is the Spirit, that confesses Jesus Christ is Lord. Our first “act” IN the kingdom is HE AS US. Secondly, the “act,” i.e. speaking the creative Word given from within by the Spirit, is, for lack of better term, the “currency” of the kingdom of God – and we could actually say the currency of the whole universe – it all works on the basis of the WORD that sent it into motion.
And really, besides everything else, GOD SAYS, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” That really, should be the end of the matter. Anyone who has a problem with that, does not have their problem with me. I am not the Author of that Word.
Back to our issue. We have moved, in the most total sense possible, from darkness into light, from self-love into other-love, from Satan into God. Our former life had originated spiritually from below. Our new life originates spiritually from above. Our old home had been hell, the wrath kindled by the devil’s rebellion and passed along through Adam and Eve to be our home, too. In the wrath.
The wrath is not God up in heaven being really mad that everyone has gone out and committed heinous sins, though we all have done that. The wrath is what we experience in our inner selves when we live in the turbulence, the chaotic foment, the dog-eat-dog, the futility, sadness and ultimately despair, all naturally occurring throughout the world as the quality of the hell in which the whole world is currently (temporarily) held. (1 Jn 5:19).
His point is that we have changed kingdoms. We have changed inner “gods.” We WERE hell, but NOW we ARE heaven. As Paul said and we quote all the time – “For our conversation is in heaven.” (Phil 3:20).
And since this is so, John brings in the second thought in the passage: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
Having changed kingdoms, we are no longer of the kingdom of wrath, as were had formerly been. The offense, which was the snake that slivered into us hiddenly through Adam, and the accusation, the Law which the snake used to bring us under condemnation, has been nailed to the Cross and we have died to it completely. Even as the Son of Man was lifted up like Moses brass serpent in the wilderness, by that the Father “hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor 5:21) **One of the main key verses in the whole Bible.
There has been a clean break. There is NOT a mixture. A mixture is not possible on the spiritual level. Now, in the flesh, there can be something like a mixture in the consciousness or understanding, until the Spirit breaks through the confusion and enemy’s deception in the mind left over from the Fall, through the “renewal of our minds.” All the renewal of our mind really means, is that we learn to trust that we have and live by the “mind of Christ” in us, and no longer by the mind of the flesh.
Now this realm into which we have been translated and established, is no longer the reality of wrath out of which we came, but the realm of love and grace, which permeates our lives and flows out of them. It has been established in the previous thought, that we know our confession and believe the truth that we confessed, that we dwell in God and God in us. The second thought gives us the quality of this new kingdom. The quality of it is “other-love,” i.e., love that seeks not for itself to build itself up, but to propagate itself by the extension of itself, that its life might tincture more life.
Coming into Christ is coming into a new love. We had “love” before, but love turned in on ourselves, which is the quality of the kingdom of wrath. Love turned in on ourselves is wrath in itself, because it is a need, and as a need, cannot ever be satisfied, because nothing is ever enough for it. It must always have more.
This “new love” is the “love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.” (Rom 5:5). This is love turned outward, to expand and express and reproduce non-possessively. It seeks not its own but expends itself to give life out from itself. This is now our heart of hearts, our true inner will, our true inner motivation. We may not feel like it or look like it to ourselves, and there are plenty of condemning thoughts that tell us we are not really that kind of lover. There are also a whole multitude of “shame” preachers (to which we all are at one time or another subject) who can always generate a good crowd up for a rededication since we know we just don’t love like we should, we just don’t have compassion like we should, we just don’t have joy like we should, and all the other things they say so well and condemn us so well because they believe it and we believe it, all the while disbelieving the gospel we claim to be living, in the name of a false humility which really masks a basic unbelief of the Promises we have been given.
And amazingly, the “shame” preachers are often very popular with their congregations, because they are thought of as “bold” and “really giving it to us” since, as the congregation has been trained to think, “we needed that.” The truth is, pointing out inconsistency and capitalizing on the condemning thoughts from the devil rolling around in most everyone’s heads in the congregation, is really a cheap trick and the easiest thing to do to motivate people in that condition there could be. Anybody can motivate by intimidation and pointing out lack.
Only the Spirit can lead by love, and that is the life we are in now, and we need no longer submit ourselves to those thoughts. They need never enter our consciousness again, but even if they do, their spell is broken. We know now, they were just tricks that worked only because of the hypnosis of the deceiver, and now that he has been found out, the spell is broken, and the tricks no longer have their same effect, and eventually they just get tired of trying and trying and getting nowhere, and finally pretty much leave us alone altogether – though they can resurface every now and then for a fresh exercise of the Spirit!
So here we are now. Through acknowledgment or confession or some other means, we have come into a permanent heavenly dwelling, even while continuing to live “earthly” lives. God dwells in us, and we
in Him. That is union. Paul expresses it, as we have written several thousand times, most succinctly in 1 Cor 6:17 – “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” That is the meaning of “He in us, we in Him.”
Next, we have learned the absolute quality of this new kingdom – divine love – “agape.” This love is not the “should be” of our lives. Love is the “IS” of our lives. It takes a little time for that to settle in. But that is exactly what this is about. Settling in on that fact that we are in union with God, we dwell in Him and He in us; and that since we dwell in God and He in us, we therefore dwell in love, because God IS love, and it could not be that we could dwell in God, and not be, at our center, love.
So we have established these two things. Through our confession we learned we dwell in Him and He in us, and we have learned that this life which is Present is love, so that our whole inner basis is now the love of God.
Which brings us to the final part, starting with, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.” What a statement! What a BOLD statement!
Where does the boldness come from? It is very hard for a man (or woman) who truly “knows” God to be “bold.” How can we be bold when everything else teaches us to “be humble” before the Lord?
Of all places, we find the answer in the life of Moses! We think of Moses as mighty, calling down plagues, opening the Red Sea, getting water from a rock, manna from heaven, etc. It is actually a contradiction of sorts that Moses was so mighty in works of faith, and yet he is the man who was given the task to give the Law, which in itself as the law according to the flesh, has little miraculous quality about its implementation in daily life. It is about what one does, the acts themselves, with little consideration of by what spirit those acts came.
Even though to outer eyes this Moses is a MIGHTY MAN of GOD, scripture says of him, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Num 12:3). We do not think of Moses that way, but here is the key:
“And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy … wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.” (Num 16:3,4)
“And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.” (Num 14:4,5)
“And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. … And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them.” (Num 20:2,6).
In each of those situations, the people had become dissatisfied about another thing, and threatened rebellion against Moses and Aaron, and against the Lord. Moses did not contend with them.
Instead, in each case, he fell on his face before the Lord. Now in Old Testament terms, Moses did the physical act of prostrating himself before God. That was a common practice for most ancient peoples when one acknowledged a ruler or one who had power over us, and still used today in Islamic countries. However, it is not the physical act that is the key, but the heart represented by that physical act. And Moses’ physical act of prostration, was the same as Jesus saying, “Why callest Me good, there is none good, but God,” or the same as Jesus saying, “The Son can do nothing of Himself. The Father that dwells in Me, He does the works.” Or it is the same as Paul saying, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…” Or it is reflected in Paul’s word to the Galatians: “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
To understand we are nothing (relative to God qualitatively), is the beginning of all things. Abel saw it. Abraham saw it. So did Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, the harlot in Jericho, Gideon, Samson, Eli the High Priest whose sons the Lord slew, Samuel, David, and millions of others.
We know everyone of those as heroes, great men or women of the faith, and everyone of them knew to some extent the same inner “secret,” the Spirit through some means bringing each of them into an inner nothingness of self, by faith, that God may be in us All in all. It is out of that center of nothingness, that the Somethingness of God comes forth! But here is the mystery. It comes forth AS US! God took us, so to speak, for a time, “out of the way,” but now, permanently, He has put us IN the way! In fact, the inner water is in us, but it has to have a stream-bed through which to flow and water the land – and that is US!
WE rise up and give the Word! We rise up and declare the decrees! By US does the Lord do His works in the earth, and He does them perfectly!
This is why 1 John says that “in this our love is made perfect.” It is like the “prize of the high calling” in our last letter. We make the confession and begin to live in its reality. This creates another wave of faith to move us onward, and we come to know and believe the love God has for us, and to know that we live in God and to live in God is to live in and express His love.
The “perfection” of it he refers to, is that it has now come full circle, so that our boldness is almost involuntary, but necessary nonetheless, because our declaration now, by the Spirit, is that what we have seen and believed in the Spirit, that God has shown and declared unto us in our inner selves, we now declare and state unequivocally that this is exactly what we are living and seeing in our present moment world.
The Word does not say, “As we are, so is He in the world.” That is backwards. It correctly says, “As He IS, SO ARE WE IN THIS WORLD!
This world, is what it says.
To “take” this (believe it, receive it, speak it, live it) is absolute death to the mind set on the flesh, and often is a precursor to that very realization in our deepest selves. If we have come to that place where we have seen the futility of self-effort, of living by the law in whatever form by which it is presented to us, and have finally seen that even though we may “will” God’s will as we perceive it, but that we have no power whatsoever in ourselves to perform it, we are at that place of nothingness, emptiness. Out of gas, self-gas.
But we are not left there. The Spirit pulls us through to Romans 8:2, the law of the Spirit we see in ourselves HAS OVERCOME the law of sin and death and we finally see and believe it. It is “HE” living it from then on. But I think the final nail in that coffin of “I still need some self-tweaks on this and that,” is to declare the truth in scripture as the Spirit has shown it to us, “as He is, so are we in THIS world,” to be our present every-moment truth. In the bravado of my younger days when I was an “on-fire young man for the Lord,” I thought “I” could do all things through Christ who strengthened “me.” The middle part I had correct. It was the “I” and the “me” that I did not understand at the time. Eventually my bravado ran out like Peter’s at Gethsemane, and I knew to the uttermost I could do nothing. It had to be God or … nothing.
We sit in that nothing for a while, some of us, the Spirit giving us a little respite there maybe for a time. But eventually that nothing becomes a right something, and we find ourselves involved in activity again perhaps. But in some way, always out of that inner nothing, we rise up every day as the Something of Christ in us, and yet it is fully and actively us, doing, thinking, driving, deciding, not deciding, and fully and actively Christ in us by the Spirit, all at the same time. But the emphasis has shifted at least in outer consciousness back to me being my normal human me which is not me but Christ as me, but it is coming out to the world, and even in and to me, as “just” me. I have no noticeable overriding spiritual sense of “Presence” or anything else. Maybe here and there, but it is not at the forefront most of the time. It’s just life in the world among people, pretty much the same here as everywhere else even though circumstances etc. are vastly different from one place to another.
And because God has ordained us to live this “human” life (which is out of heaven) the extent of time we are here, this is the place God where has decided to show up. In our human lives. As our human lives.
And the reason I say it takes a death in us to believe and say this, is because when we say Christ lives this life I am living, and He is living His life in the world as me, having come from understanding being nothing, we realize that some kind of “something” has to show up and be what it says it is in this world. In other words, we believe what we say, but it’s hard to wrap our minds around its actuality. We can look at it in its face and not realize what we are seeing. Here, of all places, in this world, is where Christ says He shows up as us. And the problem is, the death is, we have come to realize that hooking Christ up with our world is out of our hands, and we cannot do it. It is, in a sense, a resurrection that has to come about, a resurrection in our minds, to behold and wonder and at the same time to know it for what it is.
Again, only God can do that.
I understand completely Moses’ reactions to the people’s complaints. He fell on his face before the Lord. He had learned he had no answer in himself. He had no counter to the people or argument with them. Just down he went. I know what he was doing. It was his inner Spirit-life reminder, “This not on your shoulders, but the Lord’s.” The people come and he is overcome with grief for their positions, and he “dies” to any self-ability to know or apply the right answer, leaving it to the Lord. And then pretty soon the Lord gives Moses the next Word.
By no means am I Moses, but that is how I live. Especially when we go out to people’s houses and buildings on our trips, because the people are often expectant, and there is never a moment we feel “adequate” to give them anything, because I don’t have anything, in myself. Every time I walk into a place, as I get out of the car or walk up to the door, (and John has told me he does it, too), it’s always a quick and simple, “Well, Lord, these are your people, you’ve brought them here, and will not send them away empty. It’s all your ballgame.” Then we walk in and where we are takes over and the Spirit always has something for us, individual for the moment. Though I’ve learned to expect it, it is still a sight to behold every time it happens.
Understand what we mean when I say He does it, but it is by means of, or “as,” us. Take seeking the understandings of the scriptures mentioned above. It must be like this for many. Something occurs to me, either “in life,” or when meditating in the scriptures or in some other “spiritual” pursuit. A question might be raised, or a new insight might pop in.
Where does it come from? It comes from the Holy Spirit in me.
Who is receiving it? The Holy Spirit in me. Deity Spirit in union with my “human” spirit, 1 Cor 6:17.
So it is coming from the Deity Spirit in me, and received by the Deity Spirit in me, and then to take it out further, if there is activity or questioning or seeking for answers or a new level or word of faith, then all of that is the Holy Spirit in me working – in the willing, in the receiving, and in the doing.
The “union” or “as me” part is the hardest part to see, because it is so fundamentally simple, no one can really believe it. An incorrect “common sense” idea most people entertain about “union” with the Divine, with God, is that, we think, at least two things must occur or be true. One, we will have some “mystical opening” in which we are transported in our minds and/or spirits into a blissful ecstatic mystical state [as described by “mystics” from the past], consciously “seeing through all things,” which will answer all our questions and transport us into a supra-existence in which we become transfigured and from then on radiate spiritual light everywhere we go.
Secondly, in this imaginary oneness, as we are living daily life, we will always have this overwhelming cosmic sense of the same sort of “supra” Presence, i.e., the Life of God flowing mightily through us, accomplishing feats of wonder and grace. And all of this we are observing from a place somewhat apart from all that is going on, because our “I” has simply become the observer of all God does, while in itself remaining outside, “watching” God “do it all.”
But that is not really union life at all, unless the Spirit has brought us down that particular path. The “union life” as described in the New Testament is not of that quality – heavenly visions, sights and sound. I do not mean those things do not occur. They occur for some, but for most, they do not. We may have no “signs,” or “mystical openings,” or any other things like that. It does not matter, one way or the other.
What matters is that we take THIS Day of Judgment to boldly declare, by His Spirit, that as He is, so are we in THIS world.
The terms “literal” and “figurative” have sometimes loose definitions. But in the most purposed sense I can convey, I believe that phrase, “As He is, so are you in this world,” only makes total sense, when taken completely and absolutely literally. It rips open our reasoning minds to accept it, but our faith cements it in us, and the “just shall live by his faith.” (Hab 2:4b).