Inner Conflict And Its Distresses
by Fred Pruitt
Some questions from a reader: “I really can’t explain where I am at. Throughout the last month I have had awesome glimpses of unity (Christ + I = me) and at the same time glimpses of complete darkness, fear and depression. I think the problem is I do not know how to get rid of the “I” consciousness. Every time the “I” comes up… fear, hesitation and doubt ruminate the mind. I’ve read many of your posts, and although, I know you are beautifully writing about the truth of Christ in US… I, for some reason, shy away from this truth in fear of being in error or wrong thinking.”
I am really glad to hear from you! Glad you are enjoying reading our scribblings! But I can also see that you are in some inner conflict and are somewhat distressed. So first of all, as the angelic messengers always said,“Fear not!”
Your inner conflict and the distress it is causing you is a wonderful place to be, because this is the Holy Spirit’s work. Not that He is intentionally causing you pain, but rather He is raising your understanding and consciousness to a greater place. This is what Peter had to say:
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 1:6-7)
We are His and therefore the conflicts and distresses we experience in this period of our lives are purposed to lead to joy and an increase in our knowledge of His abounding love. What is happening is that the Spirit is growing us up in all this. We first know God mainly by His “acts,” specifically His acts toward US – in saving us, delivering us, forgiving us and loving us. That is our beginning stage. We have begun a life in God’s Spirit and by inner experience we enter the Spirit’s school, where He becomes our inner Teacher. What He teaches us is the Life of the Son in us. Paul outlines for us very clearly what the Spirit is doing in our lives.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thes 5:23,24).
After He “calls us” and we respond by grace, the rest of our lives is His operation, that is, He is the One who brings Himself to maturity and fruition in us in our individual branch form of the common Vine to which we are all attached as an outgrowth, which of course is Christ. As He walks us through our lives we progressively come to know God in His ways, i.e., His modus operandi, which always at heart involve death and resurrection, which is the Lamb’s Life that comes to be formed in us. So just as we have previously known Him in His acts, i.e., the things He has done, He is calling us to a higher understanding and commission – the “Fatherhood” level, which is essentially a life of oneness with the Father, expressed in, through and as ourselves.
What causes us in a sense to come to know His ways, is that we come to know Him AS ourselves, and that the central scene of His activity, is the human life we are living, as well as the human lives of everyone else in the world. Then we see that our human life is a particular vessel, temple or branch by which He expresses Himself in, through, and as each of us individually and particularly. We owe our differences to the distinction by which God has caused each of us to be birthed, no two of us alike. The “idea” of us was eternally in the Godhead before the “reality” of us came into being. Everything about us was birthed in the heart of God, then each of us brought forth into the physical world in our individual “fullness of time.”
And then in another personal fullness of time, the Father drew us to Himself by the Son Who has been lifted up for all the world to see. I am not speaking here of the historical Calvary, but rather the inner Calvary by which we all come to be born again in the kingdom of God, born of the Spirit. What happened historically in Jerusalem 2000 years ago from that time until now stands as open invitation and drawing for every son of man, for the Sower has sown His seed everywhere. What comes up and grows from God’s seed comes to individual Spirit life in us when we come into the Son out of darkness, by grace, through faith. It is as Paul wrote, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom 10:13).
The point I am making, to be clear, is that this salvation that we are living comes alive within us. It is not concepts of God on paper. It is not a creed or a set of “doctrinal points” to which we agree by joining a particular church or group. No, it is a new LIFE that comes to birth in us!
It is totally an inner reality – invisible to the eyes of the natural mind. “I once was blind, but now I see!” is a declaration of Spirit-seeing, because the outer world doesn’t necessarily “change” in our sight. It is our inner sight that has changed, from darkness to light. But even further, the inner light from that inward illumination penetrates the outer and sanctifies it in our sight. How could that be? Because we are seeing with God’s eyes, with His sight by virtue of our oneness in and with Christ, as well as Father and Spirit, and God only sees that which is sanctified, i.e., made holy. He does not peer into darkness but dwells only in the Light, and because of this His eyes do not behold evil. (Hab 1:13).
Consider these words of Isaiah:
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)
When it says, “For the earth shall …”, it is, in a sense, speaking of two different realities which are always simultaneous, each true in their particular sphere. To the natural mind, “the earth shall … ,” means some state to which the earth and human society will come at some future time. That is not “wrong,” but it is wrong in a sense if the second reality is not also joined to the first. Scripture’s prophecies are both for this world and the world to come. The “second” reality is something the natural mind cannot help but miss, as well as being likewise missed by many brethren who have not yet come into an inward knowing that we live by the mind of Christ. In the second, the words, “the earth shall,” or, “world to come,” use a future tense to differentiate between the natural mind and the mind of the Spirit. They are not two different “time-events,” one now and one in the future, but simultaneously occurring realities, and we live in them both simultaneously.
One way to explain what it is to live by the Spirit, is that in the Spirit we step into that “tomorrow of future fulfillment,” which to us is today. It is easy to see why this can be, because heaven is timelessness. It knows neither time nor place, and certainly God cannot be “contained” within either. In short, though we live in time and deal with “time’s” issues in the world as long as we are left in it, we are already living eternal life. In the Spirit, though there are things to which we look forward to coming in the future according to both the natural sight and spiritual sight, we already live in the fulfillment of those things inwardly in the Spirit. We walk in them now and in our faith see them as real, now.
So now, coming to your specifics, let’s look at how you can see the unity you mention, and then afterward glimpses of darkness, fear and depression.
Again, this is perfectly normal! As long as we are in the world we will experience its joys and sorrows. What God has shown us in Spirit, as with you and the glimpses of union/unity “Christ + I = I,” IS fully true in Spirit. But by God’s purposes and express will that even though the victory has already been attained and fulfilled completely in the Eternal, which are shown to you and all of us in glimpses, insights, revelations, or even the occasional “vision,” we do not yet see it “in the flesh,” and therefore the entire time of this life we walk in faith, living out of God’s “invisible,” as Paul says, living by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7). The Hebrews writer puts it like this:
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him … But we see Jesus. (Heb 5-9a).
It might not sound like “good news” that we still have a vision of and still “feel” the effects of darkness, fear and depression. But there is purpose in it. God’s very GOOD purpose! In our beginner stage, it is that inner discomfort that drives us toward God. It is that inner discomfort that is bound in the center of all humanity, which all dovetails into the great fear that has gripped the whole human race from the beginning, the overriding universal fear of death. Again, as the Hebrews writer expresses it: “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb 2:15). We desire freedom from our chains of fear, and it is the fear itself that drives us to desire freedom! God didn’t put the fear there – the enemy did – but God uses it, in that beginning stage, to draw/drive those susceptible to it to find rest and completion only in Him.
But as you testified of your own experience, we still find ourselves confronted with all that daily to some degree. And it is true, we do. But once we are in Christ, our “relationship” toward darkness, fear and depression changes. However, until we come to “know” that change, the temptation is to doubt what has transacted in our spirits, in the mistaken mindset that we are experiencing those “negative” things because of something we have done or not done, or some wrong things we have believed or failed to believe. In short, it’s “our” fault! Which of course produces only more condemnation, all compliments of the enemy who is only too happy to keep us focused on ourselves and our supposed “shortcomings.”
The first “activity” those negative things do in us once we are in Christ, is that those same things drive us again – not to seek salvation all over again – but to bring us to our maturity, through spiritual childhood, adolescence and arriving at adulthood, the “fathers” spoken of in 1 John 2:12-14. That is where the Spirit is taking us in His perfect school – the fulfillment of Paul’s great word in Ephesians:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:13-16).
Everything in our lives is geared toward this one end. To “grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” It is to recognize and live out of “the head,” each of us brought by the Spirit to maturity INDIVIDUALLY. Each “part” finding its totality in growing up into “the head,” is what causes the whole Body to be “compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.” Every part “living out of the head,” is exactly like the human body, all the functions of which, consciously and unconsciously, live according “to the head.” (That is, the brain!) Christ is OUR brain! And just as the human body’s functions are controlled and monitored even unconsciously in our daily living, so that it seems to work of itself without our constant watchfulness over our physical selves, so also does our Spirit life work in exactly the same way.
And it is through the work and teaching of the Spirit, through all the experiences of our human lives, that brings us through “every toil and snare,” to our final home. I am not talking about the bliss of heaven, but rather the fulness of Christ in us, Who by the Spirit grows up in all of us of His own accord. It does not occur by the instigation or strivings of the flesh, but by the will of the Father, Who, as we said earlier, first called us and gave us His vision of Himself in and as us, and then is faithful Himself, to bring it to pass in our lives, just as He has promised.
Now as far as the “I” consciousness you mention, I think you might be misunderstanding this issue. We cannot get rid of “I,” for we are forever little “i ams” out of HIM WHO IS I AM THAT I AM. No one is like unto Him nor can claim for themselves individually to be, “I AM THAT I AM.” However, He has called us unto an individual life, a “self” life if you will, but self in its correct sense. We cannot get rid of our “selves” simply for the reason that we are selves. A “self” is not something I have, but what I am. So that can never be discarded.
What the Spirit does in Christ in us, is give us our “self” back in safety after it seems we have given them up, or lost them. There are times, especially in our initial individual union revelation by the Spirit, that it seems as if “I” do not exist, and that there is nothing except God. Now, at a certain inner level, there is some ring of truth to that. But obviously God has created other self-aware beings, and of course He Himself is “Self-aware.”
So the “I” is not the enemy – the enemy is the enemy. It was the “enemy” who sold our first parents on the lie of independent self – self-acting, self-relying, self-responsible, self-efforting selves. Every human being in Adam was born in that lie. It is like “The Matrix,” for those who have seen that movie. A “program” so strong on the human race that the whole world agrees with it, because it is the one thing we all have in common. It is like the Beast.
And we came into Christ infected with that lie. The real casualty of the lie, is the self itself. At best, it can only produce condemnation! Since it has been a hidden thing, self-effort has easily infected the whole Christian church, at least in the outer sense. Self-effort in all aspects of our spiritual lives is the norm among believers, whereas “the Son can do nothing of Himself – the Father that dwells in me, He does the works,” is like a foreign language to most. It is the key to everything in a sense, but almost universally missed because of its simplicity.
To make it short, in realizing Christ and I are one, even as the Father and Jesus are one, (it is really the whole Trinity in every aspect), then the “I” by which we operate is out of this oneness. This is not a sinful, self-seeking “I,” but Christ as I, yet it is us. We know and live this in our faith which comes from God.
So that is you now. If you believe there is something “off” about your “I,” the solution to that is to see and believe that “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor 6:17). Spirit is inner self, our truest self. And that is where our true “I” comes from, out of this Spirit-spirit union dwelling in our center.
You realize, for the first time maybe, that you can trust yourself, because you are not “just” yourself, but Christ in yourself, as your self. Contrary to what we have been taught, we are not in His way and He does not move us to the side. Having Christ in us AS us, instead of making us some sort of Christ-automaton or programmed robot, it makes us ourselves. To find His Life in me in Christ where it has been hidden since the beginning, makes me ME! I take the fullness of Him and get back the fullness of myself in Him, but it is fully and completely “myself.”
We can affirm ourselves in Him, and not shy away from being the “I” that we always are essentially, because we are His creation, not just from our physical birth, but more importantly by the Spirit. So we do not escape the “I” consciousness, but see it as the Son saw it from the Father: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26a).
The context of the rest of that passage, vs. 27-30, is about the authority of the Son which is given Him by the Father. This is a very important verse for us and our daily lives. Because Jesus is explaining in plain words what He demonstrates every single day – that He acts AS GOD in each and every situation He is in.
As you said you have seen in yourself by the Spirit, He is working in a unity, in which He is constantly being confronted by new and changing situations, and pressed on every point to meet each situation fully as Who He is, with no drawing back. Though the Scriptures tell us of a few times when He withdrew for prayer, communion with the Father, once He was off the mountain and in the valley with the people, there was no time for having a prayer meeting to figure out God’s will for each and every need, or to request or pray for the power to meet them. No, Jesus is constantly deciding on the spot what to do, to whom to offer prayer or healing. Deciding whether He would accompany a Gentile Roman to his home to heal his child, but rewarding the man’s expression of faith with only a ‘word’ of healing, not even having to go there physically. He seemed to decide rather arbitrarily to delay leaving when told Lazarus was deathly ill. At the pool of Bethesda He bypassed everyone there except the man who had been crippled 38 years, asking him and him only, “Wilt thou be made whole?”
Lepers came to him and said, “Lord if thou wilt, thou canst heal me,” to which He replied, “I will. Be thou clean!” He was a man living full bore in his own God-led humanity, trusting the Father implicitly within Him, knowing no separation in anything, and He constantly used the first person personal pronoun, “I.”
He said amazing things regarding “I.” “I am the Light of the World.”“I am the bread of heaven.”“Before Abraham was, I AM.”“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.”
In Christ, we derive our “I” from our union with Christ, where we are inwardly one spirit with Him. In Him, we are all those things in the paragraph above.
And it is in that context, of our union with Christ, ministered inwardly in us by the Spirit, that we look at the next issue you brought up, in that you said every time you think of “I,” that “fear, hesitation and doubt ruminate the mind.”
Again, this is all part of it, normal as can be, as the Spirit educates us with His ways. There are two aspects of this. When you mention thinking of “I,” and that these negative things begin to dominate your thinking, our initial education in this is to realize that self-effort thinking, which also appears as all sorts of self-stuff, self-focus, self-reliance, self-responsible, self-instigating, etc. That was the mind overcome in Romans 7, the mind “set on the flesh.” That mind, before we are wise to it, appears as a “rival” mind to the mind of the Spirit, and in that struggle time we seem to be two or have two aspects of us – a spiritual and a fleshly, and we have to wage a constant battle with the lower in order to live in the higher, but we never can get total victory, as long as that continues. We’ve covered that a lot, so it’s time to move on.
The second and really correct aspect of these negative things beginning to “ruminate the mind,” is to realize at some point that this is of the Spirit. Everything that comes we receive as from the Father, no matter what might have been its immediate source. Also, coming to rest in union, and the Spirit educating us in the ‘ways’ of God, we begin to realize that everything we experience, see, hear, say, desire, etc., is purposed of God for the glory of God and “to save much people alive.” (Gen 50:20). I’ve mentioned that story of Joseph a thousand times, but its truth is all-pervasive.
If these things begin to invade the mind, they are not to point out our deficiencies, nor even anything to fear. We have settled it that even if “the prince of this world comes, he has nothing in me.” (John 14:30). So there is nothing to fear, even though we feel like it. These things come that we might be life for others now. Leaving ourselves and concern for ourselves, opens up the whole universe of not only living in God, but being Who God is expressed in our world, which is the most exciting thing in the universe!!!!
But how could we touch the world if we no longer felt what the world felt, or had never experienced the fear in which the world is bound?
All the “discomforts” of life in this stage are gearing up not for ourselves or for further building us up. We begin to realize that just as they drove us to God in the first place, and drove us deeper into God because of our Romans 7 dilemma so that the Spirit brought us into Romans 8:2, living in union with Christ and a Spirit life daily, even so the same sorts of discomforts in this stage have indebted us to the world, to fill its empty places with the love of God, and drive us to it. As Paul said, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” (2 Cor 5:14). (Constrain means to compel or drive.) We MUST do it, because we cannot help it.
This is what Paul means in this tremendous passage from 2 Cor 4:10-12:
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”
That might sound morbid but it actually is not. It is actually the generatrix (producer, generator) of Life!
Now, your last issue, whether you may have fallen into error, I’ll leave between you and the Spirit. Obviously, I have a level of confidence in what I am saying, and believe it to be Truth. But you must know for yourself, and that is not anything I can do for you. That is between you and God. So I leave you in His capable hands, where you have always been.
All love in Jesus,