On Being No Thing
By Fred Pruitt
“For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” (Gal 6:3).
In the Garden, the temptation and subsequent Fall resulted in Adam and Eve turning from the Light within them, which had enveloped them in heavenly innocence and safety, toward the outer shell (soul and body – “outer man”) which housed them — all in order to become “wise as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5). Of course, we also remember they did not do that of themselves, but were tempted by another, the Serpent, whom they ingested when they ate the fruit. And he brought with him the “self-in-separation” or independence, which is an imaginary “mind-form” or consciousness separate unto itself, and really just the shell or outer husk of a person. But that “shell,” became our god, just as it was in Lucifer through his own self-deception.
From that point, anything “outer” that we (the human race) have subsequently worshiped became just an extension of that foundational lie that we all have swallowed in the fruit of the Tree.*1 (See note at end)
Jesus hit the nail-head when He said, “Where the treasure is, the heart will be there also.” (Matt 6:21). Our “heart” determines our “god” – whether it is some “form” of religion, or money, sex, food, power, hobby or any “thing” other than the Living God – Who, in relation to all those “things,” is “no thing.” All those “things” are our imaginary extensions of ourselves – “my” religion, “my” money, “my” children, “my” spouse, “my” house, “my” traditions, “my” customs, “my” salvation, “my” righteousness or holiness, “my” God, “my” everything! Bottom line, before we knew the Lord, we worshiped ourselves!
Or rather, we think it is ourselves we are worshiping, because the even bigger lie than the lie of independent self, is the hiddenness of its perpetrator. He has deceived the WHOLE WORLD with this lie, that we are each little independent beings and can be in ourselves righteous or unrighteous, good or evil. We may call upon the “help” of an apart-from-us, separate “Deity,” but we continue to believe we are selves separate from the Deity who are capable and responsible to keep the law of whomever or whatever is our god. God “helps” us, we think, but we have to take what He gives and apply it ourselves. And right there is where the separation is. We forget we are only a vessel or just a temple. We exist, not to demonstrate ourselves, but to demonstrate Christ. (Which, on the other end of things, turns out to be Him as us.) But because of this lie, we are really as little King Sauls, who take it upon ourselves presumptuously to be little independent godlets in our human domain. But that just masks the real hidden truth:
“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 Jn 5:19 NASB)
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” (Rev 12:9)
Once Adam and Eve ate from the separated mind of this world, it was like inviting a vampire into their house. He came in and took over. From that point humanity has been completely ignorant of who we are and how we work, through the purposeful deceit of the enemy.*2 (See note at end)
We think this shell of a body and that which is encapsulated within that shell, the mind/soul/spirit, etc., i.e., the “me,” is all there is. Outside that, we might as well be alone in the universe. We may have companionship, even companionship with God, but from eternity to eternity we are still only “ourselves” and all the others, are “not we,” but always the “others.” Everybody and everything outside “me” is “out there,” “over there,” and in terms of persons, “not me.”
That makes everything in life, as it relates to ME, to be up to ME. “I” am Number One. That was the abiding accepted philosophy of much of my earlier years and the people I knew (including myself) – “Look out for ol’ number one!” That, and “PYA,” i.e. “protect your ass – ets.” Or, “If it all goes to hell, it’s every man for himself!”
Who we think should know differently, would be the visible church of Christ on earth, but in general the church does not seem to know any differently than the general human philosophy running the whole world. It just has a Christianized version of it, but it all boils down to the same thing, whether we use the name of Jesus, or Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, The Beatles, Bob Dylan – “Try harder. Do better. Love people more. Be kind. Respect others. Let’s all try to get along. Imagine “there’s nothing to kill or die for …” It is all just man’s feeble, vain and totally self-aggrandizing attempt to become God or godlike, either for good or for evil. Some even have the temerity to say we “made up” God, i.e., WE created Him!
But the VAST majority of human beings do not know that a usurper moved into our race at its beginning and created in us a false consciousness of self, which imagines itself to be independent of God and sufficient unto itself for itself. He infected us with his own false consciousness of independence to hide the fact that he, Satan, has been the hidden master of the entire human race since the beginning. Therefore, it is a lie of epic proportion.
The lie did not come from the mind of man, which is another of its deceptions. Some say our problem is not spiritual, but mental, having to do with the human mind. There is that subtle lie of the enemy again. The lie came from the LIAR! He is the spirit of error, of antichrist, of wrath, who continues on invisibly to the vast majority of humanity, having hoodwinked millions upon millions that he does not exist, and that any notion that claims he does exist should be met with ridicule! It upset the whole universe.
However, there was a way that had already been established and is eternally active, to get us back. First, it is helpful to understand of what and by Whom our salvation comes. Most of us have been taught that all our troubles began when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, which caused their expulsion from the Garden. But that is only a part of the truth. Through the centuries, Christians have viewed the Fall to be primarily about the disobedience. It was the “sin of disobedience” that caused them to be expelled from Eden and subject to wrath.
But there is more to it than that, and understanding this will clear up a lot of things I believe. When the Lord God shows up on the scene in Genesis 3, here are two points which stand out:
1 – He is not beside Himself with anger and wrath. He acknowledges their sin, more as a disappointed father than an “Angry God.” But he does not dwell on their sin, except to say matter-of-factly what the consequences will have to be. Instead of death and destruction awaiting them, He speaks words of a future Hope via the “Bruiser of the Serpent.” (Gen 3:15). We might look on their banishment to be punishment for sin, but it is less that than it was simply the supernatural consequence of eating from that Tree. They fell out of divine harmony into their own unrealized dissonance the moment they tasted it and their eyes were opened. The ground is “cursed,” according to the Lord God, not by Him, but by Adam! “The ground is cursed because of you.” (Gen 3:17). The environment of Adam and Eve reflected the fragmented consciousness of Adam and Eve. They had fallen out of unity – balance, temperature, rest, etc. – into disunity – anxiety, distrust, fear and anger. Their world reflected it back to them, and is still doing it to this day.
It was not God Who could no longer bear to be in their presence, but they who could no longer bear to be in God’s presence, except in shame and protestations of blame. Until the moment they took their bites, they had walked unconsciously in the one only Will of the Lord God, knowing nothing else. Their environment was Paradise. Everything within the Paradise was available and permissible to sample and used for the purpose of pleasing themselves and each other, except for that one Tree. But with one bite of that fruit, a veil went up between them and the Lord God, and Paradise fragmented before their eyes. Instead of a place of safety and joy, self-consciousness, guilt and fear had suddenly moved in and taken over, so that they hid from the One with Whom they had previously loved to walk, in the Garden in the cool of the day.
2 – We can safely infer from this story that they were both loved and forgiven in the Lord. God has always, even before we existed, forgiven us. In the midst of His Throne sits a “Lamb as it had been slain from the foundations of the earth.” What better picture than that of the eternal forgiveness of God? Before anyone sinned the Lamb already occupied the Throne.
And yet, “forgiveness” alone does not fix the issue of the human self. The offense was less about “obedience,” than what their lack of obedience caused – being hooked into the wrong “god” – the “god of this world.”
What often goes unrealized, is that forgiveness does not solve the separation gap between “God” and individual human beings. In fact, forgiveness is something that can only occur in separation. We only see our “need” of forgiveness, when we see our separation or the results of our separation from God. We do not understand the “union” part of it, but we know something is wrong, and we are apart from God. But after we are brought in by the Spirit and come to know Him, the next piece of the puzzle we are to realize is that we are NOT these independent beings who can handle a god’s job on our own, but that we are vessels (conveyers, carriers), temples (where a ‘god’ resides) and branches (of the True Vine or by default, the false). We do not exist only as ourselves and never have, but always living as expressers of our inner god.
Forgiveness is really more the milieu of the forgive-er than the forgive-ee! The one forgiven may or may not receive or accept forgiveness, or think anything of it at all. But the one who forgives must be completely committed to it, because forgiveness by its nature has no conditions. It is the heart attitude or the spirit of the forgive-er. That is why Jesus went around telling people their sins were forgiven, whether they had come to “repent” or not. They were forgiven “in Him,” as well as forgiven in God because of the Eternal Lamb slain in the midst of the Throne. But that was personal with Jesus. Though He certainly could have, He didn’t stand up and pronounce universal forgiveness, but instead pronounced it to individuals whose paths he crossed along His way. That to me is very “telling” regarding the Divine Life that resides in us. It does not come about primarily through broadcasting universal “truths,” but rather by the individual applications of universal truths person by person.
But again, being declared “forgiven” may have no effect on the one who is forgiven. The Pharisees were likewise forgiven, but they would not admit they needed forgiveness, because they considered themselves righteous for their meticulous (and often showy) keeping of the Law. So they basically trampled on Jesus’ forgiveness, and Jesus told them their sins still remained. Not in Him, but in them! “Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:41).
The proof that God’s forgiveness does not “fix” the whole problem of the human self, is found in Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden, with a sword-bearing cherub guarding the gate. They were forgiven, but they were not back in Eden! Instead, they were put out!
The Lord God knew what had happened to them – they had become at least partial children of the enemy. They had not wholly gone that way, for if they had, they would have become “fixed” devils with nothing left in them to respond to God. But thankfully Adam and Eve could still hear Him calling through the veil. Though it was indeed a “spiritual” fall, falling out of the kingdom of God and Light into the realm of the enemy and darkness, his deception made us clueless and blind to that fact. He lodged us in the outer part of us, the part that was of and for this world, and completely convinced us of our utter inner aloneness. And every single “religion,” or spiritual or humanistic philosophy has only played around in this false mind, thinking if we can “fix” that, we can fix ourselves and the world. But we can’t fix it and the world still waits. The human race lost the real sense of who we were created to be, which was not to be individual gods each with our own agendas, but to live and manifest the One True Living God, and to do His works of Love.
And that, in a nutshell, was how everybody who has ever been a human being from then until now (with the exception of Jesus of Nazareth), became a “something.” We all became full places with no room for God. To make matters worse, we thought we were only full of ourselves, but we were also full of the liar and accuser, too. “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom 3:12) It was “his stuff” we thought and did, though all the while we thought it was just us, operating all on our own. (Eph 2:2-4; Jn 8:44)
Therefore, since from the day of our birth we have all thought ourselves to be “something,” we see God as a BIGGER “Something.” But God has no “form” of self. He is everywhere equally present, or what we call “universal.” We cannot pinpoint Him to a precise address where we can all go find Him and look at Him. There is nowhere that He is not in His complete fullness, and yet as to our perception in our human minds, we can find neither hide nor hair of Him.
As Jesus told the woman at the well, “God IS Spirit,” and to the flesh perception, “spirit” has no mass because it does not consist of measurable “matter,” or, in other words, in scientific terms, it does not exist. So that is why we say that God, as He might be perceived by the flesh, is “no thing.” God, as Spirit, lives in this “no thing” center, and for us to be in full fellowship with Him (consciously), one with Him and Him with us, at some point the Spirit brings us to that same “no thing” place inside our own spirits. Another way to say it, is that we go through or experience an “emptying,” or “death.”
Falling headlong unreservedly into God occurs at the point the Spirit brings us to the place we are ready to give up whatever we are holding in order to come to “nothing.” Then the “form” (us) and the “nothing” are one in cooperative loving consciousness, and the human self “form” understands its “form-hood” to be nothing but a picture of the Divine. That’s a big giant death to the form! It means the form gives up everything — all that it holds dear to itself that it stands and depends on, and goes into nothingness. Jesus spoke in the gospels about giving up all you have — and we all immediately think money, houses, cars, families, etc., but he meant even more than that. He meant our very SELVES — that is our most precious possession! And those things about which we think of ourselves, our abilities, our efforts, our duty, our responsibility, our willingness, our “anything.”
Those are all “something,” but we let that go as we find ourselves sinking down into the death of Lazarus — dead as dead can be, so that we do nothing or are nothing — before we can be called back into the fullness of Life. Lazarus had no more self-responsibility, no more reasoning over the truth, no will to surrender, no doctrines to uphold. In death Lazarus had, to quote my friend Burt Rosenberg, “bupkus.” (Yiddish for “nothing.”) That’s how drastic is this lie that has overtaken us through the blindness which has been ours as a race — and how far down it has to go to “be fixed.” It must DIE and be nothing. No patching up will do. No better way of thinking. No new philosophy of life. All those are still of the “something,” and there can be no “something” in us. Only Christ can effect this, can take us down with Him into the grave that far, so that we truly come to absolute zero, nothing, nada, bupkus. But that is what His death in us does! It is not just a “doctrine,” or an apart-from-us “truth” which we can apply. The Spirit takes us into death in Christ, that we might be resurrected – not the “new body” resurrection after this life – but the full resurrection into fulness of life, which can only come about through knowing this death in ourselves, and the Spirit does it.
Now in the beginning we fight that tooth and nail, as a general rule. But we learn not to. Moses, when confronted by more complaints from the people, would “fall on his face before the Lord.” He went right to his place of emptiness, and we learn to do that, too. But in the beginning and maybe for a while, we still feel we must hold onto “something.” It’s too scary to give it all up. I must have something to hold onto. But this is the foundation of coming to understand and live in a consciousness of union life. In order to have God’s life functioning in us, it isn’t just a matter of believing a new teaching that comes down the road. God will share His glory with no one, He says.
Therefore for God’s life to be living and manifest in and as our human living, the false independent self-life must be exposed and finally discarded for what it was — a false image from the devil whereby we imagined ourselves in one way or another as having some capabilities or attributes, or could acquire them somehow, to become pleasing to God and to do His works. That is the chief falsehood that has taken the whole human race, Christian or not, whether people bring God into it or not, and it cannot stand. That is the absolute and necessary purpose of Romans seven and the confrontation with the law, to expose this chief sin of unbelief (unbelief in God by subtle “believing” in ourselves), which sets the stage for the next phase of our lives, which is to live in freedom in His Spirit while joined with Him and His purposes.
This is a whole new life when we are, by the Spirit in us, able to forget ourselves in the midst of all that and just BE. When we live in God’s IS, we forget our self-awareness and live free, away from judgment. This is what God has done. God, in taking no distinct form of self, is only manifest as “Self,” in our self!
While in one sense this emptying goes on continuously, there have been three great emptyings over the course of my life, with each being the beginning of a major chapter.
The first, which I have written about many times, was my encounter with God on Christmas night, 1972. I told the sky, hoping God was up there, that I didn’t know anything, but had thought I knew a lot, but now was willing to receive whatever He would show me, even if it was Jesus! For what I knew and understood at the time, that encounter was a total death to me. My whole spiritual foundation that I had built thinking I was doing a “good thing,” got tossed out the window. I got “emptied.” That 5 minute encounter determined the path of my whole life from that point on!
The second, in early 1981, also written about many times, when I fell with my face into our wingback living room chair, telling God I could not live the life and I had to give up, and if it was going to get done, He was going to have to do it, because I had finally figured out that I COULD NOT DO IT! It was the same as the moment in 1972 when I had that first “death.” I had by that time built up a “Christian” spirituality and understanding, but had also learned I could not come to the place in Christ I thought I wanted. I was down and out, and that “death” or emptying was the fuel for the next 20 years! That moment brought me full-bore into union life, which once one sees, he cannot go back!
The third was nearly 20 years from the second, in early 2001, and occurred in the Buntings garage in Louisville KY. The issue at hand was something of a final letting go of all that I was, all self-protection, all second-guessing, no attempts to “guard” or “keep” myself, to manipulate outcomes, but leaving it all to the Spirit. It felt like free-fall and was scary for a time, because the real issue by this time was to trust ME! I had to be completely emptied in order to trust ME. (But of course not “ME” in the flesh, but “ME” as the expression of Christ!).
This third time was much scarier than the previous two. This time I knew what the stakes were. I also knew the pitfalls and probable “sufferings” (of Christ) that could occur. But I also knew thoroughly by then, through the witness of the Spirit and the living experience of walking in Him, that –
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Another year, friends! On we go!
*1 Some might wonder why I use “we” when speaking of the sin of Adam and Eve. First of all, though it was not “me” there on that day, had I been there, I am certain the result would have been the same. Secondly, scripture itself says we share in the first Adam’s spiritual condition, not just because it happened to Adam, but because we ALL sinned. Adam and Eve were just the first to sin, and therefore, have the unique “privilege” of being the “founders” of a race of flesh-men, sinners, separated from God. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom 5:12)
Likewise, to me, the term “Adamic nature” is misleading, because it seems to be referring to something inherent in Adam, like a proclivity to sin, etc. In other words, Adam was flawed in his creation. The term should be, “Satanic nature,” rather than Adamic. Take the “blame” away from Adam and put it on the Serpent, who is the original true sinner, not Adam!
*2 When I say it is according to “the purposeful deceit of the enemy,” I am not leaving out the fact that God works all things together for good for us, and that He “works all things after the counsel of His own will.” The Father has used Satan’s rebellion to bring forth the sons of God, for whom the whole creation groans, awaiting their full coming into their inheritance.
“For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom 8:19, 20).