Love and Freedom – 2
By Fred Pruitt
What About Will?
God’s will is freedom, an explosive outraying of freedom in a universe of freedom (Heb 1:3). We have only one basic life choice. Do we choose (express faith for and in) Jesus Christ, and His life of love outpoured, or by refusing to choose (believe) Him, do we choose what we think is ourselves, (but Satan in disguise), wrongly believing ourselves to be sufficient in ourselves?
Now, there is no formula or map for how the Spirit draws us. The Spirit draws us in a million ways throughout our lives, though for some time we may have no idea that we are transacting with God. Something deeper in us than our own minds moves us, but we do not realize it. We may not hear the Speaking Word at first, or have any clue whatsoever that God is speaking to and drawing us, but seem just drawn to a new direction and we have to follow where it leads.
For a time it may lead us into being prodigal sons. “Oh, God doesn’t do that, Satan does that,” we are prone to say. Most of us have the basic understanding that people become prodigal sons by listening to and giving in to temptation. There is one problem with that understanding, however. All of us are born as prodigal sons. We are all born under the spell of the lie. It does not matter how respectable we look or do not look. Each one of us before the Son is revealed to and in us, manages a personal pigsty, provided free of charge by the pigsty owner, the “prince of the power of the air.”
And yet, the snake still does not run our whole lives! He has a great deal of sway in the temporal, but the Father sets his limits. The Father above uses the prodigality of each of us to bring us to the end of ourselves, so that one day we come to ourselves while working in the pigsty, and remember our Father. Standing there in that foul mud and smell, suddenly the Light dawns!
Did the prodigal son do anything to make himself “come to?” No, it came by the wind from the Spirit! But he heard that time! That moment was the moment of “repentance” (change of mind or direction) and rebirth, because the pigsty kingdom had lost its power over him when suddenly the light pierced the darkness he had only known until then. He still smells like the pigs on the outside and maybe people have a hard time at first recognizing the change, but at that moment standing in the pig mud, he finds paradise within himself! (Everything is inner consciousness.) Like the song said, “Heaven came down and Glory filled my soul ….” And so it did his! Glory in the pig pen puts him on the road toward home until the day his father sees him from afar and runs from the house to greet him with hugs and kisses and tears.
What IS will? Most people associate “will” with action, activity, a decision about what to do, where to go, Who will be our God, etc. In that context will is just another word for “choice.” Did the prodigal son have a “choice” in what he did? On the most outer level, yes, he made the choice, and he knew it was not what his father wanted for him. But there was something deeper at work than the son’s desire to leave home and experience the world “out there.”
Now, we might ask how do we identify with the prodigal son, since we are all born outside the gates of Eden, already far from our Father in heaven? Well, we cannot pin everything down in the story to this view, but it is plain the prodigal son story in its most basic form is Adam and Eve and the Father. (I’ll say “Adam” for brevity but it is both.) Adam was the primary “son of God” (Luke 3:38) who left his first estate, wandering off wasting and devaluing his inheritance. Since we are all children of Adam in his wandering condition, we can all identity with the prodigal son, too. (We need to give up the idea that this is only talking about people who get hooked on drugs or alcohol or other overtly destructive things. It is the story of us all.)
The next question to ask (and this eventually becomes the only question that concerns us in everything) is why did the Father let him go, surely knowing what would happen? If God is in charge, He could have kept him from partaking of the tree, but He did not. Why? What is the Father after? As I just said, this is THE question in everything when we are in the flow of God’s life and ways. We don’t ask why did this happen, or whose fault it is or was or lament too greatly over temporal consequences and outcomes because of the far greater glory we see in what the Father is after – and that is the edification (building up) of us ALL to be the manifestation of the sons.
While some are gifted with eyes that see and ears that hear at an early age (e.g. Samuel as a small child), most of us come to it through the difficulties, failures and victories of life in some stage of adolescence or adulthood. The Father could have trained and seasoned us by just making a film for us to watch – a movie that tells us what to watch out for, how to act and how not to act, how to love and how not to love, how to be for others and how not to be for others. We could take some courses, study and graduate, apply what we learned in school in life, and all live happily ever after.
But God had a better idea. He has let each of us be the star of the movie of our own lives, where we start out by facing things objectively and academically. By “objectively” I mean seeing everything and everyone as “objects,” like characters and scenery in the film – two dimensional rather than three. And by academically I mean understanding everything in a conceptual way mentally, but with no living experience.
As we spend time out there on the human front lines, one by one our solid objects (belief systems, self-confidence, self-reliance) begin to crumble, and the temporal blacks and whites we thought we had figured out become less solid. The more life goes on the more we realize life is completely real and immensely serious in its center. And even more than events, the people in it are real and not hollow objects without feeling and life, but every one of them the same as ourselves, with hurts and pains, failures and successes, a desire to be loved and to love, etc. And in these things we are most of us just alike, no matter our background, nationality, education, or religious beliefs.
That is what it means in Ezekiel 36 when the prophet says,”26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” This is what the Father is after!
How often we have written about and read things about the lie of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” “Do not eat from that tree,” the Lord God told us. But we just HAD to have a bite, and BOOM, here we are now, and “28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30).
God has never gone to Plan B. The choice in the garden did not thwart the plan, but instead put us on the road to the plan’s complete fulfillment! By submitting the creation to vanity, without the will of the creature, we are all living out Paul’s great word: “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Rom 8:20-22).
But “will” is even more than choice, both in God and in us. In another sense, will is more like a “mindset,” an immovable determination, that this is where I stand and this is who I am. Sort of a continuously chosen “choice.” The “choice” to be this and not that, produces its own fixed consciousness in the thing chosen. (This is important.)
It is like Norman Grubb’s famous phrase about faith: “What you take takes you.” His common example was a carpenter. When you start and are just learning, you may be only a laborer or an apprentice. As an apprentice one is a student, because he lacks both the knowledge and the skills necessary to be called a carpenter yet. He has to be taught and he has to practice. It is a time of learning, often by trial and error, both what to do, how to do it, what not to do, and how not to do it.
After a time some of that knowledge will combine with experience and begin to take hold. His carpenter “consciousness” is starting to develop. He presses on into the journeyman level – one who has the knowledge and the skills necessary to do most carpentry work, but still is not seasoned by years of doing it every day. But as time goes by, all the acquired knowledge and skills merge with experience so that carpentry becomes almost second nature. That merging of knowledge, skills and experience, create what we might call, “carpentry wisdom.” One is now a full carpenter. He is called by the thing he does. He does what he does not so much by thinking about it but more in a flow of being now who he is. He just knows what to do and how to do it. He “took” carpentry, carpentry took him, and he became (“one” with being) a carpenter. As I said above, the thing chosen produces its own fixed consciousness. That is the best definition, on the temporal level, that I can give to that term.
But of course we are speaking here on the deepest level, involving the integrity of our whole being, not whether we’ll have chicken or beef for dinner tonight. At our deepest level, before we “know” the Lord, something causes us somehow in various ways and levels, to continually decide whether we want to be love, light and blessing; or, to say, “To hell with that,” and fix ourselves into self-loving selves, out to get whatever we can. Every one in the world is continuously confronted with this inner determination, whether they know it or not. That is one of the reasons why Jesus could say, “He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:21)
Someone might ask, how could people who are not of the faith of Christ, be included in that? How can anyone “do” truth, and not be speaking from the Spirit of Truth?
Nothing is impossible with God!
Coming to the Light of course could not be completed except in finding the Father through the Son! I want us to understand that even though the Scriptures put us in one kingdom or another, according to our faith, there is a drawing process that most of us experience in coming to the faith of Jesus Christ. It is like still being behind the Iron Curtain and hearing of the Freedom in the West and wanting it, but still under the bondage of the Communist system. Many may have been enamored with the system at first, but something happens to burst the bubble and the hope for freedom starts to grow. Coming into the kingdom of God is like escaping the Iron Curtain. It is a completely different country, with freedom at its basis rather than bondage to the old regime.
But when Paul says in Eph 1:11, that, “He works all things according to the counsel of His own will,” is that contradictory to freedom, and does that nullify what some call “free will” or “freedom of choice?” Paul does say, “all things.” What room, then, for freedom if “all things” (ALL) are “worked” by Him?
God gives us the answer Himself, regarding His Being, His Love, and His Freedom. I quote it all the time: “With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.” (Ps 18:26; 2 Sam 22:7; Titus 1:15). This is another way to say according to your faith be it unto you.
While we are not independent, there is still a “place” in us that is, in a sense, “ours” alone. It is right here in this issue – which kind of person do I want to be? Now understand, making that “choice” does not mean that I can become this person I want to be, no, God must do it! We find that out later, because pretty much 100% of us think we might be able to pull it off in the beginning. But if it comes from the Spirit, that desire will bring us all the way through, even though it may start out in our personal consciousness as something selfish. Everything from then on out is a result of that inner momentous transaction, and likewise we are “God’s will” expressed, in that choice, be it darkness or light. (How could God’s will be expressed in darkness? Read on!)
Let’s look again at that passage, first – “With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure.” This is saying the exact same thing as Jesus’ word on the “single eye.” “If thine eye be single, then thy whole body shall be full of light.” This is the “eye” as Jesus described it that sees only one thing – God! Over, under, beneath, above, in and through ALL! No matter what else may appear on the landscape, be it war, famine, pestilence, destroyed lives, selfish behavior – whatever it is – we see only God working in all things His perfect purposes, because there is no other Power, no other Mind, no other Heart, ACTIVE in the universe, working all things after the counsel of His own Will, which is Love, or in William Law’s terms: “the eternal will to all goodness.” The disturbances in the foreground, which may come from “evil” being evil or the devil being the devil, cannot blind us to the God Who works every bit of it, down to the smallest, most minute detail, for the glory of the Redeemed! Nothing excepted!
Understand this – Satan does not run himself, which is why there is no reason to quake in front of him! He is not free to wreak havoc wherever and whenever he wants to. He may be self-deluded that he is in charge, but he is not. If in ANY SENSE, Satan has a “power” that the Lord God cannot thwart, swallow up, or transmute into righteousness, then Romans 8:28 falls to the ground as an ultimate sham, because God is promising something He apparently cannot deliver, if Satan is actually an “independent self,” doing his own thing in contradiction to God’s love.
The worst thing Satan ever engineered was the crucifixion of Jesus, but look what he did! In killing Jesus he unwittingly established the Kingdom of God, rather than destroyed it! Jesus never gave in to the idea that the Cross had been Satan’s doing. On the night when they came to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter greatly protested Jesus’ arrest, and would’ve prevented it by violence if he could have.
But Jesus said to Peter: “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). Jesus had called His upcoming task to be His Father’s cup in His multiple sessions of prayer in Gethsemane, each time coming to the conclusion, “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” (Matt 26:42).
Jesus never acknowledged the activity of Satan in His passion. Satan truly had engineered it, from start to finish, but Jesus told Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (John 19:11). From God, not Satan! Yes, Satan had put the machinery together and worked out the details, nevertheless Jesus was delivered up for death by the “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God!” (Acts 2:22-23).
“And with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.” (The dictionary defines “froward” as “willfully contrary.”) This is the other side of the coin. In that inner determination to be for ourselves, whether by default or deliberate choice (and some do deliberately make that choice), we can then only see what we are and know, which is frowardness. It is perverseness, rebellion, scoffing, mocking and haughtiness. It is seeing other people just as “objects” to be manipulated and bound in our service.
When, “with the pure thou wilt show thyself pure,” overtakes us, everywhere we look we see the glory and purity of God. Conversely, when we walk in willful frowardness, we see hell everywhere, because that is what we are. We see and transmit outwardly whatever we are, not necessarily what our words or even deeds may say. If we are heaven within, that is overall what will come out of us. Likewise, if we are hell within, that also is what will come out of us. The difference is, heaven will edify and make us ourselves, our true selves, which has always been hidden in Christ in God. Hell, on the other hand, only seeks to gobble us up. The Holy Spirit brings Christ in us to shine outwardly like the Sun in benevolence and blessing. However, if we are darkness within, the false spirit only seeks who it may trap and devour by us, like a black hole in space, that scientists say have such a strong inward gravitational pull, they trap Light! Light enters in, but never comes back out.
The same theme is picked up in Revelation 22: 11,12 –
“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
This is “how” everything is worked according to the counsel of His own will. We say this because we want to be very clear and understood if possible. Everything there is, “lives and moves and has its being in God.” Paul told that to the “unbelieving” Athenians in Acts 17. There is no other “locale” in the universe, except the “existence,” the “be-ing” of God, Who is All in all, and being that “ALL,” He cannot be fully perceived by that which is only a “part.”
Therefore, we live in the “be-ing” (substance, reality, existence) of God, simply because there is no other “place” to be! We know Him either in Love or in Wrath. “Wrath” is not something He does to punish us, nor is it some divine emotion God “feels” about us. It is even less a fixed destiny, but if we do not know the Son, Whose Light and Love bring us into the same, then we can only see wrath. John says this in plain words: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn 3:36).
Understand, the “wrath,” which is felt in the inner being of the person and not in the Love of God, remains intact in this or that person, not for punishment, but that by the futility of that wrath we might come to a saving knowledge of the truth! The stirring of the wrath nature in us by the enemy, which is contrary to the purpose of our creation, is God’s mercy and grace, by which we might come to know Him in Spirit and in Truth.
The wrath I am meaning is the “wrath” of the unfulfilled creature, the wrath of never being able to have all that it wants to build itself for itself. If it could have the whole world, even the whole Milky Way, it would not be enough. There is no fulfillment of anything outside the Life of the Father. It is often called in scripture “the wrath of God,” but it is felt only in the creature who lives in the spirit of wrath, and not in the saints nor in God Himself as He Is Love.
So, of course, then, this wrath it is not the “uncontrollable rage” of God, boiling mad at us and the world for a million-gazillion sins and hot to bring us destruction because of it. The wrath is not punishment for our sins, but instead both the source of, and the result of, the sins in our souls and bodies, and darkness in our spirit. That is what “the wages of sin is death,” (Rom 6:23a), means, but the hope is that the death-life of sin leads to, “the gift of God [which] is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:23b).
There is no wrath in God – He is only love. God Himself says that He does not see evil. (Hab 1:13). John says that in God there is no darkness at all (even though John also says “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not” – [John 1:5]).
And yet, wrath is prevalent! What we must come to understand in all this, is that what “wrath” there is, is not in God, in His “God is Love” nature. It is “in” God, in the sense that creatures out of fellowship with Him can only know wrath in themselves, because through unbelief they are cut off from the only thing that cools the fires of self-loving self – The SON – the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” Jesus of Nazareth, Whom God has made, “both Lord and Christ.” (Acts: 2:36).
God’s purpose has never been about wrath and punishment. Those are the devil’s tools. From the beginning it has been a road that in the fullness of time eventually leads to that for which the whole creation has been in earnest travail since the first day of creation: the manifestation of the Sons of God!
End Part 2