Love and Freedom 4
By Fred Pruitt
Freedom in Action
I know this is review and repetitive (even in this very series) for many of us, but I ask that you bear with me, because this is truly vital to see.
Ultimately we manifest whatever our heart is. There may be a bit of a mixture in consciousness for a time, but eventually whoever we are will come to full manifestation. If it is darkness, we manifest darkness, even in the guise of good and light. If light, we manifest light. Jesus said we are the light of the world, and that He is the light of the world. Which is it, or both? In Him, it is both. We are the light that enlightens the world with Christ.
At some point, an individual encounters this divide we have been speaking of – what am I all about? He cannot solve it for himself, but there is something in each of us that God has placed there that gives us this choice, or perhaps desire to find a solution to our common dilemma. It is our freedom, because we can only be real true persons if we are free.
It is almost God’s greatest gift, that we are free individuals and in that freedom have by gift and grace received the very Person of God Himself, Whom we have found not in the adornments of our buildings, nor the vast expanses of deserts, nor in the heights of the highest mountains, but in the depths of our own hearts and spirits. Likewise we know it was not by any art or wit or cleverness, nor by good deeds on our part that brought this great gift to us.
For each of us who come to know Him in this way, there are moments in which we seem stunned to consider it all. Why me? Why did I hear and respond to the call (after a few years), and so many of my friends did not? That for me is the stunning part – how did I end up here on God’s team? I am immensely grateful and know in my depths that I didn’t draw myself to God, He did! And that’s all I know.
Even though at center we say that outside Christ we are wickedness, and I believe the scriptures say this in plain words, there is still also hidden in us this seed of Eve, the “light that lights every man that comes into the world.”
It is possible to be “in the world” and under the dominion of “the prince of the power of the air,” as Paul said we have all been at some point, and at the same time hear God calling. We are not at home in darkness, because we were not created for it. We were created for light, to shine light, to be light. Our foundational being is stamped with that desire like a DNA.
It is God’s business, who “hears” and who does not. I know that His judgments are “true and righteous altogether” and I trust them whether I understand them or not. I trust that He is Love and that everything He does is Love.
While salvation and life has been provided for all, the New Testament in no uncertain terms sends warning to those who do not respond. The New Testament in no uncertain terms says some do not hear, some do not respond, and some are even called “the children of the enemy.” (Matt 13:24-30). In the parable of the wheat and tares (killer weeds), Jesus exhorts us to not try to cut out the “tares” as we might perceive them, but to leave them to come to full growth along with the wheat, and then it will be plain what each is. When they are young and immature they look alike.
And this is where we can see how He works all things after the counsel of His own will. Some might ask, “How can it be God’s will that tares grow up? Or how can it be God’s will that the tares would be thrown into the fire?”
As I said above, God’s will is Freedom. In a sense, I would almost call this “attribute” of God, a “choice” like we mentioned above, where eternally God has chosen to not be a liar. God “decided” that the best environment for anything to work, was an environment of Love based in Freedom. Love does not work with compulsion. Force and intimidation do work on the flesh level – all the evil tyrants have proven that — but those are forms the Godhead has rejected, and left that kind of “motivating” to the devil.
When the first one, Lucifer, made that choice between either Self-Giving Light and Love, or self-acquiring Might and self-elevation, thereby choosing the way of pride of self, he opened the kingdom of wrath and darkness in himself, for himself and all his legions. To that kingdom, to the raging fire of self-consuming self, God has said an eternal “No!” And on the strength of that No, He eternally dwells in Light and Gentleness, being nothing but blessing upon blessing.
But when Satan became who he became, he was still within the “God in whom we all live and move and have our being,” and he opened that “dark” kingdom in creation. It had never been opened before. Even though he began a timeless campaign to steal, lie, kill and rob God in everything he set out to do, nevertheless he finds himself, though unaware most likely because he could never admit it, still working in the workings of Him, “who works all things after the counsel of His own will.”
We Are Vessels
God just changed the way He used him, from what it would have been, to bring about the fulfillment of His Eternal Purposes. Paul tells us we are all vessels, i.e., we are not a complete package in ourselves, but that our body-soul-spirit “form” exists to manifest the working of the inner deity who drives us. A “vessel” is an object that is used to carry something else. A jar is a vessel for liquid, or a cart is a vessel for goods being hauled to market. So a vessel exists not just for itself alone, but to carry, or manifest, something else.
We are also called “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” and several times in the New Testament we are called temples. In ancient times people went to temples because they thought their god or gods lived there. It was his house. That is the theme in which the New Testament describes us as “temples.” “Temples of the Living God,” Jeremiah called us. The meaning is clear – we walk around in the world being a temple, i.e., dwelling place, of God. All of us!
So, just as a human being is a vessel, that which transports either the Spirit of Truth or the spirit of error, we are also called “temples,” meaning the place where God, or a god, dwells. Paul says if we are in Christ we are temples of the Living God, of the Spirit, that is. They reside within us, and the glory we reflect (as Jesus said we do – John 17:22) is not our own, but the glory of Christ by the Spirit.
Likewise Jesus tells us in John 15 that we are branches on the “True Vine,” outgrowths if you will of Christ, and as such, we have His Life-Sap running through our being, and our branches bear His fruit. The branch/vine relationship is different from the other two, vessels and temples. In the latter, the vessel and that which it carries always remain separate. In the sense that we still maintain and are a “separate identity” from Christ, we forever human (whatever humanity becomes in the ages to come) and He forever the Eternal Godhead, that part is correct. It is likewise the same using the temple example.
However, the branch/vine analogy takes it further. We are organically joined to the Vine, an actual living branch on the Vine which is Christ. None of the other pictures give the full sense of oneness, i.e., that, “I and my Father are one.” And likewise, we ourselves are not yet fully “home” until we also see and join Jesus in oneness with the Father, as He outlined in John 17:3;11;20-23. This is our completion, to walk in the world and yet it is He walking.
Conversely, we can be vessels of wrath or dishonor, instead of vessels of mercy or honor, as Paul described in Rom 9:21-23. In other words, we are still vessels, but of the spirit of error. And if we are “of” wrath then God’s “will” toward us “is” wrath, not because God has arbitrarily decided that for us, but because it is the way we have chosen and wrath is always the result, not for punishment, but as the natural outcome of the way we have chosen. It’s like pouring gasoline on a burning fire. The resultant consuming flame-up is simply a natural result from the action, and not God’s “punishment.” Hopefully, continuing in wrath causes many to finally be brought to their knees, calling upon the name of the Lord for their deliverance! But some persistently refuse, and stand in mortal danger in that refusal. But we pray for better things for them!
And in that sense, it is “God’s wrath,” though the wrath does not exist in God or show up in any way in His Kingdom. It is, instead, the inner life of those who seek to save themselves but end up losing themselves. Without the Son to cool the fires of wrath in us (John 3:36), we remain in wrath and express wrath.
The kingdom of wrath first comes from “pride of self,” a desire to ascend over others to build up oneself. Then comes possessive covetousness, in that we see things that others have, and we lust to possess them ourselves – we want them for our own! To hell with them! From that arises the sickness of envy – we see that THEY have what we want and we resent them for having it – we don’t want THEM to have it because WE want it! And then finally hell explodes into its full fury, in hate, anger and wrath, which produces murder and violence and every other abominable thing men have done over the millennia.
But God, through Paul in Romans 9, still calls those “wrong” vessels, God’s vessels nonetheless. They still accomplish the will and purpose of the Father, though it works in them negatively. To the saints, in every case the workings of evil are the exact right “disturbance” needed to bring forth the purposes of God in that particular situation, by the “negative” being part of bringing forth God’s ultimate plan.
The two clearest examples of this in scripture are Joseph and his brothers, and Jesus and Judas Iscariot with the Sanhedrin and Roman authorities. I’ve said it a million times and I may say it a million more until we all see, but the key to seeing with “the single eye” is contained right here in this truth. The “single eye” is God’s grace that we see only God’s purposes at work, no matter what “evil” is afoot to demand our attention and thwart our situation or our faith.
Joseph demonstrates this clearer than anyone else in scripture, in his last recorded confrontation with his brothers, who sinned grievously against him and their father, by selling Joseph to slave traders heading for Egypt, while telling their father, Jacob, that a wild animal had killed him. They had done that out of jealousy for Joseph, who was their father’s favorite, and who also had claimed that God was going to raise him above his brothers and even His father in times to come. They didn’t much like hearing that. So when he showed up to check on them and then go back to “tattle-tale” to their father about their work (as they perceived it), they seized on the opportunity to get rid of him. And every bit of that plan, from its inception to its carrying out, and its effects on Joseph and their father Jacob, was pure evil, pure self-for-self on the part of the sons of Israel.
We know how the story went, that through Joseph’s miraculous rise to power in Egypt, his family, including all his brothers and his father, were able to come from Canaan into Egypt to be fed and safe during the time of the famine. When Jacob finally died, 17 years after they had come into Egypt, afraid of Joseph’s possible retribution, the brothers went to Joseph to reinforce their sorrow and repentance for what they had done to him years before. Joseph by all rights could have demanded of them more than he did. As regent in Egypt, he could even have had them put to death at his word, or their wives or children, and no one would have questioned him, for who would not desire that kind of come-uppance for those who had so ill-treated him?
But Joseph does not do that. One thing we must note about Joseph at this point. In every sense, he is “Christ” in this story. Not the “Christ Who came down from heaven,” as if he were some sort of precursor or something. No, Joseph’s story shows us the grown-up Christ in a grown-up man. Even as Joseph was made Lord over all the land, second only unto Pharaoh, in the same sense, when we assume our maturity in Christ, possessing our possessions, we become “Lord” over all we survey, too, in the same way Joseph was, second only to the Father in us.
Joseph demonstrated that the power of authority is not for self-getting, which is the way of the world, but for self-outpouring. The office of authority makes one a servant, a caretaker, a builder and edifier, of all in the domain. The office exists to pour life out from itself, rather than to make itself fat by pulling everything into itself. That is what Joseph became, and it is who we are in Christ as well.
And in that regard, Joseph was a see-througher! He did not just see the “acts” of God, but he came to know the “ways” of God as well. And the “ways” of God sometimes include letting evil be evil in its doings, in its motivations and desires – “let the filthy be filthy still, let the unjust be unjust still.” God MEANS it to be what it is, evil as evil, because God uses it to work the perfect purpose of God – as Joseph told his brothers – “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” (Gen 50:20,21).
He did not entirely let them off the hook, because he plainly stated they had thought evil against him. Certainly there were some consequences for what they had done. But Joseph does not leave it at that. Instead, he sees the bigger picture, the purpose of God that could only have come about because of the particular things Joseph “suffered,” “to save much people alive.” (That is what it is ALL about!)
Therefore, it was not really Joseph’s brothers who sent him to Egypt, but God, using the discord of evil, to bring about the salvation of the whole house of Israel, and after that, the salvation of the world.
My Father’s Cup
The other completely clear example in scripture is the Crucifixion itself, which in one sense was the blackest event on the blackest day in the history of the earth. Looking at it from that perspective, we can see the whole thing was engineered in its implementation by the devil. The devil was using the Jewish and Roman authorities to kill the son of the “lord of the vineyard,” so that they (the Chief Priests, etc.) might take the inheritance for themselves. They fulfilled the very parable Jesus had told to the scribes and Pharisees! They were fulfilling it of their own (Satanic – John 8:44) will and desire! Even Pilate knew the priests had brought Him in and wanted to destroy Him out of envy, but because of Pilate’s office his part was sealed.
To carry out their plan, they contracted with Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver, a huge sum, to betray him and lead the guards to him at an opportune moment. John 13 gives us a glimpse into Judas’ heart that night:
“And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God,” (13:2,3), and, “Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” (13:26,27).
This can leave no doubt. The Crucifixion was the devil’s plan, worked out by devilish means, by people who meant evil in their evil, working directly as “agents” of the devil (though wrongly believing they were “serving God”) – Judas, the chief priests, and the Roman authorities.
But what did Jesus say, later in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Peter protests Jesus’ arrest? “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). MY FATHER’S CUP!!!
But the devil brought the cup!
Yes, he did, but Jesus still called it “my Father’s cup!” Who did it come from? Most immediately, it had come straight from Satan. But Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, stands up and proclaims the Crucifixion not to be the work of the devil, but that He was delivered into the hands of the enemy to be killed, “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:23). The blackest, most evil thing ever done in the earth was when “we” (for we all participated both in his killing and in his death and resurrection), all humanity, killed the Lord of glory! And Peter boldly declares that it was done by the determinate, that is, purposeful, conclusive, settled and resolute counsel of the Father, Who we are reminded once more, “works all things after the counsel of His own will.”
What glory this is to see! Without this sight, we can never see wholeness. Everything will always look and be to us incomplete, and if it is “evil,” the only thing we can do is fight it and try to stomp it out, so that it doesn’t overcome and swallow up everything. Every day is a fight, and evil is a strong foe and never gives up, as long as we contend with it! Every day we contend with it as something to be found out and overcome, is a day in which “evil” is our object, rather than Christ, and we are enslaved in the conflict.
I know many well-meaning Christians who almost obsess on the devil, or are constantly on the lookout for false teachers or those teaching false doctrine, not knowing they have fallen right into his deceptive hands, since being the center of attention is his favorite thing! He gets his “power” from that recognition! If you’ve got to divide up your time by what you give your attention to, everyday give Satan 15 seconds and Jesus 23 hrs, 59 min and 45 sec – or better yet – give Satan 00000/zero/zed/nada/nothing, and Jesus 100%everything.
The way to “fight” the devil, is to give him no due! That is what Paul meant when he wrote: “Neither give place to the devil.” (Eph 4:27). Jesus also said the same thing: “the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (John 14:30b). He has nothing in YOU! So don’t give him anything! Pay him no mind!
Therefore, when we see through to the truth that even “evil” does not decide its own way, but that God takes the purposes of evil and uses them for the glory of the saints in light, we can then begin to see God All and in all. There is neither a location nor a state of existence in the temporal world where He is not victory NOW – even if for the moment the appearances are contrary. If there is “evil” afoot, it may have its day for a while, but it will not stand. Instead, its efforts to steal, kill and destroy will backfire and lead to the opposite of evil’s intents, working out to the glory of God, Who is above all, through all, and in us all, in Whose glory we all share, participate and propagate.