Some Basics About Union and Oneness
By Fred Pruitt
(A few short questions and not-so-long answers on a variety of things. Originally published as “Clarifying Semi Conclusions”.)
Q1: What is the “Old Man?”
The “Old Man” was who we each were in our past life before we were brought to the New Birth. To believe and to see what I am about to say, is to get to the root of the tree, and here we are laying in hard with our Axe! It is the lair of the insidious snake that has wound its way in and through everything in the world, always posing as the most Good, the most Righteous, and always glad to campaign against evil.
The “Old Man” was the false persona in which we lived all our days prior to our liberation and birth into the New Kingdom. It was gifted to us by our false master, the devil, who told us to wear it because he could not let people see our true identity – as children he had stolen. It was energized by his demonic spirit, and in those days under that deception, we did the lusts of our father, the devil.
It is so subtle though, especially in those who are “good,” that it is hard to believe this could be true of all those who do not know the Son. We are used to saying, “Y’all pray for Jim! You know how his life has been. He’s been on drugs, committed crimes. He REALLY NEEDS the Lord!” And everyone will agree, “Yes, Jim really does NEED the Lord.”
The subtlety of the whole thing is that in that thinking we are entirely missing the fact that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Since we miss that fact, we overlook the other folks in our lives – the ones who are not having a drug problem, or who are not getting into trouble with the law. We don’t call up a prayer circle, and ask them to pray for our grown child, saying, “He’s really successful and the business he started is really starting to make money. His wife is beautiful and loves him. He has three children, all teenagers, and they’re all doing wonderfully. So please pray for him, because he REALLY NEEDS the Lord!”
No, not many do that. We may have no idea what goes on behind closed doors, but the outward appearance is good enough for us. People really fight this, though to me it is plain in scripture. The reason so many fight it, is because they still believe they can produce good and refrain from evil. It’s a macho thing! But also, and perhaps more importantly, it is hard for us to see through outer “good” to inward spiritual “evil.” We tend to think people are “good” who are the upstanding citizens, those who help others, or maybe just people who mind their own business and let others be, as well. So when I speak of this hidden “devil” in every human being from the Fall of Adam until now, who is cast out in Christ, I appear to be a crazy man, catching heat from believers and unbelievers alike! People equate what I am saying as a form of demon possession, but it’s more like “The Matrix.” “The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one.” (1 Jn 5:19).
When we turn to the Lord we are no longer “of” the world, just as we are no longer “of” our false father, the devil. We were, but through Jesus’ Body and Blood we are dead to that which we once were, and by Jesus’ Resurrection we are recreated in Christ Jesus to walk in the works of God and love of the brethren.
Q2: What happens to my “spirit” when I am born into Christ?
In Christ, the deceiver has been kicked out of us, and now our spirits are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Understand, He does not come into our being and stay in some little hut inside us, as if He is “in us,” but “separate” from us. Paul clarified it when he wrote, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” We become “one” with Christ in spirit (which means we are “one” with the Father and the Spirit, too!).
There is a joining. I believe there is misunderstanding by some, thinking we have no “spirit” until we are born again of God’s Spirit. But that is not the case. “ And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7). God’s “breath of life” IS spirit. In Genesis the word for spirit in Hebrew is “ruwach,” meaning breath or wind. In the New Testament the word for spirit in Greek is “pneuma,” meaning wind or spirit. God’s wind or breath or Spirit brought us to the first birth (“and man became a living soul”), as well as to the second birth (“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” and like can only beget like.
This is why Jesus said call no man your Father. He is not instructing us to disown our earthly father, nor does it have anything to do with how one might address a spiritual leader of a congregation. Jesus is only saying what we already know, that God IS our Spiritual Father, and we have no other. And since our spiritual beginning is our true beginning (rather than our merely “earthly” beginning), we cannot see any other Eternal Father except the One True God whose offspring we all are. We had a false father (the devil) almost from birth, but we did not directly know him. We only became aware of ourselves, and that is where the enemy hid himself, in our own self-consciousness.
As I said, very subtle, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made…” (Gen 3:1). He is so subtle that if one were to stand up in a crowd of people walking around and announce that every person who has not been born of the Spirit of God is a child of the devil and does his works, if they didn’t rise up and kill “their accuser” on the spot, they would laugh themselves silly at such a cockamamie notion. Meanwhile the Big Dog himself, Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, Baal, is standing in the crowd laughing the loudest! He can be the star of the show just by his anonymity!
“Natural man” can easily see evil in others, though usually we do not know we are seeing “spirit evil.” We just think something is wrong or “off” about the other person. We judge others for their faults, as Jesus said, but we do not see the great big giant Sequoia Tree in our own eye. Prior to our Spirit conversion, New Birth, we did not believe, and every one of us had that great big giant Sequoia in our own eyes. We could not “judge righteous judgment” because we had no righteousness and we were blinded to the truth about our very selves – “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor 4:3-4). And, as Paul instructed Timothy in perhaps the last letter he wrote before his martyrdom, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves … that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim 2:25-26).
But in Christ, as we have explained elsewhere, none of the above applies to us anymore. We have been “undeviled” in the Cross, and died to his false life and to the law by which he continually accused us. When Jesus’ body died on the Cross, having taken into Himself “SIN” and allowed its complete victory (though it was temporary), i.e., physical death, the SIN-SPIRIT that had attached itself to Jesus to kill Him utterly, was separated from His dead body. It left Him empty, to be later re-filled with the Holy Spirit of God, as He was raised by the Power of the Father on the third day. In all this lies our living truth and living reality as Sons in the Son forever.
Therefore, through the recent “opening” in our inner spirit after its former tenant was evicted, now the Holy Spirit comes into our inner spirit selves, to be united in oneness with us in all things. We become citizens of a new kingdom, with new truths and realities unknown before! To be “saved,” therefore, is not a judicial act God does, because we have believed or fulfilled some other requirement. To be saved is to enter into God’s own selfhood by His entry into us through which we become “one” with Him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We had all our lives been expressing out of an inner spirit union, the spirit of error. But now in Christ we are in a new spirit union, the Spirit of Truth! How do we know the difference?
The spirit of truth strips us of all our falsehood. For a time He calls us to be as if we are not, so that we know there is none but He. But then after a time He calls us out again, by name, like Lazarus, and commands us, “Come forth!”
Who is this coming forth?
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
“Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.” (Ps 24:7-10).
I ask again, Who is this coming forth, that the Psalmist names? It is the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle! And it is the Lord of Hosts, the King of glory! But who are they, how are they seen?
I am speaking of Lazarus. Lazarus lay in that tomb for his appointed time, until on a particular day he woke to the sound of someone calling His name. The voice did not beckon or plead. It commanded. There was silence and only darkness. Suddenly – LIGHT!
Then, “LAZARUS, COME FORTH!!!!!!!”
The spirit of error would have us NOT come forth. While its temptations promise the opposite, it negates us as persons in our own right. Satan is afraid of us coming to this second birth, because the WHO that emerges from that tomb and called of the Lord, is none other than the Lord Himself, the Anointed One, strong in battle, the King of glory!
And yet it is you and me! Everything about the stories in Genesis down to the instructions, layout and meanings of the Tabernacle in the wilderness are a presentation of this Truth. And every bit of it points to Christ, but even further than that, every bit of it points to us who are in Christ and in whom Christ lives, so that it is no longer us, but Christ in us.
Of all the miracles Jesus performed, the resurrection of Lazarus was the closest to home. Not closest to home as regards our physical death, but closest to home as regards our spiritual death and resurrection in Him! It was important that Jesus performed that last “major” miracle just prior to His own Death and Resurrection. The reason is because Lazarus is just like us, in a sense physically, relating to Jesus, as we are spiritually. Lazarus was a believer, and got the fullest baptism anyone ever did! He actually died; they had his funeral and laid him in a tomb. He had been buried for four days by the time Jesus and the disciples showed up. As his sister pointed out to Jesus, “He stinks with putrefaction.” That meant he was extremely dead.
But as we all know, Jesus told them to remove the stone covering the tomb door, and called for Lazarus to come out of the tomb. Then Lazarus shows up in the door, and Jesus commands them to loose him from the binding graveclothes. Later, Jesus and the disciples dine with Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
Now, how am I comparing Lazarus to our Christian lives? Because Lazarus, once he was reborn (raised from death), did not immediately go fully into God in the heavenly realm, but had to continue to live out his appointed life in the earth. Just like we do. We truly did die in Him in His Cross, which is our testimony in baptism, and we truly did rise in Him to eternal life, and to walk in the works of Christ – not our works, but His, which He does by us!
Q3: What is intimacy with God?
An often common thought among us is that life’s major emphasis is all about God, finding out about God, getting close to God, “trying to be like” God, etc. It’s funny, because that is really the carrot that is dangled out there for people – the “carrot” that there might just be a God, and He might just love “me” if it’s true what some say. But it really isn’t as much about “finding out about God,” as we might think. As Paul wrote, the great Mystery of the Good News is Christ in YOU!
Recently some folks shared with me their impression of the message of Jesus Christ, as they perceived others had shared it with them. They saw Jesus as more of a mythological figure, whose sacrificial death others had used for their own gain, to establish a “religion” with Jesus as a man-made “Chosen One,” with everyone bowing down to him, as a political means of controlling the people. While on one hand I could see how they could have such an impression, on the other I was greatly grieved and saddened that they did not know the tremendous goodness of the Lord toward us manifest in Jesus Christ.
Whatever “men” did in the name of Christ that was shameful, and much has been done in that name that was shameful, it has been only a distortion of the love of God through Jesus Christ. God was almost made to appear a monster by men who claimed to serve Him, making the “eternal will to all goodness” appear as if an angry tribal deity demanding sacrifice and obedience by intimidation and fear, which is as far from the truth of the unbounded Love of the Father as dark is from light.
Jesus said that when He was lifted up, He would draw all men unto Him. (Jn 12:32). Why, to what purpose? To save them from destruction? Yes. To restore them to their proper inheritance and place in the Last Adam? Yes. To bring them into Paradise? Yes.
How? How would we each be brought into Paradise and the ultimate of all things? By each discovering to the uttermost within themselves the great mystery:
“That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. … That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph 2:7; 3:16-19).
When Christ calls us to Himself, what is behind calling us to Himself is that He is really calling us to our TRUE SELVES, eternally begotten in Him! That is the great discovery, the mystery within the mystery! It is the “Pearl of Great Price,” the “Treasure hidden in a field.” (Matt 13:44-46). It is the fulfillment of Col 3:3,4 – “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
It may take a while to find this out, because in the beginning it seems like it’s all just about God and we’re glad for that! But like any responsible Father, He sees to our education and our maturity. And our “maturity” is found in the verse quoted immediately above. “When Christ, WHO IS OUR LIFE, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”
That is His goal, not that He would appear, but that we also would “appear with Him in glory.” Now, we are not speaking of a “future” glory here, though there certainly is that. No, we are speaking of an extremely present, present tense glory, in this current moment. And this is the moment we appear with Him in glory! Right now, in whatever the situation! In this moment we appear with Him in glory. In one moment’s glance, in a split-second of remembrance, with a softly spoken word of faith and power, the hell surrounding us becomes heaven in our midst.
Q4: What about knowing or knowledge?
I’ve become a “know-nothing” person more and more over the years. Jacob Boehme more than once said he was as dumb as a donkey in the things of the Spirit, that “he” did not know them, only the Spirit in him knew them. His words rang true in me because I am the same way. He was talking about being able to “grasp and hold onto it” with his brain or intellect. And that “grasp and hold onto it” is the real key in what I am talking about. The reason is that anything we “grasp and try to hold onto” is flesh in operation – me me me! Knowledge for me! Understanding for me!
What do I mean by “grasp and hold onto it”? During the settling time in us, we “must” grasp and hold onto these truths in our faith. We sort of practice it. “Oh yes,” we say to ourselves, “It’s not me, it’s Him.” “Oh that’s right, I’m not me, I’m He!” It is as if our physical brain has no convolution available to store that information and knowledge. So we keep repeating it to ourselves, and we like reading it over and over, too. We do not want to hear anything contrary to that.
But then, by the Spirit, just as we came to inwardly “know” we are saved, something occurs in us that makes it “click” so to speak, and we “know” Who we are inwardly. It is the Spirit’s confirmation of our faith confession. We cannot define the moment for anyone, because there is no set “way” it happens, nor is there any sort of predictable time-frame.
But once that occurs, we receive and believe it in faith, just as in knowing we are born of the Spirit, and we do not have to remind ourselves every day Who we are and it’s not me it’s He. We just walk around being ourselves, inwardly “knowing” (the Biblical “knowing”) Him in ourselves, but that is a fact in the background, only necessary to bring up here and there, and for the most part, we give it little thought. It just IS. Like when I turned 16. I simply “was” 16, nothing to prove, convince myself of, etc. 16 was simply the fact of my age.
So being born of the Spirit became to us fact at some point even as being 16 was fact, and then the same occurs in union life. One day it just becomes “fact.” And now back to this “grasp and hold onto it” subject. At this point, it concerns our outgoing life, our giving life. The former life is learning to walk in the Spirit for ourselves, which is an absolute necessity in order for the next thing to come.
Now this next part of life is learning and walking in the Spirit “for others.” Jesus said, Jn 7:38, that out of our innermost being would flow rivers of Living Water. Where is the direction of the flow? Outward of course! That water is not for us, but as it passes through, we drink of it because the river, as it leaves us, often “ministers” to us things we had never articulated before and are just as much surprising to us as they might be to the others with us. It’s just that we can’t keep them for ourselves! They are part of a flow, and to attempt to keep them for ourselves, frankly, begins to lessen the outflow!
This is SO vitally important, and how we keep from becoming a religion or a bastion of “right doctrine.” Spirit Life is DYNAMIC, and new every moment! Once we make a system out of it, i.e., “grasp and hold onto it,” no matter how good and perfect it was in its beginning, it becomes like the gathering of more than today’s manna. You will remember, I’m sure, that if the Israelites gathered more than they needed any day but the day before the Sabbath, the next morning the leftover manna would be rotten and full of worms. That’s why Paul told the Corinthians they were Living Epistles of Christ. Those living brethren, who in Christ were new every moment, were Paul’s theology!
While we are not nothing, we become as if nothing in ourselves, blank slates so to speak, only awaiting the Spirit’s chalk on our slate. That is the way we live. We live continuously by the Life of Another. It isn’t something we think about or try to maintain by some sort of discipline to keep it shored up. This “Life of Another” is eternal in us. Jesus was raised by the Father, Who was to Him, “Another.” He lived by the Holy Spirit, Who was, to Him, “Another.” It is the same with us. That does not negate union; it is simply the practical working of it.
I use my writing process as an example. When I write, I start out with an urge and a vague idea. I never approach it like I am going to write out of my vast reservoir of knowledge that I have committed to memory. My entire writing “process” is spent with me continually being a blank slate, especially the beginning. (My speaking is the same way.) As I write, I begin to get the sense of where the Spirit is going, and that’s when Spirit-infused intellect starts to kick in, and what started out vague begins to come to greater clarity – all with me in complete weakness the whole time. I take lots of breaks and just go walk around, usually not trying to “work out” how I am going to say whatever, but just to go “away” from my desk for a bit and think of nothing. Lots of times while thinking of nothing, something will pop into my mind, and I go sit back down and the next phase of writing comes.
So, yes, I am in union, “one spirit;” yes, my Father and I are one; yes, when you see me you see the Father, but in all that I am still living and dying and resurrecting by the power of Another. It is the reality for eternity, because there is a Cross in the heart of God.
“Thanks be to God for His unspeakable Gift!” (2 Cor 9:15).