Shaking the ‘Change me’ Syndrome
By Fred Pruitt
So, here’s what you wrote me back:
Thank you, Fred for taking time to answering me I appreciate it! Well first of all my behaviour and secondly if circumstances aren’t changed then at least my reaction to them
By their fruits you shall know them. What fruit is Jesus talking about? And isn’t it something others can see? And shouldn’t I be able to see it for myself? I mean how else would I be able to give a testimony….
Ok, I hear you. This is going to be sort of a shot in the dark since I don’t really know you or your circumstances. But that’s ok – the Holy Spirit knows!
First of all, you’re not the first person who has asked these questions. Sooner or later we all ask the same questions you ask, in all sorts of different contexts. Then let me start off saying the best “teacher” is in you, and folks like me are around to hopefully help others to find all their inner resources in Christ. (1 John 2:27)
The second point I want to make is that no matter what endeavor you are looking for, no matter what results or visible “evidence” there may or may not be, walking in the Spirit of Christ involves faith, from top to bottom. There is no shortcut around faith. A lot of times we don’t realize when we are soaking in dogma and doctrine, we are often doing it because we are afraid of “raw” faith, which requires of us only everything we are or imagine ourselves to be, and is what, in the end, makes real persons of us.
The daily exercise of our faith (by the Spirit) causes us to grasp Life in all its ups and downs, to own it, to feel it, to be it. And, oh how glorious it is to experience what every other person on earth experiences as the “negatives” of our lives (our lacks, our weaknesses, our sorrow, our lack of clarity, our limited vision – we could go on ad infinitum!!) Just experiencing negative circumstances in and of themselves is not necessarily what is “glorious.” What is glorious about it is that another death and resurrection occurs. Jesus was a Man of Sorrows and we feel the sorrows He felt, but also He went to the Cross. In the Cross is where the “change” occurs, putting to death the old and the false, to make way for the coming resurrection.
And then the “other side” of the Cross, which was not only Jesus’ resurrection, but ours as well. We find a total resurrection occurring within us, as by the Spirit we cannot help but acknowledging every moment that Christ is manifesting Himself in our circumstances, in our knowledge, in our love, and that there is nothing left of our lives except that which He received from us in the Cross into spiritual death, and He arose within us, also by the power of the Father as a completely new creature in the Resurrection, where “behold, all things are new,” and, “all things are of God.” (2 Cor 5:16-21). (Highly recommended reading!)
When I say above that we might be a little skittish exercising “raw” faith as opposed to a “belief” in a dogma or doctrine, let me explain further what I mean. If we have a set of “concepts” in which we believe, that for us explains Who God is, as well as a set of concepts regarding “how” we relate to God, by which we try to live or order our lives, that is living according to dogma or doctrine. What we teach or share in that environment primarily has to do with nailing down, conceptually and with ever increasing clarity, the “dogmas” of our faith. And we zealously guard those dogmas which are “ours!”
However, in the Spirit’s school, in which we are all enrolled, while conceptual knowledge is important especially in the beginning things, perfection of “knowledge” on that level is not our goal. That is what Paul was speaking about when he wrote, “Knowledge puffeth up; charity edifieth.” (1 Cor 8:1b).
And this gets into this point we are exploring. What the Spirit is doing in all our lives is transporting us in our consciousness from faith (level), to another faith (level). One of the overall inner drives of the Spirit in us, is our increasing consciousness of “outer” and “inner.” We were born and still mostly live as “outer” people, i.e., trapped in the appearances by which we judge all things, we judge each other and God as well.
But it in this issue that we begin to see the answer to some of your questions. The reason I say that is because the great overriding truth we are dealing with at this moment, is that the INNER IS THE REAL! That can take a lifetime to sink in. But we can go pretty far in this life, too! The outer is not “untrue” nor is it merely illusion. But in our humanity we are almost hard-wired with an almost unshakeable consciousness of reality which says, “Only the Outer Is Real!” so that it is almost impossible to shake ourselves free. Another impossibility with men, but the Spirit has no problem disabusing us of that notion when His time is right.
Back to the subject. Each “faith level” is essentially the same thing every time, but the new place is a deepening in understanding and inner knowledge of the one Truth upon which all the others hang – we are temples who shine with His Light. We are vessels containing and expressing the Spirit. We are the outward limbs and branches of He Who is the True Vine. We are “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.” (2 Cor 4:10).
As I said above, the Spirit exercises us via our souls and bodies, which produces in us an ever greater consciousness day by day. (Heb 5:14). I don’t like to call it a “process,” but at the same time, nothing is ever a one-time event. Like a wedding. The “I do’s” are said at the beginning of married life, (for better or worse), and as soon as the officiant says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” BOOM, you’re married!! Renewing vows notwithstanding, it is a one-time event, but the effects of that one-time event are continuous until death.
This is essentially “wrestling” with God, something most of us experience one way or another. Isn’t that the whole point of our faith? The “wrestling” makes it intimate and personal. One does not wrestle with a book or a concept. But one might wrestle with the Author of the Book! However, now it seems there are some who are saying there is no need for a God to wrestle with, because our dogmas settle the issues and we can fight each other over “concepts” outside of ourselves.
Let’s take a popular one: “Once saved, always saved.” The always succinct statement of the “dogma” of the “doctrine of eternal security.” For people who found themselves in churches where that doctrine was taught, their “struggle” was over. No more worrying about keeping or losing our salvation. It was written down in plain language in the church’s statement of belief, and has received the seal of approval from the church hierarchy, so it must be true! Right?
However, honesty demands that we acknowledge that there are scriptural passages that seem to contradict the eternal security doctrine. What to do?
Now this is where that “wrestling with God” stuff comes in. That’s where we battle it out, in the inner depths of Christ within us. What is the important thing to see or learn? What are we after?
That was the first question Jesus put to the two disciples of John the Baptist in John 1:37-42. He actually said, “What do you want?”
Let me boil this down to a simplicity. We want the Truth, and we want it from God only! So there comes a day when we toss the book aside (whatever book) and walk out on the merits, not of others, and not mine in an independent sense, but the merits of Christ (He Himself is actually “THE MERIT”), which is enough extra merits to cover my deficiencies.
What do you think Jacob was doing the night before he was to meet with Esau, who was coming with 400 armed men? He was trying to figure out a way to get out of it. He was afraid of what might happen, so he sent gifts ahead hoping to appease Esau and calm him down, hopefully avoiding the tragedy that could happen. I’m sure Jacob’s imagination, stoked by the enemy, played havoc in his mind that night. People quote this story all the time and their emphasis is usually on Jacob’s prayerful perseverance, who “wouldn’t let go” of the angel until the angel blessed him. Good ol’ Jacob the prayer warrior, held up publicly before the millions of us who have come since and read Jacob’s story. But it isn’t what Jacob did that is the “star” of this particular show. It was what the Spirit (Angel) did, that deserves top billing.
Jacob still had one trick up his sleeve. If Esau arrived and it looked like he was not appeased and still had murderous intent, Jacob was in good shape and perhaps could run away and hide. It wasn’t much but it was one last human “ability” that he schemed might be needful. However, after the angel “touched” his thigh, Jacob became a partial cripple. Now he COULD NOT run, even if he wanted to.
But it did cause Jacob to go ahead and face Esau, hoping in his mercy and God’s love. And the Esau that showed up finally was much different than the picture we originally glimpsed of him, riding at full gallop with 400 armed cavalry, breathing fire and threats toward Jacob. When Esau and his men finally arrived, instead of shooting Jacob full of arrows or slicing him in two with his sword, Esau dismounted his horse and came over and embraced Jacob, crying big tears while he kissed Jacob’s neck!
Now, why did I bring this up and what does it have to do with your questions? It’s very subtle, but what I am talking about is like the difference between knowing something conceptually, some facts or philosophies over there, apart from me, interesting tidbits of knowledge we can toss around so people can know how spiritual or wise we are (“knowledge puffeth up?”), or the other side of the coin, (“charity edifieth”), which not only included a hobbled leg for the rest of his life, but the greatest prize of them all, “And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Gen 32:27, 28).
It is the same thing with the “eternal security” issue we brought up earlier. The way to “deal with” that issue is to fight it out within ourselves, rather than receiving or agreeing with the doctrine of the particular church we attend. I think most people, especially beginners, who are just beginning to live a faith life, when asking that question it is usually about themselves. It isn’t to figure out about everybody else. It’s something I have to figure out. Now, I am not meaning that outside the Spirit or that it “works” somehow because I figure it out. I am saying it must become “mine.” I want to know about “eternal security” for everybody or everybody who receives Christ, at least I may say that, but somewhere in there, at least at some point, it was/is my own “salvation” that gives me my answer.
So, I don’t say I believe in the doctrine of eternal security. However, I DO believe in the God who personally called ME, who personally revealed Himself in ME (though I didn’t realize in the beginning that was where I was finding Him). I DO believe in the God Who has upheld me, sustained me, rescued me, set quite a few tables in a wilderness – I believe in that God! And I recommend to everyone that this God in Whom I believe, and Who I believe, will do the same and IS doing the same the world over. Whosoever will may come, whosoever will are invited to come, whosoever is thirsty may come, and all may drink their fill of the Water of Life and never run out.
Now, if what I have written above stirs you in any way, I pray the Spirit fans the flame! You see, it isn’t about how I look or how I feel. It is about walking in faith. Faith not in our doctrines, dogmas, understandings, but in God. Not just God the Father above and beyond me, but God IN HERE, inside me, where He has made Himself ONE with me.
Your question on “change” and when, if ever, will it show up, shows us your real faith, my friend. Do you see what I mean? Let me clear it up if I can. If we say, “I know I am one with Christ and He is the Inner Life and His Spirit is the outflow of my life,” and then after that apparent statement of faith, then say, “So when is the change going to happen? When am I going to “feel” this? When will the other people notice and start telling me they see a wonderful expression of Christ coming out of me every day?” Where is the attention given? The attention is primarily focused the result of the prayer, and judgment is reserved until we see the result. But that is not faith. In this case our “faith” would say, “Regardless of appearances which seem to be contrary, we plant our feet and say, “Christ and I are one, and the Life I am living is He living His Life in me AS ME!’”
As I said above, this is a season of life, most of us go through it one way or another, where the Spirit trains us thoroughly on the difference between inner and outer. The INNER is the REAL! Like I said, that just does not compute with the natural mind. In a natural understanding, the “inner” is ethereal, wispy, iffy, the realm of kooks and loons.
But that is the lot we are given. Until such time as He changes it, we’ll continue on with what He has given for us to do. And that is to continue to testify to the Living Truth that is true right NOW in all believers, because that Truth, is the Lord from heaven in us and as us!!! And believe me, the circumstances of life crowd their way in every chance they get, but we persevere.
We walk by faith and not by sight. I know you’ve probably heard that a million times and it is almost a cliché, a trite expression. That does not change the fact that it is the way of the Lord, that every day in Him is perfect, as are we. We have no righteousness of our own so we receive from Christ the gift of His own righteousness, which is fully ours as well.
Again, we walk by faith, and not by sight. That’s still in there, hasn’t changed.
There are a lot of other aspects of these things, but let’s let this one jell for a while.
(FYI, I am using this, edited with your name not in it, as a post on my blog today.)
“Be blessed! Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36)