The Crazy Machinations of ‘The Law’
By Fred Pruitt
I have noticed your recent insights have all been about the law. I just wanted to add a little something to what you are seeing if you do not mind.
I believe you are correct in everything you say about the law. But, my friend, you must also realize that the law is part of God’s process. No one comes to Christ but by the schoolmaster — the law. So you mustn’t hate it too much or be too critical of those who are still caught in it or even those who teach it. God ordains it. It is part of His system. His path. (Don’t stop your reading here please press on through.)
Now, before the people with the stake and the kindling wood arrive to take me away for being a legalist, let me clarify the paragraph above. I am not trying to advance a legalistic viewpoint, or devising a course on growing in Christ and having “Confronting the Law 101” as a course subject or a level of progression. Hardly! No, I am saying that God uses ‘the law,’ whether written or coded by Him or not, to expose us to ourselves when we live a legalistic life and come from a legalistic way of looking at things.
It is vitally necessary, and, realizing that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” and “to him who knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin,” I submit to you that many who teach the law in ignorance and many who attempt to live by it in ignorance are also covered by grace and “blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin.”
How does that square with Paul’s tough stance in Galatians, when he tells them if they receive circumcision then they are responsible for the whole law and have fallen from grace – Christ having become of “no effect” in their lives? First, I would answer that if we found ourselves in that situation, revealed in and by our Spirit, it only requires an acknowledgement and a correction in our faith. It isn’t a life-long sentence! The Spirit mercifully lets us feel the heat of self being pulled into separation, thoughts consumed by or overshadowed by “I” – “I” and “they!”
The reason, my friend, is that it isn’t simply correct or incorrect teaching that advances or retards our spiritual progress. It is wrong consciousness of self. Teach grace to a person still caught in the self-consciousness of the lie of independent self, and he will still try to work it like the law. He will still see it in separation, believing himself apart from God, and still trying to relate to him in separation, with “grace” being some “thing” God has or is by which he relates to God.
God has a very distinct purpose for the law, and no one comes through to the Promised Land without going through the wilderness of the law. (When you get my little book you’ll find that one of the main themes. I thought I’d give you this little preview.)
Everyone goes through it — even while living in grace. For instance, Abram & Sarai. Abram was already “righteous” by his believing the promise of God. But he attempts himself to make the promise happen (work of the flesh/law) by taking Sarai’s maid, Hagar, in an attempt to obtain the heir through her. Paul even says later that Hagar points to the earthly Jerusalem, the covenant of bondage, i.e. the law.
But God does not reject Abram because of it. In fact, there is no record in Genesis of the Lord God even reproving Abram for this act of self-effort. Why? Because he is walking in God’s righteousness, i.e. grace, even when he ignorantly commits an act of self-effort. He was at least trying to bring forth the promise of God, i.e. the Seed which should bless all nations.
Of course the Seed came through Isaac, when God appeared to Abram and changed his name to Abraham in his 99th year — 14 years after the Hagar/Ishmael incident. No reproof. There is no indication that Abram had previously thought Ishmael was not the promised son and his rightful heir. Ishmael was, after all, of his own body. Of his own seed. But he was a child of a bondwoman, not the true wife. In Abram’s day even the child of the bondwoman could have been the heir had there never been a son by Sarai, but God said no. Suddenly God appears and renews the Promise, which Abram had believed 25 years earlier, changes his name to Abraham, and tells him he will have a son by Sarai, whose name now changes to Sarah.
But again, no reproof to Abraham. He goes through the experience of self-effort, (obtaining the “Promise” by flesh effort, the law, with God even promising an inheritance to Ishmael, by which he is brought to the Promise — the birth of Isaac. Ishmael comes of self-effort. Issac comes by Promise — the gift of God.
My point is that both were necessary. There must be, for one thing, the contrast. And the contrast is not really about law and grace. It is about self in separation or self in union.
Self-effort is not the root problem. Self in separation is the root problem, from which self-effort proceeds. So we must go beyond the “effort” to the self which attempts the effort. Nothing wrong with effort. It is just the self that generates it.
The law exposes self-effort, which is not really solved until we see that Christ in the self is the answer. Not the self discovering something, still separate from it, called “grace,” or “Christ” as if separate from us, but that we are now this unified self, Christ and I as one self, grace being the chief attribute of that relationship, but grace meaning much more than unmerited favor. Grace is just another word for, “I will be a well of water springing up into everlasting life in you.” Grace is just another term for, “So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
To be born of the Spirit is ultimately to realize that we in the Lord are not two, but one, and we ourselves in our humanity as outer expressions of the One Who is our inner life. As branches on a vine, but in that vine/branch relationship, the branch is but a branch expression of the Vine. It has no separate life of its own. And the Life, effort, grace, spirit, that proceeds through the vine into the branches to bring forth much fruit, is but One life in all the branches, the Same life, manifesting in many forms and branches. That is the key. We have no separate self-hood, but only find not just the source of “effort” in God, but the source of Self in God also.
That is the ultimate purpose of the law. The law IS separation. It testifies that we are separate, by the “shoulds” and “oughts” it demands of us. The law says, “You are not, and you must become.” So we make a great effort to become like Christ, finally falling on our faces and saying it is imposssible, hopefully, which then enables the true life that we always have been, really, to come forth. We must grow into a consciousness of this fact, and the confrontation with law is just what does it. So it is absolutely necessary. But we don’t do anything to make it happen. It’s the Spirit’s business, His timing, His will, operating in through and as our human business and human will.
Oneness of self is found in the will. Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me.” He had only one will — the will of the Father. That is union. No separation. Distinction in office and manifestation, but no separation inwardly. The only time Jesus exhibited a temptation to a separate will (and person) was in Gethsemane. He rejects the whole idea of a separate will by denying it forever, saying, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
I’ve had many people who, attempting to “prove” free will, quote that verse to prove Jesus had a human will separate from God and “could choose” to sin. From the standpoint of possibility, we might could say that. But Jesus puts the kibosh to that idea by not admitting to a separately operating will in Himself. So in Jesus there was no separate “my” will that He had to “line up” with the Father’s will. He confesses that there is ONLY the Father’s will and denies any separation in Himself. Only a will unified in the Father, One Will, One Life, One Person, expressing and manifesting, by the Son and the Cross of the Son (“Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth”), through everything and everyone in creation.
So then we appreciate those who are still out there in their wilderness of the law, knowing that by that the Father is working in them to bring them to the end of themselves through self-effort, that they might come to know Him in grace and oneness. They are still under the grace, because they believe in Him. Yes, they are temporarily diverted, but they have to walk through a huge howling wilderness, in the middle of which is the Mountain of the Law, in order to go across and get to the edge of the Promised Land.
They are being made into they are by that journey. One way to see the children of Israel and their journey across the wilderness is as a type of our life’s journey. The generation that is “cursed,” and cannot ever enter the land, you will note, is the generation born in Egypt — the consciousness of independent, self-effort self. That is the self that cannot approach the mountain, on which Moses, who knows union and grace, can walk up and down and be in the fire and smoke in the midst at the top. They are flesh-self, self-effort self, and of course when they get to the edge of the Promised Land they cannot go in, and are only conscious of themselves rather than the provision and strength of God. That false consciousness of self cannot help itself. It MUST be that, for it cannot really stand in God. “No flesh shall enter my presence.” He doesn’t put up a sign that says, “Flesh not welcome here.” He doesn’t have to. Flesh fails of itself – God has to do nothing to it but let it flail around in its self-juices until it accepts its own “death.”
(Someone will say, “But our theology tells us we already ‘died’ with Him in Baptism as well as with Him on the Cross, so there’s no need for the Spirit to take us through those wilderness experiences.” My answer is these “wilderness experiences” are one of the main ways God uses to make our “theology” living and real in us, rather than it remaining academic and theoretical.)
So they are rightly sent back into the wilderness for another 38 years. And then at the end of that 38 years, that generation has all perished in the wilderness — just as Moses’ false sense of self perished in his 40 years in the wilderness before the Burning Bush.
Now they have been conditioned by the wilderness — the law — to finally enter the land. You might say, well, that generation has died. Yes, it has, but a new generation, not born in Egypt, but born in the wilderness, has now taken its place. This new generation never knew the separation and self-effort of Egypt, but as a type of the new self, the self united in Christ as one self with him, that generation walks across the Jordan, under the leadership of Joshua (also a type of Christ — Moses as the lawgiver who cannot go into the land because he offended in one point), and they walk across the Jordan ON DRY GROUND and begin to take the land, to “possess their possessions.”
All of that process must be, my friend. We must be confronted by the law because we only know ourselves in separation and believe ourselves to be like Peter when he said he would never forsake Jesus. Peter thought he could remain faithful by sheer determination to do it, and we all know the result. We must think we can do it. We must go through the wilderness of failure of trying to do it. We must come to that end of ourselves as separate selves, finally arriving at oneness, union, with the Life within us, so that we are not separate in ourselves trying to be something, but unified in ourselves as “I AM,” that Christ might now be expressed by us.
That is the purpose of the law. Certain things cannot remain only theoretical. This law issue is one of them. The only way across the chasm between the end of Romans 7 where Paul’s struggle almost seems to end in a draw – “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom 7:25b) – is to be brought BY THE SPIRIT over that hump and into the final and total liberation of Romans 8:2 – “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” As I have said many times, it’s like the Church en masse discovered that verse (7:25b) and brought the movement toward glory to a screeching halt, like James’ “double-minded man” who received nothing from the Lord (James 1:7,8), while the Church en masse camped out on that verse for the past 1500 years or so.
Hallelujah, that’s just what the Spirit has been up to in our world in the here and now. That encampment, so firmly attached to Romans 7:25b as an insurmountable obstacle, is breaking up. Self-effort is on the run. The people of God are more and more beginning to realize Who they are and Whose Life they live. That will only increase in the saints in the coming days, months and years.
Not to take over the world politically, God forbid!! No, we do not ever become Caesar nor do we seek to attain it. We let Caesar be Caesar and all the Caesars who run the world system. If a “Christian” happens to become a Caesar I guess that would, or could, be good, but it would still be a Caesar overseeing Caesar’s domain. That’s not “our” domain. My kingdom is the only Kingdom Jesus Christ spoke of, and it IS a Kingdom not of this world. If it were, Jesus told Pilate, then His servants would have fought against His capture, but it is not. That has not changed since that night in Gethsemane.
The Lord told me in my beginning to learn to endure like a soldier. He told me this personally early on: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Tim 2:3,4).
I know what “war” the Lord has put me in. The only “victories” in this war are in bringing others into reconciliation and peace with God. It is the greatest thing, the thing that causes more rejoicing in Heaven than anything else, so Jesus told us. “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
Let’s be about the Lord’s business – it’s the only game in town!!!
Love to all – Happy Thanksgiving to all my American brethren, and being thankful for all to and for all my brethren across the world!