Letting Go of Self-Effort
By Fred Pruitt
(Below are two recent exchanges regarding a couple of articles on the blog.)
Re: True Pearl of Great Price.
(These comments are in the public “comments” section following the article.)
Jerry: This Finding the Pearl article is what I need. I try try try but continue to fail in my walk of trying to be a good Christian. I need a Holy Spirit revelation.
Fred: Jerry, thanks for writing. Of course you continue to fail in “trying” to be a good Christian. That’s what the “self-effort” I mention constantly in my articles is, us “trying” to be good Christians. It does not work that way nor will it ever. And that is what you are supposed to find out through your “efforts,” that you, by yourself trying to do it, can never ever ever measure up to God’s standards. That comes to an end when you give up. We call it “coming to the end of ourselves.” In some way we are prompted from within to say, “Lord, I can’t do this, and now I realize that I am not supposed to do it, that it is your Life in me that accomplishes by grace through faith what I could never accomplish on my own. I give up, Lord, and believe YOU are living in me to “will and to DO of YOUR good pleasure.” What did Jesus say, “The Son does nothing of Himself. The Father that dwelleth within me, He does the works!” Catch that? Jesus, THE ONLY BEGOTTON SON OF GOD, did NOTHING OF HIMSELF, but RESTED in the secure reality and Truth that the Father was the “Doer” in Him. And then just let go and say, “Lord, it’s your ballgame from now on!” I hope that helps a little bit!
(Below is an exchange with a reader responding to the article “Emmanuel.” It moved from the public comments section to email, so I am withholding the name of the reader.)
I think you have gone to far. My so-called “sinful” behaviors could land me in jail for a very long time. So aren’t you just redefining sin? So God has got me and I am not really responsible for my “sinful” actions? So the who is responsible for these? I have believed that God has got me, that I have died with Christ and now Christ lives in me as me for many years now but this belief has not stopped any “sinful” actions. So do I just pretend that these “sinful” actions are not real and are not mine? I do see any court agreeing with that.
Dear ______, thank you for commenting. What you see is what you see. I guess you’ll have to stick with that unless something comes along to change your vision. I think you have to answer your own questions. What do you think? God’s glorious blessings to you!
The other night I told my husband that God had me exactly where He wanted me to be and I was the Righteousness of God in Christ.
He looked me and said “get behind me Satan”. “You are so deceived it is sickening. We have been married for more that 35 years and I have never seen any evidence at all that you are even born again.You are believing a lie – you do have a part to play – you are not His puppet”.
I said that, “I am a Saint that sins.”
Then he said “if you are not responsible for your sins who is? God???
So now what? I have believed for many years That Christ lives within me and as me now, with out any evidence.
I have agreed with God’s truth and I know that HE does it but my life does not show it at all!!
Hi, I’m replying to the other thing you wrote that I didn’t see at first.
First, I have “believed” just as you have that Christ expresses Himself in my life. While we may have what we might interpret as incontrovertible “evidence” from time to time, the faith life is always stretched beyond sight into believing, against evidence to the contrary, that God’s Word to me or to you, is true, period.
On the other side (heaven, etc), things will be different. But this life, from beginning to end, is a faith life, meaning there is ALWAYS some element of “belief” past the confines of sight and our other senses. It is always, “for we walk by faith, not by sight,” as well as, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
That never changes. So that is where our priority lies – in faith that God performs His promises. Hebrews 11:6 is one of the foundation verses of the whole Bible, and it is truth at its core. We are never excused from “faith.” No matter how long we might have to wait before we see our answers. Anywhere from a few minutes to the better part of a lifetime.
I am at a loss regarding what you call your “sins,” but if it is true that you are actually “committing sin” all the time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have been deceived or are believing a lie. You are just spending a lot of time in Romans 7, “not” being who you want to be against your will – because you would much rather “act” righteously. You’re right there in Paul’s place he described for himself – “For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
I can’t say for certain, of course, this is what is happening with you, but it seems likely. And that’s where “No condemnation” comes in. There is no condemnation for Paul while he is “under-performing” in his Romans 7 struggle, because his true desire is to live a godly life. That “desire” comes not from Paul but from the Spirit of God within Paul. He just had to find out that key to the uttermost, so that he would believe that the Spirit carried him over that hump at the end of Romans 7 (O wretched man that I am) all the way to the completion in Romans 8:2. “For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus HAS (already done) SET ME FREE from the law of sin and death. HAS DONE IT!
We are only being called to believe, not to “do.” No, the Father, Christ, the Spirit, is the Doer. “The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works!” (John 14:10). This life flows out of spiritual depths within us, and therefore His power, His energy, His wisdom, righteousness, love, etc., flow out of us by simple belief that God can and WILL do it. (John 7:38 – probably one of my life’s main verses). “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
I can’t put a time limit on faith. I just know that when I have “believed,” I cannot go back on it. The Romans 7 person is the same as the double-minded person in James. The Romans 7 person believes he is spirit one minute and next minute he is flesh, and it’s like that all day long every day for all time. I call that insanity.
The double-minded person is exactly the same, one minute we believe God, the next we don’t. James says the double-minded man receives nothing – why, because God is mad at him? No, God simply wants him (and all of us) to see “single.” We see only God, no matter what the form or circumstance. Now, I’m not calling evil “good,” nor am I calling sin “righteousness.” We still see those things, but we look through them, past them, beyond what’s in our face, to the Life and Presence of God in the current circumstances Who is working in those same current circumstances for our total Good even when things look like they are falling apart around us.
There is no other answer except, “The just shall live by faith.” Unless you want to go back to “trying” to live godly, and you know that doesn’t work. The only solution is to continually press into God and confirm His Word in you every time it is challenged.
The Light is in you. Keep believing. You’ll see it!
I think I am at the point that my believing has just been a work of the flesh. I find that I can not even believe as a separated person – He is my faith and my believer right?
You wrote “It is His life within us, and His Life wells up from within us without our prompting, because it is the nature of the Spirit in us to “come out” and “manifest Christ” in our daily living. That is not according to any sort of preconceived notion whatsoever, nor does the responsibility to “make that happen” fall on our shoulders!
Amen, yes yes yes!!!