The Law of the Spirit or the Law of Self-effort Part Two
By Fred Pruitt
To begin to understand the issue we are looking into, it’s helpful to understand this new “environment” Adam and Eve had entered after being put out of Paradise.
The first thing to mention is that they still were God’s people. They had lost the bulk of their spirit “knowledge and understanding,” but God still remained within reach in their consciousness. Eve’s proclamation on the birth of Cain (Gen 4: 1) shows they were still mindful of the Lord God, even though He was hidden from them in their perception. This is further shown by the acts of Cain and Abel in bringing some sort of “sacrifice” to the Lord. They even had some measure of communion with God in those primal beginnings, so that they knew He had received and blessed Abel in his offering, as well as understanding that the Lord did not receive Cain’s achievement, which sparked a short conversation between Cain and the Lord God.
The world into which Cain and Abel were born was in every sense the opposite of Paradise or Eden. In the Garden, God was plainly manifest in a way they could perceive Him. The whole of the Garden was inundated, filled with the Spirit of Life almost oozing out of every molecule there was. Though we cannot say that God appeared “bodily” to them, still they knew Him in every nook and cranny. The Garden was a foretaste of the city of God described in the last two chapters of Revelation.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Rev 21:22,23).
That’s the “rest” of God, a realm in which God is plainly manifest as He Who fills All in all. There is no labor in the “rest” of God, though Acts did plainly tell us that, [Paul and Barnabas were] “confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22). In Paradise God is readily available and liberally distributing the goods of the Kingdom to every receiver without money or any other enticement. He is the Gift of Himself, present, moving and responsible in all things, in Isaiah’s words, “and the government shall be upon his shoulder.”
And even today, those who walk consciously in His Kingdom find all those aspects of the Kingdom I mentioned above to be alive and kicking in their own lives. Still, at this time we still do not see it “all,” as the writer of Hebrews said.
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? … thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. … But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus … (Heb 2: 6-9).
After that brief look into Eden, let’s now consider the world outside Eden, which is the whole earth. Remember, in Eden, they had no needs of any kind, but if they had, they would have been met immediately. Everything and anything they needed just “turned up.” There was no effort, no rituals, no services, no schedules, no holidays, and no religion. God in Eden is immediate. “Before we call, He answers.”
So they were ill-prepared for life outside the Gate. They were sent out to “till the ground from which we were taken,” because those days of provision came to an abrupt end.
What does it mean to “till the ground from which we were taken?”
Adam and Eve started the “turn” while in Eden in succumbing to the fruit. They did not know until that moment that there was any other kind of existence than the one they knew. But in eating the fruit there began a turn from Him Who is already All and in all, in us, toward the outer land, starting with our own bodies and souls. Tucked somewhere in there we found a false identity, complete with nametags with our own names on it, a façade to myself and the world, projecting a persona that becomes an impregnable citadel, where all intruders are kept at bay.
This “outer world” toward which we turned, is only a shell of the inner, and as is any shell, it has no real sustenance (ability to sustain and grow life) in it. Therefore, this “outer world” of our bodies and souls, the false sense of “self” the dark light uses our bodies and souls to generate, and all the “stuff” we think we need to preserve and add to our lives, is the ground we were sent out to till.
Farming the earth is only a temporal means of sustenance. The “temporal” has never been what the Lord God was looking for. “Temporal” is not the ultimate plan. All these histories in Genesis are talking less about individual histories, earthly real-estate or moral lessons, as they much more are presenting Christ to us in every facet.
God is not after, primarily, that we get our temporal sustenance. Certainly, He maintains us in every way in this temporal world, but that is not the point. Eternal Sustenance, farming of the Spirit, is His point. This type of farming can only come out in the new birth, and all these lessons are to awaken and enlighten that man. The old man does not get it. It is impossible for him. However, we are not the old, but the new, if we have been born again in Jesus Christ. We are in the fellowship of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This new man is what we are addressing and describing.
As we are in the “Temporal” in the moment, it is also true that we are in the Eternal in the moment. The Lord God purposely through the fall sent us out to till that particular land, to the intent that we might find, by earnestly tilling that ground, the absurd futility of it. We are farming in soil that is spent, and will never bear fruit.
Of course, we find it is God’s perfect purpose that we come to know that the “shell” bears no real sustaining fruit, nor is it able to produce the satisfaction of life that we were seeking in it. It is like a meal that fills but has no lasting nutrients. It seems to fill us up, but after a time we feel the emptiness and the gnawing hunger again.
So then, we come back to Cain, and are able to see that despite Cain’s personal consciousness of himself and who he is, Cain is a living expression of God, of the God Who expresses Himself in everything and is present in everything. Cain may not know it, but “Cain” is the life of God expressing in the land east of Eden, as a tiller of the soil and harvester of crops. Later on in the story we see all the descendants of Cain being the originators of various human endeavors — art, music, agriculture, etc., which are not just human inventions of course, but every one out of the limitless wonders of the eternal God. It is life-changing to see this, because historically those in Christ have always been somewhat ambivalent regarding the arts and sciences of this world. But what else could it be, but of God, that even in our weakened post-fall condition, man continually is discovering the world in which God placed Him, and finding nothing but wonder and awe at the genius of God’s creation? Music, art, ethereal things, all of these are also out of the wonders of God.
But in Cain’s personal consciousness – spirit/soul self-sense, he has been born in the serpent’s lie. Nevertheless, at his inner core there is also the Crusher of the serpent, Who seeks and desires to overcome the serpent in all men. (Gen 3:15)
In that understanding then, Cain presented his works before God, things he had accomplished with his own hands, with his own effort, and was really surprised when God had respect to Abel’s offering, and not to his. He had done his best! And it angered him to rage, which was the proof for why his offering was not accepted! It did not come from contriteness of heart, like Abel’s offering, but from pride in himself.
This God cannot and will never accept. It isn’t that God is finicky or a prude or rejects people because they have done this or that. God could not accept Cain’s offering because it did not reach unto God, because Cain at that point was not “of” God. His offering was the works of the flesh. It really was not that God could not dwell with Cain, but that Cain could not dwell with God, because of the darkness in his heart. The Apostle John said Cain, “was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12).
This is an important thing to understand. God does not reject us. He is ever open to us at all times only in His Love, because that is all He is. Forgiveness is already provided by the Blood of the Lamb slain in the midst of the Throne from eternity. Forgiveness or the lack thereof is not the problem that separates us from God. God only dwells in Himself, and perceptibly in that which is one spirit with Him. What comes from another will, a separate will, a “self” that declares its own separation from Him, cannot dwell with Him. That self dwells in itself, and becomes increasingly contained in itself, and it, by its own insistence on its separated existence and separate will, goes out from God, rather than God goes out from it, even though God still is “in” it and it is still “in” God. However, dwelling only in itself, the self-will has no perception of God whatsoever, even though He is All and in all.
God is everywhere the same, and those that “hear” Him somehow are brought by the Spirit to seek and find oneness with God through Jesus Christ the Son of God and Son of Man. This is what salvation actually is – God dwelling in humanity as He had determined it to be from the beginning (– Gen 2:7). Forgiveness is just clearing the deck, from our side of things, because God’s forgiveness has been settled since the foundation of the earth through the Lamb Slain.
But being forgiven does not make us part of God’s kingdom. Being forgiven does not make us born again. Only that which dwells in His Spirit is in His kingdom. When we are “saved” or know that we are born again, it is by the entrance of God’s Spirit into our lives, kicking out the old spirit-occupant who hid in us, running our lives in a “self-for-me” consciousness from the beginning, that constitutes what we call “salvation.” It is not a legal contract sort of thing, where I sign a paper that says I believe, and Jesus puts a check mark in the Lamb’s Book of Life indicating that I have complied with the requirements. Salvation is God’s Spirit entering into us in our deepest center, totally reorienting our inner life, from self-for-self to self-for-others. As Paul also said, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom 8:9b). But if the Spirit in us is Christ, Paul says, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” (Rom 8:9a).
It is actually a great simplicity. If the Spirit of God lives in us, we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. God’s Spirit. If we do not have the Spirit of Christ living in us, we do not belong to Christ. There is no other salvation nor is it acquired any other way. I will say that this is primarily an inner transaction in people’s hearts, and because of that, I put no restrictions on how the Spirit, who knows all hearts, brings people to Himself, and the fullness of God. It does not depend on man’s outer knowledge but only the truth in his heart, and that God sees and judges righteously.
But I am not primarily speaking of those not yet in the kingdom, but rather of those who already know they are in Christ and He is in them.
A new person has to arise, because the old person cannot contain Him. The new is not patterned after the old or even its descendent. The only ancestor of the new man is Christ. That is why we must recognize the death of the old. We almost have to hold it a funeral, because it is that much of a cut off, a separation, a finality to it, when we see we “died” with Him.
The way we are often caused to understand our simultaneous death with Him in the Cross, is to “experience it” in our own inner selves. There is no formula for it, except to receive from the Lord just as we receive anything of the Lord, through faith. Romans 6 says, “Reckon yourselves dead,” and that seems to be what gets the ball rolling.
Why do I say that? Because in Romans 6, Paul said we are no more indebted to sin, that we were free from it through our death and subsequent resurrection in Christ. He presented a life where our humanity (our “members”) became the instruments of God’s righteousness. Where to begin? “Reckon yourself dead.” … Seems easy enough.
Until we get to the next chapter, when he is both caught out in a sinful covetousness, and very much NOT dead. It is not unusual at all to be given a new light from the Spirit, and to enter into it in faith, only to have the next day bring every negative thing thinkable to come into the picture to provide proof we have seen wrongly.
That happened to me for years. I would see something wonderful in the Spirit, but would experience fearfulness for it or buyer’s remorse the next day, which would rob me of some of the glory I had seen, so I would back off. And it was pretty much for the same reason that caused Paul’s struggles which we have been discussing. My fear was myself. I could trust God – abstractly. But it was too immediate that I could trust Him, in me, because to me I was such a non-starter, no-accomplisher, ne’er do-well, and how could I trust that image? Well, the image had to die, or, I had to see that it had died. That is how it becomes personal in us. It is not just abstract “doctrine,” that we can regurgitate what we believe. It is important to witness the death and to mark its passing. We do not need to know the day or the time, only to know that it has happened and it is final. We probably do not even know “what” has died. It does not matter. Everything is revealed in due time.
The Spirit causes us to “know” this death, because this death is the resurrection unto life on the other side, and it is also training for the rest of our lives. Everything accomplished in God happens through death and resurrection. This world is a living parable of this. This world lives every day by death for some to bring life to others. The natural “food chain” plainly shows it. One species consumes another. The consumed dies, and gives life through its death to the consumer. And then one day the consumer meets a bigger consumer and the first one joins the ranks of the consumed. And so on. Always death for one brings life for another, all throughout nature. It is the same throughout the natural world and what we know of the outer spaces beyond our planet. It is even a high and deeply respected ideal for all societies and especially for the military, who understand sometimes the willing self-sacrifice of a few, saves countless others from destruction or enslavement.
So this is not a morbid death! We do suffer loss. There is always loss in death. But the loss is nothing compared to the gain. Like the law of self-effort. A lot of people cannot let go of the law because it is their security blanket. They are afraid of themselves (I speak from personal experience), and thus have the law to guard them, to keep them on their toes and on the right track. It becomes an uncomfortable fit after a while, despite the supposed “security” it brings. It keeps us humble so that we do not think much of ourselves, but we long to break out, but even that, we believe, might be from the devil. So it creates a life of fear and self-examination, seeking to find the faults first and fix them before God points them out, which we would desperately like to avoid.
That is why it is not a morbid death! We have finally had enough of it and we cannot go on another step. All we can do is sit here and die! It feels like despair, because this kind of death is a total negation of ourselves, we’d be rid of ourselves if we could, but since we cannot, we’ll just die. All seems lost. (To go into death is cessation – reduced to zero. Shut off.)
But out of that death, the Spirit begins to consciously inform us into that oneness of spirit (1 Cor 6:17), which occurs in the resurrection. In realizing our death, we rise no longer in separation from God in our consciousness, but instead we are brought by the Spirit into union and oneness inwardly with Him. Then we find at the same time no separate will in ourselves in heart, because the heart established in oneness and union finds as a result, a union of “wills,” the human will and the Divine will, so that it becomes in function one single will. (Do not take that from me and believe it. Do not believe your will is one will with God because I just said it. Find it yourself in God in yourself. YOU must know it for yourself and that only comes from the Spirit.)
End Part Two