The Law of the Spirit or the Law of Self-effort Part Three
By Fred Pruitt
In the Fall our “will” went out from God and became a separate thing. Initially when we come back into the kingdom we are still under the delusion of this separate will. So we wrongly think we have to find out “what” God’s will is, and then somehow do it or apply it or believe it, with “our” will. But that is not our actuality.
We also have a common misunderstanding regarding exactly what “will” is, in this context. Humanly, we perceive “will” as a constantly operating process of deciding what to do or not to do. Should we go this way or that? Shall I have fish or poultry for dinner?
But that is not what will is in God. It is instead a set of mind, and especially when we are speaking of God, it is a permanent determination of our course in life, or a mindset. It speaks of this in Romans 7 as we are always mentioning. The “mind set on the flesh” or the “mind set on the Spirit.” That can sound like, and most of us perceive it this way at least in the beginning, a bouncing around from one to the other and never able to be free of that back and forth between “flesh” and “spirit.”
I thought that for a long time. But one day I realized, no, that isn’t what “mind set on the flesh or spirit” means. Instead, using a radio or television analogy, setting the device to a certain channel or frequency, and leaving it there.
We only have two channels available. There is no “only human” channel. The two channels are darkness and light, or death and life. In terms of Deity, it is the devil’s channel or God’s! Once I saw that and the overcoming declared in Romans 8:2, I realized I didn’t have to bounce around anymore, but could, in a sense “just like God,” set my channel permanently to His station. It is the Spirit that does all this, of course, and not we ourselves alone, but it does happen in our humanity and we are very much consciously involved.
But now let’s go back to this separate will issue. It is also the issue of this Romans chapter I keep talking about. It was in the spiritual meat-grinder of Romans 7, that this issue of a separate will was settled for Paul. When we see that He and I are “one,” our will IS His will, the human spirit-will has been brought into oneness with the Divine will, so that in this world it serves as the servant of the hidden Divine will.
This is our “union life.”
As Jesus said when they said his mother and brethren were waiting for Him, “And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”
So we see this “law of self-effort” is a serious thing. It is Cain’s offering! Understand, the “mind set on the flesh,” is not first of all a desire to do evil. We are used to thinking that is what it is, so that we must continually be in combat against any perceived evil inclination in ourselves. But the real heart meaning of the “mind set on the flesh,” is simply the setting of one’s faith-focus (or mindset) upon oneself, rather than God, the Spirit, as the knower, chooser and doer. We want to be good – “ourselves!” And though it exists with a divine wink, because of the ignorance of men, it is the pure essence of Sin.
So what, then, of the believing brethren who in their millions still live by this law of self-effort? Are they also “of that wicked one?”
No, they are not. We are not Cain. We are actually Abel, once in Christ, but all our lives we have lived by Cain’s law. It is the law of the world. Though we started out spiritual people, inner people, the Fall’s result is that we have all become “outer” people. Appearances are everything – we accept them as reality, even when we know they are not reality, but only an appearance!
We live in a totally skewed world, where the appearance of reality is the point and glorified, no matter what is its underlying truth! It is maddening, and the source of all the foment of strife and sometimes total inanity, that is this outer world.
This is a world where nothing is considered “true,” unless it can be observed and quantified. And even this self that we have been deceived that we are, independent, self-motiving, self-relying, etc., is part of this outer appearance world. It is all we know, but because of God’s mercy and grace, He penetrates through the walls of this prison of self in which we are trapped, and like Radio Free Europe during the Cold War days, His broadcast permeates even our prison. He comes to where we are, since He knows there is no way we can come to where He is, though He be not a breath’s moment away. “While we were yet enemies … Christ died for us.”
What else is God to do? Because of His Eternal Love, He must come to us, seemingly through that outer world of appearances in which He appears “separate” from us, up in Heaven, to begin to draw us into Himself within us. We think He is coming to us from above, or without, from somewhere else, but it is always from within us, even though we do not realize it.
God is forever only the “inner unseen” God, because He is universal and has no form or “place” as we can comprehend it. That means, that He is the “inner,” everywhere the same! It means that the complete fullness of God resides right here in this spot, as well as some spot 25 million miles away, and at every spot in-between. That is why we cannot ever fully “see” God. If one would “see” God, he would have to comprehend everything – think of it, EVERYTHING, from the vastness of “space” and galaxies billions of light-years away, to the most miniscule, the sub-atomic world, that science and physics is finding is just as vast and seemingly endless inwardly, as is the cosmos which outwardly envelops us. This “God” has not only the awareness that it is there, but intimacy with every detail of the infinite varieties of creatures and creations!
Imagine one amoeba. Even this simple one-celled creature is wondrous beyond imagination. Even in such a small thing, there are myriads of micro-processes running, chemical, electrical, sub-atomic, almost an infinity within one single amoeba. But then it gives birth out of itself to another amoeba, identical to itself, and then there are two. How intimately is God “involved” with this?
Jesus said the Father knows when a sparrow falls, and how many hairs there are on our heads. He said this to show how intimately “with” us God is. We just think of selves and creatures somewhat two-dimensionally. We see the form, a person, but nothing underneath that is making the person work. We don’t see the mental processes, the past and present of the person which makes him or her what they are now, nor do we see the blood flow, the chemical reactions, the electrical signals, that go on ad infinitum in each one of us. We are not privy to it in ourselves nor are we privy to that in others. But God is. Not only is He “aware” of it, but He created each wondrous infinity of detail and function. Just multiply one amoeba by the number of cells in the universe, as if we could (there are trillions in one human body alone), and we can begin to see the mind-staggering truth of this “God,” Who is greater than All, while also being the ALL in the all. To say it is infinitely unimaginable is as much understatement as I can muster. Paul simply said it is “exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.” (Eph 3:20)
Now it is this God Who has brought us to this place, not to break us but to crown us with glory and honor through the Son. What place? The place where we walk in resurrection life, in newness of life, every moment of every day. That is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, that has in us, not just in an abstract sense, but in the most real sense possible, overcome or swallowed up the law of sin and death that operated in our members. This law we had previously tried to follow, the law of self-effort, self-improvement, has failed. It has not delivered what we thought it would, when we decided to apply ourselves to “give our all” for God. Rather than victory we may have mostly only known defeat. But that day is past now in us, and is no more.
Because now we see we are no longer held by this law! This is not an on-again, off again thing, that we keep going through over and over and over. There comes the day when we KNOW this law, where we succeed by self-effort, cannot deliver. But as soon as we know that as the Spirit has revealed it to us, immediately the Life that had been hidden underneath the “law of self-effort” the whole time, begins to rise up in newness of life and in union and oneness with God.
Because we are in God’s Spirit reality and in His “process,” it has been His perfect winepress to squeeze out of us the true divine life that dwells in our center and to finally inwardly break free completely from our former selves by which we were held ignorantly in slavery to self-focus and self-reliance for the whole of our lives before that.
What happens as a result of this transition from the stress of self-effort and self-reliance to the rest of God within us, is that we finally break out into the totality of God’s freedom, now in adulthood as spiritual fathers, and begin to live a no-holds-barred life! We live in the relaxed freedom of faith, seeing things done in God that we call into being in our sonship, and in His rest we labor in the ripe fields of God, and are privileged daily to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, as Jesus clearly and surely said we are.
I say again – Be not afraid. Only believe.
END OF THIS SERIES