Having Ceased From Our Own Works
By Fred Pruitt
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he [referring to human person] that is entered into His [God’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” (Heb 4:10)
One aspect of realizing that we in our humanity are an outer expression of Him Who is our true inner life, is that we can relax in that, enter into “His rest,” having “given up” the “reins” so to speak, or I might say, the “rulership” of our own lives. We relax into Him, Who is our everything — our Guide, our Comfort, our Wisdom, our Righteousness, our Holiness, our Lead, our Upholder, and really, when it gets down to it, the One Who is mixed in union with each of us so that we are He living in human form. Now, that does not change the fact that we are forever “we,” created human selves, and that He is forever He, the Uncreated Eternal Deity.
He has entered into us, not to be a separate person in us, sort of like somebody in a little compartment inside of me that I have to learn to hear, to obey, to commune with, etc. That was perhaps my first impression of His Life in me. I knew He had “come in,” but I was very vague in my understanding about what that meant. I thought the Holy Spirit was kind of like a “battery” or something, something separate from me, in me, but I was I and He was He. I had to “do things” to get Him to work, to bless, to give me a sense of His presence, etc.
That’s why I, like almost all Christians before me, started on a campaign of self-improvement, to make myself more pleasing to God, to be closer, to tack things onto myself that were “like” Him.
That sounds right, and it is almost universally accepted as what one does if one is to begin living a “holy” life. They say, “Try hard! Read, study, come to church and hear our teachings, pray with all your might. If you fail, try harder. You can always do more for the Lord.” I lived after that fashion for quite a while in the beginning of my life in Christ. As far as I could tell, everybody did.
Of course, I came to a fall, the crux of which being the realization that “I” neither could nor would ever measure up. I had embarked on an impossible task, to make myself over (with God’s help) to become like Jesus, by somehow figuring out what He did, and copying that. Jesus got up early in the morning to pray, so I got up early in the morning to pray. Jesus stayed up all night in prayer, so I did that a few times, too. Moreover, it could have gone into the ridiculous, by getting myself a seamless robe and wearing only sandals! I completely missed the fact of “how” Jesus really lived His life, through His oneness with the Father, and “doing nothing of Himself.” I had those phrases underlined in my Bible but somehow they went over my head.
Therefore, I had that “fall,” which happened through tough circumstances over a period of years, which brought me to the “end” of myself. And by that I don’t mean that I ceased to “be” as a person. It was instead a total death, brought about by the Holy Spirit, of my self-ability to do anything — a total giving up into God by realizing, by the revelation of the Spirit (it cannot come any other way — you don’t learn this in a class), that I could do nothing of myself. All my so-called “techniques” at attempting to live a spiritual life, get closer to God, be like Jesus, etc., were dung! Crapola — if you’ll pardon my language! (I could be more graphic!)
And that’s when I began to know in myself that it was no longer I, but He, and I continued like that for a long time, always saying, “it’s not me, it’s He.” I was, in a sense, still two, but that is where we begin. It all comes full circle, one day, however, when we realize the third part of that Gal 2:20, when Paul “comes back” and says, “and the life I now live in the flesh” — ah, there it is — UNION.
It isn’t me alone trying to be like Jesus, nor is it Christ alone living in me while “I” have stepped aside so to speak (having gotten myself out of the way), but now “I” come back to be myself, but this is a new self, one never seen before, because it is a unified self, Christ and I as one, but it’s ME!
This is the new self to which all the promises of God apply. This is the self to which we say, “Just go and be yourself. Christ is expressing through and AS the “you” that you are.” We don’t think about being ourselves. We just wake up in the morning and we are “us” without thinking about it. We do not say, “I think I’ll be ‘me’ today.” We just are.
Well, that’s what this life in union is like. We’re just ourselves, but, having gone through by the Spirit’s teaching and revelation the death and resurrection of Jesus in our inner selves, knowing inwardly the crucifixion and resurrection as it has transacted in ME, now we’re just ourselves again, but this time it is not a self that is going to go out and run amok and be a self-for-self sin self, because we know the One who lives in us and is united to us, is not that, and because of that we can be free from fear and live in faith that His will is being expressed by our deeds every day.
Now, of course people have these questions on the front end, because they really question their humanity. Condemnation about our humanity is probably the most common experience among Christians, regardless of Romans 8:1. We KNOW there’s “no condemnation,” but it is as common as air to live in it, because we go by appearances, and to ourselves we never measure up. We have these imaginary ideas of what Jesus would be like, enforced by the imaginary ideas of preachers, churches, and fellow believers, etc., and we are condemned by these imaginary ideas.
Our modern society worships façade, because without Christ, there is nothing left other than a façade – smoke and mirrors! However, even Christians worship a façade to a degree but they do it in ignorance. How many times have the following words been spoken in our society: “Now today is Christmas, so let’s all try to get along and be happy because it’s Jesus’ birthday”? We are taught to live a façade from the moment we begin to have an understanding of the words our parents are speaking to us. It is the same in churches the world over. “The preacher is coming over after church for dinner. Everybody be on your best behavior and hide the liquor, and please, no cussing while the preacher is here!”
People say, “I sin every day,” and I ask, “Tell me some,” and people get very vague at that point. Don’t get me wrong, there is sin, and sometimes there is a stumble — but it comes from unbelief, and is essentially unbelief. But we live by faith, and in the upholding of God, and don’t accept conviction for sin unless convicted by the Holy Spirit, which is one of His jobs, and He is faithful to do it. So we can therefore live without fear and be ourselves, running in the green light, knowing if we do get temporarily diverted off onto a bunny trail, that the Shepherd always comes and finds us and fixes us firmly back on the road. We are HIS, and He guards us night and day.
We don’t bother too much about sin — too much concern about that! There are two reasons to continue in a sin consciousness. The first is that we are trapped there until such time as the Spirit brings us through to the grace side in Romans 8:2. We are still living by faith, according to the light we have, and really have no choice other than to “wait on the Lord,” and “occupy til he comes.” In God’s eyes there is no charge against us. He sees us whole, cleansed and raised in the Resurrection. We begin to see how God sees us and over time that vision crowds all the other ones out.
The second is that we hold onto a sin consciousness because we believe we still want to sin.
However, Jesus took care of all of it once and for all on the Cross — “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” It’s a done deal. “Shall we sin, that grace may abound — GOD FORBID. How shall we, who are DEAD TO SIN, live any longer therein?” asked Paul. So we don’t hang around that subject too much. We’ve left that. As Norman used to say, “Quick sinning, quick cleansing.” Get up, dust yourself off, take no condemnation for it, and get on with it!
After all, the Lord has not sent us out to stand against sin. It has been defeated already. We are here to announce the reconciliation:
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor 5:19-21)
We are ambassadors of the word of reconciliation, rather than accusation: “Not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” What could we say against this? Is this being “soft on sin?” If so, it is the Lord’s softness!
But back to this condemnation thing. People often have a sin consciousness, thinking themselves, those who have been cleansed by the blood and made righteousness by His body (2 Cor 5:21), still sinners, when they have been made saints.
Sin is specific; the Spirit (and only the Spirit) lets you know. Condemnation is a vague sense of never measuring up. Never being quite right. I often tell the story that for me, years ago, condemnation was so pervasive in me that when I was praying, I’d be condemned because I hadn’t read the Bible enough. When I was reading the Bible, I’d be condemned because I hadn’t prayed enough. And when I was witnessing, I’d be condemned because I hadn’t read the Bible enough OR prayed enough. I was condemned because I wasn’t (in my mind) a good enough father, a good enough husband, a good enough provider, not good enough with money, not loving God enough, etc. Name a thing and I was condemned about it.
So it was like water on a drooping house plant when I saw I didn’t have to live the life anymore, that He did, and that He promised to replace what I thought were things I had to accomplish by knocking, seeking and asking, with a door which opened, finding what I had sought, and receiving what I had asked for. I used to pray Ps 42 with all my heart: “As the hart pants after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul for thee, O God. My tears have been my meat night and day, while they continually say of thee, “Where is my God?”
He is true to His word. He hears, and He answers. There comes a day when we find the Pearl of Great Price, and we sell ALL WE HAVE (which is the totality of ourselves) to get it. The cost is “losing” your life. By simply realizing we have no separate “self-life” of our own, but are now wholly His and have no Life but His. He does it. And the other side of losing our lives is finding them — hidden with Christ in God all along, waiting on the long-awaited resurrection which happened 2000 years ago to take effect in my consciousness, to raise you and me into total newness of life, where I live, yet not I, but He lives in me, and now I live.
So now I’m back to being “me.” I don’t say as a reminder to myself anymore, “it’s not me, it’s Him,” though it is. Because He is Love, He lives to give me life, like light exists to manifest what it shines on. His life is resident in me to manifest — ME! (But it’s He!) Crazy, makes no logical sense, but it lives out!
Do not be afraid. How many times did Jesus say that? “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” He continually asked the disciples. To let go of our whole selves into Him, by faith, is a fearful thing, as is any faith leap, but if we trust the One into Whom we are leaping — His promises are true!
But then, once this true “me” is manifest, Christ as “me,” then I no longer live to myself another way, not in relating to God, but in relating to the world I live in, where the Light shines not for me, to manifest “me,” but that the Light coming out of “me” (“rivers of living water”) now serves to manifest that same Life in others!
The meaning of the incarnation of Christ was not only for Jesus of Nazareth, but that His incarnation would now manifest in us, as John says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” (1 Jn 3:2), in our FLESH — “That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor 4:11).
“Yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26)
Where do we go from here?
You hold the key to your own mystery in Christ.