The Struggle to Be You – Part Three
Hello Freedom, Rest … and Fruit!
by Fred Pruitt
Before we continue, let me interject a sort of sum-up thus far. I have hinted at where we are headed in my titles. Since posting I’ve added the following question as the subtitle to Part One of this series: “Who Am I?” The subtitle to Part Two is “Goodbye Behavior Obsession.” Part Three brings us to our finish with its subtitle, “Hello Freedom, Rest …. And Fruit!”
That’s the purpose of this writing, to underline what we might call “the way” the Spirit brings us. Whether we know it or not, the Lord has known us since before the creation began, and we have appeared here in this time for God’s purposes and for His expressed Will. The Spirit walks us through all the circumstances of our lives, positive or negative, joyful or sorrowful, on two-fold lifelong journey. The two aspects are first, to know the Father through the Son by the Spirit, and second, to know ourselves to be living expressers of Christ within.
In my earliest days in Christ, when we first moved to Monterey in 1973, the latest rage at the time was the 16-year old Indian guru, managed by his mother, who claimed to be the coming of Christ in our age. (His name escapes me.) Devotees claimed that when the teachers from that sect laid hands on them, they received an instantaneous inflow of knowledge and spiritual understanding. Sort of 13,000,000 years worth of spiritual experience and karma in one concentrated dose. Instant Guru, go straight to the head of the class!
(I know it was supposed to be from India but it sounds like a truly “American” religion:
“Give me enlightenment and give it to me now!” Shop here for all your enlightenment needs. We offer a 30 minute course that will get you enlightenment faster than any other enlightenment company out there! Quick and easy, and reasonably priced as well! Come in unenlightened by 4 PM, and leave COMPLETELY ENLIGHTENED by 6 PM. Call our 800 number below, operators are standing by!”)
Thanks for allowing me to have a little fun. But that’s a little bit of what I’ve been talking about. Jesus likes to have fun. Me, too!
So do we see? We start with asking who is God and who are we. As we begin it is almost universal among us that we have to become better selves in order to be pleasing to God. We do it in ignorance, not knowing we are in some sense asking to be made into “another god,” so it’s not counted as the sum-total of our existence, just part of our learning experience. Besides, it’s that drive that comes with our spiritual dissatisfaction that spurs us onward into these other things. We think we can learn to be godly by practice, and that we should set about to do so. Perfect!
People become behavior obsessers. Always on edge, always feeling a bit askew, never sure of our footing. Behavior obsessers like to spread the misery. It’s not enough for it to obsess alone, misery always likes to have company so it can multiply. In our last piece I hope we put our behavior obessions in the garbage where they belong!
So now we’re on the threshold of our finale, subtitled “Hello Freedom, Rest …. And Fruit.” We’ll take off from our ending place in Part Two.
But it’s a truly bold confession to make, don’t we think, to say that now those truths are now truth for us!? How can we say “we” are complete, perfect, entire, needing nothing? It is just like our initial “salvation” experience. Our then friends who didn’t go that way did not understand and had a hard time believing we had been “born again.” We had changed and they’ve noticed, but they think we just got something called “religion,” and that scares off a lot of folks. Even though we testify with sincere joy and new life about what we have found, they just don’t see it, and we have no way to prove it. None of this can be proven to the flesh mind because that mind can never grasp it, no matter how “in its face” the Truth is. It would still miss it. It does not have “eyes” to see.
Our only reliable witness, and not even our brethren can give us this nor can we get it through counseling, preaching or even studying the scriptures, is the “witness” of the Spirit within. Coming into union is almost as much a transition in our spiritual understanding and consciousness as was our initial transition from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God’s dear Son. And it is almost just as missed by our brethren who haven’t seen it yet, as it was for our friends who did not accompany us (at the time) on our new road in Christ. It is that distinct a shift in knowledge and understanding. And just as in knowing we are born of God, the only reliable witness was the Spirit in us, in realizing the truths of John 17:11; 20-23, we have the same one and only reliable witness – in us!
So what’s the point of this? Is the behavioral problem solved? Is that really what all this, that so dominates the millions of us, our behavior, is that really what all this is about? Does knowing any of this really “solve” anything!!??!!!?!!?
Well, yes or no, dependent on our faith, or point of view, or consciousness – I suppose it has many names.
To the flesh eyes, it is never solved and never will be, hence the continual marriage to the law. Those who say it is solved in them, are heretics in the minds of the former. They’re presumptuous, holier-than-thou, antinomian, etc. They thought that of Jesus in His home synagogue in Nazareth, probably the one He grew up attending every week, where they all knew Him. They didn’t think He was such a holy guy.
However, we are not flesh people, but Spirit people. And on that level, it IS solved, and it takes the flesh right on into it, and says, with Paul, that in the flesh, i.e., in the body, not meaning “sinful flesh,” but in the human flesh life we live now in OUR flesh, that we are “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.” (2 Cor 5:10-13).
So then what does that mean? Are we to just ignore these behavior things? No, since that would be impossible! Instead, we’re first to get over fretting about it, worrying about it, and instead to agree with the Scriptures and the Spirit that state in so many ways and passages, Old and New, that NOW, right now in this moment, “the scripture is fulfilled” in us. But not only that, we take it that this, His present moment in which “the scripture is fulfilled,” in us, becomes that one “present moment in God” which extends forever onward through all the days of our living – one big present moment with, in, of, and one with, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The great thing He reveals in that moment of time, is that in Him we are complete, perfect and entire, needing nothing, that God loves us, is forever only, “for us,” and gave Himself in His Son so that as He is, so we are and walk in the world. It really takes balls to believe that and then live as if it is true, but there it is. Of course, we cannot muster such faith, but the One in us can and does.
It is for many of us the first “knowing” (that we are complete, perfect and entire, needing nothing) we have in coming to know union. For some of us, it is the most liberating moment of our lives, and is for some a “culmination” of our initial conversion moment or time of truth. My union “knowing” did not come from reading books, though some of the books I read certainly articulated and put into understandable words, things I had dimly seen all along in Christ, but in my living had been afraid to believe them. But when the scales dropped from my eyes the second time, and I saw that “my Lord and I are one,” I must say, it was as liberating, as scales-from-the-eyes dropping, or as dramatic a time or moment in my life as any other has been, and exceeding all thus far, except the time period of my initial conversion, which stands about equal, though for different reasons.
Of course, that isn’t to produce self-pride and self-elevation, though we are accused of it, because our true faith only comes from God, and with it and in it is the greatest humility. The interesting thing about “humility” is that it is a commodity which we cannot “have.” One does not “possess” or “have” humility. True humility is only found in a total divesting of oneself, by the Spirit, Who alone can do it, and become a “nothingness,” or an “emptiness,” toward the Lord. As Paul also said, “If a man thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Gal 6:3).
He didn’t write that so that some could come later and say we should see ourselves as worthless worms, totally depraved, but so that we could see PAST that false image, perpetrated by the devil, in which we saw ourselves as ourselves as “something,” i.e., a “self-god.” It is a false image, whose only cure is a death, and a resurrection to another image, the image of the True God, which we had at the beginning, restored in us in Christ. But, there has to be a death to go from one to the other. It isn’t a death of annihilation, but of transition from one kingdom, dying to that kingdom and its falsehoods, which is a real death, dying to what we thought we knew, believed, old ways and old truths which could not hold up under new wine, but under that new wine becoming alive in the other kingdom, the kingdom of God, and alive in its truths, in a real life as real to us as death was real before.
We are all obviously, considering even the small miniscule understanding of God that we believe we have, still as “nothing” in comparison to Him. He is past understanding. He is the only Something, i.e., Person, there is. There are other “persons” created out of Him, but they can only find their individual persons-hood, which He intends, by finding them in Him. It is all a gift, available to all. Let us pray always for that which the Scriptures have always encouraged us to pray, for the furtherance of the Gospel, that each of us would be given boldness, as Paul requested of his friends he wrote, so that he might continue to speak boldly, even it he had to endure suffering and death, for the purpose again as Paul stated, a commission in which we all share in whatever life or condition God wills us to be, we all say:
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” (Eph 3:8,9)
However it is that we may pull meanings and doctrines out of Paul’s writings, it is clear to me that whatever true “theology” Paul lived from, kept him busy til the day of his death, preaching the gospel to unbelievers and believers alike. There was never a “relaxation” in him in the sense that the work was done, that there was nothing more to do, except right at the end in his last letter to Timothy. And there he is not saying the work is finished, but merely handing the baton, Elijah’s mantle, to Timothy his son in the Spirit. Paul’s opening words in the 4th chapter of 2 Timothy, were the same words the Spirit used personally to me in early 1973, that electrified me from head to toe, as God Himself speaking to me, and set me that day on the course that has brought me to this moment. They electrify me even more now than they did then, because then I could not see even one day ahead, and now I can look back on all those 40 plus years and declare: “What God hath wrought!”
Here is Paul’s last commission to Timothy in 2 Tim 4:1-5:
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
At the time I knew all five verses were for me. But I could only identify with the first two verses for most of those 40 years. It is only in the last year or two, I have begun to understand my relation to the last three verses, because I cannot help but believe we are in the time to which Paul pointed, or a good precursor to it. It is the time of those last three verse above.
Even Paul’s famous, Philippians verse, “I don’t pretend to have attained yet,” used always by the we’re-not-there-yet people to make him seem less than he was, as they seem themselves, because he was not talking about personal attainment, as they are, personal goals, personal spirituality. Hell no, he threw all that out, and counted his “own righteousness” as shit! What he was still looking to “attain,” which would be the only thing self-for-others would be looking for, was that by his preachings, his letters, his sufferings, his joys, his sorrows, his beatings, his triumphs, that in all that, he might save as many as he could, and SAVE is the word he continually used, and is the word used and meant throughout the whole New Testament. He beat the bushes until he died, and trusted that his welcome death at the hands of Nero as tradition says, would be life for the whole world of the Gentiles, which he received from the Lord as his apostleship. The life of the Cross, which we are all called to take up, is not for personal sanctification, but only one purpose, that we may “know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death,” in order to “bring many sons unto glory,” and not just ourselves. (Phil 3:10). I like what Dan Stone said once: “I’ll be anybody’s doormat if that is their threshold into Christ!” Amen, brother Dan!
There is nothing we have not received from Him, as the Scriptures say. The only way for something to be to the real truth for us as it states in the Gospels, is that we lose our life to find our life. “Oh wait,” people are going to say, “that’s putting conditions on salvation, and antithetical to grace.” No, this is what grace does! Nobody can fulfill that. Nobody can really, truly, “give up his life,” in the sense in which Jesus was talking. It is not something we are capable of, though inside us we might be aware of a desire to do it, to find Christ, somehow some way. Lots of us do that.
But that’s what that Romans 7 struggle does, exactly what it does. This is the way the Spirit does it – our Romans 7 frustration experience solidifies us in the truths of Romans 6, which take us to the liberty of Romans 8. It is the whole “lose your life to find it,” issue that our unsuccessful bout with the law brings out and solves – we find the Life! And the end result of all that, is that we step out in faith in Galatians 2:20, as the Spirit brings us into the oneness that Jesus declared true in us in John 17, which has been there all along, just not in our conscious understanding. We come at long last to the real truth, which is that He and we are one, and as He is, so are we, in this world. And just stand there, and give the worrying over the seeming “inconsistencies” of the flesh, to the Spirit, Who handles all things quite nicely, and we get about the business of forgetting ourselves, and on to the tasks of the Spirit!
To the whole Christian world I say – GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!! He does not want your perfect behavior!!!! He wants your faith and love! The Gospel didn’t ask, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find perfect behavior on the earth?” No, He asks if He will find FAITH! (Luke 18:8). He is not looking for our idea of perfection, but faith in Him and HIS idea of perfection, which is how His love comes forth. And His own demonstrations of His perfection, by HIS choice, are you and me. By His choice, He manifests Himself in the world by our “inconsistent looking” human lives. Look at natural forests and then man-planted forests. Natural forests are random, without any noticeable order. Man’s forests are trees lined up in straight rows with a very noticeable order. I like natural forests better.
Come on, let’s get over trying to please men! That is what 98% of this behavior obsession is all about! Pleasing God is to believe Him, not perform for Him! Man is pleased with performance! And continued performance – “What have you done for me today?” And sadly but to good purpose because it puts us onto God only, the expectations of other human beings find the bulk of us quite wanting. For some reason, most other folks don’t quite see us as “perfect.” And that’s good practice for all the brethren, because, when we see ourselves in Christ and perfectly accepted of Him according to His word, we are able then to have the same faith for our brethren that we have for ourselves.
Does a soldier when he is preparing for battle, fret and ruminate over his demerits or questionable performances back during his training days? No, those days are over. Shined boots, alpha uniforms and polished brass aren’t worn on the battlefield. No marching in step either. That might get them TO the battlefield, but it ends there. The only thing necessary is to follow orders, keep your head and have a clean, functioning weapon, with plenty of ammunition! Training days are over, and the battle is upon us. No time to worry any more about myself. The soldier can only say, forgetting himself, “I’ve got a job to do!”
I always liked Norman Grubb’s reply one time to a woman who asked him, while he was enthusiastically eating as he always did, if he watched his weight or practiced a particular healthy diet. He looked up and answered, “Oh no, my dear, I eat whatever I please. I take care of the Lord’s business, and He takes care of mine.” And then he went happily back to his meal.
The man traveled his whole life, by foot, car, bus, ship, train, wagon, cart, horse, riverboat or airplane, from the time he was in his twenties through his nineties, speaking worldwide at multitudes of churches, groups, conferences, and in thousands of homes, in kitchens, dens and living rooms, from magnificent estates to one-room huts, and they were all alike to him. It staggers the mind, but I think of the amount of fried chicken, roast beef, pork chops, turkey, ham, potato salad, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, cakes, pies or whatever else was on the menu wherever he went that he enthusiastically dove into for nearly 70 years of God’s work. The only “dislike” I ever heard him utter about food, was when asked if he liked carrots, and he replied, “I wouldn’t walk a mile for one.” I saw it myself – he was as happy and eating as heartily unto the Lord a bowl of lentils as much as he was over a nice juicy T-bone steak, every moment trusting, thanking and praising the Lord and enjoying himself all quite naturally, loving everyone and hardly fussing about anything, especially anything in the temporal – he would fuss mightily sometimes about stuff of the Spirit if necessary, for he was as fierce as a lion, and as gentle as a Lamb at the same time.
And yet, he was a man just like all the rest of us, but he was a man whose life proved his point, that, “What you take, takes you.” I met him the first time close to 60 years after he had “taken” Christ. By the time I got to meet him in 1973, Christ was all you could see in the man – if you had eyes. What he had taken (Christ), had taken him. I didn’t quite have the eyes the first time, but I saw the light. The second time, seven years later in 1980, I did have the eyes, and “seeing” Christ in Him, certainly caused due respect and honor toward him as my elder in every way, but also at the same time,
I saw He (Christ) was in me, too, and everyone who names the name of Christ, as much as He was in Norman Grubb. Isn’t God wonderful? That was the purpose of knowing Norman. Not to bask in his human light, but to bask in the Spirit light that our fellowship together brought forth. The Spirit taught me “Christ in me,” or union, first conceptually, but I knew right away that wasn’t enough. It’s the Living God with Whom we have to do, and nothing short of the Living God will do!
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. (Ps 24:7-10).
And may we all know “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Eph 3:19-21).