Some More Really Great News
By Fred Pruitt
“For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.” (Ps 18:29)
Every one who seeks to grow in Christ and manifest Him in their lives, at some point runs into this dilemma, of not being able to measure up to what we believe God requires of us, no matter how hard we try. Even the Apostle Paul experienced this, and for many, that’s good enough for them. (Romans 7). “Well, Paul couldn’t go any further, so why should we even try?”
But Paul did go further, and did experience deliverance from that insoluble dilemma! That is what so many fail to see, and the reason is the same as before. We saw Paul’s dilemma and identified with it because it was our own experience, and stopped right there. But Paul’s dilemma is solved, by the Spirit taking him over the hump of a continuous conflict between two opposing parties in which there is never a victor, into a life where the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus HAS swallowed up the law of sin and death that operated in my members.
That is the Life Paul lived, a life of the victory of Christ being expressed every day in his mortal flesh, rather than some on-again, off-again, one day victorious, next day overcome by sin, half-baked apostolic life. Can that description be any further from the truth of the testimony of Paul by his own mouth? Does Paul really mean that this is to be his permanent daily operating condition, when he says in Romans 7:14, “For I am carnal, sold unto sin!”? Is that truly Paul’s testimony of his life, that is where he stopped and said, woefully, “I am carnal, sold unto sin,” and that was that, end of story?
No, of course that was not the final result of all Paul’s struggles in Christ, that he would live a double-kingdom life, sometimes walking in the light and sometimes in the darkness, sometimes doing righteousness and sometimes sin. (That sounds vaguely familiar – didn’t James have something to say on that? Could this imaginary Paul be a double-minded man, who cannot receive anything of the Lord?)
Not hardly, for once over that hump, Paul began his true apostolic life, which he described this way: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”(1 Cor 15:10). In fact, before I really understood Paul, when I first began to read his epistles, I thought he was a braggart, because he was so boastful about his work in the Lord. I did not understand then, what it meant to “boast in the Lord.”
My point with that is not to call attention to Paul’s boasting, but to completely slay the idea that he lived a half-baked life, constantly struggling with sin which sometimes had the upper hand. He found a greater life than that, a personal realization that all of life is continual intercession for others, which he described like this:
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 always 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 4:10-13).
Before Paul moved into that intercessory life, he had to have the sin issue behind him. It took me a while to understand this. There is often a gap in our understanding as long as we only grasp that sin was dealt with on the Cross, intellectually. To know it “intellectually” only, is to make it an abstraction. It is “a truth we believe in,” but we may have no idea of its actual “reality” in the core of our lives. One of the great downfalls of the Reformation, in my opinion, was the tendency to nail everything down to every jot and tittle doctrinally, in an objective sense, and to declare their varying orthodoxies to be the only embodiment of Truth, (in the early days) often even promising the pain of death for those who disagreed, oddly, just like the Catholics they succeeded.
Back in those Reformation days, both Protestant and Catholic alike knew many of the same scripture “truths,” but they held onto them like outer garnishments, a flag they carried, or a manifesto in their hands. But it was impersonal, and not themselves, just a garment they wore. We cannot wear “Truth” that way. That’s why it penetrates deeper than mere mental adherence to a set of ideas that satisfy our intellectual dilemmas.
So, we know, intellectually, that sin was dealt with by Jesus on the cross. Jesus “became sin” on the cross that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21). That is a universal truth. John the Baptist, speaking as a prophet, pointed his disciples to the “One who should come after me,” for, “There,” John said, “goes the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ was that “Lamb slain,” and so we know by the testimony of the Scriptures that before there was someone who had sinned, the permanent solution to sin had already been provided through the Blood of the Lamb in the midst of the Throne.
If that is a “universal” truth, that sin has completely been defeated, how does that affect us?
Christ was the Eternal Lamb of God, dwelling as slain in the midst of the Eternal Throne. Why then, was it necessary that He be born on earth in time and space, to be seen and witnessed of men? Was it not sufficient that He was the Eternal Lamb slain – why did He need to come into manifestation on the earth? Could it not have been preached by all contemporary prophets that this was the Eternal Truth, and through that men might “believe” in what they have not seen, in much the same way as we believe now, in what we have not seen?
This is the true meaning of the gospel – “And the Word was made flesh.” This is the true hallmark of our faith. Other presentations of “truth” depict humanity striving for Godhood, merging with and becoming ‘The Divine.’ This is the opposite of that.
“And the Word was made flesh,” is an eternal truth, that appeared in time and space in the “fulness of time.” It had two purposes. First, to deliver men from the devil’s captivity. Salvation was lost by the first Man, Adam, and only by the Jesus, the Son of Man, could the First Man, Adam, be restored and brought into the full inheritance of the Second Man, Jesus the Lord and Christ. Second, His appearance, death, resurrection and ascension, was accomplished to bring those same lost sons of the First Adam into full sonship with the Father, that we might be co-heirs with Him, the Last Adam. It is for the revealing of the these very sons of God (you and I), for which all creation groans and travails. And every day that groaning and travailing in all creation is bringing us ever closer to that point of full consummation.
But we need not wait for that day. Our individual point of consummation, is when we see the Word has been made flesh in us! Let us not think that the “revelations” God gives us will not be proven by things with meat on their bones. Remember Ezekiel and the dry bones. Instead let us be certain that they will!
When we first come to Christ, many of us come into Christ under a load of sins. We’ve been taught that the reason we are separated from God is because we were sinners, enemies of God by nature! We do those things that are displeasing to him and the Scripture agrees with this. The Scripture says all have sinned, that all come short of the glory of God, that there is none that does righteousness, no not one! ALL are equally guilty before God!
What we do not realize, however, when we first come to Christ, is that Sin is not something we do. Sin is something we are, because of our hidden satanic indweller. The things we do coming from Sin, singular, are called sins, plural. We do them out of our heart as it is at the time. We cannot help but manifest sins out of Sin, because we do, according to Jesus in John 8:44, the “lust and deeds of our father, the devil.” In Matthew 15: 18-20, Jesus described that “evil heart” we all had at one time:
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”
The first time that spoke to me, after I knew had been born again, I saw the heart described there had been MY heart. I had thought and imagined those things! I actually used to see people that had wronged me in some way, with daggers coming out of my eyes toward them, or for them to fall off a cliff or something! I had had all those things going on in me at least since high school, when some kids teased me about some personal things! The reason it struck me so much the first time I caught something from that passage, is because I realized I could now testify that those things were NOT in my heart anymore! All that was gone! I no longer imagined “bad stuff” for people I didn’t like. The Spirit showed me the contrast, and caused me to see it! It HAD been there, but now it was gone!
That was only the starting point in that flow of grace which years later grew into understanding that God had moved into and become my “new heart” in the kingdom of God, and that He and I are one. But in the beginning we only know our sins are forgiven, and that is wondrous, glorious news for those who experience it, especially the first time we encounter the grace of God through Jesus Christ. “Hallelujah!” we shout! Our names are written in the Lamb’s “Book of Life,” we have peace with God for the first time in our lives, and we look to be taken to “heaven” when we die out of this life!
But at that point we have not really dealt with the root cause of sins – “Sin.” Now some might be balking at this point, wondering when I’m going to stop this talk of “dealing with sin” or some such like that, because we no longer have to, because of “the finished work of Christ.” Didn’t He already do it all in our place? If it is already “finished,” why do we still have to “go through” hills and valleys and what is this talk of coming into our maturity, intercession and all that?
I agree with the concept, “the finished work of Christ,” so far as I understand it, from an heavenly point of view. All things are already accomplished. Sin is defeated. Death is defeated. At the heart of the universe (in the center of every locus) sits the “Lamb as it had been slain” in the midst of the Throne.
That’s wonderful for heaven, but what about here on earth? It is true in heaven. The question is, is it true in me? A “universal” truth, in short, must become “my” truth. It means little to me if I have no knowledge of it or do not somehow receive its benefits. It is a universal truth that salvation and forgiveness has already been provided for all humanity for all time. In fact, it was provided even before the heavens and the earth, and humanity, were created. But that is also of no benefit to us, if we do not participate in it, and by grace through faith, “receive” for ourselves the truth, so that we can say that what is universally true, is particularly true in me! It is the same issue as the Lord’s prayer, when it says, “that Your will may be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” It is the same as Jesus’ Word when He said, “What things soever the Father does, the same does the Son likewise.” (John 5:19).
Now, how the Lord brings us the whole grace way into the fullness of righteousness, to understand ourselves in light of living in union with Christ, is that the Spirit brings us to this confrontation I have variously described above. Paul’s struggle with himself and “covetousness,” which he could not make stop or go away. This is not formulaic and happens differently in everyone, but the outcome is the same.
One finally comes to this bottom when he encounters this “self” in himself. This is the intruder Paul was speaking of. “Sin that dwelleth in me,” he says. Wow, that makes it as intimate as can be! And it must be faced. What IS this “thing,” that has me blocked and focused on myself? “My” righteousness, “my” holiness, “my” obedience!
Spiritually, it is the grave clothes left by the enemy when he left; he was in such a hurry he forgot to take it with him! But all by that clever God’s design! For it was to be this very thing, this construct of the devil, which he fed to us all our lives as our true independent identity, that by its crumbling would reveal, “A stone … cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet … [and] became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Dan 2:31-45 – Christ in us). The false idol of vanity falls to the ground and dissolves when the “stone cut out without hands” smote the image at its feet. When the dust clears, only “one” remains. Ourselves in our True Selfhood, He in us as us, and there is “no other.”
But before we see the glory, we are privileged by the Spirit to see the lie in all its shame, and find the Spirit’s and our full hatred for it. Having seen it for what it is, it is the “accursed thing,” and we know not to touch it. It is “Achan’s sin.” (Josh 7). It is that wicked thing we learn to “touch not.” It was John Nash’s delusions (the film “A Beautiful Mind”). He still saw them in the end, but their power had been broken and he was no longer under their spell! We hear it cranking up in our heads, that “I-I-I-I” voice, that to which we almost always used to respond, but now it holds no power. None.
“The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” (John 12:30). What does that mean? Just exactly what it says. There is no “toehold” in Jesus that the devil can manage to acquire. Nothing in Jesus responds to “the prince of this world.” And it is true also for us. Receive it.
Because the beauty of this, is once one sees the delusion of independence, instead of producing shame and humiliation that one could be caught in such a thing, it becomes a great joy! First, because we can now ridicule what once held us, because now that we see the delusion, its power is broken! We cannot escape a nature – like a sin nature, that can’t be fixed! But a delusion is easily “fixed,” simply by turning one’s vision from the delusion to the truth. (Once one sees it!)
And that is why this is such good news, and even a greater joy! The is NO sin nature! It is not ME!!! It has NEVER been “me” that was the problem. This is not escaping “responsibility” for my sins and/or actions, because it is not about excusing or getting myself off the hook. I participated and was willingly at heart “for” myself, though I thought I was a pretty good nice guy.
But at this juncture, we have hit the bottom source, there is no further source to seek, for that which caused our fall, and that same thing, which now cannot prevent our resurrection! We are NOT imprisoned in an unchanging “sin nature” from which physical death is the only escape, but rather, the offense, the “liar and father of it,” has been rejected, and as Proverbs says, “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” (Prov 22:10).
It will come back again and again as temptation, and we may fall for it here and there as the Lord determines, but it will never be back again as our boss and owner. We’re shed of that now. It will reappear as temptation time and again, but now we have seen it for what it is, and have the consciousness of it. When it does come back which it will, we’re pretty quick to spot it and say, “Flee – out! I’ll have none of that!” When once we see how dark and lightless the lie that held us was, we marvel that it held us, for it is so pitiful in the light.
“On earth as it is in heaven” … “And the Word was made flesh.”
And now the Word is made flesh in us, and this is on earth, as it is in heaven. The “brick wall” we came to, which seemed impossible to hurdle, has fallen to the ground as far as we’re concerned. We did not deliver ourselves, but rather, this whole Romans 7 dilemma we keep describing is the troop the Spirit runs us through, and when we get to “the wall,” by the Spirit we leap over it!
“This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Ps 118:23).
And think of it. This is only the beginning.