I Die Daily – Part One
By Fred Pruitt
(This is a revision and rewrite of previously published material. It will be new to some and review for others. Either way, I think there’s a bit of Glory here.)
As I have grown physically older over the years so has the Spirit opened the Mystery of the Gospel more and more in my conscious understanding. It doesn’t expand so much conceptually or intellectually, as much as we begin to perceive that what we have believed – Gal 2:20; Col 1:27; John 15:5; John 14:10; John 5:19; John 17:11, 20-23; 1 John 4:17, etc. – has become God’s Living reality or “Selfhood,” incorporated into our very “being.” We have “become” the Good News, or, as Paul put it, “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” (2 Cor 3:3). An epistle of Christ; the Living Good News! That is who we are!
In the ”fleshly tables of our heart.” Paul sneaks that little phrase in there and it can be almost unnoticed. What does it show? It shows affection. It shows elasticity. It is God in our humanity, experiencing humanity, being humanity, being compassion and love. I think we tend to think of Paul as the message guy, the one who “explained” Christ to us so that we might live Christ as well. We see him as a teacher, coach, exhorter, dynamic, unstoppable, restless and many other things. However, what really moves me about Paul more than anything is the genuine heart affection and love he had for those God gave him. Yes, he was the Paul who went to the “Third Heaven,” but he didn’t glory in that, but in the weakness of his humanity, which enabled him to be one with all of us as well as with Christ.
I watched a TV preacher back in the 1970s for a while. He was called “The Walking Bible,” and at the time, I thought that was what I wanted to become. But I have since learned that there is a great deal of difference between a “walking Bible” and a “walking Christ.” If we are walking Bibles, then that gives the sense that it is the Bible that is creating Christ in us.
However, if we are walking Christs, we live where the Word comes from, i.e., the Spirit, Who ensures that we live a heavenly life in the earth. It was Paul who said, “Our conversation [manner of living, citizenship] is in heaven.” In other words, our lives originate in heaven right NOW, not later after we die.
That is why Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38). Think on that! We go to church and are exhorted to look above, to call God “down” to us from His perch way up high in heaven. But Jesus said the Life comes from within us, not from a source outside us. If you believe on Me, Jesus says, “Out of your belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water.” RIVERS! Out of you and me! We don’t have to call Him “down” every day as if He has forgotten us or we have forgotten Him. He has taken up permanent residence in us! That is, HE is ALWAYS present in His fullness.
Because of the One Who lives in us, our lives always have far more impact than we are aware of. And it is going on all the time. But our understanding always lags a bit from faith and experience, and in a sense, never catches up. Life therefore continues to be a “tension” – between how we perceive ourselves and God “now,” as opposed to the full consummation when we will see what we see with direct “sight” and not as “through a dark glass,” as it is now.
Now we’re looking here for some clarification on the oft-used phrase, “dying daily,” and others like it. So we start by looking at the word “death” and related words which appear quite a lot in the New Testament, with a variety of what can be confusing definitions. Plus people have added terms such as “death to self” or “death of self.” We are described in scripture as, “dead to sin,” “dead to the law,” “dead in Christ,” and just “dead,” to name just a few.
Paul even says he walks around “bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” (2 Cor 4:10). He also says, “I die daily.” (1 Cor 15:31). Was Paul a morbid guy, always thinking about death? Jesus said He was born to die at the hands of men on the Cross, that it had been appointed to Him by the Father. Therefore, He came here with the intention of being maliciously put to death. Was He a morbid guy, too?
No, neither Paul nor Jesus was morbid or death-centered. They were Life-centered, and both knew and operated the principle of which Jesus spoke in John 12:24 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The operative phrase in this passage is, “bears much fruit.”
For our sake, we’ll only cover the meanings of “death” having to do with our daily living, or spirituality. When I am speaking of any of these “deaths,” the best way to understand it is to see that deaths of all sorts are really transitions from one consciousness to another. Even physical death is that – it’s just that after that particular death, we don’t come back here anymore. The other deaths really are one consciousness coming to an end and another consciousness beginning at the same time.
By consciousness I am meaning something simple like going from first grader to second grader in primary school. I clearly remember being in the cafeteria line for lunch at school. It was the beginning of my second grade year. I was seven. While we were lined up getting ready to go in, I looked over to another sidewalk where the first graders were lined up. I clearly remember thinking how those first graders didn’t know anything, those poor little kids. Without even realizing it, I had gained a “second grade consciousness,” and had cast aside my “first grade consciousness,” which was now gone forever. That’s consciousness.
But first, I want to mention the expression, “death to self.” That was a term that has been common with certain “deeper-life” writers and others who were mainly in the past. I do not use the term, simply because we each are “a self,” (self-aware distinct person), and we cannot die to being what we are. When those writers use the “death to self” terminology, it somewhat approaches the meaning we will get to a little further on, but usually they do not get all the way there.
Fix Me God
Unlike so many of us “modern” Christians, who are constantly praying for personal blessings, for God to “fix” something in our lives, to prosper us, to heal us, to please make us feel better, to get us a better job, etc., this was Paul’s ultimate prayer: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Philippians 3:10). Paul is speaking of living the life of the Cross, which is an intercessory life, a life laid down that certain others would discover true Life for themselves.
Not many pray that prayer. However, to enter into the maturity of our calling, there is no other portal, because that is where the Lamb is. It is like Jesus’ famous Word to Peter in the post-Biblical story of “Quo Vadis.” (That is Latin for, “Where are you going?”)
In the story Peter is fleeing the city of Rome with many others during the persecutions of Nero. Suddenly in his path he sees the Lord Jesus, Who asks him, “Peter, quo vadis?” Jesus was not fleeing the city, but was instead headed back into the heart of it, the opposite of Peter’s direction. Peter saw it in a moment. Jesus disappeared and Peter went back into the city, where later he was captured and crucified upside down.
You don’t see many in our time in the “developed world” who talk about such things – martyrdom, suffering persecution including violence, enduring hardness as soldiers, making ourselves servants of all that all may come out of the insanity of darkness and enter the peace of God. There are some who still do, but it is not a popular message. A majority of those who say they believe in Jesus pray those “help me out Jesus” prayers, thinking Jesus’ main job is to be around to fix us and make everything okey-dokey all day long every day. He helps me cope when I can’t cope. Jesus helps me achieve my dreams. Stuff like that. (Stuff that is a far cry from Paul’s: “He works in me mightily!” And, “I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” ([1 Cor 15:10].)
It isn’t necessarily their fault that so many believers have never moved from spiritual infancy, and by no means am I criticizing that critical time in our spiritual growth. We all start there. But just like in primary school, we are not to stay in first grade. The problem is, church leaders cannot give people what they do not have themselves. “Come to Jesus for what He can give you,” was the gospel message taught in many American churches these past few decades. Need your marriage fixed, your money flowing, a better self-image and all your problems with your teenagers solved? We had the answer: it was the “Come to Jesus and He’ll meet all your needs and fix everything in your life” Gospel.
I didn’t think that way in the beginning, until the Lord put us in a church that taught that for His own purposes. The pastor was preaching that message and I bought it just like everybody else. We were trying to attract people to Jesus by offering a God with great features and benefits. So a whole generation of Christian people learned to go to churches or other meetings “expecting a miracle,” or to “get a blessing,” because they had been taught that is what church is for, since they’re “children of the king” and “deserving of the best!” I even saw someone post on Facebook recently that Christians should demand their “right to be healed!”
It would be better to be able to join with Paul when he says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4:8, 9).
Or to join our names with another of Paul’s list of experiences:
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” (2 Cor 11:23-30).
Right to be healed!? Right to be healed!?!?!?!?!?
That’s why the crowd followed Jesus, in John 6. He had fed 5,000 of them miraculously, so they showed up the next day looking for Jesus to do it again, and to make Him King! But they all left when He told them they had to drink His blood and eat His flesh to have eternal life. That was not the deal they were looking for!
The Life Jesus IS and gives is the only One He IS and has, which is eternal Self-for-others. That’s what we “get” when we are hooked into Jesus! Eating His flesh and drinking His blood means the same thing as Paul’s word quoted above, Phil 3:10. In Him we enter an eternally laid down Life for others, including and especially anyone who might be called an enemy. We are not called to bring rain down fire and brimstone on mankind, but rather to declare the reconciliation Jesus has accomplished and the way is open now for all who want to enter in. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev 22:17).
It is the Cross life. His heart and His soul are satisfied in the outgoing of His Love and the very precious fruit it bears. As we drink of His blood of forgiveness it is not our own forgiveness that concerns us any longer, and as we eat His flesh it is not our own holiness or sanctity that has any weight. As the Psalmist said: “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Ps 130:3,4). And: “How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Ps 32:2).
Cleansed by His blood we live the forgiven and forgiving life, not retaining anyone’s sins as the Spirit leads, but seeing past them to Christ in all. (Jn 20:23; 2 Cor 5:19). In the forgiven life, we hold nothing against ourselves, because God holds nothing against us in Christ! In the forgiving life, just as God holds nothing against us, we find He holds nothing against any others in our midst either! We have neither need of judgment nor a need to evaluate any one, except to find them in the grace and favor of God, if they will hear it!
Living by eating His flesh we progressively learn of what Spirit we are, not the spirit that calls for destruction and retribution, but the Spirit Who authors peace with God and day by day builds the household of the Living God. (Lk 9:52-56; Eph 2:18-22).
Living by eating His flesh we progressively learn by the Spirit’s teaching what it means to lay down our lives. Though it sounds as if we are majoring on death, we are really living in Divine Joy even while suffering many deaths, for the sake of seeing so many resurrections! That is what we are about!
I will even be so bold to say this is the operating principle of the whole universe – the death and resurrection principle. It starts in the very inner Holy of Holies in the highest heaven, where “in the midst of the Throne … stood a Lamb as it had been slain,” (Rev 5:6), and “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev 13:8). The first scene, in Revelation 5, takes place in the inner sanctuary of God in the Heavens. What is happening there? John in the vision immediately points us to the Throne saying, “I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book … sealed with seven seals.” (Rev 5:1). Next an angel proclaims with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” Then John says he wept much for after searching all through heaven, earth, and under the earth, no man could be found worthy to open the book and look thereon. This is the book of our salvation, the manifestation of the sons of God, and it would be a tragedy with eternal ramifications, if no one could open it and loose the seals!
But then an elder steps up and says, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Rev 5:5). And then He sees Him. John sees the Lamb.
“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne … stood a Lamb as it had been slain … And he came and took the book …” And thus began the loosening of the seals for the ultimate blessing of God’s elect, the final consummation of this eon or age, and the full unveiling of all things.
What I find this to be, this picture of a Slain Lamb in the very innermost heart of the universe, is an eternal Cross in the very heart of God. It is a perfect image of Who God is, He Who Gives, He Who Saves, He Who causes to be, He Who suffers death only to turn it into Eternal Life.
END PART ONE