On Earth As It Is In Heaven Redux
By Fred Pruitt
(While the next part of “FIRE” is still ruminating in the shallows of my mind, and while we host our grandchildren full time for three weeks, here’s some more stuff to chew on. In four parts, one a day. Here’s the first – ps – there have been some revisions!)
EVERYTHING changes when we begin to realize that we are not separated from God, but that in Christ we are God’s expression of Himself in the world. We discover that He is the upholder and the hidden True Life manifesting in and as our daily lives. This is God’s deepest revelation of Himself in man, that “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor 6:17). Through Jesus Christ, we find ourselves living in, experiencing, and manifesting “oneness” with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just as Jesus prayed that very thing for all of us, on His last night before His trial (John 17:11; 20-23).
(*Author’s note: I quote scripture often, not meaning the passages to be proof texts, but for educational purposes. The passages themselves are filled with edifying Light without my comments, but I have found in the context in which I use them, the pure clarity of the Spirit comes through, edifying not only my words, but also edifying the eyes, ears, and understandings of the readers or listeners.)
That union or oneness reality produces our freedom of daily living, as we come to the somewhat “final” realization of our identity as expressed in Gal 2:20, and 1 John 4:17 as our daily, normal, walking around reality – “As He is so are you in this world.” This is the perfect Christ foundation upon which we build and live our lives. Christ manifesting out of Christ within. In no way do I deny or cast aspersions on any work of the Holy Spirit in signs, wonders and miracles as the Spirit moves, still we cannot think of ourselves as “supermen” with “godlike” powers, but in humility of mind being our human selves being lambs for others in the weakness of mortal flesh, as Paul wrote:
“Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.” (2 Cor 13:3,4)
As I said above, when we come to this place, where we see that He and “I” are one, as Jesus was one with the Father, then we are ready to understand the “equipment” of our sonship. The Spirit brought us this way, no matter what our personal history is. In fact, His invisible direction has been going on all our lives, all with God’s ultimate purposes in mind. He has always been “with us,” but now in Christ we know Him in us, and as us.
Along the way as part of our growth, He brings us through that valley, the wilderness, the “alone with the Alone,” or whatever we may call it, to a total “emptying of self” as we had previously understood ourselves in a false independence, and then out of that loss, our true “Christ+I=I” self emerges, in the full rise of the “new man” in Christ (Col 3:3,4). From then on, even now, we have no confidence in anything except the new creation. (Gal 6:15)
Before our understanding had been taken this way, even as believers we were in a certain sense “mixed,” or “double-minded” people, living in a consciousness sort of in-between the old and the new, as Paul also wrote,
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
As we have said many times, the church has largely stopped and camped at this verse, along with its almost identical companion verses in Romans 7:19 & 25b: “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do… So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
The standard teaching on this is that we are hopelessly trapped in this struggle between flesh and spirit all our earthly lives, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. It is described differently among the camps, but is always attributed to some flaw of humanity, i.e., a “sin nature,” or “Adamic nature,” our “lower self,” or even a “proclivity to sin,” sort of built into Adam and Eve. And if that really is the “fault,” that Adam even in his beginning has some innate “proclivity to sin” which we have all inherited, then we really should just hang it up and do our best and wait for heaven when everything becomes complete. If it is humanity itself that is flawed, we are without hope of lasting victory, as least as far as this life is concerned. But I see in the scriptures a life of lasting victory. Where does it come from?
It is NOT our humanity that is flawed! Would God make something already flawed, and then require that flawed creature to be obedient to Him? Of course not! Paul does not say humanity is flawed. But he does face into his situation. He says the problem is something foreign, something “not him.” “It is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Romans 7:17 & 20 both say, “it is no longer I that do it, but sin,” which echoes in every way except the center, Galatians 2:20, which says, “no longer I, but Christ.”
Before we were in Christ, there was no conflict with our inner selves, unless there is a conflict stirred by the Seeking Spirit, but that is a different conflict. We are speaking here of the spiritual brick wall that seems to halt us in our tracks, as we are growing in our understanding in Christ. Paul says he delights in the law of God after the inward man, and wills to keep God’s law, but how to bring it from “will” to “manifestation” eludes him. “For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Rom 7:18b).
He brings in “the law” again at this point, and we need to understand what is going on. Though many folks just “recoil” at the word “law,” as if it itself is a dirty word, Paul goes to great pains here to declare God’s law just and good. There is nothing wrong with the law, he says. When he says he delights in the law after the inward man, it is simply the cry of the inward man who finds himself frustrated, wanting to do God’s will, to manifest the Spirit, to love and not possessively covet, but in the end, though he desires it with everything within himself, he cannot find the means to overcome that which keeps knocking him down – the “mind set on the flesh.” What Paul takes some time to realize, is that this “mind set on the flesh” does not originate in himself, but in the intruder! (Just as he also finds out, that the “delight in the law after the inward man” is likewise not originated in himself, but in the Spirit within!)
That is the cause of the flesh vs. spirit conflict at this juncture. It is an intruder, one who secretly insinuated himself into the inner life of Adam and Eve, and from then on in all their progeny. The “trick” he played was, he himself was the fruit of the forbidden tree! It was this hidden indweller that Adam and Eve consumed, took into themselves, who brought the one lie in which all humanity has lived since, the lie of independent self – MONSTER–self!!! The lie that we are each little separate “islands” of self, each intact and whole in ourselves, and running our own lives, whether we do good or evil – basically, we believe we are the “gods” of our own universe. We relate everything that happens in the world, from the standpoint of ourselves as the universal reference center. From its start in the Garden, this Mystery Babylon has become a great tree the world over.
What is Mystery Babylon? It is the false tree of the false god, Satan, the tree of rebellious self-consumed-with-itself, this very MONSTER SELF, which is at the bottom of all things in the world. It manifests everywhere in everything, yet it is none of them, because it is spirit. The “spirit of error.”
It is not religion, though it is one of its most insidious creations, and it does some of its best work there.
It is not legalism, though it holds a special place in its heart.
It is not political wickedness and self-interest, and yet it is.
It is not racial prejudice, or racial tolerance, though it does a good job on each side.
It is not right or left-wing politics, nor even the in-betweens, but they all pay it the greatest homage.
It is not the world financial system or the greed that keeps it going, but it works its purposes perfectly.
It has nothing to do with any system of eschatology, though it dearly loves to stir that pot.
Mystery Babylon is not embodied particularly in any one system, party, cause, crusade, war, organization, government, philosophy, doctrine, church, business, nation, state, province, city, town or village.
It has no central organization and yet is entwined in everything in the world. It cannot be pinned down to any one specific place or person, except that its only real and actual embodiment is independent self-relying, self-deifying MONSTER SELF! It is the image of the Beast! It is this and this alone that has given rise to every evil there has ever been on the earth.
That is why there is no solution in any of the aforementioned systems or institutions, beliefs, agencies or doctrines. Destroy an organization that seems to represent it, yet it lives on. The reason is because Mystery Babylon is that which gives rise to the false Tower of the Babel of human co-misunderstanding (where not one person understands another in their separated self-protective independent existence), producing continuous roiling worldwide conflict (starting in every home – “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” [James 4:1]) – but it is not the Tower itself. Tear down one Tower, and Mystery Babylon lives on! In fact, it expands exponentially when attacked only through its manifestations, because people foolishly think if they get rid of the offending manifestation, they have killed the weed. It simply retreats from that manifestation and goes on to others, even more secret and insidious than before.
The Apostle John wrote, “The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one,” (1 John 5:19 NASB). That is quite a statement, and not one tossed around too much in respectable circles. Let us be frank. The greatest feat evil can pull off in our world, is to appear to be the greatest good, or to propagate a belief that it does not exist. It does not need to acquire religion or institutions or governments or media or anything else. It already has them well in hand. It is represented in every place in every activity of man, by the seemingly innocuous, not-so-harmful-looking, often quite respectable and well-liked, false identity of self-independence, self-reliance, self-focus, self-for-ME.
Its spirit is in every one of us, until the Cross. It has been hidden to us in our deception of independence. We all think we’re a pretty good self, for the most part, though some become engrossed in a sick manner with how corrupted they are. Either way, the focus is “me,” whether a good me or a bad me, but “me.” Since this false spirit hides its own identity or sense of its presence to us, most of us have no idea that we were all, before the Cross entered our individual lives, raging dark monsters in our innermost recesses, seeking only for ourselves. Its spirit will give us any face, or have us assume any behavior, to suit its ends – it will be the most respectable self-effacing philanthropist and champion of the underdog, if it suits it. Or it may become a Hitler in unrestrained evil, if it suits it. It is a malevolent evil, that hides itself, fooling men that it does not exist, or if it does, it comes in little parodies of itself, like the Faust dilemma, repeated endlessly in literature and visual arts, of selling one’s soul to the devil. It’s a big laugh because he already owns them! That includes “nice” people as well as plainly “wicked” people.
This is not a popular truth. But it is the truth. It still holds sway with the whole world, and all the kings of the earth and all the merchants of the earth have all their trade in it. (Don’t look to great human Kings or worldwide Entrepreneurs for this – the kings and merchants of the earth are you and I.)
This is what runs the whole world, at least in a surface way. (God is still working all things after the counsel of His own will, let us remember. And by “world” in this instance I am meaning human culture in our present time.) What runs the world? Uncrucified, unsanctified, ungodly, self-for-self self, runs the world, and the entire human race knows it! It gets along and keeps going by self-interest cooperating with self-interest, a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” philosophy. For the moment, it is ordained to be this way, and God keeps a handle on it through His ministers, often unknowing that they are, that govern and police the world through human agencies of governments, police and armed forces, because even though the “good” of the world is often a false good, it still behooves the Lord God to continually demonstrate the triumph of good over evil, through the parable that is our lost (for the moment) world.
It is because God IS Good, and there is no evil in Him. This is another way the Lord calls His sheep to Himself. And though the good in the world is not an ultimate good, and may come from the actions of those who have questionable motivations, still we cannot deny or speak badly of a temporal “good.”
Human civilization, at least appearance-wise, has come a long way in 7,000 or so years of recorded history. It is no longer acceptable for one nation to invade another, just because it is more powerful and it feels like taking it for itself. It is no longer acceptable to most people of the world that it is right that we “own” other human beings, and have a right to treat them as beasts and use them for whatever our fancies desire. The “advances” in civilization are too numerous to mention, and we applaud every one of them! I’m glad I can cover more miles than the Apostle Paul did in his whole career, with just one car ride with John Bunting! These things, while products of a fallen world, are still the opening of the wonders of God in creation, which is endless, even in this fallen creation.
But the other aspect of this world, is that no matter how far it seems to progress, it still seems stuck in some things that have so far proven to be impossible to overcome. No completion – ever – in sight! Though peace movements have come and gone through the centuries, and I was involved in the last major one, war has continued and even proliferated. Contrary to the hopes of some, the Berlin Wall coming down, though just magnificent and glorious in the moments we saw on television, when the power of communism was broken in east Germany, which almost seemed to herald world peace, did not give us world peace. We come to realize the advances, political, scientific, social, etc., in the world, while not to be discounted, never affect the “world” at its core. Wars may be fought and won for the most just of issues. Yet MONSTER-SELF reigns!
End Part One