The Paradox of Being ‘Me’ – Part One
By Fred Pruitt
(Previously published under another title. Realizing how CENTRAL this key is, I have to keep re-posting it.)
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
That verse caught my eye early on. Every time I read it, I knew this little scripture verse contained everything. All the mysteries of heaven and earth, time and eternity, unfolded in the fulfillment of this prayer of Jesus.
Like most everyone else, I started out believing in a God “over there,” apart from me, with Whom I now had a relationship through receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
And in that “relationship consciousness,” I sought to “know Him.” In prayer, I would “visualize” Jesus or God, separate from me, apart from me, beyond me, and seek to “know Him” as a separate person from me, from Whom I could obtain everything I needed for life and ministry, and most importantly, an unbroken fellowship in Spirit, where I would hear God and walk in God. Now I stress that is what I “sought,” with all my heart, though it was not what I was experiencing. I knew all about seeking[FP1] , asking, and knocking. This was my main prayer during those “seeking” times:
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? (Ps 42:1-3)
And I stayed right there, asking, seeking, and knocking, until one day the Spirit said to me, “When are you going to believe I have given you what you have asked for?” I had been looking (unknowingly) for some sort of changed environment, some “visible” sign that all this was true – really what I was looking for was some evidence of “change” in me, some sort of experience that would confirm my word of faith. But right then I saw it. What God has said He has done, He has done. The response therefore is not, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” or, “I still have a long way to go,” but rather, “Be it unto me according to Thy word.” (Luke 1:38).
Now to move further on into this, let us just be clinical for a moment, perhaps like a math problem. The “relationship” idea between God and us, while at first is very comforting, after a time seems elusive. In my consciousness (understanding and knowledge) in those days I saw God (Father, Son, Spirit) stand apart, with man being “given” a “relationship” that the Deity wants to “share with human beings.”
Well, now of course in one sense, that we are we and we are not He, that is true, and is certainly our first sense of waking up to God. God is up there, over there, and I “relate” to Him apart from myself, whether that is first seen in a sense “physically,” i.e. that God is physically somewhere else from where I am, or later when we understand it is not physical, we still maintain in our consciousness that even inside of “myself,” there is “me,” and then there is “God” somewhere “else” in there.
The relationship model begins to fall apart not so much because it is wrong, but because there is something incomplete about it. We have outgrown our old perception. In relationship, we can never close the gap dividing God and us. In relationship only, God remains apart, and I remain separate.
But the Spirit presses us onward. It is the work of the Spirit bringing us further into God in our consciousness, past “relationship,” into union – the answer to Jesus’ John 17 prayer for the same “oneness” Jesus had with the Father – “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30).
Eternal life is not really a relationship. It starts out in our perception that way. Now among us probably the one of the main “sayings” is that “Eternal life is a Person.” But what does that mean, “Eternal life is a Person”?
Let us start then at the rock bottom layer of our foundation. There is only One Self-Existent Creator Person in the beginning – God. There is only One Self-Existent Creator Person in the end – God, All in all. (We haven’t gone anywhere, but instead have come into our own.)
When we say that in the beginning there is only God as Source and Creator, etc., how do we perceive that spatially? In other words, what “box” is God “in,” or, where is He, in relation to the “space” where His “creation” is found? The answer is, there is no “box,” or central locus where He might be found. He is All in all. As Paul again put it so elegantly in Ephesians 4:6 – “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” That simply means that God is EVERYWHERE in His fullness. There is no “location” where He is Present less than or more than another location.
Now where does that leave us, then, if the only real (uncreated, self-existent) “Person” is God? And what about everything else, if everything there is, is “in” God? Where do we live and move and have our being? God! (Acts 17:28).
What does that tell us? It tells us that everything, no matter what it is, no matter its quality or quantity, no matter if it is good or if it is evil, still all lives and moves and has its “be-ing” (existence), originating and upheld in the be-ing, or existence of God. Another Word from Paul says, “He is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Col 1:17), and again, “Who [Jesus] being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power.” (Heb 1:3).
Remember, Paul spoke that word to the unbelieving, but uber religious, Athenians. He was not talking exclusively to believers. ALL are “in” the existence of God. There is no “outside” of God so that we could stand somewhere apart from Him and observe Him, and be able to say to each other, “Look, there is God.”
What then, of good and evil? Is “ALL” truly in God? How could we include “evil” in Him? The very simple answer is that while the whole universe exists in the being of God, we were born into the location (the “outer” world, outside Eden), where we last saw our Father Adam and Mother Eve. The legacy they left us included mortal animal bodies susceptible to heat and cold, with self-preserving suspicious (separated) minds, common to all humanity to this day.
All are “in” God, but not all have received Him into themselves to be their lives (through the death of the false self-will life by the “Lamb slain from before the foundations of the earth”), so that self-will is forever broken in order that we might again will one will with God, as it was in the beginning. Regarding those who have transacted this with God within themselves, we are able to say they are both in God and He in them, as Jesus and Paul continually told us.
Those who have yet to make this transaction, still caught in the rebellious self-will of Satan and trapped in His darkness, can still be said to be “in” God, quantitatively. But from their false perspective of self-will, God’s life is hidden to and in them, unknown to them as long as they are caught in the false consciousness of independent self. Therefore, we say that qualitatively, even though God is still working all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11), they cannot be said to be operating within themselves the life of God as a vessel of honor (i.e., “to live is Christ”). Instead, still being God’s “vessel,” they work the purposes of God in unbelief and as a vessel of dishonor (Rom 9: 21, 22). But we do not call that Christ or God, even though dishonor and evil are continually used and swallowed up in the Father’s purposes, and changed into honor and divine goodness which is limitless, certain, unchanging, and eternal.
Now see, that is the case here. This is what we are waking up to see. There is only God Who is THE LIFE in the universe. That includes us. That includes everybody else. That includes all phenomena. There is only God manifesting Himself in and through all the created “forms” in the universe (Eph 4:6). And through persons, He is continually working His All in all purposes for the ultimate glory of the elect, whether those works are in good or in evil. His purposes are not thwarted. His Will IS done, despite those claims that say it is not. His being is freely used by all God’s creatures, and God works in them according to their choice and faith: “With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.” (Psa 18:26), and the same word from Paul, “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15). This is to be taken seriously.
And this is also further underlined by Jesus’ Word regarding the single eye. (Matt 6:22; Luke 11:34). Which are we? Do we dare see “single,” i.e., ONLY God working all His perfect purposes in everything, whether worked by man or devil (as God’s eternal “servant” even in His evil, just as Pharaoh was God’s servant in His evil (Rom 9:17)? Or do we see “double,” i.e., a two-power universe, where God and Satan are as if equals, making Satan therefore independent of God, working His evil works in His own rebellious will, unable to be stopped or curtailed by God.
The great “lie” to this sense of ascribing to Satan omnipotence (when he is most definitely NOT omnipotent), is to make Satan the real focus. Take our eyes off God All in all, and the universe becomes to us a chaotic shooting match, with Satan moving faster than lighting in His evil works so that we cannot keep up. We spy him some place and make a move to thwart him, and he fools us and pops up somewhere else. We try to “defeat” Satan by giving him His undue attention and he is as happy as a lark. One does not “defeat” Satan by giving him and His works undue attention. We “defeat” Satan by simply ascribing to him no power, because we are in the Life of the Son, and we say with Jesus forever, “The prince of this world cometh, but he hath nothing in me.” (John 14:30).
Whatever Satan did, Jesus knew, would cause His own defeat. But Jesus did not ascribe the Crucifixion to be the work of the devil, even though it clearly was, stated plainly by Jesus when He called the devil’s work of putting Him to death, “the Father’s Cup.” (John 18:11).
WE GIVE SATAN NO CREDIT! And even Paul said the same thing as Jesus, when he exhorted the Ephesians to “give no place to the devil.” What that means is that when Satan comes calling, he sees a “No Vacancy” sign hanging on us, because we are filled with the Spirit of Christ and he cannot coexist with Christ. We are in the kingdom of light, which is invisible to Satan, but in Christ, “there is no darkness at all,” and because of that, because we live in the light, he cannot penetrate to where we truly dwell. Therefore, in Christ we are always victors, even in the worst possible circumstances, because nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:39).
Now, let us move from this foundation on toward our ultimate goal. In our past life, we had an “I” that in some sense believed it was “God,” i.e., independent self-relying self. That notion got dashed to pieces on the rocks of our everyday lives. Through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, culminating in His Ascension, we were divested of that “false I” that asserted itself as God, and found out to the uttermost that this false “I” was “not God.” This is an emptying, a death.
But what comes up afterward? There is a new “I.” This new I, yes, a “union” of human spirit-self and Divine Person, but the point is this union is now coming out in a UNITY of a completely new true “I.” Having learned, “not I but He,” which is two, there is now returned to us only one “I.” THis “I” does not stand apart from God and “know Him” as some separate Deity “being” apart from us. On the contrary, this new “I” is simply, “I AM THAT I AM,” stepped down into human consciousness, or, in other words, there is no more He up there or over there, but only He as All in all, beginning with and expressed in and as Person. I do not look “to” Him but instead look with His sight, “out from Him.”
This is the true meaning of the word “know.” Of course, we are aware of the definition that this “knowing” we are speaking of, is in the same sense of, “Adam knew Eve His wife.” There we see the union. Union of male and female, two becoming one. But it is the fruit of the union that is the point! Two becoming one comes to fruition when the child, ONE, is born. The “two” have become “one,” in the child, who is only – ”ONE!” And that is the new YOU!
Do we see this? Let me offer this simple information. The result of living in and of the Spirit is that we cease being “two.” It is no longer, or at least it no longer has to be, that we describe or think of ourselves as “Me and Jesus.” Even though the daily testimony of my life is “I live, yet not I,” that becomes subconscious in a sense, and we simply walk it. It’s the air we breathe, the water we drink. We are participant receivers of His Living Bread and Shed Blood.
People often do not understand themselves and believe that Jesus wants them out of the way so that HE can shine. How little we “know Jesus” when we believe that, and how little we see ourselves in Him. But that is the opposite of the Truth. He came and made it known that He IS the Light of the world, but it didn’t stop there, as so many mistakenly believe. What so many fail to see (but we preach every day and pray every day that they will see) is that because He IS the Light of the World, it is also true that in Him we also are each the Light of the World wherever we are. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, and He has set us on a hill that all might see the glory of God in the weakness of humanity.
This is the ultimate that I can see. God is All in all and Christ has submitted all things unto the Father, brought them to Him as His possession and a completely harmonized domain, reconciled, flowing with only Light, needing no outer light, so that now everything in the universe “knows” God only.
Again, if there is only God as Person, where does that leave us?
Dare we say it or believe it? We cannot say this in ourselves, just as only ourselves, but now having been inwardly joined as “one Spirit” with God (1 Cor 6:17), we do DARE, and we DO believe!
“Who am I?” – “Yes, I AM!”
“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19)
This is the ultimate function God has in mind for us. Being sons, we now do the eternal will of the Father. Having been delivered of our false selves through the constant exhaustion of “trying,” the Spirit begins to reveal within us that through the Spirit we are fixed in our true selves, always hidden in Christ in God. We die to live. To seek to save ourselves is to die.
The book of Genesis is the whole gospel in parable form. When I say “parable,” I do not mean that the stories are not about real people, but just that the stories and Histories as they have come down to us are more than History, but very specific openings of the truth of Christ, the new man, the false independent consciousness, law and grace, death and resurrection. It is all in there.
But consider the flow of the book of Genesis. It starts with the words, “In the beginning God …” That is our foundation, and the Genesis account is a continual unfolding of Christ, not in heaven, but in human sons. Genesis ends with the story of Joseph. We find the life of Joseph is in some sense the greatest parable of all, and this is where we wrap this up.
Joseph is the unveiling of the “new man.” We see Joseph’s first inklings of who he was in His dreams, resented of course by His brothers and noted by His father. But as the Joseph story moves on, if we can catch it, we can see this is our story, too. Joseph is us.
Without going through all the processes and things Joseph learned through His trials, what we can see as the end result (the same end result within us when we see it), is that Joseph is made ruler over all the land of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. While Pharaoh occupied His throne, Joseph was sent out to do Pharaoh’s will, to prepare for the famines, etc. Joseph was given the complete authority of Pharaoh. Every word he uttered was law in Egypt. He had the governmental power of life and death. Pharaoh basically gave Joseph free rein to do as he pleased, and what Joseph did was the will of Pharaoh, though it was coming out of Joseph in the spontaneity of His life.
This is us! This is the fruit of the “union” I spoke of earlier. Joseph is a perfect picture of Paul’s word to the Galatians, “that Christ may be formed in you,” (Gal 4:17). We are seeing this very truth in Joseph. Joseph has moved off “relationship” and into simply walking around being himself, making His decisions and choices, all of which by Pharaoh’s own “faith” in Joseph, are the will of Pharaoh.
And that is the movement from relationship to “one” that I referred to in the beginning of this. We spend years getting it straight that we are not God, that God is God and we are not capable of being God. From that comes the further revelation that we were not meant to do that, but instead through Christ we begin to plumb the inner depths of the great mystery, “which is Christ in you.” Then, by grace and the revelation of the Spirit we learn the living truth of “not I, but Christ,” finally culminating in our sight that we are no longer two, God up there, me down here, but that now we are One, so that we know that it is He Who is “operating us,” which eventually gives way to the final culmination, where by faith we see there is no more separation, there is no more offense, there is nothing whatsoever that could be an impediment to true oneness or “knowing” of God, so that the final movement into total adulthood is to be able to say and operate, “as God.” (With God as the true operator, life and Person.)
He has put the authority in our hands. We say, “Yes I Am. The false “I” is gone. This new “I” is the blessed fruition of that seed of God, which was implanted in us in eternity. HE has grown up in us, and now says, “You go out and be the life! You go out and be the resurrection. You go out and be you, because when you are being you, you are being Me. All power in heaven and earth is given unto Me, and because you are co-heir with me, meaning that everything I have and everything I Am is EQUALLY shared in by all, so that each has the fullness of the Total. All that I have is yours. Go, be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
Now all of this is very “heretical” in some circles, sounds too new-age or whatever, but I see all this in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. Of course, “as He,” we know we are we, and not He, human beings, and we know our role. Because we have thoroughly learned by the Spirit’s hard knocks who we are not, we are held in absolute safety (with lots of instances of “experiencing” God’s upholding us in troubled waters), and live nothing but this Person Who is All in all in the outflow of the Spirit’s always torrential and consuming fire of love.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me bless His Holy Name.”
END PART ONE