By Norman Grubb
A “revelation” which cannot be too much stressed is that we humans have never had any self-actring, self-relying self to “surrender,” “to commit” to God. Because we have all lived under that major delusion of Satan’s own self-deceit, accentuated by the churches’ teachings, we have all believed that we have we have a very self-sufficient self to surrender. And there lies the battle. But now we know that this is not so.
The Bible term is “yield” (Rom. 5:12, etc.)—merely hand over what is us. But what is true, and which has been so hidden from us, is that we never were a self-acting self, or self-relying self, or self-producing self—all these are Satan’s lies! We always were and are only the vessel, branch, temple, slave, wife, and body-member level, with no self-acting nature or capacity of our own. As I said, something like a doughnut with a hole in the middle. We have always been nothing but a marvelous self, made in His image, with marvelous potential and capacity for development—but always a managed, directed self by a deity manager (Satan or Christ) and not an independent self. In this way we are like a computer with all its capacities and potential, but only able to operate under the orders of its programmer. Only when it’s told to play chess, for instance, can it play chess (and probably beat us).
So the summons of Romans Six—to reckon, yield, etc,—is not to give up some self-abilities we falsely thought we had, but merely to recognize that by the one “Activity” of the “obedience of faith” we are owned and managed, and that therefore we are merely reproducing the activities (“the lusts of your father the devil” or “the fruit of the Spirit”) of the deity spirit indwelling us. And this has been the whole point of the revolutionary discovery of the meaning of Romans Seven for the born-again believer: that the believer’s only “work” is “to believe on Him” (John 6:29), that his only sin is not to have believed (John 16:9), and that the only obedience (definitely named by Paul at the beginning and end of his Romans presentation of the total gospel truth—1:5 and 16:26) is “the obedience,” not of self-effort but “of faith.”
Finally, then it dawns on us, and I repeat this because of its central importance, that, rising out of the battles and confusion and apparent difficulty of understanding of Romans Seven, we had falsely thought our failure was in self-effort, instead of the fact being, as Paul said, “to will is present with me, but how to perform I find not” (7:18). The “performer” is always and only the deity spirit indwelling us. That false indweller has been “sin dwelling in me,” and his presence has been a bluff and a lie, a deceit, for sin has been cast out by our Redeemer’s body-death. Christ was “made sin” as us and “died to sin” (2 Cor. 5:21 and Rom. 6:10), but Satan continues to try to trick us into the false believing that he is still in us.
The sole truth of all us born-again ones is that the replacement—the Indweller, the Operator of the Human self, and the Reproducer of His Deity Self in our forms—is the Indwelling Christ by the Spirit (Rom. 8: 9,10). Our only “works” activity is to see this in Scriptures, believe it in the heart, and confess it with the mouth. Then the Spirit bears His witness and the effortless replacement is known as fact and lived by. Not self-committing, but self-realizing under our true Deity Management!
Is It He—Or We?
Of course, to the eye of flesh-reasoning, or even the unenlightened reasoning of the born-again, the common objection or criticism is that this makes us like robots—which we are not. But that is because human reasoning cannot grasp the paradox: all reality has two sides. Far from meaning the cessation of self-activity, it turns out to be the replacement of vigorous false self-activity (“the lust of your father ye do”) by total, endless, right self-activity—losing our lives to find them precisely as Jesus had said. So we just have to accept such distorted criticism!
The simplest illustration I know is that normal human living is on precisely the same principle. As we come to our young manhood or womanhood, we have an inner blank spot. We have faculties and capacities, but we as yet have no area of distinct know-how which we can put into practice and call our profession—medicine, building, carpentry, cooking, engineering, or what not. We are like that doughnut with its empty center. So what do we do? We choose which “Profession” we will acquire. We then have our capacity to acquire, but a total emptiness of what we seek to acquire. So we concentrate on filling the empty center over three, five, or seven years.
Then what happens? A body of knowledge which was previously outside of us gradually takes such an inner hold on us, in that empty doughnut center, that we come spontaneously to “know” it and be at home in practicing it. Something has taken our central emptiness over, and manages and expresses itself by us, as us. And now what? Our human selves come into full, effective and satisfying action. We like our profession. We are at ease in it. We are consciously competent in it. So much so that we call ourselves by the name of the body of knowledge which has taken us over—doctor, builder, carpenter, cook—though in actual fact we are only practicing and reproducing something that we gave ourselves to be taken over by! So the human being comes into total, competent, satisfying action, but he is really only reproducing something which has taken him over.
I had to learn an unknown language in the Congo. I applied myself to it until one day I found myself spontaneously speaking it. So now I speak it. But which is it, I or the language?! It is as the Bible said of John the Baptist: “The voice of one crying”—John’s human voice. Who was the cryer? We all say the Holy Spirit. As the Psalmist said, “Thou art the pen of a ready writer.” I am the pen at this moment. Who is the ready writer? I hope the Holy Spirit!
So now, when we say we are “Christians,” in actual fact we are human selves practicing what (no, “Who”) has taken inner possession of us—Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith! Yet we call ourselves “Christians,” for we are the human expressors of the Deity Spirit possessing us. That is our union, which in the eternal paradox is a hidden duality. We are Christ in our human forms. We are (not “have”) the light of the world. Paradox! Unity, yet duality!! We are He, yet we are not He, we are we!! The fire in a red-hot iron. Which is it? Iron or fire?
Are We Heretics?
Do we see, then, how easily we are called “heretics” for saying we are Christ in our human forms? But Paul came mighty near it. Didn’t he say in Galatians 2:20 that “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me”? He just slips in “in me” at the end, but came as close as could be to saying he was Christ, not himself! So we, in the first dawning of our inner witness of the truth that we are not ourselves, but He in us, tend to say, as I did, “It is Christ thinking, Christ acting, not I”—but we mean that we are Christ in our human form. A suspicious hearer, who glimpses vistas of truth that had not dawned on him before, is first disturbed and inclined to jump and say “Heresy!” He is saying he is Christ!” And I often notice this with casual readers of Union Life magazine. When they have not yet been caught up by the glory of who we really are, they jump in with a criticism of some phrase such as that, and throw the magazine in the trash because they see it as being dangerous!
As to who we are as liberated selves, I’ll not say much here, because I go thoroughly into this in Yes I Am. In my book I go into the wonder of finding our true selves—servants, agents, vessels, branches, certainly, but that we live in the paradox of acting as ourselves from a basic inner consciousness of it really being He as me. This caused Bill Volkman, our Union Life editor, to give the title The Wink of Faith, to his account of his experiences with God in him as him, meaning, of course, that he functions as a wholly liberated Bill Volkman, yet with the wink that he really is Christ in his Bill form.
How true it remains that human reason can only take us so far—to the edge of the gulf—with the limitation of only seeing from afar something of what is on the other side. Only when we have taken the “leap of faith” as Kierkegaard called it, over that gulf, and by heart-choice have believed, affirmed as fact, and confessed with the mouth what the Scripture offers as facts; then and then only does the Spirit fulfill the word of 1 John 5:10 , giving the inner witness from the Spirit-dimension that these things are so. Thus, faith becomes the substance that reason can never bring.
Do We Make Choices?
Now let’s look at the matter of choice. Through the years, there have always been arguments among believers on the question of choice and free will. Of course there is choice, for that is the meaning of being a person. But the point is that our only real choice is for us to recognize our total God-possession and to “yield ourselves unto God.” We are slaves as well as sons; so proceeding from that one initial “choice,” life is not so much choosing anymore, as agreeing and doing. That is what Paul meant when he said, “God works in us to will and to do,” and then we work it out.
Our outworking then is under the pleasurable “compulsion” of our Owner-Manager, and “against such there is no law” (for we flow with the tide, not against it). The rightness of the law is being normally fulfilled in us (Gal.. 5:23 and Rom. 8:4), as we are walking, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, for we are “not in the flesh but in the Spirit” (Rom. 8:9). So once we have come to know and live in the divine compulsionof Philippians 2:13, it is, to my mind and experience, a waste of time to argue about free will.
Yes, we choose to be managed, and then enjoy our managed life, but this can hardly be called choosing, so much as agreeing with what our Manager is always inwardly leading us into doing. This is the meaning of “being led [not driven] by the Spirit” (Romans 8:14-15), not under fearful compulsion, but with happy consent. The Shepherd leads, and His flock spontaneously follows to what turns out to be “green pastures,” even when at first sight it appears to be stony patches. If by my first reaction I “feel” unwilling to do something, I tell Him I won’t do it until He makes me—and He always does.
Can We Still Sin?
One further aspect may concern us—which I touched on considerably in the book—that of temptation and sin. We often get criticized as being too little concerned about a Christian sinning. The real reason is that we have gone way beyond (not come short) on the “sins” question, because we have delved right into, not sins but sin.
We have seen the whole sin-principle (Satan expressing his sin-self nature) cast right out of us for keeps (we are dead to sin), and replaced by the holiness (wholeness) nature of Christ (1 John 3:9). Therefore, we are no longer sin-minded, but Christ-minded. We relegate “sins” (the occasional product of sin) to a brief mention, just as John in his “union” First Letter gives it only a sentence in the first chapter (v.9) where he makes provision for sins committed, with the added statement: “These things I write unto you that ye sin not” (2:1). Then all his other chapters are on union living.
Our attitude toward “sins” is further clarified by an understanding of the difference between temptation and sin (Jas. 1:14,15). Those just beginning this “union” life—knowing Christ as them—will sometimes ask, “Then if I sin, is that Christ sinning?” Of course not. Paul answered that in Galatians 2:17 (“Is Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.”) The answer, again, is in the paradox. Within our fixed union, there remains a duality; just as Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,” and then, “Not My will, but Thine be done”—two.
Don’t Muddle Up Temptation with Sin
So temptation is the drawing out of our human spirit-selves—through the enticements of soul (emotion and reason) and body-appetites, which thus pull on us—but is not sin. Jesus had all of them, but He never sinned (Heb. 4:15). It’s in this area that we have to learn to take no condemnation for such pulls and drawings, but rather recognize and accept them as originating from that external spirit of error! And then, after first accepting Satan’s right to thus pull at me and draw my responses, I recognize his freedom to tempt me, and then I can exercise my own freedom to respond: “But that’s not my real I, which is my spirit, joined to His Spirit.” I then respond to these soul-body pulls by seeing myself as dead in Christ to them and as replaced by my expressing Christ’s nature (which is now my nature).
As is true of Christ, I love in place of hate, I have courage in place of fear, I experience release in place of tension, I choose the right use of affections in place of lusts, and so on. And I take no condemnation for such temptations (Rom. 8:1), for I have turned the negative pull of a temptation into an asset by using it as a channel to express my positive Christ-response. I am “more than a conqueror” through Christ! A sin committed means that the temptation pull on my human spirit has reached the point that I have temporarily chosen to respond to the temptation and do it. That is my human spirit-self acting momentarily as if independent self—the ultimate Satan sin. So committing a sin means that by deliberate choice I carry the temptation through to a chosen act (we “marry” the lust and it brings forth sin—Jas. 1:15)—but this is not common in our newness of life. While temptation is continuous, sins are only occasional, and when committed, we move into confession, and conscious cleansing (1 John 1:9), turning the very sin into a further occasion to magnify the grace of God.
So, no, we are not sin-minded, but Christ-minded, even though we are sometimes accused of being “light” on sin. In actual fact, we are heavy on sin, for we claim it to be out of sight for those in Christ, and see sins as occasional false choices (with their 1 John 1:9 remedy turned to praise). Followed by the return of our human spirit to its fixed place in our union, which we momentarily forgot (II Pet. 1:9).
All of us, in our replacement relationship (Christ expressing Himself as us in place of Satan), know and will always know the incessant impact of temptation and trials on us. But the vital difference is that in our former self-condemning reaction we believed that our humanity had evil tendencies in it, so we lived condemning ourselves for our apparent wrong propensities and responses of fear, hate, resentment, lust, etc., and sought ways of gradual improvement—ever living in an inner bondage and negative watchfulness against “assaults of the flesh,” and feelings of constant need of cleansing.
But when this full light has shone in us, we see that there is nothing wrong with our humanity, which was created perfect by God, every faculty for its right use by its right Owner. Far beyond our first understanding of grace as imputed righteousness, Scripture says that we are actually “made the righteousness of God” (II Cor. 5:21): our “flesh” (our humanity) is perfect, God-made flesh, only misused by its former owner. Our “new creation” (whereby “all things “ are made new—II Cor. 5:17) is fully accepted by us as His means of expression, “each faculty tasked to its highest,” as Browning said; and we live confidently, not suspiciously, as “kept” persons (I Pet. 1:5), and thus spontaneously able to “keep ourselves” (I John 5:18).
Temptation Becomes an Asset, Not a Liability
Then as these incessant assaults pour in on us, we are not fearful or condemning. We recognize that we live in a “world that lieth in the wicked one,” a Satan-self-for-self-infected world, in order that we may share the way of escape with other Satan-captives, as we were once captives. We thus live within shooting range of Satan’s artillery of enticement. We have our normal human responses to such drawings—it’s as Spence the philosopher said, “Life is response to environment.”
So on our soul-body level, we feel the drawing to respond, as James said we would, but we do not mistake those drawings for something sinful or unclean in us. (Jesus felt those drawings but had no sin). We are free, and in the new understanding by which we know all the drawings are from without by the different approaches of the spirit of error (also called “the spirit of the world”), we recognize his right to assault us. We do not deny the pulls, nor resist them in our former Romans Seven way of “trying to resist” : that would be going back to self-effort which we now know is itself a form of Satan’s independent self, and thus a “kingdom fighting against itself” which cannot stand.
No, we recognize and accept the reality of the assaults: but then we say, like Jesus, “Get thee behind me, Satan;” or in the words, “We don’t see you, Satan. You were dethroned on the cross of Christ. We are dead to you.” And then, because we have freed Satan to have his tempting right, we are free to exercise our own permanent new-nature rights, as the expressions of Christ as us, and so exchange those negative pulls on our humanity for its positive right use. We reverse our negative use of our affections in expressing hates and dislikes for the positive expression of the Spirit of love for all the human family: our fears, which are our negative believings in evil, are reversed into positive believing in God in all situations; our pride and jealousy are reversed into magnifying God and appreciating our brothers; and so all the list of emotional or physical responses which I am drawn to use for my own gratification are reversed and channeled into the means for loving, blessing and ministering to God and others. So liabilities become assets, when evil is overcome by good.
A Royal Priesthood: The Summit Reached
One subject I have not touched on, and yet it is the final one without which the rest falls to the ground, is called by many names—third level, the fatherhood level, the royal priesthood, the soldier, laborer, athlete (II Tim. 2:3-7). It is the into-action into-battler life in which the Spirit immerses us as our permanent inner drive, and into whatever outer application He apportions to each of us.
I like to label our Union Life commission to the worldwide church as the Twentieth Century Reformation. Just as God called Luther to re-establish the gospel basis of justification by faith (Christ for us), so He is calling us (and others with the same calling, under whatever title—and we are expecting Him to call many) to re-establish and recall God’s people to what Paul called his second ministry of “fulfilling the world of God” (Christ in us). It is the complete Christ operating in and by and through His compete human agents (Col 1:23-28), by the same Spirit who possessed and commissioned Jesus to be His Father’s saving agent of the world (Luke 4:16-21 and John 20:21-22). We, as the complete human agents are the Royal Priesthood, with its “corn of wheat” implication (“Death worketh in us, but life in you”—II Cor. 4:12 and John 12:24) by which the harvest is reaped and the intercession gained.
While I have said a good deal on this in Yes I Am (Chap 45-49), I also wrote a book on the life of one whom the Spirit had in a special way revealed these truths of intercession, and whose whole life and teaching and example had a great influence on me —Rees Howells, Intercessor. This life-story has had a widespread effect on many readers and has brought many requests for further understanding of the Bible principle of intercession. Additional insights have been also made available in a new book called The Intercession of Rees Howells, by Doris Ruscoe. So rather than say more here, either on the “Royalty” (the authority of faith), or on the “Priesthood” of the calling, cost and gaining of an intercession, I suggest to you readers, that you order these books from Union Life, and let the Spirit speak to you as He has to many of us. You will find yourself among those called in any of a hundred different ways, just where you are, to take your share, pay the price, enter the battle of achieving faith, participate in the deaths, and be moved into whatever it involves for you personally to gain some intercession—Commission, Cost, Completion—some “pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”