Wednesday 31 July 2013

Yes I Am 22 - One Yet Two - A Paradox

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 22

But even then, as I’ve described, when it came to the down-to-earth issue of saying "I am crucified with Christ" with true faith in my heart, there was a five-hour battle. How did I do it? I find that there is one central obedience in the Bible. It is mentioned in the last verse but one of the Roman letter – "the obedience of faith." We have been far more used to hearing about works-obedience: "You’ll get there by Bible reading, by prayer, by church attendance, by varied activities"; and so we’ve missed out on this one, central "obedience of faith." But acceed to it and all the other obediences will fit in and follow naturally. And this is the easy one. It is simply saying what the Spirit through the Word tells us to accept as facts about Christ, and believing them.

A battle it was... believing and saying that I am what He says I am. Faith is a battle for one basic reason - because we have been so used to believing the common delusion about ourselves: so weak, so wayward, so temptable, yet supposedly I am responsible to improve myself. Therefore this faith-obedience means replacing those old negative-believings by His new positive word. So that I do.

Probably my main believing is first on the death side of my identification with Him, because of my negative ideas about myself. That was why I drew a tombstone rather than a picture of resurrection! I had first to see that my old self was really out of its old sin-Satan relationship and dependence, despite human appearances - even though it was joined to Christ more in His death than in His resurrection.

However, the death side of our relationship must not remain in the foreground. The cross is the gateway to "the life," which is the living Christ Himself. "Take my life, and let it be a hidden cross revealing Thee," wrote C. T. Studd. To find and be in a faith-relationship to the death of Christ is a total necessity, but is only the background to "the life." For "the life" is meant to be in the foreground.

My first emphasis has to be on knowing that I really died with Him, because of my years of false condemnation of myself while being apparently alive in the flesh. Even Jesus remained three days in the grave - so it may take us each a little time to realize that "I am in that tomb with Him," so far as my self being enslaved to sin and self-effort is concerned. But it is important to have it clear that when I say "I am crucified with Christ" I do not mean that I as a self have died to being a self - which is an absurdity. Yet preachers often mistakenly use the phrase "death to self." I cannot die to self, for I am eternally a self! I only die in the sense that my self has changed masters. I have "died" to having a job in a steel firm, if I’ve crossed over and joined a cotton firm. That is the sense in which I have died in Christ.

There are also teachers who put such a strong emphasis on this death reality of the Romans 6 "death to sin" that they leave folks tossing about in a death-mindedness. It is necessary for a time, but then out we come from the tomb!

So Paul continues, in his famous Galatians 2:20 statement, with "…nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me," and we continue in our faith affirmation along with him. We say categorically, and with no ifs or buts, "I am crucified with Christ" - cut off, dead to sin, dead as the old self which was Satan’s dwelling place, dead to the world system in which I outwardly live. Dead, dead, dead, in His death. That I have to say before I can move on. But then I say, "…nevertheless I live" - meaning, of course, by His resurrection out from the tomb.

But here comes the vital spot. Paul does not stop there one moment in his saying "…nevertheless I live." He does not leave us time to dwell on this fact of being risen, alive in Christ. He straightway corrects himself - contradicts himself - and says, "No, not I, but Christ lives in me." Now this is revolutionary, radical, because though he says it is Christ living in me, he is not saying "side by side with me." He is saying Christ has replaced me at my center: "...yet not I" Or as some have translated it, "…yet no longer I." And that is why I use the word replacement as a key word.

Now this brings us to the very center of our Total Truth. Paul is obviously really saying, "The real ‘I’ in me is not my Paul ‘I,’ but Christ. I am really Christ in His ‘Paul’ form." Yet I am that self-form, for Paul goes on to say in this same scripture, "...and the life which I now live in the flesh…" He is still there, the redeemed "Paul-I."

This is the spot where we sometimes meet with controversy. Paul is not here making the point that we are two - Christ and I. No, he is saying right out that the real "I" is Christ, and my "I" merely His agent, vessel, branch. And he states it so boldly when he puts it, "I live, no not I, but Christ lives in me."

Certainly I remain, and (as we shall see later) come right back into the foreground. For Paul speaks of the self in that great Galatians 2:20 statement on three levels. I call it moving from old self ("I am crucified") to no self ("I live; yet not I, but Christ") to new self ("the life which I now live in the flesh"); so back we have come to our own selves. But we will look at that new self later. At this crisis moment we center our faith-attention on this middle no self - for this is the crux.

We do not find ourselves as the liberated, spontaneous new selves until we have first disappeared to reappear! We have to know ourselves - of course, by the inner knowing of the Spirit - as replaced I’s. It is I, yet not I, it is He! It really is He in place of me, and yet here I still am! What a paradox! I turn up again all right, but only on the other side of a fixed, conscious replacement. And it is the coming short of this replacement realization - or indeed, opposition to it - that blocks us right the way through from that total "seeing through" which goes on to seeing Him only, not only in the personal, but in the universal.

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