Wednesday 31 July 2013

Yes I Am 23 - I Know That I Know

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 23

We will take the risk of repetition and again go over this crisis moment of truth because of its critical importance - our conscious possessing of our possessions, our second leap of faith. We began our faith-leap by believing in our hearts and confessing with our mouths that we are crucified with Christ. Now we complete it by saying just as definitely the middle section of Paul’s Galatians 2:20, "Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me."

I say it. Is that all? Yes, it basically is all; for faith, as we have already said, is thought - thought expressed by word. As a condition of faith, something must be both available and desirable; I’ll do no more than think about it until it plainly is both of these. Now to get specific: Nothing could be more desirable to me than that Christ living in me as me should be a realized fact. And I’ve already seen in God’s Word that it is available. So it is available and desirable - my mind and heart have those two facts settled. So then what do I do? What I do always when I act by faith. I speak the word, which Paul calls the "word of faith." I say to God, and to myself, that I am now what Paul says he and we are... in this great statement of his.

I say it, whether inwardly in my spirit or vocally in words. But then, like Pilate, "What I have said, I have said." That is a solemn verbal affirmation. Probably we do well to say it by confession to another, by making a date in our Bible, or whatever. It is like the purpose behind a public wedding: to make the marriage contract legally irrevocable in the sight of all men. So now this is our leap of faith. We have declared as fact what we have read of with our eyes, what has registered in our minds as plain and intelligible, and what we now choose in our heart to affirm - with no proof beyond those outer responses of my eyes, mind, emotions. That is why faith is a leap - into the yet unprovable. Available, desirable, but not yet reliable. But this is the necessary leap I personally must take. It is the one and only basic obedience of the believer -that "obedience of faith": not of works or some outer activities; no, of faith - which simply means inwardly committing myself to something (Someone) whom I now take to be total reality to me.

I have, of course, this big advantage: I already have in my new birth the saving faith which has become inner substance to me by the witness of the Spirit to the Word. So I already know Him. But this now is Total He, in me, as me - He in my form - or whatever phrase we are best accustomed to. The only outer action involved in this obedience of faith is something which verbalizes this belief in my heart - something which can be called confessing with my mouth. This is only because, for humans, contracts are valid only when there has been some public signing.

But let me again and again make this abundantly clear: Faith is substantial. Faith is the substance of the things hoped for, the evidence of the unseen. Therefore faith does not merely mean I have done my part by just believing and outwardly confessing. That is merely my faith attachment to something I desire to experience. I take food - no, food takes me: then faith is substance. I sit on a chair, yes, but the chair upholds me, not I it! Faith is substance: it produces certainty. "I know whom I have believed," says Paul. I believe first and then know, and in my new birth that inner knowing of the Spirit-reality became so much everything to me that outer things are no longer the real substance I mistakenly thought they were. Now inner knowing, Spirit knowing, has become the substance that not world nor flesh nor devil can take from me.

So now in this second crisis of faith. Faith is substance. That substance does not come from us who do the believing and committing, but comes from that to which we have committed ourselves. The substance is the food, not the faith that takes it. The substance is the chair, not my faith that commits myself to it. And now the substance, the certainty, is that by some means, at some time - often immediately but not always -the witnessing Spirit inwardly confirms to me that it is He, no longer I, living my life. I know. I knew fifty-one years ago, fourteen years after my first knowing of salvation, and, of course, I know the same reality today. It is as natural to me as my initial experience of salvation, only greatly enlarged and established as years have gone by. The "believings" of the first part of the last chapter in John’s First Epistle have dissolved into "knowings" by the last half, and the keyword comes in the middle (1 John 5:10): "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." Then John continues: "These things have I written to you that believe... that ye may know that ye have eternal life.... We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not... and we know that we are of God... and we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true" (vss. 13, 18, 19, 20).

So you see, we don’t "work up" the knowing. Should you be reading this and say, "Well, I’ve said that ‘word of faith’; I have believed, but I can’t say I know," then don’t, don’t try to know. Knowing does not come from self-effort; that would be back under the law of "you ought" again. The knowing comes from the Spirit. So what you do is to keep firmly affirming that you are what you have now said you are by faith. Your job is to maintain the affirmation. The confirmation comes from Him, and any trying or searching of your own will only insert a fog of unbelief which hinders the Spirit from giving the confirmation. But there is the confirmation.

What more perfect pattern are we given of what a normal person is than Jesus Himself? He continually called Himself the "Son of man" (His favorite and most used name for Himself) because He was affirming in no uncertain terms that He was one of us, as us - indeed, was the sole representative of the human family. As Paul said, He came, "made of a woman and made under the law"; and Peter calls Him our "example." And nothing about this ideal man (and we owe it to John that he so clearly observed and presented Him to us in His true self) is more striking than His constant disclaimer of doing anything or being anything of Himself. "I do nothing of Myself," John quoted Him several times as saying. When questioned about His work, He said, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do"; and about His statements, "As I hear, I judge"; and finally, when asked by Philip to show them the Father, to whom He said He was soon going, He gave them this startling answer: "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."

This was at the last supper, when it was His definite intention of explaining to them what His own inner (not outer) relationship was to the Father, whom they had regarded as "up" in heaven. He knew He was now leaving them in His physical, outer presence, to return to them as the Spirit in them; so He opened to them how He as pattern man had lived His life on earth. "If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father." Then He made the relationship still more marvelously clear by adding, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself; but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works."

So that is what a "normal" man is: not himself, but God dwelling and working in him. Ours is not a God afar off, but God within. In light of this Jesus said, "I and My Father are one"; yet within that union They were two - "I and My Father." And the whole point is that this is not a description of Himself as Jesus the Son of God, unique and different from us, but of Jesus as the Son of man, of whom it says in the Epistle to the Hebrews that "He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren."

Jesus Himself had prayed that we should all know this same oneness with each other: "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one." And John wrote in his letter that categorical statement, "As He is, so are we in this world"; and, "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us"; and "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."

We do remain ourselves - very much ourselves, as we shall be seeing - just as Jesus was so much Himself that the world could never ignore Him as the perfect man, whether they believed in His deity or not. Yet it is this upon which we are centering our attention: There was never a moment when He did not know that He and His Father were in an eternal union, so that who He was, was the Father being manifested in and through His Son. So our being rebuilt as whole persons must first have our union with God through His Son established, and only then do we also freely live in the easy paradox of also being ourselves.

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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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Tuesday 30 July 2013

Yes I Am 21 - How Do I Get This Inner Knowing?

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 21

Have you grasped what I’m saying? We must have inner knowing. Nothing can be a substitute for that. Remember how I said that faith is only completed faith when it has been replaced by conscious assurance - "substance," as Hebrews 11:1 tells us. We have several times emphasized this, and do it again. Throughout life, faith in its initial form is placed in something external, available to me, and desirable... and by inner decision of my mind, heart and will I then say, "I’ll do that. I’ll go there. I’ll make that." On the human level, I then put that inner word of faith into action. I take my car and go there. I use my hands and make that. I take that fruit and eat it. And then what happens? When it reaches out to something, that first inner form of faith is dissolved and replaced by outer facts. It is no longer "I’ll go to that home." No! Now I am in that home. Not "I’ll eat that." No! It is food in me. Not "I’ll make that." No! Here it is, made. The taker’s taken! My bodily actions have turned the faith into substance.

But now we are talking about a faith-leap into the real dimension - the kingdom of God - the invisible realm of reality with Father, Son and Spirit; and we who are born-again know that when our faith became "substance" we came to a new kind of assurance - ridiculous to the world - in which the Spirit, not human actions, was the agent which brought faith into substance; and that new-birth certainty is nothing but inner knowing - a nonrational knowing. We just know that we know, and neither man, heaven nor hell can move us. Just as Paul almost shouted to the Galatians, when beginning his letter to them: "I so know this new revelation (of the inner union of Galatians 2:20) in my inner being that if an angel from heaven, or I myself, preach to you any other gospel, let him be accursed!" That, surely, is inner knowing.

And now it is this second inner knowing we are talking about, which was so plainly demonstrated by Paul himself in his cry of distress turned into shout of praise and assurance (Romans 7 and 8). And I am asking, "Do I know that?" Yes, I do. Do you? Don’t deceive yourself; don’t mistake your first believing of outer given facts for the spontaneous inner knowing. Get it clear. Faith starts off by my attaching myself to something. We have instanced food, a chair, going to a home. But that’s not what makes it real to me. It is the response back, like an echo, from the thing to which I am attaching myself which makes the inner knowing. I take the food; I am conscious of it inside me. I sit in a chair; the chair makes me know it is holding me. That is the knowing. So the knowing does not come from my putting my faith into something, it comes from the something in which I put my faith. I must never mistake my faith in its first form - my attaching myself to something - for the completion of faith by which it has attached itself to me. Do you see this? So the final knowing of my eternal union - that it actually is He inwardly joined to me: that it is now He living in me, and not I - comes from Him the Spirit, and not from me the believer. He turns the faith into substance: absolute certainty.

So don’t try any imaginings on this level, or try to make yourself think you have it. Don’t try anything, for once again that is this old "self-effort stuff" we have died to. No, I keep doing my part, which is constantly affirming that what the Scriptures have said about my union with Christ is fact. I have been and am crucified with Him. I am dead to sin. I am crucified to the world. I now live in His resurrection. No, it is not I, it is He living in me. I have said it, and still say it. But keep this clear: My saying it is not yet Him saying it back to me. That you do not "try" to make up, or feel, or have any scraps of self-effort in it. No, it "comes down from heaven"! How? When? That’s not my business. Keep off the grass! Don’t inquire. Don’t occupy yourself with hoping or waiting. No, remain steadfast in your part of the bargain - affirming the fact on the basis of God’s Word even if it is not yet inwardly confirmed to you as fact. And when and how will you know? Neither I nor an angel from heaven could tell you, because it is the prerogative of God Himself, God the Spirit, to speak that inner word. All we humans can say is "You’ll know when you know!" Sometimes at once, sometimes after a time-gap.

I did not lightly move into my part of the believing. After five night-hours of battling around with it (so little did I understand the ease of faith in those days), I did finally put my finger on Galatians 2:20, or at least on the first phrase of it, and said right out, "I am crucified with Christ." Then I added a little bit of confessing with my mouth, which Paul said confirms the inner believing: I took a post card, drew a tombstone, and wrote, "Here lies N.P.G., crucified with Christ." I had not reached far out into my resurrection by then!

But did I feel different or know anything different? No. My precious wife, Pauline, was with me and did the same. We had those five hours sitting in our little camp chairs in the forest, in the banana plantation of a precious African brother we had gone to visit. But the Spirit responded more quickly to Pauline. Within two weeks she felt what she took to be a touch on her shoulder, beneath the mosquito net on her camp bed. It was the Spirit confirming her word of faith, and she knew and has known ever since. Next morning, as we sat outside the little native hut we had been staying in, breakfasting at our camp table, she began to say to me that she had something to tell me; but I said, "No need, your face shows it" - and her life has showed it all these years since. But for me, perhaps because I was more a "thinker-through" of a thing, and a slower believer, it wasn’t until two years later that the inner light was turned on in my consciousness. During those two years I never went back on that crisis of affirming faith. It had been as serious to me as a wedding ceremony (yes, faith is serious business). So it was background fact to me as I continued my missionary village travelings. But not until I was home on furlough, and speaking with Mrs. Penn-Lewis, a woman of God whose writings had first helped me into this understanding of Romans 6-8 and Galatians 2:20, was this light inwardly turned on in me. I brought some missionary problems to her. But I think she sensed I was the problem, because she answered by what she called her "baptism in the Spirit" - not by some outer sign, but by an inner revelation of Him in her, so great that, as she spoke that day to a group of young women, the Holy Spirit brought them all down on their faces to the ground. But the point to me was not her story but that as she spoke, I knew. How? I don’t know. But I knew, and that was a great number of years ago. And I still know. Just as certainly and clearly as I knew by the inner witness on the day I came to Christ that I was born again. That’s how I know; and you know, or will know in God’s time. He confirms what we have affirmed. That’s all.

But I do know that as He thus became inwardly real to me, as the One living my life, I did move into an inner knowing which was and is equivalent to saying It is He living in me and not I. I was conscious of Him only doing the thinking and speaking. He, not I. Yet of course it was and is I. And I still have that inner knowing of it being He, not I. So it is not difficult for me to say that it is Christ speaking, willing, thinking, acting. It is Christ in His Norman form. It is that Spirit who Jesus said speaks in us (Matt. 10:20) - not to us, but in us and by us: "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." It is "God working in us, to will and do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). So He is the willer and doer, and I just as spontaneously express His willing and doing in my actions.

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Yes I Am 20 - It Is The Second Crisis

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 20

Now let us face it. We have seen plainly, from Paul’s detailed explanation in his Roman letter, that Christ, our last Adam, completed a total redemption for us, the first Adam’s family, in His death, resurrection, and ascension. But it can only become a living fact in our lives by us having a personal inner experience of Him. First there has to be a new birth of the Spirit, and then the Spirit bears witness to our human spirits that we are now the children of God. This witness is vital because we become operative persons in our spirit-selves only by an inner recognition of fact as fact. This is also why Christ’s resurrection and ascension had to be confirmed inwardly to His disciples by the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost: it gave them an unshakeable inward confirmation regarding the One whom they’d outwardly seen and touched, but who had now disappeared from their sight. From then on no questions arose, even to the point of their dying for Him whom they knew. For faith was now knowledge. They knew what they knew! Outer facts had inner confirmation, and only by the inner was the outer established.

So now, by our new birth experience, we know what we know of our salvation and Savior. But we have gone on to recognize that knowing Christ as Savior from past sins must he accompanied by an equally certain knowing of Him as our personal sufficiency for our daily living, and for our sharing of such knowledge with others. Here is a second stage of knowing! We have seen in Romans how Paul had to go into great detail, as he moved from chapters 3-5 on to 6-8, to complete for us, as for himself, this second stage of inner knowing. He has made it plain that there are travailings, searchings, negative condemnings and failures to condition us for this second, equally certain, knowing. We have to go through our Romans 7 experience. There’s no shortcut for us on our "wilderness way," any more than there was for the children of Israel in their painful sojourn in that "waste and howling wilderness."

So we are now confronting this together. Let’s not fool ourselves. We shan’t get there any more quickly and easily than Paul (although we may have more head knowledge because of the pioneering route-map he has drawn for us). Any close look at the great biographies of the Bible presents us with the same fact.

Abraham, our father of faith, that total follower of the God of glory who had appeared to him, had many achievements of faith en route. But he did not reach his fixed inner knowing until he had been through many years of frustration with Hagar and Sarah and the flesh birth of Ishmael... for he was not yet able to discern between the mind of the flesh and the pure word of the Spirit. His fixed inner knowing came by the crisis of faith - faith in the impossible - at the birth of Isaac. After that he could hear ever so plainly, even when later called by God to the further impossible and most ridiculous offering of his son as a burnt sacrifice.

Moses, that dedicated servant of God, had to go beyond his initial commitment, even through a hard forty years at the backside of the desert, before he was fixed in his inner total sufficiency and adequacy at the burning bush. And from then on he inwardly knew the One with whom the children of Israel had only an outer relationship of faith.

Jacob, during his years of frustrating service with Laban, had become true-hearted and intense in his pursuit of the living God. But it was only through a final night of struggle (Gen 32:24-32), in which the angel of the Lord brought him to a physically broken place, with his thigh out of joint, so there could be no running away from his threatening meeting with Esau - only through that experience did he know himself by inner revelation as "a prince who has power with God and man."

Joshua, splendidly gifted as a military leader, had to reach the desperate end of his self-confidence by a near collapse into cowardice, by being one of the twelve spies who brought back such a defeatist report to Moses. That night Joshua "inwardly died" and rose the next morning to side with Moses and Caleb and risk the stoning that threatened them. From then onward he became a man "in whom is the Spirit of God," and Moses’ trusted successor.

David, after his youthful nation-stirring triumph of faith over Goliath, and his shepherd years as the sweet psalmist of Israel, had to spend eight years as a fugitive from Saul. While living in caves, he and his band of "the disappointed and disgruntled" were being trained together as God’s men, until, at the fiery trial at Ziklag, even his loved men turned on him. There he took a personal stand of faith which brought him into his inner knowing, when he "encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (1 Sam. 30:6).

Elisha, the wealthy young farmer who gladly sold all to follow the Lord with Elijah, spent eight years "pouring water" on the hands of his tough old leader; and even then he had to follow him in persistent pursuit to the moment of his ascent to heaven in a whirlwind, until he could himself inwardly receive and know that double portion of the Spirit which made him the successor of that mighty prophet.

Even the Savior Himself, the Son of God, taking flesh as Son of man, was intently studying the Scriptures all those years in the carpenter’s shop, knowing from the Scriptures who He was. But only at His baptism, by the dove and the word of His Father from heaven, did He have the total inner confirmation, which established Him as the one who could declare with Isaiah’s prophetic words, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me," and "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."

So also Paul did not "know" until his three years in Arabia; and even Peter, though the leader at Pentecost, until confronted by Paul in Antioch (which we shall refer to later in more detail).

Bible biographies give plenty of evidence that we move on from a relationship-knowing at our new birth to a total inner knowing. Paul gives us the transforming details in Romans 7 and 8, as we follow him on from his penetrating understanding of the true facts about himself to his agonized cry, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" and to his glorious liberated shout of inner recognition in 8:1-2, "Now I see! There is no more self-condemnation, no more beating my head against the brick wall of failure and defeat! I am set free! I know I am, and am free forever!" In his own written words, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death" (RSV) - has, not might, may or will. The Spirit was inwardly confirming what Paul had believed as a fact of history - that by Christ’s body-death on Calvary, indwelling Satan was out and indwelling Christ was in; and Paul was underlining for us in this shout of victory that he was a liberated person, not only because Jesus had died and risen in history, but also because the Spirit inwardly confirmed it to him. It was the inner confirmation of the Spirit that set him free. No hearing of given facts, not even a reckoning on them, could do this for him; only the actual confirmation within him had finally "fixed him" in who he really was. I am free! I am free! Yes, I am! I am! I am!

So whether by sudden crisis - as it was for those Bible men and has been for most of us - or by some other means, no matter what - we do know. And we are now going to find out how we can know.

Knowing is not mental understanding, or external believing, or reckoning. It is something beyond words, because it is spirit; it is the reality of the spirit realm, beyond natural reasoning. We recognize this already on the new-birth level: How did we come to know we were born of the Spirit? Can you say? Can I? We cannot. Likewise now: we simply say to the outer, inquiring world - and indeed to thousands of church believers, who so often want to know but have never been shown this Biblical way of faith - that we just inwardly know.

We can use an example from the human level - that we become competent in our profession only by an inner knowing of it. First we give ourselves to training and study, which is our first step of faith into acquiring this body of knowledge wholly outside us. As we persist in our strivings to attain, somewhere along the line what was beyond our reach just becomes part of us. We know it! We know our stuff, and have moved over from learning to being, and we boldly call ourselves by the name of our competency - doctor, cook, teacher. And we operate not by the outer tools of our trade, but by our inner know-how.

In the same way, in our new birth the Spirit has made us inner-knowers of the outer historic facts of our salvation. Actually, on our new-birth level, the confirmation of the Spirit is usually immediate, or appears so - though in actual fact it was not. We first had our gestation period. It went on maybe for years - the work of the law bringing conviction, honest facing of sin and guilt, repentance, and finally a crisis moment of faith and open confession. But all that could not establish us as confident Christians, who know and love to share what we know. The inner knowing did that.

So now let us face this. We are about to find out how we enter into this second inner knowing. It also comes naturally and effortlessly, and with a certainty that we never lose again. I now know that not only do I have Christ as my Savior from sin, but that I have passed through an inner experience of death to my former striving, sin-dominated, and self-condemning self. I now know that I am dead to sin, the world, flesh-dominion, and law; and now I equally know that I am no longer a lonely, independent "I," or still worse, have sin and Satan living in me. I know that in place of "I" it is now Christ living His life in me. And this I now know - actually know - without ever again having to reckon on it, or trying to reassure myself about it, or refreshing my recognition of it.

This does not mean that we are like two people separate within myself. No, we are one. I am "joined to the Lord - one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17); we are two, yet we are one. He is the One living in me, yet not as separate from me, but reproducing Himself by me - as vine through branch, head through body, husband through wife.

In that union relationship I can say that it is Christ who is manifested in my human form -just as it is when He says that both He and I are "the light of the world" (John 8:12, Matt. 5:14). In actual fact, we are two - light and lamp, and He is the light shining through the lamp. Yet we so forget the existence of the lamp that when we come into a room we don’t say "Turn on the lamp" but "Turn on the light"! So in our conscious union relationship: though each Christian really is the two united in one, we don’t see ourselves as thinking, speaking, acting, but it is He expressed through our forms doing the thinking, speaking and acting.
Nobody says turn on the Lampshade, even when it's as glorious as this Tiffany Lamp. Yet we talk all the time as if we are self-existent "soul-units"
It was in the glory of this inner consciousness that Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; no, not I, it is Christ living in me." That paradoxical contradiction was the only way in which he could describe a union-and-replacement experience in words. "I live in His resurrection life… No, I must contradict that - it is not I, but He living in me." That is the union-duality! We are two, but no, we are one - and so much one that I speak of His doing the living in place of me. "Not I, but Christ living in me." That is the nearest in third-dimensional human words that he can put a fourth-dimensional union truth. It is Christ in his Paul form; Christ in even my human form. And from the moment that the light of this inner knowing is "turned on" in me, it becomes real to my consciousness that it is not I thinking, speaking, acting, but it is He. And so it is!

Yet all this hangs, in the end, on personal experience... and we are now going to find out how we may have this experience. Union is no good being a fact for me unless I know it to be so and thus can "use" it. The fact that in Christ I already was given total deliverance from both sins and sin is meaningless for me until I know it by experience. A carpenter can only use the tools he knows how to use. That was why sin could laugh at me and deceive me during those long years of struggle in my Christian living. I didn’t inwardly know I was totally delivered from its indwelling presence, so it continued to mock me with a false claim of dwelling in me. Again I repeat, we are all always controlled by our inner believings... which become knowings. All depends on how I am seeing things. When, therefore, I don’t know by an inner knowing (even though I might have an outer reckoning) that it is Christ living in my human self, and not sin or Satan, then I continue under the delusion of sin dwelling in me, and I mistakenly think I am an independent self with my own responsibilities and responses... and thus, I am consciously under the power of the god of independent-self.

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Monday 29 July 2013

Yes I Am 19 - My Personal Discovery Of Total Truth

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb 
Chapter 19

We have just seen, through Paul in Romans 7, the pivot upon which we turn from frustration and defeat in our newborn lives, coupled with so much guilt and condemnation, to being an "established, strengthened, settled" self. But only in the revelation of Romans 8:1-4 is one able to say with inner certainty, "Yes, I am - I am all that I have ever wanted to be: free to be my real self, and to help others to find their true selves." So I will now add my own experience of the necessary preparation for this fresh leap of faith.

I was freed, at the time of my new birth, from the law’s condemnation as a sinner; but I thought that I myself, as a redeemed human, still had an obligation to fulfill the law. It was only later that I found I had been totally deceived in this. While, in my redeemed delight in the law, I thought I should be obeying it, Satan kept lyingly claiming his control over me and causing me to fulfill his flesh will.

I had to have one final, radical exposure of the nonsense of my supposed independence. Here is the value of Romans 7:1-6. Through its great light I at last saw I had never been independent. I also saw that until I consciously knew and entered into the reality of the cutoff from my old husband and my marriage to the new, I was "in between" - in an illusory condition of independence - and thus actually under the control of my old husband. So the law completed its work by revealing this illusion to me, and grace revealed the reality of my new marriage. As I moved into that, the law ceased to exist as having an outer claim on me and was now being inwardly fulfilled in me. This is why (in 7:7-14) Paul puts such emphasis on the fulfilling through the law of God’s purposes for our freedom.

So Paul, with that God-inspired analytical mind of his, now "opens up the whole can of worms" about this delusion of the independent self. In 7:15-23, a passage of self-analysis unequaled anywhere, either in the Scriptures or in other writing, Paul shares in detail his own agonizing battle with his personal responses to indwelling sin, and his own total failure to win the battles. There we hear his cry of despair - "O wretched man that I am!" Then comes his blinding flash of revelation that, while he lived in the delusion of being an independent self, indwelling sin falsely claimed to possess him ("I am carnal, sold under sin"). Then the glory of the revelation of the falsity of this delusion, because the One who had cast out the lying usurper has now replaced him. So indwelling sin is now replaced by the indwelling Christ!

Thus we arrive at the primary purpose of this great chapter - to show us that death to sin (the theme of Romans 6) includes death to law (7:4). Now we see the boon and blessing of outer law (for Paul defends the law as spiritual, holy, just and good - vs. 12). God’s law, which looks like an enemy condemning me, is really my friend, for it is the ultimate and necessary means of revealing to me that self-relying self is an illusion. Having accomplished this, law now ceases to exist for me! "Ye are become dead to the law." How? Why? Because law came into existence only to reveal my slave relationship to Satan and sin and to enlighten my mistaken, deluded self. So now, when at last I know by inner-knowing that in Christ I am totally cut off from sins, from sin, and from its claims on me -and realize that the indweller is Christ Himself, by the Spirit - then I also know that my inner Christ is the whole law in spontaneous operation, and I am totally out of range of the outer law. I am dead to it, and it to me. (It may, though, take some time for me, so used to giving ear to an outer law, to turn my deaf ear to it.) Now I live, instead, by the inner leadings - which are also compulsions - of Him who is love: and this is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:10). I now react to any outer claims on me not by a direct response to those claims but by the confirmation of the Spirit, coupled with the Scriptures (which are always a secure undergirding for those inner confirmations). Dead to sin... dead to the law... the world crucified to me and I to the world... I have crucified the flesh in its excessive forms of infatuations and lusts. That is the perfect background to my newly liberated life in Christ.

For me this was simplified long ago in Africa - before I took the leap into Galatians 2:20 - by one moment of radical and very simple revelation. Still under that old, false idea of being an independent self who could and should be improved as a servant of Christ, I had begun to seek for more love that I might identify myself with my brother Africans. I looked for more faith and power, and more deliverance from the normal pressures of the flesh and critical attitudes towards my fellow workers. The surprise I got, which put me on this right track, came when that simple word "God is love" became new to me. I did not then know that God is all in all, as I do now, and I really thought that God had love rather than is love, and He could therefore give me a share. But when the Spirit opened my eyes to the fact that God is love, then I suddenly saw that love is not some emotion which I might feel and express, but love is a person - in fact the Person, when it is God who is love. It was as if He was saying to me, "You’ve got it all wrong. Love is not something I have and can pass to you. I am that love!" That left me with a question: "Then is there none for me?" And the same query struck me concerning the power for which I was asking - for I became aware of the scripture which says "Christ, the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:24). So power, also, is not a thing but a person - the Person - and there is no "special kind" of power which can somehow be communicated to us. So again my question: "Well, what about me in my need?"

That conditioned me for the opposite end of this revelation. I saw it by the scripture which says "Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:1 1). "Christ is all" - that was staggering enough. But then, "and in all." So I saw that I, as a human, was not to "become something better." I was not to become, but to contain. That was it! Obviously, if the one I contained was Christ, and He is all, all I needed was to know Him in me as "the all."

That was my first flash of revelation of the Total Truth God has now so widely opened my eyes to - that we haven’t a self-nature to improve or develop. Until then I knew nothing of having been a total Satan-container in my unsaved days, and so knew nothing of now being a total God-container. This was the first revelation of the Spirit (and it has to be revealed by the Spirit) that I am just the container. It was the beginning of what has never left me since and has so greatly expanded.

The final illustration that settled me into seeing my proper place as a human was the discovery that several times in the Scriptures we are called "vessels," A vessel is there only to contain. It does not become what it contains. The cup does not become the coffee, nor the coffee the cup. That ray of light shot into me. In other words, God was saying, "Stop fussing about your human self, where you fail and where you need improvement. Drop that whole false idea. Vessels don’t improve, they just contain. Now turn your attention away from what you are as a vessel - or think you should be. With a single eye, turn your full attention on Me, the One the vessel contains." That was enough to move me on to my crisis leap - into the reality of Galatians 2:20, which is now my favorite verse of Scripture: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." This was my personal experience of Romans 7, leading me into Romans 8.

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Sunday 28 July 2013

Yes I Am 18 - Romans 7 Puts Me Straight

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 18

Paul then continues to open the truth of the value of the law to us by illustrating it from his own experience, in Romans 7:7-25. It centers around the subtlety of the Ten Commandments, and particularly the one commandment which penetrates through outer acts to inner motive: "Thou shalt not covet." He explains how he was once quite unconscious of any tendency to covet - which he calls "being alive without the law." But later, on some occasion, this tenth commandment hit him. After a first reaction of "Not me - I’m not covetous," he was devastated to find in his heart every form of covetousness - "all manner of concupiscence," he calls it - and this bowled him over. It flooded him like a tidal wave. And so, he states, "sin revived, and I died" to any idea of self-ability to keep God’s law. This experience was what God used to open his eyes to the fallacy of self-reliant selfhood and to lead him both into the experience and glorious understanding of "union truth": union with Satan replaced by union with Christ.

So Paul continues his teachings in Romans 7. Let us dig right in and examine in depth what the effects of the law are on us and learn about our final total deliverance from it - which occurs when we’ve reached the awakened and concerned stage, as Paul did over his temptation to Covet.

First, we can clearly identify Paul’s "man" as ourselves in our new creation, because "delighting in the law of God after the inward man" (7:22) obviously implies it is someone who has the new-heart outlook of a redeemed son of God.

So here we are, inwardly delighting in God’s law, and yet frustrated and defeated; challenged by the law, yet laughed at by sin, making it plain that it has us in its control. Here we are, as Paul said, not doing what we should do, and often doing what we hate to do.

But now, through this frustrated condition, maybe sometimes lasting for years, we come to one clear recognition - facts force it upon us: our obvious inability to keep the law. We recognize also that the blame is not on us. We want to do the right thing but haven’t the power: "To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not" (7:18) - so at last we can trace the trouble down to the culprit. What a vital revelation! It is not I, it is sin that dwells in me, masquerading as self-effort.

At last, light has begun to break in on us. Twice over (see verses 17 and 20) Paul exclaims, "That’s it, that’s it; it is not I, it is sin dwelling in me." It is not the redeemed Paul who is the culprit. It is indwelling sin. He sees it plainly to be not himself but something quite apart from himself. "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me." The culprit is self-relying self! The "sinner" is a separate power who claims to have him as his captive. "I am carnal, sold under sin" (7:14). The commandment came, Paul explains, and when he rose up to do it, sin played a deceitful trick on him: "I’ve got you. You can’t do it. I’m your master and you’re my slave, for your very self-reliance is my bondmark in you!"

At that time it would have appeared to Paul, and certainly to multitudes of us, that we are in a condition of permanent warfare. It looks as if we have two natures - my redeemed self that wants to do good, and indwelling sin which defies and defeats me - dog eating dog. And thousands of God’s people think that’s all it can be: a life of struggle, striving, and much failure… with self-condemnation.

And that, of course, is the big lie. But the vital point is that I can’t see it as a lie until I first have finally, once for all, got out of my system this delusion that I myself can do good or evil. It is because of this delusion that I either accept guilty failure or put on false self-righteousness. Paul, in that still mistaken idea about himself, had said (7:21), "When I would do good…" - but the catch is, a human can’t do good. That can only be done by Christ in us. And when Paul goes on to say, "…evil is present with me," he equally can’t do evil, for that is Satan in us. But he didn’t then know that. Satan alone is the doer of evil; God alone is the doer of good.

But now came the breakthrough of this whole revelation to him - that the human is never anything but the vessel, container, branch, etc., of the indwelling deity. Now he sees it! "The law has nothing to say to me. It is not I who am covetous; those sinful urges come from an altogether different source - not I, but indwelling sin."

The law has really been my friend... hanging over me and putting its pressure on me until at last I see my delusion about self-effort living. Until I see that self-effort is Satan’s principle the power of indwelling sin has me in its control.

So here is the revelation of total importance - or shall we say, the negative side of the total positive revelation. We can compare it to our prior experience in our unsaved days: I could not settle into the positive recognition of Christ as my substitute and sin-bearer until I first knew, in a total negative way, that I was a lost sinner, with my righteousness as filthy rags... and nothing I could do about it. Only then could I say, "Oh, I see! He took my place."

So now, in this central battle raging around my redeemed self, how can I live my life as a consistent Christian and meet the challenge of the law and its "you oughts"? I cannot see the positive revelation of Christ living His life in me, replacing the false indweller, until I have first seen the total negative revelation of it - that the command has nothing to do with my "human" me except as my being a vessel or container, but has all to do with this false indweller who is still claiming to live in me and express himself through me. I learn that he grabbed me as I was trying to keep the commandments (an expression of self-effort) and "deceived me and slew me." I can now see why it says "deceived me" - because sin was making a whole, lying claim to indwell and control me, while all the time really Christ was in me. . and I didn’t know it. Until I did know it, and experience it, it meant nothing to me and left sin in deceitful control of me. That was how the law with its "you oughts" also kept its control over me and brought me under its condemnation… while I was under this lying illusion of self-responsibility and equally in the delusion that sin dwelt in me instead of it really being Christ living in me.

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Yes I Am 17 - A Change of Husbands

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 17

How wonderful it is! - in our new slavery to Christ we are joyfully free to be producers of the fruit of the Spirit, and cannot come again under the control of our old sin-owner. In our new slavery we say from the heart what it says in that old Church of England prayer: "… in whose service is perfect freedom." That is the fact; but how about our realization of it?

Let us face it: Though Paul has declared to us the totality of our new freedom as slaves to our new Owner, we often don’t seem to have found this fixed level of new freedom working out in our lives, but are caught up again under that old sin-boss. Where does the answer lie? It is in our relationship to the law. We go back to this word of Paul’s: "You are not under the law." But in fact we are under it and know a lot about the heavy bondage of the law on us with its "you ought" and "you ought not"! Then what does Paul mean when he says that we have full freedom from the law? We must look thoroughly into this and find the solution. For if Paul is saying, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under the law but under grace," that evidently means sin will have dominion over us as long as the law does continue its hold over us. But how to be not only "dead to sin" (6:2) but "dead to the law" (7:4)? And how can that give us our liberty?

Paul explains it like this in Romans 7:1-6. In a marriage, law binds you to your mate. Now we humans started life mated to Satan, expressing his sin nature and producing his children, "the motions of sin in the flesh." But as we have already said, we came into the world blinded to the reality of our marriage and to the control of our sin-husband, and to the fact that it was his children which we were producing. We were duped into regarding ourselves as free persons living our own lives. If we had a relationship to sin, it was more as it having some "influence" on us, but by no means having control over us as husband over wife. We recognized Satan neither as husband nor slave-owner over us.

Therefore in our unsaved days, when blind to our true relationship to Satan, God in mercy sent us the law through Moses with its written list of "Thou shalts" and "Thou shalt nots" to shoot holes through our false independence and self-righteousness. We admitted the authority of God’s law of right living, for we were still His offspring created in His image. But how husband sin laughed at us: "Fulfill God’s law based on being a self-giving self, when you’re mated to me, the enemy god of self-loving self? Ridiculous!" He was right. We couldn’t and didn’t want to fulfill God’s law. So God’s hidden purpose of grace in sending us the law was first fulfilled not in us humans keeping the law (which we couldn’t) but in our consistently breaking the law, and thus being exposed by the law as guilty lawbreakers, as sinners.

So by the law we were ultimately driven to take that first great outward step of "coming honest" and acknowledging our guilt, repenting, and being delivered from the curse and condemnation of the law of God’s own Son, "set forth" as the propitiation for our sins.

But then comes the further step. The total work of the law is not just to expose the fact of sins committed and the consequent judgment. It is that "by the law is the knowledge of sin" - not sins, but the sin principle which was dwelling in us when the father and originator of sin dwelt in us.

Paul, through analogy, explains how we are at first married to and totally controlled by our Satan-husband, but then by one stroke the marriage is broken up - Christ’s death as our representative cutting us off from the marriage to Satan! Having died with Christ, we are now dead to our old husband. That means that the law can no longer point its finger at us as unable to keep its commands - unable because our husband (who expressed himself by us) would never let us - for death has put an end to that marriage; so the law has no further condemning claim in that respect. "Wherefore, my brethren, you became dead to the law by the body of Christ, that you should be married to another" (7:4).

He then uses the marriage illustration, just as he had used the owner-slave illustration, to bring home the same truth to us: that we humans are always under a deity management. So there’s no such thing as we humans remaining unmarried, just the same as we couldn’t remain free from slavery. Therefore the marvel of God’s grace, says Paul, is that at the moment our old marriage was broken by the death of Christ our representative, immediately in His resurrection He became our new Husband in place of Satan. There’s no such thing as a time period in which we are a kind of widow! We have immediately changed husbands and entered into our new marriage contract, in which "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death" (8:2).

When I inwardly know this and have got the facts in clear focus, I find that my new Husband has me, to my delight, in His total ownership; and I have nothing to do in our family life beyond producing the fruits of our marriage, the fruit of the Spirit. Then the law has disappeared from me, because my new Husband, who is the resurrected Christ, fulfills it by our union life. I thus have become dead to the law in its outer form - the form in which God first sent it, so as to expose me to the reality of my old Satan-husband.

What perfect joy for us who have come this whole way by grace into our new union and know, in its full reality, our marriage to our new Husband! But actually, the point of what Paul is now writing about, and bringing to its climax in Romans 7, is that we’ve not yet properly understood our relationship to our two husbands. Being all tangled up, our concepts need to be untangled. The tangle is caused by the false idea of myself as an independent person, about which I’ve been deceived from the Fall. Not knowing that as a sinner I lived under the total management of my old husband and solely expressed him and reproduced his children, but wrongly thinking I then had an independent life of my own, I started out living my new life thinking that now also, as a redeemed human, I have an ability of my own and so can fulfill the law. And so my former husband catches me unaware. When I think I ought to be "doing my own thing" for God (for now, being redeemed, I delight in the law of God) Satan cunningly re-exerts his control over me and causes me to fulfill his flesh will. How can this be? Because "doing my own thing" is Satan’s principle, the very cause of his and Adam’s fall. It is the sin principle. Here then is the value of the continuing law to my life. I needed to have one final radical exposure of the "nonsense" of my supposed independence. By this, at last, I can see I have never been independent: because the self-relying self was the sin-spirit in me. Until, however, I consciously know and enter into the reality of not only my cutoff from my old husband, but also my marriage to my new Husband, I will still be in an illusory condition of independence, and so actually under the remote control of my old husband. There is no in-between status. So the law completes its work by revealing the illusion of my independence, and grace reveals the reality of my new marriage. Once I move into that, the law ceases to exist as having an outer claim on me, since it is now being inwardly fulfilled in me. This is why Paul puts such strong emphasis upon the completion of God’s purposes through the law for my freedom, exposing sin as well as sins, and the lie about a time of independence intervening between the old ownership and the new, the old husband and the new.

How wonderful to know that I am now married to Christ! To know that "I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me" (S. of S. 7:10).

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Yes I Am 16 - Free From The Law! License?

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 16

It is at this spot in Romans that Paul inserts a mystifying little statement: "Sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14). Then the disturbing question: "Shall we [continue in] sin because we are not under the law but under grace?" (vs. 15). Why does he say that?

Paul is going to have further insights to share with us about our final liberation from the law, and our death to it. But before he does this, he wants to make the position finally and completely plain that if we are "dead to sin" under grace, then nothing can get us back to belonging to sin and Satan. As John puts it: "We cannot sin, because we are born of God" - slip into occasional sins maybe, but never again be possessed by the sin spirit and continually express his self-centered nature.

Hence the question: Does freedom from the law, does the magnitude of grace, give me a license to commit sin? No, that cannot be; and to present this fact as a kind of Magna Carta of our new freedom, Paul demonstrates it with an illustration familiar to the Romans (vss. 16-23).

"Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are,… whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (6:16). Paul makes it plain that we humans do not have a freedom of our own - that we have no self-operating human nature. We are always servants ("slaves," in the Greek) to one deity or the other. And the deities are here named by their character and lifestyle: sin... or righteousness. Yes, here alone is our freedom: "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are?" That is our charter of freedom within slavery: our freedom to belong to one master only. And as believers, we have already changed our slavery - from sin to righteousness, from Satan to Christ (vss. 17-18)! A slave does not change his owner every hour of the day, or even every month! That is the law of slavery, and of freedom within that slavery. Humans may not always seem so consistently under one or the other owner - we may slip and slither in our outer behavior - but at our spirit-center we’re always in one of those two slaveries and freedoms (vss. 20-22), fixed and not interchangeable (except by God’s grace!) This, then, is how total our transference is from the first Adam’s family to the last Adam’s, by the radicalness of Christ’s once-for-all death to sin and aliveness to God.

This slave-illustration strongly confirms us in knowing in which family and whose service we are - and that our salvation is for keeps, despite any deviations. It equally confirms us into not being hastily judgmental of others in their apparent deviations. See through to the center, where spirit is joined to Spirit! Always contribute faith, not negative downgrading judgment, to any deviators. Our freedom, Paul says, is total freedom from any other claimant. We can never serve two masters, even if we delude ourselves into thinking we can. We were free from God’s way of self-giving living while we "enjoyed" the freedom of self-loving living as slaves to sin. But now, through our obedience in believing the gospel truth brought to us (6:17), our service to sin has been severed and replaced by our service to righteousness - which is being servants of God (6:18,22). We have exchanged freedoms and cannot return, and are in the enjoyment of our new slavery!

Then Paul asks, Did you really enjoy that former freedom with its "Dead Sea fruits" of conscious guilt, and the hard labors involved in sinful living? (vs. 21). We had to work for a despot in our inwardly chaotic state of fallen selfhood, and our wages were eternal death! What a freedom! -and how rightly we are now ashamed of it! But our new freedom, a free gift, spontaneously produces not works, but the rich fruits of holy living; and the end, everlasting life. Owner "sin" pays wages in eternal death; owner "grace" gives the free gift of eternal life. So here is the royal and wonderful answer to the fear of license some may have because of their new freedom from the law. Is there not danger that, if we’re free to do what we like, we’ll then choose to indulge ourselves in all kinds of sinning? But the miraculous difference in this new freedom lies in the law of the Spirit replacing the old law. When this truth really dawns, we see it is not that it’s easier to sin and harder to live rightly.. but the other way round! It is easy to walk God’s way and hard to go back to the devil’s ways! It is absurd even to think of being the devil’s dupes again! What a boldness it gives us when we know that we are totally controlled by the One who owns us, and that we have nothing to do with keeping ourselves. Our Owner is also our Keeper.

How bold it was of Paul - and what a word of revelation - to affirm these two absolute freedoms: If we are slaves of Satan and sin, we are so freed from Christ and righteousness that we cannot change from one to the other. A slave can’t free himself. Emancipation can only be accomplished by one who pays the price - by one who buys us back from our captor. So now, freed from that sin-slavery which totally controlled us, we are so totally free as slaves to Christ that sin and Satan cannot get us back again. What confidence that gives us in our own new freedom and the like freedom of our brethren. Paul is going to lead us in chapters 7 and 8 of Romans into the full focus of this truth, so that we shall know with a fixed inner certainty that we humans have no nature of our own by which we might direct our own lives. Rather, we are directed… and we are kept... however much, under temptation, we may temporarily wriggle or squirm against our new "bondage" which is our freedom.

So having got that clear once for all - that we are total slaves, eternally fixed to our new owner - Paul can now turn his attention to the one remaining problem which can block our entry into the full freedom that is ours in Christ (and indeed does so until fully and finally cleared away): the control of the law on our deluded independent selves, and the means of freedom from it.

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Saturday 27 July 2013

Yes I Am 15 - The Final Stage of the Restoration

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 15

We now turn our attention to the area of our daily living. It has been wonderful to have the disturbing questions of our past and future settled, for, however the world may try to hide it, until we have that settled, it is true of all men that "through fear of death we are all our lifetime subject to bondage." However, we live not in the past or future, but in the present. Have we an answer for its immediate needs? Yes we have, we are boldly asserting, or we would not now be talking it over.

Paul puts it quite simply as he directs our attention from past to present needs. He asks the question, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" In other words, what about our present condition? Let us get down to brass tacks about our daily lives. Have we a genuine one-hundred-percent life-level which matches the kind of statements scattered throughout the New Testament: "joy unspeakable and full of glory"; "peace that passeth understanding"; "having all sufficiency in all things that we may abound unto every good work"; "reigning in life"; "more than conquerors"; "out of our innermost being flow rivers of living water"; "perfect love"? Or is there only a hit-and-miss attempt at such standards, with more miss than hit? (And we all know there is more miss than hit.)

Paul does not shrink from a face-to-face tackling of such questions. He provides us with both a total answer and the basis for that answer. It is best given in his famous Romans 6-8 chapters, into which I personally have never tired of digging further and further until I have at last come up with what I believe is the right understanding and application of what he is saying. It has taken me a long time to be simple enough to let into my head and heart what Paul is really saying, and not what I might think he is saying. The very fact that he adds these chapters to his completed new-birth presentation in chapters 3-5 shows that he realized the matter of full, present "total living" in our new Christ-relationship needed some more thorough examination and explanation - a further turning of the key in the lock - to establish us solidly in Christ as the new person we are.

He again hangs his answer round the final completion of the operations of Moses’ law on us. He explains how in our newfound sincerity, with a zeal to live consistently (as we should) on totally holy and righteous standards - walking as He walked, loving as He loved - we find ourselves in a struggle between flesh and spirit. We know the law and its commandments; we aspire and we strive; but we largely and disgustingly fail. What we should do, we don’t do; and what we hate, we do!

That, as Paul says, is because we have by no means yet been enlightened and experienced the "total exchange" which has taken place in our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection. First of all, we never had it clear about the totality of our former identification with that false deity who had stolen us as his dwelling place - that we were never anything but individual expressions of him, manifesting his nature, not our own. So our present confusion and ineffective living stems right back to that as its source. We have always felt at home with the idea that we are "self-running selves": that we ourselves are responsible for the good and evil in our lives.
Because we were blind to our condition, God in His grace first sent the law through Moses to expose our bondage and reveal to us the nature of the false deity expressing himself through us. In this first exposure, however, we saw no more than the sins we had committed - the breaking of outer laws - and by no means did we penetrate within ourselves to note the sin nature - Satan’s nature expressed by us. Therefore our first response to the greatness of grace shown in our Lord Jesus Christ was simply to recognize our outer sinfulness, to believe that our guilt and curse had been removed by His shed blood, and to rejoice that God would remember our sins against us no more, as guaranteed by His resurrection.

But what we did not know then (and were not within reach of understanding) was that this was no real salvation if it delivered us merely from the outer penalty of our sins but left us as "vessels of wrath" - still containers of the inner sin-person, that old serpent the devil, still reproducing his evil fruit by us. Complete salvation must rid us of producer as well as product, cause as well as effect, sin as well as sins.

This total salvation - the totality of Christ’s cross-redemption - is the deeper discovery which Paul himself didn’t see in its full implication until he lived three years in Arabia. This is what he speaks of in his Galatian letter as the gospel which "I neither received of man, nor was I taught it, but [I received it] by the revelation of Jesus Christ." That revelation was centered around not the blood but the physical body of Jesus on the cross. And what is the importance of that? It is because a living body is the dwelling place of the spirit, and therefore when a body dies, the spirit is no longer in it.

Therefore Paul (when writing to the Corinthians for whom he was an intercessor, and thus having insight into the full meaning of the Savior’s intercession for the world) opened up its total significance as no other did. "We are convinced," he in effect wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, "that when the Savior died on our behalf it was a body death, and this means that if He died for all, then we all died." And what did His body represent before God? Paul tells us in verse 21 that "God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us." Please note: sin is not sins. By His shed blood He "bore away our sins," but in His crucified body He "was made sin." This is fantastically deeper than "bearing our sins," wonderful though that was. "Made sin" is almost unthinkable; for sin is Satan’s label, just as we might say love is God’s. Satan is, as it were, Mr. Sin, the spirit of error. Where does the spirit of error live? In human bodies, ever since Adam and Eve partook of that forbidden fruit. So when Jesus in His body hung on the cross, "made sin," that body represented all the bodies of humanity, which are all containers of sin. Yes, He in His body on the cross was made the representative for all the bodies of the human race having Satan, sin’s originator, living within.

There that body died and was buried. When a body dies, the burial is to make it plain that no spirit remains in it. And so it is that Paul can so authoritatively state in Romans 6: "…in that He died, He died unto sin once" - not, in this context, died for our sins, but died unto sin. (That is why the blood is not mentioned by Paul after Romans chapter 5. From there onward the subject is His body death.) Christ’s burial was to signify in plainest terms that no spirit remained in it.

So now Paul just as boldly states that we believers, being buried with Him, are "dead to sin" - a truth way beyond being only cleansed from sins. We are no longer containers of sin (the same thought as being containers of Satan), and we are to state this truth and affirm it as completely as we state and affirm that we are justified from our sins. "The body of sin" is "done away with" (Rom. 6:6 NASV) meaning that our bodies are no longer sin’s dwelling place. And we are to reckon this as fact (Rom. 6:11).

Many of us commonly use "reckon" to imply uncertainty. If, with a book in his hand, someone says to you "I reckon I have a book in my hand," he is likely implying to you that though he believes it is a book, yet he is not absolutely sure. Were he sure, he would just say "I have a book." But in the Bible, reckoning means considering as actual. To reckon a thing to be so, to count on it as fact, is the first stage of faith that affirms. And "reckoning" will later become "realizing" - which is faith confirmed. But we must start with the reckoning!

But to consider myself dead to sin is no light thing, especially when I do not yet appear to experience it. We hesitate to declare "I am dead to sin," because we are thinking about how often sin still seems to turn up in us. But the issue is plain. Will we obey God’s Word? In this same chapter, Paul says that we have "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto us." Have we, really? So let us "go to it" and be sure we boldly affirm and declare what His Word says we are. Let us not compromise (as many folks do - even teachers of the Bible) and seek to get around this by saying it is our "position" but not yet our "condition" - a lovely little evangelical wriggle. Let us rather obey, and declare what we are told to recognize, attend to, and say. Then let us go further, after our word of faith and obedience, and find out how this is a present fact in condition as well as position.

But if it is a fact that we are dead to sin, then it is also a fact that we are "alive unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (6:11b). As the spirit of error (Jesus "made sin" - 2 Cor. 5:21) went out of that representative body when Jesus died, so also the Spirit of truth entered in three days later - and therefore the Spirit has entered us through Christ’s bodily resurrection. We see the vastness of the implication of that because, for that reason, we who were called the "old man" because of the "old" spirit of sin in us, now are called the "new man" because of the "new" Spirit of the living God in us. The man, our human self, has not changed. But the old indwelling deity, of whom the man was but the expression, has been totally replaced by Another. And thus - with our whole self totally and solely at His disposal - we joyfully recognize our new Owner. Because of His new management within us, the old owner, Satan, has no control over us. He can shout at us from without, but he has no further place within. We have changed bosses! We are in the employment of a new Firm!

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