Sunday 18 August 2013

Yes I Am 50 - True Love and Infatuation

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 50

Another form of intercession is also on a deeply personal level and may well be misunderstood by those who have not learned the right use of their soul-body outer affections.

To start with, as we have intimated when looking into spirit-soul relationships (see Chapter 30): Do any of us know and become settled in the difference between soul-affection and spirit-love without some death-and-resurrection experience of it? The strongest form of desire is misguided soul-body "inordinate affection," which we can mistake for love. It is Paul who calls it "inordinate affection" (Col. 3:5), the misuse of the flesh in its "affections and lusts," which he says we have crucified (Gal. 5:24); and "flesh" is only another word for soul-body.

Human flesh is God’s precious way of manifesting Himself. Jesus was "God manifested in the flesh." "Sinful flesh" resulted from Satan capturing our flesh through its "affections and lusts" - flesh misused for self-gratification. But our Christ in His death "condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3), threw sin out of ownership and put it behind bars. This means that sin no longer owns the flesh but is a condemned criminal behind bars, awaiting execution. Meanwhile, however, it shouts at us from behind its bars by using temptations of the flesh. One of these is the use of our soul-body emotions and affections for self-gratification in some diversionary "love" - as if it were genuine love - which is what Paul calls "inordinate affection" and what we here call infatuation.

But God’s love, self-giving love, which is now ours, is other-love. It may or may not be manifested through our soul-emotion and body-desire; but should it be, the emotion is not the love but only an outer expression of it. God’s love, our love as He, is a laying of ourself on the altar for others: spirit-love, a will-love, even when without the emotions of soul-love.

This is supremely so in marriage when the chemistry of the soul-body attractions has simmered down or gone into the background. Love is then the two living together, as one of my friends writes, "when we are for each other, keeping each other where we belong in Christ. It is the reality of a loving God who is living in us for each other."

Indeed, husband and wife then never raise the question of whether they love each other. Of course they do, for love means that each has given himself for the other in their marriage bond "till death do us part." That love is expressed in the practical self-giving of both in all aspects of their family life; and when both are the Lord’s, in the additional bond of spiritual fellowship and service. That is the love, of which physical and emotional love is a beautiful ingredient, but by no means the central reality of the love-bond.

But to go still further, the deepest revelation and understanding of true marriage is that all we who are in Christ are inwardly - each of us in our own self - married to Christ; so we are each inwardly bride to Bridegroom, wife to Husband. That is the only eternal and real marriage, and thus all God’s redeemed people have an inward marriage of the Spirit.

Our outer physical marriage is really a symbol of this eternal inner marriage; and that is why marriage is one to one, is not to be violated by an illicit union, and is not to be destroyed by divorce. This is what Paul is saying in Ephesians 5:25-33: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (vss. 31-32).

As a result, when we do understand and recognize our true, eternal marriage, we do not overrate our earthly marriage, or mistake it as our true marriage. It is only as shadow to substance, symbol to reality; and we see our earthly marriage as a means of exemplifying the true, eternal union.

Many of us don’t know this ultimate truth about marriage, and so I repeat it. Each of us has our true Husband within us, we being the bride of Christ. That is the only eternal and true marriage union. Our flesh marriage is an earthly figure of it, by which we learn its joys and responsibilities, and is meant to be secondary to our true marriage. If we mistake our earthly marriage for the real one, we soon find that its hold on us weakens as the dominant factor in our lives, because it is not! It is, certainly, a fixed earthly union, but is only the shadow of the substance. For us who know this, a divorce cannot be considered or be in our vocabulary. "Let it not be named among you, as becometh saints" (Eph. 5:13).

But until we have learned to recognize the difference between spirit and soul love, it is extremely common for us to have a sudden soul-body attraction for one who is not our mate - and this can be devastatingly strong, for God created us with strong soul and body affections for His use. Then, if we have not learned our lesson, this sudden infatuation can fill us with guilt and condemnation. If we do not yet know or are unsettled in the truth that our soul and body as well as our spirit are wholly God’s, and in His total control and keeping, we can remain in great turmoil and suffer distressing temptation - or even be swept off our feet into sin - and we may appear to ourselves to be unfaithful to our mate when we are not. (Of course, those who have not been born of the Spirit can know only flesh love, and divorces these days are the common way of exchanging one flesh love for another.)

Even those of us who are God’s people may - if we have not yet grasped this division between soul and spirit – easily confuse the attraction of a soul-body "inordinate affection" with true, inner, spirit-love. It diverts us like a rival and adulterous "love." And should our mate also not recognize the difference between infatuation and real love, he or she may be consumed with jealousy or retaliation. Let us not mistake the temporary invasion of a soul-affection for the permanent reality of the spirit-love which has bound us in marriage.

Many of us, including myself, have had such an invasion of soul-love, both being condemned by it and intensely resisting it. But by that means we have learned a great secret - that the response to a soul-affection is not to resist or condemn it, but to recognize it for what it is and then use it for another purpose. We use it, and indeed swallow it up, by turning it into an opportunity to express God’s love towards that one who has attracted us. That means I inwardly "fight the battle through" by setting my affections in only one direction, with only one purpose and desire: that the one who has attracted me will have Christ fully formed in her or him - as in me. That is the single eye of faith and so the soul-affection becomes a channel of spirit other-love.

And - though it may take time when the soul-affection is strong - the whole condition is reversed from guilt and condemnation over the temptation into being a means of intercession for the other: that by my dying to a misuse of soul-affection there is a rising - first in me, by which I gain the intercession, and then in the other one - of the reality of Christ within. I have proved that as fact, for it happened just like that, as the intercession was walked and gained.

If one becomes aware of such a soul-affection in his or her mate, and at first is disturbed or jealous because of it, if he (say it is a man), rather, by faith-knowing will believe that his mate is really still fixedly bound in spirit-love to him, and will hold steady - having faith (that is, his intercession) that his mate will use that outer soul-affection for the forming of Christ in the other individual - then there will be no question raised about her continued fixedness in her mated love for him.

I know one close friend, a husband, who loves the Lord. His wife was caught by such an enslaving affection toward another man. But God used that to show her once for all the difference between soul-love and spirit-love, and settled her back in her true love to her husband. Meanwhile, her husband stood steadfastly and loyally by her, though not without pain, and by this he himself grew in the Lord. They now are a wonderful couple, steady in their own family life and helping many who have like problems.

  • Back to the Foreword or 1st post in the series

No comments: