Hi, this is Fred Pruitt. Linda Bunting forwarded your wonderful letter over to me. I am thrilled that you had such a wonderful time at our weekend. I did, too. I don't think we formally met, but I am the "red-head" you described in your letter, though honestly I think of myself as blonde (being overtaken by gray).
I hope you don't mind, also, if I take a stab at answering your questions you directed to Linda. She may have her own answer to you, so this is not to supplant anything that she might say, only to throw in my own two cents. But I think you really get to the very heart of the matter when you delve into this. Anyway, I am responding to this paragraph of yours I quote below:
"My question to you is: Do you equate our independent-self with satan? IN other words, when we are tempted to react in our old ways, "illusions", is that satan tempting us or is it just an illusion of our independent self? The reason I ask is Grubb speaks of our container before Christ as being filled with the spirit of error or in other words satan, then after Christ, His Spirit fills us--we only have ONE SPIRIT IN us. Could you clarify this for me? Also, satan does still tempt us, and this oppression my friend FEELS can be from satan. To my understanding evil spirits, the powers of darkness, can get to us still, but no longer as an inward entity but as an outward influence. Please give me any insight. I hate giving satan any credit for anything but I know evil is all around us."
Let me say first of all that the answer to any question we may have is "have faith in God." And that if we are going to "divide up" God, so to speak, by defining and categorizing things which, really, are beyond definition and categorization, and by that seek greater "knowledge," which in this sense I am meaning the "way" we describe God and how we are in Him and operate in Him, then I would say that the foremost "thing" to emphasize before anything else and preeminent to all things is that the Love of God and the Freedom of His Spirit are the two foundations of Life in Him, lived and experienced by faith, which is His Gift in our hearts by the Spirit Who is within us. The real "knowledge" is not a "head" knowledge, but rather a "knowing" like Adam "knew" Eve his wife, in that they were mixed together as one. And in this same way we "know" God in the foundation of our being. We are "mixed together" with Him in the death of resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and from our own resurrection in Him reappear as ourselves but really as He living.
God's purpose for us, as I'm certain you know, is to grow us up into Him, that we "walk as He walks" in this world -- "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10). The part that is plainly said, but goes often unseen, is that from the "beginning," i.e. from the depths of eternity, we ARE HIS workmanship. He is the potter, we the clay. But a clay molded into freedom, and "good works," which would be works of love, having been ordained in the Eternal Lamb slain in the midst of the Throne to walk in them, for they are really His works as us, having been "created" in Jesus Christ.
In His "growing us up" process He has subjected the whole creation to vanity, which is mind and self turned in on itself, perhaps another way of saying independent self. This Paul says plainly in Romans 8 was done without the will of the creature. The creature had no say in it. I can testify to that. I woke up in vanity. It preceded me and it was all I knew. I made no choice between alternatives, not in any conscious way that I can recall.
How some want to interpret that and relate it to the origin of evil doesn't matter for me in this discussion. (If you really want to know, I think the origin of evil is just a notch beyond our ken anyway, no matter how much we debate it -- it's really one for a sit-down face-to-face with the Lord on that one, for my money.)
It suffices to say that the spirit of evil who came into the world was the bringer of the lie, and the one who by trickery slithered into the hearts and minds of men and became their silent harsh taskmaster, and that in his bringing of the lie, the understanding darkened and split, and enmity and strife tore and yet still tears at the hearts of all who live in the world.
The understanding darkened, and our centers invaded by force, our race learned to think of themselves as little islands hemmed in by the edge of their skin and judgment of the eyes and ears, and to define themselves by what they had or didn't have. The beautiful People, spawned from the heart of God and shaped by His Hands and enlivened by His Breath, knew Him no more as their Heart of Hearts, their Joy in the midst of their Love, but had been invaded by a foreigner, a weaver of tales, a trickster whose only reality is a lie, who sold the People a bill of goods, which they bought. Hook, line, and sinker.
A con-man makes his mark. Which was us. The result??? A world askew, a cursed earth, sickness, disease, poverty, WAR -- but also, with love, joy, pleasure, peace, family. A world in which there is "good" and "evil."
All good practice. God it was Who subjected the creation to vanity, and not the will of the creature.
So, yes, it is correct, as far as I can tell, to say that "independent self" is Satan, when you understand the sense of that statement to be this: There is no such thing as independent self.
It does not exist. (Independent self) It cannot, for there is truly only One Person in the Universe. There is no other Person.
When the Prodigal Son came to his senses, he remembered his father. Even so we. Our Father is not an old long white-haired man on a great big pearl throne off in the infinite sky, but the Eternal inner One who we all know, for better or worse, in our deepest selves. Even though in the beginning we still may think of God as way off up in the sky, still it is His stirring rising up from within us that brings us to "remembering" our Father, who in the death and resurrection of Jesus died and rose AS THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE, to effect salvation for ALL men, says Paul, and then he adds, "specially to them that believe." Meaning, of course, there has to come a time in all of us when we, as the Prodigal Son, "come to our senses" and remember our father. God has called us all home and has provided the way for all, and one by one he catches his one sheep still lost while the ninety & nine are safe in the pasture.
So what I'm saying is this: that even though that old snake has caught the whole lot of us in his web of deceit, in that we all grew up knowing only one thing, that we were just ourselves alone, and that we were part of a dog eat dog world, and all of us have done our dirty deeds, all this has not been outside the eye of the Father, "who works all things after the counsel of His own will." And what is His own will? "But speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." (Eph 4:15)
We have been subjected to vanity that we might grow up into Him in ALL THINGS.
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb 5:8,9)
When God by whatever means jerks a knot in us enough to turn us around, we pass from darkness to light and all things become new. But in God's purposes He still leaves our consciousness little changed, and in our beginning days we are only dimly aware of the actual change in reality that has occurred in ourselves. All our lives we've only known ourselves as "just" ourselves, (even though the liar had somehow crept into crevices in our hearts), and with that same knowing we begin our life of grace.
It is just here that the Spirit begins the work necessary to break the hold of the lie in us, and once again we have to understand that process with this background: God is the Potter, we are the Clay. And I think that means cradle to grave. Grace doesn't just begin to operate on us the day we get saved. We are chosen in Him before the foundations of the earth. When we find ourselves in Him we realize our whole lives have been grace. "When God, who separated me from my mother's womb .... revealed His Son in me," the beloved apostle says in Galatians.
So, once again, the process which leads to "Romans 7," where we are broken of the lie of independence and have some sort of Waterloo where we find we are not capable of producing good or ill, but slaves only of either sin or righteousness, and by faith cast ourselves into the the Rescue of the Spirit in Romans 8, realizing by grace through faith that we have been now made by His Spirit in us perpetual slaves of righteousness, that "process" isn't God correcting all the "faults" that we'd let pile up in our lives all our rebellious days, but rather the school of faith whereby we learn that all our humanity, parts of which before we had perhaps despised or rejected or been ashamed of, all of that is now at the disposal of and usage of the Spirit of God Who is in us, and the Life of the Father which pours out of us. He made us Himself, fashioned us with His own hands, exactly as He wants us to be. "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Eph 1:6) He accepts us as we are, and we learn to do the same.
Temptation, as you mentioned above, pulls us out to disbelieve what we know to be true. It's never about doing this or that deed, or to commit this or that sin, but primarily to not believe in God, but in something else. The lure may be this or that deed, or this or that sin, but the meat of the temptation is always a pull into "unbelief," which is not doubt, but rather more like "anti-faith." Temptation is not sin. Yes, we are tempted by the devil, as you rightly said above. That's his job. He goes where he is sent, and goes to the limits he has been set. He doesn't run his own show. His purpose, whatever he thinks in his own mind, is not to destroy us (I'm speaking from God's viewpoint), but the temptations (always always always one thing -- unbelief -- serve other gods), but rather that the "trying of our faith" produces GOLD. Pure shining Gold! And this gold isn't some treasure for ourselves to hoard and put in a chest in the attic, but rather a gold which is the stuff of Love, which is the Outgoing God, the God of Outpoured Life -- this is the Gold we earn!
When I say "temptation is not sin" I want to underline that, because I think many are tripped here. Temptation is to really be caught by something, to really give it a second thought. It might be to even be dominated by it for a while. Temptation is to dally a bit. If it didn't catch your eye, if it didn't give you a second thought, if you didn't dally with it a bit, it wouldn't have been temptation. That's why it might seem like sin. Because the pull of temptation is that we seem like "we" want that. And in that seeming to "want" that which we know isn't ours to have, we get pulled temporarily back into what seems like independence. We are just ourselves. Just us, trying to figure out what to do, or to accomplish a certain result, or to improve just a little bit this particular part of our lives. Or we might be mad at somebody and can't for a time get a handle on not being mad at them, and maybe stew in it a while, thinking of all the "injustice" so and so has caused me. Temptation can come in any form. The temptation to "forget" who we are, and to take steps and live as if we are hurt selves, or violated selves, or selves that have something coming to us, or selves who have had our rights violated, instead of the Sufficient Self Who is the Center of ALL and is all -- this is the common temptation to all of us, and in Him by grace in the midst of the turmoil of inward strife He rises in the midst of the temptation and declares Himself, a Word coming up from Beyond always in the nick of time.
Yes, inwardly we are indwelt by One Spirit only, and the enemy only pulls at us from another kingdom, to which we no longer belong. He shouts at us from over the walls, and sometimes his voice reminds us of leeks and onions in Egypt, when we're out in the desert and hot and dry and thirsty, but then we by grace again remember that our Rock in the Desert is Christ, and out of that Rock pours forth the Water of Life, and that God can set a table in the wilderness. And wilderness becomes Paradise.
There is only one obedience in the Bible: the obedience of faith. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." But for even our faith we are on our faces before Him, for the Son can do NOTHING of Himself. In this way we find we are an infinite emptiness which is filled to bubbling over with the Spirit and Love of God.
That one obedience is to "believe on Him whom He hath sent." But I no longer believe on Him "way up there," helping me if I do all the right things and hold my mouth just right, but on Him in me, living as me, living His Divine Life in the midst of my everyday normal human life. I'm just me, walking around, talking, doing, driving my car, but it's He.
No independent self, just God who is the All, being that All, in all.
Maybe I beat around the bush a bit, but I hope maybe there might be a word or two that might give a little light.
All my love,