The Inner Meaning of the Cross
Someone recently asked me that if we were formerly indwelt and run by the spirit of error, "who" was it in us that responded to and believed in the Lord. Was it Christ in us, and if so, how could He have been there at the same time as the spirit of error?
So we start with Paul's simple word, which says, "No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit."
To properly understand this, we have to start with the beginning, that there is only One Self-Existent Person as the Foundation of the entire universe -- The Living God. From there we say that every thing and every person has come out of and is in some way an expression of this One Person.
There can be no other foundation or starting point, since where else would anything come from and out of what other source would "person" come, except the One Person in whom all the universe lives and moves and has its being or existence (Acts 17:28)?
Now anyone can understand that conceptually, because this is something even the finite human reasoning mind can grasp as a concept. In fact, that is why we are often called pantheists or some such because many other religious systems have also come to this conclusion. Even science can somewhat see it in modern physics, though they cannot discover, without the revelation of the Spirit, that God is Person.
But where we in Jesus Christ are separated from the others is in understanding and living in the process of the Cross, which is the heart of God's life, and in our freedom as persons in His image, we learn to take as our own heart as well.
God, in His person, is love and only love, willing only love and goodness, and nothing else. What we really say is that God has only spoken One Eternal Word, which is the outbirth of His Love, the Son. The Son is in expression what from Eternity the Father has desired and willed to be.
But consider God, as if we could, "before" He is speaking the Son of His expression, and consider the Cross at the basis of it -- ("Lamb slain before the foundation").
What we see by this, is God, out of freedom and infinite possibility, deciding eternally what He will be. He eternally "decides" to be the Son: "Thou are my son, this day have I begotten thee, (Ps 2:7 -- one eternal day in which the Son is eternally being begotten. This Son is eternally, "The Lamb slain," or in other words, He Who will give His life, as a helpless weak lamb, that others might live, rather than be an eternal taker, like a spiritual black hole, that creates and then sucks everything back into itself and will never let it go, like a self-absorbed obsessive/possessive parent who will never let its child leave and develop a life of its own. If God is not love, the alternative is that the universe and creation is a plaything of self-seeking, rather than an outraying expression of eternal love, which is eternally begetting itself in further reaches of love.
So in God's inner life, if we could say He has one, (and we are only speaking figuratively for the sake of our limited reasoning mind, and not really literally, since all this does not actually occur 1-2-3, but eternally just IS in multitudinous simultaneity), there is continually the eternal choice in freedom to speak an eternal "NO" to being Himself for Himself, which is what hell is, like that possessive parent. Then out of the infinite energy which is created by desiring in a sense selfishly to be the Son, or in other words to actually BE the Son who gives up Himself, there must be a death or Cross in God to even the selfish desire to be the Son, which is a contradiction, that is, a selfish desire to be unselfish. That desire is like a trap, an infinite eternal desire to be the Son as an other lover, but into that eternal catch-22, Love comes as the greatest miracle that is in God. This eternal love comes out of His infinite possibility to be anything, and "dies" to wrongful self-desire, to eternally be the Son Who gives Himself in death, and by that, the possibility in Him of evil, of self-seeking for self, is forever swallowed up in the Son Who He IS from eternity to eternity, and by this eternal "NO" to self-seeking, which is the death, He speaks an eternal "YES" to life and the continued expansive infinite propagation of life.
Now in seeing and desiring to be "The SON," we know from scripture that this "SON" is also seen from eternity to be not just one distinct alone person, but the Son, in order to fulfill the Love Desire from eternity of the Father who out of infinite possibility decided to be this Son, is really as a Seed which is to beget a vast family of individual and distinct "sons", who are all a living, distinct, and unique expression of the ONE SON Who is the foundation of all. As Paul explains in Galatians that the promise to Abraham, which is that his seed would be as innumerable as the sand of the sea, is just one seed, which is Christ (Gal 3:16, 27-29; Gen 13:16), and in Ephesians, when Paul explains that we ALL grow up into ONE MAN, Christ (Eph 2:15; 4:4-6, 13-15).
So therefore the family of human sons comes on the scene. (We'll skip angels because we [I] really don't know too much about them, but since God has made us human, and given us in our human spirits to know the things which concern being human, which are also a reflection of the Divine, it is given in us to know in a microcosm what God and the universe is in macrocosm.) And we are those sons.
Sons must be free, since God is free. If we are not free then we are no more than as trees or mountains or oceans, who in God are expressions of His love and beauty and they praise Him and do His will just in their existence and take no real conscious part in it. They just are and we enjoy their beauty. But in his human created sons He gives His highest expression, the ability to join with Deity in its highest capacity -- the will to freedom and love and self-development in creation. What God is in macrocosm man is in microcosm. We live and move and have our being in Him, and whether negatively or positively, whether a vessel of honor or a vessel of dishonor, (according to our heart which determines our path -- "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps." (Prov 16:9), we manifest life or death.
To get to the original question, which was "who" believes when we believe in Him, when we are not in him, the answer can only be Christ as us. When we are describing spirit things we cannot put space-time definitions of place, and "in" and "out," as we know them spatially in this world. These concepts are not applicable in spirit. People often find fault with our saying that when we were unbelievers we were run by Satan or the spirit of error, as the scriptures plainly say, pointing out that, "Satan is not omnipresent."
But that is a misunderstanding of spirit and thinking the spirit dimension is like a physical place with an over there and an over here and if we are here, then we can't be there. So if Satan is tempting somebody in New Orleans he couldn't be tempting somebody in New York. So people imagine he has all these assistants -- demons -- who are doing it. It's sort of like my parents explained to me that Santa Claus had assistants because when we went to a dime store one Christmas-time, and I saw Santa Claus one night, we left the dime store and went right over to Sears, and we saw Santa there, too, and I wondered how that could be. "He has helpers," my folks told me, but I thought that was rather strange that Santa was not really Santa. From then on I was pretty suspicious about the whole thing.
We cannot deny there are such things as demons since the New Testament certainly speaks of them, as well as angels which are messengers of God. However, if we could understand spirit we would see that as the angels are messengers of God and speak for God and act as God and are contained in God and contain God, we could also see that demons are the same for Satan -- see a demon and we see Satan, and so on. If we are in hell inwardly, everywhere we go is hell and there is no end to it. It is infinite and has no borders, no here and no there, and everywhere we would go in it we would see Satan because he is everywhere in it because he is the spirit of it, and all of it is contained in him and as he is contained in it. He is it.
Likewise heaven is everywhere and if we are in heaven then everywhere we go heaven is. It has no borders and no end to it and there is no here and no there. Everywhere we look God IS because it is contained in Him and He is contained in it. And if we are in Christ then we are inwardly in heaven, and everywhere we go, we go in this heaven. That is why we can look around and see heaven everywhere, not because we are playing some sort of psychological trick on ourselves, or performing some kind of "positive thinking," but purely and simply because we are opening our eyes by faith to what truly is, God in Christ in us, in His heaven, as our inward truth. Then what we see inwardly, permeates all the outward, and we see only God -- even if covered up by every opposite appearance or circumstance. Satan cannot come to us and claim he is a greater reality and greater power than He Who is in us, because he is a liar, and all his works are lies, because whatever evil he does, the Father determines for good, to "save much people alive" (Gen 50:20).
What separates heaven from hell in us, is the Cross. Hell is the fire that will not be quenched. The fire (of endless desire) is in God and in Him is quenched into love by the Lamb Slain from the foundation of the earth. All the power in the universe is contained in a weak and helpless lamb that gives up its life. Satan would not be weak and helpless, but sought to own the fire and to master its power, rather than die to self-seeking and live in the outgoing love, and therefore the fire rages and rages without end and there is never any quenching and nothing can ever slake the thirst in this fire because it will not give itself to the love, but continues on in self-might and self-will.
Before we are born again we are not totally in this hell. We have it in us, but at the foundation of our being is "the Light that lights every man that comes into the world (Jn 1:9)," and this acts as a conscience, or as "the law written in our hearts (Rom 2:15)," to convict us of sin and draw us to the light. If we were already totally fixed devils we could not hear the voice of the Lord God in the garden calling us, "Adam, Eve, where are you?"
So we have it in us to be able to respond to the voice of the Lord, who is ever calling within, though it seems like without, and in our response to that call, grace comes and meets us. The pull back and forth between darkness and light may go on in us as a struggle for years, until we make the final faith choice to "believe," but grace meets us every moment, calling our name, and is available every moment. When the day comes that we are ready to say, "Jesus is Lord," the Holy Spirit is already there in that moment to be the word in our mouth. "Before you call, I will answer." (Is 65:24).
The Cross of Jesus on Calvary is an historical demonstration of what is the eternal Cross from the foundation of all existence. It is not something that is only outward to us, and if only viewed outwardly, as something Jesus did way back then, then it isn't that we do not reap the benefits, because we do if we accept it. But in only seeing it as an outward historical event, we only see it in a very surface way, and do not penetrate to the full depths that this Cross on which Jesus died, and His subsequent resurrection, is something that is eternal, and that it is enacted in us, and that it is something that is continually enacted in us in continual death and resurrection.
Because as sons, we are commissioned to be the corn of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, bringing forth much fruit. That is what it means to have Christ in us. To be in Christ is not about building a better world or better country or being better husbands, mothers, fathers, or about becoming financially sound and accumulating earthly wealth (which is NOTHING if we do not have the true wealth), nor is it about always concentrating on our physical bodies and our physical health. We give our bodies to be used up, as well as all our substance, be it houses, money, wives, husbands, whatever we have, whatever we are that God has made us -- we retain nothing for ourselves but throw it all into the fire of God, and trust Him with it to the uttermost! "For I know WHOM I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (2 Tim 1:12).
We are citizens of heaven, of the city with the Living God as its foundation, and our minds and hearts are there, and there is where we earnestly desire to take everyone whom God gives us. Everything goes for that one end! For that goal we take up OUR cross, which is now His cross in US, to complete, as Paul said, the sufferings of Christ which are now in us (Col 1:24), by first dying to the independent self-consciousness that we inherited in Adam whereby we come into the knowledge of "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth," and "he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."
Then further, the "I die daily," that Paul speaks of isn't a retaking of the same land every day, but rather a dying in real fashion through the experiences of our lives, that in our continual human weakness we find the strength of God coursing in us for one end: to bring life to others. As continual "sheep for the slaughter", we are "crucified in weakness" every day (2 Cor 13:4), which is our rightful "sacrifice" (Rom 12:1), but live in the power of God!
This is not something we work up or whump up but which God leads us to every day in the regular circumstances of living -- and that as that sacrifice, which has been (by our heart's desire) bound to the horns of the altar, (Ps 118:27), we are a sweet savor of life in God's nostrils (because He sees the Son in us, in Whom He is well pleased) and we are the same sweet savor in the lives of those others God gives us through that every day living in the weakness and helplessness of the heavenly Lamb.
1 When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
3 The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
4 Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.