The Devil and Choice, Obedience and Rest
Below is an edited excerpt from an email containing questions about the issues named below.
I only want to talk about 4 things that were brought up -- 1) the devil, 2) choice, 3) obedience, and 4) rest
1) the devil
Other than the note you saw, I don't think I've ever written that the "devil is the human ego" in any other context. It is not a phrase I normally use. But I know others who do consider the human ego to be the devil.
I am sympathetic with what those believers were trying to share. My friend Boyd always says words are the worst form of communication, and he has a point. So many of us are tied up over the words and do battle for them. I've had my share of battles over the words.
"The human ego. What is it?" I cannot give a firm definition. Like I said, I don't think I've put things in those terms before, but one of the things we learn is that just as Christ is inner, so also is the devil "inner." And by "inner," here I am not meaning necessarily within YOUR spirit but the devil, being "spirit," is only truly seen in spirit. His realm is only spirit. That does not mean he does not affect the realm of flesh and blood, because he does, but only that his work is error-spirit, and error-spirit manifests and lives in flesh and blood. But you don't find him in flesh and blood any more than you find God in flesh and blood. You only find him where he hides.
In spirit, in the human self, one of his best hangouts has always been the human ego. It was first the Lord's but in tricking Adam and Eve he invaded that sanctuary. He long-ago hid himself there, and since in our unbelief we are deceived into believing in our own goodness and ability, not knowing that darkness and pride of self is our lord and master, i.e. the devil, since it is his lusts that we do (Jn 8:44). But because of this of course he sits on the seat of pride in each individual human being. He has taken the inner holy place in man, and made it an abomination of desolation, replacing the glory of God that was intended to be there but retreated in Adam, with the idol of sin -- which idol is that I am my own God, I am my own master, I control my own destiny, I have the right to overcome others to accomplish what I want.
And he fights for that spot of primacy in the human person, in that he hides himself so well and with such suave and such normalcy, that no one for a moment suspects that he has moved in and runs the store. That's how he as an "angel of light" masquerades in the very depths of our human personhood, right in the false sense of independent self, in self-acting, self-seeking, self-protecting, self-responsible self. And we have all walked there and the world, at least in the temporal sense, walks in it and it is running pretty much everything -- in the temporal.
And that is what this level of the cross is all about. The first level of the cross is understanding our forgiveness and restoration into the house of God. It's the cross "for us." But this next level of the cross we are speaking of here, is the cross "in us." This is where we learn that when Christ died, we died, and that false spirit went out of us, and the true Holy Spirit came into us to enliven us into life in the Spirit. Flesh life didn't cease at that point, but we awoke to new life in the Spirit of God, and we begin to see that the devil -- the offence, the "man of sin," the abomination of desolation, has been taken out of our inner selves in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Then we begin to know, in this second stage of the cross, "in us," how it is not by our own life we live, but by His in us. That we are not just ourselves alone, but we are a union of selves where He and I are one, just as He is One with the Father and the Spirit. The same oneness. He prayed for that same oneness in John 17, and we individually come to know the Father's answer to Jesus' prayer in our inner selves, as we begin to know, after we know that the devil has no more place in us, since the imposter has now been replaced by the true King, that we are walking in oneness with Him.
And now that same "human ego," or I'll just say, "sense of 'I'", instead of being the hiding place for the liar which it has been all our lives, becomes now the dwelling place of the Truth, Jesus Christ. The devil is no more there, and what was sin (in me) is now righteousness. (2 Cor 5:21) In the Cross and Resurrection He delivered us from sin -- the devil, by becoming sin for us, and through that we (you and I) became the righteousness of God.
And there is no caveat there when Paul writes that. He makes it a simple factual statement -- this IS who you are! You are righteousness.
Of course choice is important. It is our function as persons. To choose. The question is, who chooses?
This "union" truth which we speak, only comes to us as revelation by the Holy Spirit. At least it seems so to me. While we can write it out and study it doctrinally and scripturally, which is some of what we try to get out to help people, ultimately the light from this must come from the Spirit, as well as the "ability to live it."
This is no good if it's just "another teaching." We are speaking a total thing here. Something which the human person cannot make work or make happen, by anything we do. We cannot produce the outflowing life of the Spirit. I cannot tell anybody "how" to do it. Because we really cannot do anything. But we think that either we can do it, or that we should be able to do it. Most of us actually think that not only should we produce God's works, but we also can produce God's works, if we just do this or that, believe this or that, apply this or that.
What many end up with by that road is failure (if we're honest) and that just heaps on guilt on more guilt, because since we have been convinced we can, and that we should, but we haven't, then we have only ourselves to blame.
This is about coming to the end of all that. It is the only way into understanding and living in a union life, because all that previous life of striving and trying to abide, and making sure we are making all spirit and not flesh choices every day, is out of a life that thinks that it CAN do it and that is its part in the agreement. God does His part by providing the power, the love, the commandments, etc., and it is our part of choose correctly first of all, then to apply his wisdom, or take the power He provides, and use it correctly.
However, while we have all in some way lived in that "God does His part, I do my part" sight, we find we don't do our part so well.
Paul's struggle in Romans 7 is exactly about all that. And as you know, that is the theme of "The Axe Laid to the Root."
But Jesus simply said, "The Son can do nothing himself. But what He sees the Father do, the Son does the same." And, "I can of my own self do nothing."
That was something that Jesus was walking in -- doing nothing of himself.
Then how did He live His life? If Jesus, born of a virgin as the Holy Son of God, could do "nothing" of himself, of what, then, are we capable? If Jesus could do "nothing," what can we do?
But Jesus chose, didn't He? Yes, He did. How did He choose? How did He decide where to go, who to heal, what to preach on the mountain? The same way He did everything: "The Father that dwells in me, he does the works."
The Son can do nothing --- the Father does the works.
How do I choose? The Son can do nothing -- the Father does the works.
I really don't know how it works. The Father does it in me. I live, yet not I, but he. I choose as He chooses in me, whether somehow conscious of that fact or not.
Isn't that being presumptuous?
No, it is the truth. Jesus said, "I and my Father are one," and they were so enraged by Him talking about walking around as God in human flesh, that they killed him for blasphemy. The could not bear truth in the flesh, but cared rather to protect their positions and their much safer God off in the ethereal -- the god they had made up in their imaginations who conformed to their own image.
It is Jesus who first declared His intimate one-person-ness with God, who prayed that same oneness that He knew would be the oneness we walk in and know, too. So I just believe it and share it, because it is something I have seen and heard, too.
I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. Very simple. It's not me living, but it is He living. People want to go, "Ahem, uhh, well, you've still got to do this and remember that." But you don't. He lives in us, living His life, and we find rest and liberation there, not into sin or license but into living out the life of Christ within -- which is a life that knows the cross for others -- but we're not talking about that yet.
Obedience is a valid issue, of course, but it is basically a child's issue. Not an issue for adults, which is why it's not a big topic among us. Our Spirit unction is to leave the elementary things -- there are plenty of teachers for those -- and go on to the deeper things of God.
Behavior and obedience are some of the main lessons of childhood. Hopefully, the earlier a child grasps the concept of cooperating with legitimate authority, the better his life may go. Adolescence is partly about testing whether the outer obedience has yet become an inner way, when children experience more and more independence from their parents. But the goal is always to get them to become responsible adults, adults who don't have to be reminded to brush their teeth, get enough sleep, clean up their room, as well as many other more important things. As adults they will have authorities over them, but obedience to just demands of legitimate authority should not be much of an issue, because it becomes something that is part of our makeup. Not that obedience issues don't come up for adults, but you get my drift I hope.
I think our Spirit growth is much like that.
There is for many of us a time of settling in the Lord and taking a stand that we belong to Him, that we are His person. It does not have to come with any special revelation or rite of passage, but can be something we have simply settled within ourselves. This is where that kind of obedience is settled, too, because it becomes in some way obvious to us that if we are God's, then who we are to others matters, because we are supposed to be in some way representative of Him. So that begins a serious effort on our part to do our best for God, and to obey Him, rely on Him, trust Him, do good, love others, help others, keep down the flesh, listen to the Spirit, learn His word, etc.
But it is often the case that that very struggle for God leads to a downfall, because this committed self, which knows it loves God with all its heart, finds out through living life that it falls far short. The evidence is plain. We haven't done all we said we would do. We haven't been all we thought we would be.
That is the struggle that takes us through, not doctrinally or theologically, but by the reality of which Paul is speaking, the bondage of Romans 7 into the Spirit liberty of Romans 8. Where in Romans 7 he finds himself doing what he strives not to do, and visa versa. He wants to OBEY -- to keep the commandment that said, "Thou shalt not covet." He has the will to obey, he says further down, but he can't make it happen. He could not keep the commandment.
He finds that Another must do it. That is the message of Romans 8. Another does it in us, top to bottom, a-z. Christ our all in all. No parts sticking out of Christ. Baptism. Drenched.
So in the New Testament the commandment of "obedience" is fulfilled by the One giving the commandment. Not the party which cannot ever fulfill its part because it is "weak, through the flesh."
Jesus in Gethsemane shows that in the hour of temptation, the Father continues to do the works, and in this awful temptation to become separate from God by entering into his own (Jesus') will, which pulled him to the breaking point, in that agonizing scene God prevails.
Gethsemane may have been the darkest, most dangerous hour the universe ever had. It is an hour when God is tempted to oppose Himself, and possibly pull apart the fabric of the Godhead, by means of the Son who has been overcome by a separate will. This would only serve to prove Satan's claim, that the infection reached into the Godhead itself, that even God Himself could not help Himself to prevent His Only Begotten from separating into the strong delusion that He must, in the end, be for Himself.
Jesus had said continually during His years of ministry that He had only one will -- the will of His Father. That was all he was. Yet here in Gethsemane this separate Jesus shows up, one who is tempted to think that maybe there's another way, even though in Spirit He already knew.
So yes, it was the truly human humanity of Jesus of Nazareth that was pulled into such great stress in his temptation that he sweated blood. And what would we expect but such a tension in the creation that night? He was about to take on the power that had enslaved the world since Adam, and remove him from his place, and to set up His kingdom. This is beyond our comprehension. This is not just a doctrine of the Christian faith, but rather an event that actually takes place in all of us, when we see, as the scripture says, like lightning lighting the entire landscape from east to west all at once, that this reality is that the Christ has sent light into all the world, and that He has changed all the darkness we formerly knew into light, so that we live in universe of light, and this light goes farther than the eye can see or the brain can comprehend, penetrating every single nook and cranny of creation and self, and this is only a little of it. But everything was at stake here. Humanity and the whole creation. He must succeed.
We do not, cannot really understand His place I think. I can only say that He was trusting to the point of death -- which is a complete giving up of all, everything, throwing in the towel, the whole enchilada -- believing that in His death the Father would do 2 things: first, redeem humanity and all creation, and second, bring Him out after He had fully taken on all the sin into Himself to overcome it, so that He was raised a victor over sin, in each of us, and in all the creation as well.
No one, not even Jesus, could do such a thing. Jesus lived, died and was raised again by the Holy Spirit just as we experience.
That is because out of His struggle, He walked in rest. To wrestle in the Spirit is where we settle matters in Christ and God, but out of those wrestlings we learn that He is upholding our steps. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold." Is 42:1. This was written for the Messiah, who was then forthcoming, but who now has moved into and lives in us!
"There is a rest for the people of God," it says in Hebrews 4. This is something I would only simply define as coming into an inner rest by knowing an inner upholding of Christ, which becomes the center out of which we live our lives.
There are many ways of expressing how it comes. It comes first as a knowing, perhaps, that we are kept. That we are sustained.
It comes when we realize that He told us He would be in us a well of water springing up, and that we would never thirst again. One day I had to say, "Well, I guess you've done that, since you promised it. So you are an always running spring in the middle of me, flowing up in me and spilling out of me all over the place."
It comes when the Spirit quickens in us that we cannot do anything of ourselves, that our only sufficiency is in Christ, and no other, or no-thing else.
It comes when we realize that He redeemed me to be His life expressed in the world and that He will accomplish His work as He pleases in my life. He will bring about His promises, like He brought Isaac at the appointed time and even worked Abraham's bungled attempt to make the promise happen, into the plan.
It comes all those ways and more, but the rest comes, and we realize that in His rest we can finally relax in Him. The job (of upholding us) has always been His, but we have had to test our mettle so that we could come to the same conclusion, too.
Temptations still come. Humanity is still very much human. But love becomes the predominant operation in our sight, and we begin to marvel at how the Father is so continuously and perfectly in time and place bringing light out of darkness and rest in the middle of a storm in a boat on a lake. He IS rest in the middle of us.
"I will both lay me down, and sleep, in peace, for thou O Lord, only maketh me to dwell in safety." (Ps 4:8)
One more thing about rest.It is all inner consciousness. We may be running 100 mph on the outside. Living in the rest of God, since it is the rest OF GOD, might make us busier than we've ever been! Because the 3rd level of the cross, the cross in us for others (which is our dying daily), is turned outward, no more focusing on ourselves since we are kept, and life now is flowing out, not self-reflective inward.