The Rock of Offense
The greatest stumbling block in life is that you don't have to do anything, be anything, know anything, say anything, perform anything, believe anything, to receive, live in and prove, the kingdom of God.
In saying that it doesn't mean that doing, being, knowing, saying, performing, believing, receiving and living aren't going on. It just means that all those things don't get God into us. Those things are rather the product of God coming out of us.
What did Paul mean when he said to "put off the old man" with its lusts, etc., and "put on the new man," or "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ?"
The "old man" is the man of good and evil, the man of attainment. The old man has to know the rules, and lives by cause and effect, and blessings and curses. The old man if he does well, he is rewarded, and if he does wrong, he is punished. The old man wants to know which mountain you worship God on, whether in Samaria or in Jerusalem. The old man wants to know that he is safe and sound, where his next meal is coming from and that he has money in the bank.
The old man thinks he can climb up into the kingdom of God by his beliefs, actions, words, and attitudes. He knows God will reward him if he does all things well, and punish him if he messes up. Some think they do things pretty well, but others think they mostly mess up, and generally think they deserve nothing of God. Many think it is possible to arrive at God by good works, good thoughts, right actions and moral behavior, and set about with all their mind and heart to achieve their goal. Still others of the "old man" persuasion think living "close" to God requires an excessive amount of devotion not in them, and therefore that condition (of being "close to God") is reserved for that special quality of person that comes along every now and then -- a true saint -- and not for very ordinary everyday people who live and work in the world alongside everybody else, and who are pretty much just like everybody else.
But the old man also all his lifetime has been in the bondage of the fear of death. For some the actual fear of physical death is with them every day, and for others of us death is more symbolic and slower as its tentacles gradually wind round all the staff of life and eventually choke it out as we deny what is happening to us. Through the memories and traumas that have beset him all his life, the old man is a man who accuses himself of all the accumulated wrong that has been seen in the world, and the weight of it, even though it is unconscious, is so heavy and the pull of it so strong that there is no way of escape from the drudgery of being the "old man" we've been all our lives.
And I don't care how many teachings you've heard and believed, about how your "old man" is crucified with him, that you are "dead," or even if you have by revelation identified your "old man" as your former union with your old slave-boss, Satan-the-devil, still day after day after day the thinking persists that we are still just ourselves alone and we are the old selves we always thought we were. The "real us" is what I described above, or something like him.
When Paul says, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ," he makes the old man null and void. The "old man" doesn't count. He doesn't exist, not even his past. His history does not exist. He never was.
Only the new man exists now. And that man is Christ.
This man is like a man who walks by a stream in the mountains, who stops and listens to the soft sounds of the water moving over the rocks. He hears the whole symphony of God in the fulness of His Grace in the water, and sees how effortlessly in peace the water moves in an endless flow.
The new man, who is the only one who exists now in the kingdom of light, lives in the flow of that water. There is no effort to bring forth God because the new man is brought forth out of the everlasting Spring of God in the upflow of God from His Invisibility to our Visibility. Out of the depths of our middle flows and everlasting river.
The new man is himself the answer before the question is asked, the reverberation of the Father's Voice speaking "I AM" and is therefore at the forefront of the stream, on the crest of the wave, and in the middle, and in the beginning at the Invisible Source, and at the end, at the delta of plenty and abundance and all the manifested Grace of God.
The new man encompasses the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and moves in grace and peace in the Spirit. He hears behind him and in his ear every moment, "This is the way, walk ye in it" and his very existence is the fulfillment of God's every promise from eternity.
The new man is the tree planted by the water; he is the mustard seed sprouted to full growth; he is the crop of corn that came up: "For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear."
How can this be mine?
Since he is the flow of life in you, coming up out of you like a fountain as it were, then as Paul says, "the Word is nigh thee" and you simply join in with him agreement.
When Paul says "put off"and "put on" he is speaking of something that is done so easily it is not worth mentioning. For which of us, if we are physically capable, think it anything difficult to change our clothes? Unless you're a lady getting ready for a fancy dinner, any of us can change our garments in just a couple of minutes. No big deal. We are tempted daily that we are the old man.
With a chuckle and wave of the hand we brush that off. We don't wear that suit anymore. We live from an inner endless Source, and all the world vibrates in the Symphony. Instead of seeking blessings and avoiding curses we ARE the Blessings and the Blesser, the Point of Contact with Divinity, the Outflow of the Divine into healing the world.
Not of ourselves, but of the Father Who has called us by name into expression as living wills of God. By His instigation, not ours. (And what He wills, He fulfills.)
"And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."
And so the Christ was born. And we say also, "be it unto me according to thy word."
A lady told me once a familiar story. She said she got up every morning and prayed, "Now, Lord, I'm giving you this day, trusting that you will have your way in me, and that you will accomplish your will by me today, and that you will bless my family, my job, my car, my dog, etc.," and then she said that by the time she'd left for work she'd cussed out her husband, yelled at the kids, kicked the cat, cursed her boss, and where, she asked, did Christ go and what happened to the answer to her prayer?
I am here to tell you that once you ask God to do a thing, it is done and you do not consider it otherwise. Cussed out husbands, yelled at kids, and kicked cats are the living proof of Isaiah 65:24, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." They are the proof that Messiah has come, and that He is here. That He makes his darkness to be light all about him. "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous." (Psa 112:4)
No flesh shall glory in His presence, and strength is made perfect in weakness.
Call Christ where it is impossible for Him to be, and He is there.
That is the new man and the Rock of Offense, the Stumbling Stone of Israel.