This is an email exchange with someone who wrote to me on my site. It’s good food for thought and heart if you’ve got a few minutes. I’ve been told this is a little bit like “Who’s on first?” but there’s a lot of light that can be generated by thinking about this idea.
His question: “I have a fair grip on the concept that independent self is a lie, but notice that Norman Grubb and others maintain that I/we must choose to believe either the lie or that we’ve been made perfect, etc. Question: Who is this “I” that chooses? If Christ, I would never be deceived. If false self , I will always be deceived. Looks like insofar as choosing, there is some independence there. Any thoughts?”
I do believe in a inner chooser. But an independent “I” that must try to be good or that can do evil in and of itself, no. I’m the manifestation of what I choose to rely on; “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
So there is a self, a human spirit, a chooser. But it’s not an independent self that can act autonomously; it can only manifest the life of another.
This takes us from being intrinsically good or bad and makes us neutral in and of our human selves, not evil except as the manifestation of Satan’s evil; Jesus said, “You are of your father the Devil, and his works ye shall do.” The Pharisees didn’t perform their own works; they did the Devil’s. Satan was reproducing himself through them, his quality of life. On the other side, Jesus said, “I can do nothing of Myself,” meaning His humanity was a neutral vessel, incapable of doing good or evil. And He went on to say, “The Father in Me does the works.” Likewise, for us, Paul says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (sounding like it all depends on us), for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good pleasure” (recognizing that it all really comes from Him).
We make these faith-choices daily. For instance, with my family: Am I going to trust that Christ lives in me, that He will Father my children, that He will Husband my wife through me? If I am harsh with them, the reason is not that I’m bad or evil; the reason is that I am not trusting Him, relying on Him, and instead think that I have to control the situation with “my own” thinking, reasoning, emotions. But really that independent “I” is a lie – there is no “my own.” It’s Satan or God; if I am going to trust “myself” I’m really falling for Satan’s lie of independent “I” that can choose to be an originator of good or evil.
This faith-choice is our only real action. It is an inner choice that then manifests itself in our outer actions. We connect either to Christ within ourselves (believers) or to Satan shoving his thoughts into our heads. We follow Christ, trust, rely, and so manifest His life – or we do it “my way” which is really Satan’s way.
This cuts a lot of bull out of “the Christian life” and brings it down to brass tacks: Trust God, every moment, rely on Him – and if you choose against that, you’re trusting not ‘you’ but Satan. Because there is no independent ‘you’ that is capable of goodness – or evil – in and of your human self.
Like a lamp that can plug into Light Power or into Dark Power – it has to plug in in order to have power. But it chooses which power. Jesus in Matthew 6, after giving what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer” contrasts the two different ways of seeing, one satanic, the other godly. When you fast, don’t fast like the hypocrites, letting everyone know what you’re doing (the satanic self-righteousness, wanting to appear good); instead, fast in secret, and the Father shall reward thee openly. Don’t lay up treasures on earth (the satanic desire to have security in an idol, something other than God); instead, lay it up in heaven; Paul said in Colossians 3,, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Wherever your treasure is (in Christ, or in Satan’s way of thinking), there your heart will be also. And so we make Christ our treasure – by choice, by faith, by reliance.
And then Jesus says this: “If the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness.” C.S. Lewis wrote in The Silver Chair that “you are most under the power of an enchantment when you do not think you are enchanted at all.” We can be operating totally under fleshly effort, the satanic mindset, and have no idea that we are doing so. The light of the body is the perception; that’s why we’ve to “renew our minds” (Rom 12:2), because in seeing things God’s way we are transformed from glory to glory. Jesus in Matthew 6 is telling us to use God’s way of thinking and allow no other.
That’s choice – faith-choice. And when we make that choice, to one side or the other, God – or Satan – flows.
Why is all this important to know? Call me crazy, but if more Christians knew this there’d be a lot less sin. It’s not as fun when we realize that we are giving our minds, souls, bodies over to Satan temporarily when we sin, and that it’s really him doing the sin through us. Not possession, but puppetry. And when we express righteousness – love for God and others – we are manifesting the nature of our indwelling Husband, our Captain, our King – and our Father, so spiritual pride that Satan attempts to shove into our minds after doing something good becomes a non-issue.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.