Why is the realization of union with God essential for daily living? And why must we also know that we redeemed humans are wholly and solely His, spirit, soul and body, and not a half old and half new man? Because we are to live freely, boldly, zestfully, gaily, wholeheartedly. Life is to be to us a great adventure. We are not to be ashamed of calling it a thrill. The commonplace is always to be the fresh to us. The most insignificant, the most obscure is life with a purpose. It is spontaneous living. And it can only be that when two facts are facts to which we need make no further reference, except by way of continuous thanksgiving. The one is that God and we are so one'd that we just live, and yet it is God, and in a sense the relationship is automatic-we just live. And the other is that we are free selves, with no internal enemies lurking within, with no civil war or rival claimants within, free to think, free to serve, free to act, free to believe, free to give ourselves for the world.
For normal living is free-hearted, free-minded concentration on the job in hand. We are not made capable of thinking of two things at once. When we are doing something, we put all we have into it. We cannot, therefore, be thinking directly of Christ at the same time, or consciously communing with Him. We have a sub-conscious realization of His presence, like the flow of an underground stream, and we refer to Him momentarily at any time; but the great percentage of our daily lives is spent, not directly in touch with Him, but immersed in our own affairs. Now if the union, by grace, is an automatic fact, then we do not suddenly come under condemnation that we have thought little directly of Him through the day; but just because He and we are one person, so what we were thinking about and doing was what He was thinking and doing. We never were apart, not for one second; such apartness is a ridiculous impossibility. Wherever we are, He is. He has joined Himself to us-by infinite grace-and that's the end of it.
So we are freed to act as normal men and women, living normal lives; yet it is not really we living, but He: that is our special secret, shared with those who know what we are talking about. We pray, we read the Scriptures, but we are not in bondage. We do not even depend on these, we are joined irrevocably to Him; and even if pressures mean that we can't get the times with Him we would like, again we don't come under condemnation or fall into the false imagination that therefore we are spiritually dry or disarmed; no, not even prayer or the Scriptures are our living water or our armour; these are His changeless self, the real Self in us. As we learn to recognize Him in us at all times, fellowship and communion with Him will spontaneously become the heart-beat of our lives.
But being real humans, we must accept our humanity. We are God's means of entry into the human situation, even as Jesus in the flesh was. Christ is living in the world again in His new body. Therefore, we, as His body, must have normal reactions. We "correspond to our environment": every faculty and appetite has its normal stimuli and response. By that means alone can we be living channels of God's responses, and by them of His revelation and redemption. Therefore we shall always start by normal human reactions, and accepting ourselves means that we shall not constantly condemn ourselves for having them, but recognize them as the stepping stones to God coming through. Do we receive a letter or have something said or done to us which simply isn't fair or just, or which is straight unkind, insulting or malicious? We shall feel hurt or indignant or vengeful. That is not wrong. That is normal. Does someone not keep an appointment, or have we a member of our family always late (never ourselves of course), or do we lose something just when we need it, or does the cooking stove go wrong, or are we delayed in a traffic jam, we shall have just those reactions which all humans have-irritation, impatience, frustration, anxiety-and all are normal. Our physical appetites will be as living as ever-sex, hunger, weariness, and the desires to satisfy them.
It is precisely our human responses to stimuli which gets us into action. Without them we should be humanly dead. But how continuously we Christians condemn ourselves because we feel like this or respond like that, or at least feel we should like to. And yet James went so far as to call enticement by our lusts only temptation; and temptation is not sin, he says, for only "when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin". Temptation is response to stimuli, the very means of arousing us to action. What action? Ah, there is the point.
But before we answer that question, let us get it clear that all normal human responses are listed in the Bible in different places as normal, not sinful. What matters is the use we make of them. Hate, anger, jealousy, fear, boasting, pride (glorying in a thing), envy, ambition (aiming for the highest), covetousness, and of course physical appetites, are all mentioned in different places as rightful attributes, and many of them of God Himself. What I have to understand is that my human responses are the negative to God's positive. I am the have-not to God's have. I am made to be that according to the underlying law of all manifestation-that a positive can only be known in contrast to its negative. Yes and no, soft and hard, male and female, light and dark, all the list of opposites demonstrate that to us. You cannot say yes, without having met and conquered all the possible no's to taking a certain course of action; and the no's are the necessary substructure to the yes. You cannot enjoy a comfortable chair unless its upholstery has a steel or wooden framework. The flesh of a body must have a bony foundation. God who is the Yes of the universe, its love, light, power, wisdom, can only manifest Himself as such through persons who are persons like Himself, yet are the opposite to Him-weak where He is the Strong One, ignorant where He is the Knowing One, self-loving where He is the Other-loving, fearful where He is the Courageous One, and so on. The have-nots, where He is the have. In that sense we are as necessary to Him as He to us, as Paul wrote, "the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all". Our own reactions, therefore, are bound to be and meant to be negative. We don't like this, we are not willing for that, we fear the other; we are disturbed, impatient, and the rest.
Now the point is, in which direction do we go from there? There are the two possibilities. The old or new husband of Romans 7. We can listen to the law, know what we ought to do, act as if we can do it, and find ourselves doing the opposite, continuing bound to our negative human reaction or stimulated appetite, and now passing over from temptation to sin, by continuing as an attitude or action what had up till then only been a temptation. Alternatively, the temptation, these first negative feelings, become the stimulus to faith. They stir us to the action of "looking off unto Jesus". We affirm Him, as He thinks His thoughts in us, looks through our eyes on the situation as He sees it, handles things Himself. We do not necessarily at once lose the feelings of disturbance: that is a soul-condition; but we have moved back by faith to where we truly are and what we truly are-Christ in us. It is not that some change takes place in us, some alteration to our faculties or appetites-of course not; but He Himself is the positive manifested through the negative, and swallowing it up. He is the love, the patience, the wisdom, the strength, the holiness expressed through us. It is not that He makes us these things. We remain forever the negative, and thus just as open to these same stimuli from our environment as ever.
This life, therefore, is constant repetition, and not some fixed state in which by some mysterious alchemy a change takes place in us and we shall never have these feelings or temptations again. No, it is a "walk"-a favorite New Testament word; and a walk is forever step by step. That is why those who long for some permanent deliverance from some besetting temptation are following a chimera. There is no such thing in the sense that something happens to us, to our appetites or human make-up, which renders us permanently impervious to temptation along certain lines. The only deliverance is not a thing called deliverance, but a Present Deliverer; and the accent is both on the Person and the present. The gospel is JESUS NOW. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him." Again we say it: it is not a change in us, we remain forever the human negative, and that is not wrong; we are meant to be that; and our human reactions will always be what would naturally please or displease us; that is a right human self (the evil self is when we have accepted that as our permanent way of life, which was the former spirit of error in us). The change is not we, but Christ in us, and our recognition of Him by faith. Because He is fixed in us by grace, we shall not know to eternity how much He sub-consciously is living His life through us, so that hundreds of things in daily life do not touch us, daily answering the prayer that He "leads us not into temptation, but delivers us from the evil"; but there are also many daily occasions when we are conscious of temptation and the negative responses in us, and practice the daily repetition of acts of abiding in Him.
It is equally true that we do sin. We go back under the law, into self-effort, and thus into sin. For this, it is the marvel of God's grace that the letter in the New Testament which takes us to the highest summit of holy living as our normal living, John's first epistle ("as He is, so are we in this world"), starts off with very special provision for every deviation from such a walk. John warns us against rationalizations: don't pretend it is not sin, when it is. Call sin sin, the light of God shining in our hearts will quickly enough expose sin to us. Confess it, and the word confession means "saying with", in other words, saying with God that a sin is a sin, when He points it out! The moment we do that, the blood of Jesus Christ is a greater reality than the sin; it is the positive which has swallowed up that negative. It is a permanent fact, shed in history two thousand years ago, ever held in remembrance before the presence of God by "the Lamb as it had been slain".
Faith, therefore, is entitled at once to replace the reality of the sin with the reality of the cleansing; and it does so. No glory is given to God by remaining in the guilt of sin when the cleansing has been provided. Guilt can become a form of pride and false shame-Fancy me doing a thing like that!-instead of recognizing that we are just the people who will always do that kind of thing, when we forget our abiding place. It is right that we should be humbled and ashamed, but it is more right that we should boldly rejoice in the cleansing blood of Jesus. By this means then we "walk and please God": we live our normal lives freely, Christ in the sub-conscious; in moments of need, stress and temptation, these very conditions are the means of quickening faith into action, faith in Christ our real Self-the life of repetition: when we fail to abide, as we do fail, we move back to the immediate efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, just as quickly as we moved out of Christ into sin; and again we go on our way rejoicing.