“We struggle and labor and fight in faith, because we have not yet discerned between soul and spirit, the hallmark of the mature. We are constantly moved in the sense (soul) realm by the impact of the visible. We ‘see’ this and that failing or lack. We ‘feel’ depression. We ‘hear’ an unceasing stream of unbelieving talk. All this affects our minds and conditions and we seem to have pressing down upon us a mountain of oppression, darkness, inability to maintain our grip on the invisible. We struggle, we strive, and the best we can do is dumbly, without feeling or sight, to “cling-heaven by the hems;” and the worst which we more often do, is to let faith go for a season.

The reason for all this is that we are still believing the lies of the senses, in place of the truths of the Spirit. For those who are still servants to the senses, what the senses convey is not a lie, but truth. But those who have crucified the flesh, who have attended their own personal funeral so far as accepting any more the sense interpretation of things, the outward appearances, who have celebrated their own resurrection as servants of the Spirit, accepting His revelations of truth, to such what the eyes see, what folks sense, what the emotions feel, are wholly suspect; and where such sights and sayings and feelings oppose faith, are treated as lying suggestions. They are exposed, they are renounced. No attention is paid to them; they are seen to belong to the realm of the soul, that is to the self in its relation to things earthly and bodily. But we are of the Spirit; our spirits, the self in relation to things spiritual are joined to His Spirit: and in that new nature of reality we steadily affirm and maintain our immersion in all light, substance and power, and that it will be manifested for us according to need.”




We humans are symbolized in the Scriptures as being containers, expressor, developers, but not originators. We have our “being” in Him (Acts 17:28)—the quantity, the potential (much like a computer). But then also, the quality of what is expressed by our being is not we, but He in His nature (like the programmer of the computer). Thus He is named “All in all”—not just the One being invisible, but having derived created beings by whom He can express His Allness. Not just the “All,” but also “in all,” which is why the coming of His Son taking flesh, and now, in the resurrection, still being “the man Christ Jesus,” confirms the eternal truth as being the Person in the persons, and not some vague dissolution of essence into essence as in a religion without an incarnate Christ.

These symbols used to describe us humans are all those which express no nature of their own but the nature of that to which they are attached Vessels contain the liquid, but are not the liquid; the cup is not the coffee. We don’t speak of a cup and coffee. So we are branches, but the branch is not the nature. Rather the nature is that of the vine which reproduces itself in leaf and fruit form on the branch. Thus in Romans 6:20-22, we were bearing fruit for which we are now ashamed, but now the same branch (no difference in that) is bearing “fruit unto holiness”—solely vine-nature expressed by the branch, which has no separate nature of its own.

We are called temples. In the Old Covenant days that could have been the tabernacle by which God manifested Himself in Shekinah Glory, or alternatively a temple of Baal. The emphasis is not the nature of the temple, but of the deity who manifests himself by it. And now in the New Covenant, our bodies are the temple of the Spirit, and God is spoken of as “dwelling in us and walking in us” (2 Corinthians 6:16). We are called “slaves” (mistranslated in the King James Version as “servants”). But a slave has no operating nature of his own in relation to his owner, and solely reproduces the activities of his owner, whether of Satan (sin) or Christ (righteousness) (Romans 6:16). We are the wives reproducing the nature (seed) of the husband and in that sense with only the husband’s nature (Romans 7:4, 5).

“It’s as simple as this”
Norman Grubb


When the writer to the Hebrews wrote about there being a “rest to the people of God”, he defined it as being a ceasing from our own works. Not from work, of course: that is an impossibility; but from works proceeding from self-effort. In other words sharing God’s rest does not mean ceasing from work, any more than our ever-active God ceases, but resting in our work. Work which has rest at its centre is work from adequacy; work which has strain at its centre (the kind we are most accustomed to) is work from inadequacy. If you go to a store to buy ten dollars worth of goods with only one dollar in your pocket, you buy from strain: if you go with twenty, you buy from rest!

If our activities are dependent on our own resources, we work from strain; if upon His, we work from rest. That is also the “second rest” Jesus spoke of in Matt. 11:28-30. He worked from rest, He was so evidently relaxed. Why? Because in lowliness of heart He thoroughly knew His human nothingness, and therefore could also know His indwelling Father’s allness; and being meek of heart, He knew how to abide in His Father in times of stress, rather than rushing off to handle situations His own way. So He now says to us: “You are in my service, so learn the secret of rest in work from Me, learn the meaning of meekness and lowliness of heart. If you do that, you will rest, not only in your spirits from the past burden of your sins and their dominion over you, but also in your souls from the emotional stresses of daily living (ye shall find rest unto your souls’); and then you will be able to prove what now seems a paradox as I say it: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’, when the normal experience is that a yoke is hard to pull and a burden heavy to carry.” God gave me that word personally thirty years ago when I had to take up responsibility in the mission to which I belong. “Watch”, He said to me. “Whenever your yoke is hard to pull, or your burden heavy to carry, you are off beam. Get on beam again!” I have found that an excellent barometer!

Discerning Between Soul and Spirit
Now the Hebrews writer takes this further when he distinctly connects the experience of this rest with ability to discern between soul and spirit (Heb. 4:9-12); and my experience is that a great many of God’s people are confused and frustrated, and live in a great deal of false condemnation, because they have not learned this distinction.

Modern psychology has invented its own vocabulary for what it considers are the subdivisions of the human personality, such as the subconscious, the id, the super-ego, and so on. But God gave us His own definition and analysis centuries ago, and that will never be bettered.

Man, the Bible says, is tripartite–spirit, soul and body: and in that order of importance (1 Thess. 5:23). In the Hebrews passage, however, it stresses that the difference between soul and spirit is very subtle, and indeed can only be recognized by inner revelation. Only the word of God, it says, applied as the sharp sword of the Spirit to the human consciousness, can pierce “even” to that depth, sever between the two, and give soul and spirit their proper evaluation; only so can we recognize the proper function of each without mistaking the one for the other, and thus enable the human personality to move forward in gear and remain there. And further to underline the depths to which it is piercing, the writer uses the analogy of “the joints and marrow”, likening soul and spirit to the joints which give the bony structure of the body its flexibility in action, and the marrow which is the inner life of the bones.

Spirit:The Real Self
The first essential is a clear recognition of the human spirit as the real self, the ego within us. Soul and body are the clothing or means of expression of the spirit. “God is spirit”, said Jesus. God is the primal Self of all selves, the I AM, therefore self is spirit: and God is called in this same letter “the Father of spirits”, the human ego made in His image. The human spirit is sometimes described as that part of us which can know God. But it is more than that. It is the essential ego, my human “I am”. The Bible tells us that it is our spirits that know ourselves: “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” When I say, “I myself”, the I is the spirit, the ego which can look out from within, as it were, and knows the myself, the rest of me (soul and body). The dying Savior on the cross commended His spirit (His true self) into His Father’s hands. The saints awaiting the physical resurrection are spoken of as “spirits of just men made perfect”, for the true self is spirit.

The self, the human spirit, has three basic faculties–heart, mind and will. The word heart, a term often used in the Bible, is borrowed by analogy from the fact that the heart is the physical centre of the body. It indicates that love is the centre. God being love, that which He fathered in His own image is compounded of love. Love is the fountainhead of the ego. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” The human spirit is love, self-love through the false union in the Fall; and when joined to Christ by grace, God’s selfless love expressed through the human love-faculty.

Mind, the second faculty, is that by which we know things. Not what we think about things, any more than love is what we feel about things, but the means by which we know them. “We have the mind of Christ”; that is why we know Him. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God.” Ideas belong to the soul realm, knowledge belongs to the spirit. Many know about Christ, they have ideas about Him–that is the soul: it is something different to know Him–that is spirit. The human spirit is the knower. When the divine Spirit is united by grace to the human spirit, He shares His knowing with us.

The third faculty of the spirit is the will, where the choices are made under the direction of heart (love) and mind (knowledge). At this point the spirit (the ego) moves into action, expressed through soul and body. The will is the arbiter of our destiny. If the choice is for God (such choosing being the compulsions of grace), then the will of the divine Spirit takes over in our spirits, and God with His good, perfect and acceptable will works in us to will and do of His good pleasure. The will of the Spirit issues in the activities of soul and body, the willing motivates the doing; but it is now God’s will through our wills.
Here is the human spirit, the human ego, in its entirety–heart, mind, will: love, knowledge, choice.

Soul: Emotions and Reason
Now we reach the important point. In what does the soul differ from the spirit? It is the means by which the invisible spirit expresses itself. God, the invisible Spirit, reveals Himself through the Son, “the express image of His person”, “the image of the invisible God”, “the brightness of His glory”. This relationship of Son to Father can help us to understand the relationship of soul to spirit. Thought, word and deed are another trinity, in which the word clothes the thought and gives expression to it. In this same way the soul is the emotions or affections by which love is expressed, the feelings, warm or cold, pleasant or unpleasant. The spirit is mind, the knower. The soul is the reasoning faculty by which the mind can explain its knowledge: “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you”, there is soul explaining spirit.

Now unless we have a clear differentiation between the properties of these two, we can get into a great deal of trouble, because the soul is the intermediary between ourselves and the world; and it not only channels the spirit to the world, but has the reflex activity of channeling the world back to the spirit. Emotion and reason are wide open, not only to our spirits, but to the world around. Our emotions, therefore, can be very variable. We may like this, or dislike that. This may appeal to us, that repel us–either things or people. We may feel exalted at one moment or abased at another; dry at one time, fresh at another; fervent or apathetic; bold or fearful; compassionate or indifferent. If, therefore, we confuse soul with spirit, we quickly fall into false condemnation. Why are my feelings so variable? Why do I feel cold, dry, far from God? Something is wrong. Why do I dislike this person, or resent this happening? I am wrong with God somewhere.

Soul-Reactions are Variable
I am flagellating myself in vain. Soul is variable, spirit invariable. In my spirit joined to His Spirit, I live with an unchanging and unchangeable Christ, and am myself equally unchanging by faith. I am not my soul feelings. I am spirit. But if we had not sensitive souls, we could not be affected by the cross current of human living; we should not be humans. We are to be affected by them, but not governed by them, just as He was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities”.

We must be discerning. Many of our soul-emotions are illusory. We are allowing ourselves to be influenced by external appearances. We feel spiritually cold, dead, apathetic, hard, dry. We feel we need inner revival. No we don’t. All we need is not to be fooled by our souls! The well of living water has not stopped springing up within us, the living bread in our spirits has not gone stale, the fire of the Spirit (with whom we have been baptized at our regeneration) has not burned low. Look within where you and He really are, spirit with Spirit. There is no change. Don’t be fooled by the color of your clothing–your soul feelings. You and He in you have not changed.

Indeed we shall have those kinds of feelings, and God intends that we should have, to stabilize us in the walk of faith. They are useful in driving us back to Him in our spirits. As we learn to walk more steadily in Him, we shall find ourselves less and less bothered by that type of soul-feeling. A whole lot of the hunger people say they have, or need of spiritual refreshment, is at bottom because they are mistaking soul-reactions for spirit-facts. The Reviver is already and always within! There would be much less talk of revival among Christians, if we had learned to walk in “vival”–in the fact of the unchanging life which is the real we, Christ in us.

There are many soul-reactions which we are meant to have, so long as we understand them. Jesus said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death”. He then said in Gethsemane: “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” So Jesus was conscious of a contrary will. Was He wrong? He knew the difference between soul and spirit. With His human soul, He was meant to feel all that was involved in becoming our sin-bearer, and He did. But equally He knew that that was not His real self. His true will was His Father’s will within Him, in His spirit. His soul-will was the necessary effect of the satanic pressures on Him for our sakes; but that merely drove Him to the three hours of bloody sweat when His spirit-will, His Father’s will in Him, so dominated His soul that He could walk that awful Calvary path as a King.

Will: An Aspect of Spirit
Many a time believers are confused in this respect. They feel they won’t be willing for this or that, if demanded of them, or that they are now not willing. Quite so. They are not meant to be. In their souls they are meant to shrink and refuse. That is the natural and right impact of an unpleasant situation on us.

But that is not the real we or the real will. The real will is down in our spirits where “it is God that worketh in us to will . . . of His good pleasure.” We should not even ask people if they are willing. We cannot be. We should say, “You will never be willing. Self cannot give up self. But you can affirm in faith that God in you will will His will, and will take you along with Him.”
Recently a lady was talking with me, greatly distressed because she had lost her husband. She loved and served the Lord, but she said she could not accept this blow from His hands, and was rebellious. When the difference between soul and spirit had been explained to her, and that her feelings of distress and unwillingness to accept were just normal, but were not the real self in her; and that she could honestly tell the Lord what she felt, but that, in spite of it, she could affirm against her feelings that the Lord’s way is always perfect, all came clear.

In our spirits we are undifferentiated. That is where we are all one person in Christ. In our souls we all vary, and are meant to. That is why the salvation of our souls is a necessity, because it is through the infinite variety of our souls that all the glories of Christ will be seen, each of us manifesting some different facet of His unsearchable riches.

But variety means contrast without contradiction. Colors vary, we say clash, but all combine in the amazing spectrum of color beauty. Music the same. There are disharmonies, but all compose the one great harmony of sound. And so with individuals. One person appeals to us, one doesn’t. One we naturally like, one we dislike. Then we feel condemned. Should I not also like that one? Liking is a soul response, loving a spirit response. I love one whom I don’t like. He does not appeal to me, I say; but God loves him, and God loves him in and through me. In taking that position, I have moved back, without condemnation, from soul to spirit.

Reason: A Faculty of Soul
Just as through our emotions we express love, so through our reasons we express knowledge; and reasons vary, as emotions do. Through the reasoning faculty of the soul we can explain to others what we know, and others explain to us. I cannot know what you know. That is beyond my reach–in your spirit. What you know is peculiarly your own, part of yourself. You cannot share that. But you can give me explanations of your knowledge, which I can in turn discuss with you, and it may be that I too will come to know for myself.

My reasoning faculty, therefore, in my soul, is open to all kinds of questionings. Like my emotions, it is open to the two-way influences–of my spirit from within, of the world and men from without. That is why in my soul I may have uncertainty at the same time as my spirit has certainty.
One of the best illustrations of that was the father who brought his afflicted son to Jesus. When Jesus said to him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth”, his honest answer was, “Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief”! As he looked at Jesus, and knew the kind of things He had done, down in his spirit he believed, and said so. But as he turned and looked at his son lying foaming on the ground, the reasoning faculty of his soul raised questions, and he was honest enough to acknowledge it. But that did not alter his basic faith. His spirit did battle with his soul and would not submit to its questionings; he fought doubt by affirming faith (“Lord, I believe”), and by asking for help against doubt (“help Thou my unbelief”–although he got the wording a bit mixed up!). The proof that faith swallowed up doubt, and spirit mastered soul, was that he got the deliverance.

From Soul-Doubt to Spirit-Faith
It is not wrong for the reasoning faculty of the soul to question and doubt, any more than it is wrong for the emotions to have their varied reactions. In fact the soul reactions are the means of stirring the spirit into action. I have already pointed out that doubt and uncertainty are the seedplot of faith, for we can never ultimately prove anything. That is what puts passion into faith. Coming to certain conclusions in heart and mind, we deliberately believe what we cannot prove. Faith is heart and mind committal. The only certainty possible to faith is the certainty of faith.

Doubt and questioning, therefore, is a normal condition of the reason, of the soul, and we must avoid the false condemnation of thinking that there is something wrong with us in that condition. Unbelief is a different matter, for unbelief is not of soul, but of spirit. Unbelief means that, in my inner self, I have decided I will not believe a certain thing. I have allowed my soul-doubts to capture my spirit and enslave my will.

When we understand this balance between the spirit of faith and the uncertainties of reason, and how the reasoning faculty is given us to face squarely all the various possibilities that confront us in life, then we enter with zest into life’s dialogues. Is a thing this? Is it that? We are not afraid of the cold winds of skepticism. We are not shaken by questions that seem to disturb our faith. We weigh things up and admit our ignorance’s and inabilities to produce our proofs.

But we don’t live in the reasoning’s of our souls. We move back to where we really are–in our spirits. There, in the place where eternal decisions are made, we affirm what we know and are–by faith. Where reason has helped to clarify and confirm, we are strengthened and thankful, and are more ready to share those reasons with others. Where reason raises questions, we are always willing to consider and learn and adjust; but we never permit it to cross the bridge which is forbidden to it, the bridge of revelation from the Other Side, which has become the bridge of faith, the bridge which is nothing to do with rational concepts, but is a Living Person. In that sense opposing reasons are also our friends, because they only serve to stiffen the sinews of faith. “Whether He be a sinner or no, I know not: but one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see”.

Our souls, therefore, whether in the emotions or reason, are the agents of our spirits, our real selves. They express Him who is the indwelling Spirit in our spirits: whether in the old life, the spirit of error; or in the new, the Spirit of truth. This means that, when it was the spirit of self-love in the old life, what our souls felt or thought in their selfish reactions was largely allowed to govern our spirits: if we didn’t like a thing, we didn’t like it, and so forth. But in the new life, when our souls channel in world impressions, our likes and dislikes, our doubts and skepticisms, we no longer permit soul to govern spirit; gradually spirit masters soul, so that it becomes more and more fixed as a reflector of God’s Spirit.



So many people struggle with their past and for many it isn’t pleasant. Tracey and I have talked with men and women who have been abused, been the abusers, had abortions, divorces, addictions, murder, death, betrayal, broken families, etc. Even though all of these things are horrible and painful, the truth is they are in the past. Living in the past is a dangerous place to be and there is nothing you can do about it because it’s as good as it is going to get, whether it’s what you have done or what’s been done to you.

Thinking through life’s problems is a bit like whittling. As you look closer and closer at the problem you will discover what lies at the root is sin. Just who are you anyway? I mean what makes you think you should have it any better than someone else? Are you special? Unique? Or are you just as good a candidate for trouble as the next guy?

When talking about sin, I have discovered there are no favorites and no one is excluded. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The big question then isn’t so much what particular flavor our sin is rather what do we do now that we have identified it? The Bible tells us “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Well, that sounds fine and good but I can’t stop thinking about it.

There are two sides to this subject. One side is the need for us to find forgiveness for our sins and the other is the need for us to forgive those who have sinned against us. This sounds like the prayer Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” I think these two go together because it is only when we truly receive forgiveness that we can give it. As long as we struggle with whether or not we ourselves are forgiven, we simply cannot forgive others. I think this is where many live their lives.

Let’s walk through this for a minute. Okay, let’s say you commit a sin such as stealing, lying or even murder and you come with a broken heart and accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness provided by His death, burial and resurrection. You’re heart is made light, your burden is gone and the life of God’s Spirit floods into your spirit. You’re born again! Then someone does something to you, or you remember something from long ago that hurt you deeply, now what?

Jesus told a story in Matthew 18 about a servant who had his debt cancelled but he refused to cancel the debt of someone who owed him. Since he refused to forgive, Jesus said, “his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.” You see when we refuse to forgive others it’s really us who pay the price. The torment of unforgiveness will eat you up inside. Let me walk you through this briefly. Here’s the way this generally works: someone offends you, you don’t forgive them, you become bitter over time and eventually a hardness of heart sets in. The further along this path you go the more difficult it will be to turn around. My suggestion is to simply forgive others. If you don’t do it on any other basis, simply do it because of the great debt you have been forgiven.

Sometimes we can ask for forgiveness and not receive it because forgiveness doesn’t always come with a feeling. We simply have to believe God’s word even if we don’t “feel” forgiven. In fact, sometimes condemnation sets in and we go under it and find ourselves hating ourselves. Norman Grubb said in “The Deep Things of God”, “we must not stay, even temporarily, under condemnation, when Satan has caught us out. It is the easiest thing to do, and our distressed feelings are really self-pity and pride. It is not so much that we have grieved the Lord that disturbs us, as that we have failed. The acceptance of condemnation is a form of self-righteousness. God has told us, when we sin, to get quickly to the light, recognize and confess the sin, and then He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse our consciences from all sense of unrighteousness…To remain in condemnation, therefore, is really disobedience and hurt self.”

In the end, forgiveness is a choice. Either we decide to receive forgiveness for ourselves and forgive others, or we don’t, it’s as simple as that. The good news is through the work of the cross we can have our sins forgiven and not only that we can turn around and forgive others too. After all, this is what the cross is all about. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).




  “Supposing I have accepted this Bible revelation of God as a fact, and the revealed facts are these: God in Himself is nothing but love: we humans are created in His image so that the true ground of our being is the God who is love: but, in the misuse of our freedom, we have turned our backs on our true being in Him, and have been caught up in the illusion of independence and self-loving selves: God has regained us for Himself by becoming one of us as Jesus the Christ: Jesus, as God in the flesh and representing the human race who have their being in Him, by the predetermined plan of God, accepted a death at our hands.

   This death, in our stead, has removed the inevitability of our “death” (everlasting separation from the God of our being), has cleansed away the guilt of our sin-life (continual breakings of the law of love), and has delivered us from “the wrath to come” (the unavoidable effect of our rebellion against the love-law of the universe). Raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, the resurrection was the evidence that all that had to be done in our stead has been done; therefore, we can regard ourselves in God’s sight as those who are without sin, justified, righteous in Christ’s righteousness.

   But also this death, as being we who died on that cross, has cut us off from the spirit of self-centeredness, that false god which had immersed humanity in his great delusion, for death is separation of a body from its spirit: and this resurrection, it being we who were buried with Him and raised with Him, was the Spirit of self-giving, the Spirit of love, the God who is that Spirit joining Himself to us, removing the hindrance (the false possessor) to our discovering Him as the God of our being.


Taken from Norman Grubb’s “The Spontaneous you”



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The only answer is this one: that I recognize that self-centered independence is a perversion, a breakaway from the union with the self-giving God for which I was created, and that, therefore, in that condition I can never reach beyond my own self-interest; but I also recognize that God, and He only, the Trinity-in-unity, is love unlimited; and that God through Christ has made a way by which He reunites himself permanently to me. Then in this spontaneous unity, I begin to be this same self-giving love—unlimited: and I am no longer just myself, but I have found the real I in me to be He, and I His means of self expression.

I now need to ask, how can I make this a practical reality? Supposing I have accepted this Bible revelation of God as a fact, and the revealed facts are these: God in Himself is nothing but love: we humans are created in His image so that the true ground of our being is the God who is love: but, in the misuse of our freedom, we have turned our backs on our true being in Him, and have been caught up in the illusion of independence and self-loving selves: God has regained us for Himself by becoming one of us as Jesus the Christ: Jesus, as God in the flesh and representing the human race who have their being in Him, by the predetermined plan of God, accepted a death at our hands.

This death, in our stead, has removed the inevitability of our “death” (everlasting separation from the God of our being), has cleansed away the guilt of our sin-life (continual breakings of the law of love), and has delivered us from “the wrath to come” (the unavoidable effect of our rebellion against the love-law of the universe). Raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, the resurrection was the evidence that all that had to be done in our stead has been done; therefore, we can regard ourselves in God’s sight as those who are without sin, justified, righteous in Christ’s righteousness.

But also this death, as being we who died on that cross, has cut us off from the spirit of self-centeredness, that false god which had immersed humanity in his great delusion, for death is separation of a body from its spirit: and this resurrection, it being we who were buried with Him and raised with Him, was the Spirit of self-giving, the Spirit of love, the God who is that Spirit joining Himself to us, removing the hindrance (the false possessor) to our discovering Him as the God of our being.

Taken from “The Spontaneous You” by Norman Grubb


Norman Grubb
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We have, therefore, to delve deeper to get this into right perspective. We have already said that law can be defined as the way things work, and they don’t work any other way. At the creation only one law was given to man (the way man works)—the law of receptivity—“eat”. But man obeyed that simplest of all laws in reverse, by eating of the tree of self-sufficiency.

Now the situation changed. Instead of eating of the right tree and receiving Him who is love and who would live the love-life through him (which is the fulfillment of all law), he had been taken captive by the huge delusion that he could manage his own life. So now the history of law in our fallen world begins. God in mercy and grace meets man on his new blinded level and says in effect, “You can live your own life? Very well, here is the law. Man is made to love God with all his heart, mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself. Obey it.”

In other words, God institutes an elementary and external form of law, suitable to man’s condition—the form of “do this and you will live”. Twice in the Scriptures it is called man’s elementary religion: “we, when we were children, were in bondage to the elements (rudiments) of the world…under the law”: and “wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments (elements) of the world, why…are ye subject to ordinances, Touch not; taste not; handle not?”

Law, therefore, was the first form of God’s grace, because it imposed an impossibility on man—that the selfish one should be selfless—and gave him the chance of discovering his truly lost condition.

Man’s response to law has been twofold. The first response damns, the second opens the door to salvation. The first response is hypocrisy, the second honesty. Hypocrisy means pretending to be what we are not. All men, including ourselves, have done that. We have sought to build our own righteousness and maintain our own respectability by pretending we keep God’s law, by keeping a very little of it where convenient: a little religion, a little ethics, and so on. What we really do is to display the one or two commands we do keep, but carefully hide the dozens we break. We cling to an eleventh commandment—Thou shalt not be found out! This attitude finally damns us, because it is not ultimately sin that damns; God has provided for that; it is dishonesty, refusal to admit and confess sin. “This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light…and hateth the light, neither cometh to the light.”

Man’s other response to law is honesty. Recognition that we are all law-breakers. That is the one capacity we have—recognition and admission of fact. That is what Jesus meant in the parable of the Sower, when he said the good seed fell into an “honest and good heart”.

Taken from “God Unlimited” by Norman Grubb