|- Ray & Doris Prinzing -
"And everyone who has this hope continually set on Him is constantly purifying himself just as that One is pure." [1 John 3:3, Wuest].
"And all of us, as with unveiled face, because we continue to behold and to reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transformed into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord Who is the Spirit." [2 Corinthians 3: 18, Amplified].
Constantly being transformed into His very own image, with the climax coming at the blessed and glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. When we see Him we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is! Not as He was, in the body of His humiliation, nor as He shall yet be in the final consummation of the ages when the Son delivers up the kingdom to the Father, everything ascends to a higher dimension, and God is all in all. But this is the beholding of Him as HE IS right now. That we might be identified fully in His image, it is self-evident that there must be a purifying process being wrought in us now. Every one who has this hope, THE HOPE OF BEING IN HIS VERY OWN IMAGE, is constantly purifying himself just as that One is pure.
There must needs be an ACTIVE CHANGE, due to an active purifying, if we would be identified AS HE IS. There are depths and ramifications to this which are far beyond our present capacities to comprehend, but we are persuaded that HE who hath begun in us a work which is good, shall also bring it to a successful conclusion, to His glory and praise.
Then the natural question arises: what is the process, and how do we purify ourselves? By what means do we attain unto this position in Him?
"If by any means I might ATTAIN unto the out-resurrection from among the dead." [Philippians 3:11].
The word "attain" used here comes from the Greek "katantao" meaning, to come, to arrive. To make it more intensive it has a preposition (kata) attached to it that means DOWN. Hence, a literal translation would make this, "That I may COME DOWN into the out-resurrection from among the dead."
Paul said, "Oh, that I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection, coming down, as Jesus came down...." It is in the COMING DOWN that we find the process whereby we shall attain, or come into His likeness. How often has it been said that "the way up is down." For it is only in the decreasing of our own self-ego and human will that we find the Christ life filling up our being and increasing, until this new life within shall arrive into the fulness of the measure of the stature of Christ. True, if we speak of the ASCENDENCY many are eager and ready to raise up, but it is in the DECREASING that we find the way is straight and the gate so narrow, and few there be that find it. Yet consider the example of our Lord, and how HE came down, that HE might lift us up into Himself.
"He stooped very low, having become obedient to the extent of death, even such a death as that upon the cross." [Philippians 2:8, Wuest].
How far did He come down? He stooped very low, obedient in the way set out before Him even though it included death upon the cross. His very entrance into a body, the creaturely form of His own creation, so that He was found in fashion as a man, this immediately brought Him into the realm of death, for this is a dying, or mortal body. He followed the sojourn through to its very climax, death on the cross. All of this for the one purpose, that HE might deliver us from the power and bondage of death, and restore us back into the higher dimensions of His life. And for this cause He did "by the grace of God, taste death for every man." [Hebrews 2:9].
Now, we are in this state of death, in all its aspects and various ramifications, of which the most noticeable is THE CARNAL MIND, for "to be carnally minded is death." [Romans 8:6], and ''as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." [Proverbs 23:7].
There must needs be a process whereby we can be freed from the carnal mind, and where the "thinking process" within us can be changed INTO THE MIND OF CHRIST, if we shall ever be identified AS HE IS. The only way that the carnal mind can be dealt with is through the death process, and so there is a coming down in complete conformity to HIS death, and then arising in HIS resurrection.
First and foremost the purifying process is wrought by GOD, by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, through the sovereignty of His grace. If ever we shall be fully cleansed and purified, it shall be accomplished by the Spirit of God as His grace is freely given us. THE INWORKING IS GOD'S!
"By mercy and truth iniquity is purged." [Proverbs 16:6].
MERCY is the Old Testament term that harmonizes with the New Testament usage of GRACE, for it bespeaks of that glorious, divine influence, the outflow of His love, unmerited, undeserved, but which sovereignly comes to us to work in us of His decreed transformation.
AND TRUTH―praise His name! "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." [John 8:32]. Free of all the error and tradition of man, free of all the carnal-mindedness of the old realm of the Adamic nature, that we might be renewed into the pure mind of Christ.
"The blood of the Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, shall PURGE YOUR CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God." [Hebrews 9:14].
Now, with this solid foundation, knowing that it is HIS GRACE, HIS TRUTH, HIS CLEANSING BLOOD, all of it being His sovereign inworking, with this established firm in our hearts and minds, then we can go on to add and blend in the other scriptures which bring a beautiful balance. "For we are labourers together with God." [1 Corinthians 3:9]. Therefore "work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His own good pleasure." [Philippians 2: 12-13].
Once again we have a "WHEEL WITHIN A WHEEL," for our cycle of actively purifying ourselves is contained within the greater cycle of His will and purpose which is accomplished by His grace and power.
Paul so wisely blends the whole together when he says that we are to WORK OUT our salvation, FOR (because) it is God who works within us. WE WORK OUT WHAT HE HAS ALREADY WORKED IN, and we can only live and express outwardly according as to how it has been worked in. We cannot express something which He first has not yet wrought in us. God deliver us from all condemnation of ourselves, and of others, and teach us to pray for more grace, and much more of HIS INWORKING. As He has wrought a thing in us, until it becomes apart of our very being, then it is self-evident that we are able to work it out, i.e. express it through our daily living. Our sphere of living is within the circle and working of His grace, not outside of it. We cannot take a forward step until He reveals what that step is to be. It is after we have received the revelation from Him that we are able to walk in the light of that revelation. And it is that time interval of receiving new light, and then giving obedience to that light, that sin lies at the door. Quick obedience to live what He imparts brings us from glory to glory, changing until we shall be like HIM.
"Having purified your souls by means of your obedience to the truth" [1 Peter 1:22, Wuest].
Purification wrought through― by the means of ―our obedience to the truth. Obedience leads into death, death of all the carnal mind, so that we might rise up with the mind of Christ. The obedience of the MAN CHRIST JESUS to the will of the Father brought Him even unto the death of the Cross. This low He stooped, that He might embrace the lowest of the low of humanity's race, and then lift the whole upward again into the fulness of the life of God. Obedience to the truth in our lives also means THE ACTIVE OPERATION OF THE CROSS as it speaks death to the carnal mind.
"The weapons of our warfare are not human but mighty in God's sight, resulting in demolition of fortresses, demolishing reasonings and every haughty mental elevation which lifts itself up against the experimental which we believers have of God, and leading captive every thought into the obedience to the Christ, and being in readiness to discipline every careless, apathetic hearing of and disobedience to the Word." [2 Corinthians 10: 46, Wuest].
Our work in purifying ourselves, as labourers together with God in our salvation, is that work of bringing every thought, every reasoning, every haughty mental elevation, into the obedience to the truth. It is our obedience which makes experimental the truths which the Spirit reveals.
It takes the sovereignty of His grace to reveal the truth, and it also takes the sovereignty of His grace to give you the ability to live it, but inasmuch as that grace is freely given, then it is our responding obedience which takes that revealed truth and makes it an experimental reality.
Some might think that when a sacrifice is in their heart that it is just as great as when it has been worked out, but this is not always the case. Oftentimes God does deal with us just to bring us to the state of being WILLING, and then does not require the act to be executed. But there are times when faith is proven by the following works. Salvation for all His creation was in the heart of God before the ages began, but it will bring astounding glory to His name when it is fully worked out into manifestation. I dare say, if it is truly in the heart, a part of our very nature and motivation, then it will have to eventually be expressed, as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
God does judge us according to what is in our heart, even as Jesus said, "Whosoever looketh upon a woman, to lust after her in his heart, is guilty of adultery." Why? Because if this thing is actually there in the heart, all it requires is for opportunity and desire to meet, and the expression comes. We find therefore that GOD DOES DEAL WITH THE HEART, and many a sacrifice is made deep within the heart, that is not consummated outwardly simply because GOD does not provide the opportunity for its expression. But, if that opportunity does come, and then the sacrifice is not immediately made, it is a clear witness of the fact that it was not truly in the heart to begin with. Sometimes God has to put us to the test, simply to prove to US what is in, or is not in our own heart. Sure, He already knows, but we don't, hence the proving is for our benefit.
James wrote, "I will shew thee my faith by my works." [James 2:18]. Abraham had a heart towards God, and gave obedience all the way, thus when he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, he did so. The altar was made, the fuel laid out, and Isaac was bound to the altar. With the knife in his hand, and his arm raised to strike the blow, Abraham was in the very process of slaying his son, until GOD STOPPED THE OPPORTUNITY. He had gone far enough in all of his actions to prove that in his heart the deed was done, he was willing to carry his obedience to the full, and so God worked a purpose rare. "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was FAITH MADE PERFECT (brought to the full)." [James 2:22].
Yes, obedience to what God speaks into our own heart will also result in an experimental reality, an outworking of the truth that He has worked in. Furthermore, our obedience needs to be to the VOICE OF THE SPIRIT WITHIN, not just to some man's creed. There are many who would give you their standard, and insist that you obey their traditions and dogmas, but we read again, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. ―And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." [John 10:27, 5].
Not only is the voice of the stranger speaking of that whole realm without, of the world, and there be many voices in the world, but it also speaks of the voice of your own carnal mind. The carnal mind is a STRANGER to the mind of Christ. Sometimes the voice of the stranger, and the voice of the Shepherd are both within― but the SHEEP KNOW what is the voice or the Shepherd. The sheep, those growing unto spiritual maturity, will know the voice of the Spirit of God, and they give obedience to Him, thus speaking death to the voice of the carnal mind. As long as you listen to, give attention to the carnal mind, you will not bring about its decrease and ultimate demise. Obedience to the truth automatically speaks death to error, as far as you personally are concerned.
Thus, our part in the purification process, is for us to "gird up the loins of our mind, to be sober (or, well-balanced), and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." [1 Peter 1:13].
Wuest: "Wherefore, having put out of the way once for all everything that would impede the free action of your mind, be calm and collected in spirit, and set your hope perfectly, wholly, and unchangeably, without doubt and despondency, upon the grace that is being brought to you upon the occasion of the revelation of Jesus Christ."
One cannot give full obedience until first they have girded up the loins of their mind to that God-given truth. The CHRIST WITHIN will reveal the truth, this is the sovereign work of His grace, then we become part of the work as we gird up our mind to that truth.
Earlier in the chapter we gave the scripture (Hebrews 9:14) on how the blood of Christ would "PURGE OUR CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God." Now let us consider this and blend it into our subject.
When we read of "the blood of Christ," it is not referring just to natural blood as we know it, red fluid that flows through our veins. The word "Christ" means ANOINTED, or ANOINTING, and in referring to our Lord Jesus Christ, means THE ANOINTED ONE. Therefore the term "blood of Christ" speaks of a spiritized dimension. "In Him we live, and move, and have our being." [Acts 17:28], that part is very wonderful, but it is balanced with another truth, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." [Colossians 1:27]. The indwelling SPIRIT OF CHRIST will take this DIVINE LIFE FREELY GIVEN FOR US, and as a cleansing power will purge our conscience.
Consider a natural illustration for a beautiful spiritual application. It is the blood, flowing through our veins, that carries the oxygen to the brain. The first thing doctors fear of one who has suffered a great loss of blood is the possibility of brain damage. Now, as the LIFE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD flows through us, He brings to our mind, to our remembrance the truths of God. Every truth or word of revelation bespeaks of an uncovering, unfolding, a revealing of that which has been buried for the ages, hidden in the bosom of the Spirit. For IN CHRIST are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3). Now He takes that wisdom and knowledge and brings it to our mind, AS HE SOVEREIGNLY GIVES US INWARD COMPREHENSION. Man can rehearse his doctrines back and forth until you also can quote them by rote, but .until God quickens them to you on the inside, you have no real comprehension of them. As the holy Spirit, the lifeline of the new man, flows through you, even as the blood flows through your natural body, it carries with it divine revelation and imparts it to your mind. At the same time, it also carries away from your mind more of the impurities of old carnal thought. Thus the cleansing process of the blood of Christ, bringing to us new revelation and carrying away the old traditions. What a tremendous purging for the conscience of man!
The word "conscience" comes from a Greek word meaning A KNOWING WITH ONE'S SELF. Once all our knowing was after the mind of the flesh, but as the Spirit flows through us, bringing the truth which dislodges the error, and replaces it with the mind of Christ, we find that we are being PURGED. What we once knew we know no longer. What was once very unknown and foreign to us is now becoming common knowledge. What a transformation is being wrought by the very renewing of our minds.
With this process actively working in us, we need to be diligent to keep our minds girded up to the truth only, and not allow any former fragments of the carnal mind to return to mar or destroy. "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." [John 10:10].
Again we are reminded that "to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne..." [Revelation 3:21]. While the Spirit of Christ works within to bring impartations of divine revelation, and to carry away the debris of the carnal mind, there remains for us that ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in girding up our mind to the truth which He reveals. God will impart to us the strength for this, if we seek to do His will. We might religiously sing, "To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask, to be like Him..." and then carelessly go on our way thinking every carnal-minded thought that the spirit of the world would whisper into our ear, and then wonder why we are not becoming more Christ-like.
As a part of the positive outworking of this process, on our part, Paul writes, "Whatsoever things are true... honest... pure... lovely... of good report... THINK ON THESE THINGS." [Philippians 4:8].
The Amplified translation gives a good view here, "if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things-fix your minds on them."
Yes, as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. If you think negation, you will become negative. Think Christ-centered thoughts, and you will become Christ-centered, identified more and more in Him.
"If a man therefore PURGE HIMSELF FROM THESE, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work." [2 Timothy 2:21].
Purge himself from these― what are the "these"? Go back in the context to verse 16, "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." To shun is to beware, avoid, go around, push aside. While the phrase "vain babblings" comes from the Greek meaning an EMPTY SOUND. How weary we have become with so many of the empty sounds which the world calls conversation. Shun the vain babblings, because to go head on into them is to be forced to grapple with them, and they will turn you away from the central supremacy of Christ. Wuest gives, "― unhallowed and empty discussions, give them a wide berth, for they will progress to more impiety towards God." Surely where true revelation ends, carnal minded speculation begins, and will easily cause us to be turned away from the truth.
"Questionings that come from an uninstructed and un-disciplined mind be refusing, knowing that they constantly beget contentions." [2 Timothy 2:23, Wuest]. Yes, let "this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" as we read in Philippians 2:5, for as His mind works in us, and all our thoughts are brought into conformity to the truth of His mind, it will work in us that complete transformation, until we shall truly be "like ones to Him."
Purified as the Christ is pure,
This process we would embrace,
Laboring together with our God,
Responding to His grace.
No more to think negation's realm,
For His blood cleanses every trace,
Demolishing the carnal mind
That His mind might fill its place.
Purified by obedience
To the truth which He doth impart,
Coming down to share in His death
Till He conquers every part.
Henceforth to shun the empty sounds
Of the world's vain babblings,
But in the quiet place to hear
The pure Spirit's whisperings.
As His truth transforms the soul,
Each thought formation girded up
And balanced by His control.
Preparing for the blessed hour
When like ones to Him we'll be,
Identified just as He is―
Writings in This Series: