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The Immersed Imagination, Part 7: Rising Above Law

The last installment of the Hutchmoot session given by Andy P. and me. The last post dug into the false self and its origins; this one continues the same thought and moves into a conclusion. 

A quote from a book by Dan Stone, The Rest of the Gospel (When the Partial Gospel Has Worn You Out): “The false self is a soul-based self. It is the soul operating independently of its Source. I don’t want to minimize the vital role of the soul in God’s economy. The life of God through us must be expressed through the soul. But His life is expressed through a soul dependent upon its Source, not acting independently of it.”

“As an unbeliever our spirit was dead to God, so we became dominated by our soul (psuche in Greek). Our soul was turned toward the world, getting its direction and validation from the external environment. We were a natural man, as Paul called it, living a soul-based (psyche in English) life.”

“Somewhere along the way we got saved and our sins were forgiven. And we wanted to live this thing called the Christian life, but we didn’t know how to live out of our new spirit. So we fell back upon our only other resource: the false self. It knew how to get along in the world. We just made a few adjustments to fit the Christian scene. We were sitting ducks for the how-to books, which told us how to manipulate the false self to make it more effective in getting along.”

“Although having the Holy Spirit in our spirit, we didn’t know about the Holy Spirit living the life of Christ through us. So our mode of operation was the same as for the unbeliever: self-reliance. That’s what the false self is: our attempt to independently operate our own lives. As Christians, the false self even tries to do it for the glory of God.”

George MacDonald expresses a similar thought this way: “It is only where a man is at one with God that he can do the right thing or take the right way. Whatever springs from any other source than the spirit that dwelt in Jesus, is of sin, and works to thwart the divine will.”

Another one from GMac: “The law itself is infinite, reaching to such delicacies of action, that the man who tries most will be the man most aware of defeat. We are not made for law, but for love. Love is law, because it is infinitely more than law. It is of an altogether higher region than law – is, in fact, the creator of law.”

And again: “In order to fulfill the commonest law…we must rise into a loftier region altogether, a region that is above law, because it is spirit and life and makes the law.”

Jesus states in Matthew 5:20, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” He then goes on to make the Law utterly impossible apart from the Spirit of God living in us, empowering us.

C.S. Lewis wrote:

“God made us; invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

I have gone on to read many different writers, but Lewis and MacDonald remain two of my most cherished influences. Lewis took me by the hand as an emotionally troubled child and, through fantasy, showed me what God is like, what love is, what men are meant to be, and the ugliness of evil.  MacDonald continues to  mentor me into a better understanding who I really am in Christ – a dwelling place of God.

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