God's Promises to the Hidden Man
VI. God's Promises to the Hidden Man
All this sounds very good. But it raises a perplexing question. How is it possible for God to tell us to lose our old identities through sacrificing our "earthly desires" on one hand, and tell us to believe Him for the fulfilment of our desires on the other? This doesn't make sense.
Doesn't God fear that if He tells us to believe Him for our needs and desires that it will just reinforce our love for this world? Besides, how can we tell whether our desires are from Him or of ourselves? How can Jesus tell us to hate this life and then tell us to pray with gusto for anything we desire? (Lk. 14:26; Mk. 11:23-24.)
These questions are not obstacles to God. They only reveal the fear of conflict we endure between who we once were and who we are called to become. They point the way to the difference between the way God sees us and the way we see ourselves. And so they point the way for God's strategy for saving us and perfecting our identity. Let's watch the marvel of how this unfolds...
Most of us have a fair theological understanding about the difference between our "old man" and our "new man." In practice however we really make no distinction. We see ourselves as a single composite person. We all use the word "I.” We say, "I go to the store." In so saying, we make no distinction between our old man and new man. We don't think to ourselves, "My new man is going to the store, and so is my old man." No. We just say, "I go to the store." We see ourselves as one composite being.
But God does make this distinction! In His perception of us and in His dealings God distinguishes who we are in Him from who we are naturally. He does not look at us as a single entity. His eye divides between our soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12).
From here, God looks past our natural identity to see us only according to who we are in Jesus in the Spirit. And according to how He sees us, so does He speak to us, and so does He act toward us. His perception of us is the basis for all His Word and His action toward us.
Since God sees us only in terms of our new identity, it means He speaks and deals with us in terms of our new man. Therefore, when it comes to His promises, God's promises are to the hidden man, not the natural man.
Not only does God speak and act toward us only in terms of our new man, but He has a plan for developing our new identity. Everything God says to us through promise or command is geared to the development of our new man and its supercession over all our other old identities. God has a vision for seeing our new man rise up from the depths of our being and come to the surface of our personality, displacing our old man altogether.
This plan is accomplished through God's promises for our creationary fulfilment. Every promise of God— whether concerning need, or desire, or goal, or vision, or relationship—is not only issued just to our new man, but is issued to be fulfilled in terms of his purpose for the development of our new man, the manifesting of Jesus through us. Creationary promises are the force that brings forth our new man.
We do not see this from where we are. Because we can't distinguish between our new and old self, we can't see how God's promises concerning this life can do anything but reinforce our old ties to this life. So we feel caught between having to choose between Him alone, and becoming involved with His promises.
Moreover, we are likely only to get hurt if we really believe seriously. Yet from God's view, it is exactly because we can't distinguish between our two selves that He issues the promises. From God's view, it is the promises themselves that will work the separation for us— and the hurts we experience for our faith are part of the process. We now turn to see how this works.
VII. Purified Identity through Believing the Promises: Unlocking the Mystery of Failure, Unfulfilled Promise, and Unanswered Prayer
The needs and desires we experience as natural humans mirror corresponding needs and desires planted into the "genetic code" of our new man which God has intended to fulfil. It is to those corresponding needs and desires God speaks when He issues His promises. He speaks to our new man, and only to our new man.
But when we hear God speak, we can't discern between His speaking to our new man and old man. We hear God as a single composite identity. When God speaks, we hear Him through two sets of ears at the same time which we cannot distinguish for ourselves. We hear Him with our new man, but our natural-man ears overhear every word—and we can't tell the difference.
When our new man hears God and believes, a seed of faith is planted. But our old man also hears God, and believes, and an entire vision of human desire and expectation is established! And it is all mixed together.
To us humans who see ourselves as one composite identity, our inner faith and our natural expectations for the fulfilment of the promise are indistinguishable. We believe with our heart. But we also believe with our natural mind, emotions, and willpower. Our mind weds its natural expectations to the word. Our emotion weds its natural desire to the word. And our will weds its natural intentions to the word. This is how we respond to God's promise—as one composite being.... "I believe," we say.
Then what happens? After we believe God out of our mixed being, we act in faith with our whole being, new man and old man together. But because God was not speaking to our natural man when He issued His promise, our natural man's faith goes unfulfilled. Instead, our natural expectations are dashed to pieces. Our desires are hurt and violated. Our intentions fail to materialize.
We encounter failure! With this failure comes inner pain and grief, and also outward embarrassment as we must face the misunderstanding and mocking of others who knew what we were believing God for. This failure is none other than the "suicide" of our old man in response to the promise of God to our new man.
written from Pleasant Valley
Prince Edward Island, Canada
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page updated May 30, 2018