Ephesians 4:4-6, One Spirit who helps us in prayer, the Pharisee and the Publican.

Class Outline:

Tuesday November 17, 2020


God is not hiding from us, nor is He making it difficult to see Him the way we should. There is only one way, and in a sea of counterfeits, we have to discover that way and learn all we can about it.


“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.” [Thomas Paine]


God is going to train you to be like His Son, no matter what you ask for, but you have to be like His Son to properly use and enjoy any gift. If we’re not reaching for it and asking for it, or even asking for the clarity to find our way like Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s allegory, then that says something about our desire for it.


As God transforms us into the children capable of using the things we ask for, we must keep asking so that we know He is molding us and will answer - and we don’t lose heart and expect His gift.


LUK 11:9-10

“And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.”


There is so much to prayer, and as scripture tells us, we don’t know how to do it properly. We ask for things when we should ask for humility. We ask for humility when we should ask for humiliation. What is the order of things? What must happen now and today that will in the future build my virtue and capacity? How could we know with such finite and simple minds? But the Holy Spirit and the Son intercede for us, help us, and God so bids us to keep at it continually.


It's not only that the Father would wish us to be humble, but it is a truth in the entire scheme of things that we must be humble, because of who God is and who we are before Him.


Directly following the parable of the relentless widow:


LUK 18:9-14

And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. 11 "The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' 13 "But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' 14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."


Both go into the Temple to pray, but with two very different self-images.


Anything other than humility in man is a pretext - a false front, whether he believes it or not.


Before the holiness and immensity of God, we must know ourselves to be a little more than nothing.


Often, with vices, the Christian man or religious man concludes that if he can detach himself from some other “thing” he can attach himself to God. This is an error, for nothing is evil in and of itself. All things have been created by God. None of it is an obstacle to our walk with Him.


We do not detach ourselves from things in order to attach ourselves to God, but rather we become detached from ourselves in order to see and use all things in and for God.


The Pharisee has detached himself from adultery and thievery, but he is very attached to himself.


This is an entirely new perspective which many sincerely moral and ascetic minds fail utterly to see. There is no evil in anything created by God, nor can anything of His become an obstacle to our union with Him. The obstacle is our “self,” that is to say in the tenacious need to maintain our separate, external, egotistic will.


Self - the desire to maintain a separate, external, egotistical will.


It is when we refer to all things to this outward and false self that we alienate ourselves from reality and from God. It is then the false self that is our god, and we love everything for the sake of this self. We use all things, so to speak, for the worship of this idol which is our imaginary self. In so doing we pervert and corrupt things, or rather we turn our relationship to them into a corrupt and sinful relationship. We do not thereby make them evil, but we use them to increase our attachment to our illusory self.


Man loves everything for the sake of self, using everything in the worship of self - our great idol.


Those who try to escape from this situation by treating the good things of God as if they were evils are only confirming themselves in a terrible illusion. They are like Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent in Eden. “Woman has tempted me, wine has tempted me, food has tempted me. Woman is pernicious, wine is poison, food is death. I must hate and revile them. By hating them I will please God.” These are the thoughts and attitudes of a baby, of a savage and of an idolater who seeks by magic incantations and spells to protect his egotistic self and placate the insatiable little god in his own heart. To take such an idol for God is the worst kind of self-deception. It turns a man into a fanatic, no longer capable of sustained contact with the truth, no longer capable of genuine love. In trying to believe in their ego as something “holy” these fanatics look upon everything else as unholy.


It is not holy to hate the things that God has made. We are to love everything and everyone.


The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own false self, and enter by love into union with the Life who dwells and sings within us.


In God’s love we possess all things because we know how to use them, enjoy them, and appreciate them because we are detached from self.


Being set free from self, such a believer does not seek to use the things around him selfishly, perverting and corrupting them for the love of self. Hence, he seeks only God’s design and use of all things, seeing God within them, and so in a way, has ownership of them through Christ rather than them owning him. And thus as we go about the world, everything we meet and everything we see and hear and touch, far from defiling, purifies us and plants in us something more of contemplation of God and of heaven where His holiness dwells.


Short of this understanding and faith in holiness, created things do not bring us joy but pain. Until we love God perfectly or completely, everything in the world will be able to hurt us. And the greatest misfortune is to be dead to the pain they inflict on us, and not to realize what it is.