But the truth is, there is nothing good in man. There never was any creature in the universe who was ever good, or capable of good in himself. God alone is good and it was always this way. Adam was only good and only capable of good because God was living inside of him. When he separated from God all his goodness departed. God is not trying to prove that man is capable of good with a little help. God is trying to prove that man is totally incapable of any good in himself, but if man will allow Him to come to live again in him, then He, God, is perfectly capable of living a perfect life in such a person.
The emphasis is not on man's efforts to do what is right, but on man's need to yield to Christ, to surrender himself entirely to the Lord so that Christ may live and not him. The emphasis is not on works, but on the person of Christ. It is the emphasis that Christ alone is my righteousness.
We see that this truth does not in any sense negate or downplay the issue of free choice. Man must choose. His free-will is preserved. But again, the emphasis is radically different from that focused on by Priebe and Larson. The choice which is made is not a choice to obey the law; it is not a choice to do good. The individual recognizes that such a thing is an impossibility and he does not waste his energies in trying to do what is impossible. Instead it is a choice to choose Christ. It is a choice to give up my own life and to choose the life in Christ instead. From that moment, when I have made that single great choice, Christ and not I, then it is He who lives. It is now He who makes the choices. I wear His yoke so I have no choices to make. I can experience His rest, the easy yoke and the light burden, for it is now He who works in me to will and to do of His good pleasure. The burden is gone and my heavy labour is ended.
Let us consider a fundamental truth that many do not seem to remember. The controversy does not center on man. It is not between man and Satan. It centers on Christ and His Father. It is between them and Satan. The issue is not what man can do. It is not a controversy to display what kind of good creature God created, or how much ability there is in man.
The Critical Question
The real issue in the controversy is the question, do we all really need God in order to live right? Lucifer claimed in the beginning that we are able to live and to live right without needing God. Essentially this is what he told Adam and Eve in the garden. This was what he convinced millions of angels of. It was not that they could overthrow the power and the might of God, but that they could live without Him, that they could establish a rival government built on different principles.
God's government is essentially this: Christ in you (Luke 17:21; Col. 1:27). God has said that it is impossible for any creature to be good in himself. Satan says it is a lie and he set out to prove it. God says, “I alone am good, and without me you can do nothing. Without me you are utterly depraved.”
So the controversy centers on a demonstration of two alternatives. Goodness by the effort of the creature, or goodness by union with Christ. If man is able in himself to choose and to do good, even before he is born again, then man does not need God in order to be good. All he needs is the right information, the correct education. In essence, he only needs to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil like Satan told him. If he is “like God, knowing good from evil,” then he is able to choose good and refuse the bad.
But God has set out to prove that it is a lie. Satan's claim is pure folly. Only God is good in all the universe. Without Him, there is nothing but evil and corruption. Therefore the only hope for any creature is to be filled with Christ's life. Every person must so give himself up to Christ that Christ may be able to live His life within him, producing His own righteousness within him. So Christ says, “without me, ye can do nothing.” In actual fact, the victory of God in the controversy depends upon demonstrating that man can do absolutely nothing by himself, but that when Christ lives in him, he is perfectly righteous and able to do “all things.” The doctrine of Priebe and Larson which some of us seem to have accepted, is really an attempt to prove that God is wrong.
Think about what happened at the beginning. Lucifer said in heaven, “I will not have this man to rule over me. I will be god, I don't want him to rule over me,” and God said, “I will allow you to be god in your own little world.” So Satan came to this planet and tempted Adam and Eve to pluck a fruit, but do we think the fruit was the real issue? If the fruit was the issue, all Adam would have had to do is say, “I'm sorry,” and God would have made another fruit grow in its place. That was not the issue at all, the issue was that Adam had said to God, “I don't want you ruling my life, I want to be god here,” and the moment he became god in his life, all his actions were wrong, he was now making the choices, it was his will at work and even if a person does the good thing, as long as it is he who is making the choice, he is still wrong.
The only person fit to live and rule in this universe is God. But when you are making the choices, don't you know that you are still ruling? As long as you are making the choices, you are still god. The only time God rules, is when you give away your right to choose and let Him do all the choosing. You don't reserve the right to choose anymore, If we still make the choice whether to do this or that, then we are still kings of our lives. To become a Christian means I give up my right to choose, I give my will to Christ. That's when He truly can make me into a new creation. Then He works in me to will and to do of His good pleasure. The victorious life is not obtained by making the right choices, action by individual action. It is achieved by making the one decisive choice to give it all to Christ.
Only One Master
Jesus said, “no man can serve two masters.” He says, “if you try to serve two masters, you will love one and you will hate the other.” At one time I thought that the two masters were Christ and Satan, but I realize that I was wrong. The two masters are Christ and self. Satan does not rule on the inside. He tries to get us to adopt his principles and in that way, his principles become our principles, but he does not live on the inside, only two masters can live on the inside of a person, one of them is Christ, and the other one is you, the individual. We cannot have self and Christ ruling at the same time.
Well what about if I serve one today and one tomorrow, will that work? Did Jesus' statement cover that possibility? If you serve self today and Christ tomorrow, aren't you in reality serving two masters? And Jesus said it is not possible. When He says you must serve one master, He means that there is no other master on the horizon, one doesn't come in intermittently, one doesn't come in next week or the week after. One master, one person rules all the time.
No man can serve two masters and that illustration In Romans 7:1-6 of the woman and the two husbands, brings it out clearly, because one of the husbands is the self or the flesh, and the other husband is Christ. The woman is wanting to be married to Christ, but something is preventing her. What is it? It is the fact that she is married to the flesh. As long as she is married to the flesh, she cannot have Christ. As long as self is alive, a person cannot have Christ. This is the absolute teaching of the word of God, you must die before Christ can live. If the husband is sick, the wife does not have the right to marry another husband, and if he's gone on a long journey, she does not have the right to marry another husband. The only time she is free to marry is when he is dead.
As you have read these articles, it is my hope and prayer that you have given them careful thought and prayer. The proper understanding of these issues is the key to the life of victory in Christ. Sadly, the desire for human glory has set many off on the path of human endeavour and the gospel which they have embraced is really no better than the religions of paganism. The outward forms may be different, but in principle it is the same. It is the idea that salvation depends upon human effort.
May God help you my brothers and sisters that you may see that our entire salvation is provided by our Father, in His Son, and that realizing this, you may seek it in the only way in which it may be obtained: By letting go of humanity entirely, and trusting only in Christ.