The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 2 - Practical Devastation Of Our Old Humanity

Lord, we know that we have just used the words which one of old, long time ago, used, but did not understand that it was the Lord speaking. He thought it was a man, though a man of God, until he was brought face to face with the fact, no, it is not man that speaks, it is God; and then directly with Thyself he said, “Speak Lord, Thy servant heareth.” We pray that we may have that enablement to discern when the Lord is speaking, when it is not just a man but the Lord. And O how much hangs upon the Lord speaking to us as it did with Samuel. We would be like Samuel, that mighty power amongst the people of God. We ask Thee that we may truly hear Thee through any other voice that may speak, ...that we may hear inwardly the voice of the Lord, ...that we may go down before Thee and receive whatever instructions or commissions Thou wouldst have us receive. So help us, Lord, this morning, for Thy Name’s sake, Amen.

There is a hymn in one of our hymn books; some of you will know it, others may not. And it runs like this:

My goal is God Himself.
Not joy, nor even blessings,
But, Himself, my God.
‘Tis His to lead me there;
Not mine, but His, on earth,
At any cost, dear Lord,
By any road.

Young Christians without much experience sing that with a good deal of enthusiasm. Older, more mature Christians sing it holding their heart. I wonder if you would commit yourself to those last lines: “At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.” You say, “Yes.” If you do, then you are prepared for what is coming, for on that very ground I am quite sure we are going to meet a challenge this morning. It will bring a challenge of a real crisis upon which so very much for us all will hang, far more than we are aware of.

Well now, having said that, let us go on. In this hour of our sessions, we are occupied with the two humanities, and especially with the great transition from one humanity to Another: the humanity of the first Adam (an inclusive word and term; collective as well as individual) to the last Adam, Who also is individual and collective.

Later in the week we may have something more to say about the collective aspect of the New Humanity, but we have a lot of ground to cover before we get there, to the place where I think a very big adjustment has got to be made in our mentality and conception of that corporate aspect—we call it the Church. I am certain that we have got to make some mental changes over this Church conception; however, we leave that, and this morning we come back to this transition, this passing from one humanity to Another, with which the whole Bible is occupied, and particularly the New Testament.

I weigh my words; I am very careful. I am not a bit concerned with or interested in just passing to you a lot of teaching and information. I am too old for that. Everything has got to contain something vital upon which destiny hangs. So I weigh my words, and I want to repeat this: the New Testament in its entirety is occupied with one thing (there are many things about the one thing contained in it) but this is the one thing: the transition from that one humanity, kind of being—mankind, to Another. The Other being Christ, the First of this New Race and Order of mankind upon which God’s heart has been set from the beginning. This New Order of humanity is of far greater importance, as we said and pointed out yesterday, than even angels. As little children, we used to sing a little hymn: “I want to be an angel.” Do you? Well, God has a far, far greater destiny for you than that of angels. “Angels desire to look into these things”; it says: “they desire to look into this.” “Not unto angels, but unto Man”— this is the supreme conception of God’s heart in this creation of which Christ His Son is the First—the Beginning.

Change-Over: In The Control Of The Holy Spirit

Everything therefore that you will find in your New Testament in one way or another has to do with this change-over, and everything that we shall find in our own spiritual experience, if we are really in the hand of the Holy Spirit, has to do with this. You say: “Oh, I am going through this experience. I am having this difficulty. I am passing this way of sorrow, of perplexity.” Whatever it is, it is all in the control of the Holy Spirit related to this transition, movement from one ground to Another, from one personal kind to Another Personal Kind. The focus is right now upon the situation that you are in, whether it be a good one or a bad one: “by any road, at any cost.”

And here it is that we begin what is not going to be in the first place pleasant to contemplate. What is it? The absolute necessity for the practical devastation of one kind of humanity. I underline the word practical, not doctrinal, not theoretical, not theological, not philosophical, but practical devastation of our old humanity.

I wonder if you have recognized that the Old Testament throughout is occupied on one side with this: the exposure of the inability of that humanity under the most favorable conditions to satisfy God. God took out a people, related them, attached them to Himself. While they remained on His ground, He blessed them with every, not spiritual, but temporal blessing in the earthly. They had only to be obedient to the commandment and blessed was their balm and their store and their basket and their family and their business and their everything prospered on this earth. He gave them a marvelous economy under His sovereignty right through from the garden, through Israel. And what have we when we close our Old Testament? The failure of that kind of humanity under every condition, and every favorable condition that God could give temporally. It is a tragic story, and the Old Testament has to close. No, it has not attained: it has failed. You have to write on that side the big word “Failure” over that whole history of mankind in relation to God.

Now when you come into your New Testament, what do you find happening? This whole issue is being headed up to its climax in the New Testament. God has stepped in with an intervention and along one line said: “We are going to definitely and positively bring this thing to a culmination and a climax; but to do it We must let people see and know, and all history and all time, recognize why it is necessary for Us to bring about this culmination and climax of that humanity.” Oh, note this, while we are not interested just in fascination, there is something fascinating about this. It is gripping, when once you begin to see.

God’s Kind Of Man: This Other MAN

So, not in the order of time or chronology, we have our four gospels as they are called, and what are these four gospels? They are two things; of course, they are the introduction of God’s kind of Man. He is put there, and then alongside of God’s kind of Man, the other kind of man is arranged. You cannot read these gospels from that standpoint without being shocked. It is the only word for it—shocked—at the exposure of man alongside of this Other Man, this Man that God has put down in the midst. Read your gospels again in this light: the reactions of men to this Man. Are they not terrible? You wonder sometimes how on earth they got the cleverness to note some of the things that they bring up against this Man.

Now steadily moving on in the gospels, moving on in that way and uncovering, exposing, there is a manifestation of that kind of man intensifying. Note the point where it seems a new intensification comes in in this malice, this hatred, this prejudice, this wickedness—against Whom? Why, what has my Lord done? What means this rage and spite? Intensified, until you come right up to the days of the Cross. You remember, of course, He has been moving on the ground of the crucified Man from His baptism onward, and that is a significant fact when you carry it into the unseen realm, where the forces of antagonism are at work.

The Heart Which Says ‘No’ To God

But now we come actually up to the time of the Cross, the hours before the crucifixion, and the hour itself; and you have gathered around that Cross a representation of every aspect of the human race. From the inner circle to the wider circle, they are all there; and the focal point is the Cross of Jesus Christ. And what is that Cross bringing to light? Let us take a few cases and instances of this. We will begin with the highest representation of the highest religious system and order that history has known.

Caiaphas, the high priest of Israel, in whom the race is officially centered and gathered up—he is representative of the nation. You read the story put together from these accounts where Caiaphas is the chief actor on the stage of this drama. No words of mine or of man can describe, really, that man with this Other Man in his presence. I think the only description, the only words that approach the description of this man were long before prophesied by Isaiah. You remember? You are so familiar with them in Isaiah, chapter six, when the prophet has made his response to the Lord’s appeal, “Who will go for Us?...”—said Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!” What did the Lord say to him? ...and He said (the Lord said): “Go, and tell this people, ‘Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed.’ ” That sounds terrible. “Lest... lest... lest they turn again.” Make it impossible for them to do so, take away their ability to go back upon their course. Is not that terrible?

But what are you dealing with—you are dealing with a hardness of heart which has been hardened and hardened and hardened again against the Word, against the prophets, against all the revelation that God has given, a hardening, a hardening until they have gone beyond the point of no return and God has said: “You have so hardened your heart and said so positively ‘No’ to My Ways, that it is beyond now remedying.” That is Caiaphas and Israel at the Cross; the heart which says “No” to God.

What a heart, what an exposure, what a revelation of human capacity in the Presence of the Highest Privilege. Yes, it is coming out now, what has gone on. It had perhaps a very simple beginning, but it grew and grew—there was no turning back when it was possible—until it reached the point where God said: “Take away their capacity for hearing and seeing.” The judgment of the hard heart of man, even under all those appeals and pleadings and sobs and tears of God, comes out at the Cross—what the Cross reveals about what is possible in our hearts!

You say: “That is Caiaphas, that is not me.” Oh, you do not know the human heart if you say that. You do not know the human heart if you have never had any rebellion in your heart, if you have never had the capacity for saying “No” to the Lord and had to have a battle over it. It is there: it is not Caiaphas, it is Adam: this is Adam following through by coming to development.

What An Opportunity This Man Had

In the high place of religion you come from Caiaphas and move over to Pilate. Pontius Pilate!! What an opportunity this man had. Oh, what has history said about Pilate? We do not think of Pilate without some feeling of disgust. Pilate, who had the opportunity of humanity in his hands, and what is he doing? Well, you say, he is vacillating, he is moving from one foot to the other; he may at times seem to be rocking, but all that speaks of weakness—inability to come right down one hundred percent on one foot and make his full and final decision, trying to pass it over to someone else to make the decision, trying to shed the responsibility... but why? Why? —he represents a time server... “If you let this Man go, you are not Csar’s friend.” That is it!—Csar’s favor, Csar’s ability to further my worldly interest: “If I take this line, then all my worldly interests are in jeopardy; my prosperity in business, my good standing with the authorities, those who have it in their power to further my interest.” He is a time server, and Pilate goes down in history as the man who handed Jesus over to be crucified from his own inability to make a decision in His favor. “Take Him, you take Him; I have said, I find no fault with Him, but you take Him and crucify Him.” The weakness of what?—the awful tragedy of a divided heart, the main feature and factor in which is: “how this is going to effect me and my interest.” That finds us out all the way along.

You see, that was the battle that Jesus Himself fought in the wilderness with the devil. The devil was saying how it would effect You if You go the way that You have decided to go, how it would effect You: “You want the kingdoms of this world, You take the line of compromise.”—That was Pilate . . . what an exposure of what is in man.

Wanting To Have

We hurry on and come nearer, nearer to the center of the circle, we come to Judas Iscariot. You cannot use that word, that name now, can you, without a frown, almost a sneer. “Judas”—when you want to say the worst thing that you can say about anybody, you say: “—he is a Judas.” It started somewhere in a very simple way, it started in a day when either the Lord Himself (Who knew what He was doing, mark you) or the other disciples, said to Judas: “Look here, people will give us gifts to help us along, we have to have somebody to look after the gifts. Judas, you, you have the bag.”

A simple beginning, but what happened? Being in that position drew out something that was deep down in that humanity. Perhaps not even Judas knew it, but this drew it out. You know the end. A man who again goes beyond the point of return and recognizes at last that he has been betraying the Lord. Everything was put in his way of glory, the heavenly order; and there is nothing else to do but to take his own life.

What has been exposed? What is it in this humanity that is down there in the root of things and comes up and up if only given an opportunity?! I heard Dr. Campbell Morgan once say in preaching that we are capable of anything if only we have the opportunity for it. That is searching. What is come out? Covetousness, that is all. Wanting to have; and my friends, while you shrink from the name Judas, be careful, this is in us all, even in the work of the Lord. Covetousness to be recognized, to be given opportunities of service, wanting for ourselves even in the things of God. As disciples, the root may be there—this wanting to have, to make ourselves something. Covetousness, which the Word says is idolatry. The Cross will discover what is in us; it will bring it out.—Well, that is Judas.

A Man Who Did Not Know Himself

Now let us come nearer still, perhaps to the innermost circle, Simon Peter. Simon Peter is a man who did not know himself and who thought so differently about himself from what was true: “I will never forsake Thee, I will go with Thee even unto death. Though all men forsake Thee, yet will I not. I will not,”—“I will,”— “I.” Where did that begin? You have heard this before. Blinded by this ego, this selfhood, oh, Simon Peter, you do not know yourself, but the Cross is going to uncover you, find you out, and expose you and devastate you. You will go out in despair of yourself and shed many tears. The Lord will have to send someone searching for you with a special message: “Go to My disciples and to Peter... I know what is happening there, I know where he is and what is happening.”

Poor, poor Simon Peter. What was happening? Well, the Lord told Simon Peter what would happen, and Simon Peter did not understand it until afterwards. “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have thee, that he may sift thee as wheat”—strip off that false covering of selfhood that covers. Really, Peter, what is there, you do not know... sift you as wheat.

Simon Peter found that the Cross is a very searching and a very devastating thing to any kind of self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-interest, or anything of self. It is going to simply desolate that kind of humanity.

Men Without Anything Left

Now I take just one other instance after He, Jesus, is crucified, after that part of the drama is completed. Two of them, two of His disciples, went on that day to Emmaus, a village. You know the story in Luke 24. As they talked sadly, this stranger drew near to them (their eyes were holden that they should not recognize Him) and He said: “What manner of conversation is this that you have as you walk, sad? ” They replied: “Are you only a visitor to our city, have you only just arrived, have you not known what has been happening in the last few days?” Then the Lord inquired: “What things?” He is drawing them out—“What things?” They said: “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth. He was a Prophet mighty in Word and in deed. We hoped that it had been He that should redeem Israel, but our rulers crucified Him.” In other words, they said, “Our hope is all gone, all our expectation is destroyed. We are men without anything left.”

Then this stranger took the Old Testament (I do not think He had it in His hand: they knew it, they had it in their heads) and He started at the beginning and worked His way all through the Scriptures. And as He opened to them the Scriptures, their mouths opened, their eyes opened, and when they arrived... you know the end, they sat down to a meal, He took the bread, the loaf, and blessed it. Eyes were opened; they knew Him, and then He disappeared from their sight.

What has been disclosed? What has been exposed? This—you can have your head absolutely full of the Scriptures and know them up there, and they will never save you in the day of crisis. The very thing that is written by God for our salvation does not save us when the Cross is planted right at the heart of our lives; it is a crisis in which we collapse. That is a terrible thing. You can know all the Scriptures, and yet when it comes to the test of some tremendous experience, some devastating experience, all that we have read and heard and thought we knew is no good to us.

Of course, there is a lot more in this story than that, but this is my point—what a disclosure of the human heart. What an exposure of this other man, how he can be a disciple, how he can go about with the Lord for years, how he can know all that the Lord has said, and seen what the Lord has done and how he can have the teaching in his head and then when it comes to the real test of the man, he cannot stand up to it, he collapses.—We had hoped (with our Bible in our hands) we had hoped, and they are in despair.

Another Humanity Altogether

The devastation of that one humanity under every kind of test is essential to the Other Humanity which Christ is. How different He Is—Another Humanity altogether, Another kind of Man in Whom there is nothing of this at all, nothing of this. The apostle once said to the believers: “You have not so learned Christ”; in other words, “If you had learned Christ, you would not be doing that, you would not be like that.”

Now let us get hold of the issue before we go further. What is it? Oh, it may not all come at once—it could not, this devastation; it is spread over a whole lifetime, but it has a beginning, mark you, a beginning; and this is the course of a truly spiritual life. You will mark spiritual progress and spiritual growth and spiritual maturity by this one thing: how little the individual thinks of themselves, how little they are in the picture, their own picture and other people’s picture as themselves. Or shall I put it the other way: how much of Christ do you meet in them and not themselves. That is the test—how much the Cross has devastated them in their own natural life. It is the essential and inevitable way to spiritual fulness, to Christ, and the fulness of Christ, which is something altogether different from what we are.

The Tragedy Of The Carry-Over Of The Other Humanity

Well, now having said that, we are going further with this this morning. I want to take you over to that part of the New Testament which focuses this whole issue more than any other part; which brings into view on the one side, the exposure of the one kind of humanity and on the other side, the Other Humanity which the Christ is. I have often been asked the question, for example in Romans 7: “Is that the history of a ‘born again’ man or an unborn again man?” I have had the question asked me since I have been here, and I have proposed to postpone the answer until now.

“The first man is of the earth, earthy...” and so on. Is that an unconverted man, a man before he is born again, or is that a born again man? That is a born again man, make no mistake about it. Paul is writing to born again people in Corinth. He opens his letter with an address to the saints which are in Christ Jesus—saints by standing through faith in Christ Jesus, and all that is in those letters is addressed to Christians; but it is a horrible exposure of something about Christians. I confess to you I have more than once in my life in reading that First Letter to the Corinthians asked myself: “Were these men, these people, really born again? Can we classify them as Christians?” Yes, the address is “to the saints by standing through faith that are in Corinth.”

The tragedy in Corinth was the tragedy of the carry-over of relics and remnants of the other humanity. There is something here of the New Humanity, but there has been a carry-over of the old in the Christian life; the result: confusion—confusion in judgment, confusion in behavior, confusion in relationships. And if you think that word is not justified, I want to remind you that they wrote to the Apostle Paul on one occasion asking him ten elementary questions about the Christian life, about what Christianity is. They were in confusion about the elementary things of Christianity.

I am not going to stay this week with all those questions, but there they are. There is confusion, terrible complications in Corinth. There is weakness—weakness in life, in a living testimony. There is shame, reproach. The apostle has to say some very strong and some very hard things to Christians because of a carry-over of the old humanity into a relationship with the New without the clean cut. Is that why the apostle, after his introduction in the First Letter says: “I made up my mind, I determined, I resolved, to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Oh, we are going to meet “Christ crucified” repeatedly through these two letters, at critical points in their spiritual life. “Christ crucified,” Paul says,—“that is the foundation on which we are going to build, you Corinthians, you who have carried-over some of the old humanity into the realm of the New and find that the two things will not go together:—immediately there is confusion and defeat.”

Well, here we are in these letters to the Corinthians, and these more than any other letters in the New Testament represent the battleground of the two humanities. Right there at the beginning of the First Letter as a heading, this is carried right through. The battleground of the two humanities —that is with the Corinthians.

May I mark one thing before I go further. Paul came to this situation to deal with it, in Corinth, and said in doing so: “In coming to you, I made a definite, positive, conclusive resolve ‘to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’ ” What did he do when he said that? What does that mean?—“I am not coming to you people who are philosophically-minded and are so interested in philosophy, I am not coming to you with a new philosophy, I am not coming to you with a new religion, I am not coming to you with a new system of teaching. I am not coming to you with a new order and form and technique. I am coming with everything gathered up and focused in a Person, in a Man.”

You see the force of that? It is forceful. In essence, Paul said, “No, I am not interested in any of these other things that you may be interested in. For me it is this Man, Christ Jesus, this different kind of Man and this Man Who is crucified to all the other kind of man: crucified to this world, crucified to old humanity, crucified to all these things that you think so much of, that are so important to you, crucified to the whole realm.”

It is a Man, and a Man only, a kind of a Man, that is the point of this letter; all is focused, gathered into a Man. Now from that point onward, the whole thing develops. There is on the other side that man that they have tried to bring over and are still nursing here at Corinth, and there is on the other side this Other Man. You read right on and find: “If any man be in Christ, there is a New Creation, the old things have passed away; and behold all have become new.” The great divide is at the Cross. Well, this is Corinth, and the old and New Humanity is the real battleground; and what a battleground it is.

If you are thinking objectively and historically, stop, stop at once; come over your two thousand years, bridge that gap, get away from geographical Corinth or historical Corinth, and come right here. We belong to that same humanity by nature; but by grace, we belong to Another Humanity. And this is where Christendom is all in confusion today and in defeat, so that we read in papers, Christianity has had its day, it is not counting, it really does not matter, it is no impact upon world conditions and situations, and so on. That is the conclusion of the natural man because of what he sees in Christendom.

We have to agree to a very large extent, even though we do know something else. Nevertheless, Christendom has got into that terrible plight today for this very reason—it does not understand the cleavage which the Cross of Jesus Christ has made between the two humanities. It does not understand that there is no bridge tolerated by God between these two. The Cross has cut right in between these two humanities; and as I was saying, it may not all happen at once, but through a lifetime, the Holy Spirit will be teaching us, if we are teachable, if we are sensitive, if we are walking in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will be teaching us: “That is you, that is not Christ—(putting it in a phrase). That is you, that is your way of talking, that is your way of thinking, that is your way of going about, that is just you, that is not Christ.”

Oh, it would take a long time; but, oh, it would be so profitable to study this Other Man as He walked in this world and see the principles which governed His life, which were all heavenly and all spiritual and made Him absolutely incalculable in this world.

The Dividing:
“he that is spiritual” and “the natural man”

We are now coming to Corinth, and we have not moved far into the letter until we are shown what belongs to the one side and what belongs to the Other. Oh, that Christendom had really had its eyes opened to chapter two of the First Letter to the Corinthians. Here we have two designations; here are the two humanities. One is the natural man, and let me say again that is not necessarily the unborn again man. Corinth shows that and is used to show that. It stands through spiritual history to show the tragedy of a carry-over from one humanity to Another in not allowing the great transition to be clear cut. That is what is here, and so in Corinthians we have the dividing: we have “he that is spiritual” and “the natural man,” and then there opens up the characteristics of each.

When we launch out into the characteristics at Corinth, we come almost immediately on this: personality complexes— that is “the natural man.” “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Peter, and I am of Christ.” You tell me that we are not capable of that—making even a servant of God, a greatly used servant of God and a servant of God who is a saintly man, making him the focal point, the pivot around whom we circle —his way of teaching that appeals to me, his interpretation, his personality. The apostle of the Holy Spirit puts that sort of thing in the category of the natural man because the effect of that is the divisiveness in the Body of Christ—that is what the letter opens up: divisiveness in the Body of Christ. Oh, do not talk about personalities; they may have been used to your help; you may owe a lot to the Lord because of them, but do not be constantly bringing them into view. Paul will argue back and say: “Who is Paul, who is Apollos, who is Peter?—Only servants of God through whom you believed!” Let the instrument recede into the background, and let Christ come to the fore; be occupied with Him, talk about the Lord Jesus.

Perhaps there is a lot of this in a conference like this— this man’s name and that man’s name and this teacher and that teacher. We have our preferences and attachments, but we must drop the whole thing. Paul is saying nothing but “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” We must drop all that personality complex business which in the development only means division in the Body of Christ, and division is weakness and defeat. We must restrain from this sort of thing, for this is moving along the wrong line. This is moving from the outside—trying to gather around personalities and calling that “unity” instead of dealing with it from the inside; and after all, if only, if only we saw Jesus Christ, we would see what the Church is.

Dear friends, the Church of Jesus Christ is not an “it.” It is not a system of teaching. It is not something ecclesiastical. It is not an institution. (Oh, I thank God for the day when He showed me this.) The Church is a Person and That Person is Jesus Christ in corporate expression.

We must revise our mentality when we talk about the Church, the Body of Christ. What are you talking about?— not an it, a something, as though it were a something in itself, and a teaching in itself. No, it is this Man with a family, with children, brothers and sisters, begotten of God, that is the Church.

Oh, how much ecclesiasticism we can have without the family life, but the Church after all, when you come to the final Word, is just the measure of Christ that there is in those who make it up—“till we all attain unto... the measure... of Christ”—every one of us. That is the Body of Christ, that is the Church.

Now I am going to close this morning. We have seen the very first thing that you meet at Corinth is this carry-over of an old humanity in personality complexities, and the Lord says “No” and the apostle says: “No... only ‘Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’ ” The Lord search our hearts concerning these two humanities. Let us pray...

Now, Lord, this can very quickly and very easily be all covered over in the next moments when we go away and have to think back as to what it was about in that hour. Spare that; save us from that. Lord, we are not wanting to impose upon Thy people any kind of suppression, but we do pray that the Holy Spirit will solemnize our hearts in the presence of such great issues in the greatest issue of all time and eternity. Give us quiet meditation, prayerful meditation in our hearts to see where we are, where we are in this whole Bible. So help us, God, for Thy Son’s sake, Amen.


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