THE REBUILDING OF OUR LIFE
THE REBUILDING OF OUR LIFE |Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
When teachers of the deeper Christian life mention that we must die to self, they do not always explain how to do this, what is involved, or what results from such a step of faith on our part. We must come to understand that this invitation is not directed toward the abolishing of our life but to the rebuilding of our life so that it is eternal
THE REBUILDING OF OUR LIFE
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6)
Deeper-life teachers often speak of dying to self, or entering the crucified life, or something of this sort. It is true that such death is prescribed in the New Testament, but it is not mentioned frequently, at least not directly. I would venture the major topic of the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, is that of directions for entering eternal life in the Kingdom of God, with death to self being an important aspect of these directions.
A few days ago, Colossians 3:1-4 came into my consciousness.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Now, I have preached this text numerous times. We understand that if we are abiding in Christ a firstfruits of our new born-again life already has been raised with Christ, being seated in Him at the right hand of God. No problem here. This is a fact we portray when we are baptized in water.
We are to set our heart and mind on Christ and God. This is difficult in America because of the emphasis on material wealth. Nevertheless, our mind and heart are not to be occupied only or even primarily with the things of earth. To maintain the scriptural attitude requires constant prayer, daily Bible reading, consistent fellowship with fervent believers (if we can find any).But the phrase that entered my thinking is, "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."
Although I have preached this many times, I had not given sufficient thought to precisely what this expression means. How did we die? What part of our life is hidden with Christ in God?
I asked the Lord to give me the meaning of Paul's words.
I thought about the sixth chapter of Romans, another of my favorite passages. There we find that our old life has been crucified so that the body of sin might be done away. Self is to be crucified. The desire to sin is to be done away. Obviously self and sin are two different factors, however intertwined.
I realize that when we are baptized in water we are to count that we have been crucified with Christ and now have risen with Him. We accept these two states as a fact, and then God makes them practical and true in our daily life.
So I suppose the main problem with my understanding is, precisely what is "life"? What is it about us that is to be crucified? How does God crucify it? Andimportantlyspecifically what results from our old life being crucified? Is our life being taken from us or restructured in some manner?
I then made a list of items that constitute our life. I am sure this list is not complete, and the reader may want to add some elements of personality to this list.
Our life is our:
Justice and judgment.
Trust in the World.
The Drives of Sin That Dwell in Us.
Everything Else That Motivates Us.
Do the above pretty well define our life? I am sure there are factors I have not thought of.
When deeper-life teachers mean we must die to self, they mean we are to die to our will, our relationships, our desires, our memory, our plans, our hopes, our dreams, and so forth. The thought of dying to our life does not make the believers happy, particularly the young people. They may assent to the need to die to self, and promptly proceed to some other idea. Who can blame them? What mentally healthy individual wants to lose his or her life?
The problem here may be twofold. First, we do not know exactly how to die to our will, our relationships, our desires, our memory, and so forth. Second, we do not know exactly what will result from our doing this. From my point of view, our inability to understand these two areas prevents the majority of believers from making dying to self of first priority in their Christian life. Would you agree to this?
Let us consider how we die to these several areas of personality. How do we die to our will, our relationships, our desires?
One aspect of this process must be kept in mind: we are not to attempt to crucify ourselves. Self-crucifixion, practiced on occasion by zealous believers, results only in self-righteousness and a strengthened self-will. God will do the crucifying, if we tell Him this is the direction we wish to take.
Let us examine the most important factorour self-will. We simply cannot move past the Pentecostal experience into the spiritual fulfillment of the remaining three feasts of the Lord until we cry out, "Not my will but Yours be done." Here is the linchpin of spiritual progress beyond the elements of redemption.
But how does God put to death our self-will? He puts us in one kind of prison or another. We are denied our most fervent desires over a period of time. We are required to perform unpleasant service. Suffering is necessary if we are to die to our self-will. We learn stern obedience to the Father through suffering.
How many believers in America are willing to yield their will to the Lord Jesus, when doing so deprives them of their most intense desires? Yet, spiritual maturity is not possible when we cling to our pleasures. We can claim grace, mercy, God's love, all we wish. The fact remains: spiritual maturity is not possible when we cling to our pleasures; when we cannot bear to have our intense desires unfulfilled.
I have believed for years that the Charismatic movement is at this very place, being symbolized by the Altar of Incense of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. We are familiar with Pentecost and the gifts of the Spirit of God. But in order to press forward toward the Veil and the Ark of the Covenant, to speak figuratively, we have to be willing to permit God to crucify our will. To seek the power of the Lamb without submitting to the crucifixion of our will leads to the False Prophet.
The same is true of relationships, desires, memory, plans hopes, dreams, treasures, and all the other factors of our life I have included in my list. When God calls for them they must be given to Him. There is to be no holding back, no hesitation. We are not speaking of sinful behavior, we are speaking of giving to the Lord Jesus that which is our legitimate life, our "Isaac."
There are three means by which we overcome the accuser of the brothers.
We conquer by means of the blood of the Lamb, which justifies us in God's sight.
We conquer by maintaining our testimony in accordance with the written Word of God.
But the most important means of conquest is by loving not our life to the death. Until we are ready to give all of our life to Christ, we cannot conquer the accuser.
The rich young ruler had kept the commandments of the Law. But money was an important part of his life. When Christ asked him to give away his money, the man went away sorrowful. What a loss! Wherever the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached, this individual is a dramatic portrayal of the utter folly of clinging to some part of our life when God calls for it. Where are he and his possessions now!
If we cling to any part of our life we will lose it.
Now we come to the second aspect of being "dead""For you are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
It is this second part that is the central point of my thesis. Sometimes we are informed that we must be crucified with Christ, or we must take the "death route." But we are not always told what will result from our doing this.
The result is, we gain back our life in a vastly superior eternal form. Our life is restructured, not abolished. Better yet, it forever is hidden with Christ in God, just as Christ, no matter where He may be at any give time, always is in the very center of the Father's Person. So we are forever in Christ, as the various elements of our life die, and then are raised in Christ to the right hand of God.
Our will becomes razor sharp. But our will now is one with God's will. The only true, lasting freedom any human can experience occurs when God's will and his will are identical.
Our relationships are eternal. We now are one with all who are an integral part of Christ in the same oneness that exists in the Godhead.
Our desires are from God and fulfilled totally. We have fullness of joy. We have pleasures forever. After having been denied our most intense desires for so long a period, we now have received every desire of our heart. Otherwise, fullness of joy is not possible.
Every element of our memory brings joy and peace.
We do not ask God to bless our plans. Our plans now are God's plans, and God blesses His own plans.
Our hopes come from God and always are realized.
Our dreams our fulfilled. There is a magic kingdom. There is a fairyland. There is every bright and joyous vision ever conceived. Eden is restored many, many times over. Those who experience Job's death experience Job's restoration.
The treasures we have laid away in Heaven are given to us. Sometimes God takes a loved one from us. What a deep, agonizing wound! But if we have been serving Him, God does this so we never again are at home in this present world. Our home now is in Heaven, and we never will have perfect joy until we have been reunited with our loved one who has gone on before,.
We may have had to turn aside from our personal ambitions. But in Christ we are possessors of all the works of God's hands.
Perhaps we have been treated unjustly. Now we sit with Christ on the white throne, judging mankind
We may have been brought very low, as was Christ. Now we are a royal priest, recognized as such by the members of the saved nations of the earth. For our shame we have received a double portion of glory.
We may have seen our values trampled underfoot by society. Now our values are Kingdom principles, enforced throughout the earth by mighty angels.
Perhaps we had our heart set on increasing our education. Now in Christ we have all the knowledge we need.
Our wisdom may have been spurned by the people of the world. Now our wisdom is established in Christ and shines as the light of the new world of righteousness.
As we grow older we grow increasingly tired. If the Lord asks us to use our remaining energy in His work, we will be given the boundless energy that holds the stars in their courses.
It is difficult in America to maintain an awareness of Christ and of the world of the Spirit. If the Lord requires that we walk in spiritual blindness for a season, as He does sometimes with true believers, in that Day we will know as we are known.
There are occasions when the Lord permits our perception to fail us. We cry for truth, and then fall into deception as Christ deals with a "king of darkness" in our personality. If we remain faithful, repenting, and making restitution if necessary, true perception is granted us.
The Lord may ask for our money, as He did the rich young ruler. If we know the Lord we quickly will give Him what He asks for, knowing well that He will not permit us to go without what we need.
If we have a strong desire for power, as often is true of those in political life, the Lord may bring us down to weakness. If we remain faithful, in the future we shall receive power and authority such as no earthly monarch ever has imagined.
Some believers are quite emotional, and Christ may bring them down to a place of ashes. Their romantic dreams are crushed. If we are willing to give this side of our personality to the Lord, we will discover in the future that all of the romantic dreams of poets are but a faint shadow of the marvelous realities of the heavenly kingdom.
The spirit of Antichrist invites us continually to look to the world for survival, for success, for pleasure, for security. This is a deception. For those who turn their back on the siren song of the world, the true, eternal survival, success, pleasure, and security will be found in the Lord Jesus Christ, and only in Him.
It may be true that the most difficult decision American believers make is to choose the way of righteousness when it means turning aside from what is pleasurable. We are so accustomed to material ease, comforts of every sort. But the saints of old have left bloody footprints in the snow. Until we are willing to follow them, we are not worthy of the Kingdom of God.
I have found personally that one of the best methods of practicing the Presence of Christ is to look to Him for each decision I make during the day. We may not always realize it, but we make numerous decisions each day, depending on our material circumstances.
For example, an American may commence the day by deciding what clothes to wear. He can use his own judgment, or ask the Lord. I prefer to ask the Lord.
He can decide what to eat for breakfast. He can go by his feelings, or ask the Lord.
A believer may think that Christ does not care what he eats for breakfast. He is mistaken. Christ does care, and will guide the person if he asks for guidance. Obesity and other aspects of our diet are issues in America at this time.
We can go through the day relying on our abilities, judgment, and experience. But we just as easily can keep looking to the Lord, in all our ways acknowledging Him. I prefer this method of decision-making, and recommend it.
There are all sorts of growth we experience in life: physical growth, mental growth; emotional growth, spiritual growth, social growth, and so forth. We prosper when we dedicate each of these areas to Christ so His will and pleasure are accomplished.
The more money we have the freer we are to travel from place to place, it seems. People often desire to move to another locality, believing they will be happier there. They may not find the satisfaction they are looking for, because the lessons God is teaching them will follow them into the new environment. Best not to move unless we really are hearing from the Lord.
There are drives of sin that motivate us. In order to get at these and remove them, God must crucify our adamic nature. There is no sin in the Kingdom of God. Those who would enter the Kingdom must follow the Holy Spirit as He guides us into putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
We must not hold back any aspect of our life, when the Lord calls for it. To do so is to prevent our attaining to the spiritual maturity God desires. All the factors of our first life are temporary. Each of them, no matter how noble, how praiseworthy, eventually will become corrupt and poisonous. It is only as each factor of our personality dies and is raised in Christ is the corruption and poison removed.
Now we understand how God crucifies our old life. We understand also that it is not a question of being deprived of anything of value. Rather, we are trading our threadbare garments for the purpose robes of the royal priesthood. Our life is being rebuilt.
The elements of our new nature, rather than being temporary as is true of our first personality, are our possession for eternity.
What does it profit an individual if he gains the whole world, and in the Day of Resurrection is found to have nothing in his personality of eternal worth? Will he then lose his soul and become merely a spirit, no longer having the ability to make moral judgments; no longer being able to enter union with Christ and other people; no longer being in the image of God?