Paul tells us we are the die to self.. to die to the self-life. We are told die to the fleshly, carnal life of nature.. the life of the first Adam. For we are dead in trespasses and sins. There is nothing good in anyone of us. We are all thoroughly corrupt before God and there is no good thing in us in the sight of God, for there is none good.. no not one! Romans 3:10
To die to self (to die to the self-life) we must discover it is not I.. but Christ. We must grow into a consistent, increasing personal knowledge of the Lord. But to know the Lord, we must first come to know the self-life. We must first recognise the self-life – to understand what it truly is.
Introspection is not the answer. Introspection is about me, it is about myself. Introspection is self-analysis and self examination. Introspection is about what is wrong with me, and how I can I change.
Self-analysis is looking at me but it cannot address changing me. Self-examination tries to work out ways to improve self.. ways to deal with self, but we have to understand that it is not I (that can do it) but Him – until it is not I that live but Christ that lives in me.
I must not change. I cannot change. I can only die. Introspection is not the answer, though it exposes the problem. The answer comes through the Holy Spirit’s experiential revelation: except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and, die it abides alone, but if it die, it brings forth much fruit – and therein is the Father glorified. John 12:28. First.. death to all that is self : always delivered unto death. 2Cor.4:11. Then, Christ’s life.. that the life of Christ might be manifested in me.” Col.3:4
Resurrection arises from death.. His risen life, His new life – not my amended old life. It is not a resurrection of my old life.. my amended, improved old self-life. The old sinful life comes from the first Adamic birth – Self. His risen new life comes from the second spiritual birth, in Christ Attempts to amend my old life is to deny that I am nothing. It’s amending self, seeking to change the old Adam life into the new Christ life.
The old self cannot be taught to deal with pride, anger, lust – to deal with sin. The old self may learn tricks to hide the sin nature, but it can never change it. Teaching the old self like this hinders the recognition that self cannot improve.
The new birth is born through a deep conviction of sin and repentance. The new Christian often continues with a deep devotion to the Saviour. The early christian walk is frequently surrounded by great works and witness.
But elements start to pull us back to self.. to self-centeredness – to the world, as self seeks to regain its old, original supremacy on the throne of our lives. We learn that “Christ’s life” is not a reformed self, but His new life. We learn that “Christ’s life” comes through heartbreak.. heartbreaking experiences that identify the utter sinfulness of king self.
Until we recognise the deadly sin-life for what it is, our walk will fail. It is not “self” – that can be improved through introspection and trying. It is not “I” that can live a holy life by trying to improve the old self….
Not everyone, by any means, has had the experience of the seventh of Romans, that agony of conflict, of desire to do what we cannot do, of longing to do the right we find we cannot do. It is a great blessing when a person gets into the seventh of Romans and begins to realise the awful conflict of its struggle and defeat; because the first step toward getting out of the struggle of the seventh chapter and into the victory of the eighth, is to get into Romans chapter seven. Of all the needy classes of people, the neediest of this earth are not those who are having a heartbreaking, agonising struggle for victory, but those who are having no struggle at all, and no victory … and who do not know it, and who are satisfied and jogging along in a pitiable absence of almost all the possessions that belong to them in Christ.”
It is when Self is identified as irreparably damaged and incapable of improvement, that we are brought to the end of our self-life and cry out at long last. Self must no longer have sway in my life, for it is not the “old I” but the “new life in Christ” that lives – and it must only be Christ. For me to live is Christ and Christ alone.
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