God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
The death of Christ is the most wonderful thing that deserves our thanks, for through the death of the innocent Victim our sins were forever forgiven. The resurrection of Christ deserves our most glorious worship and praise – for by His resurrection He also broke the power of death in the life of the believer. The death and resurrection merit our greatest gratitude and excellent thanks to God. Both, indeed, deserve the greatest and most triumphant celebrations of all believers.
But what does it mean: this aspect of the cross of Christ, in which we should glory alone? What is this cross, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world? How many truly glory in this sombre aspect of the Cross, which means self-surrender? How many prefer to simply focus on the initial surrender – forgiveness of sins.. rather than the glorious surrender of a life, utterly yielded to Him – a life that is truly, totally, and completely broken before the Lord.
Praise God for those that focus on the initial surrender of a forgiven sinner, but how crucial that we go on to that glorious surrendered life of a saint. What is it that prevents us from keeping our focus on this life, yielded in utter surrender? Well, it is anything that takes the place of Christ …. absolutely anything. Anything that comes before the totally surrendered life becomes a hindrance. Anything that is placed before a life surrendered to Christ becomes an obstacle. Anything that eclipses a life self-surrender to Christ becomes a legalistic impediment. Not one of us should consider ourselves exempt from these interfering encumbrances.
Legalistic rituals, rites, and ceremonies can most certainly impede spiritual growth, but what are these things? How can you identify such hindrances? What can become legalistic rituals, rites, or ceremonies? What can become such interfering encumbrances in the life of a believer. Anything! ANYthing!! ANYTHING that we do ourselves as a means of sanctification – any experience or any devotional undertaking which we think will make us mature. Prayer and devotion; Bible reading and preaching; alms-giving and obedience are all good – all are good, but any one can become an impediment if we see it as a means to an end. Anything we deem necessary to bring us close to Jesus, can become a hindrance!
We need to examine ourselves to see if we have become like the foolish Galatians. We need to see if we are trying to use such methods and means for self-sanctification. We need to check if any such self-effort is leading us away from the crucified life.
It was Paul that recognised this failing in the Galatian Christians and cried out, O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you… Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?Galatians 3:1
These are serious and sombre words that each of us would do well to examine. These are grave accusations that can be true of any believer who’s trying hard to do well! The Galatians were forgiven, born-again people, who were not relapsing into sin, but they were foolishly falling into the trap of ego, self-righteousness, and pride. The Galatians had become sanctimonious moralists. They had become hypocrites. Outwardly they were clean and polished but inwardly they were 'full of dead men’s bones'.
In true sanctification, there is no place for anything except, that I should know Him. In true sanctification, the only reality is the Lord Jesus Himself. If we really know Him we will pay no attention to other experiences. If you truly know Him, no outward garment of self-righteousness will be donned.
Oswald Chambers puts it this way:-'There is only one thing – and that is our relationship to Jesus Christ. What is needed today is not so much a revival as a resurgent form of awakening – the incoming of the tremendous life of God in a new form. The spiritual cure for triviality, is a new note of greatness born of the realisation of what it cost Jesus to produce His salvation in us – a sanctified life. Only when we continually face the cross, are we safe from the dangers of triviality and internal hypocrisy.'
Study and prayer mean nothing if we use them as our means of sanctification. Self-discipline and flagellations will never draw the un-crucified heart closer to the Lord. Preaching and proselytising of itself, is of none-effect – for God knows the heart. So what is required? Only a complete and total self-surrender.. a heart that is truly, totally, utterly and completely broken before the Lord – a life that has reached the absolute end of ‘MY-self - to focus upon HIM-self. So let us grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
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