When Self is identified as irreparably damaged and incapable of improvement, 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. Phil.1:21 This is a truth that discerning men of God have come to understand, but often after many years or decades of heart-break when the struggle with the self-life ends up with a life broken before the Lord.
“Many a young Christian, who has not been warned of this necessary voyage of discovery upon which the Holy Spirit will certainly embark him (i.e. Romans 7), has been plunged into almost incurable despair at the sight of the sinfulness which is his by nature. He has in the first place rejoiced greatly in the forgiveness of his sins, and his acceptance by God; but sooner or later he begins to realise that all is not well, and that he has failed and fallen from the high standard from which he set himself to reach in the first flush of his conversion.”
“He begins to know something of the experience which Paul so graphically describes: ‘What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I (i.e. Romans 7:15), and, in consequence, he feels that the bottom has fallen out of his Christian life; and then perhaps the Devil whispers to him that it is just no good his going on, because he will never be able to make the grade. Little does he know how healthy his condition is, and that this shattering discovery is but the prelude to a magnificent series of further discoveries of things which God has expressly designed for his eternal enrichment. All through life, God has to show us our own utter sinfulness and need, before He is able to lead us on into realms of grace, in which we shall glimpse His glory.”
“We need to understand that self-revelation precedes divine revelation. Self-examination exposes the old self which cannot be changed. but crucified. And the Holy Spirit reveals this to the one earnestly seeking Him. The believer, who is experiencing struggle and failure, is the one the Lord is gently leading. He is being led through a self-revelation that Self cannot be improved. He is being lovingly led by the Lord into death – the only basis of true Life. Paul reminds us that we are: “to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” Phil.3-10
The Christian walk is one huge paradox: Success comes through failure. Life springs out of death. Hope arises out of despair. Joy is born out of pain: For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” 2Cor.4:11
And how does the Spirit graciously reveal these truths to the seeking soul? Well, He uses all things.. people; circumstances; health; finances. God takes all things and God uses all things, for all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Rom.8:28 And He takes time – He often takes a life-time to gently lead one into this truth. And what is the truth that the Spirit alone can reveal to the believer?
Well, C.A. Coates describes it so well: “Many of us have probably known what it was to rejoice in the grace of God without having apprehended very much the true character of the flesh. It has often been noticed that... where there is the greatest exuberance of joy in young converts, there is often a levity which fails to take into account that the flesh is unchanged. In such cases the grace of God is taken up in a self-confident way; there is very little self-distrust or a sense of weakness and dependence. And the inevitable consequence is a fall, or a succession of falls, that gradually brings home to the consciences of believers, the weakness and incapacity of the flesh.”
“How infinite are the forms in which self appears. Some are occupied with good self. They pride themselves on their excellencies. Others are just as much occupied with bad self. They are forever groaning over their imperfections and struggling with the flesh as if they hoped in time to improve it. When shall we be convinced the flesh is so utterly bad that it is beyond all recovery? Our experience, upward, in the power of God, is just in proportion to our experience, downward, in ceasing from self.
Is it, reckon yourself to be weak in reference to sin? NO, it is lower than that. Is it, reckon yourself to be dying? No, lower still. ‘ Reckon yourself to be dead — (Romans 6:11) — dead indeed unto sin.’ Some believe they are very weak. But what does that imply? It implies that they have some strength. But when a man is dead, he has no strength. We must act on the fact that we are dead in reference to sin. We shall not then speak of difficulty as to resisting temptation with reference to ourselves. We shall take the lowest possible place, and say: “it is impossible with self but it is possible with God”. We shall take our place on the resurrection side of the cross, and in so doing we leave behind the old self-life for the new Christ-life. To live in Him, Who is our life, is to be in the power of God.”
We must be willing to open ourselves to the laser beam of God’s Spirit. We must allow Him to show you all that Self has become. We must be willing to let all of Self be crucified, so that our life is not your own. To rise into the newness of His life in you – the old Life must remain crucified, until the NEW Life in Christ becomes.. not I that lives but Christ that lives in me.”
Paul sums it up in these profound words: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Phil,3:13-16
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