There must be a long and deep period of preparation, in the man and woman of God, if that life is to shed abroad the attributes of the Lord Jesus in thought word and deed.. if that life is to work in entire submission to the leading and guiding of the Spirit – if the Spirit is to expose the infinite contrast between the 'self-life' and the 'Christ-life'. You think I am labouring this point? Well, it needs to be laboured, for that is the teaching of Scripture to the Church. This is what Paul laboured for – so that Christ’s life may be established in the believer. Preparation certainly does have relevance to this brief breath of life here and now, but the work of God’s Spirit is to prepare us for the future ages to come. This is the reason that almost without exception time is needed for preparation.
'Rest' in the justifying faith of the new-birth, is a past and done deal. 'Rest' in the sanctifying faith of the growing saint is an ongoing process. And one maturing saint observes that – It is highly possible for a man, after having found justifying rest in Christ, to enter upon a state of deep need as regards sanctifying rest. We think we shall not go far wrong if we say this has been the experience of almost every believer that has ever lived. Ironically, the condition of the old sin nature dictates that this will be the case. So much of a believers’ searching for the peace of God sinks into the pit of despair!
This is the score:- we are to be conformed into the image of Christ because that’s God’s will! We are born with an old sin nature, which is an enmity With God. Once that man becomes a believer he has two natures: 1) a gross, mature, arrogant sin nature and 2) a new little 'baby nature in Christ. God "not never no-how" will change that old nature to become the new nature. God only will change, develop and conform our new, little baby nature, in Christ. That old sin nature (that old Adamic nature) the 'old man' must die, daily. The new 'born-again' nature in Christ must grow – subduing the old nature. Being born again does not remove the old sin nature, but being born again does give the believer power over it.
Now, this is the kicker.. the choice is yours. Each believer can choose…whether to: 1) Resist the work of the Holy Spirit Whose indwelling job it to change us OR 2) Submit to His leading and guiding in our lives. This is not unique to you. This is a process that all believers have to go through. Peter, Paul and John being three typical examples of men who experienced this. Why do you think Paul wrote about this in the 7th chapter of Romans? It was because he was struggling with this very thing! What do you think happened to the headstrong Peter and the sons of thunder.. big burly fishermen that discovered that self-dependence is not the way? Why was it that these lovers of Christ at the end of their lives pleaded – Let us not love in word, neither in tongue – but in deed and in truth. Be of one mind, having compassion one of another. Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. 1 John.3:18
Some people spend their entire Christian life in this struggle – what about you? Ironically, this battle that Paul describes in Romans chapter 7 is healthy. It is what God designed to bring each of us to a point of despairing in self. One saint puts it like this:- Not in our early Christian walk are we able to continually abide in His presence, regardless of our surroundings and that which we are doing. Not when we serve with intermittent zeal does our own soul grow and thrive. Not when we are indifferent are we watered from the presence of the Lord. It is after we have been subdued, refined, and chastened. It is when love of self and love of the world is gone, that we learn to abide in Him and be in touch with Him at all times – and in all places or surroundings.
The old sin nature has to be crucified and remain in the place of crucifixion.. daily. This is not a ‘one-time' crucifixion – but a daily dying to self and living for Christ. And 2000 years worth of disciples’ experiences have discovered this to be so… because we are fallen sinners and this is a process we all need to experience. And God sets it out the 'how to' in Scripture in the words of the Apostles. And God gives warnings of what to avoid through Scriptural types.
Listen to the words of a believer who himself finally submitted. He wrote:- The value of both the struggle to free ourselves from the OLD Adam-life, and the equally fruitless efforts to experience the NEW Adam-life, (the Christ-life) is to finally realize that it is utterly futile. Our personal, heart-breaking failure in every phase of our Christian life..is our Father’s preparation for His success on our behalf. This negative processing of His, finally brings us into His positive promise of Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
God’s 'good work' in us is begun through failure. This includes our strongest points, which continues on into His success – by His performance, and not ours. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. There is no question but that we all began in sheer grace. There is no question that we must continue in sheer grace and there is no question that will arrive on the very same basis. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. Galatians 5:1
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