There is a point in the Christian life where we stop seeking spiritual things and start seeking Christ instead.
It is a point where the poetry of the scriptures ceases to be just poetry; it becomes reality. Where we begin to see that the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, is the very thing we have been seeking. This is not simply speaking of our moment of salvation. This is about our life in Christ after we have been walking with Him for a while.
When I was a young believer, God’s provision came much more easily. When I needed a special thing from the Lord, He would often give it clearly and quickly. Such as when I needed help to overcome some problem such as deliverance from anger, lust, fear, pain, confusion and more.
But as I grew older in Christ, He wanted to draw me deeper to Himself. Some have referred to this as the Lord saying, “Time to grow up”. So, I was forced to seek deeper dependence on Him. Not just on His provision, but on Himself.
That is what He really desires from us. And this is a lifelong process. It is a point-by-point crisis journey that He takes us through. And it goes to the micro level. Nothing is too small for Him.
I can remember quite vividly the day my eyes were first opened to see the Lord as my righteousness. To give an example, I was on my knees, in agony over a situation that was out of my control. And then the Lord opened the windows of Heaven and revealed to me that He is my Wisdom, my Righteousness, my Sanctification and my Redemption.
Now, let me tell you. This is not something that I got from a sermon. I had never heard this from a pulpit. Yes, I had read verses to this effect. But to be brought to see the reality of this was amazing.
What I saw in that moment was that the Lord had fulfilled, in Himself, all that He requires of me. AND, that He had given Himself to me in fullness.
To repeat this another way, all that God requires of me, Christ IS. This is not just a statement of the value and glory of the Lord. It is about what He is on my behalf. What is put into my account before God.
Or to say it another way, He is both the One who made the requirement of holiness upon me, and He is the total fulfillment of that holiness for me. Not just to give me “power” to live a holy life, but the life itself credited to me now.
This is almost too good for most believers to accept. We have been taught that now we have been given “the power to become the sons of God.” (John 1:12) And we take that to mean that God has now given us the ability to do what He has commanded us in a kind of independent means as Christians. And that now we must rely on prayer and obedience to access that power with His help. So the question is, At what point does God help me to live for Him? As I am doing what He wants? Or after I do a certain level of stuff that is good? Or are we talking about something entirely different? Do I have to reach a certain level before receiving the help of the Holy Spirit?
So, how then do I please God? How do I keep His commandments (not Moses’ Law) that He told me to keep in the New Testament? How do I have perfect fellowship with Him now?
Paul speaks of his internal battle to keep the Lord’s commandments. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (Romans 7:18) He is saying here that he has nothing in his flesh to battle against sin. In himself, resides only the flesh. This is something that God cannot use to do His work. The flesh is something that cannot be rehabilitated. God has condemned it. It now resides in the outhouse basement.
So then, how do we do what is good? We cannot leave this undone. We cannot shirk our duty to the Lord. We cannot do half a job or settle for “Christianity lite”.
Paul gives us the answer. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
It is the Lord, Himself, within us that lives the life God requires. How contrary this is to the way we have often been taught to live. Most of us have learned a thousand ways to “practically” bring our flesh under subjection. And Paul’s “runner” illustration from Hebrews 12 is often used to reinforce this idea. Do stuff you don’t want to do until those actions become habits.
We have been taught that it is by our will power plus prayer that we live this life. And there is some level of success that most Christians can point to in applying this principle. But is this pleasing to God? Is this the fruit of the Spirit? Or is this the fruit of dedicated Christian flesh?
I am going to recommend some additional reading here. There is a pamphlet I found many years ago to be a wonderful help to me in understanding these truths. It is written by AB Simpson. One of the founders of the original Christian and Missionary Alliance movement. The pamphlet is called, Himself. It is about Christ Himself. Let me know what you think.
Please, note that with all links used, I am not able to fully endorse all the stuff that a site might have on it. This includes articles, videos, sermons, etc. But in order to provide access to materials that are valuable, I have to use them where I can find them. If you see something you question on a link, please, let me know and we can discuss it.
January 20, 2016 at 8:34 am
This calls in to mind two opposing views: the rest that God has called us into and His yoke in which he carries the burden. The other is a hound of hell that I succumb to a much too often, Shakespeare identified it well and his
witches bubble bubble toil and trouble. These two forces both seem to have power over me and ability to sway me. But the one that wins is the one I most focused on at the time. The one I think is going to get me out of the predicament or situation that I am currently facing that I do not care to be part of. Keep up the good work!
January 22, 2016 at 8:48 pm
Paul said that the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the thing that we would. There is both a warning and a hope there. So that we will stop trying to fight a battle that is not won by our wills.
January 20, 2016 at 9:23 am
After reading A B Simpson sermon. I see the pulls of the old man and the new man in Christ. I think here on earth we will always have the breath of evil calling and breathing down our necks and only Gospel God can keep us from disaster. My hope is that I can enter into God’s rest that I might be used by God in His kingdom.
January 22, 2016 at 8:49 pm
Unfortunately, many believers teach that the “rest” is heaven and miss God’s blessing altogether.
January 20, 2016 at 5:48 pm
Keep up the good work friend.