The worst problem we face as believers is self confidence.
Talk about a direct conflict of principles between the world and the Bible!
The world teaches us the opposite of that. To have self esteem. To have self confidence. To love ourselves. And to push ourselves forward as much as possible.
Passing Through the Valley
The Bible does not teach that.
It tells us that we are nothing in ourselves. Even as Paul said, “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)).
And in another place it says, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3).
We can read these verses and become very aware of our own failures. And we can become depressed, despondent, and crushed under the weight of this. Even allowing ourselves to take a morbid comfort in our own unworthiness. Dwelling in what we think is a spiritually good kind of self-loathing. Even as many among the Catholic mystics and other works-religions do. Going so far as to punish, whip and mutilate themselves for their sins.
But this is not where God intends for us to live.
That miserable state of self awareness is merely a necessary valley we must go through on the way to true peace and rest.
The Lord only desires that we are convinced of our own inability, sinfulness and emptiness in order that we would turn away from any confidence in our selves. To quit looking within ourselves for a solution to our problems.
Because there is nothing there to find. As I’ve said before, it’s like looking for a beautiful garden in an outhouse basement.
Consider what Paul says, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory…” (Colossians 1:27)
This is where our hope is. This is where our confidence is founded. Not in anything that we have in ourselves. But in the Christ who dwells within us.
More Than a Bag of Beans
Let’s think of this another way. Consider the following verse carefully. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12).
This verse is often taught by church leaders to imply that there is a thing within us, as believers, that gives us the power to live the Christian life. Technically this is true. But this verse needs to be understood properly or it will only bring us to failure and disappointment.
The Lord Himself, who dwells within us, is that Power. Our Power is a Person.
He does not give us anything that is not directly linked to Himself. We do not get a bag of “goodness” or a bag of “love” or a bag of “power” to use as best we can.
Watchman Nee, in his books, Christ, The Sum of All Spiritual Things and The Glory of His Life, said that if we were to be given a bunch of power, we would be absolutely clueless in how to use that power. Just as anyone possessing the power of the Sun would be totally bankrupt in knowing what to do with it. That power would more likely destroy a man than be a blessing to him.
Yet, the Lord wants to be in us all the things we need. He wants to be our love. He wants to be our holiness. He wants to be our joy. He wants to be our purity. He does not expect us to become or have those things by some other means.
By faith, He becomes those things practically in us as we learn to rest in His activity.
By faith means that we are believing in something that God has said in His word. Faith is about having confidence in a promise that the Lord has made. Faith is not about some act we undertake to prove we have faith.
How Christ Manifests Himself to the World
Think about the verse that says, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). That is an amazing verse. But it is also highly misunderstood.
This is not talking about a method of works salvation. It is talking about how the Lord will, in a tangible and visible way, “work out” or manifest Himself in our lives. In very open and visual ways to the world around us.
For the benefit of others as well as for ourselves. To show the reality of His indwelling in outward ways.
And this occurs when we rest in His activity.
As we wait on Him, He will move within us and move us to do those things He wants to do through us. But not necessarily the things that others want us to do. Not necessarily what the pastor expects or the Sunday School teacher or any other person expects.
The Lord wants to live through us to reveal Himself to the world. He wants us to be available and open to His working. Looking to Him with a joyous expectancy of those things He will do.
So that the world can see more than the mediocre, bland, boring and fleshly works that the church is so busy trying to accomplish. So that the work of the Spirit of God will be revealed in sharp contrast to the plans, the goals, and all the other activity of dedicated Christian flesh.
So that people will see only Christ Himself.
When we, with quietness and confidence, focus on Him; so He can do all that He wants to do through us.