In the flesh we have certain rights, rights that we expect, rights that we must have. We have the right to be respected and the right to be heard. We have the right to be treated fairly and the right to be safe and preserve our safety. We have a right for our accomplishments to be recognized, for us to be recognized. We have the right to pursue a happy life and the right to seek prosperity for our self and our family. The list goes on and on. But what if the only sure means of obtaining these human rights for our self is by giving them up?
Intellectually this does sound absurd, ridiculous, and preposterous to the point of being completely backwards. But wait, is not God's way always the reverse of the way of the world, the flesh? Does not God ask that we hold others in a position of importance above self when our inner flesh screams along with the rest of the world, "NO, I must be certain that I am cared for first, I must get mine and then I will be in a better position, better able to be of assistance to others"?
The Holy Spirit helped the Apostle Paul take his own spiritual pulse, enabling him to learn that self must die. "I die daily," he writes. The necessity was to get self out of the equation, out of the way, and completely out of our mind. Paul's great philosophy of life is found in a life that has been abandoned to the love and care of Christ, and it is the means to every wonderful, blessed gift and advantage of the Christian faith. The access to every virtue and all fruit is found here. Where?-- IN Christ!
"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
Oh the simplistic yet profound spiritual investment we make when we die to self that Christ may truly live in us. I cannot, but Christ in me can. How do I get myself out of the way so that the power, the faith, the joy and peace, the selfless humility and grand fruit of the Lord Jesus may be released into my life?
John 6:28-29 Jesus was asked the question, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Listen to His answer that as usual answers not merely the question asked, but also gives the how and why along with the what. "To believe in the one he has sent." That's it? Believe? I already believe, there must be more, so what is Jesus saying here?
We must learn to put our belief in the Savior of mankind to work in our lives. When we put belief to work we apply that belief so that it changes how we would normally do things. We rely upon Christ and rest in Him. In true belief we trust Christ, His power, His ability and desire to transform our lives, to heal, to change what needs changed, and to empower. God gives the measure of faith and if I have not enough faith there is only one thing to do; Jesus does have enough faith and more--for us! If Christ lives IN me then I have also IN me the faith that Jesus has, the power of Christ, the joy, the peace, and every Christian virtue and fruit of the Spirit. When Christ comes to dwell within you He comes completely, along with everything we know Him to be. We must believe that He can and will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and surrender our will, our intellect, our self reliance to Him.
I can't even count the times I have been in diligent prayer for someone or some situation, desperately trying to conger up enough faith to have victory in this thing. I was trying to "manufacture" faith. It was all self effort, when self had died. Had it? No! I was still relying upon myself, my efforts, my own faith in God, when it is Christ that has the faith I lack. When I rest in Him, allowing His glorious attributes and power to work, it is then that victory is assured.
Jesus also said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
All the power and ability we need to do all that our God asks of us, "To do the works God requires," are found in our reliance upon Christ, are found in the Vine. This is the "belief" Jesus spoke of; trusting in His power.
How do we trust in the Christ that is in us when hardship and suffering, persecution and trials abound? We believe, and then rest in that belief. That is faith my friend! Jesus is our all in all and He is the one who is suffering most. His suffering has not ended. When Christ ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father His suffering was not over. No, He suffers with us as we suffer in Him. Jesus has not ceased His suffering for He dwells within His Saints who still suffer today. Peter writes," Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you; as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice in as much as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory is revealed you may be glad also with exceeding joy."
In Christ, His sufferings are now our sufferings and anything we suffer, He suffers along with us--in us. The same power Jesus had to endure suffering, to endure a cruel, painful death, the same power that raised Him from the dead now dwells IN us!
Jesus emphasized that He and the Father are one. Now we too are one with Christ, if indeed Christ dwells within us through His Spirit. Unity with God is ours through belief. That same faith that justified us in God's sight is the faith that will continue to sanctify us, giving us power to live as Jesus lived. The key is unity, entering into that oneness of the Son with the Father.
Belief is the door that leads into Christ, becoming as much a part of the body as the Apostles and early church fathers. We all suffer together and we rejoice together as one. Together we celebrate victory in Christ. We are connected to Christ as branches that receive our nourishment, power and everything that pertains to life, from the Vine--Christ.
Belief in God's power, and our belief in the availability of that power in us, is the victory. In His power we can obey Him, and endure hardship and persecution. In Christ's power we can resist temptation. He provides the power for us to "Do the good works that he has before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10b) He exerts His power to enable me to die to myself, that I may live in the power of Christ, who is in me, within His peace and joy, and within His comfort. Yet, until I surrender my rights to Christ I will forever live without the power to walk in the Spirit, enjoying the strengths and comforts of grace. I must surrender my rights. This is dying to self. This is being crucified with Christ.
If I have been justified, then I am being sanctified, I am growing and maturing in Christ. The same belief, the same faith that justifies, also sustains. My BELIEF in Christ and in His ability to do for, in, and through me what I cannot do, is what activates His power. Jesus the Christ is all sufficient, His grace is sufficient for all my needs. He is able to overcome temptation. He is perfectly capable of enabling my mind and body to endure suffering.
His Spirit in me will reveal to me the areas I need to surrender, to conquer, and to kill. He will reveal to me my pride, and as soon as I believe that Christ can and will overcome my pride then the victory is mine, because He is our champion. He gains the victory in our behalf. But first, I must get me out of the way of His power and wisdom and keep it out of the way. I must die daily to myself, clearing the room for Christ to work. There can be no conflict of wills. If I truly hope to live in the power and benefits of Christ and His Spirit, I must put my will to death, aligning myself with God's perfect will.
More times than I care to remember, my self-perceived superior intellect (shame on me) would have the solution to a particular situation all figured out. I would be on my knees praying diligently and seem to be telling God exactly how He should act in this problem. It is no surprise that those prayers were not responded to by God no matter how piously I appeared to approach Him. That was my self will, not God's will. His ways and thoughts dwarf mine, He is omniscient, meaning He knows all things and knows them in a way I am not even capable of knowing them. My intellect, which feeds my will, has to get out of the way. Compared to God I am dumber than a box of rocks. I need to trust that His way is best. I need to pray as Jesus did, "Not my will but thine be done."
God's will includes all that I need to be joyful, at peace, content, satisfied and fruitful. We are safe in His arms. That is why we can trust Him--because of His great love and concern and care for us. I must believe this first. I must trust Christ, must put all my Faith in Jesus and Believe in His Power and His willingness to exert that power in my behalf. All of those rights that we give up are nothing compared to what our Lord has in store for us when we Rest in Him--Rely on Him. I must surrender my will, accepting His more perfect will on a continuing basis. In short, I must be "Crucified with Christ," then-- VICTORY!
The life we now live in the Spirit, though still housed in these bodies, we live by faith in the Son of God (Jesus) who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Glory waits for you and me
By faith in Christ--His power alone
Will see us safely to our home
By Sheldon Bass
Sheldon lives in Indianapolis Indiana, serving as a Volunteer Minister and Bible Teacher. He is a free lance writer who is now accepting assignments.
Contact Sheldon at email@example.com