My grandmother was a godly woman who taught me many ways of the cross. She has been gone for quite some time now, yet she still remains a center pillar in my life.
As a young child, as I was always clamoring for attention and she would always say to me “Dural, (her nickname for me at those moments) if you would just not draw so much attention to yourself, people would notice you more”. It has taken me the most part of 50 years to wrap my mind around that concept completely, and I am still working on it every day. A few years after her death with the invention of the internet, I was able to research the name Dural. I came to find out that Dural means a hollow tree on fire. From this, the Lord has taught me than a fire burning with nothing on the inside is a useless fire that will quickly consume the source of whatever is feeding the flames – a hollow tree burns quickly. Yet if we allow Christ to be the source of the fire burning in our lives, His fire fed by the Holy Spirit can never be consumed as He fills our hearts and lives. Without Him, whatever we feed ourselves with will utterly consume us in due time. Thank you, grandmother for helping God work in my life even though you are no longer here with me – hence the golden thread.
In the flesh we are easily drawn to find our own self-worth and self-importance. This idea was first conceived in the Garden of Eden, and the practice continues today. Replacing grace with ourselves, and replacing Jesus with our own ambitions and needs as Lord, is at its heart a form of idolatry.
Many unbelievers that see us boast of ourselves with our “self-edifying religion” reject this type of “christianity”. In all reality they are not rejecting Christ, but the conceit in our own faith that they see in us. When our own flesh becomes the stumbling block of others coming to know Jesus Christ, we are eclipsing His glory with the worship of our own importance instead of that of the Son of God. I see it in myself, as well as many major ministries around the world. I have to test myself daily to see what emanates from my words and actions. Is it me or is it Jesus Christ?
To help with this Paul gives us the formula to overcome this deficiency.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
What Paul is saying here is that even though he lives in the flesh, he does not live after the flesh. Conceit, self-importance, arrogance, and inflated self-worth are in our will, in our nature and in our understanding, and it is not possible to be ransomed by any other means than by the price paid on Calvary. Consider well the price that was paid. If we profess Christ, we must crucify ourselves with Him. Here we can learn the true nature of grace. God’s grace in Christ Jesus cannot stand alongside with man’s own merit.
We must look away from ourselves. Our mind, soul, body and consciousness must become one with Christ. If we keep looking to ourselves, we are lost. If we lose sight of the cross and feed on our past we will go to pieces. We must fix our eyes, heart and mind on Him, in whom we live and who lives in us. He is our only form of perfection. If we look at ourselves we will see plenty of sin, but if we look at Him we will see no sin.
John the Baptist understood it best, when he said in John the 3rd chapter, He must become greater, and I must become less. There is humility in grace; an emptying of ourselves when we crucify our flesh, crucify our carnal man, and crucify and set aside our own selfish wants and desires. Doing this invites liberation in grace that comes with understanding of what it means to crucify our self with Christ.
Philippians 2:5-8 Your attitude should be that of Christ Jesus, being God, made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death on a cross!
We can begin this process of taking on the same attitude that Paul instructs us to take here in Philippians by acknowledging our own “human feelings or emotions”—all of them; the good, the bad, and the ugly. We need to see them for what they are and take them before our Lord. If we can see clearly the hurts and wounds we have suffered at our own hands and at the hands of others, such as lies, deceit, game-playing, manipulation, and hypocrisy and crucify them with Christ, grace can take hold in our lives. We need to be honest with ourselves and offer up our flesh before the Lord and His mercy. He will open our eyes and set us free from our self, His grace is our fulfillment.
We must turn away from all the carnal, anti-Christ satisfactions of the secular world that is pushing Jesus from the center of our lives and surrender ourselves to Him so he can renew us and let Him be Lord of who we are.
Ephesians 4:20-24 You have heard and know the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is corrupted by its deceitful desires; be made new in the attitude of your minds; put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Here is what Paul is saying, die to self, decrease, give up who we are, and doing so will increase who He is in us. That’s what being “born again” is all about; putting away the flesh, along with all its illusions and deceit, and putting on a new life – becoming a new creation in Christ. We become an instrument of God’s will, by dedicating our being, and our talents, becoming His servant for His benefit and salvation of others and their needs.
As we die to ourselves we no longer have to wrestle with the selfishness that can impede the effectiveness His grace in our lives. The flesh becomes nullified when we realize that we have nothing to lose as we are dead; we have been crucified with Christ. God desires that His grace saturate and take hold in every area of our lives. This can only be accomplished by truly dying to ourselves and submitting to the power of the cross. As we submit to Christ and lay our flesh upon the cross – He will increase. We have direct access to the throne of grace through Christ Jesus. As we die to our self we can be assured that God’s grace is working for our good in all circumstances.
Such an enormous price was paid on for us Calvary, and yet we still want to try to stand with our accomplishments, works, and our own merits? What do we need or want with any of these? If we take ourselves at face value, we will take all of our own glory and throw it in the garbage. What good is all that we have done compared to that which Jesus bore on the cross – for it is only the precious redemptive blood of Christ Jesus that can pacify our God. Thanks to grace and my grandmother, I am learning we need not be a hollow tree consumed by fire. When in doubt, just stop and ask yourself – Is it me or is it Jesus Christ in me?
- Living in God’s Grace (kojjosimonpeter.wordpress.com)
- Law or grace, part 1… (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (calvinistview.com)
- A Holy Desire to NEVER sin again! (bigpreacher.wordpress.com)
- Blogging for Jesus (freedomborn.wordpress.com)
- Saved by God’s Grace. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! (bummyla.wordpress.com)