The Death Of The Self-Life
THE DEATH OF THE SELF-LIFE
This we know - - that our old self is crucified with Him, in order that our sinful nature might be deprived of its power, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin; for he who has paid the penalty of death stands absolved from his sin. - - Romans 6:6
- Richard Francis Weymouth
H. JACK STANLEY
A scriptural in-depth teaching of ultimate deliverance from self, wrought for man by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
THE DEATH OF THE SELF-LIFE
Copyright© May, 1993.
All rights reserved.
Printed in The United States of America
SUNSHINE VALLEY PRINTING
16404 Kulp Rd.
Boles, Arkansas 72926
To Mr. Don Hawthorne for his art work in providing the meaningful and appropriate picturesque cover for this book.
To Ms Arline Reschke for typing this manuscript adding her corrective ability and preparing it for the printer.
For my dear wife, Phyllis, who went over this manuscript any number of times correcting the grammatical errors of the author. Her labor is gratefully acknowledged.
- H. Jack Stanley
THE DEATH OF THE SELF-LIFE
Table of Contents
ANTICHRIST, THE PORTRAIT OF SELF-WILL
THE DEATH OF THE SELF-LIFE
THE DEATH OF THE HUSBAND
FREE TO DISOBEY THE SELF-LIFE
REALLY? CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST
CRUCIFIXION - - - TWO WAYS
TREASURE IN AN EARTHEN VESSEL
A FAITH ACTION FOR A SUCCESSFUL DEATH
STOP TRYING TO DIE BY FLESHY EFFORT
THE ANTITHESIS OF SELF-LOVE
THE DEATH OF THE SELF-LIFE
Juarez had Maximilian on his hands as a political prisoner. What should he do with him? The great Archduke stood shamed and embarrassed before the whole world, due to his failure and capture. As long as Maximilian remained alive anywhere on earth, Mexico would be in jeopardy. For this man would do anything to recover his lost face. Juarez made the decision, "This man must die". In the latter part of the 1860's the Archduke and two of his officers faced the firing squad. They were shot and killed, and, from that day to this, Maximilian has never troubled Mexico.
This is exactly the death sentence which God has decreed on the self-life of the Adamic man. For as long as "old self" remains alive and loose in a person, the whole man will be in jeopardy. People often blame the devil for their spiritual plights and difficulties. However, if such were properly examined in the light of scripture, they would find the cause of the problem in the activity of the self-life. When God slew the "old man" on the cross, IN CHRIST, He knew exactly what He was doing. For that was the death of the self-life - then and there. To believe this great redemptive FACT, and incorporate it into one's basic philosophy of life and living, is the only way a man can be delivered from the thralldom of the self-life with its crippling emotional bondages
ANTICHRIST, THE PORTRAIT OF SELF-WILL
As I said above, the content of this man will be the ultimate of carnal, sinful human nature - which is the self-life wholly without God, and this is the man I am concerned with. God will take care of the coming Antichrist. He will program his life and deal with him in final judgment. In every man there is an Antichrist, a son of perdition. This is the man in me that God must deal with. He is a constant competitor with God, vying for control of my life. He would play God within me and reduce me to a blasphemer if he could. Let us look closely at this person who is the ultimate gathering into himself of the self-life. If we fail to see and believe that Jesus Christ slew this inner monster; if we do not manifest faith in Christ's work and realize that in Him we have been fully delivered from Antichrist's power and control - then we shall be miserable Christians. So let us turn to the Scripture found in II Thessalonians, Chapter 2 and verse 4.
1. "WHO OPPOSETH GOD". Of course we know from the Word of God, that this has been the incessant practice of Satan and his cohorts ever since he became the devil. To always resist and oppose God and His work is paramount in his agenda. Now, however, we cannot possibly fail to notice that he works in me and you through our self-life. In the Greek testament the word for "opposeth" is 'antikeimai' and it literally means "in the opposite corner". It is the picture of two boxers in a prizefighter's ring - each in his corner, aiming to knock the other fellow out and win the match. Self and Christ are these two opponents. Christ always seeks to win the day and give glorious spiritual victory, but because His way is the way of the cross, self will resist and oppose Him with all its might. The self-life refuses to suffer. The action of the self-life is the result of unbelief and distrust of Christ. The God-opposing-man in me is naturally critical, bitter and resentful; and, when in this kind of a fight, will express himself in finding fault with God. The self-life is ugly and unholy. Even in a believer, when he asserts himself, that person will look much more like the devil than like Christ. I hate it when he shows himself and rises up in me. It makes me so ashamed. Yet this experience is what God often uses to break and humble us and bring us back into the faith position of conquest.
2. "And exalteth himself". The self-life, unrestrained, will always seek to exalt itself. Its pride and passion for recognition causes it to perform in utter self-aggrandizement. Its expression will include extreme adulation. In Adam, self has eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and, in his mind, he replaces God and becomes a divine judge (?) in his own right. God's judgment is superseded. It's like the story of King Saul when the prophet sent Saul down to "utterly destroy" the Amalekites. He proceeded to disobey God and became a God-playing judge. The human reason, in the self-life, opposed the commandment of God. Why butcher all this fine stock? They would make a beautiful religious sacrifice. However, we learn later in this chapter that Saul's motive was not really to serve God but to gain the applause and admiration of the people. This greatly displeased God. However, this is how unrestrained-self will always plan and act.
3. "Exalteth himself above all that is called God or worshipped." This is exactly what the king did. This is what Satan did while he was still Lucifer, before he became the devil. This was his appeal to Eve, which prompted the FALL. This is what he ever seeks to do in the unsanctified person. Pride and self-love continually wait to offer our emotional factors as handles for the devil to use against God.
4. "so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that is god." Consider two things:
(a) Now he is located. What and where is the TEMPLE OF GOD? Your body is the temple of God. Yes, this Antichrist is an inner spirit enthroning himself within us in order to control and enslave us through the self-life. He knows how to manipulate our emotions, but remember TRUTH is not in how we feel. TRUTH is in Christ. He is TRUTH Personified. The Word of God is TRUTH. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of TRUTH. To let our emotions dictate our actions and thoughts will end in disaster. TO LET TRUTH BE THE DETERMINANT OF OUR THOUGHTS, WORDS, AND ACTS WILL KEEP US IN RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD; AND EVENTUALLY BRING US TO THE HEAVEN HE HAS PREPARED, WITH A JOYOUS LIFE OF BLESSED FULFILLMENT. Cooperation with Satan will always seek to obtain self-glory apart from the cross.
(b) Show-offism. We don't mind it in children; but in adults it is nauseous. In the early years of my life I was a salesman. We learned that one of the strongest appeals was, "Pride of ownership" - to own, wear, or display something that was ours which commanded the attention of others and showered us with compliments. My, how the life of self-love wallowed in this ministry to our ego. What a reversal of the Divine purpose. When we are called to "show off HIM, Jesus" - and we spend our life seeking to show off our wealth, our personality - how sad, and what eternal loss will be ours in the end.
Always have something better, or accomplish something superior to the other fellow. Have things, possessions, medals, degrees, clothes, cars, or whatever, that will command recognition and make people aware of your wealth. Prestige (show-offism) is what self-love craves. Let me repeat, we are called to die to self and show off Jesus Christ. Men are to see our good WORKS and glorify our Father which is in Heaven. Self - with all its love, pity and longing for recognition - is the workshop of the devil, and, as such, will never be anything else. His is why God has put self under the sentence of death. Death is the only way that self-life can be disposed of.
We used to feed birds and it was quite a pleasure; but there were cats in our neighborhood that liked to feed on birds. We tried many ways to discourage the cats from doing this. Alas, every attempt failed. There was one way by which the cats WOULD STOP EATING BIRDS. Kill the cat. Please, don't think that we ever killed a cat. No, but we recognized this truth. It is cat nature to eat birds, and only by Death can this nature of the cat-life habit be corrected. This is the way of the self-life. It can live and act no other way. SELF, unrestrained, alive and active in a human, will always seek to be KING and have dominion in running the life. Thank God for the cross and the redemption of Christ, which delivers us from "the man of sin" the inbred inner monster.
THE DEATH OF THE SELF-LIFE
Now, however, in God's glorious economy, provision has been made for the death of the self-life. Remember that in His great redemptive work, Jesus Christ did not only take your sins to the cross, but He took you - your OLD MAN (the self-life) - to the cross. Thus God has provided for the death of the self-life in the death of Christ. The believer in Christ is to live an "exchanged" life, having Christ now as the center and source (inwardly), thus replacing self. This is the ultimate transformation of a human being.
Beware of attempting to crucify (or die to) the self-life by fleshly activity or thought processes. The Bible clearly states that our 'old man' (the self-life, the flesh, the sinning organ) WAS crucified WITH Christ when He died. Co-crucifixion is the word. In God's mind and order, you, together WITH Christ, shared the cross, and there is nothing you can do to add to His great work. In fact, any attempt which you might make would be rank unbelief and an insult to God. It would be virtually saying that God did not tell the TRUTH. We must simply receive His mighty Word of Divine Reality (Truth) then go forth to live in its glorious power!
How is this accomplished? By LEARNING to live in on-going yieldedness to Christ IN HIS WORD AND BY HIS SPIRIT. Never forget, that by His death and resurrection, Christ was transfigured from flesh to Spirit, and is now embodied in the WORD. His words are Spirit and they are LIFE (John 6:53). Every time you experience the conflict between God's will and self-will, and in that moment you act in obedience to Christ, you are in the same instant disobeying (dying to) self. The Holy Spirit furnishes the power, and He will certify and verify God's truth to your faith - i.e. the reality of your death (to self) in His death. In this ultimate issue of spirit, we must believingly begin to act and speak under Christ's authority. Oswald Chambers so aptly expresses this action in his capsule phrase: "We sacrifice the natural to the spiritual by obedience to Christ." In seeking to learn this way of "faith life" in all relationships, we will experience the glory, the power, and the beauty of the EXCHANGED LIFE.
God, Himself, is the Source of the dynamic that provides the power to live actively the life of "self-death". In John 1:14 we have these blessed meaningful words, "And the WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US, AND WE BEHELD HIS GLORY, THE GLORY AS OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH." What is GRACE? It is defined as "unmerited favor", but I remember, some years ago, when I was ministering in lower Texas along the U.S. border, hearing a brother describe GRACE. He said, "Grace is the ability to do what we cannot do naturally." That keeps it in the realm of God where it belongs - - - and this is what Christ is full of. Grace and truth are like the two rails over which the express train travels. Neither rail would suffice alone - both are required for successful movement. TRUTH is the basic requirement. Jesus Christ is THE TRUTH Personified. Three times in the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit is called "The Spirit of TRUTH". Also, in John 17:17, in Jesus' prayer to His Father, He said, "Thy Word is TRUTH." When the will of man is set to act on TRUTH - all the resources of heaven will respond to that desire. This is called GRACE. The person so involved will experience this "grace-power" to obey the truth.
Thus in real life circumstances, instead of reacting in the flesh, the believer who knows the working of the cross will counteract in the spirit. In setting himself to obey the TRUTH, he will find, in that instant, GRACE to enable him to act accordingly. This is the HOW of Christian behavior. Pride and lust are defeated in the man, and Christ shines forth. This is a divine principle and is seen throughout the entire Bible. The healing of Naaman is a classic example. (II Kings 5)
1. There must be the recognition of a deep need (leprosy), humility.
2. A willingness to seek God for the supply of that need.
3. To receive a Divine directive (promise) for that supply.
4. To recognize that the promise will create a problem, as a supernatural truth comes against a natural reality (Christ vs. carnality).
5. One must involve the Spiritual realm in order to believe the truth.
6. The promise is received upon believing and obeying the truth.
THE DEATH OF THE HUSBAND
In this portrait we see "self" as the wife of the person, "the old man". (May I give my personal experience?) I was born married to myself. There was no one that I loved like me. I was ready and willing to work my fingers to the bone to give me everything my selfish heart craved. If my ears ever heard me criticized, I was ready to curse and defame the person who sought to make me out as being wrong. I literally worshipped the ground I walked on. When self is unchecked, he will make an ego-maniac out of himself, and this is the true state of all mankind, except people who have the Spirit of God abiding in their hearts.
Then one day I meet a Man called Jesus Christ. I find in Him something I have seen in no other Person. I could love this Man completely as a Husband, but, alas, I am not free to even think of marriage to Him as I already have a husband. But as this portrait becomes a moving picture, I discover that my husband is dead. The 4th verse makes it all so plain.
1. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ" - The lady was not married to law. She was married to a man, but with that marriage came the invocation of a law - so when the husband died, that law became null and void.
The law of the husband became null and void "by the body of Christ" that is by the slain body of Christ. Remember that in the economy of God, when Christ died on the cross, you died IN Him with respect to your Adamic, sin-nature (your original husband). The second He died you were instantly emancipated. Your old man died - he became non-existent and you were free "to be married to another, even to Him Who is raised from the dead." (Jesus Christ).
So you see, that within Himself, God has made every provision through His Son, Christ, whereby sinful man can be related to God IN Christ exactly as He desires.
Then we come to the final truth in vs. 4. "That we should bring forth fruit unto God". Please notice that all the former pronouns used in verse 4 are singular. Now, however, we have the plural pronoun. It is only by our inner marital union with Christ that we can ever properly bear fruit unto God. Attempts to employ other methods will prove abortive and sterile. We now can have this holy inner union with Christ, and are qualified and capable of bringing forth fruit unto God. This is true individually or corporately. The "we" could refer to the union of Christ and the believer, or it could refer to the union between Christ and His Church. Either or both ways it fits - because the lover upon whom all the worship and devotion was formerly expended is dead and the affair is over. Self has been broken - shattered and is no longer a factor. Now the Lord Jesus is the center of affection; worry has been transformed into worship of Him, self into service, anxiety into adoration. He, our eternal Husband, has become our all in all.
FREE TO DISOBEY THE SELF-LIFE
This same text can be found in Mark 8, John 12 and Matthew 16. It is one of the most critical and important teachings that Jesus ever gave. The cross is central to its meaning and understanding. To "come after" Jesus is the normal action, desire, and purpose of anyone who has truly found Him as Saviour and Lord, and has the Holy Spirit as the inner abiding Comforter. The instructions of our Lord are definite and absolute.
1. "LET HIM." What does this mean? It means that to do such is God's will. He herewith gives both His consent and permission. His total approbation is on doing it as the life-style of the person. "Let Him" - Yes! - Go ahead! Do this thing! It is My will for you!
2. "DENY HIMSELF." Jesus is not speaking of giving up things during lent or of any such minimal practice. He is speaking of denying self, itself. Of course, this can only be done on the basis of Calvary. Nature, self, is a powerful inner drive. Its psychological and biological inner actions release forces that dictate and determine our conduct and responses in disposition and life. This brings us to the next step.
3. "AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY AND FOLLOW ME". This statement is not a mere suggestion nor a good idea for a life style. It is a command of God to His children of faith. It commands an action which is more than a 'mental something'. This word needs to get into the blood stream, into the nervous system until it becomes a visible display of the very substance of the person in whose life it is maintained. This is a 'daily habit' - not done "once for all", but "done once for always". We are to take the initiative. We are commanded to take up the cross deliberately and purposefully and follow Jesus. In fact, it is only by taking up the cross that we can follow Jesus. The cross is the instrument that furnishes the power for "followship" What does it mean to "go take up our cross"?
(a) to identify by faith with Jesus in His death. To believe that when He died, we died with and in Him.
(b) that we are committed people. Our life has been given over to Jesus; our will has utterly become His will. We have given up the right to ourselves to Him. We see ourselves as His property, through whom He can demonstrate before the world just what heaven is like, in revealing His infinite love, grace and justice.
In summary, it means that the vital issues of our relationship with God are fully settled. Our constant aim is to "never come down from the cross", when we are confronted with daily choices as to what road we will take; that is to spare ourself (take an easy road whereby we will suffer no derision or persecution) or to take the road of suffering the cross (paying the price of manifesting a non-worldly, pro-heaven attitude and style of life). The latter behavior will always antagonize the godless person; thus he comes against us with strong rejection.
Instead of using Luke 9:24, let us use Matthew 16:26 (the same text) for the summation of this lesson. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Note: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny (disobey) the demand of the self-life - etc." When faith in Christ and in His redemptive work is active in the spirit of the man, he can disobey his self-life (deny it). He can "let him" = he can do it! The questions in Matthew are rhetorical. Luke says "lose himself" -- Matthew says "lose his own soul". The translation of the word soul is from the Greek "psuche" (which word is also translated "life"). This word particularly means "soul-life", which is the Adamic life in its natural form, or really the self-life. It is the life which normally operates the faculties of the soul (intellect, emotions, and will).
Way back in the beginning when man disobeyed God, what did he really do? He ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This constituted "the fall", and in this fall (from his original relationship to God), he became a sinner and totally self-relating in all his judgments as to what is good and evil FOR HIM. The intellect is being operated by the soul-life, and because of its self-life orientation, it is in the process of being lost - lost to God and lost to the purposes for which it was created - hence, lost to itself. Instead of learning to deny himself, he spends his life indulging himself. Such a one gives himself to satisfying his sensual desires. He never even thinks of disobeying his worldly cravings - only of satisfying them; all the while gaining the world but losing his own soul. This is what he gives in exchange for his soul - the indulgences which the self-life craves. The man, who through Jesus Christ and His redemption, gives up the rights to himself to the Lord, and receives the baptism in the Holy Ghost, is empowered to disobey the lusts Or the eye and the pride of life, thus denying himself. Conversely, he learns to obey Christ, the truth, the Word of God; giving up the self-life with all its worldly ambitions and carnal cravings - in exchange for his soul, now saved, redeemed by the Blood of Christ and with name written in heaven; marches forward and upward, knowing that his name is written in God's book of those who really have eternal life.
REALLY? CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST
From a visible, physical standpoint, only two persons in history could make this statement in truth. They were the two thieves who were crucified at the same time that Jesus was crucified. Yes, timewise and placewise, only they could ever say "I am crucified with Christ". However, in the mind and purpose of God, when Christ died on the cross, everyone who would ever believe in Him throughout history really died with Him and in Him - in Elis death when He paid the awful sin price. Never forget that He, as God the Son of God, not only took your sins to the cross, but He took you, the sinner, to the cross and there IN HIM God's judgment on YOUR sin was satisfied. Death was the penalty for sin, and the sentence was exacted on Calvary. In fact, from the Cross onward, every step, which Christ took, you took with Him and in Him. The redemptive work of Christ stands as YOUR SPIRITUAL HISTORY in the mind and purpose of God; and if you will believe it and embrace it, you will be greatly honoring God, and the Holy Spirit will witness the truth to your faith. When Christ died, you died in Him. When He was buried, you were buried with and in Him. When He rose from the dead, you arose in Him. When He ascended to the right hand of God, you ascended in Him.
In fact, this is your current POSITION IN CHRIST. In the Spirit, regardless where your body may be at any given moment, you are at the right hand of God in Christ. From this glorious vantage position BY FAITH you may live, witness, and pray. To realize WHERE you are in Christ, transforms daily living for the believer into a beautiful and glorious on-going experience of fellowship with Him, in heavenly love, peace, and untold joy.
A "plus", which God has given us right here, must be mentioned. Perhaps in your version, the first line reads, "I have been crucified... etc." You see, the verb here is in the Greek perfect tense which speaks of a past completed action, which has present finished results. There is no way this verb could be translated into one English statement. Now, however, in the Spirit, we can conclude the mighty redemptive meaning. Christian, God knew 2000 years ago that today, in this last decade of the 1900's, you would be a living truster in His Son. Hence, He included you in Christ in His death. Thus the wording, "I have been crucified with Christ", but because the perfect tense includes currently immediate present finished results NOW, stemming from the past completed action, you may recognize this great truth to be a continuous, on-going, divine reality - to be lived out in daily experience to the glory of God.
The part of us that died in Christ, of course, was the old (first) Adam the natural man, the old man, the man of sin, THE SELF-LIFE. But we go on, "Nevertheless I live." We have moved into the EXCHANGED LIFE. Once self reigned as king on the inner throne. Now Christ is there, the true King reigning on that throne ("yet not I, but Christ liveth in me) and the life that I now live, I live by the faith OF THE SON OF GOD." No longer do I have to depend on my frail and fickle faith to reach God and find His approbation. Now, it is Christ within me, functioning in His perfect faith, establishing communication with His Father, and now my Father.
Let me give a quote from one of the official personnel of Bethany Fellowship, which may help us grasp this tremendous truth, "Positionally, Christ has taken us all to the cross, but now the cross must become experiential by total surrender (commitment) - so total, that DEATH IS THE ONLY WORD WHICH WILL PROPERLY DESCRIBE THE EXPERIENCE."
Let us draw from Norman Grubb's thinking, and read this verse thus, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet I am not just I, Jack Stanley, anymore, but Christ expressed in His Jack Stanley form etc." God's goal for His children will never change; it ever remains, "Conformed to the image of His Son." I'm sure that you are seeing that without going outside of Himself (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), God has so totally, and completely wrought in the visible and spiritual spheres that the accomplishment of His ends are within reach of every true believer.
Thank God that His children have been set free from the stultifying power of the self-life with its adulation, greed, and avarice. Free to recognize Christ as his life, and full provision for that abiding relationship to God; which spells for him inner peace, joy and gladness, that the world can neither give nor take away.
CRUCIFIXION - - - TWO WAYS
In I John 2:15,16,17, we read, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." The very activity of the world is destroying this earth with its God-created beauty. Satan's ordered system has virtually swallowed up the human race due to its lust and pride. Sinful, unregenerate human nature has a perfect affinity for Satan's bait; and what havoc has resulted from this continuing process from the beginning of time.
The world is on one end of the spectrum for which sin has this avid affection. The Father God is on the other - with His grace, love and salvation. Anyone, truly desiring Him, will be touched by His power; and will discover the Presence of a transcending force, with the accompanying blessed faith, enabling that person to repent - i.e. turn his back on the world and come alive to God and the glories of eternal life.
Notice this happens all because of "the Lord Jesus Christ". It is by Him and the cross (alone) that we may experience this wonderful relationship. The verb used here is also in the perfect, which speaks of a past completed action. (2000 years ago when Christ died on the cross, He took you with Himself, so that His dying and your dying together was a co-dying. You were severed from the world by death. Now all you need do is rest, by faith, in His finished work.) The past completed has present immediate results. (So you can look squarely at the world and at present say, "Old world, I am separated from you by death.") You are free from all the allurements and attractions of the world outwardly and visibly (the lusts and pride), but, even more, you are crucified to the world. That is, you no longer "hanker" after the world's allurements and temptations, because the Holy Spirit has also done an INNER work. He not only cut off the world externally and visibly, but He has also done a great invisible work. He has extracted desire from the inner man. Instead of wanting to nurse at the breasts of the world, we see its intended nourishment as refuse, garbage - something that makes us sick. We want no part of it.
We are free to live on and by Christ (to eat His flesh and drink His blood which means to live by Him alone - by no other philosophy, no other religion or theology) - - that God may mold us into His image, and sanctify us into Elis disposition. Oh, how God longs to get us wholly from the world and its lusts, so that more and more He may impart Himself to us, and integrate His glorious life within us - that we might be conformed to the image of His Son.
In II Corinthians 4, verses 8 and 9, Paul speaks of suffering in four various kinds of circumstances - trouble, perplexity, persecution, and being cast down. Yet, in each of these, he succeeded with spiritual victory. Self - Life with its reactive passion to vindicate, retaliate, and justify itself - had no voice whatever in his reaction. He triumphed in holiness, virtue and love. How was he able never to lose control of his thoughts and acts, when under such emotional pressure? He tells us plainly in verses 10 and 11, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for JESUS' SAKE, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh;" Verse 12, "So then death worketh in us, but life in you."
TREASURE IN AN EARTHEN VESSEL
In vs 10, we have Paul's way of following the directive - "take up your cross daily and follow Me." However, Paul's way of obeying the directive is totally practical. It contains no thought of this great matter as merely being something psychological. "Always bearing" speaks of a true faith effort. "Bearing" - enduring, putting up with, an emotional trauma to be accepted, and borne in consideration of the results - "That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest (visibly seen, displayed, demonstrated) in our body", i.e. shining out through our skin. This is truly the EXCHANGED LIFE. This is what it means to "be conformed to the image of His Son". Others will really see Christ in us; and the satisfied Father may say again, "My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." "The dying of the Lord Jesus", the powerful work of the cross is active in the whole man, enabling him to maintain such a positive attitude while in the midst of such negative environments.
The evidence of the full redemptive work of Christ was manifest in the way Paul thought, spoke and acted. He had known total deliverance from the thralldom of the self-life with its ugly, carnal reactions. Something heavenly had come to possess the man, that produced a godly character and a Christ-like disposition, making God visible in his life.
"For we which live are always delivered to death FOR JESUS' SAKE." God does not hold our hand and sing us to sleep every night. God tests us in order that we might succeed. He plans and arranges our "being plunged into death experiences" - because in such trials, alone, do we have the opportunity of powerfully manifesting "the life also of Jesus". Not someday when we arrive in heaven, but "in our mortal (here and now) flesh". This is utterly living the crucified (exchanged) life. By God's grace, we are given the glorious privilege of living THE EXCHANGED LIFE. By the cross, self has been slain; and Christ now lives where once self held sway. Yes, in this "mortal body", scarred and damaged by sin and self, now the Holy Son of God dwells; and is on the inner throne in control of the whole machine.
"So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (vs 12). This is the divine pattern for successful ministry. Do we really desire the salvation of the lost; the spiritual growth of believers; the edification of the church? Then we must see that this is God's way. Our attempting to make spiritual performances by the flesh will only produce fleshly converts. Let me emphasize again, it must be, and only be, by the action of the cross of Christ, that we became qualified ministers to dispense Divine truth that becomes spiritual food for the salvation and development of lost mankind. Death absolutely must work in us, if life is to be real to those observing us .
Let us take just another moment to put vs 12 in a clearer perspective. The first line of vs 12 refers to the first line of vs 10 - "so then death worketh in us", "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus". This is the cross doing its great work of crucifixion to the old man (the self-life). You see, it is God Who plans our trials, to refine us as gold. He, by His providence, plunges us into death experiences. He does not take us by the hand and sing us to sleep. Anyone can look like a Christian when everything is favorable to him. But let us be delivered to a death experience (trouble, distress, persecution, despair or being cast down), if the cross is not doing its work in us, our reactions will be ugly, obnoxious, sinful and carnal. Yet, in God's disciplinary order, such must be the case in our actual experiences, if His life is to shine forth in heavenly action rather than our carnal reaction. This is the witness that the Holy Spirit will use to bring others into life in Him. Death must work in us, if life is to work in another. There is so much Bible preaching and teaching today in efforts to reach people for Christ. Failure is not due to ministry, but to lack of demonstration. Let us continue to do the "saying" but make certain that we do the "living", which is of paramount importance if we are really to reach people for Christ. Notice that the accomplishment is FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.
A FAITH ACTION FOR A SUCCESSFUL DEATH
According to this scripture, there is something we must DO in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in the development and maturing of our Christian life. This is not a mere suggestion; it is a command of God. Failure in applying these divine instructions will leave us a spiritual "runt"; and we will never know the blessed joy of fulfillment in God.
This directive is for our faith, and the action is not psychological - not some kind of mental manipulation. This action rests on the redemption of Jesus Christ. The word "old man" in Greek are 'palaion anthropon'; and are the same as we have in Romans 6:6, which speaks of him as having been crucified with Christ. This is the basis for our faith action. Because the old man is dead, we can disobey him (put him off). We can shed him like a reptile sheds his skin, in order to make room for the new skin. Remember that the "old man" is the complete man of sin. He is not partly damaged; he is altogether ruined. He is the sinner - the Adamic man blighted and judged. From the human standpoint, he may have commendable qualities. God, however, sees him as doomed and damned. He is utterly lost to God and to God's purposes for His creation. Included in this old man is the "flesh", where the sin organ is located. Included in this old man is the core of the self-life, the rebel against Christ. You can read the old man's full pedigree in Romans 3:6-18. He is 100% lost and worthless to God.
This divine process includes, "and be renewed in the spirit of your mind". Weymouth translates this verse thus: "get yourselves in the temper of your minds." This scripture may be clearly understood by comparing it with Romans chapter 8, verses 5 thru 7, "For they that are after the flesh (the old man) mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally (old man) minded is death (lostness to God); but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind (old man) is enmity (enemy) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." To be renewed in the spirit (temper) of the mind is to disobey its natural inclinations and its normal affinity for the world; and replace its sinful function by SETTING IT ON THE SPIRIT (the things of God, of Christ, of heaven and eternity). This, too, is a part of our faith-action, based on the finished work of Christ on the cross, I Corinthians 2:16 "we have the mind of Christ." Philippians 2:5 "Let (go for it, do it - giving you God's permission and approval, He having placed within you the faith ability to perform this act and to maintain this attitude) this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
Even as the old man IS corrupt according to deceitful lusts (what a grim and defiled picture), so the new man IS created in righteousness and true holiness. What a gloriously delightful picture, and what a happy and fulfilled life these words promise. As the old man is the flesh - the sinner, the self-life - so the New man is Christ in His character, in His disposition, in His work and purpose in life. He is the One Who is altogether righteous and truly holy; and when we put on Him, His character, work, and purpose come with Him. We know how Jesus behaved in His own flesh when He was on earth.
When He has FULL SWAY in your life, unhindered by the crucified inner rebel "self-life", He will behave Himself normally in you, using your physical and mental members to maintain His deportment. Jesus longs, ever and always, to behave Himself through you as he behaved in His own flesh when He walked the roads of the Holy Land - loving people, healing them, saving them, showing earth men what heaven's life was like. As we receive His work on the cross for us more and more, He will find less and less the hindrance of the self-life to His desire to shine forth through our human skin.
STOP TRYING TO DIE BY FLESHY EFFORT
In Colossians 3, verses 1 through 5, we have the Holy method by which we fight by faith. "If ye then be risen with Christ" - Positionally every believer is risen with Christ. Paul presupposes his hearers were aware of this important fact. Ephesians 2:6 states, "(God) hath raised us up together (with Christ), and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus". This is a spiritual position where God has placed every saint NOW. If you are a believer in Christ, this is your spiritual location today.
"Seek those things which are above." This is a divine command to seek God and the things of God - to purposely and deliberately do it. In other words, fellowship with the Lord is being in the same location with Him. "Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." The words, "set your affections", are in the Greek 'phroneo', which means 'to direct one's mind to a thing'. One scholar says it this way "you must not only seek heaven, you must THINK heaven." It is to purposely and willfully direct THE MIND toward God and the things of His government and heaven. Such is to be SET; i.e. established and concentrated.
"For ye are dead." This is an aorist indicative (apethanete). Weymouth translates it this way, "For you have died." Of course, if you have died, then it stands to reason that you are dead now. Let me ask you - have you died or have you not? You see, through the redemptive work of Christ, YOU HAVE DIED. This is God's truth, so never struggle to die. Rest in His infallible word and praise God for the death position in which He has placed you in Christ! Of course, this death refers to "the old man"; the man of sin that we have been dealing with through this entire book - the natural man, the Adamic man, the man of the self-life. Call him what you will, it is the inner man who fell in the fall of Adam. It is the man who ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and thus became a self-relating ego appraising very circumstance and experience of life by his own puny carnal reasoning - "Is this experience good or evil for me?" In Adam we have all stepped into the shoes of God in judgment. This is why man is incapable of really discerning sin from righteousness. Hence, he figures that he will someday arrive in heaven because of his own good works; but, ALAS, THIS IS A VAIN HOPE. Man will only get to heaven by the good works of Jesus Christ (His death on the cross for your sins). Man is a condemned sinner, and may only be forgiven by God on the basis of Christ's redemptive death as He paid the penalty for your sins.
So stop trying to die to this old man by fleshy effort. Wuest says, "You died, that is as far as your spiritual being is concerned; you died to (that is, were separated from) the former life and everything of an evil nature that pertained to it." "Your life is hid with Christ in God." One scholar explains it this way - "Your new spiritual life is no longer in the sphere of the earthly and sensual, but is with the life of the risen Christ, Who is unseen with God." "In God" asserts Christ's own union with God, and emphasizes our union with God IN HIM. Remember, we are not merely in unity with Christ, we are in UNION with Him - one with Him and IN Him. In I Corinthians 6:17 we read, "For he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." This word violates the science of mathematics, for since time began 1+1 always = 2; but here 1+1=1. The best way to illustrate this is thus - the human and the divine in union in Christ have become one. The person of an individual man and the Person of the Lord becoming ONE in Spirit is a miracle beyond comprehension. Notice, it is not two spirits being joined together, but it is two persons becoming ONE SPIRIT. The persons retain their identity, but IN SPIRIT THEY HAVE BECOME ONE. This true oneness is the marvelous work of God wrought in the life that becomes joined to the Lord.
We say we drink "tea" - but it is not tea per se, it is "tea water". One cannot drink tea. Tea is a dry brittle leaf and, as such, is impossible to drink. Now we know that no substances in solid form can ever be joined together so as to actually become one. They may he glued, coupled, welded, cemented, hitched, tied, etc.; but they are still separate parts in a cohesive union. But when the tea is immersed in water, the essence is released and the water becomes "tea". By virtue of an internal mingling, something new has been born. Water has its own catalyst by which it transforms itself into the very extract in the tea leaf, yet it loses none of its properties in the process. This is how the one new SPIRIT is said to be "Christ". The new SPIRIT that emerges from this union is nothing other than the INCREASE OF GOD (Colossians 2:19). The divine Spirit receives and absorbs the human spirit, as it becomes broken and impoverished (Matthew 5:3). The Spirit of the Lord is never domineering. He woos in the blessed and tender atmosphere of love. Thus He receives the yielding spirit of man in a glorious mingling dissolution. The result is, in substance, a new creation of spirit (II Corinthians 5:17). In the Greek New Testament, the word "spirit" (penuma) is rarely capitalized. This has caused difficulty for most translators. Instead of recognizing the singularity and identity of this new God-born spirit, they endeavored to translate the word in relation to the Holy Spirit (thus capitalizing the letter S) or in relation to the human spirit (thus using a small s). In referring to the word "spirit" in Ephesians 1:17, both Alford and Blaikie suggest that what Paul comprehends is neither the Holy Spirit apart from the human spirit, nor the spirit of man apart from the Holy Spirit. But rather, the Christian concept of man's renewed spirit as indwelt and moved by God's Spirit. But how could this be true? . . for we would have two spirits cooperating - Yes . . but it would still be the function of two spirits. It is the miraculous mystery of God in two becoming ONE. In uniting man's spirit (now cleansed and sanctified), the natural flavor is mingled with all the vast properties of Christ without losing any of His beauty, quality, and power. He, Who was made a "quickening Spirit", recovers the man from death, and a new spirit creation comes forth. God, the Father of Spirits (Hebrews 12:9) receives another child.
But now, let us go on to consider that a personal union with Christ is the only way in which corporate unity (of the church) can ever be obtained. Christian unity is first individual spiritual unity with the Head. It is not something of external organization. It is internal-eternal-life-fellowship, and is altogether of God. The one NEW SPIRIT is a uniting Spirit. He is exactly the same in all who share this experience. Thus, the oneness of Spirit with the Lord is the place and reality of our oneness with each other. Therefore, this new spiritual life, which emerges from our union with Christ, constitutes the substance of His body which is THE CHURCH. (I Corinthians 12: 12 & 13) "For as the body is one ... so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ... and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Before we conclude this chapter, let us go back to Colossians 3 for the final and complete major thought - verse 4, "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." This text does not pertain to the second advent when our Lord returns from heaven. This verse supposes that the one referred to here is a genuine Christian, who is a possessor of the life and position in union with Christ, as we have been seeing in this chapter so far. "When Christ, Who is our life" (now) present tense, "shall appear" (Greek word is 'phaneroo' - to make manifest, become visible - literally TO SHINE FORTH). In other words, in tense moments of life, it is truly Jesus alive and active within us, and in union with us - Who shines forth. To "appear with Him in glory" means that our reactions in union with Him will be manifest conduct that will always please the Father - that God may say again and again, "My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". You see, Christ - alive in our visible, physical body - needs the instrumentality of our mortal body to put on this kind of a heavenly demonstration. As a sanctified believer in union with Him, Jesus will shine through your skin. You will experience fulfillment, and God will receive His joy.
THE ANTITHESIS OF SELF-LOVE
A friend, from Yakima, Washington, made this statement in a book which he wrote, "Oh yes, it's human nature to want a crown without a cross; to want a resurrection without it being preceded by death; to want to reign with Him without a willingness to suffer. But there is no such reality as something for nothing, either in the material or spiritual realm." (Bill Cady)
The context surrounding our word for this chapter, points out the fact that before Satan was cast out of heaven, he performed in the capacity of "accuser of the brethren"; and constantly accused them "before our God day and night". Have you ever wondered why, at times, you have been plagued by depression, guilt, and condemnation? This is why. How this communication reaches earth from heaven, I do not know. Yet almost all believers have had this experience. However, this can be a faith-strengthening process - second to none other. For there is only one way out of these fear-producing times of (really) unbelief, and that is to turn to God and exercise our spirit in belief. We need to realize that a negative frame of mind is dishonoring to God. It is mistrust of Christ and His great work of redemption. So you must lay hold of the grace of God, and cause your faith to rise and will to believe THE TRUTH, and just begin to praise God. Tell Him how much you love and appreciate Him. Become thankful in your heart and mind to Him, and continue to praise Him until all the doubt, depression, fear, guilt, and unbelief is cleansed away. Rest in the Lord and in His promises. The Holy Spirit will be with you and, as surely as you do this, you will recover your victory. "Shout unto the lord with the voice of triumph."
E. Stanley Jones, the well-known Methodist missionary to India, made this statement, "I am afraid of nothing. What can death do to me? I've already died. You cannot defeat defeat. You cannot break brokenness. I've come back from my own funeral, and I'm alive in THE ALIVE". What a glowing witness! We might see in Dr. Jones' statement, the experience of one who has come to know the reality of obedience of Hebrews 13: 15 & 16, "By Him (the Lord Jesus) therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." Notice this is THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE. What is this? It is one thing to praise and worship when everything is going well for us; when the wind is at our back. But it is quite another thing to praise Him when things are going wrong for us; when anxiety has gripped our minds; when the problems of life are overwhelming us; when criticism has us completely down, etc. etc. Let us look heavenward with a heart of thanksgiving, while in the midst of such circumstances, and praise the Lord; not in spite of them, but because of them. God loves us and this is something of His great love in disciplining, in order to bring us to a higher level of relationship to Himself. This latter is the position of FAITH, not doubt; of JOY, not fear; of REST, not guilt. It is truly the place and experience of offering THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE.
Once, when ministering in lower Texas, we were asked to minister to a pastor's wife who was going through a great trial. Her husband had walked out on her, and was having an affair with a woman in another state. She was crying out, "What is God's will for me; what should I do?" The scripture in I Thessalonians 5:18 came to me - "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." This does not necessarily mean to give thanks for the hurting experience, but it means to give thanks to God IN the hurting experience, because you are the possessor of a faith in all of God's positive promises. For instance, your hurting experience does not change, in the least, God's Word to you. Example - Romans 8:28 - For "we KNOW" (Greek meaning - we SEE; we UNDERSTAND; by faith we REALIZE) that God is still God, and has not lost control of ANYTHING. And "that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His Purpose." In this kind of an extremely hurting situation - look heavenward and, in your mind, just take one or two of God's promises to you concerning the outcome of any experience, and begin to praise Him with your voice. You will soon be brought to a place of inner peace, where you will even bless the participants who were responsible for your hurt. This will bring you to a position of utmost faith, and the joy of the Lord will fill your heart. You are acting fully on scriptural ground.
Once I met a man who was constantly being plagued with evil thoughts. He was miserable, living under condemnation. He had been exorcised for the possibility of demons; prayed for; no doubt had counsel. I felt impressed to advise him that every time he experienced this evil urge, deliberately to begin praising God. He took this word and did begin to praise God every time he was harassed. Without further bitter experience, he came out of his dilemma. You see, if the devil is giving you a hard time of guilt; and, whenever he does it, it CAUSES you to praise God, he will soon begin leaving you alone - for he hates to hear mortals praising God. Then such reaction to his evil work is causing his victim to praise God, he becomes a defeated foe - and the very experience will be a real victory. Never run from Satan when he is seeking to down you, unless the only alternative is to commit sin. As far as we know, in all of his adversity, Joseph remained a thankful praiser of God - but in his encounter with Potiphar's wife, running fast and far was his only alternative. Otherwise, turn and face the foe. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Remember, you are not facing him alone in yourself - you are facing him in Christ, armed with God's promises so let His praises be heard coming from your lips. God has made you a winner.
All these experiences depict the triumph of Divine love over self-love. Human beings, who have found Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who have learned the great message of the Cross - co-crucifixion, and are walking in the power of the glorious experience - have found and embraced the incomparable truth. They are brought into the position which is THE ANTITHESIS OF SELF-LOVE - THE FULL AND TRUE LOVE OF GOD. "THEY LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES UNTO THE DEATH."