“You will never know the fullness of Christ until you know the emptiness of everything but Christ” Charles Spurgeon
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25
The only life to which our God is calling His followers is a life lived in resurrection power. It is living in this resurrection power to which we were redeemed by our Savior, Jesus. The only way for us to live the life of resurrection power our God intends, the only life that will bring us peace and joy, is to walk in the way of the cross every day. The crucified life by itself is not that life for which we were redeemed. It is the pathway into that life of the power of the Holy Spirit lived in us. We live the crucified life so that our old nature, our natural self is put away, and we get out of the way of the Holy Spirit who then lives His live in and through us. This is what releases true power, resurrection power. Our God does not intend to pour out His Holy Spirit and power into unyielded, self-driven lives.
Living a life no longer under our management and completely under the management of the Holy Spirit, opens the way for the Spirit to fulfill the promises of God in us. AW Tozer stated that when we refuse the Holy Spirit’s claim of control over every area of our living,” …we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.” The new life we have in Christ is to be a life of transformed living. Far too many Christians today live lives that have missed this transformation. They experience slow spiritual progress, limited victory over sin. They do not often hear the voice of the Spirit. They feel left alone to face a life they must navigate on their own. God seems distant, occasionally answering prayers and granting a blessing.
That these things are happening is not because our God is not wanting to work in us. He desires to speak to us daily, to empower us to conquer sin and challenges. The issue is that when we retain control of our living we cannot receive these works of our God. We are retaining control in our living, and the Holy Spirit, who gives these gifts to us, is pushed to the sidelines. We long for the blessings, but wander in shadows, weakness and spiritual sterility.
Paul, the writer of the book of Romans, is describing this to us in the last part of Romans chapter 7. “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
Do you hear the defeat in his description? “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do”
It is sin in us, the principle of sin that is resident in our flesh, that governs our will when we not completely yielded to our God. In the unyielded life, sin is the main driver of one’s choices. It hides its work so well that we assume we are driving our lives. Every effort we do in the flesh to be holy is doomed to failure because it is based upon sinful flesh. The new covenant life in Christ Jesus requires us to live in self-denial and total surrender. Even if we try to defeat sin in our own flesh, we are trying to achieve a new covenant end using old covenant religiosity of works and human ability. We cannot succeed in this. So, what do we do?
In the next post, Paul’s answer to this dilemma will be presented. The path to the transformational power of the Holy Spirit in us is found on the other end of the crucified life.
“In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross.” AW Tozer