The new heart our God puts within us takes over our living to the extent that we are yielded to Him in all things. We can interfere with the new heart of Christ in us if we try to retain control over our living. The scriptures give us clear instruction as to the ongoing habit of mind that is our yielding to the life of Christ in us.
It is an attitude of presenting (yielding) myself to God (Romans 6:13-14, Romans 12:1-2). This is done as one alive from the dead, as a living sacrifice. The language in these passages connotes a once-for-all yielding, while the context indicates it is done in the place of continually presenting ourselves to sin.
It is an attitude of denying of the self-life daily (Luke 9:23-24). This is the ongoing denial of one’s self-will, self-efficacy, and self-motivation so that the life, the will, and motivation of Christ may be alive instead. By this daily habit of mind, this way of being, the Spirit is unfettered in working in a person.
It is an attitude of emptying myself continually so that one might fully gain the benefits of the life of Christ lived within (Philippians 2:5-8, 3:7-16). The emptying of which Paul speaks here is a continual emptying of self, a way of being. He describes it as something he continues to press to take hold of, something he is straining forward to reach.
It is an attitude of seeking the things of God actively and continually (Colossians 3:1-4). The language here is of a continual setting of the mind on the things of Christ, and not on earthly things. This is because Christ Himself is now one’s entire life. He is all things to us and with us in all things (3:11).
It is an attitude of abiding in Christ, remaining in Him continually (John 15:4-7). The words of Jesus convey an attitude of maintaining this abiding communion relationship continually. He will continually supply what we need, and we will continually take it in.
It is an attitude of walking continually according to the Holy Spirit in each disciple, and not by one’s fleshly instincts and proclivities (Romans 8:1-14). This means to be habitually dominated by the Spirit as one cooperates in the death of the deeds of the flesh.
It is an attitude of losing one’s life, as Jesus stated in Matthew 10:37-39, Luke 9:23-24, and John 12:24-25. He connects this to the His instruction to “pick up and carry one’s cross day after day as a habit of life” (Wuest). Often referred to as “the crucified life,” this refers to living daily in a way of continually dying to self so that Christ might live in us. Paul stated that we have the continual dying of Christ in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10), and that he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31).
Note that this is not the same as the Catholic doctrine of “carrying the cross,” which they state is the bearing of heavy responsibilities or burdens. When Christ announced this habit of carrying one’s cross as a requirement for discipleship, certainly He Who was on His way to die on the cross would be thinking of dying, not carrying a heavy load. Such dying to self is always the context for carrying one’s cross in the New Testament.
It is clear that this way of being, this ongoing, daily habit of mind is the life our God intends for us as His followers. Such a habit of mind is not an added work to the Gospel; rather, by this habit we express our agreement with that work done in us by Christ and His Spirit. These instructions are not a man-made religious idea, but are carried forward in the words of Jesus, Paul, and John in the scriptures.
Our God has supplied all we need by the life of Christ in us. The yielded life being explored here is the response of love, obedience, and gratitude. As we respond in grateful, yielding love, He is the one who accomplishes the work in us.
That work which our God supplies for us will not be fully done without our cooperation. Non-cooperation is rooted in our flesh and expressed in the assertion of self, our self-will, self-efficacy, and self-motivation. By self-assertion we quench the work of the Spirit in us (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and we may even come to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30).
Image via author, Lake Marion, Bighorn Range, WY