My will was frustrated by the choices made for me by others and it aggravated me. The anger was like a splinter that gets under the skin. It hurt, it was sensitive, and it started to fester – into resentment. “But I am in the right,” I argued with myself. “Why should I give in? Why should I let it go?” I wrestled with the issue for days. I awakened thinking about it. It intruded into my prayer time. When I went to bed, there it was, again. Finally, as I was willing to listen to the Spirit, I heard His challenge, “Just die to it, Jerry, for God’s sake.” Letting go is a much easier to write about than to live it in the real world. What the Bible calls ”the flesh” or “the sinful nature” – that part of me that is Self, that is prideful, that is perishing – dies hard.
We eagerly read an encouraging word in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25, NIV) But, do you know what immediately goes before that? “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24, NIV) Before we can fall in step with the Holy Spirit and enjoy the sweet joys of intimacy with Him, we come – with every part of ourselves– to the Cross of Christ where we die to pride, anger, lust, greed, selfishness, self-will – “the flesh.” It is not a pretty image to think of being crucified with Christ. There is suffering, there is loneliness, there is anguish and uncertainty. Jesus felt all that, and more, when He was going to His Cross. So, will we. “Lord, if this part of me dies, what will be left?” we wonder. “If I give that away, can I survive? Who will I be?” And, He invites us to come and die!
Resurrection Life is only possible on the other side of the Cross. We catch glimpses of it by faith. That is why we must feed on the Word and enter regularly into worship. The truth of God is like the morning Sun that burns off the fog. When we hear the Word, it reveals the purpose of God that will be found beyond our moment of agony when we let the sinful nature die, for God’s sake. The Spirit of the Lord, through the truth of the Scripture, destroys the ancient lie – felt universally among people – that only in self-expression (sin) is happiness found. We discover God’s joy! “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11, NLT)
John Piper, pastor, writes “that faith is not merely believing that Christ died for our sins. Faith is also being confident that His way is better than sin. His will is more wise. His help is more sure. His promises more precious. And his reward more satisfying. Faith begins with a backward look at the cross, but it lives with a forward look at the promises. Abraham grew strong in his FAITH … fully convinced that God was able to do what He had PROMISED. (Romans 4:20). “Faith is the assurance of things HOPED for.” (Hebrews 11:1).
Struggling with some conflict before God? Are you trying to straddle the divide between Self-will and God’s will? Let it die, for God’s sake.
Here is the word from the Word. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NLT) “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. … What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” (Galatians 6:14-15, NLT)
Father, I kneel before You to surrender again.
Here’s my heart, my mind, my will, my Self. Own me!
Help me, Spirit of God, to let go and to be willing to die
So that the life of Jesus Christ can be seen in me.
Speak words of hope and joy to my heart,
Strengthening me with the hope of glory to come
So that I can stand faithful through the processes of becoming holy.
In the Name of the Crucified AND Risen Savior, Amen.