In the recent political debates the Republican candidates agreed that the economic and social problems in America have a root that goes far deeper than politics or economics. They recognized that these problems are rooted in the breakdown of the moral underpinnings of society. They acknowledged in secular language that our social problems are really moral problems.
Too often Christians rely on the political and economic arena to solve the spiritual problems of society. But it is beyond the ability of politicians, economists, businessmen or social engineers to solve these problems. There is only one force on earth that can touch the root of sin. It is the power of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God – God’s rescue plan for mankind. Yet even among believers this force has not been fully tapped. A new society-altering awakening is upon us when we fully rediscover the transforming power of the gospel.
Many today believe that Jesus simply died for the penalty of our sins so that we can be forgiven. Putting their faith in this they receive assurance of salvation and of entry into heaven when they die.
However this kind of teaching has left us with a church populated with forgiven sinners, not walking in the freedom from sin that is potentially ours. It has left us with a society with a high percentage of Christians but also with a high percentage of people bound to sin and all the misery it causes.
Within much of the church believers have the same instances of addictions, fornication, divorce, anger etc. as the general population. Is it because the gospel has no power to deliver us from sin and dysfunctional habits? Is it because it only deals with forgiveness of sin and cannot deal with the power of sin? This kind of powerless Christianity (that exists both in traditional and so- called evangelical churches) cannot transform our society. The fresh awakening that we all yearn for will happen only as we rediscover the power of the gospel to bring not only forgiveness but also deliverance from sin’s power.
Paul writes, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:2- 4)
The full gospel – when believed and acted upon – has the power to release anyone, anywhere not only from the guilt of His sin but from the power of sin. When we believe in the Cross of Jesus the victory of His death is applied to us; His judgment for sin is applied to us; His ascension is applied to us, and His Resurrection Life and Power are infused into us.
The message of death-to-self has become associated with legalistic, sterile, defeatist, self- righteous, priggish, holiness. It remains for us to consciously, deliberately draw from His victory and His power, and recognize the bankruptcy and inadequacy of self. I CANNOT BUT HE CAN! The true message of death-to-self is that our co- death with Him is the gateway to resurrection life and glorious liberty here on earth and on into eternity.
When Jesus calls us to lay down our lives, He is not calling us to annihilation but to come to the FULLNESS OF LIFE. Being “crucified with Christ” does not mean that we cease to exist or that we are dead like corpses but that we have ceased to live an independent life. It means we cease to have an independent agenda and we cease to have an independent righteousness. Instead we are hooked up to the resurrection, turbo-charged life of Jesus and His dynamic Spirit of Resurrection.
WHEN WE DIE-TO-SELF:
• WE DIE TO JUSTIFYING OURSELVES – We cease trying to justify ourselves through our behavior. We come to God not for understanding but for forgiveness. We stop excusing ourselves and accept forgiveness We accept that we are infinitely guilty and at the same time we are justified by faith in His death and resurrection. “Justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1)
• WE DIE TO CONDEMNING OURSELVES – because “there is no now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
• WE DIE TO “FIXING” OURSELVES & OTHERS. We realize that we are crucified with Jesus. He does not expect anything from our natural strength. We now live by drawing continuously from His life. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
• WE DIE OUR OWN AGENDA. “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:32-35) Here Jesus offers a new agenda and set of possibilities to His followers. If we are willing to let go of our own personal agenda, ambitions and plans we can embrace and enter into the better ones He has for us. “Follow Me,” says Jesus “and I WILL MAKE YOU fishers of men.”
• WE DIE OUR OWN OPINIONS. “Trust in the Lord with all your hearts, Lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5)
When we surrender to His leadership, He will direct our lives. When we go by our own opinions we are eating of the “Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil.” We decide, like humanists, to choose for ourselves what is good or evil and miss the plan of God to bless and protect us. Whenever we put Bible interpretations, personal convictions, religious duty ahead of the leadership of His Spirit we do the same. If we do this we can miss God completely and become New Testament Pharisees, living out a religious agenda that has lost its connection with God’s Spirit.
• WE DIE TO THE WORLD’S AGENDA. The world around us (with its pressure to conform) has a set of expectations it forces on us. However, as believers, we don’t have to buy into its agenda and measurements. Instead we seek the Lord and His plans for us. We say to Him, “Lord, show me where to go, what to do, what to say. Show me what you want me to be involved in and what you don’t want me to be involved in.” In this way we move in faith towards the destiny He has for us.
• WE DIE TO THE LAW – By dying to the law we mean dying to any religious standard (Old or New Testament) that we might use to establish or maintain our righteousness. The Law shows us the uselessness and deadness of anything we do apart from leaning and depending on the Spirit of God. Many having received forgiveness for their moral and spiritual failures then strive to do better by the power of the same SELF that failed them in the first place. This leaves them more miserable than they were when they started. God wants us to die to all efforts from self and draw instead from His overcoming life, which cannot fail. “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” (Romans 7:4)
As long as we draw from self we cannot succeed.
As long as we draw from Him we cannot fail!