A Better Understanding of Ourselves

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. – Romans 12:3 (The Message)

I don’t usually read out of The Message translation of the Bible, in fact it’s probably been three years since I have. For some reason though, I pulled up Romans in The Message online and started reading chapter 12. A common practice I always did “back in the day” was to open up my Bible with no plan or direction and just begin reading whatever it was I opened up to. Sometimes by God’s grace the Holy Spirit would lead me to something that would reveal Christ in a new way to me. Then of course there were times where I would end up reading something completely irrelevant and quite disturbing, yes, I’m talking about various parts of Leviticus. You know, the verses you use to look up with your friends to get a good laugh. Anyway, back to my original thought, I opened up and began reading with no plan or direction this morning and found the above passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans. To my surprise I really enjoyed reading chapter 12 of Romans in The Message. Verse 3 in particular really seemed to speak something to me though, something that I always seem to be relearning and understanding a little more.

Our view of ourselves and the truth of who we are in Christ are in my mind of the most important understandings we can have as members of Christ’s body. In today’s culture we seem to measure everything  by our accomplishments and what we’ve gained. There are different levels of accomplishment and different ideas of success, but they all have one common aspect which is it all being something we’ve done as individuals. Something we have accomplished by relying on our natural or learned skills. It appears that the Church simply changes this practice of accomplishing things for ourselves to accomplishing them for God. We still measure our success by what we’re doing doing for God, as if anything we do in ourselves is worthy of Him. Therefore we can only understand ourselves by looking at God, by what He’s done and who He is, not by what we’ve done.

I love the way Watchman Nee states in his book The Normal Christian Life that “I cannot please God, therefore I will stop trying”. Some may reply by saying this statement is ridiculous and he’s being too hard on himself, but that’s not true. If we are going to please God then we have to stop trying. Anything that we do in ourselves is reliant on the soul and our dependence has to be on Christ alone. If we are in Christ then He is alive through us, He is living and we are dead. We can only measure our worth by what Christ has done and any good thing, any worthy thing that comes out from us is from Christ, not us.

To better understand ourselves we need only to better understand Christ. He is the source that our life comes from. We may screw up and rely on ourselves from time to time but our true nature is Christ, not the dead person that we use to be. Sometimes we need to only sit in Christ with little to no action and recognize our place in Him. Other times we need to walk things out in Christ, therefore taking more action. No matter what season that God has us in, it must be lived out in Christ who is our only life source.



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Our death and life in Christ as a historical fact: Part 2

Last Monday I shared two excerpts of scripture that relate to our death in Christ as well as our new life in Him. To recap, here are the excerpts again:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:3-11

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life 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

One thing that really sticks out to me in Paul’s letter to the Romans is the vocabulary that he uses. In the above passage from Romans 6, Paul uses past tense vocabulary such as “if we have been united with Him” and “our old self was crucified with Him”. This wording is important because it shows that Paul is talking about past events, this means that our old self being crucified is a past event, something historical that happened long ago. We were crucified when Christ was crucified, we were in Him at the time He was crucified.

In understanding that our death in Christ is something historical that happened in the past our prayers can change from “Lord, please kill me and live through me” to “Lord, help me to remember my place in you, my new nature which is Christ”. Our old man has died and Christ is alive through us. Therefore the problem isn’t that our old man must constantly die but that we must remember that the old man is already dead and Christ is alive in his place and walk in that truth.

You may say, however, that Paul “died daily” therefore death to ourselves is a constant thing, something that happens when we wake up every morning. It’s true, we must die daily and put to death the remnants of our old self. We must submit our desires to the Lord everyday because I for one have a lot of hopes and dreams that may or may not align with God’s vision. Those things must be put to death. But i believe that those things are put death naturally when our mindset and focus is on Christ. As we constantly remember our place in Christ and allow Him to live all else falls away.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

There’s so much more to be said on this topic. The above is simply a starting point, understanding our place in Christ is something that is essential to our life. This is something that the Spirit repeatedly reminds me of so I’m sure more posts will follow on this subject. But above all else, seek God on this matter for yourself. Read the above scriptures in their full context and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal this to you and your tribe. I know there is a lot more scripture that directly relates to this, what are some that God has used to teach you these things?

Again, I highly recommend that you read The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee for more teaching on the subject of our death and life in Christ.

Our death and life in Christ as a historical fact: Part 1

First off, I’m really sorry for the delayed post to any of you who were checking back. Things got super busy and I was unable to get this up until today. I very much appreciate everyone’s interest though and really look forward to continuing this conversation with all of you.

Last week I shared a little bit about my experience from reading The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. I also mentioned that last Thursday’s post would set the stage for today’s. What I want to share today is what I believe to be one of the most important things that I learned from reading The Normal Christian Life, in fact probably one of the most important truths I’ve learned in the whole 22 years I’ve been here. This is a revelation that I believe is a foundational truth when it comes to our life in Christ. This lesson has to do with our death in Christ and that death being a historical fact, an event that has already happened.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:3-11

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life 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

Today I just want to leave you with these bits of scripture, they are very big contributions to this conversation on our death and life in Christ and how that is a historical fact, an event that has already happened. I’m going to continue Wednesday and go into what I have learned with other brothers and sisters concerning these verses and this very subject. In the meantime, please consider these excerpts from Paul’s letters and go read them in the full context that they were written in. Also feel free to share your thoughts on this subject and what you’ve learned on your journey.