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THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SOUL, DEATH TO SELF

“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus…”2 Cor 4:10

 

As believers we experience, what we might call, a bonding phase of our salvation. After being saved, we seem to be walking on clouds, with God so near and dear to us. Our hearts are centered on Him—prayer, reading the Bible, going to church, witnessing, and giving are all the joys of our life. It is in this stage that we become, as it were, addicted to God—we feel we cannot live without His peace, and presence, and joy in our lives. As Job lived many years with the blessings of God upon his life, and as Israel saw the miraculous hand of God in leading them out of Egypt, so this joyous time may last a few months or a few years for us.

Job 1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
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Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

Exo 15:1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.

It is at this point, when we feel that nothing can come between us and God, and we live for His blessings upon our lives, that God begins our trials of faith. Like the testing of Job, and like the wilderness wandering of the children of Israel, so the hand of God begins to touch our lives. We may ask, ‘Why, when we are seemingly living so close to God, and are so dedicated to pleasing Him, does God find it necessary to try us and put us to death?’ It is because of what God sees remaining in us, what He sees in the depth of our souls, what He sees as our motivations. Our devotion to Him is based almost entirely on the blessings and wonderful experiences of our new found life in Christ. We may sing “Oh how I love Jesus” most fervently, but in reality we know very little of real love, especially for God. We are like newlyweds, who are drawn to one another by their hormones and physical attractions; who are experiencing the joys of intimate physical contact; who think and say that they love each other, without even comprehending what real love is. However, when the realities of life—the pressures of making a living, of raising children, the loss of their youthful appearance, and the diminishing excitement of physical pleasures—come to bear upon them, their so-called love is nowhere to be found. So is our relationship with God. When trials come, and we don’t feel so excited anymore, questions begin to arise in our hearts: ‘Why are these adversities happening to me? Does God really love me? Why should I serve a God who doesn’t  care about me?’ In these times we find that we really don’t love God as much as we thought. Indeed, it is only when God begins to touch our lives that the reality of how much the flesh really hates God, and how it has such a damning influence upon our soul, can be seen. When these feelings begin to come to the surface, we start to see our true condition and where our true affections lie.

Exo 16:1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Matt 15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
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This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Rom 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

As the finer who purifies the silver, removing the dross until he begins to see his face in the cauldron, so is God’s purpose towards us. The fleshly corruption of our souls must be removed until He sees only His Son in us. It is only when we truly honor God, and serve Him for nothing in return—only because of who He is, and the glory and honor He deserves—do we begin to experience agape love, or the unselfish love of God. 

1 Pet 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Without a doubt the most intense and prolonged trials we will face will be in the purifying of our faith. When we are first saved, our understanding of the truth is like the proverbial small grain of a mustard seed buried in a field of earth, or like a few grams of gold hidden in tons of dross. To be sure, we know that Jesus saved us from the penalty of our sins; and we have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit witnessing to our spirit that we are a child of God; but the battle that began in the Garden between faith in the grace of God and our own human works has only just begun. The desire to please God, or to be accepted by God, or to earn God’s blessings by the things which we do, is engrained in our flesh. It is an inseparable part of our human nature. Just as our first parents tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves, so we attempt to cover our shortcomings by our works. It is to the root of human religious endeavor that God’s axe begins to strike blow after blow.

1 John 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Gen 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Gen 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Gen 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.
And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Matt 3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

One of the most misapplied Scriptures that preachers and teachers often quote is found in the Book of Hebrews:

Heb 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit,
that we might be partakers of his holiness.

We often read certain Scriptures with preconceived ideas about what they mean, and completely ignore what they plainly say. We try to make them fit into our personal doctrines, much like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Most expositors of the Word will interpret these verses to say, that the purpose of God’s chastening is cause us to quit sinning, or to get us to do certain things that He wants us to do; but that is not what these verses plainly teach. God is not trying to change what we are into something holy, but He wants us to partake of the holiness which we only have in Christ. It would be an eternal process to change what we are and who we are into what Christ is—for indeed we are purposed by God to become like Him. The Christ-life is not a changed life, but an exchanged life. We put off our old man of sin and put on the new man in Christ. The old man must die, not be changed; and the new man must come forth in our resurrection from that death. We are not made into better persons, but into new creatures in Christ. It is to this end that God corrects and chastens us, to crucify the flesh.

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him:

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

This is not to say that we should give ourselves over to the ways of the flesh without any fear of retribution, for there are other ways that God has instituted to deal with our sins on a temporal basis. There is the natural, and spiritual law of sowing and reaping—the things we do, in themselves, become God’s chastening rod. That, however, is not the cure for our sins, but what drives us to the cure. Individual sins are not our big problem, but merely the symptoms that we are still walking in the flesh and not in the spirit. They are like the symptoms of a disease that tell us something is wrong with us; but treating the symptoms does not bring about our cure—the disease itself must be dealt with. We must get at the root of the problem before the symptoms will go away. A man may go to a doctor with some serious problem such as heart disease. He may be experiencing headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and pain in his arms and chest. He explains to the doctor the symptoms he has, and the doctor says to take aspirin for the pain, an anti-acid for his stomach, and to try resting as much as possible. Now, this may give some temporary relief from the symptoms, but this man is going to die from cardiac arrest if his diseased heart is not mended. So with our sin disease, we do not become better by obeying the Ten Commandments; or by keeping a list of do’s and don’ts that either we, our church, our religion, or our tradition has made up for us to live by. We may, for a time, think that by doing these things we are made better; and, for a time, we may even feel better about ourselves; but doing these things is, in itself, walking after the flesh. A corpse may look better by some makeup, and dressing it up in new clothes, but it is still dead, and what it really needs is life. We have been given a new heart in Christ, a new life in Christ; but this life was not gained, nor is it lived by keeping some law, because that is what brought about our death in the first place.

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;
but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Jer 2:19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like
: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Therefore, what brings about this purifying, this dying to self and all that is of the flesh? As was mentioned, God uses the desires, hopes, dreams, ambitions, affections, health, wealth, and anything that may be said to be of the flesh—which is everything we were before Christ came into our lives. In Job’s case, God used his wealth, his family, his health, his esteem in the community, even his beliefs about God. God allowed everything to be stripped from Job, leaving him naked, not only before God, but to Job himself. God can, and does use anything and everything that is of our life in the flesh for His purpose towards us. He takes away, afflicts, destroys, brings hurt, harm, fear, and many other things to deal His death-blows to the carnal life. Our crucifying is in the destruction of these things, the stripping away of these things, until, like Christ, we hang naked upon the cross. The cruelest torment of those who had to endure this death was not just the physical pain; but as the victim was suspended between heaven and earth, sometimes for weeks before death came, there was the complete separation from everything of this world—all comforts, family, wealth, and earthly dreams were gone, hopelessly out of reach. The one who endured this was crucified to the world, and the world unto them in every aspect of life. Even so to us, this spiritual crucifixion continues until we are empty, without worldly desires, without any dreams or hopes about the things of this life. The means God uses are myriad, but He uses whatever it takes, trivial or severe, sudden or prolonged, to bring about His desired end. In the fire of these trials everything that is not of Christ comes to the surface; and we see its filthiness, its ugliness, its worthlessness, its selfishness, and how it has covered up the glory of Christ within us. When the time is just right, God skims these pollutants from our souls; and He, as well as we, are enabled to see a clearer image of Christ in us.

John 19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

 Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Phil 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

2 Cor 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

2 Cor 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves
, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

Heb 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

1 Cor 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

What may we say are the characteristics of these trials that cause us to die, and forever bury our human endeavors to try to please God by our own works? First, they come with the notable absence of God’s presence. As a believer, we have come to experience a newfound strength and courage through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. Our zeal and passion for the things of God has been ignited, but when God tries our faith, He withdraws His presence. Therefore, when the trials come, we feel that we are separated from Him and that He has left us to suffer alone. Even our Substitute, while enduring the cross, felt abandoned by the Father. However, though we may not see Him, God is not far away, and He is in perfect control of every situation.

Psa 22;1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

Psa 13:1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

Psa 9:9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee:
for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Isa 54:7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.

Secondly, these trials are perfectly designed to cause us to fail in our own strength. Our human ability is left to play itself out, and be exposed as weak and ineffective to bear up under our suffering. God, who established the earth by His wisdom, and who also gives to man and His other creatures the ability to sustain their earthly lives, knows just what is needed to bring about His desired ends. He knows just the right circumstances, brought into our lives at just the right time, and for the right amount of time, to accomplish His work.

2 Cor 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
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Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Jer 10:12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
13 When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures
.

Isa 28:24 Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground?
25 When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and rie in their place?
26 For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.
27 For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.
28 Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.
29
This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.

1 Sam 2:3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
4The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.
6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
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The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.

1 Pet 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

Thirdly, these trials will continue until we learn to look outside ourselves to the One who is able to save us. Christ must become our all-in-all in every situation, and we must stop looking to the flesh and to the world to sustain us. The nation of Israel, throughout its history, sought the help of Pharaoh and the strength of Egypt to overcome their enemies, but to no avail. God eventually destroyed even Egypt, so that nothing and no one remained that could help them. Symbolically, to us, Egypt represents the world and Pharaoh is the flesh. Therefore, God destroys all the sources of strength we find in ourselves and in the world so that we have nothing upon which to lean. Job was stripped of everything, and lingered in agony—mentally, physically, and emotionally—until he could say, “now mine eye seeth thee.”

Psa 107:23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Matt 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

2 Kings 18:19 And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
20 Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me?
21 Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.

Isa 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
2 That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
3 Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.

Isa 30:7 For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.

Isa 31:1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!

Jer 46:25 The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him:
26 And I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants: and afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith the LORD.

Job 42:5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

Some truths about ourselves and what Christ has done for us come to us in ever deepening layers. God, in mercy, does not reveal to us our utter sinfulness and weakness all at once—for that would crush us emotionally. God did not drive out the inhabitants of Canaan all at once, lest the wild beasts that were there became a problem for Israel. Symbolically, those wild beasts represent our fleshly emotions, and those emotions would tear us apart if we had to face the truth about ourselves all at once. Therefore, God lets us see ourselves a little at a time, and in deepening layers, as we progress in the Christ-life. We start out in our Christian lives convinced that we are sinners, but without knowing the depth of our sin. We believe that we are one of the good sinners, with only a few faults that need to be corrected—else why would God have chosen to save us? Then however, through trials and testing we progress in understanding, until we, like Paul, come to see ourselves as the “chief of sinners,” or the very worst sinner a man could be. We come to know that everything we are and everything we do is tainted by sin through and through. Job, in the beginning of his trial, never claimed to be perfect, but neither would he profess that he was wicked. After the Lord began to show Job his sin however, he would say, “Behold, I am vile.”

Deut 7:22 And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.

1 Cor 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Tim 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Job 9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

Job 10:7 Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.

Job 40:4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

After a time of such trials, God, in mercy, and for a season, gives us respite, and we rejoice in what He has done. For a time we walk in our renewed faith, which heretofore has seemingly been crushed to non-existence. It is not long however, before the world, the flesh, and the devil to begin again to pollute Christ’s image in us in more deeper and subtle ways. These hidden corruptions must be exposed and removed, and so the process begins again. Crucifixion was a long, agonizing death to the one who was subjected to it. Many people lingered for weeks upon their cross until they died. For the believer, we must always carry our cross and be subject to its death. In time, however, the chastening seems more bearable as we become more accustomed to the ways of God’s purifying, and see His purposes in it. Through our sufferings we learn patience, or the patient waiting upon God to do His work. We must become like the little boy, who being spanked, learns to lie still and take the discipline of his parents, lest his correction go on longer, and get worse. Those saints who fight and struggle against what God is trying to do, will have a much more difficult time enduring it than those who submit.

2 Cor 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
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For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

Rom 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work,
that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Heb 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

13
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

James 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

The dying of the flesh, and the burying of our fleshly strength are two separate and distinct events—like as with the gospel message of Christ, He died for our sins and was buried. The crucifying and the dying are the painful part; the burying is the resting part. When a person dies, and we lay their bodies in the grave, they are said to be at rest; meaning their earthly toil and suffering has ended. Jesus invited the weak and weary to come to Him, and they would find rest for their souls. The flesh is constantly laboring to maintain its vanities and good works in order to impress other men, and especially to try to please God. When we die to these efforts, or have them put to death by God, and then are brought to see Christ, we will have rest. When once these trials are over and we see what God has been doing in our lives, these vanities, which we held as so important to us, are now dead and buried. We can never go back to them as a way of life, or as a way to please God. We may be tempted at times to resurrect them, but in our hearts we know the futility of trying to do so. Once God has taught us something, we know it in our hearts; and nothing and no one can dissuade us from that truth. There is no strength left, no life in those things that would let them live again to us. However, because we live in the flesh, and we are at times stubborn and unbelieving, some things must be taught us many times before we actually quit struggling with them and rest in the truth. Like a little child, who must be disciplined many times about the same thing, until they see the futility of doing it again, so must we be taught by God.

Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Matt 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Heb 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief

2 Tim 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

Gal 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

As the earthly life of Christ was crucified and buried, so the ways of the flesh are to be put to death and buried. This is represented by the burial that Jesus literally went through on our behalf; and we, in following His example, go through the same process. Everything that Jesus had as a man, and yea, even as the incarnate Son of God, was now passed away and buried. As we have said before, the resurrected Jesus was not the same Jesus that was put to death on the cross. He was the first man raised from the dead never to die again, although not really as a man. His new body was not the same kind of body that He had as a man—it was not an earthly body, but a heavenly body. He was the first-born of a new creation; and as the first-born He would be the Head of a new race of redeemed and resurrected souls, who would be united with Him as His brethren. Together, He and they would rule and reign in a new kingdom, and live forever in a new heaven and a new earth.

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

1 Cor 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

1 Cor 15:35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

1 Cor 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written,
The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

2 Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Pet 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Now, everything Jesus was, or could have been as an earthly man was forever gone. He could have had all that Satan had offered to Him, and reigned supremely over the fallen race of mankind. He would have lived forever in His flesh, enjoying all that the world had to offer; however, at the same time, His subjects would all have perished in their sins and have been lost eternally. Even His position as the only begotten Son of God, who He alone possessed  (He was all the fullness of the God-head bodily) was relinquished to share that fullness with His redeemed brethren.

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Matt 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

So, when God crucifies someone, there is no reversing the process. When He puts something to death, what comes forth from the grave must be different. As His trials put us to death, and the ways of the flesh are crucified, we come to know in our hearts that we can never again live in them. We see that these things are empty, vain, and without profit; and they do not hold the same power over us that they once did. This is not to say we are not still tempted by these ways of the flesh and its desires; but even if we yield to their temptations, we do not find the same satisfaction and pleasure in them that we once did. Again, just as God left a few of Israel’s enemies to prove them, so our hearts are proved by these things; and we also see the proof of our death in these things. Until we are taken to heaven or receive our resurrected bodies, we will have to “die daily.” Therefore, God crucifies the ways of the flesh in our hearts through the major work of the cross; but we still face daily battles with our enemies; and God, in less intense trials, must drive them back into the grave.

Ecc 1: 14I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Rom 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Rom 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Rom 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

If I might, for the sake of making this point, offer an example from my own experience, it may be helpful. I could have been described, at one time in my life, as a football addict. Much of my spare time was taken up with watching the games on television and reading about them in the newspaper. Now, this might not seem to be any great sin to most, but for me it was a “weight” that held me back spiritually—I was taken up with it, and wasted a lot of precious time that could have been used for better things, things that could have brought glory to God.

Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Because of where I lived, I happened to be a Detroit Lions fan; and to those of you who know football, you realize that the Lions very seldom, in recent years, ever make it to the playoff games. In one year of my early Christian experience though, they did make it to the first round; and with all of my pent-up zeal I waited to see the game. It was being played on Sunday afternoon and started immediately after the church service—allowing only for a little time to get home. To my dismay, however, as I had volunteered to be a substitute bus driver (although I had never been asked before) I was approached and requested to drive a bus home that day. (I think the scoundrel who regularly drove the bus wanted to see the game too.) Not wanting to appear unspiritual, I agreed, thinking that even though I would be late for the kick-off, I could still see most of the game. Even though I was stewing in my mind about having to do this, everything was going fine until we came to the last drop-off on the route. It was there that the bus stalled and it could not be started again. At that point, we had to call for another bus to come and pull us back to the bus yard—which it did; however, it took some time for all of this to happen, and by then the game was over. Although not expressing any outward emotions, in my heart I was angry and devastated. However, when I came to see how important this thing was in my life, and how I had reacted emotionally to this experience, I came to accept that it was not really as important, in the grand scheme of things, that I once thought it to be. God, in using this experience, broke my addiction, and I have never had the same desire for football that I once had. That is not to say that I do not watch a few minutes of an occasional game; but it does not bring me the same satisfaction that it once did, and I find myself mostly bored in doing so. God had orchestrated that whole experience, and caused me to suffer that mental pain to conform me more to Christ.

The fact that our old man was crucified and buried with Christ; that we have been raised a new creature in Christ; brings up a critical point in our relationship with God—we must begin to account, in our minds, that we are indeed dead concerning our existence in the flesh towards God. Our life is now in Christ, and the moment we put ourselves back into the flesh and come to God in ourselves, or present something of ourselves before God, we bring upon ourselves more of the cross. Just as God accounted the Guilty Pair dead the moment they ate of the forbidden fruit (even though they lived on in the flesh) God accounts us dead; and we must reckon ourselves to be dead also. God now accounts us as alive only in His Son—even though we still live in this sinful body. Therefore, what God says, or accounts, is the truth; and we must adhere to it, and claim it, even in the most adverse circumstances that may test our faith. Our minds must be transformed from thinking after the flesh and living after the world, to thinking after the Spirit and entering into the things of Christ. Our whole way of thinking must be changed and conformed to the “mind of Christ.” We must, as Christ, be in agreement with all God says, does, and wills.

Gal 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

1 Cor 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

 

 

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