Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The End Of Me

                The past few days I have been praying for change in my life. Yesterday, I talked to you all about being a sincere disciple of Christ, what it looked like and what it would take. This morning, I find that I am still searching for answers in regards to sincerity in my walk with Christ. As I prayed this morning for the Lord Jesus to change me, I thought of surrender. We know that as Christians we are to surrender our lives to the Lord, and we do so when we call out to Him and receive Him into our hearts. But yet we find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do, saying things we don’t want to say, and living as if the old man has never died. I am reminded of what Paul spoke in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am who shall save me from this body of death?”

                When I look up the word surrender, I find a few different definitions, but they all have one theme that runs through them- a denial of self. Surrender means to yield to the possession or power of someone or something, it means to give oneself up to another. We desire to give our all to Jesus, yet we find that the harder we try to give it all up, the more the battle rages within us. The more I try to let go of some of the old man nature within me, the more that old man wants to come out and play. Every day seems to be a struggle, every day I seem to have the desire to do, but the will is not there. Like Paul I too cry out, “O wretched woman that I am!”
                “…If any man desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24.
 Jesus tells us that if we truly want to follow Him, if we truly desire to be His disciples, then we must deny ourselves. We must surrender our lives, our wills, our hopes, our dreams, our desires, our ambitions and our goals to Him and Him alone. We must come to the end of ourselves if we truly desire to be a disciple of Christ. This means that we are to completely give up any desire to seek comfort, fame or fortune. Denying ourselves for the sake of Jesus Christ means that we are willing to deny ourselves of any possession or status that we may have so that we may grow in holiness and deep commitment to God, therefore, anything that detours us away from Christ must be laid down. Jesus demands complete and total mastery of your life, and mine. We must come to the end of ourselves if we truly desire to be a disciple of Christ.

                Yet I find that the more I try to deny myself, the more I try to surrender, the less and less I give up and the harder the fight is within me. Like Paul, I too struggle with this war in my members.(Romans 7:15-25) I want to do what is right, I want to live for Christ, but yet I find that I do the opposite, and daily I have to fight to keep on the right path towards God. So what then are we to do? How are we to come to the end of ourselves? Sometimes, the battle is so strong, I don’t know if I can go one more day. But, there is hope.
                Pastor Chuck Smith writes, “I must come to the end of my own ambitions, my own goals, my own desires, my own self way, and I must reckon that old life of the flesh to be dead, crucified with Christ, that I might live a new life after the Spirit in Christ Jesus…Paul said that there is a war going on within us. The flesh is lusting against the spirit and the spirit is against the flesh…and we don’t always do even the things we want to do. Paul expresses his own conflict in Romans 7:24. And all of us, having seen the divine ideal and consenting to it, saying, ‘Yes Lord, that is the right life, and that’s the life I want to live, and that’s the life I am going to live’, have experienced that weakness of our own flesh. And those things that we promise we would do, we are not doing. And those things we said, ‘I will never do again’, we are still doing them…” (www.blueletterbible.org )
                We cry out, I want to change, I want to do better, how can I change, how can I do better? When we find ourselves speaking this, we need to realize that we cannot, in our own strength change or do better. Only Christ Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit can change us. When we start looking for another way to change, a formula to follow to be a better person, then we have lost the battle. We have to come to the end of ourselves. The only formula for change is denying ourselves, surrendering all that we are, all that we have, and all that we desire to God.
               “If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself {disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests} and take up his cross and follow Me {cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also}. (Matthew 16:24 AMP) We desire to change, we desire to be better people, yet we are not willing to give it all up. We are not willing to walk away from everything upon this earth and follow Him. We are no better than the rich young ruler who came to Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22) seeking change and eternal life.  This man comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to have eternal life, Jesus tells him to go and give up all that he has, and come and follow Him. But this was more than the rich man was willing to give up. He had great possessions; he had happiness, success and a good life. He followed the laws of God, but when it came to giving his whole life, he went away sorrowful.

                Jesus’ reply to him is the same to us today. “Assuredly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23) We are rich in our lives and creature comforts. We have families, homes, cars; some of us even have big bank accounts. The question is if Jesus is asking us to give it all to Him, are we willing to do so? Are we willing to deny ourselves, surrender all that we have, all that we are to Him and Him alone? We desire to change and be better Christians, yet we are unwilling to do the one thing that is required of us- we are unwilling to surrender it all to Jesus.
                Each day God the Father calls out to us to give it all away, to give it all to Him. We lift our hands and cry out, “Yes Lord, take my life” but in the next sentence we say, “Well, maybe not that part of it.” Sincerity in our walks and in our lives begins when we come to the end of who we are, and we embrace who Christ is. It is when we recognize, and respond to the call of Jesus to deny ourselves and take up our cross, willing to surrender all we have to the will of God the Father. We seek success and happiness, but in the end, we will lose the one thing Jesus came to give us, eternal life. In Him and only in Him will we find the life we desire, and we will find it when we choose to leave the life we are living now, on the cross next to His.

May the Word of God penetrate your hearts today, may He show you the true meaning of discipleship, and may we all come to a place where we no longer struggle within, but we can say, along with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that 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) Amen and Amen, to the glory of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.