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Slaying the “ME” Monster

 

 

12”How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer….

13 For you have said in your heart:

I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,

I will also sit on the mount of the congregation

on the farthest sides of the north;

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,

I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14

 

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be

opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

 

The above scriptures describe mankind’s problem. The following scriptures give us the solution to mankind’s problem.

 

20 “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

 

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died:

15 and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

 

6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:6,18

 

From the above verse in Isaiah one can see that the devil (Lucifer) became full of himself and aspired to be equal with God. He obviously fell into pride. Notice his “I” or “I will” statements. He said these things in his heart. Along with the pride, these statements indicated he was going to break out from under God’s authority and act contrary to God’s will and plan. This was rebellion.

Then Adam and Eve aspired to be like God. They wanted to know good and evil. In other words, they wanted to determine for themselves what was good and what was evil. This is the essence of the sin nature mentioned in Romans 6:6. The heart of the sin nature or flesh is our CAPABILITY and willingness to make decisions independent of God’s leading. Our various lusts work hand in hand with this capability. Adam and Eve passed down to us this sin nature which, I repeat, is the capability and desire to think and act independently of God. There is in all of us the inherited desire to break free from God’s rule and lordship and do our own thing.

It should be noted that Adam and Eve really didn’t wake up that fateful day on pride trips, all full of themselves, and deciding this was the day for them to cut loose. The reason Eve initially considered eating the forbidden fruit was because the serpent basically told her that God was lying to her in order to keep something good from her (Genesis 3:5). Then, afterwards, she noticed the multiple allurements of the fruit.

Like Eve, we humans don’t think that God’s will and our best interests are the same. We feel the need to take matters in our own hands. Every wild and rebellious child since Adam and Eve, has felt that his parents didn’t understand what was going on, and that his parents were keeping him from something good.

Eve was told that God was holding something back from her. It was implied that God was afraid that if she found this good thing, she would be equal with God and maybe even supplant Him, or at least not need Him.

 

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened ,

and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

 

The devil through the serpent tempted Eve to enter into his mind set and his heart set by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She would become independent of God and decide for herself what she should or should not do; what was right and what was wrong. Eve and Adam, made in the image of God, would begin to act and make decisions independent of God, as if they were gods themselves; i.e., “I will do this, and I will not do that.” They were coming out from beneath God’s lordship and covering. Doesn’t this mind set epitomize many in this world today? Consider our universities, public schools and many government institutions.

The following scriptures point to God’s solution to this sin and rebellion problem.

 

24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.

25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now have returned to the Sheppard and Overseer of your souls. I Peter 24-25


 

6 All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned, everyone, to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

 

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died:

15 and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

 

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

 

The cross is the solution for our tendencies to wander and go our own ways. The cross is the solution for our iniquities (iniquity includes the concept of habitual sins or particular sin tendencies) so that we can live for righteousness and God. In Galatians 2:20, the “I” no longer lives. In ll Corinthians 5:15, the believer no longer lives for “himself.” Here, the truth is that we were set free from sin and self at the cross so that we can return to God and make Him our Sheppard and Overseer. This message of the cross is not the truth of forgiveness for sins, but this is the truth of deliverance from sin so that we can live for God. We no longer have to live for ourselves, but can live for Him. Without this truth of the cross we are trapped in this body of sin (Romans 7:24). We cannot get unstuck on ourselves, except by this truth of the cross.

The PURPOSE of being crucified with Christ is so that we can get off the throne of our lives and let God by His Spirit be Lord of our lives, and lead the way. Or, to put it another way, instead of us being the captain of our own ship, we allow and want Christ by His Spirit to be the captain of our ship. “For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) We are no longer going to make decisions independent of God. The PURPOSE of being crucified with Christ is so that we can be lead by His Spirit.

The “I” life needs to go to the cross. Now, there is a promise associated with this surrender of self to the Lordship of Christ. The promise being that if we lose our lives for the gospel’s sake, we will find our lives. And the opposite of this being, if we seek after our life, we will lose it. In other words, we need not look at this obligation as a drag. It is the key to finding our lives. The scripture below makes this point.

 

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

 

I” is the heart and soul of sin. When the “I” is removed, all bondages begin to lose their grip. It might be likened to pulling a foundation out from under a building. With the foundation gone, the rest of the building is sure to collapse fairly quickly and easily. Whether it is lust, pornography, a gambling addiction, alcohol, drugs, anger or whatever; that addiction or bondage loses its grip and loses strength, when the “I” is reckoned dead at the cross. For the period of time that the believer reckons the “I” crucified with Christ; for that period of time they will have used the authority of the cross to take out the very heart and foundation of sin in their lives. If they commit themselves to this stand of faith for a lifetime, they will see radical and permanent changes in their lives. Conversely, the “I” life or dependence on self power, strengthens bondage and addictions.

 

The goal of the cross (Being crucified with Christ) is for the believer or disciple to take the “I” out by faith. Thus, with the trunk removed, all of the branches will wither and die. Consider the simple diagram below with the “I” crossed out.

 

 

I am convinced that “I” centeredness is also at the heart of what we call “mental illness.” In my personal life for example, I used to be full of paranoid thoughts. I would imagine that people were talking about me. I would misinterpret actions and words as being attacks against me. I would get agitated about all of these perceived attacks, and would then retaliate causing a good deal of trouble for myself and others. But when I surrendered to the Lord and started to follow Him, I forsook a self centered lifestyle and thought life. When thoughts came to me like this, “they are talking about you,“ I would dismiss them with thoughts like this, “I’m here to glorify His name not my own. It‘s not about me. It‘s about Him and other people.” These powerful, paranoid delusions would lose their grip and traction in my life because there was no “me” to harass or work on.

If you knew how much trouble paranoid people can be, you would realize what a glorious deliverance the above actually was. Normally, paranoids would be doped up with mood altering narcotics to calm them down. This is hardly getting at the root of the problem. The cross is the only solution for self centered, “me” monsters. Getting people to accept and commit to their crucifixion with Christ accomplished by grace; this gets to the very root of man’s problem. The Holy Spirit will convict people and open them up to receive this truth of the cross.

Closely related to the above discussion of mental illness, is the meaning of the fig leaves in the Genesis story.

 

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:7-10

 

When Adam and Eve came out from God’s authority by sinning, they also came out from God’s covering. This was the part that the serpent didn’t tell them about when he sold them that bill of goods. They were left with the irresistible urge and intense desire to cover themselves and and even hide. Before the fall, their identity was established and was rooted in God’s plan for them and God’s acceptance of them. They had no self consciousness. They had no need to impress anyone. They had no need to put up a façade. They had no desire to compete with anyone else. They had no desire to be number one amongst other people. Their situation was simple. God told them what to do, and they did it and were accepted. (They obviously never disobeyed God before the fall.) God told Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted….” (Genesis 4:7)

The fig leaves represent man’s attempt to create identity and even glorify himself apart from God. He lost his identity that he had in God. He now feels a desperate need to cover himself and demonstrate his worth to all around him. The following are examples of modern day fig leaves: I have a great figure. I am smart at math. I am religious and belong to such and such religion. I am rich and powerful. I belong to this group or that. I have a beautiful house. I take exotic vacations. I am very good at tennis. I am good at such and such. There are thousands of such fig leaves. To have no justification or acceptance from God or man is unbearable. People go mad when they sense no justification or acceptance from God or man. People go mad when their fig leaves are somehow taken from them and they don’t know to go to God for cover.

Without God, a person cannot tolerate the concept of being an absolute nothing to those around him. He feels an irresistible urge to cover himself with something to show those around him. Who could bear the following conversation at a party or get together:

 

What do you do for a living?”

Nothing.”

What do you like to do?”

Nothing.”

Well, do you have any plans for the future?”

Nope.”

Do you have any family in the area?”

I am not on speaking terms with any of my family members.”

Well, what did you do today?”

Nothing.”

Interesting.”

 

God’s plan of salvation is to rid ourselves of the fig leaves in our lives and to put on His garments. This is symbolized in the Genesis account by God making tunics for Adam and Eve and clothing them (Genesis 3:21). We are to take our fig leaves to the cross and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to wrap ourselves with good works. Our particular areas of specialization which would be our giftings given by the Holy Spirit, would begin to define us. These good works also bring life to ourselves and all around us. Fig leaves breed death because they are rooted in self centeredness. Consider the following scriptures.

 

8 And to her is was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:8

 

9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,

10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, WITH GOOD WORKS. 1Timothy 2:9-10

 

10 and have PUT ON the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, PUT ON tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering:

14 But above all these things PUT ON love, which is the bond of perfection.

Colossians 3:10,12,14

 

Self esteem teaching which is so popular these days, leads people in just the opposite direction of the cross. Self esteem teaching leads people to glory in, trust in, and focus on their fig leaves (their worldly and carnal views of themselves). On the other hand; genuine, godly encouragement points out and seeks to strengthen what God is doing in a person. Godly encouragement finds and strengthens what the Holy Spirit is actually doing with a person. Genuine encouragement discerns God’s plans for that person.

Going back to our original teaching; how does one actually experience this truth of the cross? First, in order to experience the above truth, a person must WANT this to be a reality in his life. Here lies the real problem. Who is not offended by the cross? Who in Christian circles is even an enemy of the cross? Do you really want this to be a reality in your life? That is, do you really want to be crucified with Christ.

This truth of the cross requires the believer to whole heartedly surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Bible calls this repentance. With this truth of the cross presented and received, repentance is more sure and clear. One of the many problems of ONLY teaching on the forgiveness truth of the cross, is that people just want a covering to do as they please. Repentance is not clear. It is hard to discern if a person has even repented. And, without repentance, forgiveness is not available (Hebrews 10:26-31). Wanting to be crucified with Christ helps solve the repentance issue. This is why the apostle Paul preached both of these truths of the cross together (Romans 3 and 6, Galatians 2:16-21, 11Corinthians 5:14-21, etc.).

Secondly, in order to experience this truth, a person must BELIEVE that, by grace, he was included in Christ’s death, i.e., he was crucified with Christ. This work of grace has already been accomplished. “…It is finished…” (John 19:30) Just accept what you are because Christ died for you. How did all this happen? That’s not your problem to worry about. Your responsibility is simply to be what He made you through His death; that is, BE dead to sin. Walk in this truth for a while, and greater understanding will come.

 

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died:

15 and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

 

Just as I believe that by grace I was forgiven through Christ’s death; so I believe that by grace I was crucified with Christ. I can’t do a thing to make this happen. It is a free gift. I cannot do any amount of works to make this happen. I can’t free myself. I can’t put myself on the cross with Jesus. I can only want to be dead on the cross with Jesus. And then, I can only accept by faith the free gift that Christ has offered me, namely, I died with Christ on the cross. I can only by faith accept what has been done for me and to me by grace.

In other words, by the same faith in which I receive forgiveness for sins, I receive deliverance from sin. When you hear a Protestant minister preach that forgiveness is not earned and that one cannot do certain good deeds to merit forgiveness; just imagine that he was preaching ALSO about the free gift of being crucified with Christ by grace. Unfortunately, the latter, infinitely valuable gift is being ignored! People don’t want it. It brings the offense of the cross. But, we ignore this foundational truth to the undoing of ourselves, and indeed, the western church. The devil invades through the massive gap in our walls caused by this ignorance, and he wreaks havoc. People are bewildered and have no clue that at the root of the devastation is incomplete and inaccurate preaching and understanding of the cross. May God have mercy.

Now, exactly how does a person believe this truth? That‘s easy! It’s what you are! By faith, accept what you are, namely, crucified with Christ and therefore dead to sin.

 

2 … How shall we WHO DIED to sin live any longer in it?

11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to BE dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:2,11

 

With Romans 6:2 shown above, notice that Paul is answering the question of why not continue in sin if by doing so, grace would increase. In other words, why not sin if we can ask God to forgive us afterwards, thereby showing God’s forgiveness and grace. Notice that Paul answers this question by appealing to another truth about our identity in Christ. He does not tell us that we need to work hard at avoiding sin (which is a great idea); nor does he tell us that we need to do certain things. Instead Paul appeals to what we are through Christ’s death; namely, dead to sin. We died to sin by grace. Because of grace, dead to sin is what we are. How can we live contrary to what we are?

Surely you can be what you are! Just start thinking and then acting according to your new identity. (There will be some initial pain in giving up an old habit. The cross is not painless!) Or, to put it more accurately, this is a newly acknowledged fact of your identity. He died for you before you even knew it. Just now, for various reasons, you decided to want and believe this wonderful truth of the cross. Before, it was an unopened gift. You don’t have to tilt your head a certain way, or go to a certain church, or do any particular work or ritual; you simply have to believe what you are because He loved you and died for you.

Birds have no problem being birds. Cats have no problem being cats. So what’s your problem? Be what God made you through Jesus’ death on the cross for you. BE forgiven; BE dead to sin; and BE healed.

Now, as stated before, being crucified with Christ, is the truth of the cross that is the gateway into a life of obedience and a life of being lead by the Spirit. l Peter 2:24, ll Corinthians 5:14, Galatians 2:20, and Romans 6 are a few of the scriptures that point to this goal. The bottom line is that this vital message of the cross leads to a person who is conscious of being a vessel for the Holy Spirit to flow through. The person is no longer self conscious, self absorbed, self seeking or self glorifying. Instead the person is conscious that they are a vessel emptied by the cross, and needing a continual filling by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20). This truth of the cross EMPTIES us of sin and self, while the Holy Spirit FILLS us (Ephesians 5:18b) with the opposite which is His love, righteousness and power. At the cross we were delivered from our body of sin (Romans 6:6) so that we can take our God given place in the body of Christ for ministry. Thus, this is the meaning of the bread of Communion.

The believer does not try to conquer “I” with “I.” This is a common error that people make. They think that they can tame their carnal lusts and obey God through will power. I cannot deliver myself. Even if I try to be humble, I become aware of my humility. I become proud of my humility. I become aware of my own godliness. I cannot deliver myself from self consciousness, self absorption, self glorification and self seeking. People can become proud of how devout they are. “…Who will deliver me from this body of death?“ (Romans 7:24b) Deliverance comes only through Christ crucified, whereby self is removed by faith. Dependence upon the Spirit of God replaces the self life. The Spirit will raise up love and selflessness in place of selfishness and self absorption.

 

19 “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

20 “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 2:19-20

 

4 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 unto God.

5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having DIED to what we were held by, so that we should SERVE in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:4-6

 

Basically, Galatians 2:20 relates to Romans chapter 6, while Galatians 2:19 relates to Romans chapter 7. Also, Galatians 2:19 says that I died to the law through the law; while Romans 7:5 says that I died to the law through the body of Christ. They’re saying the same thing. The body of Christ is the incarnation of the law; that is, Christ’s body did all the right things on the earth which included obeying the law and fulfilling all righteousness. Through that body (unleavened bread) given up for us on the cross, we no longer have to rely on “I” to obey God. “I” died so that I, as a vessel of the Holy Spirit, can believe for the Holy Spirit to bear fruit through me. For example, all of these teachings are the fruit of the Holy Spirit giving understanding, instead of “me” scratching my head until it’s bald, and trying to manufacture understanding. Notice that in Romans 7:4, there is the concept of bearing fruit to God. Also, consider the following scripture.

 

19 Now the WORKS of the flesh are evident, which are ….

22 But the FRUIT of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:19-24

 

The Spirit bears fruit through me. My responsibility is to believe Him to do so. God’s work grows out of me from the Spirit, like fruit grows out of a tree. God’s work flows out of me like living water to the world. I am responsible to use the truth of the cross to crucify my flesh with its passions and desires. I don’t want the flesh to choke out what God is doing.

 

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