By Andy Zoppelt
We often have a problem dealing with sin and feel it is impossible not to sin. The reason for this is that we live in the flesh and the flesh has no way of dealing with sin. God's purpose is that we would not sin.
A man challenged me in a meeting one time and stated "We cannot stop sinning." I asked him a question, "Do you think the Holy Spirit can sin?" He said, "No." "Well do you think the Holy Spirit in you can sin?" Again he said, "No." "So your sinning problem is that you are not in the Holy Spirit but in your self or flesh, would you agree?" He said, "Yes." "Then if you were dead to self, you would not sin-am I correct?" He again said, "Yes." "Then your problem is that you never understood the cross and the blessing of being dead to self and alive to Jesus."
Many say they believe in the cross, but few live it, and that is the reason we have so much sin and, therefore, accept sin as a part of our Christian experience.
Grace connects me to the cross and to the power to live a resurrected life in Christ. The cross gives me life, not theology; it is the life of Jesus in me that makes not sinning achievable. Let me start with my own experience in this matter and maybe it will help you understand.
I want to begin by talking about some of the misconceptions of "dying to self" and exchange those misconceptions for a practical understanding. We will then see what the scriptures say on "dying to self."
For years I heard this statement: "Andy you must die in that situation." It was always a situation that was already beyond my faith and ability. I then saw dying as part of the anguish and pain. "I just have to die..." I must admit I never received any comfort in those words nor did I understand it as a solution. I was dying because of the problem and now I must die in some mystical way, which I really didn't understand.
I went this way for 40 years. I would get into these horrendous trials, weeping and struggling without any solution. I couldn't figure out where God was. In all this I tried to have faith and struggled to get the victory. Every once in a while I would make some progress only to face another trial. It seemed the more I tried to do "good," the worse it seemed to go. Was God against my going on?
I tried hundreds of methods: standing on scripture, claiming victory, embracing the suffering, praising Him during the trial and even "counting it all joy" to fall into many different kinds of trials.
The early seeds of the cross
Early in my walk I had an experience with a trial. I was at Penn State University and just took a test that I was convinced I had failed. While driving home from school, I could hear swearing and cursing all around me. I was depressed and the Devil was laughing at me for being so old and being in school (I was 27 at the time).
I got home and later went up to my bedroom. I knelt at my bed and told the Lord that now I wanted to tell Him that I loved Him. Now that it seemed my education was going in the wrong direction, I wanted him to know that I loved Him.
At that moment God gave me a vision-this is a struggle for me to explain this. Did my eyes see this? No! But my brain saw it as clearly as though my eyes were seeing it. It was as if God bypassed my eyes and sent the signal directly to my brain. This was no imagination. It was as clear as if I were physically seeing it, and it was being played out in my mind.
I saw myself kneeling at the cross. My forehead was touching the ground, and the top of my head was touching the foot of the cross. It was at that corner where the cross and the ground meet. It was as though God was permitting me to see myself through the eyes of a camera. Then as a camera leaves one scene and scans to another, the scene moved to a large valley about 300 yards down from the cross. There I saw thousands of people gather in a valley below where I was. I saw a person in the center healing the sick and casting out demons. I heard and saw people calling and directing him to this one and to that one. I couldn't understand what this was all about. Then the camera seemed to zoom closer to the person at the center. I knew it was Jesus. It zoomed closer and closer and closer. I could now hear the voices. Then I heard a voice coming from the crowd, "Andy, come over here." The person turned and I saw his face... It was me! "What?" Then the camera quickly turned back up the hill at the cross, and there I was hanging on the cross... I was dead. Then the voice said to me, "If you will do this, I will greatly use you."
Many situations since that time helped to make this revelation clear to me, piece by piece. One time when I lost all hope, Jesus showed me He was my hope. Another time when I had no strength, Jesus showed me He was my strength. When I suffered from depression, He showed me that He was my peace. In each case he had me turn from what I was experiencing to what He was. My life was, in reality, to be lived out in His.
Often I would ask Jesus if He was depressed, and then would live on the basis of His peace. I did that with hope, strength, faith, victory, and every force that came against me. Jesus in some vague way became my life.
There was yet one connection that would tie it all together: the reality of my being (past tense) dead.
After going through trials without end-rejection from brothers and churches, financial problems, jobs (the list is a mile long)-one day it all came together. I received a letter from the county mistakenly telling me that I owed them $50,000 dollars in back taxes. I did not have the money and didn't want to lose my home. I was angry at the devil and now it was time to end his life in my life. The only way that could happen would be for me to be dead.
I had just finished eating when the news was presented to me. My stomach stopped its normal digestive process and fear gripped my soul. Filled with fear and discouragement, I went into my bedroom. I had neither faith nor hope; this appeared to be the final victory for Satan after all these years. But it wasn't, it was a womb wherein I found life.
I lay in bed and said these words, "Satan it is over. I am finished. I have no life. I am dead. You are threatening a dead man. It matters little if this dead man does not have the victory, does not have peace or faith-he is finished. ‘I' am not trying to have the victory any more. ‘I' am not trying to have faith any more. ‘I' am dead. My opinions don't mean anything anymore. Nothing that I feel, nothing that I can do means anything anymore. Andy, you are dead and I am not listening to the cries that come from me anymore. I will recognize myself dead and incapable in dealing with this problem. I don't care if ‘I' never get the victory or have faith. There is no good thing in me and I am dead. I refuse to lift myself up by my bootstraps and try to have victory. I am crucified with Christ...and Christ lives in me and the life that I am going to be living from now on is by His life of faith and hope. Satan, you are trying to draw attention to a dead man and now I see it. Satan, you want me to live by ‘me' and the ‘me' is dead. It is over for you... I am dead. I am not going to give my self-life mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to keep it alive.
"I am not going to lift the casket lid to see how the dead man is doing. I am not going to ask him how he feels or if he has the victory... He is finished. He is dead, and a dead person has nothing to do in this life except to be buried. Today I am recognizing what Jesus did with my self-life; He crucified it 2000 years ago. I am not trying to die... I am already dead. I refuse to live any longer by the facts of my sense-life; I am living by the fact of what Jesus did on the cross: He provided me with the ability to put myself to death and provided for me to sit with Him in heavenly places IN Christ Jesus. I will stay here until Jesus decides what He wants me to do in this situation. He is the Lord of all. He is the potter and I am just the clay."
I must say I felt no change, no burst of faith or victory. I wept and could "feel" the pain in my stomach. The next morning I was clothed in power. A resurrected life entered me. It lifted me into victory and a freedom from sin. For 2 months I walked in a power and presence I never experienced before.
Then the Lord showed me that I would have to walk this revelation out by applying it to areas in my life where Satan previously had rule. I had to establish the fact of my death when Jesus died. My feelings went nuts. It seemed ridiculous to believe I was dead, while still experiencing such strong emotional and rational objections coming from the dead man. The first enemy that persecutes us in our position with our Savior is our old man.
The cross is foolishness to the carnal mind. The flesh wars against the Spirit. The flesh wants to keep itself alive and at the center of every situation. It wants to set up its kingdom in our lives... but it is dead.
Jesus' death was a fact, and so is ours. We are not trying to die-we are dead. The reality of the cross is that we share in His death so we can share in His resurrection. We must live by the fact of the cross and the fact of our death. "He that is dead is free."
The cross is central to everything in our lives. If we don't understand this, we will be victims to every thought and temptation. We will fall by our weaknesses and stumble in our understanding.
We must keep this message simple and yet clear and constantly before our face.
Historically, according to God's word, all life hinges on two events and two people: Adam and his fall and Jesus' death and resurrection. It really isn't about Satan verses Jesus, though Satan plays a part in it; it's all about Adam and Jesus. Our lives are either based on a fallen Adam or on a crucified and resurrected Jesus. The root of our life is either drawing death from Adam, which death he died when he rebelled against God, or it is drawing life from the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection to a newness of life in the presence of the Father.
Every day we face this decision: which life will we follow and which life will we put to death?
It is very hard to look at the cross and understand what it all means. Every day I am faced with what I will do with the cross and the crucified and resurrected One. Will I permit the effects of the cross into my life? Will I live my life based on the cross? Will my humanity bow to the cross or will my life deny the cross? Will the cross just be some ornament hanging from the mirror of my car or will it be the means in which I make every decision and form every thought?
To deny the true meaning of the cross is to deny everything that unites us to the Father and places us, as His children, in heavenly places. To not understand the cross causes us to walk in our humanity linked to God only by theology and religion. To not understand the cross makes it impossible to walk in the Spirit and have pure fellowship with Him and one another. To not understand the cross causes us to find methods or rituals of reaching God or getting things from God. To not understand the cross causes us to waver in our faith and be double minded. To not understand the cross causes us to lean on our own understanding and frustrations.
Jesus' death on the cross is not just another event in scripture. The cross is not some appendage to the miracles of God or just some visible demonstration of His love, though He did that. It is the turning point of restoration into Jesus’ life.
When people understand the cross and live their lives based on Jesus' life, they are fully touching the purpose of His life for themselves.
Paul said in Rom 5:12 that "sin entered the world through one man," Adam. He goes on to say in verses 15-17, "For if the many died [How?] by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift [Jesus] that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 ... judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift [Jesus' death on the cross] followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man [Adam], how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."
This is not a sinner's-prayer-receiving event. It is the receiving of one life and rejecting another. Who is reigning in our lives? Jesus or Adam. My Adamic nature will use every weapon possible to keep me from seeing my life in Christ. The flesh, the Adamic or carnal nature, will use every thought, every emotion, every situation, every desire, every person to keep us from seeing Jesus and living by Him in heavenly places. Our flesh will make "walking in the Spirit" a futile exercise without hope. Our flesh will hide the cross from us and try to get us into a futile search for faith in order to get what we want. Our flesh will use our understanding to judge the Spirit and His cross. We cannot understand the cross with our carnal minds; we can only understand the cross if we are willing to reckon ourselves dead (past tense) on it. We will never have a revelation of the cross through imaginations, understandings, intelligence or even will. We can only understand the cross when we decide to live there and permit the fruit bore on that cross to rise in us.
If we are dead, then we are dead and that settles it. If the cross brought my death, why do I reason it or try to feel it? Why do I look at myself to see if "I" am doing ok? It reminds me when we go to view a person in a casket, if they look at us and speak to us, guess what, they are not dead? The power of being dead is not easily seen today, without the experience of being dead to self there can be no resurrection in Christ.
Once our life is turned to self, the manifested life and peace of Jesus flees away. Once we lean on emotions, understanding, and personal desires, etc., we are out of the life of the Resurrected One and into the life of Adam--- that is, death.
I use a phrase in dealing with depressed people, “I have never met a depressed person that kept their eyes on Jesus and I never met a person that kept their eyes of Jesus depressed.”
Every word that comes from our lips breeds either life or death. Too often we breed death in our families, in our friends, on our jobs and in everyone we come into contact with. Our hardened heart breeds contention, confusion, and death. Our carnal nature breeds on knowledge and self-importance. Our carnal nature puts self at the center, replacing the importance of the cross. The cross is foolishness to the intellectual and the emotional. The intellectual lives by his limited understanding. It lives by what it can handle, what it can feel and what it can understand. The carnal nature refuses to believe the simple revelation of the cross because it can't understand it or feel it---or control it. The carnal nature wants carnal facts before it will lie down and die. In Romans 7:15-24, Paul explains how it is impossible to walk with God and live in our carnal nature at the same time.
Permit me to give you my paraphrase of those verses: "I am unspiritual, sold out by the one sin of Adam as a slave and in bondage to sin. I do not understand what I do. The things I know that are right for me to do in order to please God, I don't do them. In fact, I wind up doing the things I hate and things that I know are wrong. So what is my problem? I realize that my problem is because sin lives in me, that is, in my self-nature inherited from Adam. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
"Now if I realize that I am incapable of doing what pleases God in my Adam nature, then I must realize it is not me personally that is the root of the problem, but sin living in me through the one man Adam, subtly deceiving and keeping me from doing what is right. I find a life at work in me when I want to do good-evil is right there with me. For in my heart of hearts I delight and want to please God, but at the same time I find this conflict at work in the members of my body, waging war against the desire to please God in my mind and making me a prisoner to sin in my body. What a wretched man I am! Who (which man?) will free me from this body of death (Adam's sin) that reigns in me so I can please God? I am thankful for Jesus, for it is His life that will free me to please Him."
It is a "Who" that will free us. It is not a "what," a doctrine, information, or act, but a "Who." The "Who" is not us, but Him. We don't have to run to the latest faith or victory conference, they will only prop up our "self" life with methods and form. Until we experience the Life of Jesus working in us, nothing else matters.
You cannot get to Him without passing through the cross and recognizing yourself dead to self; that, by the way, is the true meaning of repentance---the very thing we should have all done when we accepted Him and the true meaning of water baptism. A total turn from our self-life
The carnal and hardened heart tends to believe what it wants to believe rather than the truth. Truth is too straightforward; it simply requires one to lay it all down: intellect, carnal reason and feelings. The carnal nature is the self-centered nature; it wants God to find him a wife, a job, a place to live...and to make him spiritual while sitting there living in self-pity. The self-life hates the Gethsemane that leads one to the cross. The carnal nature delights in discovering itself (Prov 18:2) and in understanding the depths of its own soul. It prides itself in what it knows. The carnal nature loves to condemn itself for every sin; it somehow feels justified in punishment and condemnation (Rom 8:1). Though it realizes that in the flesh dwells no good thing, it hopes that somehow the good thing will come without the cross to self.
I have struggled for years with this. I felt that unless I condemned myself in my sin, I would be accepting sin and would be opening a door to continue to sin. Condemnation, in that sense, became the center in my dealing with sin: "Do I condemn myself or not?" But I missed the whole mark-the cross. I was working my life out of my self-life and a standard of righteousness that I determined. I was abiding in me and not in Him.
There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus because there is no condemnation in the life of Jesus. Now does that mean I can sin freely? No! But it does mean that I am given a new nature in Christ that will free me from sin. For he that is dead is free from sin. How can a dead person sin? The more our lives are under His death and resurrection, the less we will sin. The more I condemn myself, the more I recognize myself and sin. Condemnation is linked to self and pride: "Why can't I do better? I can't figure out why I don't have a better walk. If I love Jesus I wouldn't be doing the things I am doing."
I have been there---I know the voices. I am dead; because Jesus died, I died. I was dead 2000 years ago and now I am still dead today. Jesus said, "It is finished." The word "finished" is in the perfect tense. It means: "It was finished, it is now finished, and it will forever be finished." Jesus' death was just as real before creation as it will be at the end of creation. If His death is final and complete, then somewhere in time I must see my being dead as final and complete. If I don't, I will be forced to live by my own life.
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. [Why?] For [because] the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that [if you live by both of them] you do not do the things that you wish. But [in contrast to living by both of them] if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Gal 5:16-18
The law was the standard of righteousness, but the cross and resurrection becomes the manifestation of righteousness in life-the Life of Jesus in us.
Not being "under the law" doesn't mean we have the right to sin. No, no! Not being "under the law" means we are free to live by Jesus. Living in Jesus will deliver us from sin. As long as I am walking in condemnation, I cannot walk in the Spirit. I must be free from sin and its condemnation if I am going to grow. I must start with me being dead and move to my being seated with Him in heavenly places.
When we are overwhelmed in any situation we must take a position of being dead with Him. We must stand there until He resurrects us and replaces our old life with His new life. Taking such a stand sounds nuts in the light of all our understanding. Our emotions do not agree with our minds when we take this stand. In fact, they rebel. Our understanding cannot comprehend a stand totally foreign to our carnal way of thinking.
We must take our stand as being dead, if we are going to walk in life. This is not a method, but a total dependence on Jesus, on what He did to restore us to Himself and the Father. When we pass through the cross, we find His faith, His righteousness, and His victory coming from His resurrected life-true LIFE!
The reason we struggle so hard with this issue is because we don't have Life. When we have Life, nothing else matters. We can choose to some degree in our flesh to stop certain things that bother us or things we are addicted to, but do we then have Life? Life is union with Jesus, and His life becomes our life. How can His life sin? We choose what life we will live by choosing what life we will die to.
We must see the cross as the point of our death and we must accept it for our lives. It is past tense, I am dead and that settles it. I must work that out as "my" life struggles to maintain its throne. Don't imagine that your understanding and your emotions will not persecute you. Your worst enemy will be your self-life. Satan is no problem if he doesn't have a door into your self-life. Satan empowers our carnal nature. Jesus wants to empower our spiritual nature and set us free from the limits of this world.
Jesus made it clear that we cannot be saved unless we lose our life. Our carnal life has a powerful hold on us so long as we continue to live by it. Only when we die to self can we have His life. God gives life and love, and it is by this means we keep His commandments. We have no control if we are in control.
Dying to self is not passive, but an active stand against the self-life. It takes its position in Jesus and waits upon Him for His life to manifest itself in us in those areas that we once were in control.
We are dead and that is the fact we must live by. It is that truth that will set us free. "I am free from me."
I am crucified with Christ, but I am still alive, but it is not me that is living, but it is Jesus' living His life through me because He loves me and He gave Himself for me.
How can we be dead to self and yet experience the dead man being so active in this battle?
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the desires of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Gal 5:16-18
What Paul is saying: if we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. If we are fulfilling the desires of the flesh, then we know it is because we are walking in the flesh. Paul says the same thing in Rom 6:16, "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" NKJV
"That one's slave" is the flesh linked to the lie of Satan.
Our biggest enemy is not the Devil, it is the flesh. Of course the Devil empowers our flesh as we yield to it. We like the idea of blaming all our unfortunate rebellion on someone else: "The Devil made me do it." This sounds so much like Eve when she was confronted by God. Satan's power was to appeal to Eve's pride to be like God or to live a life outside of God. Pride is the very pulse of the carnal nature. If we reckon ourselves to be dead, where then is the room for sin?
We are dead because we died with Jesus, but why is this war still inside of me? The war we fight is not to stop sinning, but we fight to maintain our stand in our death with Jesus on the cross. It is the life in Him that keeps us from sinning.
This war will determine "who" will be our life. This is difficult because we are so accustomed to living by our feelings, our understanding and our desires... These seem so real to us. We often feel like hypocrites if we deny what our emotions are experiencing. We let our feelings to determine the truth for us.
If I am to be a hypocrite, I would rather be a hypocrite to my flesh than to the life and reality of Jesus. Our self-life is our biggest enemy; it is obsessed with having its own way and fulfilling its own desires. Self-pity is one of its biggest weapons; it is pride turned inward. When God doesn't pity the things in us that we pity, we often judge God as being indifferent to us. We think that if we cry enough, maybe He will give in to our demands. But we are missing the whole point. God doesn't want to support "our life," but He wants to give us a new life-the life of His Son, the very life that keeps us from sinning.
This dead man has weapons in his arsenal. These include a myriad of feelings, self-pity, ego, and desires that are embedded in us and demand that we submit to them; it "feels" natural to submit to them.
We are not to war against our emotions, our agenda, our desires and our sins, but to reckon them too as dead. When they come to harass us, we are to take our stand that we are dead to self and alive to God. We are to recognize that "Christ is our life."
That doesn't make sense to the carnal man. But it is not meant to make sense, it is meant to give life. Life comes from the relationship we have and not from the power we have. We all are too weak to have the victory, faith, and the fruit of the Spirit, but as we reckon ourselves dead and turn our situations and lives over to Jesus, He brings newness of life to our spirit and fills us with His presence.
The problem is that we maintain the flesh as the standard to see if things are working out the way it thinks it should. We say things like "It's not working." Well what's not working? This is the mind of the flesh functioning as it always has, judging the Spirit based on its own agenda and opinion. Can you see that we have not seen death as a final decision in our lives? We still have reserved the right of the self-life to judge ourselves and our spirit; the Spirit should judge our self-life and our spirit within based on God's word.
Death must eliminate our lives and install Jesus' life. We are not to fight against the self-life; we are to reckon it to be dead. We are to consider it dead and be done with it.
I must say here, when I often reckon myself to be dead, I feel totally stupid and it makes no sense to take such a position against such powerful emotions and desires. But this is the point where Christ's life finds a place to be our life. We don't have to feel or believe something for it to be real. My death with Jesus is real and that is what I need to base my life on. If a color blind person believes the car is gray when it is green, then what is real? The green is real and not the gray. It is truth that sets us free and not our opinions or understanding.
Eph 1:18-19, "I pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe [live by Jesus’ life in them. Christ in you is the hope of glory.]."
Seeing is not believing, but believing in Jesus is seeing. For many, the eyes of their understanding are darkened by the self-life. It is not the addiction to drugs, pornography, etc. that is the root of our problems; our problems are deeper than that. We try to get rid of our sins through our built-in faulty self-life that has not been broken. There is no power as long as our self-life is still dominating our lives. The answer is to put the self-life to death, turn away from it, don’t listen to it, cast down its thoughts and put them into captivity and be done with them. "I am dead. When Jesus died, I died. My death is just as real as His death. I am not trying to get the victory or to have faith; I am living by His life and His life grants me all things pertaining to life...to lose my life is to find His."
I am the clay, and, because He is the potter, He will work it out with circumstances beyond my understanding and feelings. Truly all things work for the good to those who love Him and see Him in everything. I will wait patiently for Him to finish His work at the very root of my life. I cannot lean on my own understanding or live by my desires, I must live by Him. The very meaning of believe means “to live by”. He is my joy, my peace, my hope, my righteousness, my victory, my strength, my faith, my love, my rock, my salvation, etc. I cannot find His life until I am willing to lose mine.
"He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matt 10:39)
Are these words of life or theology? Are heaven and hell at the core of these words? Working out our own death must become something we give ourselves to. We should not give up because of the situation, our feelings, or our desires. The ax must be laid to the root so the tree of "our" life will die, and in its place will grow the life of Christ.
We cannot grasp His plan for our lives and it is fruitless to try to figure it out. God is able to do exceeding beyond that which we could ask or think---just ask Moses and he will tell you, he wasn't successful until he put to death his own plans. No man or woman of God made it by being in control; they made it when they were finished being in control.
The hardest thing is to dis-acknowledge our soul and the power of its persuasive reasoning.
To be dead is to be free. The old man holds us captive to our limits and only in Jesus can we live beyond all of that... Glory to God for the cross, for now we live by Jesus’ life and not ours. I no longer ask, "How do I feel?" or "How strong am I?", but I ask, "How do You feel Jesus?" and "What strength do You have?” Thus I will live out of and through His life that is in me.
Should I not live by Him and through Him? This is the very basis which governed the early Christians' lives.
How can we understand salvation without repentance? "... Unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:3
We don't understand the cross because we have not been taught the truth about salvation from the beginning.
The "sinner's prayer" has undermined the true entrance into salvation. One does not get saved by repeating the "sinner's prayer," but by repenting from the self-life or turning one's whole life over to Jesus. It is the repentant heart and not the "sinner's prayer" that wins salvation. We are always looking for easier and painless ways to get people saved. Jesus and the apostles used no such effort.
To repent is to turn from the self-life (dead to self) and turn our lives over completely to His life (resurrection of a new creation, thus we are truly born again). Otherwise there is no salvation, no deliverance from sin, and no full manifestation of His fruit.
The word "turn" is the operative word in repentance. To turn from self is to turn our backs on all the feedback and desires that come from the self-life. We cannot have our lives and His at the same time. This is the problem with most today. It must be a complete turn from our self-pity, from our desires, our opinions, and our emotions. We must be willing to lose all for Him or we will not be saved. Half-turns will not save.
It is because of this failure to understand the death to self that many were led to believe that God is there for them and their kingdom. In their perpetual sin they can't understand why they don't have peace and victory, and why God doesn't answer their prayers. For them to continually sin, they must lower the standard of grace so they will feel accepted. This, brothers and sisters, is entering another way. They are misled into believing that grace is enough to cover all their rebellion and sin and thus they continue to live their lives in the flesh. They are convinced that Jesus loves them so much that it matters little who they serve. God's word may be primary as a book on theology, but it is secondary as a matter of service for them.
It is because of this misunderstanding that many are mad at God for not giving them what they want. They suffer because they don't understand His love. They fully believed that, upon repeating the sinner's prayer and receiving Jesus into their lives, Jesus would fulfill their heart's desires. Many today have walked away because of this misunderstanding.
Repentance is a choice of person, who is our life? What do we value in our lives: mother, father, wife or husband, family, money, position, possessions, a no-hassle life? All these are rooted in self and selfishness and pride.
Worship is not a Sunday event led by a group of musicians that perk up our spirit (though that is what we like it to be), but it is a continual giving of worth to His Lordship (worth ship). How can or how dare we think we can serve two masters?
Our form of salvation has no conditions, yet we "feel" we are saved by some inner witness that is disconnected from the reality of the salvation expressed in the scriptures. The same conditions presented by Jesus and the apostles still holds true today, regardless of the pulpit-pounding preachers. If you are not willing to take up your cross and follow Him, you cannot be His disciple. There is no "sinner's prayer" in the Bible, if you want to get fundamental.
How can we truly understand baptism without a death to self? Baptism is not some theological sequence linked to salvation. Baptism is a declaration of our death and a life given to Him. It is not some outward sign of an inward work which is only a theological formula without life.
Unrepentant dry sinners only rise out of the water as unrepentant wet sinners. Of course we may experience certain feelings, but do we understand the difference between the moving of God in our hearts through His death versus the moving of the Holy Spirit in trying to draw us to Him? If God is permitted to move in our hearts... we won't sin.
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried (past tense) with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Rom 6:3-4
“That the fellowship of your faith may become effective, in the knowledge of every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus.” Philemon 6, WEB
To grow in Him is to know Him that is in you, to live by His life that is in you. Christ in you is the only hope of glory. Live by His feelings, His strength and His life. Look to Him and change and reckon yourself to be dead to your life and alive to His.
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