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Home : Articles :
The Cross

 

The Cross
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."

That was about 40 years ago.

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. 選' am not trying to have the victory any more. 選' am not trying to have faith any more. 選' am dead. My opinions don't mean anything any more. 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 any more. I will recognize myself dead and incapable in dealing with this problem. I don't care if 選' 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 僧e' and the 僧e' 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. To not understand the cross causes us to find methods or rituals of reaching 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.

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 and what is reigning in our lives: death or life? 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?

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. Every word that comes from our lips breeds death. 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 pride can either focus on our sin or on our righteousness-it is good at doing both. 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: Adam or Jesus? 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.

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.

I must see the cross as the point of my death. 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 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 to 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 you free and not your opinion 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."

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 their problems; their 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 and be done with it. "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."

I am the clay, and, because He is the potter, He will work it out with circumstances beyond my understanding and feelings. I will wait patiently for Him to finish His work at the very root of my life. I cannot lean on my understanding or live by my desires, I must live by Him. 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. Moses 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 I live by Jesus and not me. I no longer ask, "How do I feel?" or "How strong am I?", but I ask, "How does He feel?" and "What strength does He have?"

Should I not live by Him and through Him? This is the very basis which governed the early Christians' lives.

Repentance

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). 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.

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 values. 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.

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 hold 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.

The cheap price that some churches set for salvation today is based on getting people into their churches instead of into the kingdom of God (being under God's rule). We tell people they can have Jesus as Savior but they don't have to make Him Lord. Such teaching is heresy. It was this kind of teaching that Jesus accused the Pharisees of as they presented a form of salvation. Once this form was accepted, the new disciple was less inclined to move from his or her comfortable non-challenging seat. This made it more difficult for the new disciple to accept the true salvation that comes through Jesus and repentance. Pharisees rejected both Jesus and repentance, while we reject repentance, and therefore reject Jesus' only means of salvation.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one convert, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." Matt 23:15

Baptism

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 as unrepentant wet sinners if the cross is not made real. Of course we may experience certain feelings, but do we understand the difference between the moving of God in our hearts versus the wooing of God in our hearts? 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

communion

How can we understand communion? Communion is the common union with the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and His Body. It is a love and union demonstrated in our lives and expressed in our remembrance of Him. We remember since Jesus laid down His life for us we ought to lay down our lives for one another... Is this something we are seeing? Is this the communion we experience? Many are sick and dead because they cannot discern the Lord's body. Paul said that division was a sign of carnality, a life lived by the self-life. We are flooded with division, denominationalism, the naming of His body, the gathering around certain leaders-is this discerning His body? If sickness and death prevail in the church, we know the cause-the self-life prevails.

Brokenness

How are we to understand brokenness, humility and servanthood without a death to the self-life? A little leaven leavens the whole lump. We must rid ourselves of leaven or else we will have to find a religion to cover up and justify our sin rooted in our self-life.

We must make our calling and election sure. We cannot risk religion and feelings for the cost of eternal damnation. We must read and believe and stop listening to these teachers that convince us that it is okay to live by our desires and self-life and yet still be saved-this is heresy! Jesus never preached such a life. Jesus' words to the prostitute were to "go and sin no more." What is so difficult about these words? He either meant them or He didn't.

his Power, His presence, His glory

So many of His attributes missed in the church should cause us to stand up and take notice. Such a void speaks volumes in light of our trying to convince ourselves that we have peace and safety. Jesus cursed the tree that did not produce the fruit. He said we would know a tree by its fruit. In the parable of the vine and the branches, He destroyed the branches that did not bear fruit. He separated the sheep from the goats based on their love for Him and His brothers.

Love, unity, fellowship, body ministry, is this what we are experiencing? How long can we refuse the warnings without judgment falling on us corporately and personally?

We need to understand the cross

"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

1 Cor 2:2

Are we determined to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified, or are we determined to gain as much doctrinal knowledge as we can? We are determined to know so much doctrine without experiencing the cross and that is why we can't come to the unity of the faith.

"But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Gal 6:14

He that is dead is free:

"For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this [and we need to know this], that our old man [self-life] was crucified with Him [past tense], [why?] that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin." NKJV Romans 6:5-7

If we don't see that our death happened long ago, on the cross of Jesus, we will be struggling in our self-life to conquer sin and to have victory. We will never deliver our flesh from sin; so as long as we live in the flesh we will sin. Paul said, "In my flesh dwells no good thing." Why do we think we can convert it? Or why do we expect it to express anything else but sin? Many are trying to convert their carnal nature.

Paul said: "...we preach Christ crucified." 1 Cor 1:23

Paul said and we should also say, " I have been crucified [past tense, it is settled] 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." Gal 2:20-21

"Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to god in CHRIST JESUS." Romans 6:11

"For IF you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but IF by the Spirit you are [present tense] putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. [Be saved?] Romans 8:13

We need to set and discipline our minds on Jesus and not on ourselves.

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, [set] the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [set] is death, but to be spiritually minded [set] is life and peace." Rom 8:5-7

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. [Why?] For [because] you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off [be dead to] all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off [died to] the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed [every day] in [full] knowledge according to the image of Him who created him." Col 3:1-10

Fruitfulness

How can one be a Christian and not be fruitful? If Christ is our life and the life we are living is truly through Him, how can we be defeated? This is what Paul was saying when he said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil 4:12-13

He could say that on the basis that: "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things" Phil 3:8

Paul could do all things because he counted all things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.

I am convinced there are not many who understand the cross. Christians live in Romans 7 because they don't understand Romans 5 and 6. Therefore the positive experiences of Romans 8 and 12 are foreign to them.

I feel Jesus has awakened me the last few years and I realize that the lack of victory is due to my self-life still being intact and very much in control. The life we live expresses of our own lives instead of His, hence, little victory and fruit.

Consider John 12 and the word "unless." To me, "unless" we do this, we will not produce fruit.

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone [having only its life]; but if it dies, it produces much grain [death produces, through Jesus, much fruit. most assuredly!] He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor." John 12:24-26

If we die and follow Jesus we will produce "much" fruit, there is no question about it. If we are not producing much fruit it is because we have not died. How can one follow Jesus if they are following the self-life?

Though many say these things, the fact that we see so little fruit proves that we don't really understand it. If we really believed this, we would produce the fruit of the seed.

Brothers and sisters we must see this if we are going to go on with the Lord. The anointing can only truly come as we all are filled with Him. The church was intended to be made up of those who are anointed. Without the anointing we are forced to produce activities that come from our self-life.

I must say I am only a novice and I am only beginning to see this. Though I have been a Christian for 42 years, I have only realized this for the past 2 years.

I see so little of this in the church today and therefore see little fruit in the lives of believers. If we don't really enjoy one another and have a deep love for one another, what can be the fault? We have not been preaching the Gospel, but rather some form that doesn't lead to our death and a manifestation of His life.

We dance around so many subjects: fellowship, body ministry, house church, gifts, discipleship, youth meeting, etc., but there can be no life in any of these things if we don't fully have His life operating and ruling in us. It takes a many- membered body filled with His life to be the church. Without His nature we are only a Christian club gathering numbers around our ideas.

We cannot fully know Him until we have denied our self-life. Death is only the narrow gate we must enter through agony to have resurrected life. God wants us to enjoy Him with the Spirit He gives us.

The Bible is filled with this revelation; it is a revelation of Jesus-how do we miss it?

How can we know Him?

How can we know Him if we spend all our time focused on our life? How can we know Him if we continue to live by those things that overwhelm us and continue to worry about the problems that we face? Can't we see that we are afraid to trust Him? Why? The reason is simple: we are still alive and living by our life. There is only one cure for all of these dilemmas-we must be "... buried with Him through baptism into death, [with what result?] that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should [we will] walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, [here is the promise and the result] certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection." Rom 6:4-5

Most of us know our problems, our sickness and our desires far more than we know Him. With whom do we spend our time?

Israel failed to see this when they failed to understand why He delivered them from Egypt. "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself."Ex 19:4, NIV

They missed the whole purpose of their deliverance and so do we. Like them, we live by our problems and want to be continually delivered from them. We have perpetual problems that we see a need to be perpetually delivered from. God's desire is to deliver us out of Egypt, the world, and to deliver us into heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The trials are to rid ourselves, by experience, of our attention to our self-life, and bring us to His glorious life above this world. To be carried on the wings of eagles is to be lifted above the problem. If we continue to live in the trials, we have brought Egypt with us and that will not work. To know Him is to not know "me."

Why is it mentioned seven times in the book of Revelation, "he that overcomes"? Because overcoming is the fruit of being in Him. Why does it say in 1 John 5:4-5, "For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

The "he who believes" mentioned above is not someone who has a mental assent of Jesus and has made some theological confession. "He who believes" is one who is living wholly and completely by the life of Jesus.

To know Him is to fellowship with Him.

Jesus stated that many would come in His name, but He did not know them. We can only know Him if we are willing to get out of ourselves and onto His wings. He can carry us unto Himself.

Moses had it right in the wilderness when God threatened to leave them and send an angel. Look at this whole dialogue and the heart of Moses and learn from him.

"Then Moses said to the LORD, 全ee, You say to me, "Bring up this people." But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, "I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight." Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people [not mine and not my responsibility]. And He said, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.' Then he said to Him, If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. [I wish all those trying to do something for God in restoring the church would realize this following statement.] For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So [You're going with us] we shall be separate [ekklesia], Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.' So the LORD said to Moses, 選 will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.' And he said, Please, show me Your glory.'" NKJV

Many get so excited by some sovereign move of God in meetings and yet they have denied the glory that is available to them by living and being stuck in their own lives. We have taken Egypt with us. Israel's crossing the Red Sea was meant to be their baptism into His death. Their wilderness was meant to be their experience in trusting in Him alone.

All wildernesses are scary and shaky and challenge every ounce of faith and strength-and they are meant to be just that in order to draw us out of ourselves and into Him.

"And they overcame him [the accuser of the brethren] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." Rev 12:11, NKJV They refused to love their lives, even to the full extent of physical death. Let us be denied some little thing and we scream for the sake of our own lives.

Oh saints of God we have failed to see His Glory in the wilderness.

Listen to these words, those who have a low standard of what it means to be saved: "He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God [because they made Him their God "overcomes"], and he shall be my son [He just described a true Christian. Following is the list of those who are not true Christians]. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second [final] death." Rev 21:7-8

Sadly, most who repeat the "sinner's prayer" are never told that there is a cost to being a Christian. Jesus said that we are to "count the cost" (Lk 14:28). The man who recognized the pearl of great price (Jesus) sold everything he had. He put his worth (worth ship) in Jesus alone... He counted the cost and knew Jesus was worth giving up his own life in exchange for His.

If the Kingdom is not our first priority, I doubt that we can serve Him. If we don't have that first love, I doubt that we can hold on to our candlestick: His presence.

Let us truly test ourselves to see if we are in the faith.

2 Cor 13:5, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you are disqualified."

How are we to know? We will overcome by the resurrected Life that is in us in Christ Jesus.

We think we can look at women, get into pornography, curse, live in anger, hate, sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions (divisions) and envy; drunkenness, orgies," (Gal 5:19-21) and still be saved. Not so. Galatians goes on to say, "I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (v. 21).

Which life will we live by? To whom will we die: to ourselves or to the Spirit of God?

If we pass through the cross and die to ourselves we will live in Him and He will live in us and we will overcome-how could we not do otherwise than to overcome?

Much of this has no meaning to many because they refuse to let go of their life and choose rather to hold to a form of godliness. We hold to some theology in hopes that how we live our lives won't matter. What a great and terrible day it will be for many who "feel" they have the assurance of salvation while living in and by sin.

I recommend that you go to http://64.34.176.235/sermons/SID0254.mp3 and listen to Watchman Nee's message on this, I think you will be encouraged.

I pray that God will give you a revelation of the cross and the Gospel of Jesus.

God Bless

Andy

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