Who is our greatest enemy? What keeps us from God's will, from His fellowship, causes us to sin the most, keeps us in the worst bondage, and is the most deceptive of all?
Who is this enemy of our soul? Is it another person someone who mistreats or makes life difficult for you? Is it the world? Is it false believers? Is it the devil and all his demons?
I would like to submit this thought to you...that none of these things can hurt you if you truly are free from your greatest enemy. Your greatest, most dangerous and most threatening enemy is yourself! This is the enemy that is to be the most feared, and the one to overcome. If you overcome the enemy of your own self-life; your self-love, self-confidence, self-seeking, self-pleasing nature, sin cannot overcome you. Temptation cannot draw you. Satan cannot deceive you or touch you, or tempt you. Fellowship with God will not be broken. No other enemy can hurt you!
Rom. 7:18 tell us..."For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]" (amplified Bible)
We cannot trust our flesh...nothing good dwells there. That is why it must go to the cross. What is our flesh? It is the carnal thoughts and purposes in our heart that are enmity with God, that can never please God.
Rom. 8:6-8..."Now the mind of the flesh [which is sins and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and here-after]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].
[That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God's law; indeed it cannot.
So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God or be acceptable to Him." (amplified Bible)
Our flesh can even be religious! Yes, we can think we please God by some outward performance or religious act, but if it is not produced by the Spirit of God that indwells us then it is our own flesh and cannot please God.
We can't discern our own hearts even. Our own introspection only brings death. It is another act of our flesh trying to cleanse itself, which is impossible. We must bring it to God...If we are not abiding in Him with our flesh, our pride, and our own understanding surrendered to His cross, and our spirits united with His...then our own heart will deceive us....
Jer. 17:9..."The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?"
If you try to live the Christian life in the flesh...that is, in the strength and wisdom, and power of the flesh, you will fall. It just won't work. The great news is there is deliverance! So many Christians think Rom. 7..struggling to keep some religious form, or law, or ritual...(whether it be God's or man's), and falling...and struggling...and falling....and never being able to perform it...always introspecting...always trying to do better, is the normal Christian life. NO! NO! NO! You must go on and read Rom. 8 and find the life in the Spirit that sets us free from the law of sin and death.
Yes, there is deliverance from this mortal enemy! Do you seek it? Do you realize who your enemy is? Do you cry out to God to save you from this enemy? I think if you could get a glimpse of how deadly an enemy you are dealing with, you would be on your face pleading with God to save you from the enemy of self.
(From Andrew Murray's book..."Absolute Surrender", from pp. 17-18)..."Who is there who truly longs to be delivered from the power of the self-life, who truly acknowledges that it is the power of self and the flesh, and who is willing to cast all at the feet of Christ? There is deliverance.
I heard of one who had been an earnest Christian, and who spoke about the 'cruel' thought of separation and death. But you do not think that, do you? What are we to think of separation and death? This: death was the path to glory for Christ. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross. The cross was the birthplace of His everlasting glory. Do you love Christ? Do you long to be in Christ, and not like Him? Let death be to you the most desirable thing on earth--death to self, and fellowship with Christ. Separation--do you think it a hard thing to be called to be entirely free from the world, and by that separation to be united to God and His love, by separation to become prepared for living and walking with God every day? Surely one ought to say:
'Anything to bring me to separation, to death, for a life of full fellowship with God and Christ.'
Come and cast this self-life and flesh-life at the feet of Jesus. Then trust Him. Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with the power of His death and the power of His life; and then the Holy Spirit will bring the whole Christ--Christ crucified and risen and living in glory--into your heart."
May God bless you and keep you!
Prov. 27:5,6..."Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
Prov. 27:2..."Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth."
Nothing tests the heart more than praise or rebuke. How we respond to praises of others will show us whether we trust in ourselves or God...whether we seek His Glory or our own...whether His law of love truly rules in our heart, or the law of self first.
How well we take rebuke, correction, or criticism will show us how much pride we have, and love of self. Will you defend yourself, or let God? Will you allow God to humble you? Will you take it to God, and see if it's true what is said about you...whether by friend or foe? If it isn't and you are wronged...will you trust God to take up your case and still answer in love and not pride and resentment.
Heb. 12:5-11..."And have you forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
'my son, do not despise the
chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you
are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens
And scourges every son
Whom He receives'
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illigitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chasten us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now, no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
God uses the praises and criticism, and misunderstandings of others to test us and chasten us. No relationship, or person brought into our life is by accident or mistake if we are in Christ. We cannot control people, or how they treat us, but we can give the response of our heart to God and let Him mold our heart. All comes through His nail-scarred hands...His unfailing love and devotion to you, tested and proved by His own blood. He is working in you a pure heart, a pure love that "endures long and is patient and kind; that is never envious, nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, or displays itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. This love...God's love in us, won't insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it takes no account of the evil done to it...or pays any attention to a suffered wrong. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. This love will bear up under anything and everything that comes, and is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening. It never fails." (from 1 Cor. 13:4-8a amplified Bible)
Are you willing to take every praise, every relationship, every rebuke or rejection or criticism before the Lord and say, "My heart is Yours Lord! May all be for Your glory and purpose in me and in others. Take my pride, my anger, my self-defense, and be ruler of my heart. You are the potter and I am the clay. Mold my heart, even if you have to break it to do so...until it's response is pure love, undefiled, and child-like faith in You with genuine humility.
Humility doesn't come easy. No...not true humility. It comes from a broken heart given up to God...when we see our self-life and pride as He does, and are willing to give it over to Him. Faithful are the wounds of a friend! They will keep you from going astray. They will bring you life. But only if you choose to let them and let God care for your heart. If He wounds, He will also heal. Do you trust Him to? He is continually seeing to the care of your heart, bringing the people and relationships and circumstances into your life, that He knows will work together for your good, to conform you to the image of His Son....to work in You that perfect love....that the law of love may be fulfilled in you, (Rom. 8:28). Will you yield to His hand and let Him have His way?
Job 5:18..."For He wounds, but He binds up; He smites, but His hand heals."
and...Prov. 20:30..."Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart."
Sometimes rebuke is like a heavy blow to the heart. Criticism hurts and wounds. But God promises to heal again and raise us up with the power of His resurrection to newness of life everytime we surrender to the cross.
Do we always want to be praised, spoken well of, never rebuked, or disagreed with? Or can we bring both...praise and rebuke to the Lord of our hearts and trust Him to use both to cleanse and purify us?
Abba, may we surrender the care of our hearts into Your hands today and trust You with all!
So many things to ponder this time of year! I think about the great sacrifice of love my Saviour made for me on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead and what it means in my life. How rich is His wonderful Salvation! It is complete! There is nothing I can do! He left nothing out! He provided His own Spirit to dwell within me, that His law of love might be fulfilled in me.
Rom. 5:5..."Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
In Christ there is no other law, but the law of love for us to live by..."For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Rom. 10:4
Yes, He has given us a new command..."A new commandment I give to you, that you also love one another." John 13:34
"And this is His order (His command, His injunction): that we should believe in (put our faith and trust in and adhere to and rely on) the name of HIs Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and that we should love one another, just as He has commanded us." 1 John 3:23 (amplified Bible) In verse above this in verse 22, he says this is how we please Him...this is the only way we can truly please Him...faith and love....they go together.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." John 15:12,13
"Owe no one anthing except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'you shall not commit adultry', 'you shall not bear false witness', 'you shall not covet', and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Rom. 13:8-10
Our human nature would rather have a written code to follow, because we can then feel self-righteous in outwardly performing a law or regulation. We justify ourselves by keeping certain regulations and feel good about ourselves, but without having to submit our heart to the cross and our flesh (even our self-righteous..all dependance on our own efforts or law keeping) being put to death and our life being now total dependance on the power of His resurrection to live in us and be our only righteousness. But God, in His wisdom, gave a new law...one that we cannot possibly keep by outward ritual, one that can only be truly kept by faith in Him and the love of His Spirit being shed abroad in our hearts. Why is it the greatest command? Because it can only be accomplished by complete surrender and child-like faith...never by human effort or religious pride. Only by faith in HIS power to perform it in us!
This is why Paul says in Gal. 5:18.."But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."
Indeed if we live by the Spirit we need no written code...His righteousness is in our heart....
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Gal. 5:22,23
The wonderful message that I ponder this time of year is how He made it possible for such a self-centered, self-loving person as myself to be able to have His love fill my heart!!! Yes, He is able to make me empty of my own ways, so that His love can be shed abroad in my heart through His Spirit. Think of it!! No greater miracle could there be! Only faith can accomplish it!
But this can't be if I still choose to trust in any form of my own righteousness. If I do, then it is self-righteousness, which is as the stench of filthy rags in His nostrils, that is shed abroad in my heart, and judgmentalism, looking down on others who don't measure up to a particular standard or code, that will fill my heart. Can't be full of myself and Jesus too. It just won't happen. We have to give up one or the other. Either we live by the law or we live by faith in the law of love to be fulfilled in us through Christ.
But Paul said..."Through the law I died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who 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. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
Our life, now in Christ, is a life of love. The love of God in us, compelling us, controlling us, and living through us toward others.
Are we who claim this wonderful salvation, and freedom in Christ, using liberty as an occasion for the flesh, or are we letting the law of love be fulfilled in us, ruling our hearts? "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!" (from the hymn, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross)
Do we really love Him? Will we lay down our life for Him...our self-life? Will we love others for Him, as He did, laying down His life? Is the law of love truly what lives in us and is being fulfilled in us? Oh how often I see how I fall short!!!! It is usually when my eyes have gotten off from Him somehow, and I am striving in some way again, to attain by the flesh what only He can do in me. Then I am reminded of the heart of Paul...who threw aside all righteousness he had attained by the law, and counted it as loss....
"But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ's sake."
"Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)."
"And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law's demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith."
"[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]"
"That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]."
The law of love---the power of His resurrection within us...this is the life of the believer!
Abba Father! You have made a perfect way for us. Teach us to walk no other way but by Your Spirit of love. Let Your Spirit...full of true life and true love be shed abroad in our hearts as we give ourselves up to Your cross in faith in the power of Your resurrection life. In the name of Jesus our Saviour who shed His precious blood so that it could be so...amen...so be it!
All scripture taken from the New King James Version, unless otherwise specified
"...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." Phil. 3:10,11 (NKJV)
"...and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places." Eph. 1:19,20 (NKJV)
"and you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins." Eph. 2:1 (NKJV)
"...even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus..." Eph. 2:5,6 (NKJV)
May the Lord give us a more clear understanding in our own hearts and lives, now, of the power of His resurrection for us in our daily lives to Him, and in our sanctification. It means so much more than just that we will be raised one day from death. It means more than just that we were justified from our sins. It has meaning for us everyday of our Christian life. It is, in fact, the power of our Christian life here and now! I pray, with Paul, that the eyes of our understanding would be opened to see His power in and for us. (Eph. 1:17-23) God wants us to have an experiential knowledge of that power!
When we turned to Him in faith, He did something mighty in us. He made all things new! We are not the same person anymore if His Spirit indwells us.
2 Cor. 5:17..."Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (NKJV)
This is so much more than a one time act. We know that when we came to Him, He gave us His Sprit and put us in right standing with Himself; but there is more for us to realize about His resurrection power in us. It is the power of His indwelling Spirit that sanctifies us, and works His life in us everyday, in whatever circumstances we find in our lives.
What is the temptation you struggle with? His resurrection power is the power that enables you to conquor it.
What is the sorrow or grief in your life? His resurrection power is the power to raise you above it and give you newness of life.
What is the testing and trial you face? The difficulty that seems impossible for you to walk through without failing, or that seems too overwhelming? His resurrection life in you is the power to walk through it without falling.
When we fail to grasp this life He has provided by His own blood, we turn to other ways to get through life, and to overcome. We think we must overcome, so we try our hardest, we look to psychology, we look to teachings, books, counselors, methods, laws, other disciplines etc., but even though we may have some success in improving ourselves somewhat, we do not find the power of His resurrection to be our life.
There is only one way to have that power at work in you....by faith. It is only spiritually discerned. It cannot be attained by our efforts. It can only be experienced through faith. Sound too simple? It is simple! That's why the Jews stumbled over it...and that's why so many stumble over it today.
As we seek to grow in that union and experiential knowledge of Christ, it is His resurrection power, His Spirit, that works in us to do it. Simply ask....
"Father, I ask that you open the eyes of my understanding, enabling me to know and understand and experience the power of Your resurrection now, in this trial in my life, that I may be true to You and bring You glory."
Then.....BELIEVE IT..."I trust You now to do it Lord, and receive Your promise that when I ask for Your Spirit, You will not withold Him, but will provide all the power I need to live godly in Christ Jesus."
Now WALK IN THAT FAITH...Yes....He will do it! See...the problem is we don't really believe He will so we go about seeing what we can do. But His Spirit acts in us, we yield, He works the power to do in us...we do it. This isn't a formula...it is the result of a true union with Him.
In all of our Christian walk...in our coming to Him for salvation in the first place, and in our sanctification and living for Him, there is only one way....Surrender and faith...
"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." Col. 2:6
Each day we have the priceless privilege of walking by the power of His Spirit to give us life unto Him. Now that we have died to ourself, our sin, the law, and to this world, we have a new life...a new way to live...a new power within us. The power raises us up with Him, and unto Him. This alone is what is the life and power of those who are believers in Christ Jesus.
One day we will realize the full consummation of that great salvation. Our body of death will be discarded, and we will be transformed, and be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is! That resurrection power that is always now at work in us, His Spirit, is our guarantee that our redemption will one day be complete.
"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed...in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
'O death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:51-57
May the power of His resurrection become more of a reality in your life and set you free from the power of sin and death as you walk with Him!
Midi: The Easter Song by The Second Chapter of Acts