From My Utmost For His Highest
So it is ourselves that we must spread under Christ’s feet, not coats or lifeless branches or shoots of trees, matter which wastes away and delights the eye only for a few brief hours. But we have clothed ourselves with Christ’s grace, with the whole Christ – “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” – so let us spread ourselves like coats under his feet. (Andrew of Crete)
No one is ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things. To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go before we lay hold, and in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretense. What our Lord wants us to present to him is not goodness, nor honesty, nor endeavor, but real, solid sin; that is all he can take from us. And what does he give in exchange for our sin? Real, solid righteousness. But we must relinquish all pretense of being anything, all claim of being worthy of God’s consideration.
Then the Spirit of God will show us what further there is to relinquish. There will have to be the relinquishing of my claim to my right to myself in every phase. Am I willing to relinquish my hold on all I possess, my hold on my affections, and on everything, and to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?
There is always a sharp, painful disillusionment to go through before we do relinquish. When one really sees himself as the Lord sees him, it is not the abominable sins of the flesh that shock him, but the awful nature of the pride of his own heart against Jesus Christ. When he sees himself in the light of the Lord, the shame and the horror and the desperate conviction come home. If you are up against the question of relinquishing, go through the crisis, relinquish all, and God will make you fit for all he requires of you.
The imperative need spiritually is to sign the death warrant of the disposition of sin, to turn all emotional impressions and intellectual beliefs into a moral verdict against the disposition of sin, viz, my claim to my right to myself. Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ”; he does not say, “I have determined to imitate Jesus Christ,” or, “I will endeavor to follow him,” but, “I have been identified with him in his death.” When I come to such a moral decision and act upon it, then all that Christ wrought for me on the cross is wrought in me. The free committal of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the change to impart to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.
Have I made this decision about sin – that it must be killed right out in me? It takes a long time to come to a moral decision about sin, but it is the great moment in my life when I do decide that just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world, so sin must die out in me, not to be curbed or suppressed or counteracted, but crucified. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be earnestly convinced, and religiously convinced, but what we need to do is to come to the decision once and for all.
Haul yourself up, take a time alone with God, make the moral decision and say, “Lord, identify me with your death until I know that sin is dead in me.” Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.
Ask yourself: Am I prepared to let the Spirit of God search me until I know what the disposition of sin is – the thing that lusts against the Spirit of God in me? If so, will I agree with God’s verdict on that disposition of sin – that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? I cannot reckon myself “dead indeed unto sin” unless I have been through this radical issue of will before God.
Have I entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that is left is the life of Christ in my flesh and blood? “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
These words mean the breaking of my own independence with my own hand and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself. God may bring me up to the point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but he cannot put me through it. It means breaking the husk of my individual independence of God, and the emancipating of my personality into oneness with himself, not for my own ideas, but for absolute loyalty to Jesus. There is no possibility of dispute when once I am there. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ – “For my sake.” It is that which makes the iron saint.
Has that break come? All the rest is pious fraud. The one point to decide is: Will I give up, will I surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions whatever as to how the break comes? I must be broken from my self-realization, and immediately that point is reached, the reality of the supernatural identification takes place at once, and the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable.
It is not just a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my natural independence and self-assertiveness, and this is where the battle has to be fought. It is the things that are right and noble and good from the natural standpoint that keeps us back from God’s best. To discern that natural virtues antagonize surrender to God is to bring our soul into the center of its greatest battle. Very few of us debate with the sordid and evil and wrong, but we do debate with the good. It is the good that hates the best, and the higher up you get in the scale of the natural virtues, the more intense is the opposition to Jesus Christ. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.” It is going to cost the natural in you everything, not something. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself,” and a person has to realize who Jesus Christ is before he will do it. Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.