The true state of man, even after the acceptance of Christ, is never taught and never realized by a large constituency of Churchians. This subtle shift in the true nature of the believer has caused many problems with respect to doctrine. We are reminded that “It’s Not About Me”, and are told that “It’s About Jesus”.
Yet so many churches, and books choose to reduce discipleship to relationship and reduce the problem of evil to a passion problem. It is a requirement to recognize what we are before the Lord, before we can truly come before the Lord with a broken spirit, and a humble and contrite heart. (Psalm 51:17) In other words, it never is made to be about us, before we make it about Christ. Or it’s not recognized that death must occur before a resurrection can happen. Much like lessening the power of the Lion of Judah, our typical arrogance puffs ourselves up in pride.
The whole premise of the personal Jesus, and their view of love and grace, would never allow the truth to come out. A romantic relationship where the bride is seen as disgusting, and is expected to “do everything I say” to express love is one that isn’t too appetizing.
While Kyle Idleman falls far short of his stated goal, he makes an interesting statement:
I will talk more about repentance than forgiveness, more about surrender than salvation, more about brokenness than happiness, and more about death than life. (1)
It is also a true statement. To summarize it, we need to come to an ultimate recognition of bankruptcy of self before the Lord. We can’t bring anything other than what we truly are before Him to receive mercy.
A Call to Repentance is Required For Forgiveness
God links repentance with forgiveness in Scripture. Churchians are easy to claim blanket forgiveness upon themselves by forgetting the requirement of repentance.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Our human nature removes these unpleasant conditionals out of our consciousness. We don’t want to see what “us” really is, and what grace really represents. The unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35) is a reminder of such things. Our recognition of forgiveness for a debt stems from the grace we receive from the Lord for our debts. We are not on good ground without the recognition of those debts (Matthew 18:26). It is better to seek out your own repentance. When we humble ourselves in this way, forgiveness of others will come.
To Finish The Race, It Is A Requirement to Surrender
There are those who object to the word salvation given its nature, but the requirement stands for us to surrender our lives in return for salvation. Churchians would have us believe that salvation is once-and-for-all event with no follow-up in faith required, leaving men in their sin and making the life in Jesus an easy thing. We are told to run the race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-2) and lay aside every weight and every sin.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Surrendering means giving up trying to get things done your way. Salvation is found in no other device of man. Not man’s wisdom or knowledge. Not by the names of other men or other gods. Only by the name of Jesus. To finish the race requires you to recognize what “you” really is and reject it.
Seek Brokenness, Not Happiness
When we recognize that our devices won’t cut it, brokenness comes. It is better to focus on what we are, than be happy in the Personal Jesus. We stop valuing these things that we previously held onto, and find better things. The Kingdom of God is blocked in our lives by holding onto the things of the flesh and the things of the world. The Churchians would focus on having “your best life now” instead of recognizing the value of this life and making the best life later through believing the promises of God.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21)
The Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:18-26) and The Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21) come to mind as examples. Do you take stock in what you have in this life and lay up treasures here or do you lay up treasures in the life to come?
The Christian Embraces Death And Not Life
The world and the Churchians resist this idea. When you recognize what you are, you recognize that you are a rotten corpse. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), but to get life in Christ Jesus requires that we die to this life in surrender to Christ, and reborn as a new creature in Christ.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (Luke 9:24)
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Our righteousness is as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) We are rotten to our very cores. What the Churchians get wrong is that we are any different after the “salvation moment” than before. The difference comes in action dictated by faith, for salvation is by faith. This is running the race. This is seeing how disgusting we are, being repelled by the sin within us. This is being renewed of mind (Romans 12:1-2), for God hates sin and wants nothing to do with it.
We are told these things in Romans 6 as part of the description of baptism, another beautiful physical representations of a spiritual reality, when it’s done right (The Greek baptizo implies immersion). Into the water, represents being buried in death with Christ. Coming out of the water represents being raised up to life to walk in the new.
However, this is not a set event, but a decision made out of faith to live in that new life each day. The remission of sin is not the elimination of sin. We are just as disgusting to God coming out of the water. That’s the sin nature. It is arrogance to think any more of ourselves. It always requires repentance, surrender, and brokeness. It requires to see the rotting corpse that you really are, and see it as so. For Jesus to put what we bring to the table in terms of death should drive home this fact.
I could quote a whole legion of Scriptures telling us what we are when not in Christ. You will never hear any of them preached in the average church today. The decision has been made to put other factors over true discipleship. Simply put, people don’t want to hear the negatives about themselves. They only want to feel good walking out the door with those warm fuzzies, excited about the next Churchian event. Jesus bids them to come and die so they might live in Him, but they simply do not want to do so.
But praise be to God that I don’t have to show up before Him in my old disgusting rags, and have my life known for what it is. I’m sick and tired of what I really am. The Lord has extended mercy by executing justice on His Son instead. I have put on the robes He gives me. I am made alive, transformed, living that new life in Christ as a living image of Christ, as a new creation in Christ Jesus. That is what I am now, but I know that isn’t me, but Christ in me. I know today’s church is not reflective of Jesus, but know that doesn’t change who Jesus is or what He can do. That new life can be yours, too. All it takes is accepting it.
(1) Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman p15
Previous Easter posts: The Son Of Man Is Lifted Up For Our Sins – God Offers His Passover Lamb