The “Self” Life
By Clare Watts
“I have been crucified 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.” (Galatians 2:20)
“Self” entered the lives of mankind the day Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and chose their will above His. They listened to and followed the voice of Satan, and their own corrupted minds.
Jesus gave us the way out when He came to do the will of the Father…. “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.” He was completely submitted and surrendered to Father God’s will. Of us He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me.” Self died with Christ when He laid down His life on the Cross, giving His all to claim back what was God’s – us. At the cross “self” loses its power to control.
There are 3 things that keep us from fellowship with God. Sin. Satan. Self. All three were dealt with on the cross of Calvary. What is self? It is that “sin”-nature within us that wants our own way. It is that mule-like propensity that makes us want to dig in our toes and say, “NO! I want things MY way!” when God commands us against our will. It is that thing in us that wants to please the inner man, even before we please God, and before we please others. “I am going to do MY thing!…NOBODY is going to tell ME what to do.” It is that thing that gives a green light to sin, and hides itself from righteousness and holiness. Pride is in control, and God is not.
Submission to God’s will must begin with humility and a willingness to die to the self-“life” that wants to be in charge. It must begin with the revelation of our rebellion, and God’s mercy, His grace to forgive. It must begin with a hatred of our own ways and the consequences of our choices, and a passionate desire to change everything about us that is wrong and not of God. Like David when he was confronted by the profit Nathan with his self-centered path he had taken, and the brokenness of his heart at having seen his sinfulness, we must be willing to cry out to God to transform everything about us and leave those self-controlling mindsets and habits behind.(Ps.51)
Our love of praise and desire for man’s approval; how we look in the eyes of others; our love of comfort and luxury; of blessing and the “good things” of “life”, has us looking horizontally at the seen and felt which will return to dust, and not looking up, seeking those things which are above and eternal, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Because of these things the church has twisted and changed the whole purpose of Christ’s visit here. He came to bring back a relationship between us and our Father, which was broken by sin and self. Sin is seldom mentioned, and self is pumped up to make us feel good about ourselves, instead of feeling bad about ourselves having rebelled and gone our own way, and turned our back on God and the righteousness that HE REQUIRES of those who come to Him. There IS no place in the kingdom of God, and the body of Christ for self, and the fruit of “self” – sin. The self-life lives on, not being exposed for what it is, and dealt with by reckoning it to be dead. Paul stated, “I have been crucified 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) “…knowing this, that the old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should be no longer slaves of sin.”(Rom.6:6) How does sin still keep rising up in us? – because “self” has been allowed to live on. It is “self” that surreptitiously allows sin and Satan to have control over our lives. The three go hand in hand. Today, the world and so much of the church have taken the sin of Adam, “self”, to a whole new level. Satan has no power over the child of God who has died to self. Neither has sin; we are clothed in His righteousness, and free from the power of sin, self, Satan and death! We are servants of that which, and whom, we choose to obey.
5 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, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.(Rom.8:5-8)
Now, Paul goes on, inserting some “if”s. If is a little word with a big meaning! It implies choices we are given. Consider this:
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Rom.8:9-14 Accents mine)
How does this come about? By our will. We choose whom we will serve! Our will is either submitted to God’s will, or we follow the dictates of our own. God promises us the power to overcome. It is there for us to take if we choose. If Christ dwells in us, ALL that God gave to Him to overcome by, abides within us, and is at our disposal. The power to overcome, to obey, to heal to cleanse and to restore is ours and within us, as Christ IS the answer to self. The two cannot live in harmony together, and are directly opposed.
It is a very confronting thing to actually LOOK at the guises “self” comes in, and apply it to our lives. To take the time to consider what “SELF” really is, and how much it is alive in each one of us. For it is not unlike the termites who live (unseen) in the foundations of a house….it can be years before they are detected, if ever, until the day the house begins to collapse because it has been eaten away from inside. Christ comes, as the exterminator, to reveal where the damage has occurred and where it is still rampant, and if allowed, He will assist us to rid ourselves of the offense, and rebuild the foundations on Him.
Self, self-will dominates our lives from birth until we surrender to God’s will. We cannot serve two masters! Either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and the lusts of the flesh. (See Matt.6:24) Only when self-will has been recognized and taken to the cross does “I want” lose its power. God wants us in our transformed lives to now live for what HE wants. So what are some of the many manifestations of “self” that can and often do maneuver our lives in directions that we often do not want to go?
Consider self-will as the foundation of the self life. This the product of self-love, rather than Christ-love. Self-will was what drove Adam and Eve to disobey God. It was fueled by pride which is self-love. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more. Here are just some:
Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest” (June 12) says, “You are Simon….You shall be called Cephas…(John 1:42). God writes our new name only on those places in our lives where He has erased our pride, self-sufficiency, and self-interest. Some of us have our new name written only in certain spots, like spiritual measles. And in those areas of our lives we look all right. When we are in our best spiritual mood, you would think we were the highest quality saints. But don’t dare look at us when we are not in that mood. A true disciple is one who has his new name written all over him – self-interest, pride, and self-sufficiency have been completely erased……………Pride is the sin of making “self” our god.”But they all revolve around the person who is SELF-CENTERED.
The “self-life” controlled by “self-will” and “self-seeking” are joined together by a spiritual umbilical cord. When we choose our own will before the will of our Father, we become self-seeking, and our choices in life are determined by our own desires. That is why there is only one way that this way can be stopped, and that is for it to die. Death cannot rise up. It is FINISHED. ONLY a NEW life planted in it’s place can bring forth the transformation! Oswald Chambers says (“My Utmost for His Highest”, August 18) “Sell all that you have…”(Luke 18:22). In other words, rid yourself before God of everything that might be considered a possession until you are a mere conscious human being standing before Him, and then give God that. That is where the battle is truly fought – in the realm of your will before God……What Jesus says is difficult – it is only easy when it is heard by those who have His nature in them. Beware of allowing anything to soften the hard words of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus commands us to take up our cross daily and follow Him. When we study the Word and fill our minds with it, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us and direct everything we do and say, our thoughts are founded then on GOD’S will and His Word becomes a lamp to our feet and a light to our pathway. There is no room for “self”, because the Living Word is controlling our thoughts and the fruit of those thoughts – our actions and words. This is why Paul tells us to take every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…… 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor.10:3-6 Accents mine) Daily…………moment by moment until it is the NEW nature, the mind of Christ that is in full control. The mind of Christ that was and is submitted completely to the will of Father God. In Jesus there was no “self”. In Jesus was only the will and mind of His Father. He and the Father were and are One…..fused together by a single thought process that has no room for a personal, selfish agenda.”
A young Cherokee boy came to his old grandpa, a wise old Indian chief, one day. He needed an answer to a troubling question.
“Grandpa, I feel inside of me there are two wolves fighting continually. One is self-centered, hateful, mean-spirited, angry, wants its own way all the time, and does real bad things that hurt others and hurt God. The other wolf is selfless, kind and gentle, loving, gives no thought for its own problems, and loves to bless others, and bless God. Grandpa, which one wins?”
The old man thought a moment, lifted the boy onto his knee, hugging him to his old heart, and replied lovingly, “Son, the one you feed.”
God wants to fill each one of us completely full of Himself – His Holy Spirit. How much of Him YOU want in your life depends totally on how much of “self” you are willing to die to. Let us feed that “good wolf” in us daily with the Word of God which is the Bread of Life, putting “SELF” to death, run through with the Sword of the Spirit!
LORD, forgive us our selfishness, and even our unconscious pandering to our wants and not being completely surrendered to You! Help us to surrender ALL! 100%, not a tithe of “this for You, but I’m hanging on to these things.” Please help each one of us to see those things in us that You want us to take to the cross, and leave them there. We cannot walk two paths, the one that follows Jesus, and the one that follows “self”. There is only One Path, and we cannot have a foot on the narrow Path following Jesus, and the other foot on the wide road paved with self-will. Please fill us with a desire ONLY for You, and Your will, Father. Give us a love, a consuming passion for Your Word, which IS the Bread of Life, that we may feed our spirits with Your Will. May Your Holy Spirit fill every area of our lives, as we put to death the lusts, the demands of the “self-life”. Teach us self-control, to deny self, to be self-less. May Your Spirit strengthen us with might and give us the courage to say, “NO!” to temptation, and things of this world that draw us away from You. Help us to die to “self” and live for you. We love and thank You for your grace and mercy. We thank You for Life which is Christ Jesus. Teach us to glorify You in all that we think, do and say. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen.