Have you noticed that many today preach a gospel of “what’s in it for me”? Preacher after preacher rave on and on about the authority of the believer and all you can do with it. The underlying theme of their sermons seem to be not what God has done, but on what we can do. Rather than present Jesus as the Savior of mankind, they present Him as a guru who gives you tools to do anything, and get anything, that you might want. They appeal to the ‘self’ of each individual, that part of us that wants what it wants when it wants it. This kind of preaching uplifts the ‘self,’ stroking its ego and feeding its inherent feeling of importance.
The preaching of the cross, however, does the direct opposite. It exposes the sinfulness of the ‘self’ with its ego and its feeling of importance. The cross screams that the self is so sinful, it must be crucified. Thus the statement of Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me,” Galatians 2:20a. From this we know there is no good in man, for no one is good except God alone, (see Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19). For this reason our sinful ‘self’ had to be crucified with Christ before we could enter the heavenlies with Him. And, having been raised up in the heavenlies with Him, we are now new creatures; that is, it is no longer we who live (it is no longer our ‘self’ who lives), but Christ who lives in us.
So it is that Jesus said we must take up our cross and deny ourself and follow Him, for there is no self in the kingdom of God, only the body of Christ.
Beware of those who uplift the self.
I believe that people who talk about who we are in Christ Jesus are walking down the wrong road, because I have been taught by Jesus Himself that I am nothing in Him and that He is everything in me.
I am aware that we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and people chosen by God as a possession for Himself, that we might declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. I am also aware that we are workers together with God, and sons and daughters of the most High. However, I also know that I was conceived in iniquity and that I was a creature destined to wrath, and I was saved from wrath and from my sins by the sacrifice of Jesus.
And not only was I saved from wrath and from my sins, I was also saved from myself by the sacrifice of Jesus. I now deny myself (consider myself to be nothing) daily and walk by the only good that has ever been within me, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, as I said, I am nothing in Him and He is everything in me.
I believe Christians who dwell on authority and on who they are in Jesus would do well to follow the example of Jesus and refuse to regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. I believe they should consider themselves to be nothing, and empty themselves, and become bond-servants of the Lord. I believe they would do themselves a favor if they concentrated on learning obedience through the things which they suffer.
Rev. Jon Banks
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