BECOMING SO INTIMATE WITH CHRIST...it hurts.
(Moving beyond the elementary doctrine of salvation and pressing on to maturity)
Deliverance is wrought through utterly forsaking the objects of deliverance. And by utilizing the power we already have to do so. But a lot of times we refuse to...because we don't really "want" deliverance...just yet.
We say; "Lord make me pure...but not yet".
"Conform me unto the image of Christ...but not yet"
Lord, deliver me from this sin...after I indulge in it, just one more time".
Yes, most times what stands as the barrier between us and conformation, holiness and deliverance... is our enjoyment of the barrier. Therefore, we allow things that are clearly sinful to hang around. In our minds, we have concocted the idea that deliverance from sin will occur only AFTER we reach a spiritual platitude where we no longer desire what it is we seek deliverance from. That deliverance from sin won't be painful, burdensome or cause us any toil. That the "future us" will be MUCH more spiritual than the "present us". In other words: "I will forsake this sin when I no longer want to do it. I will forsake this sin when it's most easy to do so. And in the meantime, I will keep partaking of it, until I become so spiritual and so filled with God's power by His Spirit; that the sin just effortlessly falls to the wayside. In a nutshell: I will one day be so filled with God, that it'll be like forsaking this sin isn't costing me ANYTHING. It will be PAINLESS and full of EASE: almost
as if I'm giving up NOTHING at all. But until then, I am going to continue in sin, that Grace may abound".
While the above example may not be our conscious thoughts during these times; it's certainly what our actions (or lack of) are saying subconsciously. If every drug or alcohol addicted individual treated sobriety like this: "I'll quit drinking when I no longer feel like drinking"; we'd have NO "prior" drunkards or addicts. They'd ALL be either dead or stupefied in their vice. But this is how ALL OF US are when we get the hair-brained theory that our Christianity will become "True Christianity" when we reach the point it NO LONGER costs us ANYTHING. This is the lie of Satan! True and authentic-spirituality in Christ is put into full-throttle effect when it DOES cost us something. And that "something" is EVERYTHING.
Don't expect God to get you to the point where you become so "pseudo-spiritual" that "taking up your cross" no longer feels like "taking up your cross".
Christ felt the literal weight of this in Gethsemane when He became so burdened about the immensity of being "made sin" on OUR behalf. As He faced the harsh reality of what MUST be (bearing His cross); He began to sweat great drops of blood. (2 Cor 5:21-Luke 22:44) His flesh (that part of Him that He shared in common with us) didn't want to go through the agony...but He did anyway. He was and is, the living and practical example of "Take up your cross and follow me" (Luke 9:23). If He would've said
"I'll wait until my flesh WANTS to go through the agony;
I'll wait until it's EASY and no longer burdensome, toilsome or painful to drink this cup;
I'll wait until it's like I'm not even going to the cross...when I go to the cross...THEN and only Then will I become obedient to take up my cross":
If He'd of done this, He would've NEVER gone to the cross and you wouldn't be reading this right now. Why? Because we'd have NO salvation.
But ironically, this is how a lot of us operate in our day to day lives. If Christ would've done this He'd of been proven inauthentic and we'd be dead in our sins. So how is it, when consistently doing the very opposite of the example we have in Christ, that ANY of us can have the audacity to consider ourselves an authentic disciple of Christ?
It is most assuredly true, that a Christianity without a cross is a Christ-less Christianity without a crown. This was true for Christ Jesus---and it's equally true for you and I. We must guard ourselves against the very vice that Satan used to try and prevent Christ from taking up His cross. And the biggest vice that stands between us and our cross...is our flesh. Why? Because it's the flesh that is to be put on the cross.
The power of God comes to us IN our pain and agony---NOT in the ABSENCE of it. Don't believe Satan's lies that if you continue in disobedience, God will reward it by providing you power to forsake the sin that you're currently refusing to. This is "Oxymoron Christianity 101". The "spiritual you" of today is a good indicator of the "spiritual you" of tomorrow.
The sin you're willing to depart with today, will be the very sin you're willing to depart with tomorrow.
The sin you refuse to deny yourself of today, will be the sin you refuse to deny yourself of tomorrow.
True Christianity DENIES itself of things it doesn't want to, by choosing obedience over pleasure.
True Christianity inflicts pain upon itself in order to preserve intimacy with Christ.
True Christianity loses it's life so it may gain it.
True Christianity isn't painless ease.
True Christianity doesn't remain in disobedience with the hopes that one day obedience will feel as if it costs NOTHING.
True Christianity sees un-crucified sin as the barrier between it and intimacy with Christ. (So it gladly embraces the pain of its cross).
False Christianity sees Christ as the barrier between it and intimacy with un-crucified sin. (So it gladly embraces the pleasure of sin).
OUR cross is a continuation and direct extension of His Cross. Whatever put Him to death...must be what is perpetually put to death in our day to day lives as well. Whatever caused Him to be made sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21), must be the equivalent of what is denied and crucified in our lives daily.
No sin is so strong that it's impossible to forsake. But we must drop the notion that forsaking sin is effortless, comforting ease. This is a recipe for spiritual disaster. Believing this is to embrace the Joel Osteen (false) gospel of living "Your Best Life Now". As we work out our salvation, in the midst of our toilsome pain, caused from our struggle with sin; He will provide power, comfort and peace. JUST as He did with Christ in the garden. In fact, we have the very Christ who was in the garden, residing in US. This side of eternity, we are that garden...and Christ forever resides there making intercession on our behalf.
Therefore, we have no excuse to tuck tail and run, then claim "I fell into sin because the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak". What we're really saying is; "The spirit is strong to overcome the flesh...but I chose to tap into the weaker of the two; because I'm not really ready to be free of this sin...just yet".
We are no victim of sin when we're given the power of the Spirit to overcome it. If we are ANY victim at all, it's a victim unto ourselves.
O, the MANY sins we need deliverance from but continue in them anyway!
We must Consider Jesus, who not only went to the cross and remained obedient even unto death; But consider Him who lives in us. Yes, consider Him, as you obediently resist sin unto the point of shedding blood. Consider Him as you take up your cross, through the power of Him who has already taken up His.
Putting True Discipleship on hold until it becomes easy...automatically disqualifies you from being His disciple. This is a double negative that instantly stifles and stagnates spiritual growth and maturity. Satan knows this. Now, so do you.
Become brutal in your pursuit of Christ.
Become graphic in your battle against sin.
Get bloody...be graphically, brutally and radically discipled to Christ.
No excuses...don't let Satan and your flesh turn you into a cowardly counterfeit. Be the real deal.
You have the real deal living in you providing ALL of the power you need.
Go through the pain to be authentic.
When we reach the Judgment Seat, no one will regret going through what it took to be authentically pure in our brutal pursuit of Christ.
But the counterfeit Christian who consistently denied themselves the power in exchange for the temporal pleasure of the flesh, will have nothing BUT regrets.
DO NOW what you won't regret when you stand before Christ.
Through the power provided in our garden experience, STOP DOING what you WILL regret when 2 Corinthians 5:10 personally invades your reality.
We have His power...so we have no excuses.
This isn't a one time event. This is a DAILY event that must permeate, demonstrate and define who we are as Christians. We must DAILY take up our cross, minute by minute, second by second. Expect pain...expect scars. When you are living in such a state that it feels like there are open blisters on your soul...welcome to the authentic side of what it is to be a Christian. Better to be scarred by denying yourself of sin than to be scarred from giving into it.
The cross symbolizes an instrument of pain that leads to unsearchable riches in glory.
One who has never tasted the cross can never anticipate the glory that follows.
Giving into sin isn't the only way out...denial of sin is the only way out.
The only Biblical method of "Living Your Best Life Now" is remaining in a constant & perpetual state of actively denying oneself of whatever it is that nailed Christ to the cross...no matter how bad it hurts.
True Christianity isn't about self-esteem...it's about self-denial.
Where our sin and authentic devotion to Christ is concerned: we must walk the green mile unto denial, if we are to ever find the streets of gold.
This isn't salvation by works...it's merely what's expected of those who have truly gained salvation, by no work or effort of their own.
"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it". 1 Corinthians 10:13
"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell". Matthew 5:29
"My true disciples bear fruit." John 15:8
"Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin." Hebrews 12:1-5
"And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground".
"Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? NO! It's for this purpose I came to this very hour. Father, glorify Your name.” John 12:27-28
"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it." Luke 9:23-24