THE CHURCH WORLD is full of Christian professors and ministers, Sunday school teachers and workers, evangelists and missionaries, in whom the gifts of the Spirit are very manifest, and who bring blessing to multitudes, but who, when known "close up," are found to be full of self. They may have "forsaken all" for Christ and imagine they would be ready, like the disciples of old, to die for their Master; but deep down in their hidden, private lives there lurks that dark sinister power of self.
Such persons may wonder, all the while, why they do not have victory over their wounded pride, their touchiness, their greediness, their lovelessness, their failure to experience the promised "rivers of living water." Ah, the secret is not far away. They secretly and habitually practice "shrine worship"–at the shrine of self. There they bow daily and do obeisance. They are fundamental. In the outward Cross they glory, but inwardly they worship another god–and stretch out their hands to serve a pitied, petted, and pampered self-life. The outward Cross, the payment of sin’s penalty, the death of the Substitute,–this "finished work of Christ," they know. But the amazing mystery and undreamed-of-depths of that Cross, as it is to be applied to the inner life,–"the mystery of the inward as well as the outward Cross,"–they know not. But "until Christ works out in you an inner crucifixion which will cut you off from self-infatuation and unite you to God in a deep union of love, a thousand Heavens could not give you peace." (F. J. Huegel in Cross of Christ.)
From his original home and center in God, where God was his light and life, the very breath of his breath, the central Sun of his universe–from this secret place of the Most High, man broke off and plunged out into the far country of self, into the alienation and night of separation from God. God has been cast down. Self has usurped the throne, a usurper who never abdicates. Self is the new and false center upon which man has fixed. He loves himself as nothing else under the sun. Even his best deeds are but refined forms, the filthy rags, of his secret selfishness. He does always with his right hand that the left hand of self-satisfaction may know it. "Self," says William Law, "is the root, the branches, the tree of all the evils of our fallen state."
When this nearly almighty self unseated and dethroned El Shaddai, what could God do? He was scarcely taken by surprise. Yet how undo this tragedy of all tragedies? How unhinge and tear man loose from his foul and false self-infatuation? God must never coerce or force man. His supreme glory is an unforced worship. How dare He defeat His own divine purpose, His essential glory! Herein is displayed the genius of God. The Cross is indeed "the power of God, and the wisdom of God." Calvary is God’s axe laid at the root of the first family tree. Adam is cut off. A new Adam ascends the throne. The Lord Jesus came as the new Head of a new race.
I see the crowd in Pilate’s hall,
I mark their wrathful mien;
Their shouts of "Crucify!" appall,
With blasphemy between.
And of that shouting multitude
I feel that I am one;
And in that din of voices rude
I recognize my own.
‘Twas I that shed the sacred blood,
I nailed Him to the tree,
I crucified the Christ of God,
I joined the mockery.
Around the cross the throng I see
Mocking the Sufferer’s groan;
Yet still my voice it seems to be
As if I mocked alone.
Here is the section that kills me, literally.
This judicial sentence calls for my most cordial acquiescence. Let me consent to my execution, and sign on the dotted line. I have not been left to crucify myself. Such a task is too tremendous, too divine. I have been already devoted to death, "crucified with Christ." That has been accomplished. But I must sign my own death sentence. I must consent to God’s consignment. I must choose, in the power of His death, to dethrone and deny self. The Cross is indeed God’s master-weapon. But Christ’s death has severing power only as we are united with it by faith. I must endorse this divine dying as it applies to me.
Have I died to self completely? Is there any pride, arrogance, or selfishness within me? Or am I completely consecrated to the humiliation of the cross upon which Jesus died? Do I answer back when others revile me? When I suffer, do I think of myself?
Have fun and stay crucified ~ Galatians 2:20
-The Orange Mailman