REPENTANCE : TURNING FROM SELF-LIFE
14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Repentance is a primary step toward God. Until you understand that every unsaved soul will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, you are unlikely to surrender to Christ. The self-life is going to be eternally damned unless you repent. That seems like a hard statement but truth will show you otherwise. Self-life may look perfect and sound like lots of fun. Certainly there is some temporary fun and enjoyable pleasures. When you truly look at what Jesus offers to the saved person, the passing, temporary fun becomes emptiness. The flesh life is really bondage to the deceiver and his lies. Unsaved souls are following the same lies that caused Adam and Eve to create the mess that all are bound to until Jesus sets us free.
Everything about self (flesh) is unclean. It is altogether a filthy rag worthy only of eternal destruction. Self-esteem as presently interpreted by the world and the church is the glorification of carnality and fleshly lust and will be judged by a Holy God. The end results will be as dark as the minds that promote it.
A Crucified Life
- A Surrendered Life
- A Prayerful Life
- A Bible Studying Life
- A Church Centered Life
Ways Your Self Will is Manifested
- An Evil Heart
- Refusing God’s Correction
- Refusing God’s Minister
- Refusing Your Parents
- Refusing Correction
- Resisting the Holy Ghost
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a clear message that calls man from his dark and hopeless self to an experience of death and burial. When self is dead (“For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Romans 6:7), the spirit of man formed in him by God (“And formeth the spirit of man within him.” Zechariah 12:1b) is quickened to life and the glorious powers of faith and obedience is born. It starts with justification, is experienced as definite in sanctification and continues toward maturity and completeness in daily growth. Self is denied and rebuked when we repent, but broken of its controlling powers when we are sanctified. We must never cease to grow toward perfect love.
The Wesleyan Methodist called it “perfect love” and “perfect cleansing,” while the old-fashioned Baptist called it “total surrender to Christ’s Lordship.” The Bible term is sanctification but the experience is all the same. It is freedom from the carnal laws of self and flesh and the release of the human individual to pursue the Spirit-filled life of total obedience to Jesus Christ. It is life unfettered by the pursuit of carnal and worldly ambitions and totally directed to the Holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not a picnic and the struggle never ends. The Apostle Paul said, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Self always has the tendency to resurrect. Unguarded living is fertile soil for the growth of flesh and lust. We must always direct our life toward self-denial. We furnish the slain sacrifice and HE provides the cleansing and the quickening power of the Holy Ghost. We put the carcass on the altar and He sends down the consuming fire. “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1 Corinthians 10:21).
Several Pertinent Questions
- What is self-will? It is the sin nature inherited from Adam in control of your life.
“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
- Who gave you your self-will? The devil! We have often heard it said that God created us with our free will or self-will. That is absolutely false. God did not create you to do your own will. He did create you free but not with a rebellious will. Satan is the source of a will apart from the will of the Creator. Satan said, “I will” five times (Isaiah 14:13). That was the beginning of any will apart from God. Man came to share that rebellion when Adam partook of the forbidden fruit. It’s our Adamic nature and it will burn in Hell unless it is set free by the “Cleansing Blood of Jesus Christ.”
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
That self-will inherited from your father is a destructive force of death in your life. It is called by Paul “our old man” or “the body of sin.” “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6). Self-will and sin are synonymous.
- Why do men die spiritually and physically? Because of their self-will. Self-will is the seat of all sin, and sin is the seat of all death. Without self-will man would not have died in the beginning. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
Apostle Paul put the same subject in New Testament terms. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8). You can only do one of two wills, your’s or God’s. You cannot do both at the same time. One is death and the other is life. Your freedom is to choose!
Several Ways Self-Will Is Expressed
- Unbelief: The root of all self is to disbelieve what God wills and says, “Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God” (2 Kings 17:14). To deny that God is sovereign in your life is an ultimate act of unbelief in His goodness and holy design for your existence.
- Pride: Self-will is an expression of your perceived superiority to God. “But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, and refused to obey…” (Nehemiah 9:16). Self-esteem or self-will is pride in your own ideas and control. It is the exact opposite of “self-abandonment,” which expresses your faith in God and complete surrender to His will.
- An evil heart: The heart of man is filled with evil and self. They are synonymous. That’s why Nicodemus needed to be born again though he kept all the commandments of God. “But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart…” (Jeremiah 7:24). An unredeemed heart is as vile as hell, regardless of its moral habits.
- Refusing God’s direction: Self will not listen to God unless it is transformed by God’s power. The Bible is filled with warnings of the tendency toward disobedience. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded…” (Proverbs 1:24). Self-will says, “I know a better way,” so it refuses to hear instruction from our Creator.
- Refusing His ministers: Men who speak God’s truth without fear or favor have never been personalities loved by everyone. In fact, the Bible warned of men of whom all men speak well. Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Until a minister is making someone angry, he is not speaking as God called him to speak. It is not if he will be hated, but rather by whom will he be hated.
- Refusing parents: The institution most fitted for teaching the discipline of our will is the home. A Godly home will train the children to refuse their own selfish will and to instead do what the Bible teaches is right and good. “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:13-14).
- Refusing correction: Any person who chooses their own ideas or imaginations over Holy Scripture is what the Bible calls “a fool.” The highly educated and the street bum are equally guilty. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). A teachable person is rich in potential for God’s work. Self is the greatest barrier to such wealth.
- Resisting the Holy Ghost: The Holy Spirit teaches of Jesus Christ. He speaks only about the Lord and He alone can teach us of His fellowship. Self is always the hindrance to His instruction. “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). Self always stands in the way.
- Going backward: When self-will is in control we lose sense of spiritual direction. Backward looks forward and forward looks backward. Self is blinding! “…but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward” (Jeremiah 7:24). It’s amazing to see the ignorance of human will in contrast to God’s will. When self is dead our eyes are spiritually open to both human foolishness and divine wisdom. We are released to greatness in character and true understanding.
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Nailing Self to the Altar
As long as self is on the throne, Jesus (for you) is still on the cross; when self is on the cross, then Chris is on the throne. The one primary hindrance to a powerful Christian life is the failure to kill self. Even worse, for most people, they are totally defeated by self and cannot live the Christian life at all. Unless there is a miracle, they will be eternally lost. When self is in control, you cannot serve Jesus Christ. God is ready to put your self-will to death but you must make the offering. Only you can place self on the altar and only then can the Lord start that marvelous growth that will result in a beautiful holy walk with your Redeemer. Let’s look at three facts that are necessary for this beautiful life of Holiness.
Unbelief Is The First Barrier To Overcome
True faith is much broader that interpreted today. It is a world above intellectual acceptance and simple mental accent. Biblical faith is a blind leap into the trustworthiness of Jesus Christ. Look at this powerful statement by Apostle Paul. “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:7-12; 18-19).
- True faith is accepting God’s sovereignty over your own will and wisdom. Human will is dangerous even when it desires good things. The best instincts that man may develop must be submitted at the cross to follow the one will of Christ’s sovereignty over your life. Our human wisdom is equally dangerous. Every thought and imagination of our intellect must be crucified at the sacred altar.
- We must understand that God’s plan for us is bigger and better than our biggest dream or design. The great God has a marriage partner, a life work, a location for that work, a blessed arrangement for every purpose of your existence and your greatest act of surrender is to give yourself to His perfect will.
- He foreknew us before the foundation of the world. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30). When we live according to this truth we can then live by one of the greatest promises in the Bible. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Faith is to submit to His foreordained plan for your life.
- The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. If we struggle against God’s will we serve only to break ourselves on His commandments. Yet, He is full of mercy and compassion. While He is a God of wrath against the wicked, He is as a Father to the humble and broken. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).
Unbelief presents the greatest obstacle to a sanctified life. Making that leap from your control over your own life to total surrender and release to His control and Lordship cannot be described other than as ultimate faith. It is faith that believes “He is a rewarder;” “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
2 Peter 3
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Confession Of Self’s Bankruptcy
When you see your flesh as it is clearly revealed in Scripture: unclean, corrupt, untrustworthy, blind and in desperate need of redemption; you are getting ready for genuine victory. Our flesh has been thoroughly condemned and will soon return to the dust. Flesh cannot please God. The Holy God cannot put His Holy Spirit in unclean flesh. It would violate ever principle of Scripture. Flesh must die but cannot until the human soul is ready for such a death. It’s your choice.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:1-7).
You will never be freed from returning to sin until you are dead to your self-will. Any man who doesn’t experience Sanctification will return to his old paths. It may be self-righteousness or it may be worldliness, but the consequence is the same. Apostle Paul said it most beautifully. “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).
The spiritual life is the crucified life. The flesh is death and the spirit is life. Any action of your flesh is deadly. It may be bitterness or an unclean habit; it may be prejudice against skin color or adultery; but every act or attitude of the flesh is full of death and will destroy the spiritual grace of your soul. Declare your complete mistrust of your flesh, render it your mortal enemy, turn from it with your whole mental capacity and cast all you are upon the giver of life prepared to do His perfect “will.”
Now! Release Yourself To God
The “released life” is the Spiritual life. There may be noise, religious fluff and all kind of spirited activity but it is a dead thing until you are released to God for His control. Most church activity today kills instead of imparts life. It inoculates men against true Spirituality because it glorifies our flesh and produces religious humanism. On the other hand, true surrender to God opens a flood gate of Divine life.
- Stop striving to be spiritual. Spirituality cannot be produced by human strength. It is imparted by God, not created by you. Instead, surrender all your facilities to obey, worship and believe for His anointing.
- Quit rebelling against the Holy Scripture. Every word of God is true. The first Testament is what the Second Testament writers obeyed and lived by while the Holy Spirit produced the New Testament. They clarified the legalism of religious ceremonies and completed the holy commandments by which we live.
- Stop resisting the Holy Ghost. Every time the Holy Spirit woos your heart, God is acting toward you. Don’t quench Him, He’s God. Respond to Him as you would to a gravel in your eye. Be sensitive to His tender leadership. Don’t wait for chastisement. Your Father has made the ultimate sacrifice in sending His Son. The Holy Spirit has come to apply all of His “benefits” to you, but must await your tender surrender before He can minister them to your account.
- Don’t resist pastoral and church authority. There is no power but of God. The Scripture doesn’t ordain ecclesiastical domination over your life, but does declare your need of pastoral authority. The local church is the vehicle of that authority and any pastor who abuses it will incur the wrath of or “Great Shepherd.” A true shepherd will submit to the very people who submit to him and all of us must make sure that such submission is to the Lord and not just to man.
- Rest, Rest, Rest! “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). No one can enter into this rest for you. It is neither emotions or the absence of emotions. It is the rest of our soul that ceases from our own struggling.
Your “Everlasting Life,” Starting right now, is the deepest promise of Holy Scripture. The Bible is a book of redemption. The Redeemer seeks a people for His own. He is not passing out a fire insurance policy, He is gathering a family for Himself. There is only one standard in this family and it is holiness. No one can retain their own identity. We all become His saints, His children and our title is “sons of God.”
Don’t forestall another day. Return to your God the glory due His name. He is ready to be your God if you are ready to be His people. “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)