I would have never imagined that seeing myself at the worst, incapable of anything which is good and able to commit EVERY sin if put in the ‘proper’ circumstances would be the entering wedge to spiritual freedom in the kingdom of God. Actually, as soon as we stop trying to appear, even if only a wee little bit better than we really are in our old and fallen nature, God comes closer and closer in order to share HIS heart and mind with us. I believe we need to first fully recognize in what kind of prison we have lived for all our life and to despair of our inability to set ourselves free in any way. We need to be so fed up with our old ways of thinking and behaving that we more and more cry out to God to give us a new heart and the mind of Christ. We must knock on heaven’s door like the persistent widow as described here.
1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:1-8 ESV)
What I realized lately was that we would never be able to sin if we always turned right away to God in our minds whenever a temptation comes at us. However, Satan who is pretty clever gives us thoughts like these. “God will never understand what you are going through; you should have already overcome THIS by now!” Or “You should not think THESE thoughts since they are not godly!” Or “What?? You really WANT to sin? Shame on you!!!” and so on… Yet didn’t Jesus tell his sleepy disciples in the garden of Gethsemane to always pray so that they would NOT fall into temptation? Unfortunately, our old self has the fatal tendency to believe that our natural self-control would be enough regarding divine matters. But this is not true! We really need the Holy Spirit’s power if we want to be overcomers IN Christ against this unseen realm of darkness that constantly fights against us IF we want to do God’s will by following His guidance. Therefore, our old self-salvation projects won’t do any more when we are confronted on a daily basis with our enemy’s evil and cunning devices which are anything but easy to figure out.
In order to dig deeper into the darkness of our inner man, I offer you now another devotional by T. Austin Sparks.
Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
What does this mean? Not that I come before God saying, “I have had pure motives; I have been very honest, earnest and conscientious, and my intentions have all been of the best.” Let us stop talking nonsense. It is utter folly to talk like that. We do not know ourselves. Only God knows the truth about us, and none of that finds a place with Him or counts with Him for a moment. The point is, have I recognized that the Cross of the Lord Jesus was the smashing and ending of me, good and bad, so that I am not holding up before the Lord anything? I am as capable of the worst as any being in God’s creation is. For anybody to take the attitude that they are not capable of the worst is an attitude of the deepest deception. We do not know the power in our beings until we are put to it. If we have never committed the worst, it is because we have never been put to it in the mercy of God, but it is all there. The Lord puts His finger upon it in principle when He says, “He that hates his brother is a murderer.” It is the same spirit. You have only to extend that, provoke that anger enough, put that nature into certain circumstances, and you will discover that you are capable of things of which you would have stood in utmost horror at one time.
You and I have got to come down before God and admit that we are capable of the worst, not standing on the ground of our right. The only right one is Christ from God’s standpoint. The only safe one is Christ, and therefore the only one who stands in God’s eyes is Christ, and it is as you and I, in all the brokenness, frailty, conscious weakness and humility of our own beings, by faith cling to Christ that we shall find the way out, the deliverance, the salvation. We must look behind God’s words to see bigger things than words on the surface indicate. “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at My word.” That statement embodies all that we are saying. To what one will He look? To the one who never says, “I am right!” but to the one who says, “I may be as wrong as ever a man or woman was wrong, there is nothing of which I am not capable; my only ground is Christ; so help me God, Christ is my ground!” To stand on Christ is to stand always in the consciousness and recognition that this other ground, ourselves at any point, is dangerous ground. He is so Other, and there is the great divide, there is no overlapping. Between Christ and us there is a gaping chasm. God never sees that bridged, but thank God He will put Christ into us by the Holy Spirit, and while the two will ever remain apart, the old creation will go one day and that which is of Christ, as wrought into us, will abide.
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Church of the Firstborn – Chapter 1