Christianity 201

December 9, 2013

Swimming Against the Current

Oswald ChambersI’m always amazed at the number of people who have never heard of what is probably the most enduring devotional resource, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Many years ago a bookseller named James Reiman undertook to rewrite the entire book in more modern language, so that the type of sentence construction employed all those years ago wouldn’t be a barrier to people getting to the depth and riches of the material.

Two years ago we ran a few Oswald Chambers Quotations, and you can read a short biography of him here, and also at Wikipedia. It’s worth noting that Chambers never “wrote” My Utmost, rather, after his death his wife, who was a stenographer, transcribed notes from his talks.

The sample devotionals below are from the website utmost.org and are the readings for yesterday and today. Click the calendar page on the site for the permanent links to each.  In titling today’s thoughts, I was thinking in terms not of the evil in the world, but in the world’s definition of goodness which can trip us up at a more subtle level.

 

The Opposition of the Natural

Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires Galatians 5:24

The natural life itself is not sinful. But we must abandon sin, having nothing to do with it in any way whatsoever. Sin belongs to hell and to the devil. I, as a child of God, belong to heaven and to God. It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence, and my self-will. This is where the battle has to be fought. The things that are right, noble, and good from the natural standpoint are the very things that keep us from being God’s best. Once we come to understand that natural moral excellence opposes or counteracts surrender to God, we bring our soul into the center of its greatest battle.

Very few of us would debate over what is filthy, evil, and wrong, but we do debate over what is good. It is the good that opposes the best. The higher up the scale of moral excellence a person goes, the more intense the opposition to Jesus Christ. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh . . . .” The cost to your natural life is not just one or two things, but everything. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself. . .” (Matthew 16:24). That is, he must deny his right to himself, and he must realize who Jesus Christ is before he will bring himself to do it. Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.

The natural life is not spiritual, and it can be made spiritual only through sacrifice. If we do not purposely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural to us. There is no high or easy road. Each of us has the means to accomplish it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of sacrificing, and thereby performing His will.

The Impartial Power of God

By one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified Hebrews 10:14

We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only reason for the forgiveness of our sins by God, and the infinite depth of His promise to forget them, is the death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the result of our personal realization of the atonement by the Cross of Christ, which He has provided for us. “. . . Christ Jesus . . . became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption . . .” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Once we realize that Christ has become all this for us, the limitless joy of God begins in us. And wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is still in effect.

No matter who or what we are, God restores us to right standing with Himself only by means of the death of Jesus Christ. God does this, not because Jesus pleads with Him to do so but because He died. It cannot be earned, just accepted. All the pleading for salvation which deliberately ignores the Cross of Christ is useless. It is knocking at a door other than the one which Jesus has already opened. We protest by saying, “But I don’t want to come that way. It is too humiliating to be received as a sinner.” God’s response, through Peter, is, “. . . there is no other name . . . by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). What at first appears to be heartlessness on God’s part is actually the true expression of His heart. There is unlimited entrance His way. “In Him we have redemption through His blood . . .” (Ephesians 1:7). To identify with the death of Jesus Christ means that we must die to everything that was never a part of Him.

God is just in saving bad people only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The atonement by the Cross of Christ is the propitiation God uses to make unholy people holy.

 

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