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Friday, February 1, 2019

Walking in the Spirit - Part 6 (The Great Emptying of Self)

There are so many passages in our epistles with instructions for the Christians life. We are bullet-pointing some of these commands in our parallel series, Walk Worthy. It would be a very profitable endeavor to read the seven epistles given to us in the present age and dwell on the high calling of Christ. As we have noted, the 10 Commandments are holy and good, but the high calling is indeed high!

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 
-Phil 3:14

We now move into Philippians. Here we will come to some of the specific motivations for a Christ-honoring Christian walk. The high calling in Phil 3:14 quoted above is connected to a "prize." We will get there in due course, but first we must stop in Chapter 2 for another key.

As we've noted, all hinges on a love of Christ and an appreciation of the free gift of resurrection life. We also saw how peace, contentment and rewards flow from a holy walk.

Before we get these rewards, let us look at the great instruction which precedes them; the emptying of "self" as Christ did.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  
Who, being in very nature God,  did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing  by taking the very nature of a servant,  being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man,  he humbled himself  by becoming obedient to death—  even death on a cross!  -Phil 2:3-8

That's a tall order, but a worthy goal. The idea of "self" is behind much sin (perhaps all). For Satan points us to "self" as does the world. Even in times of depression, we may fall into the trap of either "self" pity or a denial of the work of Christ on Calvary by condemning in "self" what Christ has forgiven (a tactic of the evil one). This last practice many not immediately appear selfish, but by self-flagellating we believe we can somehow atone for sin for which Christ has fully paid.

Modern Christendom has been plagued with the ideas of "self-worth" and "self-esteem." But what of the child who has been demeaned all her life, or made to feel worthless? Should we not teach her about "self-worth?" 

The problem there is that other people are inflicting the worthlessness upon her. She has value in that Christ died for her and he desires to give her resurrection life (and we all carry the image of God upon us as humans)! Our message is to find your value in Christ. We want her to find her place in the Beloved! God so loved her, he sent his Son to die for her and the Son took up his life again so she can hope in the ages to come!

Teaching someone about the evils of "self" in light of "valuing others above [ourselves]" is the solution! WE value those the world has misused! WE love those the world has hated! Why? Because God sent his Son to redeem them too! The love of God and his choice to "make himself nothing" is where we find hope and peace.

When we find our value in Christ, we are in the right mindset to walk in the new nature. As he did, we must stop considering "self" above others. We must subjugate the "self" will to the will of God. We must discard our "self" man-made traditions and embrace the truths of the Word of God.

So many today refuse to defend the Word of God or the finished work of the Savior to avoid being called "divisive" or "intolerant." In doing so, we put "self" above our calling in Christ. Emptying ourselves of "self" and placing others' needs above our own does not mean affirming them in their error. That only serves to bring accolades from the world. It is displeasing to God. 

Let's look at what Paul stated to the Gentiles in Galatia in the Acts Age:

As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. -Gal 1:9-10

If we seek to please men, we are no longer the servants of God. We cannot have a worthy walk and we are not walking in the new nature if what drives us is the approval of men or the desire to be approved of by man.

We never seek to offend, but we should be prepared to offend man and his traditions if these deny the truths of scripture. The world may pat us on the back for our "tolerance," we may find ourselves "disqualified' for service or reward.



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