Living loved – that is loved by God – is not a natural way of living. Our flesh wars against it big time. Only the supernatural help of the Spirit can sustain us for any length of time as we pursue this “Christ in you” life. Just wanting to deepen our walk with Jesus will not do it.
Very early on, after we’ve begun the experiential intimacy journey we come to recognize the ever-present enemy of Self. It doesn’t take long, once Jesus takes up active residence in our lives, before we recognize a strong inner force that wants to be incharge. Whether we label it flesh or Self makes little difference; it’s consuming impact is quietly ever present.
But the ingrained power of the flesh is as subtle as it is consuming. And it is the subtlety that does us in. From childhood we are taught to develop a strong “Self-confidence”. Stop here for a minute and think of all of the two-word combinations that we use that have the word “Self” as the first word. You can add many to this list but, this little chart will drive the point home.
||Self made men
On the day we were born we began the journey of Self! We are taught that the attributes in the first column above should be our overarching objective of everything we do. And our growing self confidence – if groomed properly – will grow a “healthy” self esteem. This in turn will produce a self righteous that is right and proper according to our culture. “After all, if we don’t worry about number one, who will”.
Now let’s shift gears! Everything we’ve just said flies in the face of biblical teaching. Jesus made it clear: we must die to Self. We must deny ourSelves and take up our cross if we are to be true followers. This quick cursory look at the domination of Self should convince us: a life of genuine intimacy is going to be a struggle. (Say amen here !!)
At this juncture the question, “So how then do we live? jumps off the page at us. And, this questions is precisely the place we have to start at, if we are ever going to be supernaturally empowered to live loved. The scriptures are rich with “How to’s” that help us get started. But know this: the battle of the flesh will be an ever present struggle.
We should digress a bit here in the interest of being accurate. There are two camps among believers with regard to this business of Self and the handling of this overpowering enemy. One group insists that we must all work hard – very hard – to crucify, once and for all, this huge unseen foe. The other group understands the Word to say that Self – or flesh – will continue to be our biggest battle until we enter heaven at the end of this journey.
Our position on handling the flesh
As much as we would like to see the inner driving force of the soul killed once and for all, we find that living in those scriptures that speak about “dying daily” and “presenting our bodies as living sacrifices” is the approach that works best for us. But we need to add a comment here. It is our learned-conviction – some would say revelation – that we should see consistent spiritual growth in this arena of life as a result of the life-transforming work of the Spirit.
If Jesus is gaining ground and literally becoming our very Life; then the amount of down time should be decreasing. Said another way, the length of that part of everyday in which we have crowded Jesus our entirely, should grow less and less. But let us be candid here. We all progress in this intimacy life at our own pace. The only general statement that we can make is this: we should all be able to see a transformation taking place as we learn more and more about living loved.
Growing in Godliness
When we talk about spiritual growth we are thinking in the arena of righteousness or holiness. As Jesus becomes our Life in a growing consistent way, we can look in retrospect and realize that He is changing us.
Now we are a juncture in our thinking that is of absolute supreme importance. Read prayerfully and carefully what we are sharing here. You and I can never, never become more spiritual than we are at this point in time. We have no power to become better people – better believers.
The only path to a life that is and truly being transformed, must be done by Jesus. He alone can live a holy life. Perhaps at this point the essence of the “exchanged life”, as some have called it, makes sense. We are changed as His Life becomes our life. This is the process that ensues as we learn how to live in the Abiding relationship that Jesus described in John 15.
Now, we can add another piece to what we are learning by pointing out that it is the writer of Hebrews that helps us at this point. He doesn’t mince words: he says, “Fix your eyes on Jesus”. The somewhat hidden truth here is this. We can do virtually nothing to bring about change in our lives; we can only do the daily dying that Jesus repeatedly talked about.
BUT!!!! We can’t even die by ourselves. Remember His words, “Without me you can do nothing”. The only thing we can do is FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS. This is the knife-edge that we are seeking. This is our part in developing a life of intimacy. This is how we begin to the wonder of living loved.
This focused way of life will usher in the business of dying. Get the picture ?? Our job is not to die. Our ONLY job is to live focused lives. It is this learned lifestyle that will allow Jesus to take the reins of our lives.
In closing, it would do well to go back over what we’ve said and emphasize the real essentials that undergird the life we are seeking. I will do this with a small numbered list of the 11 truths we’ve covered:
- We are designed to “Live Loved”.
- We are also designed to live supernaturally.
- We live supernaturally by relinquishing our lives to Jesus.
- We live daily recognizing that Jesus must live in us and through us.
- We cannot cause this exchanged life to occur in our flesh.
- Our flesh is constantly at war within us: life is a Spirit -flesh battle.
- Our single act of Self must be to FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS.
- As we fix our eyes on Him we are changed – bit by bit; and, Jesus becomes the Life that lives through us.
- He is our Life.
- It is His Life in us and through us that produces a Holy Life.
- The bottom, bottom line is this: We are learning how to live loved.
In this article we have hurried through some very profound truths. If you find yourself overwhelmed, just stop and enjoy the moment.
We have barely grazed the field of very rich produce. In stopping we should drink deeply and eat freely of any fruit that we’ve gleaned. Even as we stop to reflect for a moment on all that we considered together, we are loved by our Creator. What could be a more exhilarating truth.
We need to focus right now on Jesus who is that TRUTH and enjoy His Love. Blessings on you.