This article discusses the question that we hear most often from long-time believers who are beginning to investigate a deeper experiential life in Christ. “How do I get started? Where do I even begin? These foundational questions are exactly where we all must begin.
The Whole Gospel
We join the ranks of many contemporary bible scholars who explain that American Christianity has been preaching and teaching a less than complete Gospel since mid-1950s. This article addresses some of the most important elements that have been missing
First, we will examine the clear biblical teaching concerning the difference between “Position truth” and “Condition truth”. Virtually nothing has been heard about this classification of lifestyle truths since the mid-20th century. Yet! It is impossible to enjoy a genuine spiritual intimacy lifestyle without first understanding and embracing the truth that differentiates our POSITION and our CONDITION as believers.
For a detailed study of these truths we recommend Miles Stanford’s book, “The Complete Green Letters”. In his helpful book he discusses the “two types of faith-lifestyle choices (Position and Condition)” that every believer must deal with.
Most believers are familiar with the following verses, but few have pondered the profound significance of them.
"And God raised us up with Christ and "seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." Eph 2:6.
"Since then,you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Col 3:1-5
These passages make reference to the POSITION TRUTH that we, as new creations, (II Co 5:17) are to embrace. This position, "with Him in the heavenly realms", defines the growing Source which produces the supernatural indwelling life within us.
We are called to LIVE EXPERIENTIALLY within the framework of position truth; this is true because we died with Christ. This truth is to be the overarching operative factor in our experiential lives. This is the life and lifestyle which the Christ, who is your life produces in every surrendered believer.
Unfortunately, we live, as well, in a truth that theologians call CONDITION TRUTH.
Since our human birth, all of us have lived a natural life: that life which develops from the composite of our backgrounds, experiences, and upbringing. This life emanates from what scripture calls our SINFUL NATURE or our ADAMIC NATURE or the FLESH.
The Word is clear that we have a Position in the heavenly realms that we received when we were born again. We also have a natural life that powerfully competes with the supernatural life of the indwelling Christ. At all times, we actually have two possible SOURCES from which to live. To elaborate:
Once we understand this truth, we can begin to accommodate this two-Source choice on a moment-by-moment basis as we learn how to enjoy the Christ who is your life life. But it bears repeating!! We are probing huge truth!
Christ, who is your life
As we honestly pursue a life of spiritual intimacy, we begin to realize that Jesus Christ is becoming our very Life. This Life, which is supernatural, must be LEARNED.
By “learned”, we are referring to a life of total dependency. This learning involves practicing a lifestyle of taking up our cross daily as Jesus said in Luke 9:23. It can not be stated to often: it is imperative to learn how to ABIDE, stay YOKED and walk in the Spirit. Clearly ! This kind of life does not comes naturally.
For Christ to become one’s Very Life, it is necessary to understand the huge difference between living in Position truth versus Condition truth. The secret of learning to enjoy the Christ in you life is choosing to live in Position truth. Meditate on these VERY significant verses.
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you
the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden
" for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God
has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of THIS
MYSTERY, WHICH IS CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory. Col 1:25-27
Obviously, no one needs to learn how to live the Conditional life. That’s comes quite naturally because of our human nature.
Given that we have two Sources out of which to live, the obvious question is ! “How? How do I live this Position Life???” To answer this question we need to move on to yet another word. This equally important word needs to become a part of our growing intimacy vocabulary: the word is CRUCIFIED.
Learning to Live the “Crucified life”
Most of us learn early-on, that the intimacy paradigm is succinctly described by Paul in Galatians 2:20. Hear his words again. But! This time put them alongside his words in Romans 6:6
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin —
Our old self was crucified
At this juncture, it is imperative that we honestly grasp what Paul is saying in these passages. Recall what we mentioned earlier . The old self is mentioned in scripture through the use of several different words/phrases … and different translations actually use different words for the greek. This quote from Ian Thomas is helpful.
"I must recognize that the enemy within the camp—the flesh, the old nature, the self, the I, the old Adam — is a usurper. By faith I must reckon him to be in the place that God put him—crucified with Christ. I must realize that now my life
is hid with Christ in God; that He is my life" (Ian Thomas).
This quote takes us again to Romans. See Romans 6.11 as translated in the KJV.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto
God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The operative word in these passages is “reckon”. Now considering Romans 6:11 and 6:6 together and a clear picture begins to emerge.
Paul is clearly saying that this “enemy” within was crucified (note past tense); and note! We as believers must, must, must, embrace this truth with conviction. The word “reckon” is translated differently in the various translations. (See some of the popular translations”) :
KJV – reckon
NIV – count
ESV – consider
Here Paul is calling attention to the POSITION truth that we possess and must learn to accommodate if we are to live the crucified life.
To repeat: if we think through all that we’ve said, we can reduce everything to a single fact: we absolutely must learn how to live the crucified life.
Self our pervasive struggle
The universal, consuming culprit for everyone of us is Self. We must learn how to stay unshackled from the Self that is so totally destructive. We MUST learn how to surrender our bondage to the dominion of Self. It is Self that destroys our fellowship with Jesus. But let’s move on.
What we have been considering is the essence of the message of Romans 12:1-3. AND! Be sure that you read Romans 12:3 several times. This truth is a powerful exhortation is easy to miss.
Now to put the pieces of our “mystery life” together. Think with me what we have discussed thus far.
As believers we must LEARN –
1. That our Self and its independence was crucified with Christ on the cross.
(When we were born again that death of Self became a Position truth in
which we needed to learn to live.)
2.That everyday we must choose to live supernaturally.
3. How to live in the position truth re:our crucified life.
4. How to surrender our lives to Jesus so that He becomes our very life.
5. THAT OUR SELF LIFE MUST BE CONSISTENTLY ERADICATED DAILY!
These five truths MUST give birth to a deep conviction that overarches every aspect of our journey: opposition in seeking the “Christ in you” life is SELF. This truth cannot be overstated.
Making reference again to “The Green Letters” I want to include a complete chapter from Miles Stanford’s book. Before we can move on given the enormity of our struggle with Self, we must be convinced that Self is our consuming problem.
The Green Letters – An excellent book by Miles Stanford
The Struggle with Self – Note!! I have added the bolding and red hi-lighting.
One of the most important factors in Christian growth is the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the self-life to the believer. Self is the fleshly, carnal life of nature, the life of the first Adam — "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1); thoroughly corrupt before God (Galatians 5:19-21); the life in which there is no good thing in the sight of God (Romans 7:18). Nowhere do spiritual principles mean more than here. Plato, with his "Know thyself," was more right than he knew, but still only half right. Paul, with God’s "Not I, but Christ," was all right!
In order for one to get beyond just knowing about the Lord Jesus, and enter into a consistent and growing personal knowledge of and fellowship with Him, one must FIRST come to know oneself. Introspection is not involved here — the Holy Spirit uses experiential revelation. First, the believer learns "Not I," then, "but Christ." First, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone," then "but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24). First, "always delivered unto death," then, "that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest" (2 Corinthians 4:11). In service: first, "death worketh in us," then, "but life in you" (2 Corinthians 4:12. All resurrection life springs out of death, else it would not be resurrection life — His risen life (Roman 6:5-6). We are to yield ourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead (Romans 6:13).
For some years now the scene has been dominated by a conversion known as "commitment," which often, sad to say, amounts to little more than a spiritual miscarriage. When there is even a bit of life it usually blossoms overnight into full bloom, and soon becomes heavy with the fruit of "dynamic," "radiant," personality coupled with busy, rushing service. The tragedy of this sort of thing is the Self is at home and thrives in the glow of it all, and is rarely found out for what it really is. All is indiscriminate "hearts and flowers."
The healthy new birth, based on deep conviction of sin, and repentance toward God, starts out clear and strong with love and devotion to the Savior. But, ere long, there comes the sickening realization of an element within that pulls one back to self-centeredness, to the world, to the rule of the law, to sin. This learning by heart-breaking experience of the utter sinfulness and reigning power of self in the everyday Christian life, is the means whereby we come to know the Lord Jesus beyond the birth-phase — as our Savior; on to the growth-phase — as our Lord and Life. "To me to live is Christ." No believer will truly come to know the Lord Jesus as his Life until he knows by experience the deadly self-life deep within for what it is.
At a Spiritual Life Conference many years ago, Dr. C. I. Scofield said, "Not everyone, by any means, has had the experience of the seventh of Romans, that agony of conflict, of desire to do what we cannot do, of longing to do the right we find we cannot do. It is a great blessing when a person gets into the seventh of Romans and begins to realize the awful conflict of its struggle and defeat; because the first step toward getting out of the struggle of the seventh chapter and into the victory of the eighth, is to get into the seventh. Of all the needy classes of people, the neediest of this earth are not those who are having a heartbreaking, agonizing struggle for victory, but those who are having no struggle at all, and no victory, and who do not know it, and who are satisfied and jogging along in a pitiable absence of almost all the possessions that belong to them in Christ."
J. C. Metcalf gives this same fact an added witness: "Many a young Christian, who has not been warned of this necessary voyage of discovery upon which the Holy Spirit will certainly embark him (Romans 7), has been plunged into almost incurable despair at the sight of the sinfulness which is his by nature. He has in the first place rejoiced greatly in the forgiveness of his sins, and his acceptance by God; but sooner or later he begins to realize that all is not well, and that he has failed and fallen from the high standard which he set himself to reach in the first flush of his conversion.
"He begins to know something of the experience which Paul so graphically describes: ‘What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I (Romans 7:15), and, in consequence, he feels that the bottom has fallen out of his Christian life; and then perhaps the Devil whispers to him that it is just no good his going on, because he will never be able to make the grade. Little does he know how healthy his condition is, and that this shattering discovery is but the prelude to a magnificent series of further discoveries of things which God has expressly designed for his eternal enrichment. All through life God has to show us our own utter sinfulness and need, before He is able to lead us on into realms of grace, in which we shall glimpse His glory."
Self-revelation precedes divine revelation — that is a principle for both spiritual birth and spiritual growth. The believer who is going through struggle and failure is the Christian who is being carefully and lovingly handled by his Lord in a very personal way. He is being taken through the experience (years in extent) of self-revelation and into death; the only basis upon which to "know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Philippians 3:10).
God works by paradox. Success comes via failure; life springs out of death, etc. The only element in the believer’s life that crumbles is that which has to go anyway — the new life can never be harmed or affected. This disintegration is something the believer cannot enter into nor engineer on his own — self will never cast out self. He has to be led into it by the mercy of the Holy Spirit — into failure; abject and total. "For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest of our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11). So often the means utilized by the Spirit is an unsaved mate, or even a saved one! Or poor health, yes, and good health, too! A thousand and one things are used by Him — in fact, everything (Romans 8:28-29), to bring out the worst in us, ultimately enabling us to see that the Christian life has to be "not I, but Christ." People, circumstances, etc., are never the cause of failure. Self’s reaction to them is the cause, and the one problem to be dealt with. "It’s me, it’s me, O Lord."
"Many of us have probably known what it was to rejoice in the grace of God without having apprehended very much the true character of the flesh. It has often been noticed that where there is the greatest exuberance of joy in young converts, there is often a levity which fails to take into account that the flesh is unchanged. In such cases the grace of God is taken up in a self-confident way; there is very little self-distrust, or sense of weakness and dependence. And the inevitable consequence is a fall, or a succession of falls, that gradually bring home to the consciences of believers their utter weakness and incapacity as in the flesh." –C. A. Coates
Evan Hopkins shares some important light on our subject: "How infinite are the forms in which self appears. Some are occupied with good self. They pride themselves on their excellencies. Others are just as much occupied with bad self. They are forever groaning over their imperfections, and struggling with the flesh as if they hoped in time to improve it. When shall we be convinced it is so utterly bad that it is beyond all recovery? Our experience, upward, in the power of God, is just in proportion to our experience, downward, in ceasing from self.
"Is it, Reckon yourself to be weak in reference to sin? No, it is lower than that. Is it, Reckon yourself to be dying? No, lower still. ‘Reckon yourself to be dead — (Romans 6:11) — indeed unto sin.’ Some believe they are very weak. But what does that imply? that they have some strength. But when a man is dead he has no strength. We must act on the fact that we are dead in reference to sin. We shall not then speak of difficulty as to resisting temptation in reference to ourselves. We shall take the lowest place, and say it is impossible with self is possible with God. We shall take our place on the resurrection side of the cross, and in so doing we leave behind the old self-life for the new Christ-life. To live in Him who is our Life, is to be in the power of God." Someone has rightly said that "there are many ’separated from the world’ Christians who are not ’separated from themselves’ Christians."
The next scriptural area to probe involves this death to Self: this crucifixion of the old man and the IDENTIFICATION TRUTHS.
For several centuries past conservative bible scholars/teachers/commentaors have taught the "Identification Truths".
See this definition of Identification truth from the web site of Pembroke Church.
Identification truth teaches our true identity in Christ – who we really are as born again believers – what has really taken place within us at the new birth – our complete identity or position in Christ. Our true identity before God, from God’s perspective, is that our old self has been crucified with Christ and buried,and that we have been raised up with Christ in His Resurrection life and that we are now seated with Christ in heaven. This is now our true identity or position.
See our comment on the opening page of our web site and read the articles suggested to probe this VERY important area of biblical teaching.