“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” – Philippians 1:21
No, this doesn’t mean Christ wants you to kill yourself – it’s the fleshy actions and attitudes that drive us that He wants dead – He wants to take them and give you something more, something better. His fresh Spirit – peace, joy, love, security, assurance in Him, trust – no matter what you’re going through. Not saying it’ll always be easy and you’ll have everything figured out – but, you always have Him as a security blanket to run too when you need Him. You can always depend on Him to work all things out – if we’re open – if we recognize Him working and blessing, as He always does.
God wants us to put to death the things of the flesh – and we all have ways of the flesh no matter who we are or how holy we think we may be – but He knows we can’t do this alone. We don’t have the capacity to put away the flesh as long as we’re in it, only Christ can do that. By accepting His salvation, and asking Him to come into our hearts – we are open to receive His Holy Spirit, which guides and directs us through the obstacles, and joys, of life. But receiving His Salvation and Spirit aren’t the end of it. Once received, we must train it just as we would our physical bodies, if we want to grow strong in Christ and allow His, Holy Spirit, to prevail in our bodies and ultimately in our everyday actions.
The reputation of the church today is damaged – the Christian community – damaged, because so many of us take on the label of “Christian” but we act nothing like Christ. We’ve no joy in Christ – there’s no change in our lives, no benefit. We still dabble in things of the world trying to bring secular things into the church allowing ourselves to be influenced – instead of US, God’s Children, the CREATOR of all – being the influence. Why should we have to imitate the one who steals, kills, and destroys? Why are we so drawn to the things of the world? —- and I’m not just talking about you, this goes for me too, I am in no way perfect, there are still ways in me that I’m sure God is pruning, polishing and working out.
I read a devotional today that talked about the choices we make, life or death, Christ or satan, in our everyday lives. Every single moment we choose life or we choose death. When we put excessive food, drinks, and drugs in our bodies that we know are unhealthy and contribute to disease – we choose death (physical death of the body, disease ailment, and poor quality of life due to ailments). When we choose to dwell on the negative things in our lives instead of looking at life with gratitude, appreciating what we have and what God is doing – we choose death (death of the mind, depression, as we fail to find hope and trust in God). When we forgo our prayer and quiet time with God, for things of this world, we choose death (death of the Spirit, as we feed the flesh/selfish desires, over God.) Each moment is a choice – a choice that brings us closer to God or pulls us away from Him.
So many of us live in a sort of tug of war. We take two steps forward in Christ, then one step back. One step forward, then two steps back – and this is okay, God does not expect and knows we will not get it right in one swoop. Only Christ did this. However, He has provided a way for us to overcome this tug of war – LIFE, IN CHRIST. Living in Christ doesn’t mean you’re at the church 24-7, serving in every ministry, spewing scripture in every conversations and separating yourself from the people of the world because you’re too “holy” to be “contaminated” by the “sinful”. Living in Christ means you literally yield your fleshly ways, desires, thinking to Christ and let His Spirit, Holy Spirit, become the head – the lead. Not this, Jesus is my co-pilot, THAT’s the problem! We’re still trying to lead with God being an advisor, instead – we need to take a backseat and let the Lord lead. In time, it can grow into a partnership where you are indeed a co-pilot (with God still being the captain) but this takes time and consistency.
So how do we live in Christ? RELATIONSHIP. Honestly that’s it. Relationship. It’s the time you invest in knowing Christ, getting to know Our Father, the Living God. Understanding His Holy Spirit and how He speaks and prompts. It’s no one way to do this – it’s a combination of daily prayer, self-study of the scriptures and prayers for understanding, listening to others preach/teach, revelation as you grow in your relationship with Christ, and just generally spending time – ALONE – with God. As you would with anyone else you want to know. The more we spend time in Christ, getting to know our Father, the more we fall in love with Him and want to be like Him. Really – it’s true, and slowly you’ll change anything that God desires – and most of all, you’ll find you desire to be more like Christ. This is how we “die to self” and allow Christ to live, how we are able to live in the world, but not be of the world (i.e. be one with, act like, indulge in things of).
This is an ongoing process, it will never be complete as long as we are in this body – but the pursuit of perfection and consistency in relationship with God, will transform your world – mind, body, and spirit. We don’t have to live a life of fleeting moments of joy. God has called us to abundance in life – not easy, not without struggle – but peace, joy, security in Him. He wants to give you good things and wants to bless you with the desires of your heart – but we must be willing to let go of ourselves and our desire to “control” and have it “our way” and give total control over to Christ, then we will become One with He as He is one with Christ and Christ and they are One with the Holy Spirit – who dwells in you. One mind, one heart – same desires, willing spirit to follow and do the will of God, to advance the Kingdom of God. It’s seeking God first – and His desire, not even for your life but – period. God’s desire overall, when you focus on Christ – I mean really getting to know God, taking that time with Him and seeking His will above all – even your own desires, you will gain His LIFE to the full and in abundance – that you so desperately seek in the world and your own desires.
“When you encounter the choice between life and death today – as you inevitably will – ask yourself: what can I do to choose Jesus, to choose life, today?” ~Gwen Ford Faulkenberry.
“Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ.” Philippians 1:27