The Great Struggle and the Overcoming
We all struggle with our humanity until we get who we are in focus. The struggle is a natural process in our coming to a mature life in Jesus, but in our immaturity and ignorance, we often feel "ashamed" for our natural human functions and reactions, and all too often others are only too happy to tell us what worms we are and how we never measure up. Even though the book of Hebrews tells us to come "boldly" before the Throne of Grace, coming in confidence and faith, somehow this is often missed in the church and in the lives of believers, because we are taught or we feel exactly the opposite, that if God does anything through our lives, it is somehow despite us. We are anything but confident and bold. But God has something better in mind for us than constant shame and condemnation.
One of the greatest passages in scripture is Paul's well-known 7th chapter of Romans. It is a reality that we all experience, sometimes daily and hourly. We find yourself doing something we don't want to be doing, and we find we can't help ourselves. People will tell us we "shouldn't" do this or do that; or we "ought" to do this or that, or feel this or that, but truth be told, as Paul found out, even though the "will" might be there to do it (which is how we know we are born again, for no one who is not born of God's Spirit "delights" in the law of God in the inner man), still we do not find the ability to do it.
Perfect!!! You are in good company, since Paul himself experienced the same thing, and all the rest of us, too.
So what is this struggle for? It is for Romans 8 -- the outgoing of Spirit life, by you, through the realization in your utter depths that you are not you, but He. And one way God proves this to us is to teach us, sometimes through sin, or the lack of ability to refrain from evil or the seeming lack of power to do good, that the same principle is true in the negative. When we commit sin, as Romans 7 says, it is not we who do it, but "sin" that does it by us. We are never independent beings, sufficient in ourselves, to do anything of ourselves. Whether to sin -- which, as 1 John tells us, "he who commits sin is of the devil," (so to commit sins for a believer is a temporary dip back into false independence which is the principle of Satan), or to perform righteousness, which we have no ability to perform ourselves either, since if we exhibit righteousness we are only exhibiting the righteousness of God who lives in us. We are never self-acting selves, but always living in the life or power of darkness or light, neither of which originate in our humanity. But God purposely uses the negative of sin and our struggles to bring us to the end of our separated mindset or consciousness, thinking we are just ourselves alone trying to do good and to avoid evil (the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), and then to further out of that bring us into a unified consciousness of Christ having become one spirit with us (1 Cor 6:17; John 17:11, 21,22; Gal 2:20, etc.), so that our lives are not just us trying (with God's help) to be Christlike, but that we are the very manifestation of Christ in our daily lives, as Paul said, "For to live IS Christ."
The reason that is SO important to see, is that it brings us to the final rock-bottom of our supposedly self-sufficient selves. We cannot overcome, we cannot stop our sin, and the reason the Lord lets us experience this (He hasn't gone anywhere by the way), is so that we will know to the uttermost we cannot do it.
And it's at that point where we lay down and die, in a sense, to any independent life of our own. We give up. In some way we say to the Lord, "Look I can't do this. I can't stop this. If you don't intervene here, then I'll keep doing it! But right here, right now, I am standing on the truth that you are in me to BE me, to live my life, and against these appearances I am saying you have me and are living my life in everything I do." (THAT is boldness!)
That's the only way through to Romans 8, because the thing about love and righteousness is that we have no more power to produce righteousness or love out of ourselves than we did to overcome sin. The reason we MUST experience this through a "fall" into sin or lack of ability to overcome, is because it is easy to hide behind a veneer of false righteousness, but which looks righteous to other people. We can "act" loving; we can "act" holy, and lots of people, including ourselves in our self-deception, will buy our act. It's what the church does by and large. "Act like Jesus," (the most unpredictable guy who ever lived) they preach from the pulpit, though very few have a real clue how to do that except to obey some church rules or traditions of men that everybody seems to agree on.
But there is no mistaking real sin in us when it occurs -- even if only we know it. Honest hearts know it, and it produces self-loathing, the kind Paul describes in Romans 7. Faked righteousness is harder to detect in ourselves, because people will applaud us for it. True sin has a way of eating us up inside, and that's what the Lord is after. Not that we would be destroyed, but that we would come to the final end of this false sense of self that thinks it can -- and it is proven when we think we "should" or "should not." The law speaks to a separated self that thinks it should and can do it, and it speaks to it to drive it to death. (He who loses his life will find it!)
So at this point, we accept our death to more "trying." "Shoulds" and "oughts" have no more to do with us, because the Lord lives in us -- and He doesn't live from "I should" or "I ought," but as "I AM." We died to the law, we died to sin, we died to self-effort, we died to false independence in the Cross. If "sin" has come up it has come that we might know the negative revelation that when we sin, "it is no longer I who sin, but sin that dwelleth in me," (Rom 7:17), which drives us to desperation, "Who shall deliver me?" and from that the realization of our total death, as described in Romans 6, on to the outgoing spiritual life in Romans 8:
(Rom 8:2-4) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
We finally see, through this process GOD has taken us through, that we are free from sin and unrighteousness, and we now live to righteousness, not because of any ability or knowledge we possess, but because we have found out we don't have any of that, that it is all God's. He uses his convenient agent, the devil, to buffet us, to condemn us, to bring us to the end, and from that we rise a truly new self in Him, in which now it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us in His righteousness and love. We simply receive it in faith. Just TAKE it! It is that simple! (Though many cannot accept the simplicity, still wanting to find some self-ability and self-responsibility in the human self, which God has declared DEAD -- meaning it has no self-ability!)
Our answer really lies, not in understanding this precept by precept in our heads, but by taking in simple faith that the Lord is living our lives, regardless of appearances. We MUST understand that is where faith always starts -- in the invisible. If we already see the object of our faith in manifestation, what need of faith? To believe that God is doing it will require a "death" to us because it looks like the opposite. It means we take your eyes off what we might be calling "sin" in our lives and put them on God. Whatever has our attention is what holds us. If our attention is on sin it is no surprise that we manifest sin. But if our attention -- and by that I mean faith -- is in and on Christ, then it is not a surprise to find ourselves manifesting Christ, since He desires to live and manifest Himself out of our lives, and His desires are our desires. He will do it! (We can rest in that fact.)
If GOD keeps you, then believe that He keeps you (Jude 24, Isaiah 42:1). Say to Him, if this seems truth to you, that you will sin and sin and sin and cannot help yourself, so He MUST keep you, and you trust Him to do it. Period. Don't look at whether you "do it" or not. Stay focused on faith that HE HAS done it, (not one day will -- because faith is possessing the possession NOW in the invisible), that HE IS keeping you NOW -- whether it looks like that to you or not. Trust HIM, not yourself, not your ability to resist, don't trust the "sin," don't focus on the "sin," or on the appearances, but leave it to Him.
That's why I said previously you have to recognize your death. You cannot figure out "how" to do it. "The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works," Jesus said, and in Him we say the same. You CANNOT do it. Dead people don't try, don't resist, don't figure it out. Dead people don't do anything. You died in His crucifixion. (Rom 6; Gal 2:20)
That is not a point of doctrine we learn in Bible Class -- it is our inner reality. Sin has been taken care of. That was taken care of in the Cross. He is bringing you to the end of your separated consciousness, the self that has to try, to yield, to resist, to bring that false sense of self to its total and complete death by exposing it as a lie of the enemy. And Christ has manifested to destroy the works of the devil -- and this is his major work -- his convincing the whole human race since Adam that we are self-acting self-reliant selves running our own lives, when the inner secret is that when we were outside of Christ we DID NOT run our own show -- he did. But now in Christ the devil has been kicked out, and an new inner Deity has come into our vessel, the temples which we are, and we are now filled with the Divine Nature, as Peter told us. (2 Pet 1:4)
Only in knowing that you died and you do nothing, are you then conditioned for the resurrection of Him as you. You do come back, but only after you've become thoroughly nothing. God must do ALL -- you nothing. This comes to us as a revelation of the Spirit.
I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. Believe it, stand on it, walk in it, and see the outflow of rivers of living water that He PROMISED to those who would simply believe.
An old Italian man, Brother Cardinale, at my church years ago used to stand up in church, especially every time they played, "Victory in Jesus," and would close his eyes, with his hands raised, and shout, "ONLY BELIEVAH, ONLY BELIEVAH!"
I was the youngest of babes in those days, but in the succeeding years I've grown into the same realization in my life that the Spirit gave to Brother Cardinale -- "Only Believah!"