There is much made of ‘denying self’ in religiosity. At its worst in means living a life of misery and restraint as an attempt at godliness. At best it can be misused as ploy to get church folks to occupy roles Jesus never meant them occupy. Like being the youth leader when you have no interest in youth and no natural ability to succeed in that role. I heard a young man give a talk once on the Holy Spirit – and how many were afraid to receive Him because He was sure to get you doing something you really did not want to do. Not a good view of God, but there was some truth in that fear as a result of the way ‘god’ was utilised in those circles. But the reality is that the Spirit of Christ will inspire us to be who we really are and not as someone else. With Christ as our life we will minister as sons who are fountains of spirit and life.
CAPTIVES NOT SET FREE
Some of us spend our lives ineffectually because we are contained in myths that are simply mistaken. Genuine denial of self involves the willingness to lay down our own precious notions, our false identities and be stripped of the veils that have clouded who God is and smothered who we are as sons and daughters of God. Paul cited this when he wrote, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ Gal 2.20 NIV. To be alive in Christ is to be who you are. Not some artefact of institutionalism.
Legalism is a more subtle, than a dogged attachment to Moses and his laws. The rational-legal outlook is the basis of institutionalism, its burocracies and hierarchies. The knowledge of good and evil, its subdivisions and compartments is the father of legalism and its daughter, intuitionalism. This is how we can get to have a form of godliness as a theologian yet lack spirit and life. We. Have become an expression of religion rather than a direct expression of the incarnated Jesus. Here we may be apt in theology and a fail as regards revelation and discernment. Religion is the most subtle counterfeit of life and the most pervasive form of legalism. Legalism as a culture is seldom identified as what it is because it is hidden in plain sight.
GAINING YOUR SOUL
Possessing one’s soul begins with owning one’s spirit. Once we agree that Christ has accepted us into His life and we know that we belong in the family of God, we live with Father in the spirit of sonship. The basis of living a real human life in genuine Godliness and fulsome humanity is always the spirit - the Spirit of Christ who manifests in our soul and body.
It’s possible to gain the world and lose Christ. Then again we can lose our whole world and gain Christ. It is the latter path – the Door to infinity that leads to subjective wholeness and objective sonship in the spirit. We never become a non-self with Jesus as our life.
We grow increasingly into our real self when we are in Jesus. Now living in our proper identity we are who we are meant to be. As result we are doing things we are meant to be doing as persons in general and in ministry in particular.
Like Jesus, we only do what Father is doing because we and Father are one – which we are in Christ. This is why we should work at embracing our inheritance of union with God and not be persuaded by the common religious delusion of living in separation and working towards union. This is the most common tare and the most productive Satanic ruse in creating sons of the evil one – sons who are not evil as such but merely disconnected from their inheritance of union with God and sonship with Father.
The Spirit gives life because in Holy Spirit we are made one with the Spirit of our Father. ‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV.
Christian Kettler writes, “Self-denial” is a common category in spirituality, Christian or otherwise. Calvin calls self-denial “the sum of the Christian life.” Self-denial, however, is radically redefined by the vicarious humanity of Christ. Christ is the One who has already denied himself before the Father (“yet not what I want but what you want” Matt 26:39). It is not left up for us to deny ourselves in order to reach God.” (1)
Here we are set free from religious and ostentatious denials to live in the glory intended for us and which results from that fact that Jesus is our life. Not only did we originate with the Son. We have been re-joined to God’s Family by the Son. And more to the point we are one with the Son in the moment and the season. Here we what Jesus denies and embrace what He embraces without striving or artifice because He Spirit is in us and we and He are one.
The notion that is it is up to us to deny ourselves to reach God, is behind things like penance, adopting religious roles one hates, every attempt to earn union with God, wearing special clothes, observing sacred times and gathering in ‘sacred’ places – in short most of the humbug that presents itself as spirituality in the framework of Adam and the separated life. It’s Christ our life who joins us to God. It is His life in us who makes us alive and fruitful as the persons we are. It’s because Christ is our life that we live in the Kingdom dynamic that Jesus began. We deny death in all its forms and embrace life. We are life-giving spirits who multiply His life where we are.
‘The Logos is the source; everything commences in him. He remains the exclusive Parent reference to their genesis. There is nothing original, except the Word! His life is the light that defines our lives. (In his life man discovers the light of life.) The darkness was pierced and could not comprehend or diminish this light’ John 1.3-5. (2)