50 Days of Promises (20): Crucified With Christ

Galatians 2:20-21

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

crucified-with-christ

A legalistic childhood can oftentimes lead to a legalistic faith

I awoke this morning feeling pressured. Life is packed full of expectations.

I am coming to realize more and more that I designed my whole life to live in self-perceived freedom. Avoid responsibilities, keep relationships superficial and distant, rarely take anyone up on an offer to go do something. “I’m too busy, too important, to rushed”.

A life as a work-a-holic is one of isolation, self-protection, ego-feeding in that the excuse “I’ve got too much going on right now” makes me feel important and gives the other person no room to persist.  After asking so many times they eventually give up.

This is weighing heavy on my heart, for I’ve been fighting some kingdom causes which require a long-term commitment. And God in his loving way continues to press on me to find out why I’m fighting His hands which are trying to love and heal me in this area.

I sense my old fears creeping back in; “what if I don’t feel like leading a group 6 weeks from now, but people are depending on me”.  I realize even 3 years into my new walk with Christ that I continually leave myself an out, an excuse in the pocket that if I so choose can get me out of whatever commitment I have that day.

It’s easy to follow Christ when it’s doing things I want to do, but that is not what God Word to us.

John 12:24-25
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

I seem to feel most comfortable in routines, compartmentalized boxes of life. Monday is mens group, Tuesday sponsor, Wednesday my son, Thursday recovery group, Friday Celebrate Recovery, Saturday morning accountability meeting, Saturday night church, Saturday after church social outing, Sunday my son.

Granted this is a much healthier routine than I used to live. Work, drink, work, drink, work, drink, video games, porn, drink, work, then drink, drink, drink on the weekends.

I was depressed, suicidal, empty, alone, broken. Jesus changed all that.

This passage this morning, and the study guide in my one of my bibles (NLT version) is leading me to a new awareness right now that speaks against some of my blogs the past couple months.

Obedience does matter, but it is nothing compared to the cross.

There is a growing realization that my life was lived as a perfectionist in the flesh, so taking my tendency to prove myself worthy to others and applying that to the Gospel can (has?) lead me to a joy-destroying reliance on obedience, placing my striving for righteousness above the Cross.

My NLT Study Bible has this to say about Galatians 2:21

Believers today may still be in danger of acting as if there was no need for Christ to die. How? By replacing Jewish legalism with their own brand of Christian legalism, they are giving people {or placing on themselves} extra laws to obey. By believing they can earn God’s favor by what they do, they are not trusting completely in Christ’s work on the cross. By struggling to appropriate God’s power to change them (sanctification), they are not resting in God’s power to save them (justification). If we could be saved by being good, then Christ would not have had to die. But the cross is the only way to salvation. 

God’s Word has the amazing power to meet us where we are, it speaks to the Christian in volumes if we are attuned to listen.

For the one (like me) who has spent their whole life trying to earn the respect of others, (most likely because I had to earn my parents love and it was never good enough) or trying to prove to others I am worthy and have value (most likely because I was never treated with respect or value as a child through abuses), then God’s words of grace, compassion, unconditional love is the healing salve that tells me I don’t have to live that way anymore.

Christ paid ALL the debt

For the one (also like me) who has lived a selfish life with little to no regard to the well-being of others but only my own, comfort, fun and pleasure (most likely because of the rebellion to the corporal punishment home I grew up in), then the laws of God are a guidepost to show me my selfish ways and remind me of the need to die to self.

Both sides are valid; God’s grace covers my sin, I don’t need to strive to meet the expectations of the world anymore; AND God’s calls me to die to self and live a sacrificial life in servant-hood to Him by loving and ministering to others, to live a life poured out life in love.

I love C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. The reality that Satan and his minions do not have to personally destroy lives, they simply need to confuse a Christian so we get lost on the path and slowly over time without realizing it find ourselves way off course and battling to find our way back to the peace and grace that we felt when we first came to a full belief that Jesus Saves.

How does Satan do that? By reversing those two truths. I can feel shame and defeat and lose hope when I realize how short I measure up to God’s righteousness, and I can use the grace of the Cross to give me an excuse to fall into my old ways of isolation and selfishness because “He understands and will forgive me”.

This is where I find myself today, struggling to find my way. I have an incredible foundation of peace because I know God will finish the work He started, and will never forsake me; but I also have a sense that I’m striving and struggling to do His job and not even recognizing that I’m on the path He chose yet “feeling” lost and unworthy.

Matthew 5:13
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

We were created to Love God

It all begins there. If we struggle at all with seeing His face, hearing His force, sensing His path for us, following His ways, then there is work to do one-on-one with Him.

A farmer cannot grow crops until he acquires the proper supplies and learns the proper way to farm. The same is true for us as Christians, without a deep reliance on God’s Word, and profound deep and personal recognition of the value of the Cross, and an almost unatural reliance on the promises of God and a supernatural desire to follow Christ’s ways that He modeled for us, we may never “feel” set free in spite of the reality that we are totally set free IN Him.

We are set free, by what He has already done for us. And we can be assured of Salvation and Sanctification because of His Justification. It is about Him, always and forever. To ache and struggle and strive and pine over my sinful nature is to place to much emphasis on the part of me that has died, and not enough reliance on the part of Him that lives IN me.

Lord God, I feel You reaching me right were I am, trying to reveal to me just how much You love me, just how much You gave up for me, that I have value because of what You have done and who You are, not because of who I am or what I do. Father God that message is trying to reach my heart but I continue to seemingly reject that free message of grace and love because of the lies fed to me and that now I seem to perpetuate on my own. The battle is in my mind Lord, I need help believing more deeply Your truths which set us free. It’s as if I have a wonderful message of healing to share with others, and you have worked miracles in my life, but there is a stronghold on my heart that tells me I’m not worthy to eat the first fruits. I am not allowed to enjoy life, I must suffer in Your name. That may be true on some level, but I believe Father that when I truly understand what it is You are trying to show me, it will not “feel” like suffering for You, for I will not miss my life, but instead find incredible, joy, peace and purpose in the life You have for me. Only You can take away my mistrust and fear, my insecurities, my selfishness, pride and desire to keep one foot in the old life so I always have a fall-back plan in case Yours doesn’t work out for me. I pray Lord that me sharing the wrestling in my heart through this blog helps others and does not lead anyone astray Lord. I believe there is power in transparency, but I pray deeply Lord that you give people discernment when reading these, that they will never take what I say as something wise or theological but see it only as it is intended, an open look into a simple broken man who had it wrong his whole life and is just trying to find his way into the arms of  our gracious Savior, You Lord Jesus. Thank you Lord for Your life, Your teachings, Your word which battles the lies of Satan and fills me with a continuous hope that this is all part of my crooked journey on the path of redemption. In Jesus’ precious name I pray…

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About One Man's Journey

I've experienced a lot of pain and inflicted my share through a lifetime of selfishly pursuing all that this world has to offer for my pleasure and well-being. Why God in His infinite mercy chose to raise me up out of the pit of despair, depression, addictions and emptiness I may never know, but I'm now all in and passionately in love with a Passionate Savior. If you are struggling with addictions, resentments, depression or any of life's struggles, know there is a Healer, and His name is Jesus. God Bless.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Celebrate Recovery, hope, Jesus, love, my story, Recovery, Salvation, The Cross and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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