“For we are God’s Masterpiece.”
See Ephesians 2:10
We’ve been taught wrong in our churches. We’ve been taught that the word “self” is a bad word, which is not the case. Further, the words “Die to self” is an inaccurate translation of the original manuscript in regard to the verse which is normally taken out of context, 1 Corinthians 15:31. A more authentic translation is, “I face death every day.” Why is this important? Because Paul wasn’t talking about how he kills himself daily. Instead, he was explaining the dangers he encountered while traveling to spread the gospel; he even mentioned the threat of wild beasts in the following verse (see 1 Corinthians 15:32).
We’ve also been taught that we can’t trust ourselves. Again, this is a lie. From the stages and pulpits, we get incorrectly educated to believe we have a Jekyll and Hyde complex–told to feed one part of us, and starve the other. This is wrong. Christian, you are not at war with yourself. Once you realize this, everything changes.
Paul knew full well that he was not at battle with Paul. God did not send Jesus here so that we may become schizophrenic, but instead, to give us a new self, a new spirit. One that lives temporarily in this flesh–but is still perfect. Paul was crystal-clear about this fact in several of his writings:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6)
There are many, many more identity verses, but these two highlight what has happened to Christians. Namely, we’ve been made brand new on the inside–in our spirits.
The grace-confused Christian will immediately attempt to point out Romans 7. Paul is speaking about a terrible battle he is facing, and it appears that he is talking about himself, but he’s not. He’s talking about his pre-saved self. He’s talking about his old self who tried to live by the Law but couldn’t seem to pull it off.
The subtitle of Romans 7 should be I fought the Law and the Law Won. Why? Because this is a description of Paul as he struggled with the power of sin as he attempted to live by the Mosaic Law–which included the Ten Commandments (he uses coveting as the struggle, one of the Ten). Just look:
“For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the Law were at work in us” (See Romans 7:5)
Do you see that? “When we were”? That is past-tense. This is referring to us before we received our new spirits and were still “in the flesh”–as in, still not forgiven. If you look deeper, how did sinful passions get aroused?…By the Law. Paul continues to explain what happens to our spirits once they become one with Christ:
“But now, by dying to what once bound us (Law), we have been released from the Law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Law)” (Romans 7:6, note added)
We die to the Law so that we can live by a new way–the way of the Spirit! So many people think this idea of not living by any laws or commandments will cause us to sin, but I disagree completely and so did Paul. As he “tried to behave” his focus on what not to do (disobey “Thou shalt not covet”) only caused him to covet. He struggled with jealousy because of being told, “Don’t be jealous” (see Romans 7:8). He was told to not think of a pink elephant and guess what kept happening? Colorful elephants galore.
“So Matt, if we don’t live by the Law and Commandments, then how do we know what is right and wrong?”
Simple…God’s Spirit. The Spirit of God in you will never lead you to sin. That’s why Paul said we live by the new way of the Spirit and not by the written code (see Romans 7:6). We don’t need Mosaic Law, we have God inside of us! Therefore, we can trust ourselves!
Now, this brings me to the main point of this devotional. If we are new–that is, our spirits–then why would we want to constantly think we gotta die daily? We only die once in our spirits, it’s not a daily thing. Even Jesus isn’t dying daily, so why should we think that we are? As a matter of fact, our salvation stays secure because Christ will never die again! (See Hebrews 7:25).
“Yeah Matt, but you still gotta pick up your cross and follow Christ!”
We aren’t following Christ, the people on earth were, literally, when He was here in the flesh. Instead, on this side of the Cross, we have something so much better–HE’S IN US! His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is inside us!
If you look even deeper into that statement of us needing to pick up our crosses every day, let me ask you this, is Jesus still on His Cross? No. He only went to the Cross and died once. Same with you. You’re not toting around an invisible cross everywhere. Jesus wanted you to follow Him into belief in His forgiveness–and you did. Hopefully, anyway. This message is mainly for believers, but if you’re not a Christian you can become one this very moment by simply believing Jesus has forgiven you.
Anyway, I want to help you understand that you are not at battle with yourself. Friend, you are perfectly compatible with the Spirit of God in you! He likes you, a lot! He likes your style, your personality, your goofiness, your elegance, your quirks–all of you–whatever, He likes you!
“But Matt, I still struggle with __________!”
He knows. You are no surprise to Him. He knew what He was getting with you before time began. He loves you exactly as you are. Don’t worry, He will continue to counsel you, comfort you, teach you, and coach you–but no matter what, your spirit is absolutely secure and perfect in Jesus. Sure, your mind is constantly being renewed into this spiritual perfection, but you are okay. Paul tells the Christians in Philippi this truth:
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)
We are all learning and growing, we are all trying to figure out how to walk by our perfect spirits like wobbly babies. The glory which will be revealed in us when this is complete in heaven is unfathomable (see 1 Corinthians 15:52). But for now, by us making decisions the Spirit leads us to make–and having attitudes the same–our immature thoughts are being put aside.
But no matter what, I want you to know that God is not mad at you, and He’s not disappointed in you. So if He’s not mad or disappointed in you, then you shouldn’t be either. You don’t need to “kill yourself” all the time, that is a demonic thought. God loves you because you are His child and He is more than happy to call you His own.
As time goes on, and you realize that you are not at battle with you, life will become abundantly fruitful and joyous. Contentment in all circumstances will happen. Thankfulness will be a normal thing for you because you will know that God is good, that He lives in you, and most importantly, He loves you unconditionally.
So today, my friends, know this: God doesn’t want you to kill yourself, not literally or figuratively. He wants you to be yourself! Just be you! Sin will never match up with you, because sin has nothing to do with you–your spirit that is, who is you. God isn’t looking for any type of martyrdom or overachieving, He just wants you to know that He’s your Dad and He cares for you. Good dads don’t expect their kids to die daily. Instead, they want them to live, to enjoy their lives, and to be who they were created to be: beloved children.
A prayer for you: Dad, I love you. I’m grateful that you are my Dad. I appreciate all you do for me, and I want to thank you for teaching me I’m your masterpiece. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who have been lied to about you, help them. Help them come to know your true heart, your true and unconditional love. I ask that you remove any fear from their minds, when it comes to their relationship with you. Let them know you are glad to have them as your child. Let them know you love all of us equally. Let them know this short lifetime is but a prequel to our real life at home in heaven with you. But also give them the revelation that heaven is already in them right now, because you live in them. Give these dear readers the peace of knowing that you are always there for them, no matter what. You’ll never leave them, forsake them, or hurt them–you love them. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!