Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 2 – Dead Men Walking – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
Dead Men Walking
By Rev. Robert S. Liichow
Please forgive the somewhat abbreviated first article and the lateness of this specific newsletter it is all due to my work load at seminary. Since so many of you gave sacrificially for me to attend classes I feel it is my duty to God and our partners to do the best I can in them.
What was I trying to get across in the first article can be boiled down to the following — victory over the world, the flesh and the devil is experienced by those who have “died” to the world, the flesh and devil, i.e. are purposefully living the crucified life.
This type of message is not very popular and it has not been for probably 2,000 years. Certainly you will never hear any televangelists or other popular SINister teach about dying to self for the sake of expanding the kingdom of God. The teaching of the cross is as radical today as when Jesus and the Apostles initially taught it.
The important thing to keep in our minds is that this teaching is not for some people who have risen to some high degree of personal holiness, in fact, from what I read it seems that this teaching of “dying to live” is really spiritual boot camp, sort of Christianity “101” and really when looked at properly it becomes crystal clear why this teaching has to be foundational because almost all our “work” for the kingdom to be of any value has to flow from this basis of the crucified life. So allow me briefly to share with you some of the texts which will be GREAT ones for us all to ponder and mediate on during this Lenten season.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25
The context of this verse is plain, Jesus is speaking to His followers about the need to “die” to ourselves. It is only when we die, i.e. get ourselves off of our hands, that we become free to focus on the needs of our neighbors. As long as we stay focused on our needs, our wants and desires we cannot and will not see the desperate needs of those around us. Regarding Himself Jesus said:
Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:28
In His comment here Jesus is settling the dispute of who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. The greatest one is the one who serves all the others. Jesus came to serve humanity by dying for our sins. We as His disciples serve humanity by picking up our cross and following in Jesus footsteps (see Matt. 10:38) to the place of crucifixion and dying to self. The author of Hebrews tells us to “go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (Heb. 13:11).
We know that this death to self took place in the waters of baptism:
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed form sin. Rom. 6:6-7
It is one thing to remember that one has been baptized, it is quite another to live out that baptismal life consciously. This seems to be how the Apostle Paul lived life — being aware of his death and new life in and by the power of Christ:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20
Paul makes his comment in the context of a rebuke to the Galatians who were being misled into thinking they could start their spiritual life out by God’s grace and somehow complete it by their works. Paul calls them “foolish.” Please understand I am not advocating some systems of works or of human will power. Quite the opposite. What the Bible is calling for is: for us as the people of God to wake up to who we really are and by God’s grace live accordingly. The Apostle Paul says in another place—
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 1 Cor. 15:34
He reminds them again in his second letter to them that they are the righteousness of God in Christ and are now ambassadors of reconciliation to the rest of the world (2 Cor. 5:17-19).
I think it is time for many of God’s people to “wake up.” Wake up to the fact that in their flesh dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18) and we must realize that our flesh cannot be reformed or renewed that is why it must be crucified daily.
We also must wake up to who we are in Christ. I’ve stated this before but I want to say it again and really meditate on this FACT: What God did in our re-birth is vastly more powerful and superior to what Satan accomplished when Adam fell.
If the work of Satan and sin in the fall were more powerful than Jesus work on the cross, then logically Jesus would not have been victorious over the devil. Yet we know He was! He says to His disciples “REJOICE, I have overcome the world” (Jh 16:33). He overcame death, hell and the grave for you and I. He lovingly gives His victory to us if we will but accept it and lean upon the power of His Holy Spirit, our Divine “Helper” who indwells us to grant us grace to grasp hold of what is ours in Christ in the face of all temptation, trails and tests. Let’s work together with the Spirit of Grace and be the overcomers Christ so dearly paid for.
Let us close this Lenten mediation out with a quote from Dr. Francis Pieper:
God who creates faith, also produces sanctification by His infinite power (1 Thess. 5:23-24). But in this work of sanctification, the Christian also plays a part. In conversion man merely experiences the working of God, but in sanctification the Christian plays an active role; he cooperates (synergism of the new man)…In other words: it is the Holy Ghost who produces the activity of the new man; the new man remains the organ of the Holy Ghost. (Christian Dogmatics, Vol. III, p. 14) ♦
Copyright © Robert S. Liichow