December 30, 2013

Every virtue must be His

I’ve long ago given up saying things like, “So and so would be such a good Christian,” for I know now that natural virtues are useless in the kingdom of God. I’ve realized this in the most difficult possible way --- by having them stripped away leaving me helpless.
Oswald Chambers says this is a sure sign that God is at work. He destroys confidence in natural virtues because they are not what He is building in His people. These are remnants of what God intended and may look good on the surface, but He knows and He shows me how even the best I have has been thoroughly ruined by the Fall.

Yet I cling to natural virtues. They not only seem right, but they are expressions of my self, giving me some value before God even as I say that I fall short and need Jesus Christ. From experience, I am learning how sad and how frustrating to try and serve God depending not on His grace but on what I have by the accident of heredity. It is a most difficult lesson to learn that God isn’t going to build up my skills and abilities or even transfigure them --- for nothing in me can ever come anywhere near what Jesus Christ is and wants. Unsaved or saved, I fall short.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested . . . through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .  (Romans 3:21–23)

The life God planted in me means a development of a new creation. He isn’t remaking even the virtues Adam had before the Fall, but the character of Jesus Christ. As He withers up my confidence in anything in myself and in any power I might have, He wants me to learn to draw my life from the resurrection life of Jesus. He wants me to say what all who worship Him must learn to say . . .

Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.” (Psalm 87:7)

Natural love, patience, and purity cannot measure up to God’s demands. His life in Christ is so much more than I can imagine, never mind duplicate. Even my best interferes with His plans.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:20–21)

The only way to experience it is by dying totally to my old life --- even yielding the best of me, so that Jesus Christ rules entirely.

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