So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31–36)
In today’s devotional reading, Chambers differentiates between the Savior and the Son, who happen to be the same person. He says one saves us from sin and the other saves us from our “individuality” or propensity to “do” apart from faith in Christ. He says that God delivers us from sin and we have to deliver ourselves from individuality by “presenting our natural life to God” and sacrificing it until it is transformed by our obedience. He also says God will not discipline us; we must do it ourselves.
In other words, the Savior saves me from sin’s penalty and I must save myself from sin’s power? I strongly disagree. If I could do that, once I became a Christian I would no longer need Jesus. Even in the above passage, Jesus said that I need to abide in His Word and by knowing the truth I am set free. He identifies those who do not abide in the Word and who practice sin are slaves to sin that can only be set free from that sin by the Son of God. His role is Savior, not a man wearing different hats.
That said, my experience with my “natural life” is this: I’ve struggled for many years with wandering thoughts, the example Chambers uses and says I must simply stop it and get set free from my “individuality” and become the free “personality” that God created me to be. However, in my struggle with this, the only freedom I received was by saying to God, “Lord, You are the Savior; I am not. Save me” and repeat, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
In great grace, the Son of God and my Savior set me free from the thought problems I was having. Yes, obedience was involved, but without relying totally on Him to save me, I could not do it no matter how much I wanted to or tried. I cannot save myself from anything, nor can I obey God apart from the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me.
Chambers says, “If there is any remnant of individual conceit left, it always says—‘I can’t.’ Personality never says—‘I can’t,’ but simply absorbs and absorbs. Personality always wants more and more. It is the way we are built. We are designed with a great capacity for God; and sin and our individuality are the things that keep us from getting at God.”
Is what he calls ‘individuality’ what the Bible calls our sin nature? I’m not certain why Chambers uses these terms. I do know that God saves me from that old nature by putting it to death. I have been crucified with Christ. The Bible tells me to reckon myself dead to sin and alive to God. I am to put on the new nature and rejoice that I am a new creation.
As for what Chambers calls ‘personality’ the Bible says, “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.” (Galatians 2:20) I am a new creation, His workmanship, set free by the blood of Christ to live for God instead of for me.
Colossians 2:6-7 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
I received Christ by admitting that “I can’t do it” and He came in to deliver me. I am supposed to walk in that same way, always aware that Jesus the Son of God is my Savior from sin. I need Him, I need to abide in Him, because I can’t even obey Him apart from His gracious saving power.