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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ye cannot serve God and mammon

The very fountainhead of sin is pride. And at the very bedrock of pride lies the natural propensity to rely on ones’ own merit.

Everyone hopes in himself, in his merit, instead of his Lord. This was the reverse for Christ, who came forth in complete dependence on His Father, “My God.” “But Thou art He that took Me out of the womb: Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother's breasts. I was cast upon Thee from the womb: Thou art My God from My mother's belly.” (Ps. 22:9,10). “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” “I and My Father are one.” (Jn. 5:19;10:30).

The whole world looks to its abilities or charm or achievements to derive its value. Talent, good looks, ability to make money, possessions, pedigree, and on and on; all are used to determine the worth of a human and where each person sets in the local pecking order. And we even lie about our merits or manipulate their appearance in order to get ahead; thus, the whole world, “measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise,” and “are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (2Cor. 10:12;Hosea 4:6;Jn. 12:43). And the more merits one can broadcast, the higher up he goes in the world social ladder.

The sinner finds no better pastime than parading self. We exalt self because if you have merit, you might as well show it off. We pity self when no one is recognizing our merit. We serve self as merit deserves to be indulged. We justify self because we refuse to be shamed; besides, our merit ranks us high by human standards.
“In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil. 2:3). “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Lk. 17:10).

We can only avoid excuses for our failures and weaknesses if we are detached from the world’s philosophy that our merits determine our worth. An excuse for sin would never come to mind if we hated to esteem ourselves. Boasting would benefit self nothing and would be looked upon as a virus needing to be destroyed. Self-worth based on merit kills the conscience and destroys the character and prohibits faith in Jesus. Contrary-wise, worth based on Christ’s love for us builds character, illuminates the conscience, and invites truth in our best Friend.

The people who commit suicide have previously realized that they could no longer rely on any merit of their own. And it leaves them feeling utterly valueless. So why live? they think. What human being can exist without an iota of self-worth based on its merits? If only the person with suicidal ideations could hear Christ’s offer of life regardless of our own ability, he would be cured from any further desire to die. The happiest people are those who don’t use their own merits to determine their value. Maybe their parents loved them unconditionally, maybe their children love the unquestionably. So they get to stand down from the clashing and one-upmanship of society’s competitions and parades.

But even those “happiest” people on earth have some predisposition to rely on self-merit. Jesus’ call to the world was, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:25,26). No one, without depending on Jesus’ merits, can let go of his own; no one can of himself stop hoping in self’s abilities. Nobody can crucify himself. And, even with God’shelp, arriving at giving up hope in self’s abilities can require a sizable chunk of a person’s lifetime. Nevertheless, heaven counts giving up on self as a huge milestone, worthy of celebration (Lk. 15:7). They have a birthday party up there! “There is joy in heaven” over one person who gives up on its own merit and looks at the merits of Him who will stand in for him before God.

Here lies the crux of life and death—our salvation now or our ultimate damnation later. Will we give up on our dependence on self, and reliance on our good looks, charm, money, et cetera, and look to Jesus who made Himself of no reputation? Will we swallow the kind of meritless humility He stands for? Everything hinges on this decision. Multitudes turn away from it because it is a “hard saying” (Jn. 6:60), yet, what Jesus has to offer in eternal life with the God of love is contingent on the giving up on our self in order for us to receive Him. Renunciation of merit is the stumbling block for an entire world of sinners. It is taking up our cross and being crucified with Christ; its the “strait gate,” and “few there be that find it.” Before we can accept God’s unconditional acceptance we must lay down our own conditions. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (Jn. 6: 63).

But today’s Christianity has lost this fundamental concept. It refuses to divest itself of its own merit. Christianity’s devotees do not renounce their meritolatry and bring it to the altar of God. God’s religion of entire self-renunciation is too spartan and unpalatable. Yet the holy God will not share the heart’s throne with this abomination. Self-absorbed pride can never be His fellow. Satan alone will share that place of worship. By allowing humanity to worship themselves and their accomplishments, the devil is assured they can’t be God’s. Thus, the secular and religious world, Christian or otherwise, pass on without their Creator and remain under Satan’s dominion.

The devil has some real genius. He has convinced the world that the blessings of life come because God is happy with their performance. “He helps those who help themselves.” If they market their skills and looks and intellectual inheritance wisely, then they are blessed by God. Satan tells them, God is obviously blessing their achievements because “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” (Jas. 1:17). Right? So, with the good Book backing them, religionists become the boldest sporters of pride and self-sufficiency. And what can anyone say against their proud lives and moral re-inventions of the law of love? They seem to have God as their defender. Therefore the dissenter against proud religion is a heretic and worthy of death. It was His exposure of merit religion that caused Christ’s crucifixion. And Satan will fight with his utmost zeal all further exposure of his single-most pet delusion.

We cannot hope to serve God and mammon. We must relinquish hope in our merits before we can lay hold of Jesus. And when we do, the Bible and life open up and make perfect sense. This will require a humility we do not naturally possess. It comes solely from above. It comes as a gift. Self cannot even enter here. Deliverance from self must completely be a gift. And we can only receive it as we study the merits of Jesus—His love and His righteousness. Persevering study, importunate asking, persistent searching, tenacious knocking, will allow the Holy Spirit to bring Christ’s beautiful character into our view. His life and selflessness, and His death in our place will forever cement our renunciation of self. Converted and owning a child’s trusting heart of love we will no longer use our own merits. Jesus enamored, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled,” “the chiefest among ten thousand” whose “countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars” will attract our faith to God. “His mouth is most sweet: yea, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend.” (1Jn. 1:1;Song 5:10,15,16).

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