Friday, December 14th, 2012
Self-Denial (Part 5: The Path Of Freedom)
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.
Proverbs 25:28 (NKJV)
I die daily.
1 Corinthians 15:31 (NKJV)
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
If Jesus is 'The Door' (John 10:7) and 'The Way' (John 14:6) to freedom, consider freedom a journey. Remember the story of the ten lepers? (Luke 17:11-18). 'And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed' (v.14).
Therefore, freedom is a faith walk, 'For we walk by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus affirmed, 'Your faith has made you well' (Mark 5:34).
Freedom is a work in progress: 'Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling' (Philippians 2:12). Or as Paul says, 'I die daily.'
Consider a physical fitness program: It feels like a sacrifice. It feels like we're dying daily. But it's a 'must do' for serious athletes and able bodies.
Now consider a spiritual fitness program: one where we want to be fully used by God, to become mature disciples of Jesus Christ, to become experienced warriors and successful soldiers in the fight for freedom--for ourselves, but especially for others.
'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart' (Psalm 51:17); what is broken is not His Spirit, but a selfish spirit within us. And from a broken heart comes a bigger heart: an ever-increasing heart of love.
'Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new Spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh' (Ezekiel 11:19). By loss, we gain the Heart of the King.
Therefore, the path of freedom is self-denial.
When we empty ourselves, God fills us. Such is the purpose of fasting. Such is the purpose of discipline. Such is the purpose of self-denial. Jesus died to give us the safe house that King David sought. It is He. It is His Spirit. You dwell in Him, and He dwells in you. You don't have to wait for Heaven. That Safe House is here and It is now.
Paul puts it this way: 'I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ' (Philippians 3:8).
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Self-Denial series.