How do you know that the form of belief and faith you cling to is actually curing the disease and not just the symptoms? Is that which you cherish as ‘church’, faith or whatever simply providing anti-inflammatory solutions to the consequences of sin, or is it dealing with the root cause – a very much alive and perfectly well ‘self’.
Sin is a terminal disease for which there is only one sure remedy. This remedy must be taken daily, and in large doses. Sin is a rampant virulent poison that grows without restraint if given license, and destroys all whose paths it crosses. And the only remedy, the only cure, is death to self.
Anything else in the Christian life touches only the symptoms. The joy of fellowship, without death to self affects only that innate loneliness that comes from estrangement from God through sin. Any peace we may experience as a result of knowledge or even faith in the scriptures, without death to self, is merely a short-term appeasement to the conscience.
Death to self or the carnal nature or the flesh, must come before being born again. Death to self must come before baptism. Death to self must come before the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
How do we know that the faith/religion/Christianity we hold to is curing the disease? By the fruits that grow as a result of the characters we feed. If we are feeding the carnal nature, then the carnal nature is going to flourish and live, and the fruits of that nature will be manifest in sin, worldliness, and compromise.
If we are however putting to death the carnal nature through faith in the power of Christ, then we starve it. We refuse to feed that nature. We instead feed the spirit. And the fruit of the spirit will be found in holiness and righteousness expressed through love that is implanted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Mathew 16:24 ¶ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Throughout the NT Jesus likened the kingdom of heaven to a seed. We, like the seed, must die, be buried, and be raised up into a new life. Death is the only remedy to sin.
There is a further aspect to this. Throughout Revelation we are promised great things if we would but ‘overcome’. Jesus said to the Laodiceans that should we overcome, we will sit with Him on His throne, just as He overcame and sat down on His Father’s throne. So that strongly implies to me that we are to overcome in the same precise way that Jesus did. How did Jesus overcome?
John was invited to see who had the right to open the seals of the book. Who had the power and authority to reveal the future? Who was He?
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Ahhh! A Lion!!! A ferocious Lion who by great strength and power has prevailed!!! Is that what John saw???
6 ¶ And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain
A Lamb!!! Yes, a Lamb as it had been slain. How did Jesus overcome? Through self sacrifice!!! And that my friends is how we are to overcome. Not by strength or power or force of arms, but by surrender! Complete self sacrificial surrender to God and our fellow man.
Re 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
We overcome by loving our enemies.
We overcome by praying for those who persecute us.
We overcome by feeding the hungry.
We overcome by clothing the naked.
We overcome by visiting those in prison.
My favourite chapter in the entire OT is Isaiah 58. He tells it like it is. We overcome…
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8 ¶ Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
13 ¶ If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
All the above cannot be accomplished without sacrificing self.
And we cannot hope to overcome as Christ did except we take up our own cross and follow Him. We cannot hope to overcome and share in His victory over sin, the devil, and the world, until we die to self and surrender to Him.
This is how we gain eternal life. By so identifying ourselves with Christ’s death that we partake of the same.
Sin becomes anathema to us. The more we associate ourselves and integrate ourselves with the cross of Calvary, the more abhorrent sin becomes to us. Conversely, the more sacred and the more precious will the laws of God become, and the more joy we obtain in surrendered obedience to them.
We become instruments of righteousness by our self sacrificial surrendering to the grace and life that God will impart to us, and we become overcomers. This is the only way to eternal life. Only through partaking of Christ’s death, and assimilating His life, can we have any hope for heaven.