Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

What No One Told You about YourSelf August 20, 2013

I don’t think it is a big surprise to anyone that life is hard. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you either haven’t lived long enough or you’ve been really lucky. There is no escaping the difficulties of life—relationships, careers, finances, death—just life in general.  These struggles occur on the physical side of life.

 

The spiritual side of life is no different. Oblivious to many people, there is an enormous struggle going on in the hearts of men. The truth is we are subject to a mighty force called Self from the day we are born. Like the physical side of life, there is no escaping this struggle.

 

I fear that many of us have been misled about our Self. I have chosen to capitalize this word to give it the proper emphasis, acknowledging its power and position. We seems to have the idea that Self is the real me—the “I’ve gotta be me” mentality. It is considered to be something akin to personality, to be cultivated and protected, or else it might go away and the real me lost.

 

Strong individuality is part of the American culture. We have been taught that “rugged individualism” is linked to patriotism, courage, and success. We are proud when we can hold our heads high and declare, “I did this.” Even greater honor is given to one who says, “I did this by myself.”

 

It has taken years of grappling with this issue for me to see Self for what it is. It may come as a shock to you, as it did to me when this was clearly spelled out. As long as my idea of Self was merely a concept, I considered it in the gray area—the things I don’t have to take a stand on. But once I know the truth, I become accountable for what I do with that truth. (Read that again.)

 

J. Oswald Sanders, an internationally-known theologian, wrote this about Self: “In the heart of the believer, Self occupies the same relation to Satan as does the Holy Spirit to Christ, it is Satan’s representative in the heart. Even after many gross forms of evil have been evicted, Self remains to contest and usurp the claim of Christ to the throne of the redeemed life. It is guilty of high treason against the King of Kings, and is therefore worthy of death.”1

 

I believe we must wake up to the fact that our spiritual lives are being attacked, overrun, and controlled by this force known as Self. Like his father, Satan, Self is an all-out liar. He is also Selfish, Self-centered, Self-indulgent, Self-confident, Self-conscious, Self-willed, Self-assured, Self-exalting, and Self-justifying. In America, we even have what is known as the Self-made man. While we sometimes boast or jest about these qualities, in reality, they are the marks of Satan reigning in a life.

 

Do any of these describe you? They certainly describe me! Even in subtle ways that are difficult to detect and believed to be part of my personality, yet so totally unlike my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Unless we recognize what is going on in our personal world, we will not be able to do anything about our predicament. Our muddled interpretation of Self will keep us paralyzed, and we will continue losing the battles, yielding to its power, and remain defeated Christians. Furthermore, our progress to be transformed into the image of Christ is on hold.2

 

The first step to freedom is the acknowledgment of bondage. The person who claims he or she has no bondage is simply not a candidate for freedom.

 

Until we acknowledge Self for what it is and admit that Self is reigning in our hearts rather than Jesus, we have no hope of being set free from its dominion over us. A mental ascent to the idea that we are legally set free from Self is not enough. Yes, we are legally free because of faith in the sacrificed blood of Jesus, but unless we appropriate that truth and apply it to our own personal lives, we will remain in bondage. After our eyes are opened to this truth and we knowingly allow this to continue, we are participating in “high treason against the King of Kings.”

 

Now I know and now I am accountable. I have never in my entire life been so motivated to oust the culprit of Self from the throne of my heart. I denounce this Self-led rebellion against my God, and by the mercy and grace of God I will find His provision for ridding my life of its control. Does anyone out there care to come along with me? ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1J. Oswald Sanders, Christ Indwelling and Enthroned, CCWM, Santa Ana, CA, 1949, pg. 46

22 Corinthians 3:18

 

For other related posts see poem “Since Self Is On the Throne,” Treasure in Earthen Vessels, March 6, 2013 (In Poetry Category)

 

 

The New ME! February 27, 2013

There is a huge war going on and it’s not the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else in the world. Actually, it’s much closer to home. The war that prevails, that is the most concern to my life, is inside me!

 

Like most believers, I was taught that once I am saved, I’m saved; that Jesus loves me forever; and I’m on my way to heaven. Although assured of making it to heaven when I die, I didn’t expect it to feel like I’d get there by the skin of my teeth, the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, fighting every inch of the way. Why does it seem as if I am in a battle for my life?

 

Because I am—the battle for my spiritual life—the life of the new ME!

 

It was a joyous event when I accepted Christ and learned that my old fleshly nature had been overruled, dethroned, and replaced. Yet, while my fallen-from-God’s-intended nature is completely, officially, and legally no longer in control of me,1 I still have this ongoing debate with my flesh—the old ME!

 

The fact is I have an enemy that I didn’t have before I accepted Christ. Until now, my own fallen nature didn’t have to fight for survival since it was already in control. But now that I have a new life living on the inside, the old ME is trying to make a comeback. And the war is on—I am at war with myself!

 

Few Christians are prepared for the war they will inevitably face—the old ME verses the new ME.   In case no one spelled it out: self doesn’t die easy. Here is one very important fact has been left out of much Christian teaching: Now that I am saved, it’s up to ME to appropriate this life-changing truth into my everyday life.

 

But the Apostle Paul didn’t leave it out. In Ephesians 3:16 he prayed for me and you about this very thing. He prayed that “out of His (God’s) glorious riches, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.”  That is the same inner being Paul described in Romans 7:22 that wants to obey God—that’s the new ME—the newly born-again life of Jesus.

 

But why are so many Christians struggling to win a war that has already been legally won? Not only are they struggling to win the war, some have lost battle after battle and have the scars to prove it. The casualties of this war are huge. Many Christians give up, drop out, and never expect to win the fight.

 

Consider this: How many Christians actually know how to defeat the enemy of their souls? Know how to put the enemy to flight? Bring every thought into captivity? Love their enemies? Love their neighbor as themselves? Submit to one another? Forgive seventy times seven? (Are you kidding!) Crucify their flesh? Turn the other check? Go the second mile? In everything give thanks? Need I go on?

 

My point is not to call attention to the failures of Christians. My point is this: By the way we live it appears this gospel isn’t powerful enough to do what the Bible says it will do. Do we believe in a powerful gospel or a powerless gospel?

 

The problem is not with our gospel—it with us—we have failed to appropriate (take, seize, adopt, usurp, grab) the very truth of the gospel we profess to believe.

 

Perhaps we have not yet figured out how to be strengthened with power through His Spirit that is required to win this battle with our legally dethroned, stubborn self, as Paul prayed we would.

 

I wonder if many modern-day believers even know this power is available. And if so, have they learned how to tap into it?  Be assured that God did not intend for us to be lacking in power. He made every provision for His children to live a victorious and powerful Christ-like, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled life.

 

It is time to unwrap and expose the truth about how to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. If you haven’t joined the journey, it’s not too late! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “My Faulty Default” – February 19, 2013

 

There’s a Whole Lot of Living Going On January 29, 2013

It continues to baffle me. No matter how hard I try to conquer it, this slimy flesh of mine wiggles its way out of the squeeze, jumps off the anvil, and springs back into action. I have gone so far as to condemn it to death, taken it outside the city gates, and crucified it there. Killed it. Buried it. Done.

 

It didn’t last. I had to do it again. And again. And once more, again. A hundred times or more. I documented it in my journal, “Today, self died.” Months later I wrote again, “I attended a funeral today—mine!”

 

Defeat has triumphed over me. Victory has eluded me. It’s not that I don’t have the desire for self to die—I do. I really do. Perhaps I just don’t know how to kill it. A few years ago I wrote a profound statement: “I am going to die to self if it kills me!”

 

I suspect I am not alone. Actually, I’m certain I’m not, since the Apostle Paul described a similar battle in Romans 7. This chapter has perplexed me for years. I know it by heart. It is me—my testimony. Paul’s and mine. I still wonder how Paul could have described my exact struggle:

 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do….As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me….So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members” (vs. 15-23; Emphasis added).

 

The only word in this chapter I must correct is the gender of the one with the heart-wrenching admission: “What a wretched woman I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (vs. 24)

 

The word wretched is a hard swallow. It means: worthless, base, despicable, inadequate, inferior, shameful, and vile. O despicable me! How perfectly that describes the way I feel when I mess up, fail my Lord, allow my flesh to rise from the dead, and once again do what I do not want to do.

 

There is, however, a vast difference in Paul’s outcome and my experience. He heralded his success in the very next verse: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vs. 25) His victory statement is simple, concise, and matter of fact.

 

Why can’t it be like that for me? Why can’t I find the key that Paul found to unlock the mystery of conquering self? At least a million times I have asked that same question.

 

I must resolve the issue. I cannot move on until I do. I’ll keep asking and searching, searching and asking. There is an answer; yet not easily found because of the war waged against my finding it. I am sure God isn’t teasing me—He wants me to find the key to this age-old mystery.

 

I make one helpful discovery: There’s a whole lot of living going on between Romans 7:24 and Romans 7:25. There was for Paul, though his declaration of victory was so certain that he stated it as if it had just happened.

 

My Lord slowly grants seeing eyes. And I’m close—so close I can taste it, feel it, sense it, and believe it. I claim it as mine.

 

Join the journey. ~Janie Kellogg