Save Me From Me

Matthew 3:17 From that time Jesus began to [g]preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Often times when we become Christians we are encouraged to repent of our sins.  Actually, it is a must that we turn away from sin and turn to Jesus.  Our repentance is a requirement, as Jesus told all that we must repent.  As He healed, He would instruct to sin no more.  Unfortunately our view and knowledge of what is a sin, is very shallow. God knows that our being sinners makes us oblivious to sin.  For this reason, the sermon on the mount is critical for us to understand.  The sermon lays out what God values verses our cultural understanding of values.  Jesus also reveals a truth about the Ten Commandments that the people conveniently over looked.  Oddly enough we see sin as being outside of us requiring external behavior modifications to remedy the issues.  This is why so many feel that they have to stop doing certain things before “giving their life” to Christ.  We also think of our “savior” as being a internal process carried out by ourselves alone, hence cleaning yourself up, having a strong will or pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.  I have heard it put this way, “do more try harder” also as “God helps those who help themselves“.  In Jesus’ sermon He reveals that our motives determines if we act in love or sin.  At the core of our problems are our hearts, the engine of all motives.  We are slaves to our flesh and how we care for that flesh is driven by the flesh’s lusts as well as desires.  Yet, we constantly tell people to follow their heart and at the same time the Word of God say otherwise.  Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  What’s wrong is that a heart of a sinner is fueled by fear.  We have never been told to repent of this fear.  This fear is not just the fear of death but death in the sense of, physical, spiritual, social and personal death.  So we consistently operate out of preservation, worrying about the past, present and future; thus we have difficulty in trusting God.  We are all willingly a hostage, in bondage to ourselves.
2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Romans 8:15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
We are made new but we never truly let go of “human nature”.  We gladly call it our cross to bear as we attempt to self justify what is clearly sin.  What makes it sin, is that this fear produces pride or pity were we are made central.  This fear makes us self-centered and everything becomes about us, even the bible.  We are all raised using the doctrine of fear.  We use fear to get people to be good.  We use fear to make people come to church.  We use fear to make people be productive at work.  We use fear to make kids desire to go to college.  What we deem to be reality is a world whose foundation is fear.  This fear is what causes us to be ambitious, competent, dependable and even good citizens.  The fear of consequences is what it’s all about, the possibility of losing.   We serve in this church more than the Christian one. Monday through Saturday we worship and sacrifice to our god of fear.  We offer it our lives, families, happiness, joy, peace and our eternal lives.  Appeasing the god of fear has compelled many fatherless children into choosing destructive career paths.  Pastor Tim Keller says: “when you use the self-centeredness of fear and pride to get people to be good, you nurture evil.”  The Gospel of Jesus Christ transforms hearts by removing fear by giving us something  more important than saving our lives.  This freedom in Christ brings liberty as we no longer fear losing.  The lost of fear gives birth to peace, joy, humility, and enables us to love fully.  The Gospel gives us an relationship with a God who wants us forever, this relieves our greatest fear of not being loved.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
But to have us as His own that requires us to be holy all the time forever. That’s impossible for a finite being who is a slave of fear and under the power of death.  There is nothing that displays this more than in how we love.  We hold love hostage as we waiting eagerly to restrict love in the fear of giving someone more than they have earned.  We have no peace or joy as we are consumed with wondering if someone is taking advantage of us.  We are consumed with not wanting to be made a fool of.  So we love who loves us and we love them in proportion to their love for us.  Yet, Jesus commands that we love our enemies, who have obviously not earned anything.  Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  The most shocking thing is that we ourselves didn’t earn God’s love and never will.  Our good deeds, fearless faith, moral behavior, and love for other can never put God in debt towards us.  It’s like selling what has been borrowed. We even dare to come to Christ out of this love that is born out of fear.  This demon of fear still lives within us and its evident in how we view salvation.
Back home I have seen yard signs in the front lawns of some homes that read, “Jesus Saves”.  When I see that phrase imagines of heaven immediately come to mind.  Because of this I believe others both inside and outside the church come to think of the purpose of faith is primarily about getting to heaven.  Thoughts of making it through the gates suggest in some way earning a ticket in.  It also leads people to believe that Christianity only holds future implications.  Meaning, having faith in Jesus is like buying life insurance.  When you add this to a limited understanding of Jesus’ mission and heaven, the Gospel is lost.  With losing the Gospel, we completely lose ourselves as we throw away all hope just to appease our fears of hell in order to maintain the present statuesque of living.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
What gives faith and hope power is a pledge or promise of unconditional love.  Jesus gives that same pledge as He marries the church.  He is the embodiment of that hope.  Since He is eternal, that promise is eternal and since the promise is eternal which can’t be broken we have to be made like him; because through Him the promise is living.  So eternal life ensures a eternal relationship between two people in love.  This is the only love you can actually live off of.  Even with it being eternal, it is presently active as God is not waiting to show us eternal love.  Our salvation forgives old sins, new ones, it makes us righteous now, gives us power to live and will glorify us later in heaven.  Salvation empowers us to live now as Christ lived and just as God provided for Christ as He lived on earth, we will receive the same.
In the  garden of Gethsemane, Christ is kneeing before the Father asking for our hand in marriage.  It is here that He proposes and the dowry is about to be paid. On the cross He signed the marriage license in blood, handing over the payment so we can be called his. The empty tomb was the announcement of the new couple. The arrival of the Holy Spirit is our ring on the figure.  He is now preparing our house and soon we will be carried over the threshold.
Isaiah 61:10
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isaiah 62
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,[a]
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,[b]
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,[c]
and your land Married;[d]
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
Our marriage to Christ removes our fears but we always look back longing for what we think we need.  We see others living that life and are envious.  So we cheat on the perfect husband to be with the thug.  Even though fear abuses us, doesn’t respect us, tells us what we want to hear, controls us and doesn’t truly love us; we keep running back.  God knows that without a deep desire to just be with Jesus, the prostitute will continue to search.  He tells us to seek Himself, He says give up living in fear because in trying to save ourselves; we lose everything.  So grace keeps a watchful eye like the father waiting for his son to grow tired of eating with pigs.  We are fearful slaves in denial of our needing to repent of sin, the sin of worshiping fear. We don’t see it as comfort but its living in a way that we know what to expect.  Following Jesus removes that control, denying self puts fear in a frenzy and us too.  Jesus saved me from me, so I finally repented of me.  My comfort is in Christ and not my old life of fear.
My Prayer
Lord you have delivered me from my fears, Lord I repent of trusting in my old way of life in how I deal with things.  Lord you have made me a new creature and my old ways has pasted away.  Lord you have so graciously blessed me with a new identity in Christ.  Lord you have freed me for bondage to myself.  Sin no longer guides my life, it is not my master.  I am no more deserving than anyone else but you saved me from me.  I repent for turning back to walking in a life that is powerless and filled with fear.  I repent of having faith in doing things the familiar sinner way.  I ask that the Holy Spirit would work in me.  Help me Lord to live and operate out of my identity in Christ and not the identity of sin.  Change my motives from fear to the love of God.  Help me to love openly and fully, help me to love like God loves and not as people do.  Holy Spirit don’t let “what if” and “if only” dominated my life, help me to live in the liberty. Have mercy on me as fear leads my attempts to save my life when you call me to lose it for you. Lord I believe but help my unbelief.
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