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I will show you. There are three steps: the cross, the Spirit, the contemplation of the risen Christ. May we take them now; may the Spirit of God reveal to each one this blessed secret!
First, the cross. Now understand that I hold that on the cross Jesus Christ offered a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. But there is a second meaning significant in the cross. Turn to Rom_8:3-4 : "What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin. "For sin" is substitutionary. " In 'the likeness of sinful flesh" is the reference of the cross to sanctification. On the cross God nailed in the person of Christ the likeness of our sinful flesh. I cannot explain it to you more than that; but I know this--that next to seeing Jesus as my sacrifice, nothing has revolutionized my life like seeing the effigy of my sinful self in the sinless, dying Savior. I say to myself:
" God has nailed the likeness of my self life to the cross. The cross is the symbol of degradation and curse. Cursed is everyone that hangs on the cross. If then God has treated the likeness of my sinful self, when borne by the sinless Christ, as worthy of His curse, how terrible in God's sight it must be for myself to hug it and embrace it and live in it!"
Oh, wondrous cross! But that is not all.
Christ and I are one. In Him I hung there. I came to an end of myself in Christ, and kneeling at His cross I took the position of union with Him in His death, and I consigned my self-life to the cross. It was as though I took my self-life with its passions, its choices, its yearnings after perfection, its wallowing, its fickleness, its judgment of others, its uncharity,--I took it as a felon, and said:
"Thou art cursed, thou shalt die. My God nailed thee to that cross. Come, thou shalt come. I put thee there by my choice, by my will, by my faith. Hang there."
After that moment--you remember in Galatians it is the aorist tense: "They that are Christ's, crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts "-after that moment, that decisive moment in my life, I have ever reckoned that my self life is on the cross, and that the death of Christ lies between me and it.
Let me make that perfectly clear. Supposing a woman has been married to a felon, a drunkard, a libertine. After years of sorrow there comes a moment of liberty when she seeks and obtains a divorce. She now enters into union with a perfectly lovely blessed man who becomes to her everything. Whenever her former husband reels along the street and seeks again to get her back into his power, she points to a moment, the moment when the divorce was granted, and she says:
"From that moment I became divorced from you. Touch me if you dare."
If he comes reeling across the street, she only clutches closer the arm of the true man she loves, and puts him on the other side between the sot and herself. She counts from the moment of deliverance.
Now think about it, pray about it. Later I am going to publish the marriage bans between you and Christ, and to show how Christ takes the place of self. But we must move together, my friends. You must allow me to be persistent. You will not benefit by this teaching unless you act as the result of any separate address in the direction it indicates. So kneel down before the cross of Jesus, and realize why your Christian life has been a failure. The cause of your darkness and sorrow and desertion is to be found here: you have never consigned the self, life where God consigned it. In your will, with streaming eyes, with reverent face, unite yourself with the death of Christ. Doing so, remember you will do what Jesus said Peter must do. Peter said: "Thou art the Christ."
"Well and good," Christ replied. "I am going to die. "
Peter said: " You must not think of it. Spare Thyself."
Ah, that is what you will hear said to you a thousand times,--spare thyself!
Jesus said: "Get thee behind me. That is Satan: it is the spirit of the pit. If a man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."
You may say what you like about Christianity, but I undertake to affirm it has been shamefully misrepresented, both by Protestant and by any other class of Christians. They have thought that Christianity depended in the objective, whereas it is subjective largely, equally. They have thought that it depended on trusting Christ to put away your sin, whereas it also consists in trusting Christ to deliver you from yourselves, who are the center and curse of your life.
Whenever the self, life obtrudes, reckon yourself dead to it; reckon that the cross stands between you and it.
But you say: " Sir, I do not see how I am to live like that. I shall always be on pins and needles, always in agony whether this is self or not, and I do not see how I am to live."
Ah, I thought you would say that! I said that my‑ self, and here comes the second point: the Holy Spirit.
"If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." And again: "The Spirit lusteth against the flesh."
It was by the Eternal Spirit that Christ offered Himself without spot to God, and it is by the Eternal Spirit that the cursed spirit of self is going to be antagonized in your life and mine. Just as in a scarlet fever case you take carbolic acid, and the carbolic acid antagonizes the germs of disease, so turning from that curse I kneel before the Holy Ghost, and say:
"Spirit of God, infill, infill, INFILL my entire being, deeper, deeper, deeper yet. In the depth of my nature, when I am least thinking about it, go on day by day as the antiseptic of my flesh or self-life. Antagonize it, work against it, keep it out of sight, keep it under Christ."
The Holy Ghost will do it.
But you say: " Mr. Meyer, I am so afraid that if I am always dealing with the self-life, it will hurt me. It will be like standing by a bier and seeing death disintegrate a corpse."
This reads me to my third point, and I reply,--and this is the beauty of it,--that whilst the Spirit of God in the depth of your heart is antagonizing the self life, He does it by making Jesus Christ a living bright reality. He fixes your thoughts upon Jesus. You do not think about the Spirit, you hardly think about self, but you think much about your dear Lord; and all the time that you are thinking about Him, the process of disintegration and dissolution and death of self is going on within your heart.
A dear sister said to me once: "I am going to spend a whole day praying for the Holy Ghost."
She went to a hut in a wood, and she came back to me at night and said:
"I have had a grand day, but I am a bit disappointed. I do not feel that I have more of the Holy Ghost now than I did."
"But," I said, "is Jesus much to you?"
"O," she replied, "Jesus never was so sweet and precious as He is now."
" Why, my dear woman," I said, " that is the Holy Ghost, because He glorifies Christ, and when the Holy Ghost works most, you do not think about the Holy Ghost, but you think about your dear Lord."
O, man and woman, forgive me! It is a very broken, broken way of putting the deepest mystery in the Bible, but I can only ask that the Holy Spirit may make you know what it is to have Jesus as the center and origin of your life. The fountain and origin hitherto has been self, has it not? O cursed self, Barabbas, Barabbas, to the cross! The world says: "Not Christ, but Barabbas, self." The Christian says: "Not Barabbas, but Christ."
May God explain this to you, for His name's sake.