13 The Effects of Self-BH Clendennen
The Pathway To An Overcoming Life Series
This series of lessons are so important because of the nearness of the coming of the Lord. Those foolish virgins must be awakened to where they are, out of their carelessness. They were so absorbed with themselves, that's what makes them careless. They thought they had some things more important than the will of God. They absolutely knew when the trumpet sounded they had run out of oil. They knew that because the first thing they said 'there's no oil in our vessel'. But they refused to do anything about it. The tragedy of neglect can never be overstated. It's because of self thinking it had more important things to do than to obey God.
In our last lesson we brought out how the illustration of Abraham and Isaac and Ishmael was a parable and how this self brought Peter to where he was, and ended up with Jonah and his selfishness, how he was so afraid somebody would think he was a false prophet he wept while 600,000 people got saved by his preaching. That is the terrible thing of self.
Gen 3:5 the devil said to Eve, 'you'll be like God.' You see, one of the effects of self is it dishonors God and it sets up a rival on God's throne. The devil isn't altogether a liar when he said to our first parents you will be like God. This is just what fallen man tries to be. A god in himself. This is the essence of the sin of selfishness. It puts man in the place of God by making him a law and an end in himself. Whenever a person acts for his own selfish will, or self interest, purely as an end, he's claiming to be his own God. I've been a preacher for 56 years, preaching this glorious gospel of Christ and God has helped me learn some things. I've watched preachers change churches every two years. That preacher isn't interested in the will of God, he's not seeking the will of God. He's looking for a better salary, a better place to live, more things of this world. He's claiming to be his own God because he's directly disobeying the first commandment, 'you'll have no other Gods before Me.'
If I live for this self, or if you live for yourself, then you have become your own God. That's exactly what happened to Adam in the fall. That devil said you'll be as God. He wanted what God said you can't have. His own desire over rode the desire to please God. I've watched the election in America. I've watched millions who claim to be Christians vote for a man who believes a woman has the right to murder a baby after that baby is born. I've watched that. I've talked to them, and they say they don't let their politics and their religion mix. It's not a matter of politics, mister, it's a matter of conviction. That you prefer, because you believe that man may give you 25 dollars more a month, you'd vote for yourself.
Moreover in assuming the place of God, he's doing it in a spirit completely contrary to God's Spirit. God is love and love is the exact of opposite of selfishness. He is thus mocking God and at the same time proving his utter unfitness to occupy His throne by his unlikeness to Him. That's the reason God put this on my heart to bring it to you across this world. It's to him that overcomes that will sit in that throne with God. You must overcome that self. The first act of a disciple is unselfishness. He must deny himself. Self always leads to every other sin and brings back the power of the carnal life. Self alone attempts to keep the heart but finds sin and Satan too strong. Self perfection is not possible for any man. There must be more than I before there can be any victory.
In Romans 7:15 Apostle Paul tells us what I can do. He can only struggle ineffectively. In Chapter 8 and 10, points the way to triumph and victory. The woman or man who goes only far enough to receive Adamic purity, if such as thing is really in the Gospel, will soon have the next chapter of the Adamic history, that is the temptation to fall. God said in Romans 8:14 if we walk in the Spirit, that is the only pathway of overcoming this self. The person who receives Christ to dwell within and to keep the heart by His mighty power shall rise to the fullness of Christ according to Eph 4:13. Still, further, the self life that leads back to the dominion of Satan. Satan's own fall probably began in the form of self love. Made to be dependent upon God every moment, he desired independence. How much of that I see in the 21st Century church. They desire God to be a Santa Claus to them, they only want their selfish desires, and everything about the church is what is in it for me, not what can I give to God?
Contemplating his own perfection and thinking, it was something that was his own. He became separated from God and fell into rebellion against God Himself. This led to the eternal rivalry, disobedience and all that can be opposite to the divine and holy. Satan become that. Any person who becomes occupied with his or her own virtues and tries to be independent of Jesus will fall under the power of Satan and share his awful descent. Jesus must be our Source of strength and the supreme end of our being. Self is likewise fatal to the spirit of love and harmony. It is the source of strife, bigotry, suspicion, sectarianism, envy, jealousy, and the whole that is, is the mother of division, from the beginning. Where it begins, there can be no true unity and no happy cooperation. There can never be a harmonious church or a happy family where self is predominate in the hearts of the people.
Jesus help us to hear. The secret of Christian cooperation and happy church life is bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace and learning to honor one another above ourselves. Self mars all work for God. This is the effect of it. Self will mars our work for God and tries to force God's power and grace upon our own side tracks. God will never permit that. I've watched that. Little towers of Babel. In my time, I've seen men gain prominence among the multitudes, were looked upon as great people, build their little society, building hospitals they said God told them to build, that never got built. I've watched all of this come out of self sticking its nose into the things of God. Self confidence seeks to build up the kingdom of Christ by human ability and unsanctified programs. I've seen what's happened to the church-it's become a kingdom of strife and a misrepresentation of God.
Self seeks to go where God has not sent it, and do what He has not qualified it to do. I've watched organizations through their little Bible schools educate men who never were called to preach and because they knew certain things, send them forth to do the work of God. It's Aesop's fables all over again-a lower form of life trying to teach a higher form of life. Self presumes to go where God has not sent it. The result of this is a crude work, defiled by worldliness and sin and impermanent and unfruitful. That's the work that's produced. Much of today's Christian work is of this nature.
The spirit of self glory will try to use the pulpit, the choir loft, the religious paper, the charitable scheme, and even the mission of winning souls as a channel for magnifying a personality or successful work or by glorifying some rich donor. I've seen it over and over. I heard one at that time, of the most successful preachers, not talking about spiritual, but had reached further with what he was preaching than any other man. He said God told me, that if I do not evangelize the world then the world will not be evangelized. This is where we are. God is disgusted with this spirit of idolatry. Until we are so yielded to our Master that He and He alone can be glorified in our work, then the Lord cannot trust us in much service to Him.
Self makes us unhappy, it's a root of bitterness in every heart where it rules. The secret of joy is hidden in the heart of love and the arms of self are too short to reach it. You who have been born and filled with the Spirit of God, yet have become careless in your lives. Some of you know there was a time in your life when you walked with God in a much more sincere and perfect way. But now self has come and other things have gained the preeminence in your life than the will of God and if you don't wake up you're going to be lost. Until we dwell in God and God dwells in us, and until we learn to find happiness in being lost in God, living for His glory and for His people, we'll never taste the sweets of divine blessedness. Only running water is living water. Only when it is poured into vessels does it become wine. The self willed man is always miserable. He gets his own way and doesn't enjoy it. After he gets it, he wishes he'd never got it because it usually leads him over the precipice. The self sufficient man can never know the springs that lie outside his own little heart. The self glorying man, like Herod, is eaten up by the worms of corruption and remorse that always feed upon the impious person who dares to claim the honors due to God.
God has become a Santa Claus. Somebody to get from. People don't go to church to give. They are parasites of the pew. They grumble because they don't receive anything but they never gave anything. This is where we are. This must be corrected. If I'm talking to you, if you sense that you've moved away from God, that you once were closer to God than you are now, then you must willfully turn around and repent before God. The boasted wisdom must prove to be foolishness.
The self sufficient boast, such as the one Peter made, must be answered by its own failure. The disobedient path that refuses God's wise and holy will must be proved to be a false way. Every idol must be abolished, every high thing brought low. No flesh may glory in His presence. Let us ask our faithful God to save us from this tyrant of self that dishonors God and leads us to captivity to Satan. Let us ask Him now to show us that we're nothing then we'll be glad to have Christ to live in us. He who fills everything in every way, Eph 1:22. There is only one remedy for self-not two, not three, but one. God has often let self have its way until it cures us effectually by showing us the misery and failure that it brings. I pray we've arrived there. So much misery. I have people calling me all the time asking me if I know of a church where a man or woman can really find God? That's what it's become because we are in the time of the Laodecians, the last stage of the church. Christ is outside trying to get back in. This is where we are.
This is the only good there is in our struggling. It shows us the vanity of our struggle and prepares us then to surrender it all to God. But let us beware how much we assert ourselves. There is always one step too far that will prevent us from ever ever returning. My God, are you listening? Job talked about those who were beyond ransom, they'd gone too far, they could never come back into the grace of God. God has placed around us also the restraints of other hearts and lives as checks upon our own selfishness. They are like the links that almost compel us to reach beyond ourselves and work with and live for others. He has made no man independent of his brother. In Him the whole building is joined together. Eph 2:21. We grow together in a holy temple in the Lord. We are adjusted, bone to His bone, by that which every joint supplies the body is ministered to and grows into the fullness of His stature. The church of Christ is no autocratic thing, where one can be dictator or judge. It's a fellowship. One alone is the master. Christ is the master.
Any work that develops into one man despotism withers. It's true that God has ranks of workers, but they're all harmonious and linked in heavenly love. The man who cannot work with his brother in mutual comfort and harmony has something yet to learn in his own Christian life. It's our God-given responsibility to submit ourselves one to another in the fear of God. If we don't get along with one another, we can't get along with God. We must submit one to another in the fear of God. One may sow, another may reap, but we both rejoice together as they carry each others burdens. Only this way will we fulfill the law of Christ according to Gal 6:2, as true yoke fellows. Php 4:3. The love of Jesus is the divinely appointed prescription for the death of self. In 2 Cor 5:15 it's written: One died for all and therefore all died, and He died for all that those who live should no longer live unto themselves but unto Him who died for them and was raised again. That's a simple story of the death to self in the Christian life. It's the love of Jesus that has excluded and never until we become fascinated by His affection, captivated by His love, will we cease to live for ourselves.
Then we will toil and suffer with Him and follow Him anywhere. If we would die to self, we must fall in love with Jesus. Only then will we be content without the many things that before we thought we must have. Our hearts will be so satisfied with Christ that we can't speak or think of it as a sacrifice or suffering. It's not only the love of Christ we want, it's the living Christ Himself. Many have touches of the love of Christ but for them He's a Christ far removed. Paul speaks of something far greater, it's Christ Himself who lives inside, and who is big enough to crowd out and keep out the little I that you and I are. There is no other who can truly live and keep the heart above the power of self but Jesus. He's the mighty God stronger than the armed strongman.
He's able to so be our life that moment by moment we'll be conscious He's filling us with Himself and conquering that self that rules us before. The more we try to fight self the more it clings to us. The moment we turn away from self and look to Christ He fills all the consciousness and disperses everything with His own presence. Let us abide in Him and we'll see there's nothing else to do. When you see this is the Spirit's work, that the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit will deliver and keep us from the power of self. Walk in the Spirit and you'll not fulfill the works of the flesh. When the cloud of glory entered the tabernacle there was no room for Moses to remain. When filled with the heavenly presence of the blessed Spirit we are lost in God, self hides away. Like Job we can say my ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you and therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.
These bodies of ours are made for Him. Let Him fill them so completely that we will the oriental temple of glass in the ancient legend that when the sun shone on the ancient temple, the temple itself was not seen. The observer could only behold the glorious sunlight it reflected. The transparent walls were all but unnoticed. May we so live that Christ only be seen in us.
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