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Abide In Messiah: And Not In Self
21 January 2015
 
 
This is the fifth and final article in a series in which I share excerpts from the classic book Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray. If missed the other four, you can find them here: As I have shared in the previous articles, Mr. Murray’s older style of English from the 1800s, as well as his quotations from the even more archaic King James Bible, can be hard to understand in the 21st century. Therefore I have taken the liberty of replacing certain words and rewriting some sentences in order to make the meaning clearer to our modern ears.

Furthermore, Mr. Murray sometimes alludes to verses from the Bible without quoting them directly. In other instances he does quote them, but neglects to give the reference. So I have tracked down each Biblical quotation and allusion, and given the reference so you can look them up yourself.

If you want to read this chapter in Mr. Murray’s original words — as well as the other 30 chapters of this book and the 31 chapters of his companion book, The True Vine — I highly recommend the edition you can find at Amazon.com by clicking on the book cover to the right.

The best thing about these books is that they are all about Yeshua. Sadly, such books seem to be quite out of style in our modern Christianity. But if we want to be true followers of Yeshua, we MUST learn to abide in Him every moment.
 
And Not In Self
In me, that is, in my flesh, nothing good dwells. Romans 7:18.
To have life in Himself is the privilege of God alone, and of the Son, to whom the Father has also given it. To seek life, not in itself, but in God, is the highest honor of the creature. To live in and for himself is the folly and guilt of sinful man; to live for God in Messiah, the blessedness of the believer.

To deny, to hate, to forsake, to lose one’s own life — such is the secret of the life of faith. “I live, yet NOT I, but Messiah lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). And again, “not I, but the grace of God which is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). This is the testimony of each one who has found out what it is to give up his own life, and to receive instead the blessed life of Messiah within us. There is no path to true life, to abiding in Messiah, than that on which our Master went before us — through death.

At the beginning of the Christian life only a few see this. In the joy of being forgiven they feel compelled to live for Messiah, and trust, with the help of God, to be enabled to do so. They are still ignorant of the terrible hostility of the flesh against God (Romans 8:7), and its absolute refusal in the believer to be subject to the law of God. They do not yet know that nothing but death, the absolute surrender to death of all that is of the natural self, will suffice if the life of God is to be expressed in them with power.

But bitter experience of failure soon teaches them the inadequacy of what they have yet known of Messiah’s power to save, and deep heart-longings are awakened to know Him better. He lovingly points them to His cross. He tells them that as there, in the faith of His death as their substitute, they found their source of new life, so at the cross they shall enter into a fuller experience of divine life as well.

He asks them if they are indeed willing to drink of the cup of which He drank (Mark 10:38‑39) — to be crucified and to die with Him. He teaches them that in Him they are indeed already crucified and dead — all unknowing, at conversion they became partakers of His death. But what they need now is to give a full and intelligent consent to what they received before they understood it, and by an act of their own choice, to will to die with Messiah.

This demand of Yeshua (Jesus) is one of unspeakable solemnity. Many a believer shrinks back from it. He can hardly understand it. He has become so accustomed to a low life of continual stumbling, that he hardly desires, and still less expects, deliverance. Holiness, perfect conformity to Yeshua, unbroken fellowship with His love, can barely be named as parts of his belief.

Where there is not intense longing to be kept from sinning at all costs, and to be brought into the closest possible union with the Savior, the thought of being crucified with Him can find no entrance. The only impression it makes is that of suffering and shame. Such a person is content that Yeshua bore the cross, and so gained for him the crown he hopes to wear.

The light in which the believer who is really seeking to abide fully in Messiah looks upon it is quite different. Bitter experience has taught him how, both in the matter of entire surrender and simple trust, his greatest enemy in the abiding life is self. Often self refuses to give up its will; at other times, by its working, self hinders God’s work. Unless this life of self, with its willing and working, is replaced by the life of Messiah, with His willing and working, abiding in Him will be impossible.

And then comes the solemn question from Him who died on the cross: Are you ready to give up self all the way to its death? You yourself, the living person born of God, are already, in Me, dead to sin and alive to God; but are you ready now, in the power of this death, to put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature (Colossians 3:5), to give up self entirely to its death of the cross, to be kept there until it is wholly destroyed?

The question is a heart-searching one. Am I prepared to say that the old self shall no longer have a word to say? That it shall not be allowed to have a single thought, however natural? Not a single feeling, however gratifying? Not a single wish or work, however right?

Is this truly what Yeshua requires? Is not our nature God’s handiwork, and may not our natural powers be made holy for His service? They may and must indeed. But perhaps you have not yet seen how the only way they can be sanctified is that they be taken from under the power of self, and brought under the power of the life of Messiah.

Do not think that this is a work that you can do, just because you sincerely desire it and are truly one of His redeemed ones. No, there is no way to the altar of consecration but through death. As you yielded yourself as a sacrifice on God’s altar as one alive from the dead (Romans 6:13,7:1), so each positive aspect of your natural self — each talent, gift, possession, that is truly to be consecrated for the Master — must be separated from the power of sin and self, and laid on the altar to be consumed by the fire that is ever burning there.

It is in the subjugation and slaying of self that the wonderful powers with which God has equipped you to serve Him can be set free for a complete surrender to God, and offered to Him to be accepted, and sanctified, and used. And though, as long as you are in your earthly body, there is no thought of being able to say that self is dead, yet when the life of Messiah is allowed to take full possession, self can be so kept in its crucified place, and under its sentence of death, that it shall have no dominion over you, not for a single moment. Yeshua the Messiah becomes your second self.

Believer! If you would truly and fully abide in Messiah, prepare yourself to part forever from self, and not to allow it, even for a single moment, to have anything to say in your inner life. If you are willing to come entirely away out of self, and to allow Yeshua the Messiah to become your life within you, inspiring all your thinking, feeling, and acting, in earthly things as well as spiritual, He is ready to take upon Himself the task.

In the fullest and widest sense the word life ever can have, He will be your life, extending His interest and influence to each one, even the minutest, of the thousand things that make up your daily life. To do this He asks but one thing: Come away out of self and its life, abide in Messiah and the Messiah-life, and Messiah will be your life. The power of His holy presence will cast out the old life.

To achieve this goal, give up self at once and forever. If you have never yet dared to do it, for fear you might fail in your pledge, do it now, in view of the promise Yeshua gives you that His life will take the place of your old life. Try and realize that though self is not dead, you are indeed dead to self. Self is still strong and living, but it has no power over you.

You, your renewed nature — you, your new self, born again in Yeshua the Messiah from the dead — are indeed dead to sin and alive to God. Your death in Messiah has freed you completely from the control of self — it has no power over you, except as you, in ignorance, or unwatchfulness, or unbelief, consent to yield to its usurped authority.

Come and accept by faith, simply and heartily, the glorious position you have in Messiah. As one who, in Messiah, has a life dead to self, as one who is freed from the dominion of self, and has received His divine life to take the place of self, to be the animating and inspiring principle of your life, venture boldly to plant your foot upon the neck of this enemy of yours and your Master’s.

Be of good courage, only believe; do not fear to take the irrevocable step, and to say that you have once for all given up self to the death for which it has been crucified in Messiah (Romans 6:6). And trust Yeshua the Crucified One to hold self to the cross, and to fill its place in you with His own blessed resurrection life.

In this faith, abide in Messiah! Cling to Him; rest in Him; hope in Him. Daily renew your consecration; daily accept afresh your position as ransomed from your tyrant self, and now in turn made a conqueror. Daily look with holy fear on the enemy, self, struggling to get free from the cross, seeking to entice you into giving it some little liberty, or else ready to deceive you by its declaration of willingness to now serve Messiah.

Remember, self seeking to serve God is more dangerous than self refusing obedience. Look upon it with holy fear, and hide yourself in Messiah — in Him alone is your safety. Abide thus in Him; He has promised to abide in you. He will teach you to be humble and watchful. He will teach you to be happy and trustful.

Bring every interest of your life, every power of your nature, all the unceasing flow of thought, and will, and feeling, that makes up life, and trust Him to take the place that self once filled so easily and so naturally. Yeshua the Messiah will indeed take possession of you and dwell in you; and in the restfulness and peace and grace of the new life you shall have unceasing joy at the wondrous exchange that has been made — the coming out from self to abide in Messiah alone.

Walter Marshall, in his book The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, in the twelfth chapter entitled “Holiness Through Faith Alone,”  puts with great force the danger of seeking sanctification in the power of the flesh, with the help of Messiah, instead of looking for it to Messiah alone, and receiving it from Him by faith.

He reminds us how there are two natures in the believer, and so two ways of seeking holiness, according as we allow the principles of the one or other nature to guide us. The one is the unspiritual way, in which we put forth our utmost efforts and resolutions, trusting Messiah to help us in doing so. The other the spiritual way, in which, as those who have died, and can do nothing, our one care is to receive Messiah day by day, and at every step to let Him live and work in us. Marshall writes:
Give up trying to purify the flesh, or natural man, of its sinful desires and inclinations, and of practicing holiness by your willing and resolving to do the best that lies in your own power, and trusting on the grace of God and Messiah to help you in such resolutions and endeavors. Instead, determine to trust Messiah to work in you to will and to do, by His own power, according to His own good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

At first, those who are convinced of their own miserable sinfulness often try to tame the flesh. In order to make their corrupt nature better, they try to subdue it and root out its evil desires. By struggling and wrestling with their sinful nature, they imagine they can force it to desire holiness. They resolve to do the best they can, grit their teeth, and then try harder. Through such means they hope that they can gain great victories over their evil desires, and be enabled to perform the most difficult religious duties.

Some zealous clergymen, in their preaching and writing, imagine that stirring people to this resolution is their most important task. And they believe that this is not contrary to the life of faith, because they trust in the grace of God through Messiah to help them in all such resolutions and endeavors.

Thus they try to reform their old nature, and to be made perfect in the flesh (Galatians 3:3), instead of putting it off and walking according to the new nature in Messiah. They trust in unspiritual means to attain holiness, and upon acts of their own will, their own purposes, resolutions, and endeavors, instead of in Yeshua. They trust Messiah to help them in this unspiritual way, while on the contary, true faith would teach them that they are nothing, and that they only labor in vain.
This article is 33rd a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
1.
19  Sep  2013
2.
1  Oct  2013
3.
7  Oct  2013
4.
12  Oct  2013
5.
15  Oct  2013
6.
16  Oct  2013
7.
30  Oct  2013
8.
13  Nov  2013
9.
28  Dec  2013
10.
8  Jan  2014
11.
15  Jan  2014
12.
16  Jan  2014
13.
21  Jul  2014
14.
26  Jul  2014
15.
27  Jul  2014
16.
31  Jul  2014
17.
5  Aug  2014
18.
10  Aug  2014
19.
11  Aug  2014
20.
24  Aug  2014
21.
25  Aug  2014
22.
27  Aug  2014
23.
16  Sep  2014
24.
17  Oct  2014
25.
18  Oct  2014
26.
21  Oct  2014
27.
28  Oct  2014
28.
8  Nov  2014
29.
13  Dec  2014
30.
24  Dec  2014
31.
11  Jan  2015
32.
20  Jan  2015
33.
Abide In Messiah: And Not In Self
21  Jan  2015
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