Freedom From Self-Centeredness
1 Corinthians 3:1-7
The Problem Of Division And Disunity
In the ancient world of Paul's day, to say a person lived like a Corinthian, meant that he lived in drunken and immoral debauchery. Barclay notes that "if ever a Corinthian was shown upon the stage in a Greek play he was shown drunk". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 3) On the hill of Acropolis stood the great temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and in that temple dwelt one thousand priestesses who were sacred prostitutes. When evening came, these priestesses descended from the Acropolis and went into the city of Corinth to carryon their wicked trade, in the name of the Greek religion. Corinth was a city of luxury, drunkenness, debauchery, and gross wickedness.
It was to the city of Corinth that Paul went as a missionary to convert the Greeks from their crude paganism to the purity of Christianity. Paul remained for eighteen months in the city of Corinth, preaching, teaching, and establishing a new Christian Church.
The letter of 1 Corinthians is very important, for it is in this letter that we see Paul dealing with particular problems that plagued a Christian congregation which had been recently converted from paganism. In this letter, and in especially the first four chapters, Paul deals with a problem which threatened to destroy the Corinthian Church. That problem was the problem of division. It would be disheartening to know the number of Churches which have failed throughout the centuries, simply because there was a spirit of division among the people of the Church.
Let us note this difficult problem and the way Paul dealt with it. Paul wrote, "Brothers, I urge you through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should make up your differences and that you should see to it that there may be no divisions among you, but that you should be knit together in the same mind and the same opinion … What I mean is this–each of you is saying, 'I belong to Paul; I belong to Apollos; I belong to Cephas; I belong to Christ'" (1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 1:12, Barclay)
When the Corinthians manifested a spirit of division, contention, strife, and friction, Paul realized that they were acting as human nature does apart from God. To be controlled by the flesh is to be controlled by that part of man which gives sin its chance to work destruction. These Corinthians whom Paul addressed as 'brothers', had failed to become dominated by the Holy Spirit. They had received the gifts of the Spirit, but they had failed to surrender their complete selves to God. They had been delivered from the vagrant sins of the body (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), but they were failing to live the Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled life. They were controlled by selfish desires instead of Christlike desires. Their sin was the sin of self assertion which led to various kinds of divisions and dissentions.
"O God, what is the answer to the competitive, contentious, argumentative, quarrelsome spirit that is too often manifested in Christian groups? I see now that the answer is fixing our gaze on the Christ of God, for He is the personification of all loveliness, beauty, service, and unselfishness. Help me to fix my gaze on Christ–not on others!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To become intimately acquainted with Christ, is to know the joy of loving submission and helpful service to my fellow man!
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1 Corinthians 2:6-16 – 1 Corinthians 3:1
Cross-Section Picture Of Carnal Living
The Corinthian believers to whom Paul wrote were carnal, contentious, competitive, and quarrelsome (1 Corinthians 3:1-7). Their relationship to one another was a sad commentary on their relationship to God. Paul could tell how close these believers were living to God, by the way they were treating each other. Notes William Barclay, "If a man is at variance with his fellow men, if he is a quarrelsome, competitive, argumentative, trouble-making creature; he may be a diligent church attender, he may even be a church office-bearer; but he is not a man of God. But if a man is at one with his fellow men, if his relations with his fellow men are marked by love and unity and concord then that man is on the way to being a man of God". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 34)
These Corinthians were of a double mind. With their mind they were sympathetic to Christianity, but with their heart they were breaking the basic principle of Christianity–'Brotherly Love'. With their mouths they were speaking about Christ, but with their lives they were manifesting the spirit of the world. They were going through religious acts, but were failing to perform loving actions. Pride is the source of all sins, including every sin which manifests itself in the church. The sins of the Corinthian Church have long been the sins of many other Churches. Those sins included (1) Division of loyalties [1:12], (2) Glorying in men instead of unitedly praising God [3:4,21], (3) Carnality, jealousy, strife [3:3], (4) Puffed up one against another and glorying in self [4:6-7].
These Corinthians were critically-minded. They failed in the ability to remain silent ('to keep their mouths shut') and to listen sympathetically and lovingly to others. Each group of self-assertive, immature Christians sought to prove that their religious party was right and the others were wrong. None was willing to acknowledge that he was wrong, and another was right. Cromwell wrote many years ago to the Scots, "I beseech you by the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 39) Paul pleads with these believers to be humble enough to learn from one another. The ability to be corrected without offense, and to be taught without bitterness, is the sign of a mature Christian. Paul says that the man who thinks he is wise, is really a fool. What did he mean? Paul meant that the closed-minded person is the conceited and shallow-minded person. He who thinks he knows it all, really knows very little. The pathway of knowledge is found through the gateway of humility. The humble man acknowledges his ignorance; the conceited man vainly boasts of his knowledge. The humble man is a wise man with an open, inquiring mind; the conceited man is a fool with a closed, shallow mind. An ancient proverb says: "He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not is a fool; avoid him. He who knows not, and knows that he knows not is a wise men; teach him". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 39)
"O God, help me to be humble-hearted, teachable, and moldable. Deliver me from a carnal, competitive spirit, and make me a compassionate and caring person–one who speaks little and who listens much!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If a man is sweet to his fellowman, it means he has a sweet relationship with Jesus. If he is distant from his fellowman, it means he is distant in his relationship to God. I will draw close to my Saviour!
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1 Corinthians 4:1-7
Dealing With The Problem Of Self-Centeredness
The Corinthians to whom Paul lovingly wrote were self-centered, and this self-centeredness was manifesting itself in many ways. For one thing, they were boasting in worldly wisdom. Because of this, they were rendered weak, immature, and shallow in their spiritual understanding. Where there is a lack of love in the heart, there is created an atmosphere that easily breeds strife and contempt. Where there is no unity of goals and purpose, there is discord and dissension.
These Corinthians were passing judgment on one another. Paul reminds them that God alone is qualified to be Judge. "So then, make a practice of passing no judgment before the proper time–until the Lord comes–for He will light up the hidden things of darkness and he will bring to light the counsels of men's hearts; and then each man will receive his praise from God." (1 Corinthians 4:5, Barclay) Man sees the exterior of one's life; God sees the interior of one's life. Mans sees the actions; God sees the motives and intents. Man evaluates what he hears in the light of partial knowledge and fallible judgment. God evaluates all of man's actions and intents on the basis of his infinite knowledge and infallible judgment. Woe is the Christian or the Church that pronounces judgments on others or that seeks out the faults in others. Such a Christian or Church has overstepped its rights, and is attempting to play the part of God!
Paul knew the problem of the Corinthian Christians. Stated briefly, it was the problem of pride or self-centeredness. Pride had manifested itself in several ways–Church divisions, boastful attitudes, and critical judgment one towards another.
Paul says to the Corinthians: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
To Paul, division in the Church was a serious problem and must be stopped if the Church was to prosper. How did Paul attempt to solve the problem? It was not through bitter criticism or harsh treatment. Rather, Paul appealed to the Corinthians in the spirit of love. Love is always the best antidote for division and strife. Several times throughout his letter, Paul called the Corinthians 'Brothers'. Using this term softened Paul's rebuke. The true preacher never deals roughly with his erring parishioners, but always lovingly and compassionately. It was said of an old school teacher, that she never corrected her pupils without first putting her hand on one of the shoulders of the student whom she was correcting. Love melts the heart. Paul called the erring Corinthians 'Brothers'.
"Father, help me to love your children. How can I claim to love you truly if I do not love your children practically? Help me to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker, in your Church. Help me to accept correction humbly and to give correction tenderly. Then I shall be a faithful child of my God!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I can only enjoy the Fatherhood of God as I experience the brotherhood of men!
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1 Corinthians 1:4-13
A Call To Unity In Christ!
We noted in the last devotional that a true preacher never deals roughly with his erring parishioners, but always lovingly and compassionately. A shepherd seeks to rescue his straying sheep; and so the pastor of men's souls seeks to save the wandering ones. Paul addressed these carnal believers as 'Brothers' . By using the term 'Brothers', Paul showed the Corinthians the attitude that each of them should have had for one another–the attitude of brotherly love. Using the term 'Brothers' was a rebuke in disguise, and showed the Corinthians how far they had fallen from what Paul considered to be the normal standard. The one who calls a man 'Brother' in the Church, ought to treat him with brotherly love.
Paul believed that the secret to being a strong Christian or to being a strong Church was love. Love heals all breaches between brothers. Love humbly submits to others, and learns from the advice of others. Love makes a person pliable, understanding, and easy to get along with. Love restrains one from pronouncing judgments on others, and changes the critical look into the compassionate look. Love builds up the character of others, and gives the Church a unified front in order to meet the frown of the world. Love is the fragrance of the Church which attracts the spiritually destitute and gives hope to the despairing wayfarer.
To the divided Church at Corinth Paul writes, "Now I do beg you, my brothers, by all that our Lord Jesus Christ means to you, to speak with one voice, and not allow yourselves to be split up into parties, all together you should be achieving a unity in thought and judgment. For I know, from what some of Chloe's people have told me, that you are each making different claims". (1 Corinthians 1:10-11, Phillips) Because of Christ's example, Paul urges Christians who feel strain between themselves because of differences of opinion, to make up their differences. Paul says that they should be knit together. Just as fractured bones need to be knitted together to restore the body to maximum usefulness, so fractured relationships between members of Christ's Church must be healed in order that Christ's body, the Church, can function in a healthy and efficient way.
Paul saw that there was a schism in the Church which was like a rent in a garment. How unsightly is a rent in a garment! How unbecoming is a rent, schismatic Church!
Paul says the Church is the Temple of God–the place where God dwells. When men introduce strife into the Church, God is hindered in His work, for men's hearts cannot be reached by God in the atmosphere of contention and strife. Says Barclay, "The very badge of the Church is love for the brethren. We must always remember that he who destroys that love and fellowship destroys the Church and thereby destroys the Temple of God". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 38)
"Father, help me never to be guilty of rending the fellowship of your Church, for you hate all who sow discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:19). Make me an instrument of peace and love–to reconcile relationships which have been destroyed and to strengthen the spiritual fellowship which has been threatened. Help me to "maintain the unity of the faith in the bond of peace". In the empowering name of Jesus. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To be a peacemaker is to do the work of God himself!
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1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Jesus Is Our Wisdom And Righteousness
Paul says that when every member of the Church will get his gaze fixed on Christ in all of His beauty and love, then divisions will be dissolved and strong relationships will be restored.
Christ is the all-sufficient answer to the life of the individual Christian and the life of the Church. Paul writes, "It is through Him that we are in Christ Jesus, who, for us, by God, was made wisdom and righteousness and consecration and deliverance". (1 Corinthians 1:30, Barclay)
Jesus is our wisdom. The wisdom of God involved the Cross. The Jews considered the Cross to be a stumbling-block. The Jews expected a Conquering King as the Messiah; Jesus came as the Suffering Servant. Jesus did not meet the Jewish expectations, and therefore they rejected Him. Because they couldn't accept the Cross, they didn't accept God's plan of Salvation, and thus they missed out on God's Wisdom. To the Greek, the Cross was foolishness (see 1 Corinthians 1:21-25). To the Greek it was inconceivable for God to incarnate Himself in human flesh. That would make God subject to human limitations and sufferings. God was, to the Greek, a pure spirit which was aloof from the world and unconcerned with man's afflictions. But Paul says Jesus is wisdom. Wisdom is inseparably connected with the Cross and the Cross means suffering and sacrifice. The person who knows God's wisdom, knows the meaning of the suffering and self-surrender. The Corinthians had attempted to establish their own wisdom, and they had consequently become puffed up in their own self-estimation. Paul knew what it was to be dead to selfish interests, and what it was to be completely surrendered to Christ. He contrasts his attitude to the attitudes of the self-centered and conceited Corinthians who sadly lacked in their understanding of God's wisdom. Carefully note the contrast in 1 Corinthians 4:10-13.
Jesus is our righteousness. Righteousness means a right relationship with God. Jesus is the One through whom man finds a right relationship with God. Man cannot save himself; he must be saved. Man cannot buy his way to God and Heaven; man is bought with a price–a very costly price which no man can compute. Man is helpless and in need of a Helper. Out of the sheer love and grace of God, man is forgiven and transformed, and thus made right with God. When a man looks at his weak, degraded condition and then looks at the Almighty Saviour, man is humbled and belittled. God is the One who gives all; man is the one who receives all. Wrote Paul to the Corinthians: "Who sees anything special in you? What do you possess that you did not receive? And, if you did not receive it, why are you boasting as if you had acquired it yourself?" (1 Corinthians 4:7, Barclay)
"O God, help me to be wise with your wisdom and to be righteous through your righteous Son. When I become captured by Christ's love, then my entire attitude toward life changes. When I become broken on the altar of surrender, than I am willing to help bear the burdens of my fellowmen, thus lightening the load of the world's suffering. Help me to live a Christ-centered life, rather than a self-centered life. Then I shall see aright and live aright!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To become infatuated with the love of God, is to be compelled to surrender everything to Christ!
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1 Corinthians 3:18-23
Jesus Is Our Consecration And Deliverance
If Jesus is our Wisdom and Righteousness, He is also our Consecration and our Deliverance (1 Corinthians 1:30) . Jesus is our Consecration. The Cross of Christ is the powerful force in the Christian's life which compels him to consecrate his all to Christ. Barclay tells the story of two children who were given a toy Noah's Ark as a present. After listening to the Old Testa-ment stories, the children decided to make a sacrifice of one of their toy animals. After examining the toy animals in the toy Ark, they made their choice of the animal they would sacrifice. It was a sheep with a broken leg. That is what some Christians are trying to do–offer an imperfect sacrifice to God. God demands total surrender and total consecration, and He will not accept the half-hearted sacrifice of a luke-warm 'believer'. God demands first place in a person's life, regardless of the cost:
"The dearest idol I have known,
Whatever that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee."
Abraham was willing to offer to God the dearest possession of his life– his only son–and so must we! Jesus is our Deliverance. Jesus came to set men free from the bondage of guilt and sin. A drunkard was captured and converted by Christ. After the drunkard was converted, his workmates tried to undercut his confidence in Christ. They would say to him, "Surely a sensible man like you cannot believe in the miracles that the Bible tells about. You cannot, for instance, believe that this Jesus of yours turned water into wine" . Said the converted man, "Whether He turned water into wine or not, I do not know; but in my own house I have seen Him turn beer into furniture". There is wonder-working power in the blood of Jesus!
Christ came not only to deliver man from the guilt of sin, but He came also to deliver man from the bondage of self-centeredness and pride. The Bible tells us that we should in honour prefer one another, and highly esteem one another in love. The problem of many Churches is this–too many people in the Church are trying to get their rights, even if it means being insensitive to other people. The people in the Churches have failed to realize that the Christian has no rights–that the Christian has only responsibilities and duties. The duty of every Christian is to serve his fellow believer and be willing to give the credit and praise to the other person. God will give credit and honor to whom credit and honor is due. Even though a believer has no inherent rights, he does enjoy many rights, given to him by God in the form of privileges.
"O God, when I get my gaze on the Christ of the Cross, I am humbled, for I then realize that I am merely on the receiving end of the Father's love. To be alive to Christ, is to be dead to sin and to be dead to self-centeredness. Let me die in order that I might truly live!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Christ is the all-sufficient answer to the life of the individual Christian and to the life of the Church!
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Acts 12:20-25, Proverbs 16:18
Devastating Results Of Self-Centeredness
Christ has come to deliver from self-centeredness–that universal human disease that manifest itself in a perverted misplacement of self on the throne of life rather than God on the human throne. Self-centeredness and pride are close kinsmen! Pride is the foulest of all sins, and yet the sin that is often disguised as a mere human weakness, of little consequence. Why is pride the foulest of all sins? For several reasons, some of which we can identify.
Pride results in the dethroning of God! Pride is foul because pride puts oneself in the center of life–the place reserved for God alone! Pride exalts self and causes self-worship rather than worship of God.
Pride is foul because it makes persons into things to be manipulated. Pride relegates every other person to a minor role in the world, resulting in the exploitation of others, the 'thingification' of persons, using others as a means to the end for selfish advancement. Others are seen as small-part actors with oneself as the main actor on the stage of life.
Pride is foul because it constructs barriers in society. All racism and wars and hatred and bitterness is borne out of pride. Pride robs men and nations of peace. Pride builds walls between Germans and Frenchmen, between Russians and Poles, between male and female, between blacks and whites, between the educated and the illiterate.
Pride is a foul sin because pride builds barriers between man and God. Pride separated the most beautiful angel from God, and made the greatest of all angels into the lowest of all demons. Pride not only changed Lucifer into Satan, but pride causes man the creature to usurp the place of God the Creator. 'Glory to man in the highest' is the motto of modern-day man. Pride makes man self-sufficient. Instead of glorifying God, man glorifies himself! The humanist philosophy is totally centered on man–even defying man.
Pride is a foul thing for pride, ruling in one's heart, makes forgiveness impossible. "We remember insults long after we have forgotten sorrows, we bridle if someone treats us with contempt and recall the experience with inward anger twenty years after. We are touchy about our birth, our status, our ability. All these are marks of pride." (The Secret of Radiant Living, p. 66; William Sangster)
"Father, all other enemies can be conquered if my greatest enemy can be conquered–the enemy of an unsurrendered 'self'. Crucify my arrogant, thrustful, debased, and dominating self, and resurrect me to live an unselfish, Christ-centered life. By Christ's power. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To love myself wholesomely is to die to all self- centeredness!
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Egocentricity–The Central Problem
The central problem behind all problems is the problem of egocentricity- -that is, putting oneself at the center of his universe. "There's a Jewish legend about a group of people in a lifeboat. One of them began to saw a hole in the part of the boat directly below his seat. The others yelled at him to stop. He said, defiantly, 'This is my place; I can do what I want with it'. They answered, 'Yes, but if you do what you want, we'll all drown'." (Canadian Free Methodist Herald; May 1979; Donald Bastain)
That legend reminds one of the person who is living a self-centered life, oblivious to the needs and rights of others. The self-centered person, like the individual in the legend who wanted to saw a hole in the boat, is a person who is on a course of self-destruction. And while he destroys himself, he can destroy others who are depending upon him.
'Self' in control rather than Christ in control is the cause of all real problems. When several were asked what their greatest need was, here are the answers of several: "I am so full of needs. My greatest need is to surrender to myself–lose myself in Christ. I take a handful of pills. I seem to be running away from something". A pastor said: "I'm a 'self-holic'–I'm addicted to myself". A Swedish woman: "I came here with a self I don't like, and yet I have to live with myself". A skeptic said: "I'm glad I don't believe in eternal life. I wouldn't want to live with myself forever". (Victory through Surrender, p. 11-12; E. S. Jones)
"Someone asked the head of a mental institution: 'I suppose these people in here are beside themselves?' 'Oh no,' he replied, 'they are very much themselves. They don't think of a thing except themselves. They are pickled in themselves. That's why they are here'." (Ibid, p. 14)
"Whether you center upon yourself for artistic, for religious, for financial, or for just purely selfish reasons, the result is the same–the self goes to pieces." (Abundant Living, p. 43; E. S. Jones)
"Just as my fingers are rooted in the palm of my hand, so all these outer sins are rooted in the unsurrendered self. Why do we get angry and 'blow our top'? Because someone has crossed the self. Why do we lie? Because we think it will be some advantage to the self. Why are we dishonest? Same reason. Why are we impure? Because we think it will be some pleasure to the self. Why are we jealous and envious? Because someone is getting ahead of the self. All these outer sins are only fruit–the unsurrendered self is the disease." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 30-31)
"Father, to center on myself is to lose myself; to lose myself in your person and plans is to find myself. Help me to make a complete surrender, barring nothing! In Jesus' name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If I surrender all to the Lord of life, I will receive all from the Lord of life, for self-surrender leads to self- realization!
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Proverbs 14:12, Matthew 16:24-25
Various Methods In Dealing With 'Self'
There are many ways to deal with the 'Self'. Depending upon the way we deal with the 'Self', we will get either negative consequences or positive results.
There are many inadequate ways to deal with the 'self'. (1) Eliminate the 'self'. But this is impossible, for to eliminate self would be to extinguish personal existence. (2) Know thyself. But only through knowledge of Christ can one have knowledge of himself. There is a great identity crisis in modern times–people trying to know themselves. Some use drugs as a means of unlocking their inner self. Who is able to reveal the inner identity of man, but the Creator of man? (3) Accept thyself. But how can you accept an unacceptable self, one that is full of conflicts, guilts, frustrations, inferiorities, inhibitions, cynicism, self-loathing? To accept that kind of self is to become unacceptable to one's self. Many feel that they are one big bundle of contradictions, and to ask someone to accept that kind of self is to ask one to become a contradictory person–frustrated completely. Most don't like a lot of things about themselves. (4) Express thyself. This is not satisfactory, for when many persons are expressing themselves they are expressing carnal, competitive, inconverted, self-centered selves. This sets the stage for clash, confusion, jealousy, and strife. Hell can be defined as a group of self-centered people, all expressing themselves! One cannot cure the disease of self-centeredness by advising all to express their unconverted selves! (5) Center upon thyself. To center on self is to frustrate man's altruistic capacity. Man is made to center on Christ and others; to center primarily on self is to be off-center, hence deep frustration. The frustrated self is a self which is alienated from others, alienated because people don't like self-centered persons. People who center upon self, "Start out to draw life to themselves–its joys, its thrills–and all they succeed in drawing to themselves is sadness and disillusionment and sickness–spiritual, mental, and physical". (Abundant Living, p. 45; E. S. Jones) (6) Defend thyself. But constantly to be guarding and defending oneself is to dissipate energy which should be spent relating redemptively to others. Such a person is oversensitive, and oversensitive people are critical people and unproductive and non-creative.
Each of these six methods which the world offers leaves the 'Self' in the center, a 'Self' that is divided and frustrated. They all lead to bondage, not freedom.
"Father, there are ways that seem right unto the world, but the end of those ways is spiritual death. Surrendering my 'Self' to you totally enables me to know myself truly, to accept myself gladly, to express myself lovingly. To center on myself is to lose myself inevitably. I choose to make you the Lord of my 'Self'. In Jesus' name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A purified 'Self' is a 'Self' set free to realize its fullest potential in Christ!
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John 12:24-26, Galatians 2:20
The Benefits Of Self-Surrender
There is only one way adequately to deal with self-centeredness and pride. That way is the way of self-surrender. "Then said Jesus onto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 16:24-25) Surrender to Christ leads to a right relationship with God, with yourself, and with others.
First, you are freed from the bondage of self-worship to worship of God alone. The irony is this: the more you worship yourself, the more you loath yourself, for you are not made to worship yourself. You are made to worship God alone. Self-worship leads to self-loathing!
Second, when you transfer your worship from self to God alone, you automatically find that you have a new love for yourself. Loving God supremely, you find that you love yourself subordinately. So surrender to Christ gives you a freedom from self-despising and enables you wholesomely to love yourself. "Since you are able to live with God, you are able to live with yourself, to be at home with yourself and rather like yourself. For loving Someone beyond yourself, and more than yourself, you are now free to love yourself." (How To Be A Transformed Person, p. 196; E. S. Jones)
Third, full surrender to Christ sets up a right relationship to people. On. one hand you are delivered from self-preoccupation. On the other hand you are delivered from herd bondage–bondage to the group. You are delivered from yourself, in order that you may serve God. You are delivered from peer pressure in order that you may serve people. "The herd urge, hitherto fastened on the futilities of allegiance to society around, is now cleansed from that enclosing bondage and fastened on the fruitfulness of the Kingdom of God. You do not become unsocial, but loving God supremely you can love others subordinately, but with a love intensified, you love others with his love." (A Song of Ascents, p. 54; E. S. Jones)
"The surrender which seems downward, laying down your arms, is actually a surrender upwards. It is a surrender to creative love… It is a paradox, but you are never so much your own than when you are most His. Bound to Him you walk the earth free. Low at His feet you stand straight before everything else. You suddenly realize that you have aligned yourself with the creative forces of the universe so you are free–free to create and free to love, free to live at your maximum, free to be, to be all He wills you to be." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 33; E. S. Jones)
"Father, as the loose wire surrenders itself to the dynamo, as the paint surrenders itself to the artist, as the marble surrenders itself to the sculptor, and as the ink surrenders itself to the writer, so enable me, a mere man, to surrender myself to the almighty Christ. Then I shall find myself throbbing with divine energy, creating love movements wherever I go!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Surrendering the 'title deed' of my life to Christ makes me feel truly 'at home' with myself!
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Steps To Full Surrender
First, recognize that God is the Center and not you. The humanistic mood of our day puts man at the center of life, with a consequent denial or neglect of God Almighty. You must remember that you are creature, not Creator; son, not Father; subject, not Master; steward, not Lord; man, not God! You must determine that God shall have the same place in your life as He has everywhere else in His vast universe–Center!
Second, draw near to God, and determine with your will to make a full surrender of yourself to God, in spite of your hesitation and fears. Remember, when you surrender to God you are surrendering to a Christlike God. You are surrendering to a God who is all-loving, that is, to a God who wants what is best for you. You are surrendering to a God who is all-wise, that is, to a God who knows what is best for you. Such a God can be trusted, and such a God is worthy of being your Master. You have nothing to fear when you place yourself in the care and keeping of a loving Master!
Third, surrender yourself fully to God's cleansing and creative love. Your 'self' has been frustrated because you have tried to accept an unacceptable self. Now accept yourself as a cleansed self–cleansed of guilts, frustrations, inferiorities, cynicism, fears, etc. Your self is cleansed by Jesus! There is power in the blood of Christ–power to cleanse the deepest stains of self-centeredness from your soul! You can accept a new self which increasingly is becoming Christlike!
Your 'self' has been frustrated because you have expressed your 'self' in a social setting which has been competitive and comparative. This has led to jealousy and strife. Now accept yourself, no longer in horizontal competition with your peers, but as a self which is in the process of vertical development–upward and onward toward the unique standard which God has designed for you. You no longer need to compare and to compete with others– outwardly. God is now your standard, not others. Now you grow and develop with God–upwardly. The fact that God is your standard releases you, on the other hand, from the complacent attitude of self-sufficiency and easy contentment with your present attainments. You are delivered from the stress of carnal competitions, and delivered to the creative pursuits of divinely- given goals.
"Father, cleanse me from all self-centered living, in order that I may be creative in God-centered living. Cleanse me from the negative in my carnal selfhood, in order that I may be creative in your consecrated selfhood. Release me from all horizontal competition and give me your energy to pursue God-given goals. In Jesus' name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What Christ cleanses, He also fills. Cleanses from sin and fills with Himself!
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1 John 1:7-10 1 John 2:1-2
A Working Way To Live
We continue with the steps to full surrender. Fourth, after you have given yourself fully to Christ, be bold to take Christ fully as the Lord of your entire life. When you surrender all, the Spirit of God cleanses all. When you surrender all, the Spirit begins creatively to work through you to glorify God, to benefit others, and to bless you. "God will take you as you are and begin to make you what you ought to be … Through identification with Him you now begin to learn to take from Him. You are strong in His strength, pure in His purity, loving in His love, victorious in His victory … You live no longer on the unit principle, but on the cooperative plan. You supply willingness and He supplies power." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 109; E. S. Jones)
Fifth, surrender daily to Christ's love, and allow Him to work in you as He wills. "You have said 'All' to Him and He has said 'All' to you. But there are a lot of little 'alls' under the big 'All'. They will come up day by day and little surrenders will have to be made, made about things and issues you did not realize would be involved. So the surrender is a blanket once-and-for-all surrender, but also an unfolding surrender. As you have given all you know and all you don't know, the 'don't knows' have to be dealt with as they arise. How? By a continual surrender. You do not fight or suppress the issue, you turn it over to Him and say: 'I am yours and this thing concerns me, so this is Yours, too. I surrender it. Tell me what to do about it'. That keeps problems and issues from piling up and making you tense and burdened. It is a continual catharsis. You are saved from the tension that comes from suppressing things and driving them into the subconscious sphere where they fester, and also from evading the issues in which case they nag us from the margin of consciousness. You are fulfilling that verse, 'But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one other, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin' (1 John 1:7). By walking in the light, holding nothing back, you have a continuous fellowship with Christ and a continuous cleansing of your problems and sins. It is a working way to live." (Victory Through Surrender, p. 109-110; E. S. Jones)
Surrendering to the lordship of Christ leads to unlimited freedom– freedom to be your true self, freedom to be fulfilled, freedom from fear, freedom to serve people without being in bondage to people, freedom to be creative, freedom to live in harmony with the Universe!
"Father, I see that I have only one true freedom in life–the freedom to choose the Master of my life. How I exercise that freedom determines my destiny–for time and eternity! If I refuse to surrender to You, I choose to surrender to pessimism, to hopelessness, to negativism, to futility, to self- destruction!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I choose to make a once-and-for-all 'blanket' surrender to Christ, and then to learn daily to surrender every new detail of my life to the lordship of Christ!
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Freedom From Self Centeredness
What was the cause of the spirit of division, contention, strife, and competition which was very apparent among the Corinthian believers at Corinth?
Tell why you agree or disagree with William Barclay's following statement: "If a man is at variance with his fellowman, if he is a quarrelsome, competitive, argumentative, trouble-making creature; he may be a diligent church attender, he may even be a church office-bearer; but he is not a man of God". (Give Scriptural references to support your answer.)
What were some of the sins which were manifest in the Corinthian Church, and are these the same sins which are often manifest in local Churches today?
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If a man is sweet to his fellowman, it means he has a sweet relationship with Jesus. If he is distant from his fellowman, it means he is distant in his relationship to God". (Note 1 John 2:9-11, 1 John 4:16-21)
How was the pride of self-centeredness–the main problem in the Corinthian Church–manifesting itself?
What argument did Paul use (in 1 Corinthians 4:5) as an attempt to correct the problem of judgmental ism that existed in the Corinthian Church? Why is man incapable of judging his fellowmen?
In light of the serious carnal problem of lovelessness which was evident in the Corinthian Church, why did Paul choose to address the members of the Church as 'Brothers'? With what spirit did Paul (the leader) seek to correct the problems within this local Church? Is it possible for a Church leader (like a pastor) to take a stance of 'firm confrontation' with troublemakers and at the same time manifest a spirit of love and patience and forbearance? Do you agree with the following statement: "Love is always the best antidote for division and strife".
List several positive benefits that are derived when love is applied to the interpersonal relationships within a local Church.
Give Scriptural references to document the truth of the following statement: "The very badge of the Church is love for the brethren. We must always remember that he who destroys that love and fellowship destroys the Church and thereby destroys the temple of God". (Note John 13:34-35, Ephesians 4:1-6)
Contrast the worldly concept of 'wisdom' with the Christian concept of wisdom. (Note 1 Corinthians 1:16-31, 1 Corinthians 4:10-13)
Paul states that "Jesus is our righteousness". What attitude will be manifested in the life of the person who has exchanged his own self- righteousness for the righteousness of Christ?
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Discussion Questions: (continued)
What response is appropriate in the life of the sincere believer, in light of the fact that "Jesus is our Consecration" (1 Corinthians 1:30)?
In light of the fact that "Jesus is our Deliverance" (1 Corinthians 1:30), what did Jesus come to earth to deliver mankind from? What practical implications and applications does this idea (of Jesus as our Deliverance) have in the interpersonal relationships of Christians within a local Church?
List several reasons why pride is the foulest of all sins.
What are the destructive social affects as a result of the personal problem of pride and egocentricity?
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "'Self' in control rather than Christ in control is the cause of all real problems". (If you agree with this statement, give concrete illustrations to demonstrate the truth of this statement.)
What is the difference between self-esteem and pride?
If it is true to say that humiliation is a perversion of humility, is it also true to say that pride is a perversion of self-esteem?
What Biblical support can you show for the concept that 'self-surrender leads to self-realization'?
Is it realistic to say that pride is the 'hub' from which all other sins are simply the 'spokes'?
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Just as my fingers are rooted in the palm of my hand, so all these outer sins are rooted in the unsurrendered self".
List and describe six different ways of dealing with the 'Self', all of which are ineffective.
What relationships are made right, through a full surrender of one's Self to Christ?
Do you agree with the following statement: "It is a paradox, but you are never so much your own than when you are most His. Bound to Him you walk the earth free. Low at His feet you stand straight before everything else".
When God becomes your standard by which you grow and develop, instead of others, from what two bondages are you released?
List and describe the steps to 'Full Surrender'.
What is the relationship between the 'blanket once-and-for-all surrender' to God and the daily 'unfolding surrender' to God?
What experience have you had with implementing the principles of 1 John 1:7 as a 'working way to live'?
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Discussion Questions: (continued)
List several of the 'freedoms' one enjoys as a result of making a full surrender of his life to Christ.
Share from your personal experience some of the joys you have experienced as a result of making a full surrender of your life to Christ.
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