Part of the art of learning to live out of my new identity is learning to read the Scriptures without the filter of moralism or my own shame. Part of that art is learning to not run from, ignore or hide from verses that appear to want to scare me back into the Room of Good Intentions.
Scripture is replete with the concept that I have died with Christ. But it also teaches that I must die daily. Yikes! What in the world is that? Perhaps some of the most spooky, frightening, ridiculous, shame driven, damaging and dangerous teaching in the history of the Church has been built upon a filtered teaching of such verses.
Most often you’ll hear or read an explanation something like this: “He died for me, but it’s now up to me to die daily to make less of me. I must promise and fight with all my power to kill my evil desires and bad behaviors. If I love God enough, I should be able to pull this off.”
And you’ll hear all sorts of “man-up” slogans, like, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” It all sounds so heroic and valiant. It sounds like God is asking for you to make something of yourself, by yourself, by finding a way to get less of yourself.
These verses are appealed to as part of the groundwork for a performance theology of man-made independent, self-effort. It invariably plays into my deep fallen longing to desperately try to assuage my shame before God by something I can do to pay Him back.
And the result?
I guess that there would gradually be less and less of me and more and more of Him. Doesn’t that sound right?
Except its not.
Not at all.
Remember? I’ve got all of Jesus I’m ever going to have. And He doesn’t want less of me. He’s fused Himself with me. He wants to see all of me in full living expression! His goal is not to pare me down to a mere shell of myself filled only with God. Why would He want that? He loves me. Remember? He made me to love. Remember? He made me to love Him. Remember? It’s Christ in me. And its me in Christ. Remember?
Whatever it means to die daily has to jive with whatever being crucified with Christ means.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
Then Paul describes the nature of what this death will reveal daily in my life:
“…and the life which I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Look at the distinction of what he declares to be the result of having died with Christ. To die daily means to choose to “live by faith (trust) in the Son of God.”
To die daily is for John Lynch to say, “No longer do I live this life by the self-sufficient, self-protective, self-defensive best efforts of my own old strategy. I trust His life in me for any good that will now come out of me. Every day, I have to make that choice to die to my “right” to self-protective strength of my own independent effort.
*I will live out of who He says I am on my worst day.
*I will trust the Spirits power over my sin instead of my will power, promises, or resolve.
*I will trust His love of me as motivation rather than the ought of obligation.
*I will trust the power of the resurrection which lives in me to fight sin for me.
*I will allow others into my hidden stuff, so that Christ may protect me through them.
*I will learn to believe that Christ took my shame identity with Him to the Cross.
*I will learn to believe that Christ gave me a completely shame-free identity at the Cross.
*I will each day choose to live out of the total lack of God’s condemnation.
*I will chose to stop giving myself permission to live out of my own condemnation.
*I will grow to trust in the redemption found in Christ’s shed blood for every failure.
*I will die daily to the lie that I ought to, should be more than I am.
*I will die daily to the lie that I am not enough.
*I will die daily to the lie that one day I will be almost righteous enough.
*I will die daily to imagining that I have the power to kill sin by my good intentions.
*I will die daily to imagining that I have the power to manage my sin.
*I will daily grow to enjoy this new life of His power and freedom beyond my wildest dreams.
Now, that’s a death we can live with…
John-one of the three amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace