Thursday, December 23, 2010

opposition and offering of the natural

I hesitate to even start this post because I don't think my words will do any justice. The other day, about a week ago, my best friend Meredith came to spend some time with me and brought with her some very intriguing thoughts. This is just one of a billion reasons why she's a such a best friend. It doesn't hurt that we're also seemingly in the same place in life. Right out of college, pursuing multiple things, single, admittingly struggling with insecurities from time to time. Or always.

When she came over, she shared with me about an incredible urgency which led to some convicting and intriguing truth. Since I couldn't see well enough, she read it to me, then re-read it, and read it once more. Because there was so much packed into it, I couldn't grasp it all at once. It blew me away. It came from the devotional My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It was the readings from December 9th and 10th. You can click here to read them or just read below:

December 9th

"The natural life itself is not sinful. But we must abandon sin, having nothing to do with it in any way whatsoever. Sin belongs to hell and to the devil. I, as a child of God, belong to heaven and to God. It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence, and my self-will. This is where the battle has to be fought. The things that are right, noble, and good from the natural standpoint are the very things that keep us from being God’s best. Once we come to understand that natural moral excellence opposes or counteracts surrender to God, we bring our soul into the center of its greatest battle. Very few of us would debate over what is filthy, evil, and wrong, but we do debate over what is good. It is the good that opposes the best. The higher up the scale of moral excellence a person goes, the more intense the opposition to Jesus Christ. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh . . . .” The cost to your natural life is not just one or two things, but everything. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself. . .” (Matthew 16:24). That is, he must deny his right to himself, and he must realize who Jesus Christ is before he will bring himself to do it. Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.

The natural life is not spiritual, and it can be made spiritual only through sacrifice. If we do not purposely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural to us. There is no high or easy road. Each of us has the means to accomplish it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of sacrificing, and thereby performing His will".

December 10th

"Paul was not dealing with sin in this chapter of Galatians, but with the relation of the natural to the spiritual. The natural can be turned into the spiritual only through sacrifice. Without this a person will lead a divided life. Why did God demand that the natural must be sacrificed? God did not demand it. It is not God’s perfect will, but His permissive will. God’s perfect will was for the natural to be changed into the spiritual through obedience. Sin is what made it necessary for the natural to be sacrificed.

Abraham had to offer up Ishmael before he offered up Isaac (see Genesis 21:8-14). Some of us are trying to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God before we have sacrificed the natural. The only way we can offer a spiritual sacrifice to God is to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice . . .” (Romans 12:1). Sanctification means more than being freed from sin. It means the deliberate commitment of myself to the God of my salvation, and being willing to pay whatever it may cost.

If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will resist and defy the life of the Son of God in us and will produce continual turmoil. This is always the result of an undisciplined spiritual nature. We go wrong because we stubbornly refuse to discipline ourselves physically, morally, or mentally. We excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, I wasn’t taught to be disciplined when I was a child.” Then discipline yourself now! If you don’t, you will ruin your entire personal life for God.

God is not actively involved with our natural life as long as we continue to pamper and gratify it. But once we are willing to put it out in the desert and are determined to keep it under control, God will be with it. He will then provide wells and oases and fulfill all His promises for the natural (see Genesis 21:15-19)". -My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers


"The things that are right, noble, and good from the natural standpoint are the very things that keep us from being God’s best". Wow. It seems like its so easy to validate the things of the heart because they are natural and good. But what about when those things come between me and God. Or when they become bigger than they should.

What are the natural things of your heart?

For me, there are absolutely more things than I realize or can count on both hands. Right now, and for quite some time, they have been the desires of a companion, a relationship which reflects Jesus and his bride, the Church. Marriage, living life intertwined with another. But selfishly, there have been more times than not I let that and other natural desires and yearnings become bigger than God himself, keeping me 'from being God's best'.

"If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will resist and defy the life of the Son of God in us and will produce continual turmoil". Sacrifice. The natural life is natural for a reason. But since sin is apart of our lives, it reeks havoc and keeps the natural life from being what it should. I've been thinking about this one conversation everyday. I need learn to sacrifice and lay down that part of me that seems so much a part of me.

Obviously, Meredith would much more adequately explain her own heart in this, which I hope she will at some point *cough* take a hint *cough*. This one is just the thoughts just from mine.

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