God is Love, Light, and Life. These are the most profound words in the Scriptures. The writings of John are the writings of a man who is spiritually mature. He has found a way to express the inexpressible, a method of summing up all that God is. You will never get to the bottom of these depths. You will never see all the way to the end of it.
I want to talk about that Life for a moment. God has dealt with me for many years on the subject of His Life, and I have written much about Life and spoken much about Life. Even so, I hardly know what I’m talking about. I have barely scratched the surface. Friends, you have no idea what is yours! The same Life which raised Jesus from the dead is contained there within you! It brought the world into being, and it holds the world together. This Life overcomes sin, death, and hell. We have the Life because we have the Son. He that has the Son has Life! YOU HAVE THE VERY LIFE OF GOD HIMSELF.
Brothers and sisters, why do we – how can we – sit around day in and day out, week in and week out, month after month, year after year, content with just barely getting by, fighting with each other all the time, struggling with the same old besetting sins, arguing over the same old man-made doctrines, rehashing the same old arguments, listening to the same old crusty hand-me-down sermons? We have bigger things to discuss! Dear man, dear woman, if Christ is yours then you are filled with LIFE! And if you will yield to that Life, it will transform you and overwhelm you, eclipsing your selfishness, molding and shaping you into the very image of Him Who has called you! Isn’t that more exciting?
Let me tell you about this Life. In my Christian walk I have experienced more defeat than victory. But now the tide is changing. After more than twenty years of Christian experience I am realizing that permanent defeat is impossible because Victory is so encompassing. Let me say that to be victorious or to be defeated is entirely your choice and your decision. If you want to be totally and completely victorious all the time then you only have to decide to be so. How is it that simple? Because the Life is sufficient. The Life! It is more than sufficient. Victory lives within you; Victory has a personality. Have you met the Man named Victory, or are you still looking for it as an experience? Stop searching, for Victory is Christ, and He is already present within you as Life. The Life will carry you through when you cannot go on. The Life will give you words to say when you are all out of words. The Life will inspire you when your circumstances depress you. Trust in the Life, yield to it, rest in it, revel in it, rejoice in it. Talk to your Victory! “Good morning Victory, how I thank you that today You are mine and I am Yours! Jesus is Your Name, and You are My Life!”
Can you see this? Will you see it? Ask the Lord to open yours eyes and show you the Life which is yours. Go to Him and say, “I have heard about this Life, but I don’t know how it works or what to do with it. Please show me, please teach me, please reveal this Life to me.” And He will do it. If ever you see this, just once, you will discover the secret to the Christian life. You will shake your head and say, “All these years I thought I was really living the Christian life, and all I have been doing is playing tiddlywinks. This Life I have been given is greater, bigger, and more wonderful than I ever dreamed!”
How will He do it? How will He demonstrate the sufficiency of His Life to do everything in your stead? Why, the next time you feel your temper getting out of control, or the person you resent is bothering you, or things are not going right, or you are tempted to quit, decide that instead of reacting the way you always do, you will trust in His Life, then stand back and just see what happens. If you are a Christian the Life is there, it just has to be stirred up into activity. The things we call temptations, testings, and trials are the very means through which God desires to activate the Life He has placed within you! How else would we be able to rejoice in our afflictions? How else would we be able to count it all joy when we fall into many temptations and trials of faith? Humanly speaking this is impossible! But what is impossible with man is possible with God, and easily achievable when we trust in His Life to do what we cannot do.
I will say it again: Victory is your choice, and if you possess this Treasure of Life and you are still defeated, it is your choice to be defeated. I know that sounds harsh, but instead of becoming angry, realize that if you can choose to be defeated, you can also choose to be victorious! That Life is just sitting there dormant, waiting to be called upon, waiting for you to activate it, but it will never just take over without a conscience decision to yield to the Life. Yield to the Life! Trust in the Life! This is what it means to lose your life that you may find your Life. Yes! Have you found your Life yet? You say, it is God’s Life, not mine. True, but it is now YOUR Life as well, if you want it, for the Vine is one with the branches. If you do not want it, then it will lie there sleeping, waiting for the day and the hour in which you choose to call upon it.
Some Christians think they have to have the right book or the right man of God or the right formula or the right church or the right this or that before they can be victorious. My friend, you already have all the resources you need to live a victorious Christian life. The same Life which rose Christ up from the dead dwells in you! If the Life can do THAT, what is your excuse? What more could you possibly need than the Life which you already possess?
Here is a golden truth: if He possesses all that YOU have, then you will possess all that HE has. Allow that truth to sink into your heart. Breathe it in and out. Let the Holy Spirit soak it into the pores of your soul and you will not be able to contain His joy and peace emanating from you. You will start giving things up that before you would have never let go. You will gladly relinquish everything.
Each time you lose a part of your life, you will find His Life is right there to fill the void. Every single time. This is a spiritual truth, and there are no exceptions to the rule. Think of what it means. The more I give to Him, the more He gives to me. I trade in my life in exchange for His Life. Which would you rather have? Do you want your life, your failures, your mistakes, your frustrations, your sins? Or would you rather give that up in exchange for His Life? You can have either one you want, but you cannot have both.
What happens is we are afraid to commit ourselves totally and unreservedly to the Life. We want the Lord’s Life, but we also want to retain a little something of our life. That will never work. This is why you have such ups and downs, simply because you still love your life, and only trust in His Life for the really difficult moments. In a bad situation you will throw yourself upon His Life and it will carry you on through, but in the normal everyday situations you live according to your own life. Instead, let us learn to trust in His Life for every moment of every day. If we will surrender everything His Life will reproduce in us more effectively, gradually transforming, renewing, invigorating, and sustaining us from the inside out.
Permit me to share another golden truth with you: walking by the Spirit, trusting in His Life, is a habit. Once you discover how this Life is supposed to work and you obtain a small success over something which used to defeat you, keep yielding to the Life in that area until it is the most natural thing for you to do. Then, expand into other areas and trust in His Life for that, too. Get into the habit of trusting in His Life, of losing your life so you can find your Life. There are not many guarantees in this world, but here is one thing I am sure of: the Life will never fail. Not once will the Life of Jesus fail to meet the highest, most severest demands placed upon it. You might fail, but He cannot fail. If you don’t believe me, look at how Jesus behaved on the cross. Not a trace of bitterness, self-pity, hatred, or desire for revenge. Nothing but love, compassion, forgiveness. Do you think He is not sufficient to see to your little trial?
Invariably, when we fail, it is because we did not trust in His Life to carry us through. Always. So when that happens, simply ask for forgiveness, and return to the habit of trusting in His Life. Just like any other habit, it will be a struggle the first time you attempt it, but if you persist, it will soon be a struggle to do anything else. Trusting in His Life will be the most natural thing for you to do, as natural as breathing. You won’t even stop to think about it anymore. And when someone praises you for being such a fine Christian, such a mature believer, or such a good example, you can do nothing but fall on your face and exclaim, “Not I, but Christ: for apart from Him I can do nothing. It is God working in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” There is no room for the flesh to glory.
It is amazing to see this happen in actual practice. Let us take an example such as bad temper, since most of us can relate to losing our temper, saying and doing things which we regret afterwards. That’s a habit, isn’t it? I can confidently say that I have never lost my temper while I was trusting in the Life of the Lord. Ah, but I lose my temper all the time. Why? Because I don’t always trust in the Life of the Lord! I choose to be angry, or depressed, or defensive. Since I have made my choice to keep my life, I lose the Life of the Lord in that particular situation. What I mean is, I have chosen to handle my temper on my own. I am acting independent of the Lord. So I fail.
The next time you realize you are about to lose your temper, with another person for example, take a few seconds and pray along these lines: “Lord, I am so angry right now I am about to lose my temper. I frankly confess that I cannot control myself. But I trust in your Life to do what I cannot do! Since I cannot humble myself, or be meek and gentle, I rely upon You to do it in my stead. I trust in your Life.” Then don’t worry about it anymore. If troublesome thoughts arise, simply remind yourself that you are trusting in the Life of the Lord to meet THAT, and go on about your business. You see, the key to this is realizing that you cannot do a single thing but trust in His Life. As long as you think you can do it yourself, the Spirit will permit you to go your own way and meet with stinging defeat.
But if your prayer is sincere and you do this early on (before losing control), the next time you meet this bothersome person you will find something rising up on the inside of you which can only be described as supernatural. You may be conscious of compassion trying to come forth. Perhaps when you see the person’s face you will burst into tears and ask for their forgiveness. Or, you may simply receive an extraordinary peace that enables you to remain silent while the other person curses you to your face. Indeed, the Life in you might even have an affect on the other person, and they will totally break down before you, allowing you to minister love to them. One never knows how the Life will respond to the demands made upon it, but afterwards you will wonder how you were able to remain so calm, so full of peace, and so gentle.
This sort of response cannot be conjured up or fabricated. It certainly cannot be faked. Neither can we merely get an idea in our heads as to what we think Jesus would do and try our best to imitate Him. No, no, no, no, no! We don’t have to imitate His Life, we only have to trust His Life! Trust in His Life to do it in, through, and on behalf of us who cannot do it! And I will tell you something else: if you can Trust in His Life to keep you from losing your temper once, you can do it a million times. Hear what I am saying. If you have ever once trusted in His Life to keep you from losing your temper, you can trust in His Life every single time you are confronted with it, and He will bring you through. Without exception.
Along those lines, I can say with all confidence, that if you can trust His Life to overwhelm your temper, you can trust His Life for everything else. What do you need? Do you worry too much? Are you fearful? Are you bitter? His Life indwells you right now, and longs to make you into something totally new, to transfigure you into something entirely different than what you are now. Thank the Lord that I don’t have to be the way I am, but there is hope for me, and there is hope for you, and there is hope for the worst sinner on the face of the earth, because it is not a question of my effort, but of His sufficiency!
Another thing: settle it in your spirit right now that His Life IS sufficient. When you go to the Lord, don’t say, “Oh Lord, help me to trust in your Life.” That will never do. We must go to the Lord and say, “Lord, I DO trust in Your Life to do what I cannot!” If you are saying “help me to trust” then you are really saying that you remain unconvinced that His Life will really rise to the occasion and manifest itself. If you remain unconvinced, ask God to reveal His Son to you as your Life. Go through all the Scriptures concerning the Life of God, particularly the Gospel and Epistles of John, and Romans, and Ephesians. Give the Spirit something to work with. With these Scriptures in hand and in heart you will soon be convinced, if you are not already, that Jesus can do anything. He really can. If He can die on the cross and forgive His executioners, I am confident that He can deal with your little situation. If death, hell, and the grave can’t hold Him back, you need not worry that your problems are going to be too much for Him to handle.
Paul knew something about suffering and affliction, and he wrote, “We are the circumcision, we worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Are you still confident in your self, that you can do it on your own? Go right ahead. The Lord will permit you to meet with failure after failure, but when you give up, His Life will take over from there and you will understand why His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Today let us pray, “Lord, up until now I have come to You as a last resort. But you have taught me to have no confidence in the flesh. Today, I will trust in your Life, for I have come to believe that you are more than enough, that your Grace is more than sufficient.” Amen.