I No Longer Live! COVER
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I

No Longer

Live!



By
Anthony Livingstone





Contents




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There is a difference between a moral being and a spiritual being. For whereas the former is a product of the fruit of the tree of good and evil; the latter is a product of the tree of life.

The conscience is either moral - having knowledge of good and evil; or spiritual - having knowledge of life and death.

One becomes a spiritual being only after being born into the realm of Life. All outside of this perimeter, reside in the realm of death - the realm of morals; the great counterfeit of godliness.

If one is to remain a spiritual being, then one must remain a continuous partaker of Life; to LIVE spiritually, one must continually DIE "naturally". That is; one must violently pursue the death of all things pertaining to the life that the flesh lives and enjoys.

Death to the flesh then becomes the fuel for spiritual living.

We live spiritually not because we pray or worship; but because we die daily to Self!

It was Paul who uttered those near immortal words and immediately followed it up by pointing towards the new occupant of his body - "but Christ now lives in me".

Christ didn't just start living in him the moment he got born again as most believers seem to think. The process of Christ becoming the new occupant of one's physical body begins with the crucifixion of the original occupant. Let's put it in context.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

– Galatians 2:20 NKJV

It is NO LONGER I WHO LIVE is a phrase that suggests that initially, Paul the original occupant lived quite legally and naturally in his own body up until the moment he willingly gave up his right to live.

I NO LONGER LIVE is preceded by I HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED! His crucifixion with Christ was the very reason why he no longer lived!

No, it isn't enough to be just a Christian or a believer; neither, will qualify us for the resurrection. Christ has to have become the new legal occupant of our bodies before we can ever lay claim to the promise of being a part of the first resurrection!

That is what the following scripture means.

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

– Colossians 1:27 NKJV

Christ in you is the hope of resurrection! When Paul berated the Galatians for going back under the Law after listening to and obeying false teachers; he referred to them as "little children".

He had to LABOUR in birth again UNTIL Christ was formed in them.

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,

– Galatians 4:19 NKJV

In every believer, there is a period during which Christ is formed in us; perhaps much the same way as a baby is formed in the womb, for Paul relates it to the labour of child birth.

The Galatians were "little children" because Christ had not yet been formed in them and thereby do we understand that spiritual maturity is dependent on the growth of Christ within us, which in turn is dependent on the death of Self within us.

But the truth in all of this, is that Paul had to labour in birth yet AGAIN till Christ was formed in them.

Obviously, the original forming of Christ within them had miscarried, or why else would Paul have to go through the labour process AGAIN?

We are born of the Spirit; that is very clear from the bible, so where did Paul's input in the birthing process of the Galatian Church come in?

having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, THROUGH THE WORD of God which lives and abides forever,

– I Peter 1:23 NKJV

He was God's instrument through which the word of life that birthed them came. They hadn't even reached the stage where they could willingly lay down their lives in crucifixion so that Christ could become the new occupant of their bodies, seeing as how Christ hadn't even been formed yet!

Most believers never even get past the stage of Christ being formed in them. They keep going through repeated cycles of Christ being formed in them, as a result of their repeated cycles of sin and repentance from sin and a return to their sins, over and over again.

We should understand that Christ in us the hope of glory refers to Christ fully formed and living in us!

No doubt there will be several newly born again believers at the return of Christ who will simply coast into the resurrection on the strength of their newness of life in Christ just as Christ's parable about the workers in the vineyard seems to indicate.

And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”

– Matthew 20:11-12, 16 NKJV

One grows in Christ as one dies to Self. But until death is complete, we still LIVE, and therefore we are unable to say CHRIST LIVES

IN ME!

Our death is not an isolated one. It is a joint death with Christ. Yes, Christ physically died over 2000 years ago; but his death still avails SPIRITUALLY till the end of the age for all those willing to die with him so that they can live with him!

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

– Romans 6:8 NKJV

Do you see how our living with him is conditioned on that very small word - IF? We shall also live with him IF we die with him.

The whole essence of our Christian lives is to get to the point where we DIE with him, so he can LIVE in us instead. It is the fully formed life of Christ that will be resurrected, not the life of Self!




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CHAPTER 2

The very first lesson we learned from Jesus when he was born into this world was a despising or shunning of his Self. I urge you to read the following verses carefully as there is much to learn from them.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

– Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV

Christ had a particular mindset all throughout his life. The mindset was that though he knew he was God the Son and didn't consider it to be fraudulent to declare himself as God the Father's equal; he threw away all claims and rights to divinity and became a bond servant - a slave. That was the first step.

He knew that this was the only way to DENY SELF right from the beginning; by discarding the glory of Self (his Godhood). Had he been born on earth in circumstances befitting his status as King of kings, he couldn't possibly have been able to deny Self!

Self itself is the Sin nature - the Old Man of which we have much to say!

It was this same lesson that he tried to teach the rich young ruler when he told him he lacked only ONE thing. Clearly the young ruler truly LOVED God and had obeyed all his commandments since his childhood and Jesus loved him for that; but it wasn't enough! The ONE thing that was needful hadn't been done!

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

– Mark 10:21 NKJV

Jesus was trying to instill his own mindset within the rich young ruler - to strip himself of all his glory and make himself of no reputation; that is the only way to deny Self. After this stage of self denial will then come the stage of taking up the cross.

Yet Christ promises that the moment we achieve this denial of self, that moment he says WE SHALL HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN!

We cannot put the cart before the horse! We cannot pick up the cross, or follow Christ when in fact we haven't denied self - we haven't stripped self of all that gives it value! This is the spiritual order Christ gave to us:

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

– Luke 9:23 NKJV

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

– Matthew 16:24 NKJV

There is a sequence of which the first part is self denial. Self denial is what qualifies us to be in a position to take up our cross in the first place!

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FOLLOW CHRIST WITHOUT FIRST HAVING DENIED SELF! That is what the rich young ruler sought to do and Christ made it plain that he first had to deny himself.

But then Christ immediately follows up with a profound statement relating to this Self denial.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

– Matthew 16:25 NKJV

What this implies and reveals, is that SELF IS THE LIFE OF MAN, and whosoever chooses to preserve, rather than deny Self, will lose his life (self) ultimately; but whosoever chooses to lose his life or deny Self because Christ commands it; will find it again - a new Self! Christ in you, the hope of resurrection!




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CHAPTER 3

In Chapter 2 we only covered stage 1 of the mind of Christ where we see how Christ first stripped himself of his divine sovereignty and became a mere mortal born into a lowly homestead rather than one befitting his status as King of kings and Lord of lords.

This is the path we must tow if we are to follow in his footsteps. Self-denial is the process by which we "make ourselves of no reputation" as Jesus did.

Paul says that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to.

For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warneveryone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

– Romans 12:3 AMPC

This is why Mammon is placed in opposition to God in a certain scripture; because its deceitful value deceives people into thinking that some are better of than others or superior to them.

For others, it is their educational achievements, and yet others; it is their claim to fame, talent, or to political or religious influence.

These are the means by which men exalt themselves above their fellows. This is simply the Self of Man that constantly needs to prove and compare his worth to others.

This therefore is the original self-esteem of which so many motivational speakers have both written and taught; so that instead of denying Self, they teach men to exalt Self; to place value on Self with such scriptures as "I am fearfully and wonderfully made"; or cliches like "I am a miracle waiting to happen to someone"; and many such like.

The very first scripture quoted by Christ in his sermon on the mount qualifies those for whom the kingdom of God is reserved for.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

– Matthew 5:3 NKJV

The AMPC gives a more detailed explanation:

Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous– with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (THE HUMBLE, WHO RATE THEMSELVES INSIGNIFICANT), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!

– Matthew 5:3 AMPC

The poor in spirit are the humble - those who rate themselves as insignificant. These are the ones that the world has classified mostly as people with low self-esteem.

Why should Self be esteemed at all? It ought to be brought down to its lowest ebb by all means possible, for its lowliness is the very key to the kingdom of God!

Hear what Paul says:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

– I Corinthians 1:26-29 NKJV

There is a difference in his choice of words in verse 1 and 2.

First, he says not many wise, mighty or noble are CALLED. Then in verse 2, he goes on to mention those whom God has actually CHOSEN to be his instruments in confounding the wisdom of the world, putting to shame the wise and mighty and the noble.

People from all walks of life - both rich and poor; weak and mighty, are called; but only few among them meet the qualifications for being chosen!

As though this were not enough, Paul characterizes this set of "weak things" as "the base things of the world and the things which are despised". These are the very people whom God has chosen to demonstrate his many-sided wisdom to the world!

We need to be numbered among the "base and despised things" of this world. We need to be looked down upon by the world, for these ones are God's chosen!

In a certain scripture, Paul pays them tribute because of the hardships they endured in order to maintain their part among the Chosen. He said the world was not worthy of them.

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— OF WHOM THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

– Hebrews 11:37-38 NKJV

The very name "Christian" was a derogatory term for the early believers by the Roman elite. Believers were considered as the base things of this world - despicable and insignificant!

But we have moved "up in the world" since then!

Now I am no longer awed or surprised at why the wealthy of the early Church sold their lands and houses like hot cake!

They brought all the proceeds to the apostles for disbursement among the poor. But they didn't stop there! They gave up rights to their personal possessions so that anyone and everyone had freedom to use them!

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

– Acts 4:32 NKJV

They were too scared even to own things personally!

They knew they were in danger of being conformed to the world - the true owner of their wealth.

They also knew they were in danger of losing their place among the Chosen!




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CHAPTER 4

Every turn of the way, Paul insists that the mind of Christ begins with the loss of Self and all its interests, values, worth and pleasures.

We were born again with a new Self whose interests we now ought to cater for. For whereas previously we catered for me and mine; now we must begin to cater for the needs of others. This is the surest way to LOSE Self as we saw in the previous part where the wealthy of the early Church sold their lands and houses so that the proceeds could be distributed among the poor.

Does this now mean there were no longer any wealthy people in the Church?

Well, we have a test case from the scriptures in the story of Ananias and Saphira.

You see, none of the apostles told anyone to sell their wealth and give to the poor. They all did so of their own accord, they were CONVICTED to do so by the Spirit through the teachings they had been hearing from the apostles.

Teachings like the true story of the rich young ruler - a prisoner of his own wealth - or the rich old fool who kept storing up food in his barns (today's bank account); till there was no more space left, and just when he wanted to start enjoying the fruit of his labour, his soul was required of him.

They were all learning to discard self by discarding selfishness! They were learning to think of others above and beyond their own needs - that is the mind of Christ!

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

– Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV

Hear what Peter said concerning Ananias and Saphira:

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land FOR YOURSELF? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

– Acts 5:1-4 NKJV

Why didn't Peter just accept the money they brought even though it was just a part of the whole?

It was because in keeping back part of the money FOR THEMSELVES, they still hadn't understood or learned the lesson of SELFISHNESS!

According to Peter, they could have chosen NOT to sell it! But if they sold it, it was ostensibly for the same reason that other wealthy folks in the Church were selling theirs - to distribute among the poor!

Why then would they keep back FOR THEMSELVES that which they had decided of their own freewill to give to the poor?

THEY WERE STILL SELFISH AT HEART! The Church was way too young at that time for the Holy Spirit to allow such sinful nature to sow its seed! It would adulterate the nature of righteousness and holiness of the new Self! So He took their lives; it was that serious!

This thing about selfishness or selflessness is one of the major determinants of what kind of life each of us lives from the heart - the life of Self or the life of Christ!

So Peter's answer also answers the question as to whether or not there were any wealthy left in the Church. Their lands and houses were theirs to sell or keep. No one pressured them to sell, BUT if they were convicted to do so, and held a part of it back like Ananias and Saphira; then they would have God's judgement to contend with.

This demonstration of the new nature of righteousness in its selflessness was a move of the Spirit all over the young Body of Christ at that time. Look at the churches of Macedonia for example:

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their DEEP POVERTY abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and BEYOND THEIR ABILITY, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

– II Corinthians 8:1-4 NKJV

WHO DOES THAT??? It had to have been the Holy Spirit in full possession of those saints! They had no bibles yet look at the incredible demonstration of the life of Christ that they lived even in their DEEP POVERTY and BEYOND THEIR ABILITY! I still can't wrap my head around it all!

One take away lesson from all this, is that the life of Christ is always demonstrated through SELFLESSNESS! This is how the love of God that was shed abroad in our hearts works!

I have learned this lesson:

RIGHTEOUSNESS IS A NATURE OF SELFLESSNESS!

Anyone who claims to have been born again and does not practice selflessness has not understood the nature of righteousness.




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CHAPTER 5

God himself was the first practitioner of righteousness - for God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his ONLY Son...

What if Jesus as a mere mortal had failed in his mission? It certainly was a possibility otherwise there wouldn't have been much of a sacrifice in God giving his only son!

Notice the correlation between the love of God that compelled him to GIVE up his ONLY son. It was the love of God that constrained or compelled him to give Jesus up.

It is this 'spirit' (the new self or new man within), that compels us to give up anything for others, he is the one who reflects the active presence of the Spirit of God in us, for He will always COMPEL us to keep giving things up - this is the ONLY way to lose Self.

It is a measure or indication of how ALIVE the new man is.

Consider the widow who GAVE up ALL she had - and that was long before the Spirit of God was given. But now with the Holy Spirit, the love of God has been shed in our hearts enabling and empowering us to live the selfless life.

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in ALL THAT SHE HAD, her whole livelihood.”

– Mark 12:41-44 NKJV

I kept wondering why she went that far. Why didn't she think about what she would eat the next day, and the day after?

Then it became crystal clear! SHE DIDN'T CARE ABOUT HER SELF! Something more powerful than herself was working on her! The Holy Spirit himself convicted her! She just KNEW it was the right thing to do!

Jesus praised her because of the quality of her giving; NOT the quantity. It doesn't matter whatever it is that we have to give, what matters is that whatever it is; it costs us everything!

This is the litmus test that qualifies us into the company of the chosen! (Please do not read this if you haven't been following from the beginning).

Abraham was the first man to practice the love of God by offering up his only son begotten from his loins (from his legitimate wife); to God.

No one can practise true righteousness without practising the love of God. The love of God compels true believers NOT to live for themselves any longer!

For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died; And He died for all, SO THAT ALL THOSE WHO LIVE MIGHT LIVE NO LONGER TO AND FOR THEMSELVES, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake.

– 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 AMPC

We are NOT permitted to live to and for ourselves any longer! This is how to live the CRUCIFIED LIFE! The life we now live, we live unto Christ who died and rose again for us.

Slowly but surely, the old self will weaken and die because it is becoming irrelevant. Another self, another life is gradually LIVING in its place and space! If One died, then ALL died! The evidence of our death with Christ is NOT living to Self any longer since ostensibly that same Self died on the cross with Christ!

I NO LONGER LIVE! It should be our constant cry and desperate prayer!




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CHAPTER 6

All this while, we have been patiently studying stage one of the mind (set) of Christ. The most important lesson here is the truth Christ taught us:

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls intothe ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it producesmuch grain.

– John 12:24 NKJV

IF it dies; (not just fall into the ground) - it has to first die before it can produce grain. This Self has to die first before the new Self (or life) can live. In living, it will bear much fruit - the fruit of the Spirit.

The grain that falls into the ground willingly, of its own accord; has given up its right to live and now awaits death and burial in order to live again!

There cannot be two different, antagonistic lives living together simultaneously.

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

– Galatians 5:17 NKJV

I believe the translators were in error in capitalizing the Spirit, because this battle or struggle is between the old man and the new; not between the old man (represented here by the flesh); and the Holy Spirit, but then that's my own personal opinion and shouldn't weigh on your minds.

What is important here is that we are PREVENTED from doing the things we should, because of the strength of the flesh. It hasn't been weakened to the point of submission - but we will get to that.

Elsewhere, Paul also reiterates this struggle between the flesh and spirit.

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

– Romans 7:15-17 NKJV

Do you see the correlation between both scriptures; how he uses Sin rather than flesh in Romans to emphasize the apparently stronger of the two contenders?

Here also, he is PREVENTED from doing the things he should, by Sin - referred to as the flesh in Galatians 5:17.

To therefore say that the Spirit of God is on the losing side against Sin (as the capitalization of the S in Spirit seems to suggest, seems to me to be unthinkable!

This same struggle is depicted again in Ephesians as one between the Old Man and the New Man.

..that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

– Ephesians 4:22-24 NKJV

The reason why we are weak against the flesh - the Old Man, is that we have never put him off in the first place!

We cannot put on the New Man before putting off the Old, any more than we can live spiritually without first dying to the flesh. It's like putting the cart before the horse!

But there is an in between stage where Paul says we should be renewed in the spirit of the mind. It comes right after we put off the Old Man and just before we put on the New Man.

That is the part where we have to win the mind over to the side of the New Man in order to overcome the Old!

So Paul reveals in Romans chapter 8 what the renewal in the spirit of the mind is all about.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

– Romans 8:5 NKJV

Let's look at another version:

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit.

– Romans 8:5 AMPC

If the flesh (or Old Man) has DESIRES, then so does the New Man! By enjoying the things the flesh enjoys and derives pleasure from; we are in fact living the life of the Old Man vicariously. This same Old Man that Paul referred to in the previous chapter as Sin!

This is why the bible tells us to:

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

– Colossians 3:2 KJV

The affection is the sum total of all the things that we love and derive pleasure from.

Again Paul was only expatiating on Christ's teaching:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

– Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV

Our affections are therefore the things we truly TREASURE in our hearts.

Sin isn't merely an offence against God or Man, or the breaking of God's commandments; it is the living of the life of the flesh!

This lifestyle is what we are commanded to deny. Self is the flesh we are to deny, and Sin is the life that Self or flesh lives.




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CHAPTER 7

Having dealt somewhat extensively with the first stage of the mind of Christ, perhaps we may move on to the second stage. But let us revisit the scripture that serves as an introduction into his mind.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

– Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV

In stage 1 we see Christ make himself of no reputation, that is; he stripped himself of all significance and relevance and he who is the King of all kings became an anonymous fellow. He had to do this when he emerged on the world scene, for he was setting the example for all those who would follow him.

Except we clothe ourselves in insignificance and irrelevance, we cannot hope to follow in Christ's footsteps. Those still attached to the world are encumbered with the race for better circumstances in life, more benefits and rewards from life; hence their focus is still on service to Mammon; for it is not possible to love the world and not be in the service of Mammon.

Hebrews 11 speaks of those whom the world was not worthy of.

Being relevant to the world is the same as being worthy of the world, so everyone fights tooth and nail for RELEVANCE in this world, one way or another.

But Christ would have it the other way round - that the world would be found and judged to be NOT worthy of us!

In stage 2, Christ humbled himself even further and became obedient to the point of death. But not merely to any kind of death, God's choice of death for him was specific - the death of the cross.

Death by crucifixion began with severe floggings and other acts of cruelty perfected by the Romans; very often, the victim's legs were broken before it all culminated in the nailing to the cross.

Death by crucifixion was regarded as the most shameful way to die in those times. The important thing to note about the cross therefore, is the extreme shame attached to it.

Extreme shame in the public eye is the lot of all those who will follow Christ outside the camp.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth TO Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

– Hebrews 13:12-13 NKJV

That sums up our Christian walk - we are going forth TO him outside the camp. He wasn't crucified within the city walls, but outside the gates of the city which is here representative of the world since the writer of Hebrews speaks of an event that happened 2,000 years ago.

The word REPROACH means shame. There is no shame if it isn't put in the eye of public scrutiny. So the shame associated with Christ is what believers have to bear, which may not be so obvious at the moment, because the time of tribulation is still ahead. It is this shame of which Paul speaks of in Romans 8:

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

– Romans 8:16-17 NKJV

Complete identification with Christ in his suffering and shame is required of every believer. When we begin to live a lifestyle of godliness in our daily lives; constantly aware of how we dress, talk, act, react, our transparent honesty and simplicity in all things, such that we are looked upon with amusement and ridicule for our apparent backwardness; then we will begin to understand the meaning of the following scripture:

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra — what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

– II Timothy 3:10-12 NKJV

Do you see how that it was Paul's doctrine, lifestyle, or manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, love and perseverance that led to his persecutions and afflictions?

There is no one who adheres strictly to the standards of godliness that will not be persecuted.

We see Moses bearing the reproach of Christ in a figure as well:

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

– Hebrews 11:24-26 NKJV

It's a choice every believer must make - the choice between the pleasures of this world and the hardships of the detachment from this world.

The treasures (or things) of this world, or the shame of Christ, for these are the only two options we have!

The carrying of the cross begins right here - passing through this world as though we are strangers here! This is how we carry the cross outside the camp!

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

– Hebrews 11:13-16 NKJV

It wasn't a lip confession that these saints made; their very lifestyles suggested that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. They were absolutely lost to the world.

Here is how to be a stranger and pilgrim in this world:

And those who deal with this world [overusing the enjoyments of this life] as though they were not absorbed by it and as if they had no dealings with it. For the outward form of this world (the present world order) is passing away.

– 1 Corinthians 7:31 AMPC

The cross we carry is the instrument of death to everything that would tie us down to Self, Sin, and the world.

In stage 2 of the mind of Christ, the long journey outside the camp (the world), to the place of crucifixion begins!

But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ's sake.

– Philippians 3:7 AMPC




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CHAPTER 8

The process of carrying the cross and following (or imitating) Jesus requires the rest of our lifetime, as Jesus said it would be a DAILY thing.

And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross DAILY and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].

– Luke 9:23 AMPC

In whatever version you prefer, the carrying of the cross is a DAILY PRACTICE! Each person must carry HIS/HER cross - the cross is not collective, it is personal.

To follow Christ therefore is to follow or imitate his example in living and in dying.

Paul reveals how he was crucified to the cross and more importantly, what exactly was the nature of the cross!

But far be it from me to glory [in anything or anyone] except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) through Whom THE WORLD HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED TO ME, AND I TO THE WORLD!

– Galatians 6:14 AMPC

This then is our individual cross - we must be crucified to the world and the world to us! What makes it personal is the depth of control and hold over our lives that the world has!

The crucifixion of Paul to the world and vice versa was not peculiar to Paul alone, he was showing us the way to go.

PATTERN YOURSELVES after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).

– 1 Corinthians 11:1 AMPC

The process of detaching our hearts from the world and weaning ourselves from the love of it and its things is the process by which the world is being crucified to us.

The process of setting our affections on things above, and the mortifying of the deeds of the flesh is the process by which we are being crucified to the world.

We are chosen and qualified by God; worthy to gain entrance into his Kingdom when we have satisfied all three godly requirements:

1. We have made ourselves of no reputation.

2. We have weaned ourselves from all our interests in the world and its things, so that none of them truly appeals to us any longer.

3. We have mortified the flesh so that we are dead to sin.

For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men].

– Romans 6:7 AMPC

GOD BLESS YOU GREATLY! AMEN!




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