Do you know that our natural or acquired abilities can become liabilities? How can that happen? It can happen when we rely in those abilities instead of on Christ. Our flesh develops its own pattern because of certain factors that have influenced our lives over a long period. They might be connected to our talents, appearance, wealth, education, or countless other things that we rely on to get through life. Saul of Tarsus had his flesh-life wrapped up in a religious package. Many Christians do the same. It is not uncommon for a Christian to find his need for acceptance and approval to be met by what what he does, or his achievements, even at the church.
A synonym for flesh may be self-sufficiency. It is God’s purpose to bring us to the place where we rest totally in the sufficiency of Christ within us in every situation. Yet we have all learned how to handle life’s circumstances by what we do ourselves. Many actually believe the popular notion that God helps those who help themselves. And sadly, many Christians have spiritualized that same false philosophy and concluded that God will bless us as we “do our part.” We have often prayed, “Lord’ bless my efforts as I serve You.”
However, the New Testament model of a Christian is not one who dedicates his own work to God. Rather it is the story of God Himself doing the work through a person totally yielded to Him. God receives no glory from the flesh, no matter how dedicated it is! God’s purpose is not that we rededicate our self with all its abilities, but that we should give up all hope in self. We sometimes try to live FOR Him when what He wants is to live His life THROUGH us. It’s important to see the distinction here. To ask God to help us live for Him is to request some sort of divine blessing on our efforts. But that isn’t what God desires. He isn’t interested in what we can do for Him. Christ is interested in living His life through us; expressing His life through us in any way He desires; “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1Tess.5:24). Christian ministry is solely Christ expressing Himself and His abilities through us.
It would be bad enough if the worst thing said about self-sufficiency was that it had no spiritual value in the Christian life. However, that would leave the impression that self-sufficiency is inconsequential, which is not the case. Trying to do something for God may sound or appear admirable, but it produces a damaging consequences. Consider the man who is known as the father of faith. When Abraham heard that he and Sarah were going to have a son, they were really excited. As years passed and Sarah still didn’t conceive, they decided to help God fulfill His promise.
“Sarah,” Abraham might have said, “I’ve been thinking, God told me that we were going to have a son, but perhaps we’ve been looking at this thing the wrong way. Maybe we should do everything we know to do and then trust that God will do the rest.” You know, I’ be been having similar thoughts Abe. Maybe God is going to do this in a different way than we first understood. Have you considered that the promised child might come through our servant, Hagar? After all, we have to do our part.”
You know the rest of the story. Abraham did go to Hagar and she conceived. However, Ishmael was not the son God had promised. The son of promise would come through Sarah, and it would happen on God’s timing. Abraham and Sarah were sincere, but they were sincerely wrong, and made mess of things. They were trying to do something to help God. One result of their self-sufficiency is the ongoing conflict between Arabs and the Jews, all because Abraham and Sarah thought that God would bless their efforts to help Him.
Self-sufficient living always produces conflict. God doesn’t need our help, we only need His help. He wants us to be striped of all our self-sufficiency and self-dependency. In order to experience genuine peace, it is necessary to come to the place where we no longer rely on our abilities or self-sufficient techniques and patterns. He wants us to give up!. We probably won’t give up easily because we have relied on those resources all our lives, so God sometimes allow the weight of adverse circumstances to become greater than the abilities of our flesh, so we can recognise the bankruptcy of human efforts and abilities. God only wants us to give up on our dependence on what we can do so that we can experience His sufficiency and the working of His mighty power in us. That’s where He always wants us to be!
God wants to bring us to the understanding that we weren’t saved so that we might do something for God. We were saved so that we might know Him in intimate daily fellowship. Do good works have a place in the Christian life? Of course! But they are an overflow of our relationship with Him, an evidence of His life being expressed through us. Being preoccupied with serving Christ more than with Jesus Himself is a subtle threat to every Christian. Even Martha who was close to Jesus during His earthly ministry fell into this trap.
….But Martha was distracted with much serving… And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing us needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10:40-42).
Martha was stressed out while Mary was resting. Busyness in serving Christ can block intimacy with Him. Our primary calling is to rest on Him. Resting in Christ is the sole responsibility of the Christian. Everything else flows out of that.
“…. FOR IT IS WE WHO ARE THE CIRCUMCISION, WE WHO WORSHIP BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, WHO GLORY IN CHRIST JESUS, AND WHO PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH… Phil.3:3.