To Find Yourself, You Must Lose Yourself

Peninsula Community Church

March 18, 2018

To Find Yourself, You Must Lose Yourself

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

In the text that leads to the passage we just read, we find some insight as to why Paul uses the words he does. Listen to 1 Corinthians 6:1-10 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases.  Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

While he defines one’s life before Christ in verses 1-10, Paul makes a powerful statement in verse 11. And such were some of you. Paul is saying you did these things but not any more. You were sexually immoral, you were greedy, and you walked in ways that did not honor God, but not any more. You were, but not now. You did, but no more. You have been changed and now walk in a way that honors God. This was the basis of Paul’s word of hope in 2 Corinthians 5:17 when he stated “we are a new creation in Christ.” We are not just becoming, we are, because of what Christ has done in us.

Here Paul suggests three key actions that have taken place in our life that position us to live this new life in Christ. We are washed. We are sanctified. We are justified. Let’s take a look at these for a moment. First, Paul states that we have been washed. What Paul is saying is that sin defiled us. It created a sense of dirtiness in us, but Jesus has washed us and has purified us. We see this in Isaiah 1:18.“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

The idea of washing represents the salvation that is ours through Jesus Christ. The reason we no longer do the things we use to do is that we have been washed by the water of salvation and by the blood of the lamb. The undeniable truth is we are clean. We are restored. You see, unless we are washed, we will continue to be governed by the old ways of doing things. Recently, I replaced the filters at our house for the heating system. All of them were clean except one. That filter was clogged and dirty. The result was that it prevented air from flowing through the filter the way it should. The system was not as effective, as it could be, as a result of the dirty filter. So it is with us when we have been soiled by the sin and the cares of the world. We become ineffective. We must be washed so that we do not live as we did, but as Christ now sees us.

Secondly, Paul states that this is not you any more because you have been sanctified. John Piper has stated that ”Sanctification” is a very irrelevant word, but it is not an irrelevant reality. It’s like a hundred technical medical terms. Nobody but doctors use them, but your life depends on the reality they stand for. The word “Sanctification” comes from two Latin words: sanctus which means holy, and ficare which means make. So to sanctify means to make holy. 

In Biblical sanctification there are two components. First, we are purified and cleansed, but we are also set apart for service. We are not just cleansed to be put on a shelf, but we are cleansed to be used in the Kingdom of God. We are set apart for a purpose. Oswald Chambers said this about sanctification. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us. And then he asks Are we really prepared for what that will cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God.

You see sanctification calls for us to change our behavior and our ways. It calls us to act differently and to conform our ways to God’s ways. To be sanctified is to be set apart and to be cleansed from sin and wrong attitudes. Sanctification is something that happens to us but it is also a choice. We choose to die to the old ways of doing things. We die to self, so we become alive with Him. We cannot live unless we die. We cannot truly live life completely until we give up our failures, our sin, and our attitudes that prevent us from accomplishing God’s will. That is why we are not them. That is why we do not live like them any more. We are sanctified.

Thirdly, Paul stated that we are justified. To be justified is to remove the penalty of sin and the guilt associated with sin. Too often, we try to carry the weight of past sin. Instead of freedom, we live in the bondage of past sin which has already been forgiven by Christ. We are not them nor do we live like them because we are justified and are free to live the way God planned. In the movie US Marshall we see the infamous Sam Gerard going after Mark Sheridan who was framed for the murder of two government agents. In the end, Sheridan was found to be innocent and at the end of the movie he proclaims “I am righteous.” In other words, I have been justified. The false guilt is no longer mine to carry.

But how does this all happen? Colossians 3:1-3 gives us insight into what needs to happen. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. In Romans 6:6 we find that We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. In Galatians 2:20 Paul reminds us that I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The real issue here is we must reorder our lives in alignment with God’s will and His ways. Prior to salvation, we lived in alignment with the enemy’s purpose and plan, but no more. Now we are in alignment with His word and His purposes. The problem sometimes is that we fail to envision what it means to be a passionate follower of Christ, thus we make little progress toward living the life we have been called to. The undeniable truth is that the ruined can be made right. The evil can be turned into a testimony of grace. Our failures become a doorway to grace and mercy.

The goal in denying self is to totally surrender our hearts, minds, lives and more, so we no longer live but Christ lives and reigns in us. What does that mean to us? We must deny ourselves. We must make choices and decisions that honor God. Self denial in fact summarizes the entire Christian life. In considering self denial, it must never be confused with self rejection.

The Scripture reminds us of the power of this process. Matthew 10:39 states Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. And then in Matthew 16:25-26 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

The problem is that when we attempt to master our life apart from Christ, we actually lose our life. However, when we die to self and live for Christ we will for the first time be able to do what we want to do or should do. This means we are free to steal, lie, and murder all we want to but we will not have a desire to do so. Conversely, we will be truthful, transparent, helpful, sacrificially loving, and will do so with joy and will be motivated by the desire to do so. Our life will be caught up in God’s life and we will now want what is right and whole.

This means we will come to the place where we will trust that His way is right. We will keep on entrusting ourselves to the One who judges righteously (1 Peter 2: 23). That is, we lose our life and so in reality we save it. Erich Fromm rightly said, “The most widespread misunderstanding is that which assumes that giving is ‘giving up’ something, being deprived of, sacrificing. People whose main orientation is a non-productive one feel giving as an impoverishment.” What he is saying is that we have a tendency to look at what we might be giving up rather than what we might gain.

Let me explain it in this way. To live a healthy life I must make choices about what I eat and what I do with my life. I must die to my desires. Years ago my idea of a snack and sometimes even lunch was a bag of potato chips and a large soda. As I wanted to improve my health, I chose to not eat chips and drink soda any more. Prior to this decision I did not even consider this, I just did it. But after the decision, I would often struggle to make the right choice, but now I do not desire those things. They do not tempt me any more, as I have died to that desire.

When we die to self and God begins to control our existence we are more aware of what brings pleasure to God and what honors Him. Being dead to self is the condition where the mere fact that I do not get what I want does not surprise or offend me and has no control over me. We will, as St. Francis of Assisi said, “wear the world like a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly.”

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Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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