Some Christians, instead of so knowing Christ that they have him in them saving them, lie wasting themselves in self-examination as to whether they are believers, whether they are really trusting in the atonement, whether they are truly sorry for their sins—the way to madness, to despair of the heart. Some even ponder the imponderable—whether they are of the elect, whether theirs is a saving faith—when all the time the man who died for them is waiting to begin to save them from every evil; and first from this self which is consuming them with trouble about its salvation; he will set them free and begin at once to fill them with the fullness of God, if only they will mind what he says to them, which is the beginning, middle, and end of faith. Get up, and do something the master tells you, and so make yourself his disciple at once. Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because he said, Do it, or once abstained because he said, Do not. It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in him, if you do not anything he tells you. What though you should succeed in persuading yourself that you are his disciple, if, after all, he says to you, “Why did you not do the things I told you? Depart from me; I do not know you!” You can begin at once to be a disciple of the Living One by obeying him in the first thing you can think of in which you are not obeying him. We must learn to obey him in everything, and so must begin somewhere: let it be at once, and in the very next thing that lies at the door of our conscience!
Saved from Self
by Leah Morency
MacDonald carries on the theme of Learning and knowing Christ through Obedience. Primarily, Knowing HIM, God in Fullness of Deity (Col. 2:9), having Him in me, saving me, taking Him in to build in me is not an intellectual assent to a doctrine. The LIFE he offers will save me from death, an intellectual assent cannot do the saving.
It is not words on a page I can simply scratch my name on and then go on my way. There is no contract, agreement stating there is an investment to grow in value for me to collect on at a future point.
Life doesn't happen apart from the depths of my absolute utter core of being. Jesus can and will do everything, but does it all right here inside me, and right there Inside you, in every man.
Self, putting off the impending exposure, holds at the gate called intellectual assent, and fuels the struggle and frenzy circles around little phrases of the agreement.
Ever hiding, the Self avoids swinging wide the gates that wall it in. He, our lover and savior, is here in front of us, and sees what we are hiding, and he knows our "self" is hiding out behind the smoke screen of "atonement," "election," or various other pillars of doctrine. We may take our little jots and notes we gather and furiously argue over and and go gate by gate attempting to correct, edit, modify, and direct every other "self" gate we come to.
Note how delightful a scene when this visitor comes to a gate that is wide open and there is no argument to be had!!
Jesus came, in the body, and used his hands, feet, eyes, ears, and mouth, and spiritual power, to model in every way, this: opening the gate to self, and embracing the work of God in bringing Him low and raising Him up again.
We will waste away in the toil to build up our self (the self he refers to as the first in the list of "every evil" he has died to save us from!) Our toil is not building us into God's child, or a reflection of Christ, but the toil of these intellectual questions is the struggle to build the self into a beautiful and spotless, above-the-fray and glorified idol for our self to worship in mirrors and for others to envy and admire. We waste away our actions sculpting and slaving over an ivory lifeless stone heart of the self, working to shape the ideal image we embrace in the moment in our ever shifting minds. We slave to be the admiration of others and, especially, our self.
In love, He sends us away when we come to him with our stacks of contracts and legal agreements about this or that doctrine he did not require us to sign, and to which he never guaranteed a return. He would not let us waste ourselves on the lie, and would not reward our trust in anything other than Him.
The purpose of our obedience is not to satisfy a controlling, needy, or tyrannical God, but to bring our self and others to a Good God who can save us from our self-destruction. And He, the Life in bodily form, will do this work in each of us eventually, because He is all in all and He will have us with Him in the end.