The Way Down is The Way Up

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, this is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:24)

What is man’s greatest need? Does he need to love himself more, or maybe have greater self-esteem, or possibly be more self-fulfilled? Did Christ come to give us better health, greater prosperity and the like? The Biblical answer is in complete opposition to this common misrepresentation of the gospel. 

The answer is not that we need to love ourselves more than we already do (we do a pretty good job of that already), but rather we need to loathe ourselves more because of who God says we are by our very nature. (See Romans 3:9-18.) Once God opens our hearts to truly understand our total sinful condition, we hate what we see. Then more than anything else, we want to be different; we want a new life, which is pleasing to God. This is the gospel paradox that our Lord preached about so often. 

The paradox is that if we try to hold onto our own lives, we will invariably lose our eternal life with God. But if we are willing to discard our own lives for Christ’s sake, we will gain eternal life. This change of view can happen only by the work of the Holy Spirit, as He applies the Word of God to our hearts. This is the beginning of repentance.

Repentance is a by-product of self-hate. Job, who God described as blameless and upright, upon seeing the LORD said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6) And Jesus taught, “… But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3)

Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Repentance means you realize you are a guilty, vile sinner in the presence of God, that you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell bound. It means that you begin to realize that this thing called ‘sin’ is in you, that you long to get rid of it, that you turn your back on it in every shape and form.”  

For whom are you living—yourself or Christ? Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Can you agree with Paul who said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”? (Philippians 1:21)

By Jim Connell

Jim and his wife, Becky, moved from Indiana to Lexington to establish the Lexington Rescue Mission. They have two married children, Laura and Brian.






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