"Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" Acts 26:8
One day in prayer, I was asking about the power of God and where it was in my life. God then reminded me of the following Scripture.
"No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John 10:18
I came to understand that the power I needed most was the power to lay down my own self life...and God would take care of the rest.
Jesus could not raise Himself from the dead. This was something He had to trust in and depend upon the Father to do. Yet in God's word, not once do we read about Jesus doubting whether the Father would raise Him. Jesus knew why He had come and He also knew with certainty that the Father would be faithful to raise Him from the dead. We know that the same was true of our forefather in the faith, Abraham, who knew the promises God had made and considered Him faithful to fulfill them, even to the raising of one from the dead (Hebrews 11:19).
However, at the time of Jesus' suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, there was one thing with which He struggled: His will versus the will of the Father. A final death blow to the self life. Jesus knew well that God would resurrect Him in power; His part was to deny His own will so that He could then be raised.
In this one moment at Gethsemane, we see this struggle with "self". What was Jesus' struggle? It was not the issue of having to die on the cross. Jesus had lived His entire life denying Himself, sacrificially doing the Father's will. No, it was preparing to take on the sin of the world, for in doing so, He would be separated from the Father for the first time (Mark 15:34). It wasn't a desire to sin, but a desire for unbroken fellowship with the Father. However, it was the will of the Father for Jesus to experience this as a ransom for the sin of man so that we as well could experience unbroken fellowship with God. As such, Jesus had to set aside even this noble desire to obey the Father's will.
Self life is not only expressed in a desire for that which is unrighteous or sinful. Self life can be expressed in ways that seem to be Godly or of noble intent. In fact, it can be easier to give up the vile desires of self, but much harder to set aside the "Godly" things. When our desires are at odds with God's will or are running ahead of God's will, it is still "self" and must be denied. Even the things God desires for us, must still come to pass in His way and in His timing.
I'll also say this. God can have given you a vision of what He wants to bring to pass in your life, but you still must leave it to Him. If not, you may start to try and establish that vision in your own power and thereby defile it. If God has you offer up that vision as a sacrifice, know that He is still able to resurrect it and bring it to pass once you have learned not to build it yourself (Psalm 127:1). This is what He did for me in the lesson of my marriage, for example, that I recounted a while ago.
Are we willing to lay down everything from the self life? Not just the base things, but even the 'noble' aspirations of self? The commandment the Father had given to Jesus was to "lay down His life" in all areas, and that is the commandment God has given us as well (Luke 9:23; Romans 12:1; II Corinthians 5:15).
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the
ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." John 12:24-25
"Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." I Corinthians 15:36
If nature can be depended upon to bring forth life from a seed which dies, then how much more can we know that our Father in Heaven (the Creator of All) will do the same?
"But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead." II Corinthians 1:9
Learning to deny self - even in the 'good' areas - teaches us the ultimate lesson: not to trust in ourselves. It is in this dying that we learn true dependance upon God and waiting upon Him. It is in this where we see God raise the dead.
When we look at the early church, we can see that they were not perfect, neither were they sinless. Yet, they were was always committing that old man to death. It is this process of dying that allowed the power of God to rest upon them and pour out from them to heal others.
"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that
the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
" II Corinthians 4:10-12
Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; I Thessalonians 1:10; II Timothy 2:8; I Peter 1:21). It is His pleasure, desire, and plan for us to walk in His resurrection power. However, death must come before the quickening.
"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in
you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your
mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Romans 8:11
If we would be faithful to die to our "selves" (our thoughts, perceptions, preferences, desires, ambitions, complaints, demands, etc.), God will be faithful to raise us in His power as living witnesses. At that point, the power of God will be visibly in our lives because it will truly be Christ who is living, and not ourselves.
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:10
No one took Jesus' life from Him. He gave it willingly, He laid it down. We must follow Jesus' example; we must die to our "self". Then we will see the power of God move upon and within us like never before. Like Jesus, God has also given us the power - and the choice - to lay down our own lives...or take them back up again. Will we draw back from denial of self and take up again our own lives, or will we press on so that we can walk in newness of life?
May we always bear about the dying of the Lord Jesus so that His life will be made manifest in our mortal flesh.