Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 10
Humility and Death to Self
"He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross" (Philippians 2:8)
Humility is the path to death, because in death it gives the most evident proof of its perfection. Humility is the blossom of which death to "self" is the perfect fruit. Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death, and revealed the path we too must walk. As there was no way for Him to prove the completeness of His surrender to God, or leave His human nature behind but through death, so it is with us too. Humility must lead us to die to self. In this way, we prove how completely we have given ourselves up to it and to God. We are freed from the fallen nature, and find the path that leads to life in God. Humility is the breath and joy of that new nature.
We spoke of what Jesus did for His disciples when He communicated His resurrection life to them. How through sending the Holy Spirit, He, the glorified and enthroned Meekness, actually came from heaven Himself to dwell in them. He won the power to do this through His death. In its inmost nature, the life He offered was a life out of death, a life that had been surrendered to death, and had been won through death. He who came to dwell in them was Himself One who had been dead and now lives forevermore. His life, His person, His presence, bears the evidence of death, of being a life born out of death. That life in His disciples bears the evidence of death too. It is only as the spirit of the death, of the dying One, dwells and works in the soul, that the power of His life can be known. The first and most prominent of the marks of the dying of the Lord Jesus, of the evidence that shows the true followers of Jesus, is humility, for these two reasons: Only humility leads to perfect death, and only death perfects humility. Humility and death are in their very nature one. Humility is the bud, and in death, the fruit is ripened to perfection.
Humility leads to perfect death. Humility means the giving up of self, and taking the place of perfect nothingness before God.
Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient unto death. In death, He gave the highest, the perfect proof of having given up His will to the will of God. In death, He gave up His "self", with its natural reluctance to drink the cup. He gave up the life He had in common with our human nature. He died to self and the sin that tempted Him. So, as man, He entered into the perfect life of God. If it had not been for His endless humility, counting Himself as nothing except as a servant to do and suffer the will of God, He never would have died.
This gives us the answer to the question that is so often asked, but which is so seldom understood: How can I die to self? The death to self is not your work, it is God's work. In Christ, you are dead to sin. The life in you has gone through the process of death and resurrection. You can be sure you are dead to sin. The full manifestation of the power of this death in your character and conduct depends on how fully the Holy Spirit gives the power of the death of Christ. Here is where teaching is needed. If you desire to enter into full fellowship with Christ in His death and know the full deliverance from self, humble yourself. This is your one duty. Place yourself before God in your utter helplessness. Agree with the fact that you are helpless to slay or make yourself alive. Sink down into your own nothingness, in the spirit of meek, patient, and trustful surrender to God. Accept every humiliation; look at every fellow man who annoys or offends you, as a way for grace to humble you. Use every opportunity of humbling yourself before your fellow man as a steppingstone to live a humble life before God. God will accept the humbling of yourself as proof that your whole heart desires it. Humbling yourself is your preparation for His mighty work of grace as He reveals Christ fully in you. It is the path of humility that leads to perfect death, the full and perfect understanding that we are dead in Christ.
Only this death leads to perfect humility. Oh, beware of the mistake so many make, who are eager to be humble, but are afraid to be too humble. They have so many qualifications and limitations, so many reasons and questions, as to what true humility is to be and to do, that they never unreservedly yield themselves to it. Beware of this. Humble yourself unto death. It is in death to self that humility is perfected. You can be confident that at the core of all real experience of increasing grace, of all true growth in sanctification, of all increasing conformity to the likeness of Jesus, there must be a deadness to self that proves itself to God and men in our character and actions. Sadly, it is possible to speak of the death-life and the Spirit-walk, while being unable to see how much there is of self. Death to self has no surer death-mark than a humility which makes itself of no reputation, which empties out itself, and takes the form of a servant. It is possible to speak often and honestly of fellowship with a despised and rejected Jesus, and of bearing His cross, while the humility of the Lamb of God is not seen and is barely thought of. The Lamb of God means two things: meekness and death. Let us seek to receive Him in both forms. In Him, they are inseparable. They must be in us too.
What a hopeless task if we had to do the work! Nature can never overcome nature, not even in the new man. Praise God, the work has been done, finished, and perfected forever! The death of Jesus, once and forever, is our death to self. The ascension of Jesus, His entering once and forever into the holiest place, has given us the Holy Spirit to communicate to us in power, and make the power of the death-life ours. As the soul, in the pursuit and practise of humility, follows in the steps of Jesus, its awareness of the need of something more is awakened. Its desire and hope is invigorated. It faith is strengthened, and it learns look up, claim, and receive the fullness of the Spirit of Jesus. This faith can daily maintain His death to self and sin in its full power, and make humility the penetrating spirit of our life.
"Know ye not that all of us that are baptized into Jesus the Christ are baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3). "Likewise also reckon yourselves to be truly dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Romans 6:11). "Present yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead" (Romans 6:13). The whole self-consciousness of the Christian is to be saturated and characterized by the spirit that brought about the death of Christ. His entire existence is to present himself to God as one who has died in Christ, and in Christ is alive from the dead, exhibiting in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus. His life ever bears witness to the death to sin and death, and new life resurrected in power where Jesus dwells.
Believer, claim in faith the death and the life of Jesus as your own. Enter His grave, into the rest from self and its work, the rest of God. With Christ, who committed His spirit into the Father's hands, humble yourself and descend each day into that perfect, helpless dependence on God. God will raise you up and exalt you. Sink every morning in deep, deep nothingness into the grave of Jesus; every day the life of Jesus will be manifest in thee. Let a willing, loving, restful, happy humility be the evidence that you have claimed your birthright: the baptism into the death of Christ. "For by one offering he has perfected for ever those that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). The souls that enter into His humiliation will find in Him the power to see and count self as dead. As those who have learned and received of Him, they will walk with all lowliness and meekness, forbearing one another in love. The death-life is seen in meekness and lowliness like that of Christ.
(continued with # 11 - Humility and Happiness