The Only Outcome of Spiritual Growth

By David A. DePra


Transcribed by software with minor edits.

Back to the Goodnews

I am crucified with Christ.  Nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives 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.  (Gal. 2:20)


What is the goal of spiritual growth? What is the outcome of spiritual growth for a Christian believer?  Well, it's found in Galatians 2:20, and it's just this:  Yet not I, but Christ.


The outcome of spiritual growth is going to be a life that proclaims, “Yet not I but Christ!”  The outcome of seeing the truth, the outcome of seeing my emptiness in the light of Christ is that I'm going to proclaim in my living, in my faith, in my relationship with God, “Yet not I, but Christ!”


Now, does that seem like a morbid, depressing existence?  I think to some people it might, but it's not.  Because the more we see Jesus Christ, the more we are going to be occupied with him and the less we're going to be self-occupied.  In fact, we're going to leave ourselves alone because we will know that it's the only thing we can do about ourselves, and it will be the only thing we will want to do about ourselves. 


People that continue to fuss with themselves, and I think we're all guilty to a greater or lesser degree -- old habits die hard -- but Christian people who continue to fuss with themselves, trying to fix themselves, trying to make themselves better, constantly taking their spiritual temperature to see if they measure up to what they think they ought to measure up with, how many understand that all of that is the result of not yet seeing the our true condition?  All of it's the result of not seeing how empty and hopeless we are.  Of course, it really is a frustrated self-righteousness that we continue to try to fix what can't be fixed. 


And so Jesus Christ wants to set us free from all of that.  It's all bondage.  It's all unbelief.  As a believer continues to walk in Christ, we are going to be brought into a greater and greater realization of our hopelessness over ourselves.  Why?  Because God's down on us?  No.  We're going to see the hopelessness about ourselves because we're going to see the truth.  That is the truth.  But alongside of this is going to be a greater and greater hope in Christ as our all. 


God doesn't leave us in a pit of misery.  He gives us something that will lift us out of all of that.  We will come to be occupied and have our hope in Christ and Christ alone.  We're going to be more and more drawn out of ourselves into him.  This is going to be the journey that we have as we grow in Christ. Jesus Christ will increase, and we're going to decrease.  It's going to be, “Yet not I but Christ.”


Now, in relationship to that, alongside of that, as a believer continues to walk in Christ and sees more and more of his greatness, we're going to be brought into a greater awareness of our utter and complete inability to reach him, to comprehend him, or to fellowship with him.  It's going to be like we're brought to a series of dead ends, a series of chasms we can't breach.  We're going to feel if we look at ourselves like we're at the end, there's no hope of knowing him.  There's no hope of reaching Christ.  He's too far beyond us.  He's too great.  He's too vast.  I'm going to understand that unless we come to that place, we're not seeing the truth because he is that much beyond us.  We better see that.  He's God, the Son, and we're just man.  Part of coming into the truth of Christ, of seeing his greatness, is to come to an utter despair over ourselves, if left to ourselves, of our ability to reach him, find him, complement him.  We'll just know that he's other than us.


God says in the Old Testament, My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.  My ways are higher than your ways, as much as the heavens are higher than the earth.  That's the Jesus with whom we have to do.  If that was all there was to it and we were left to ourselves, how far would we get?  Well, we're going to see the utter hopelessness of mustering up anything in and out of ourselves that can reach up to Christ and drag him down.  But we are likewise in growing to know him, going to be brought into a greater realization that he, by his grace, has reached down to us.  In fact, he's come to dwell in the believer.  We're going to realize that because he is faithful and because we are nothing -- that we can fully rely upon Him as the object of our faith. 


It's going to come down to faith, not in ourselves, not in our ability to reach Christ.  We're going to see we can't.  It's going to come down to faith in his faithfulness.  It always comes down to that, doesn't it? You examine every trial you have ever been in, whether it be a situation or just a state of emotion or mind where you felt like you couldn't find God, where you felt like you were lost in your own consciousness of God or whatever it was.


Every one of those times, it comes back to whether you believe God is faithful to be there, regardless of how you feel.  Every one of those times it comes back to whether you believe God is faithful to be there, regardless of how you feel.  Every one of those times it comes back to His faithfulness to you despite all of your weakness and inability.  That's why it says in Hebrews, Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that would draw near to God must believe that God is.  Do you and I believe that God is in our lives? He says he is.  He says, I am faithful.  I'm there.  If you're a believer, if you're a Christian, he's in you.  I mean, what does that say about the times when you don't feel like he's with you? Well, it tells us that's a lie.  Feelings and emotions are lies.  They're completely unreliable.  We have to believe by faith that despite it all, that he is faithful.  He doesn't rely on our feelings or emotions.  He is not our feelings or emotions.  He doesn't talk to us through feelings and emotions.  We live in those things because we live in a fleshly body.


God is other than that and outside of that, faithful and true and never changing, and we can put our faith in Him.  Now, that place to where we're going to be brought to, where we realize that in ourselves we have nothing to reach up to God, but we can believe and must believe that He is faithful to us, that place is a place to which we're going to be brought again and again and again on deeper and deeper levels.  It's how we grow in faith.  We're going to decrease with regards to ourselves, and he is going to increase.  That is spiritual growth, yet not I but Christ.  Somebody once described it as less of me and more of him.  That's true until it gets to the place where there's none of me and all of him, if that were possible, in this age.  We are going to decrease and he will increase.  As that happens, the result is going to be that we're going to be set free from ourselves and we're going to be able to put our faith solely in Him.  How in the world do we think our faith will be in Christ instead of ourselves?


Unless we'll show the truth that we're nothing and that He is everything.  Again, this isn't about God trying to argue us into a position of relationship with Him.  It isn't about God bragging on himself and being down on us.  It's about showing us the truth.  We have to see the truth that we are nothing and that he is everything, that we are recipients and that he is the giver.  It's the only truth there is, and so we might as well warm up to it and rejoice in it because God doesn't have anything else for us to reveal.  And so Jesus Christ has not come to accommodate Himself to us to affirm us or to enhance our self-esteem.  Rather, he has come to break our self-occupation and our delusion of self-righteousness, our delusion of self-ownership.  He's come to break all of that so that we can truly know and experience him as our life.  And as that happens, we're going to grow spiritually and our lives are going to proclaim yet not I, but Christ.  Now, what I've been describing certainly is what the Bible talks about when it talks about the work of the cross.


The work of the cross is absolutely key and central to spiritual growth.  Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus says there, If any man will come after me, notice that word if.  In other words, if we don't do what he's saying to do here, it's not going to be the same.  There's contingency here.  If any man will come after me, here's what that person has to do.  Let him deny himself, which means to let him deny his right to himself.  Let him deny self-ownership.  If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whosoever would save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  Now, this passage is almost entirely ignored by the church today, or it's completely misinterpreted.  Many, in fact, I think many people, many believers are afraid of it because they think if they do this, that their life is going to end up a dumpster fire or something like that.  But all of that aside, Jesus Christ was real clear in this passage.  He says, If anyone will come after me.  He said we have picked up our cross, which is the instrument of death.


He said that if we want to find life, and he is the life, then we have to lose our life by picking up that cross.  He did not mince words.  There is only one way to walk with Jesus Christ and only one way to experience him in his life, and that is by being crucified with him.  Now, again, how often do we hear this preached? I know of a televangelist whose entire ministry, he calls the message of the cross.  He, one day on the air, I heard this personally, read this scripture out of Matthew 16, and he said that the way in which you come into the blessings of God, the way in which you get free from sin, the way in which you walk with Christ is by putting your faith in the cross.  That's what he said.  That's not what Jesus is saying here.  Jesus isn't saying, first of all, to put your faith in a cross.  He isn't even saying to put your faith in the historical act of Jesus dying on the cross.  All of that's included in our faith, but that's not really the object of our faith.  The object of our faith is the person who hung on the cross, Christ crucified.


And Jesus said, if any man would come after me, he didn't say, Believe in the cross, put your faith in the cross.  He said, take up his cross and follow me and lose your life.  How many understand that that's an experiential thing that's the outcome of faith? But it's folks like this tell evangelists and wherever this scripture might even be mentioned how this is often misinterpreted.  You can't get around it.  It's inescapable if you read this passage.  If you want to find Christ as your life, you have to lose yours.  And the way that you lose yours is by denying your right to your life and giving yourself unconditionally to Jesus Christ for whatever it takes for him to bring about your death and his life in you.  Now, I used to call that prayer, and the prayer is, Lord, do whatever takes.  I used to call that prayer the scary prayer.  I called it that because people were afraid to pray it because they're afraid of what will happen if they do.  We ought to be a little bit more concerned about what will happen if we don't.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the promises of God are not a threat of punishment.


When Jesus talked about this here in Matthew 16 and a thousand other places, he was telling us what we need to do to be set free, what we need to do to come into a knowledge of Him.  It's for our good.  Do we want our lives? Do we really want that? Well, we're going to lose them.  I mean, are we that stupid and that foolish and that ignorant? Well, I think a lot of us are ignorant, and I hope we're not stupid and foolish, but we need to wake up.  We need to wake up to the fact that there's nothing that we could hold on to of ourselves and of this life that is of any value whatsoever, eternally.  Now, we got to do business down here.  We got to live.  We got to work.  We have to take care of family.  We have to go about business.  But we have to do so carrying a cross, asking God to do whatever it takes to bring us into his fullness.  If we're not willing to do that, we're not going to come into his fullness.  If we don't pick up our cross, we're not going to find Christ as our life.


If we're not willing to say to Jesus, do whatever it takes, how can we tell him we really trust him? I mean, this is just black on white stuff.  It's time to stop playing games, playing church, playing religion, and get down to brass tacks here.  This is what matters and we're not going anywhere with God if we ignore it.  But as I said, the passage is almost entirely ignored by the church today.  But Jesus was clear.  If anyone come after me, He said, we have to pick up our cross, which is the instrument of our death, and really instrument of death in the sense of death of that old life and all that goes with it.  I'm going to understand that if you give yourself to Jesus and the work of the cross causes you to lose your life, causes you to lose self-ownership, you're losing the very ground in which all sin is rooted.  Is that a bad thing? People want to get free from sins, and it's good if we do.  But we think we can get rid of sins in our life without losing the life in which the sins are rooted.


All sin is rooted in the atom life, in the sin of self-ownership and unbelief.  You hold on to that.  You hold on to yourself.  You might alter your conduct a little bit by jumping through certain religious hoops, but you're not going to get free of sins unless you relinquish the ground of the old man in which all sin is rooted.  Now, that's not maybe and that's not an opinion.  That's an absolute fact.  Read Roman 6.  That's what it's talking about here, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we might no longer serve sin.  Well, if the body of sin isn't destroyed, we're going to serve sin one way or another.  We have to be baptized into his death.  We have to be crucified with Jesus Christ.  Now, we can read multiple verses in the Bible where it talks about fellowship with Christ in his death, being baptized into his death, being crucified with Christ.  Do we think that Paul, the Apostle who wrote most of those verses didn't realize that Jesus Christ was crucified for him as his substitute.  Of course Paul realized that.  Without that, we have nothing.  But we need to come to termto the fact that the fact that Jesus was crucified for us makes it possible for us to be crucified with him because it makes it possible for us to be then raised in him.


We have to come to terms with that.  We have to pick up our cross.  We have to be crucified with Jesus Christ.  And if we do, then what died in Christ on the cross will have the power of it broken in us and ultimately die completely in the resurrection from the dead at the end of the age.  If you want to be set free from sin, if you want to be set free from the atom nature, really, ultimately, if you want to be set free from darkness and ignorance, you have to be crucified with Christ.  You have to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings.  You have to read as we did, Galatians 2:20, I am crucified with Christ, but nevertheless, I live yet not I, but Christ lives in me.  And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of a son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.  Why do we think the first phrase in that incredible verse is, I am crucified with Christ? It's because if we're not, none of the rest can follow.  Yet we've got Christians by the millions who, in ignorance, unwittingly, I'm sure in most cases, who talk about Christ living in them, talk about Christ living through them, talk about coming to look like Jesus, but are completely blind to the necessity of being crucified with Christ.


Now, yes, to be crucified with Christ, you do have to to repent of owning yourself.  You do have to repent of living your life, even your Christian life, on your own terms.  You do have to repent of the sin of unbelief, the sin of self-ownership.  You have to repent of all of that.  You have to renounce it unconditionally, put it in a grave and say, I'm done with it.  It's over and it's never coming back.  You have to repent or you cannot move on.  And all of that goes hand in hand with the necessity of being crucified with Christ, but you also have to realize that you're not your own moving forward.  And like I said, this stuff isn't even preached in churches most weekends.  I watched sermons on YouTube.  I watch sermons of local churches on YouTube.  None of it's ever preached.  They go through books of the Bible, which is fine, but it never gets down to how you live any of it in Christ.  It never gets down to experiencing Christ.  It never gets down to Christ in us to hope of glory or coming into a realization of Christ.  All of that is an unknown.


I truly believe that Satan has succeeded in blinding millions of Christians to the reality of what Christianity really is, meaning Christ in us and coming into a realization of Him.  He's blinded us to that.  If we weren't blind to that and we did come into a realization of Christ, our lives would proclaim yet not I be Christ.  And we would run to the cross to embrace it and want to be crucified with Christ.  It would be the theme.  We would preach the person, but we don't.  We'll preach stuff He did, we'll preach the historical acts.  But for most of us, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the Gospel concerning His son, it's the Gospel of doctrines, and they're important.  But we need to get back to the fact that the Gospel and Christianity itself is a person who wants to live in us.  And so Jesus said, if we want to find life, and remember, he is the only life, then we have to lose our life.  It's the only way to walk with him and the only way to experience him in his life, and that's by being crucified with him.  I quoted again Galatians 2:20, The result of being crucified with Christ is that we are alive in him.


Nevertheless, I live yet not I, but Christ lives in me, in the life I now live.  I live by the faith of the Son of God.  I'm going to understand that what Paul was talking about there is life, his life, Christ's life, that that's a life that's other than natural life.  Jesus Christ did not come to serve as an adjunct to our natural life.  He didn't come to supercharge our natural life, give us a bit of religion, tell us to serve in church and say, Okay, you're going to heaven.  No, Jesus Christ came to bring an end to all that we are in Adam and in place of that, really alongside of it in this age, to become our life.  Now, natural life is basically defined by self.  That's what natural life is defined by.  It's defined by self-occupation, dissipation, and really self-righteousness, even though it may not seem to be for unbelievers, it certainly is defined by that for professing Christians who don't see the truth.  Professing Christians are usually occupied with themselves and with their righteousness before God breaks it.  It's absolutely contrary to life in Christ.  Life in Christ is not defined by self.


Life in Christ is defined by yet not I, yet not self, but Christ.  It is Christ in us and the full impact of being in fellowship with the Son of God that is the Christian life.  It is not us.  It is not our righteousness or our improvement or our value to God.  Lots of folks are all obsessed with their value to God.  They might not even call it that, but it boils down to that.  Am I right with God? Am I of value with God? Is God going to bless me? Is God going to give me stuff that I need? Is God going to do stuff in my life? How can I get God to be with me and bless my life? We've got entire movements in Christianity that are geared to teaching believers how to get God to bless them.  How many understand that if God says you've got to lose your life in order to find life, how many understand that there's no chance that God's going to bless the life that he tells you to lose? He's not.  There's only one destiny for that life, and that is to lose it with the cross.


Its death is the destiny.  If you do that, then you'll find Christ as your life, but it won't be your life anymore.  It'll be his in you.  He'll add to that what pleases Him and what He sees serves His purpose.  That might be bad news for some of us, but it's actually the greatest news that could ever be if we would understand.  I mean, do we actually think that seeing Jesus Christ is going to make us more self-occupied than we already are? That the more we see of Jesus, the bigger we're going to be in our eyes? That as we grow to know Christ, that we're going to become more self-righteous? Well, religion may accomplish that.  I think those are the earmarks of religion.  False Christianity always accomplishes those things.  It creates self-rightious monsters out of people.  It creates people who are all enamored with their own importance to God and other people.  I mean, in fact, the other side of the coin is that a false Christianity will even keep people in defeat over themselves.  While that may not sound like self-righteousness, it is.  It's a frustrated self-righteousness when you're all defeated over yourself and living in a pool of misery.


Now, when you see Jesus Christ and apprehend and realize him and you see that he is all, well, you're going to be carried above and beyond and out of all of that.  Now, the work of the cross goes hand in hand with it.  But seeing Jesus Christ is never going to focus you more on yourself.  It's going to set you free from that because you're going to see a revelation of his greatness and his love and His grace.  In His light, we are going to see that we're nothing.  But how many understand that when you see you're nothing, it'll set you free from yourself? Because you're not going to have anything longer to protect.  You're not going to need to strive to be something.  You're not going to need to pretend to be anything.  You're not going to try to accomplish in and out of yourself anything for God.  If you see you are nothing and there's nothing in there to work with, well, you're going to be able to leave yourself alone.  Christ can be your life, and you're going to be able to walk with him.  Again, yet not I but Christ.  That's the outcome of the work of the cross.


It's freedom.  There's going to be a real death of our self-righteousness and religiousity and self-ownership.  That death is going to come as God exposes us and allows us to fail.  This doesn't happen in a vacuum.  It doesn't happen by sitting in a trance with a Bible on your lap.  It happens by walking through life and being exposed as an utter and complete failure.  You want to be set free from self-righteousness? Expect to fail in achieving your righteousness.  Now, there's people who, every time they fail and try to achieve righteousness, just try harder.  I did that for decades.  God will work to bring you and I to the end of that if we will accept the truth.  Hopefully, we ultimately will, but flesh dies hard, so it may take a while, but God wants our lives to proclaim yet not I but Christ.  Now, as I said before, yet not I but Christ, that is the only outcome of seeing the truth, of walking with Christ, of walking in the truth, of carrying our cross.  Yet not I but Christ, a life that proclaims that is the only life that God has for us.  Again, if it's not bad news, that's good news because it is freedom and we can rejoice in that.


Now, I want to go back for a moment to get a backstory on this from the Garden of Eden, turn to Genesis 2:25.  I'm just going to hit some high points here without getting too deeply into passages.  You'll find in Genesis 2:25 that God actually created Adam to be naked and not ashamed.  I'm going to understand that's figurative language.  Put aside for a moment whether they were physically naked, we don't need to talk about that.  Figuratively, regardless, that is representative of something.  It tells us that the normal human being, according to the mind of God, was naked and not ashamed.  That's how God created Adam.  This was before the sin.  That's a normal human being in God's mind.  It's a human being who had nothing in himself.  That's what it means to be naked, but nevertheless was fully dependent upon God.  That's what it means to be not ashamed.  So naked and not ashamed, Adam had nothing of himself upon which to call as a resource, but it didn't matter because he was fully dependent upon God.  In fact, to the point he didn't even have a consciousness of himself.  He didn't know he was naked, remember.


I'm going to understand that again.  That's a figurative bit of truth.  To be naked and not ashamed and to not know you're naked means you're not conscious of self.  You're not self-occupied because your entire being is turned outward toward God, not inward.  Humanity is turned inward toward self because we have lost fellowship with God through the sin of Adam.  God didn't create us to be that way.  He created us to be turned outward toward Him in living in fellowship and one in Spirit with God Himself.  Now that was the only relationship that God ever intended humanity to have.  Now, if we look at that, we can see that that's exactly what God is doing in believers through Christ.  It's exactly the same relationship that he intended in the beginning and that he wants to restore now.  God created human beings to be one with him in his life.  And the only possible impact of being one with God in his life would be that those human beings would be naked because it's his life, not ours, but not ashamed, because in his life is all that we need.  I'm going to understand that in life is everything.


So if Christ is our life, Christ is our everything.  And if Christ is our life and we're experiencing him as our life, well, we can be naked because we don't need anything in and of ourselves.  We have him, and we won't be ashamed because he is sufficient.  And so after the sin of Adam, God promised to bring humanity back to that condition, really to that relationship with himself through Christ.  Now, Adam sinned by declaring independence from God.  He decided to find life in himself, and that was a mistake, obviously.  It was a horrible sin because there was none.  So he declared independence from God and in doing so, rejected God himself.  And independence from God was exactly what he got.  He was severed from God and now was on his own.  That sin broke his oneness and spirit with God, it broke his oneness and spirit, nevertheless, with life himself, and resulted in spiritual death.  If you're not at one with life himself, you're dead.  That's what happened to Adam.  Conversely, if you are one with life himself, Jesus Christ, well, that's why you're saved and have eternal life.  It's his life in you.  Now, you'll note that after the sin, Adam was no longer naked and not ashamed.


Rather, he did continue to be naked, but now he was fully ashamed.  And he was actually tormented by it.  Adam continued to be naked because he still didn't have life in himself.  He had no resource upon which to call.  But because he was no longer relying upon God and drew life from God, he was ashamed.  In fact, he was tormented by his complete emptiness and lack.  In other words, he, instead of being focused on God now, was focused on himself.  And all that was there to be focused on was corruption and nakedness.  He was left to himself as he chose to be, and he became self-occupied.  How many understand that self-occupation is a curse? It's the result of not knowing God.  I mean, that may be a hard pill for us to swallow, but like I said, you know Jesus Christ.  You'll be drawn out of your self-occupation and the occupation with Him.  But if you don't know Jesus, you're going to be all the more self-occupied.  I'm going to come to terms with that because it is the truth.  We're all in a different phase and we're all in a different stage of growth, but it doesn't change the fact that that is the truth.


That's why the outcome of spiritual growth is yet not I but Christ.  Well, all that Adam could do was be occupied with his own nakedness and corruption.  What a thing to be occupied with.  It was so bad and he was tormented by it to the point where he sought to cover his nakedness.  He sought to fix it to repair himself.  Remember, he tried to sow fig leaves together.  Humanity has been seeking to do exactly the same ever since.  It may have never occurred to many believers that to try to fix the damage that sin has done is sin.  It's unbelief.  It's me doing for myself what Christ has already done.  But actually, it's worse because it's really me trying to be for myself what only Christ can be in me.  The only solution for humanity is Christ in us as our life.  Anything short of that continues the sin of Adam.  It is me being my own life, possessing my own life.  Even if I say that I might be doing it as a Christian, doing good things, I'm going to understand that self-righteousness in the final analysis is me owning myself religiously.  Self-righteessness is me owning myself maybe as a believer, trying to be good enough for God.


It all goes back to self-possession, self-ownership.  Self-righteousness, we see here by reading this garden story, finds its root in the garden.  It's a matter of trying to cover our true condition of nakedness with fig leaves.  For professing Christians, the fig leaves, as I noted, are religiousity, self-rightelessness, and it's fully contrary to the truth and contrary to where the cross will bring us.  Through the cross of Jesus Christ, God will peel off our fig leaves and expose our nakedness.  But He will do so as He reveals to us the one who wants to be our life, and we could say, our covering, Jesus Christ.  God doesn't leave us wallowing in a pity party.  As He exposes us as being nothing, He will expose Christ as our everything if we will believe and hang in.  And so in the final analysis, self-rightefulness, doing what Adam tried to do is what will keep us out of experience in Christ.  Yeah, it's unbelief.  But if we would open ourselves to the truth, God would bring the light of his son and would begin and we would begin to see his greatness and our folly and our corruption.  But we would come to the place where we would actually rejoiceice to be nothing.


We would actually rejoiceice to carry the cross and be set free.  Christian world today always has been as filled with people who hold to and walk in a form of religion called Christianity.  It might contain many good and right biblical doctrines and do lots of nice and good things in that religion.  But the question is whether we have been crucified with Christ.  The question is whether Christ lives in us.  The question isn't what we do.  The question isn't our religion.  The question is who Christ is to us.  And if we see him, we're going to see who we are in relationship to him and our lives will proclaim, yet not I but Christ.  Now, I want to turn to 2 Corinthians 4, and I want to read an important passage there that has to do with what we're talking about here today.  Starting in verse 3, 2 Corinthians 4, lot in here that really goes hand in hand with Galatians 2:20, We're appulsed and crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live yet not I, but Christ lives in me.  In the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.


That's Galatians 2:20.  Here's 2 Corinthians 4, starting in verse three.  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on to them.  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ, that's the yet not I but Christ, for we preach not ourselves but Christ, Jesus, the Lord, and ourselves, your servants for Jesus' sake.  For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earth and vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.  There's Christ lives in me, in the life I now live, I live by the faith of the son of God.  Now, you will notice within this passage that I just read from 2 Corinthians 4, something that I said earlier.  The proclamation of the gospel is the revelation of a person.


We find that several places, collage in one is another place.  We preach Christ.  Of course, include is all that he did.  Absolutely.  But to focus on what he did and to minimize the person who did it is simply another way in which the enemy blinds people to the person of Christ.  The crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension are finished works of the redemption, and they are historical acts upon which redemption is based.  There's no way to minimize any of that.  We get nowhere without it.  But the person of Jesus Christ is the one who accomplished these redemptive acts.  And today the person of Jesus Christ is the one in whom all of these redemptive acts are found.  The reality, the power, the dynamic are all in him.  He didn't do those things and then walk away and say, Here's a bunch of doctrines to believe in.  Over and over again, we're told we preach Christ and God has given all things freely in him.  In him, we have redemption.  As I noted, we have to be crucified with Him to be raised in Him.  We are seated in Him, in the heavenlies.  It's the person who carries in his person all the redemptive acts that he accomplishes.


Published.  They're eternal and they are part of Him.  So you can't experience the cross unless you're crucified with Christ.  It's part of what it means to come with Him and walk with Him.  You can't experience the resurrection unless you're raised with Christ.  You can't be crucified apart from Jesus, have your own little crucifixion and your own little resurrection.  You have to be with Him and in Him.  You can't be seated in the heavenlies unless you're seated in him.  You don't have your own throne.  You have to be seated in him.  Nothing is possible for the believer unless it is experienced in the person of Jesus Christ.  And so the Gospel is a proclamation and a revelation of a person, and in him is all light and truth.  Now, the ongoing purpose, which we read here for which God gave His Spirit, is to shine in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But Paul wants to make sure that we don't think that this is some thing that God does to us by acting on us.  No, he says, We have this treasure who is Christ in an earth and vessel.


In other words, Jesus Christ is in the believer.  He does not merely give us a thing called light, he gives us Christ, who is the light.  And at the end of this passage that I read, we see that the impact of Christ in us, according to Paul, is that we will more and more realize the excellency of the power is not of us, but of God.  That seems so simple, and yet in this day and age, it is often denied.  It's denied in a very deceptive way sometimes, but it's nevertheless denied.  Falls teachers say that we have been given authority and power because of Jesus Christ.  Joel O'stein stands up and has his audience recite what he calls the power of I am.  I am.  I am not God, is but I am a believer.  It goes on and on and on.  I mean, all the word of faith people do that to a greater or lesser degree.  If they don't do it in words, they do it by practice.  It's all a lie.  It's all a deception.  The fact is we haven't been given power, we haven't been given authority, we haven't been given strength.


We haven't been given anything.  We've been given Christ, not a thing.  We've been giving Christ in whom God has given everything else.  There is nothing that is of God that is of us.  You need to understand that.  There is nothing we have as a Christian that is of us.  God didn't dig into us, find something of value, supercharge it, and say, Here, now do this to my glory.  No.  We've been given Christ and it is out from the Christ who was within that all that is of God can be expressed and lived.  Paul says that in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things are passed over, meaning old things of the old creation.  Behold, all things have become new, and all things, the Greek reads in verse 18, are out from God.  Nothing is out from us.  All things are out from God.  How many against you? Yet not I but Christ.  It's simply not possible to truly know Jesus Christ and yet remain blind to the fact that He is all and we're nothing.  It is not possible to know Christ and to continue to preach, teach, and practice lies about him.


These people that preach how valuable we are to God don't know God.  If they knew God, they'd see how valuable God is to us and would see how we are simply recipients.  Another place, 1 Corinthians 1:30 and 31, But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us: wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.  That according it is written, He that glories, let him glory.  What, in ourselves? Because we're recipients? No, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.  We're the glory in the giver.  We're the glory in the one who is the source of all.  We're just recipients.  And so we see that the outcome of knowing Jesus Christ, and consequently, the outcome of spiritual growth, is never that we become spiritual giants in our own eyes.  It's that we become his little children.  Likewise, we will not strive to be someone before God and man, not even before those in the body of Christ.  A lot of self-appointed leaders who are on a glory trip, that's never the outcome of knowing Jesus Christ, ever.  You want to walk with Jesus.  All that's going to be crucified out of you.


And what you will become a little child, you will become what Paul calls a faithful steward, who is content to simply be faithful in what God has given, knowing that it's to his glory, realizing that we are simply recipients of everything by His grace.  How many understand, and this is self-evident, that the grace of God is freely given, but it must be freely received.  The moment I introduce merit or the lack of merit, either one, into grace, I'm no longer freely receiving it.  In fact, I've actually pushed aside grace and replaced it with me.  Now, in that case, God continues to give grace freely.  He always will.  But I will have fallen from grace as the Galatians did because I'm now trying to receive from God on a wrong basis, a basis of myself, a basis of error, my own righteousness.  Fact of the matter is, if I'm growing to see Jesus Christ, I will realize that the grace of God is the only means by which I can have relationship with Him.  That's because I will have seen the greatness of Christ and the emptiness of myself.  What a recipe to be able to see grace.


It's the only one there is.  Somebody who sees that they are nothing and Jesus is everything knows that grace is the only answer.  Yet not I but Christ is the expression of a life, the proclamation of a life that moves in the grace of God.  Yet not I but Christ, as I started the message and said, That is, that statement, yet not I but Christ, is the only outcome of spiritual growth.  It's the only outcome if Jesus Christ has his way with us.  It's the only way to glorify God.  It's the only way to experience Him.  Yet not I but Christ.  We're going to be spending all eternity living in the experiencing and in the expression of that one short phrase.

 Back to the Goodnews