1 Corinthians 2:1 – I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
One who is determined has their mind made up. They have decided or resolved to do a certain thing. They are resolute and unwavering in their decision. Paul’s determination came from something beyond him. It came from the power of the cross of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Watchman Nee wrote in his book, “The Latent Power of the Soul” that God put tremendous ability in man’s soul beyond what we normally use. The problem is that “soul power” belongs to the old nature and not the new. Determination for the believer must be associated with the cross of Christ and not some natural reasoning from our old nature.
A sign the Holy Spirit is at work in us is in the destroying our confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). In Philippians 3:4, Paul goes on to say that more than anybody, he could put his confidence in his flesh. He chose not to because he recognized he died with Christ and now his source of life came from the resurrection power of the Lord. If we try to cling to natural virtues while God desires to bring forth the life of His Son in us, we find ourselves fighting against God. The virtue of Christ is in the “Fruit of the Spirit” alone.
Our determination should be rooted in the freedom of Christ which brings true liberty in our life experience. The biblical order that leads to a determination to follow the Lord is found in repentance, forgiveness, conversion, and a life of trust in God.
Individuality, independence, and natural reasoning are all a part of self-preservation. True freedom comes when I let go of hurts, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. This includes anything which relates to “self-preservation.” Only the wisdom of God through the cross of Christ can supply the power for our human condition.
Now is a great time to embrace Christ’s cross. For some, it may be the first time. For others, it could be a renewal of a commitment made years ago. Allow the Lord to conquer more of the natural man to include your plans, efforts, and reasoning. Ask Him to release a greater degree of His Life through the Holy Spirit in your planning, your work, and, your thought process. Be determined to know less of what you know and to know more of Jesus and Him crucified. Only through this kind of determination can we know the demonstration of His power and His life released through us.
Father, let the mind of Christ be in me. I want to embrace Christ more and more. Please conquer every area of the natural man. Cause me to become as determined as Paul became in knowing Christ and His cross each day of my life.
Isaiah 11:1-2 – A shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Jesse was King David’s father. God promised David that the Messiah would come from his generational line. The promise of the Father was that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on David’s promised son. Many of the common folks of Jesus’ day recognized Him as the “Son of David” (Matthew 21:9).
Isaiah identifies six manifestations of the Spirit that would be seen operating in the life of David’s greatest Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The spirit of wisdom is mentioned first, followed by understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord.
The spirit of wisdom is the discerning of consequences of wrong actions from an eternal perspective. Jesus knew the hearts of all men, which is to say, He knew their motives. He was able to respond in wisdom to all their trick questions and wrong motivations.
The spirit of understanding is the ability to bring into light why and how people behave as they do. It is the ability to identify wrong behavioral patterns and to establish healthy ones.
The spirit of counsel is the knowing of God’s purpose and will in the life of an individual. It is to know how to reverse the effects of sin through understanding the counsel of God.
The spirit of might is the demonstration of God’s power over the addictions sin produces. It is the power to bring deliverance and healing from sin’s results.
The spirit of knowledge is having an eternal perspective that produces purpose and a fulfillment of divine destiny.
The spirit of the fear of the Lord is an awareness of God’s presence and brings the healing to a seared conscience. The spirit of the fear of the Lord calls out hypocrisy and identifies a “seared conscience” (1Timothy 4:1-2). The fear of the Lord keeps one away from evil (Proverbs 16:6).
Father, I ask for these manifestations of Your presence to be operating in my life as it was in the life of Your Son, whom You call “the Son of David.”
We have discovered in previous devotions how the Lord is helping us “Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” God is working in us for His good pleasure. He tells us, “Do all things without murmuring and disputing,” because He is working a divine emptying process in our lives to bring about biblical humility.
The Holy Spirit is not at work to make us weak and spineless, He is at work to reveal Christ in us through meekness and boldness. Society has emasculated manhood. God is not bringing us to weakness, but to be strong through gentleness!
Meekness is not weakness! Meekness is yielded strength under control. I think of the great stallion that has been broken and bridled. He still has the same strength and force, but he can be ridden and his power guided.
In meekness, Jesus was willing to empty Himself and do what the Father had appointed. Jesus chose to empty Himself and be guided only by the Holy Spirit throughout His entire human life. Jesus said, “Father, I will go through this shame and all the failure.” He was willing to die, not in a hospital taking pain medicine, but on the cross in great suffering. It was cruel and humiliating. He took all the shame and all the humiliation for us. He was humiliated so we could succeed. I too must choose to empty myself and be filled with His meekness which will result in strength.
“Meekness is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word humility. It is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect” (Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine pp. 294 from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).
Why not say to the Lord, “Go ahead, Jesus, finish what you started in me.” Whatever our age might be, simply yield to the Lord and allow His strength to work in you mightily. The Lord is meek, but He is strong. Paul learned to walk in the meekness and strength of Christ. It is possible to know both Christ’s gentleness and His great strength as we yield to Him in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Father today to give you both meekness and boldness as you live out your salvation.
Philippians 2:5-7 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself.
We must be emptied in order to be filled. Philippians 2 reveals seven areas of Christ Jesus’ attitude about being emptied and allowing His Father to lift Him up through the exaltation of the resurrection. Through the resurrection, Christ is drawing men to Himself. “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die, death on the cross. It is in dying, life is found.
7a – Don’t exalt yourself
7b – Choose to be a servant
8 – Humble yourself through obedience, even to death of self
9 – Let God exalt and lift you up
9 – Let God give you a name that others honor
12 – Obey God in your private life
14 – Be content and don’t murmur or argue
The Lord is bringing about a divine emptying process in our life. He has called us to fully enter into Christ’s life and have His attitude in everything. The Lord Jesus Christ had one desire and that was to fully honor His Father, drawing all the attention to Him. What is our desire? Philippians chapter 2 reveals the example the Lord set for every believer. We are to follow His attitude. “I only want to be exalted in Christ and exalted by Christ.” If you are exalted by anything else, it only draws attention back to you. The world is filled with self-exaltation and honors its own.
Paul leads us from humility to exaltation and an understanding that it is God at work in us for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12). This process starts in us when we confess Jesus as Lord. From that day, we are to serve God’s good pleasure. Christ’s attitude in us will continue all of our life as we choose Jesus’ Lordship in every choice we make.
Father, I choose for You to have Your good pleasure in me. My life is no longer my own, but it belongs to You. Establish in me the attitude of Christ, an attitude of humility and allowing Your Holy Spirit to be the One to exalt me for Your glory and praise.
Philippians 2:5-11 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The key to overcoming the flesh is humility. I’m not speaking of a feeling that I am not worthy. Many of God’s people have an attitude of false humility which can generate self-righteousness, pride, and anger that is rooted in shame. Many say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace!” Yes, you were a sinner. Don’t stay there! You were saved by grace. Now be a son of God as He called you to be.
James writes, “Humble yourselves in the sight of God, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). When the Lord lifts us up there is no sense of shame. Shame generates false humility while the grace of God generates a sense of true acceptance. True humility says, “I can do nothing of myself.” If I receive anything, it comes from God! You lift your head and say, “Look what God has made me.” This is biblical humility. Jesus said in John 5, “I can do nothing of myself, only what I see the Father doing.” The Son did a lot, but He did not do things from His own initiation. The proper response when honored by another is to say, “Thank you for your recognition.” Afterwards, deflect the glory and thank God for what He allowed you to do. “Lord, I thank You for working through me.”
When we have a right attitude concerning humility and how God sees us in Christ, faith is generated and this enables us to do exploits for our God. He made us who we are through Jesus Christ. He empowers us to do His will. We acknowledge that we are simply yielded vessels, ready to be used by the Lord for His glory. That kind of attitude leaves no place for shame. Pride and self-will are both bound and we are free to live out what the Lord has made us to be.
Father, cause me to know the difference between false and true humility. Grant me grace to receive all You have done for me. Let the attitude that was in Christ reign in me, that I might be emptied of self and filled with Your holy presence.