Excerpted from In the Cleft of the Rock: Insights into the Blood of Jesus, Resurrection Power, and Saving the Soul by Michael J. Webb
It would appear from the condition of the present-day Church that many, perhaps even most, of the Body of Christ have never been to Gethsemane. 1Peter1:9 tells us that “the end of faith is the salvation of your souls.” The Greek word translated “end” in this passage is “telos” and literally means “completion, or perfection.” Jesus had much to say about the souls of men when He walked among us, not least of which is “he that finds his life (soul) shall lose it: and he that loses his life (soul) for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39) The context of this passage is taking up the cross and following Jesus. In its most basic sense, the idea of taking up the cross means dying to self. It is humbling ourselves before the mighty hand of God and submitting our will to His.
Humility is a fruit of the spirit, i.e., a fruit of the manifest Life of God. Pride is a fruit of the flesh, i.e., a fruit of the manifest life of the soul. The two character traits stand in obvious and direct opposition to one another. The soul’s greatest stronghold is pride, and the spirit’s greatest weapon is humility. Pride drives a person to rule and reign. Humility draws forth the character of a servant.
Many in the body of Christ today truly desire to take up their cross and follow Jesus, but they just can’t seem to stay on it long enough for the nails to be driven in.
A classic example is that of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. He asks Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus answers that he is to keep the commandments. The young ruler replies that he has done so from his youth until now and asks what he lacks. Jesus responds, saying, “If you will be perfect, go and sell all you have and give to the poor.” This is too much for the man. He left sorrowful because his possessions were of more value to him than what Jesus offered. Although he’d kept all the commandments, and Jesus did not dispute this, the one thing he could not do was give up those things which were the product of, and exalted, his soul.
Many professing Christians today find a similar stumbling block when seeking intimacy with the Lord. The principle elucidated by the story of the rich young ruler is not about having, or not having, possessions. It is about the condition of one’s soul. Until an individual learns to figuratively take his or her soul to Gethsemane, and thereby put it to death, the message of the Cross will always be simply theology. It will remain impossible for that person to walk in the fullness of what Christ accomplished with the shedding of His precious blood.
The freedom of the Cross cannot, and will not, become reality for us until we allow the Lord to become both the Shepherd and the Bishop of our soul. (1Peter 2:25)
It is important to understand that Christ must be both our Savior and our Lord for us to walk in the fullness God intends for us. Salvation is the ultimate gift of God, accomplished through the death and resurrection of His precious Son. When we confess Jesus according to Romans 10:9-10 we are saved by the grace of God through faith and His shed blood becomes atonement for our personal sins. It is then that He becomes our personal Shepherd, watching over us as an earthly shepherd watches over and guards his sheep.
Because salvation is a gift, we need only exercise our will and choose to receive the gift by faith. However, we must make another choice as well, and this one is in some respects the more difficult one.
For many, Jesus is their Savior, or Shepherd, but He is not the Lord, or Bishop, of their soul. Bringing the soul into submission is an arduous task for every believer, because the soul has ruled and reigned in our lives since birth. Contrast the picture of the rich young ruler and his possessions with that of Abraham and his son, Isaac. Isaac was Abraham’s child of promise, yet, at God’s command, Abraham offered him up as a sacrifice, having the faith that God would honor His word and provide a lamb. Isaac was to Abraham what the rich young ruler’s possessions were to him. But Abraham made a very different decision, with very different results. Scripture says that Isaac was Abraham’s only son even though Ishmael had been born first. In many ways, Isaac was the fulfillment of the longing in Abraham’s soul. However, unlike the rich young ruler, Abraham was willing to give up that which his soul delighted in, and in so doing he reaped eternal reward.
It is the soul in submission that delights God. David sings to the Lord these words in Psalm 131: “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.” David achieved much in his life, but he also suffered much. Through the things which he suffered he learned to wean his soul from the things of this world.
What is the evidence that we’ve brought our soul into submission?
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