The Seeds of Forbidden Fruit, Part 4 (Conclusion)

Now we consider the question, If the “seeds of forbidden fruit” (pride, independence, unbelief and self-will) comprised the original sin of Adam, could their opposites point the way for Christians to experience life more abundantly? In other words, are humility, dependence, faith, and submission essential to the Abiding Life? Yes indeed!

1. Abundant life requires humility.

If the main problem for the lost person is spiritual death, then the main obstacle for the struggling Christian is the self-life. When we repented of sin, we humbled ourselves, but what about now? Could pride be preventing us from experiencing the fullness of life in Christ?

The tricky thing about pride is that we don’t recognize it unless it is full-blown arrogance (and even then, western culture applauds it as “assertiveness”!). Notice, however, how Scripture admonishes believers to grow in humility: “I … beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness … (Eph. 4:1,2). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

What are indications of pride in the Christian Life? Pride shows itself by a lack of prayer (“I can handle things”); self-righteousness (“I can perform”); accepting praise (instead of acknowledging the contributions of others and the enablement of God); and measuring the value of change by how it affects me (instead of considering what is best for everyone and what would advance God’s kingdom). The list goes on.

Andrew Murray counsels us to humble ourselves as we look to Christ for all we need:

“Be sure that at the root of all real experience of more grace, of all true advance in consecration, of all actually increasing conformity to the likeness of Jesus, there must be a deadness to self that proves itself to God and men in our dispositions and habits. It is sadly possible to speak of the death-life and the Spirit-walk, while even the tenderest love cannot cannot see how much there is of self. The 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 … The Lamb of God means two things–meekness and death. Let us receive Him in both forms. In Him they are inseparable; they must be in us too.” [1]

Exchanged Life counselors see a paradox: those who have credentials and effective coping skills are less likely to experience the brokenness that leads to full identification with Christ.

Remember, fellow believer, “Blessed are the meek …” (Matt. 5:5).

2. Abundant life requires full dependence on God.

In John 15:1-8 the Lord Jesus illustrates spiritual union by the metaphor of the vine and branches. Notice how this illustrates the need for the disciple to totally depend on the indwelling Christ. The Lord testified, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser … Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1,4-5).

In The True Vine, Andrew Murray addresses the issue of dependence:

“The vine has its stores of life and sap and strength, not for itself, but for the branches. The branches have nothing but what the vine provides and imparts. The believer is called to, and it is his highest blessedness to enter upon, a life of entire and unceasing dependence upon Christ. Day and night, every moment, Christ is to work in him all he needs.”[2]

This explains the Lord’s answer to Paul. When his “thorn in the flesh” was not removed, Paul was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” And how did the apostle respond? He said, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Paul accepted his weakness and thereby discovered the wisdom of God’s arrangement: abundant life comes only through total dependence!

Full dependence does not cause passivity, but confident cooperation. Notice this balance: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling [our activity]; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure [God’s enablement]” (Phil. 2:12,13).

Friend, who are you depending on to live the Christian life? Only one Person can do it–Christ! Therefore, rely on Him to live His life through you (Gal. 2:20).

3. Abundant life requires faith.

Faith is not only the agent for salvation from sin, it is also the agent for salvation from self.

Faith spans the whole realm of discipleship. “For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith‘” (Rom. 1:17).

As you believed the gospel for salvation, believe the good news of the saving life of Christ: “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [from the self-life] by His life [within the believer]” (Rom. 5:10).

You began your Christian life through believing, so go on to fullness of life through believing: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Col. 2:6).

We can never fully comprehend how abundant life comes through abiding. It is a mystery we must be accept by faith. “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27; Cf. Heb. 11:6).

As the Lord Jesus encouraged Martha before raising her brother from the dead, so He encourages you, His doubting child: “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40). What is “the glory of God”? God’s glory is the impressive manifestation of His attributes. When you let go and let God, He will glorify His name in and through your life!

4. Abundant life requires surrender to God’s will.

The abundant life is nothing less than Christ’s life in and through the believer. But, we cannot enjoy Christ’s life on our terms. Christ’s life is always and exclusively passionate for the Father’s will.

Remember, when the disciples came to Him after getting some groceries, He announced, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” And they wondered, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” And Christ replied, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:32-34). God’s will was Christ’s food–it nourished Him. And if we are abiding in Christ, our independent will must continually yield to His will. This is a vital aspect of the Cross in discipleship (Luke 9:23).

Since we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and live under grace, God’s commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). Instead, as we discover how loving God really is, we find His will to be life-affirming. Why not? God’s will is “good, acceptable, and perfect”! (Rom. 12:2).

Dr. Harry Guiness told of a time when all the water supply in his college in Derbyshire, England had been blocked. They searched the cisterns and the plumbing, but could not discover the blockage. Finally, they explored the main reservoir pipe’s connection to the house pipe. There they discovered the problem. In the orifice squatted a huge toad! Evidently swimming in as a tadpole, it had grown to the size where it had clogged the water supply. Once the toad was removed, the water flowed freely again.[3] Similarly the “seeds of forbidden fruit” can subtly grow in the self-life, blocking the disciple from whole-hearted devotion to Christ.

Fellow believer, in light of how Adam’s rebellion contrasts with Christ’s provision, will you fully turn from the self-life? With a heart of humility, dependence, faith, and surrender, continually look unto Jesus for abundant life. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).


Part 4 of 4 (conclusion)

Notes:

[1] Andrew Murray, Humility: the Beauty of Holiness, (NY: Fleming H. Revell), p. 77(emphasis added).

[2] Andrew Murray, The True Vine, (Chicago: Moody Press), p. 17.

[3] F. B. Meyer, The Christ-Life for the Self-Life, (Chicago: Moody Press), p. 19.

Copyright 2002 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint Grace Notes for non-commercial use. This is a slightly revised edition, Nov. 2006.

Copyright, John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Subscribe to receive Grace Notes

Grace Notes is a Biblical email devotional sent weekly and freely to our subscribers. The goal is to highlight the dynamics of abundant living through Christ.

  • And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Please feel free to subscribe! It's free!

cross_sunset

Sign up to receive Grace Notes weekly

Everyone needs grace, so everyone needs Grace Notes! Receive our weekly publication, free, in your inbox. Timely messages to meet your grace need.

"I love Grace Notes!" -- DP, subscriber

A verification email from Grace Notebook has just been sent to you! Please click on it to confirm your subscription.

If you do NOT click on the confirmation link in this email, your email address will NOT be added.

If the email does not appear shortly, please check your spam folder. If possible, please whitelist john@gracenotebook.com.

Thank-you!

boy

Hold on!

cross_sunset

Sign up to receive Grace Notes weekly

Everyone needs grace, so everyone needs Grace Notes! Receive our weekly publication, free, in your inbox. Timely messages to meet your grace need.

Close

"I love Grace Notes!" -- DP, subscriber

boy

Hold On!

A verification email from Grace Notebook has just been sent to you! Please click on it to confirm your subscription.

Close

If you do NOT click on the confirmation link in this email, your email address will NOT be added.

If the email does not appear shortly, please check your spam folder. If possible, please whitelist john@gracenotebook.com.

Thank-you!