1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. Hos. 6:1-3
There are many good things which I can recount that God has blessed me with. First and foremost, of course, is the salvation of my soul. There is nothing to compare with this grace.
Secondly, there is my pastor, and my wife. I know I might sound stupid saying this, but I am yet to decide who between these two I should put first. For my wife is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones; yet my pastor is as God to me. He has shaped my life to become what I am today.
I could list blessing after blessing that God has bestowed upon me. And yet… among all of the blessings that God has bestowed upon me, there is none I cherish more than God’s hand upon my life. I count God’s chastisement of my self as the most important blessing in my life.
Do not for a minute think that this is something that I have always received with joy. There are times when, like the Apostle Paul when God first began dealing with him, I also have “kicked against the pricks” (Acts 9:5).
There is nothing joyous in the flesh when God begins dealing with us. We can be sure of that.
The Bible declares in Romans 8:7:
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God…”
The mind of the flesh is enmity against God, and we are full of it. We are full of spiritual folly and every kind of sin. When God therefore begins dealing with our fleshly mind or lusts, He goes about it just as you, too, would go about dealing with an enemy: He pummels the flesh to the ground. Actually, He buries it six feet under. God wants the flesh dead and buried; and that’s the reason He brings the revelation of the cross to our hearts. In the Spirit, the cross is the instrument by which we can crucify our flesh every day.
“O happy day!” we sing. “When Jesus washed away my sins.”
When Jesus washes away our sins, we become spotless white. For that to happen, much needs to happen. There will be much confrontation and much flaying of the flesh.
I once read a self-defence manual that said when you shoot at a deadly enemy, you should shoot until the enemy is completely immobilised. “Don’t stop shooting until he stops moving”, it said. That’s when you can be sure that the enemy is absolutely dead.
That is what God does with the flesh. It took Jesus six hours to die. With us, it could take much longer. But God will not stop shooting until He makes sure the flesh is completely dead.
“O, happy day!”
The happiest day in my life was the day God placed His finger and touched my pride. It is the day that God tore me up, ripped me apart. I am forever grateful for that day, – and days – and I am forever grateful for the people God used to bring these situations upon me.
Yes, God uses people. We can see that all over the Book of Acts and in the Pauline epistles.
I had always read Paul’s words,
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)
But I had never stopped to think what these things constituted in Paul’s life. But now I know they comprised of the most debasing, offensive and degrading things, things that were done to him by… men. All this was orchestrated by God to break Paul’s pride; to break the “I” in him.
God cannot work with us while we are carrying the flesh. We must die in order that Christ’s resurrection life may be found in us. You cannot possibly compare this miserable, earthly life that we carry (which is nothing but death) with the life that God wants to give to us – Christ’s resurrection life. The latter is full of faith, joy, love, peace, and hope.
Finally, let us look at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:10:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
Notice Paul is saying that he worked more than all the other apostles. But in saying so, Paul is not applauding himself; rather, he is exalting the grace of God that was in him. He says:
“… I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
In other words, Paul had more grace than the other apostles.
How did so much grace come to be upon Paul? Is God a respecter of persons? Of course not. But the reason Paul had so much grace upon him was because he allowed God to break him more. The reason for abundant grace being upon Paul are his words that we just read in 2 Cor. 12:10:
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Paul rejoiced in these things!
The more we rejoice in these things also, the more grace we will have, just as Paul had, for God is no respecter of persons.
And, pray, what does the Bible mean when it says that Paul “laboured more abundantly than they all”? Is it that he preached more than they? It could well be that he did, but that is not what scripture is talking about here. On the contrary, here Paul is saying that he had more of the fruit of the Spirit in him than the rest of the apostles. He had more patience, more love, more faith, more of everything of the Spirit, for the grace of God was upon him.
It is for this reason that the Bible says Jesus had the Spirit without “measure” (Jn. 3:34).
I have heard some people preach that the Spirit has been given to us without measure. But it is important to qualify that statement. The Spirit was given to Jesus without measure because He
“… poured out his soul unto death” (Is. 53:12)
Have you poured out your soul unto death? The Spirit – and, by inference, God’s grace – can only be given to us without measure to the extent that we lay down our lives just as Jesus did.
And by God’s grace we are not talking about miracles or prophesying (cf. Mat. 7:22). Rather, we are talking of the grace to live the crucified life – the ability to forgive, to repent, to die to the lusts of the flesh, to die to our pride.
The central question is, How can the Lord heal, if He has not wounded us? It is impossible.
God must wound us first. We must spend two days in the belly of the whale, and on the third day God will raise us up with Christ.
[He is all I need]