Members Forums Articles Help Search
01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories: General Articles      Tags:
Salvation from Our Sin and From Ourselves
Ed M. Smith

"Therefore as you have received ?Christ Jesus the Lord, so ??walk in Him" (Col. 2:6).

When I came to Christ over thirty years ago the Lord did for me something that I could not do for myself. He made me to be a new creation. I entered the "in Christ" position with God and thus "if any man is in Christ he is a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17). As a result of His atoning work on the cross and life giving resurrection, He gave me a "??new ??self, which ?in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph 4:24). This was an act of God that was given to me as I chose to submit myself to His grace and then through faith receive what He had to offer me. I do not fully understand all that took place that day but something radically changed in me. Something died and something came into life. Over time a new Ed Smith began to emerge that was not there before. I saw a noticeable and radical transformation take place in my heart that has continued to propel me forward each and every day since. This was a work of God that only He could do. There was nothing in myself that could have brought it about. "Once I was blind but now I could see." I am sure that most of you know exactly what I mean and can testify to a similar experience of saving grace. This testimony simply affirms the biblical truth that "by grace you have been saved ?through faith; and ??that not of yourselves, it is ??the gift of God; ?not as a result of works, so that ?no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). This is nothing new for you since it has been your testimony and proclamation of faith since the day you came to know Christ. However, there are many of us who enter by faith into this journey with the Lord, totally trusting Him to save us from our sin and usher us into His eternal Kingdom, but then unknowingly enter into a "work mode" when it comes to living out the rest of our Christian life. We say, "Thank you God for saving me from my sin" but fail to see the utter necessity of God saving us from that which remains in our yet to be redeemed fleshly residue. This residue is made up in part of our self-accomplishments, defenses against emotional duress, and futile effort in self-preservation.

The Apostle Paul instructs us that in the same way that we entered into this transforming relationship with Christ we should also "walk in Him" (Col. 2:6). In the same way that we need God to save us from our sin (salvation) we need Him to save us from ourselves. When I say "ourselves" my primary focus is,but is not limited to, the infrastructure we have devised over time to maintain our outward presentation, keep hidden that which we do not want others to see, and deny what we do not want to know or embrace about ourselves. These strong defenses have been put into place over the years as a response to painful life circumstances and as a protection from perceived or assumed future pain. However, what we have designed to protect us actually keeps us in bondage to our lie-based thinking and consequential painful negative emotion. Though these defensive structures have succeeded to some degree in protecting us from feeling historical emotional pain and have provided some defense of what is to come, these same embattled fortresses keep us from knowing the "new creation", or the true person of our heart that is "hidden in Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).. Thus, the same wall that maintains and suppresses our inner pain also hinders the expression of our true heart in Christ. Freedom from these self-erected walls of defense is not accomplished through self-doing anymore than attaining salvation; both require the work of God. I have watched this reality over the years as I have ministered to many people and received ministry. Just recently I found my self at a place where I was feeling a great amount of emotional duress but yet was not able to work past my inner defenses to access the source. I was again reminded that I needed God to save me from myself. In this place of inner resistance, God will not violate my will and force me to go to my places of inner pain and turmoil, but He can orchestrate my surroundings that may indeed influence and motivate my choosing. There is is a simple principle at work here: "When the pain on the outside becomes greater than the pain on the inside, one tends to move in the direction of the lesser intensity." It is somewhat like having a tooth ache. I hate going to a dentist and will avoid such at about any cost. However, when the pain in my mouth becomes greater than the resistance to get it taken care of, I make the appointment.

Some have mistaken this outward defensive structure presentation as our personality. Even though what we present on the outside is indeed what most people use to gauge and define their assessment of who they think we are, it is often far removed from our true self.

What is personality?

As I look back at myself over the last ten years, I have witnessed radical changes taking place in what I used to define as my personality. What I live out today looks very different from what I presented ten years ago. Back then,prior to TPM, Sharon and I traveled all across the country in an old converted Greyhound bus doing marriage enrichment seminars. I was teaching a basic cognitive/behavioral approach to finding release from the emotional bondages in our lives in the context of marriage enrichment. If you had first encountered me teaching on stage in front of a group you might have surmised that I was a "together, confident, spiritually minded, and knowledgeable" sort of fellow. I was a good presenter of information, animated and connecting with my audience. However, if you caught me alone one-to-one after the presentation you would have found a different presentation. I would not have much to say to you, I would not be engaging and would have had a difficult time maintaining eye contact with you. You may have assumed that I was aloof, uninterested and disconnected. Depending on your own level of mind renewal and healing, I may have offended you and triggered you by my behavior. I offended many people during this period of my life without even trying. My explanation and defense back then was that this was just my personality. However, what I was presenting on stage was very different from what I presented one-on-one. If this was my personality, then I had more than one. If I had taken a personality test to determine my personality type, I would have scored high in the introverted, antisocial area. However, when I was in front of people teaching, I felt safe and in control and my "personality" changed. This was confusing for people (and for myself) and did not make sense. If my personality was introverted and antisocial then why did it change in different circumstances? As I look back I now realize that this was not my personality but rather an outward presentation of an inner defensive infrastructure hiding my deeper pain depending on what was called for. True personality is not what we present but rather who we are. (I just said something really important here in case you missed it.) Who and what we are can become completely hidden by our defensive infrastructure used to guard and protect ourselves. It is possible that our presentation may reveal who we are from time to time but it is not what or who we are and for the most part is not even close to who we actually may be.

Our true self is the person that God has spiritually birthed that came into existence the day we came to Christ in faith. Our old self was crucified with Him (Gal. 2:20) and our new self was raised up with Him (Col. 3:1). The problem is, this true self that was "raised up" with him tends to be buried deep down beneath all of our defensive layers of self-protection and false identify. The lies of our life have hidden that which God wants to reveal. I would suggest that for the most part, what we present (what some call personality) is not who we are but rather a fabrication of defensive strategies that hide and deny what we believe about ourselves. For that which we think we are (unloved, shameful, incapable, stupid, worthless, unacceptable etc.) is unbearable and thus hidden away requiring us to present a false representation more acceptable to others and to ourselves (performance in the midst of pain). Some of us do this better than others appearing to have it all together (Example: Ed Smith 1995). Some of us who are the ones always in emotional trouble that the more successful performers take care of have become weary and given up (and provide ministry.) Our true self/personality may only be seen as we are successful in finding freedom from all the layers of false presentation that tends to stand out in front and keep the lie-based pain and our true heart buried. In other words, our true self is that which is rooted in truth. Therefore, anything that is rooted in lie-based thinking is not who we really are and thus what we present that is rooted in lies is a false presentation of self. Nevertheless, what we believe about our self, whether true or false, will manifest it self through our presentation. When we come to know the truth about who we really are and find freedom from the falsehood that covers this , our presentation will more clearly represent what our true self looks like.

The God Who Saves Me From Myself

Since there is this necessity for the false defensive structure that we have erected to be displaced so that our true personality in Christ may be realized, we need God's intervention in the same way that needed Him to save us from our sin. The Ephesian passage I quoted early, "For by Grace are you saved through faith…" is one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament. and was one of the first bible verses that I memorized as a child after John 3:16. It is important to note, that this passage is not self-contained but part of a body of thought that is continued in the next several verses where the apostle Paulcompletes his thought in the next several verses that follow. "For we are His workmanship, ?created in ?Christ Jesus for ?good works, which God ?prepared beforehand so that we would ?walk in them" (Eph 2:10). In the context of grace, faith and total dependence Paul says "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works." This passage is not saying "it is by grace and faith you are saved but now go out and perform good works on your own." Paul says it is God who saved you and that we are His workmanship created for"good works." What God began in the new creation by faith He is continuing in sanctification and mind renewal through faith. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "Are you so foolish? Having begun ?by the Spirit, are you now ??being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3) At the beginning of this article I wrote the passage from Colossians that says, "Therefore as you have received ?Christ Jesus the Lord, so ??walk in Him." In the same way (grace and faith) we received the Lord we are to walk in Him. In short, in the same way I need God to save me from my sin (salvation) I need Him to save me from myself (sanctification and renewal).

Application in Ministry

Salvation from myself begins with an acknowledgement of my utter dependency on God but only moves forward as I choose to cooperate with His mind renewing and sanctifying process? How does this salvation from myself play out in doing Theophostic Prayer Ministry? Some of you have ministered to people who were dissociated, emotionally blocked or shut down and unable to go where they needed to go to find freedom. Everything that you tried did not seem to work. I have ministered to many people such as this and recently have experienced this personally myself. There were (and still are) places of pain in my life that I have buried so deeply and hidden so well that I cannot get there by myself. I am held captive to my own defenses and harbored lies. I am convinced that unless God works on my behalf I will remain in bondage. I also realize that my free will has much to say about what happens but even in my willingness my inner defensive infrastructure sometimes wins out. Please know that I do believe that unless my will stays compliant with what God is doing in and for me I can refuse to cooperate with God and resist the healing grace that He desires me to have. The writer of Hebrews gives this warning when he says, "See to it that no one ?comes short of the grace of God; that no ?root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be ?defiled" (Heb. 12:15). We can and do make decisions that hinder the inner working of God in this renewal process. The primary battle that I face in this journey is not with demons and devils but rather in my choosing. I face a "Gethsemane" almost daily as I make the choice to either submit to the "mighty hand of God" in my trials and suffering, allowing Him to expose me and refine my faith (Greek= pistos or belief) or resist His grace and further defend my fortress.

Walking in the Grace of God

What follows are basic steps one might follow when ministering with a person who seems unable to move forward. These same steps might be applied to your own journey as well.

1. Acknowledge to God that you cannot make the decisions needed to move forward in your renewal journey and that you need Him to save you from yourself.

2. Acknowledge to yourself that unless the Lord intercedes on your behalf you are helpless to find freedom.

3. Acknowledge that being in the defensive posture you hold was a gradual but deliberate attempt to protect yourself and has become a fortress intended to keep you safe but has become a prison that is holding you captive.

4. Give God permission to do what is necessary to break down these defenses. Here is a good place to go back and read the story of Jonah. (keep tense consistent)God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach repentance. Jonah refused and ran away from God. God did not violate Jonah's will but did send a "great wind" to stir things up a bit. It would be safe to say that what God did was not what Jonah willed (the storm and the fish) but never did God make Jonah do anything. Jonah still had the will to respond in whatever fashion he chose. After Jonah found himself in the ocean about to perish God sent a "great fish" to swallow him up. While in the belly of the fish Jonah developed a new motivation to move in the direction of God. In this newfound place Jonah obeyed but t when God spared the people of Nineveh Jonah became angry with God to the point of having suicidal thoughts. Here Jonah was exposed again. Next God sent a gourd vine to sprout up and provide Jonah shade and comfort; Jonah was now happy! It at least seemed so in the moment. However, God was not finished and sent a worm to cut down the vine; Jonah became depressed and angry and was exposed again. All along, God was orchestrating life around Jonah exposing him and motivating him toward the direction He desires for him, but He never made him do anything he does not choose to do. God will do the same for us. However, it is important that we see the hand of God in this process lest we find ourselves erecting more defensive barriers to protect ourselves even from God himself. Know that if we ask God to do this that it very well may be a severe path of suffering He sends our way. However, we must also be aware that "all discipline ?for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the ??peaceful fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11). We must also recognize that suffering is the primary tool in the hand of God exposing our false belief and renewing our minds with truth. This is why we can "count it all joy when we encounter various trials knowing that the trying of our faith (belief)produces endurance so that we can allow endurance to have its completed work so that we will be complete lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4 paraphrase) In the midst of the suffering we must not view it as though "some strange thing where happing to us" but rather we should "keep on rejoicing so that at the revelation of His glory we might rejoice with exaltation" (1 Peter 4:12-13). We must learn to view the suffering as coming from the "mighty hand of God" so that as we "suffer according to the will of God, entrust our souls to a faithful creator in doing what is right" (1Peter 4:19) Job in the Old Testament never attested any of his trials to anyone other than God. "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away" (Job 1:21). "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (2:10). "Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, For the hand of God has struck me" (19:21). In the last verses of the book, we find Job's remaining family consoling him for all the problems that the LORD had brought on him. "They consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him" (Job 42:11). Some may struggle with the concept that the Bible seems to indicate that God Himself allows or sometimes even orchestrates some of the trials that come into our lives in order to expose and refine us.

5. Prepare before hand what you will do when the "wind and great fish" arrive. Here is what I choose to do when mine arrives: First, I will choose to acknowledge the event(s) as ordained by God specifically for me. "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your ?anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1Pet. 5:6-7). Second, I will choose to look inward and own what I feel and not project the cause of the pain on others or my immediate circumstance. I will see it as a necessity for me to find freedom from the defenses I have built up and for me to find freedom from the lies I am harboring. Third, I will not look for a way of escape from the situation but rather choose to stand in it and allow God to expose me and the pain I harbor. "After you have suffered ??for a little while, the ?God of all grace, who ?called you to His ?eternal glory in Christ, will Himself ?perfect, ?confirm, strengthen and establish you" (1Pet. 5:10). Forth, I will realize that this process may take some time and will be willing to endure as long as necessary in order to allow God to do His work in me. Therefore I will choose to focus on Jesus who also suffered as a way of example for me. "…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the ?author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him ??endured the cross, ?despising the shame, and has ??sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For ?consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary ?and lose heart" (Heb. 12:2-4).

This last year I have received more and deeper renewal of my mind than probably has collectively occurred in the five to seven years prior to it. I am totally convinced that I could not have exposed these deeper areas of pain apart from God's intervention. Certain catalytic events had to occur that that drove me to these hurtful places where I held lies and corresponding pain. My toothache pain became more severe than the fear of calling the dentist. During this last year I have needed a few "great waves and fish" to move me to where I needed to go. I was tempted often to blame the circumstance (there were things and people to blame) and came close many times to follow after the "roaring lion" who was seeking to devour me by providing solutions to my situation and emotional duress. Peter the Apostle tells us this will be so and to be on the alert for the diabolical feline in the midst of our suffering. The old mangy beast is roaming about looking for someone who will listen to him (1 Peter 5:8). His deceptive evil solutions to suffering are never more enticing than when we are in pain.

In context, Peter says it this way, "all of you, clothe yourselves with ??humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore ?humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. ?Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that ?the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your ?brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered ? for a little while, the ?God of all grace, who called you to His ?eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, ?confirm, strengthen and establish you" (1Peter 5:5-10)

It is my prayer for you that you will fix your eyes upon Him as the "wave and fish" come and that you will humble yourself under His mighty but loving hand as He goes about His work transforming you, releasing you, and saving you from yourself so that you may be the "new you" that He has created in Christ Jesus.
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Theophostic Prayer Ministry