Andy B delves deeper into this week’s theme from the angle of knowing who we are in Christ, i.e., knowing that we are free from our sins.
He unpacks Psalm 139:23 by pointing out that being a Christian not only involves God encouraging us but also involves God cleaning out all the sin in our lives.
Andy B also talks about how a rock climber training for a really difficult mountain climb has no difficulty walking on a slightly narrow mountain path because of his confidence in his strengths.
Transcript - #GoDeeper with Andy B
So we're looking at Knowing Thyself, which might take you to the Matrix, if you've seen those movies. It's sort of a phrase that comes out but Knowing Thyself. Why are we using 'thyself'? Well, it just fitted? It felt quite nice to be honest. But what is it about knowing yourself that we can apply to our Christian walks, and exercise, which is how we always think about things? What wonderful analogies and illustrations can we get from exercise for our spiritual walk?
Let me start with this one from Romans, chapter. The writer of this book, you can feel the pain of what they're struggling with, because I think this is something we all struggle with. This is Romans 7, verses 15 through to 25.
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. But what I do is not the good I want to do. No. The evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing. Now, if I do what I do not want to do it is no longer I who do it. But it is sin living in me. that does it."
I think one of the problems that we can struggle is with coming to faith, becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ, we, we feel like we're still sinners. We're still doing the stuff we used to do.
If you can come, get yourself across to the website for Freedom in Christ. There's some really good stuff on there. But one of the things that Dr. Neil Anderson talks about is when you burp, it doesn't make you a burper, any more that when you sin, you're a sinner. And we have to get away from Some of these confusing language, and how we feel about ourselves because Feelings come and go.
We always say they're a great thermometer, but they're not a good guide for life. And the thing about 'we burp we're not burpers, we sin but we're not sinners' is when we come to Christ our sins are washed away. We are made anew. And one of the really beneficial things of having a baptism is there's a physical symbol of washing away the past, because we go down into the water and we come back up again. And we all understand the basic principles of getting into water to get clean. So knowing yourself, part of Knowing Thyself, it's about understanding what you are, and who you are. And as Christians, our identity is not in what we do, our day job. Or, or what we get up to at night, or what we do that isn't quite so good, or the stuff that's really excellent. That's not who we are! Because, as Christians, our identity is not found in ourselves, but in Jesus Christ, and in that identity we have a foundation, which is solid and secure.
Base your life on what you do in your day job, you can lose your job, you lose who you are. Depression, anxiety, sometimes suicide follows. If you know who you are in Jesus Christ, well, now you've got an identity that actually isn't going to move because of life's troubles and situations.
Romans, that passage we've just read out, you can feel the tension between 'I wanna do this, but I'm doing that'. But what we see really clearly is this whole thing of the burp and the burper, not being a sin in the sinner. What's the bad? Well, it's not you anymore. It's the sinful lifestyle within you. And there are two separate parts to that. So nowing yourself is understanding who you are without getting confused by it.
Let us turn to Psalm 139, verse 23, which says the following.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts." And then verse 24, "See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
We love the idea, don't we, of God looking at us and seeing the good things, and saying He loves us. But, part of the relationship with Jesus Christ, isn't about the nice, encouraging comfortable stuff. It's also about the other side of the coin, when we want as Christians we desire or we should do, for God to expose those parts of our lives that are not good.
Shining a light on the truth is great if you're innocent. If you're guilty, you may not want that. But we do know that if you've done something wrong and it's come to the surface quite often, if you've carried that for a long time, that guilt, that crime, all of a sudden, you're relieved you don't have to carry it any more. So even the bad stuff, when we shine a light on it, can help us because it sets us free. The truth will set you free. And how do we see the truth? Shine a light on it. Let the truth speak for itself and deal with those consequences. But we don't like consequences. We, we like the nice fluffy things. We like the happy cat images. We, we like that the silly dog doing is a little game. But, actually, there's more to life than those distractions. We need God to shine a light on us so we can see the good parts of our life, where God can say, "my good and faithful servant". But also those parts of our life, which aren't so good. And we need God to shine a light on those uglier parts of us, in order that we can bccome more like Jesus Christ.
Let me just turn to 1 Peter, chapter 3, verse 15.
"But in your heart set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."
Walking through a city centre the other day and there was a guy screaming and shouting at people. I had Peter with me who's 11. I held his hand and comforted him. This guy, I think, was trying to do some street evangelism. But he was so screaming and shouting at people there was just this big void around him. Now, as a Christian, I love the fact that we can freely speak about Jesus Christ on the streets. But when we're shouting and screaming at people, whatever message we may have had, is no longer gentle. And when we are supposed to be giving our message of love to people, how do you lovingly shout at somebody and scream at them? Where's the Fruit of the Spirit? What are they going to do? They're going to be repelled. They're going to be pushed away.
Now, I don't know this guy's story. But I've met quite a few people who love to do that kind of thing. And there's nothing wrong with street evangelism. But when we're screaming and shouting 'at' people we've already lost the plot, and they're not going to hear any good message we may have. 'Coss when our anger, which is what shouting ends up looking like, when that anger comes out all of a sudden, well they're not listening. They're getting turned off by what we're speaking.
Knowing yourself means you know who you are in Christ, in order that one of those things in order that, when people come to you, or you're with people, you can share that the message of Jesus Christ.
My ESV'ss got a really good little bit which I'm going to read out. English study, well English Standard Version. This is the Study Bible. I just wanted to read out the notes on verse 15 to 17.
"Believers should always be ready to provide a reason for their faith. They should do so kindly, and engagingly. If you're shouting at people you're not engaging with them, you're just shouting at them.
"If they keep a good conscience, because their behaviour is correct, any accusations against them will prove false, their accusers will be put to shame."
Why? Because they're living a godly life. Because they understand that, like the burp is not going to make you a burper, in the same context just because you sin you're not suddenly becoming a sinner again. When you're set free, you are set free indeed, and it is for eternity! Therefore we don't have to fear what's going on around us, because our identity is not in what we're doing, what we've done, but our identity is in who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done. And what He did is finished. There's no backsees, there's no returning back to it, it is done! When Jesus died on the cross and rose again that was it. There's no returning, there's no repeling. There's no repeat of that. It is done!
I watched a documentary one time and there was this climber. And he climbs up really nasty looking rock faces. And he was trying to get to a rock face. But the journey to this rock face that he wanted to climb, that would really test his skill, was this mountain path. But the problem was this mountain path that goes to where he wants to get to, which is this really intense, testing himself climbing wall, well, lots of tourists go there because it's a nice pretty path. And there's little fields where you can have a little break and a sandwich with a cup of tea. But as he was going along, most of these people were very trepidatious. Is that the word? They were very carefully walking along because there's a big drop to one side.
For him, he was so experienced at what he did, that really doesn't worry him. He was forging ahead, and getting past people where they were terrified about this big drop because that wasn't a test for him. His test would come later when he got to that cliff face. But the confidence that he has, from what he does, meant that when he was in a simpler setting, the little path, he was very confident where other people would not be. And that's because he knows himself. He knows his capabilities, because he tests himself.
Now God, and testing, we're not gonna go down does the God Lord your God put you to the test, and should we put Him to the test? That's not today! But this guy knows himself. He knows what he's capable of. So, when it comes to something as simple as that little path, it's not going to become a big issue for us. And if we know who we are in Jesus Christ, when those trials come, we will not falter. Because we know that there's a greater test already done for us. There's a greater victory already done. This guy's climbed some amazing, ridiculously impossible walls. That little country path doesn't bother him.
As Christians we live with Jesus Christ who has already conquered the most impossible climbing wall. So our confidence is in Him, not in us in our abilities. Our confidence is in who Jesus Christ is. Know Yourself means you know your identity in Jesus Christ, and you know, that Jesus loves you, and that you are ready to discuss, in an engaging way, which is what the ESV study notes wonderfully helped us with, in an engaging way to be ready to talk to people about the love of Jesus Christ, and what it's doing in our lives.
Shall we pray?
Father, God, I thank you for that in our daily lives we're not left to figure it out by ourselves. You don't abandon us when we turn to you, you are always there. And I thank You, Lord, that we can know who we are because we know who You are. To know ourselves means to know You better. To know ourselves means we put less security in what we do, or who we think we are, but pour more security into what You are and what You've already done for each one of us.
Help us Lord, to be ready to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with whoever comes across our path, in an engaging way. And help us live blameless lives as much as we can in order that when accusations come, and they will and, they do, they will be found to be blameless, we will be found to be found to be blameless. Father God, thank you for your love for each of us. And help us to know ourselves by knowing you better. Amen!
Written by Andy B