Gal 2:20 | Triumphant Gospel

Text: Galatians 2:20

The apostle Paul says: “I am crucified with Christ:  nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

There are two statements that make the Christian life a frustrating thing.  To be honest with you, I don’t know of anything that’s more frustrating than being a Christian.  One night at Falls Creek Cary preached a sermon on “Our Downright Dilemma”.  I don’t know of a more apt description of being a Christian.  Sometimes it’s just a downright dilemma.  And I’m sure that if every one of us was honest tonight, and would stand up and give our testimony, we would say, “It sure is frustrating sometimes to try to live the Christian life”.  There are two statements that give us this downright dilemma to make the Christian life a worrisome thing.  Statement number one: The demands of Christ are impossible.  Statement number two: My resources are inadequate.

The Demands of Christ are Impossible

First of all, the demands of Christ are impossible.  We’ve been learning a verse of scripture in Vacation Bible School.  I wonder if all the kids realize that it’s almost impossible to obey that scripture.  It’s Matthew chapter 5 where it says “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).  Anybody find that hard to do?  Love your enemies, pray for them which despitefully use you, bless them that persecute you.  It’s easy to love your friends.  But what more do you do if you just love your friends than the heathen do (Matthew 5:44 – 47).  “I say unto you, love your enemies”.  That’s an impossible command.

I know another one over in Matthew chapter 6 where Jesus says “don’t worry about anything, take no thought for tomorrow, don’t worry about what you’re going to eat, don’t worry about what you’re going to drink, don’t worry about what you’re going to wear, don’t worry about anything” (paraphrase of Matthew 6:25 – 34).  I submit to you, that’s impossible.  But I’m going to try.  I’m going to do my dead-level best.  And so I’m saved, I know I’m saved; I’m baptized; I joined the church.  So I set out with my box of envelopes under one arm and a Sunday School quarterly under the other and I’m going to do my best to live up to the impossible demands of Christianity.  And I haven’t gone very far until I’ve found out that my resources are inadequate.

I’ll be very honest with you tonight, I just can’t do it.  I just can’t do it!  And it’s a very frustrating thing.  I talked to a man in my office this afternoon and I said, “You know what your problem is?”  By the way, Dr. McBeth said one time, the reason that advise is so cheap is because of overproduction.  Oh yes!  We flood the market with advice.  But this man came for his advice.  I said, “You know what your problem is?  You’re living beneath the plane that God intended you to live.  You’re not possessing your possessions, you’re not inheriting your inheritance.  You’re living below the plane that God intended every Christian to live above”.

My Resources are Inadequate

I see on the one hand that the demands of Jesus Christ are impossible to keep and then I see on the other hand that my resources for keeping those are inadequate.  Yet I come to the Word of God and I cannot escape the fact that Jesus says we are to be overcomers in this World.  And I cannot escape the fact that in Romans chapter 8 Paul says that we are super-conquerors through Him that loved us (Romans 8:37).  I cannot escape the fact that First John chapter 5 says “this is the victory that overcometh the world even our faith”  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Christ?” (1 John 5:4 – 5)

Every Christian believes that Jesus is the Christ.  You can’t be saved without believing that.  Is there anybody here tonight that believes Jesus is the Christ?  Every one of us who have been saved believes that Jesus is the Christ.  Well, I want to ask, are you overcoming the world?  Jesus said, “he that believeth overcometh the world”.  All the way through the Word of God, and especially in the book of Acts, they are just dripping with victory.  There were insurmountable obstacles….harder times than you and I have ever imagined meeting.  Yet, one after another, there was victory and triumph.  They certainly were living triumphantly.  The demands of Christ are impossible and the resources of the Christian are inadequate.

How to Live Triumphantly

I want to preach to you tonight on how to live triumphantly.  How you can bring your own life up to the dimension that God intends it to be.  I will be glad when we come to the place at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church when we will settle for nothing less than absolute victory!  Douglas MacArthur made the statement years ago that there is no substitute for victory.  That was after Korea.  Vance Havner said, “We celebrated the ending of a war that never ended and we celebrated the beginning of a peace that never began”.  There is no substitute for victory!  You either win or you lose.  And in the Christian life the same thing is true.  That’s what Jesus is saying to those seven churches in Asia when He says that every promise is given to the overcomer.  He doesn’t give any promises to those who don’t overcome.  Every promise is given to the overcomer.

Jesus is saying there is no substitute for victory.  And one of the happiest days of my life was when I woke up to fact that I didn’t have to live in constant defeat, that I didn’t have to be UNDER the circumstances.  I could be on TOP of the circumstances.  That I didn’t have to be a victim, I could be the victor.  That I didn’t have to be overcome, that I could overcome.

Paul gives us the simple secret right here in Galatians 2:20.  I’m not reading anything to you that’s new.  You’ve read it a thousand times.  Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”.  That is the simple secret of triumphant living!

I.  The Triumphant Life is the Executed Life

There are three stages in living triumphantly day by day.  First of all, the triumphant life is an executed life.  Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ”.  Crucifixion was a means of execution.  A sentence of death was passed upon a man and he was executed, he was crucified.  The triumphant life is the executed life.  It is the life that has been executed after it has been condemned by almighty God.

Someone said to me last week, “Preacher, you started talking lately a lot about dying to self and dying to this and dying to that.  Is this something new that you have just come upon?”

No, it isn’t something new!  Jesus Christ said it in John chapter 12 when He said if when a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it brings forth fruit.  But unless that corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone (John 12:24).  Jesus is saying the only way that there can be fruitfulness in the Christian life is if that Christian life dies.

In Romans chapter 6 Paul talks in that whole chapter about being dead; dying with Christ; buried with Christ in baptism; raised to walk a new kind of life.  In Galatians chapter 6 Paul says the same thing, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).  All the way through the gospels Jesus keeps coming back to this one secret of discipleship:  Except a man deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.  The cross is the symbol of the method of execution.  Jesus is saying, unless a man knows what it means to die to self, he cannot be my disciple.  It is the executed life, dying with Christ.

The Executed Life is an Actual Past Event

Now there are two things I want to say about this executed life. First of all, it is an actual past event.  Notice what Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ.”  The togetherness with Christ.  If a man is crucified with Christ he has to be crucified the same time Christ was crucified.

If I walk out of this building with my wife, I have to walk out of this building at the same time she does.  She cannot leave an hour earlier and then I leave and say I left church with my wife.  There’s no way I can do that.  If she and I are going to leave this building with each other, we have to leave this building at the same time.  Paul says “I have been crucified WITH Christ.”  You cannot be crucified with Christ unless you are crucified at the same time that Christ was crucified.

Now let me explain this.  God sees every person either in Adam or in Christ.  If He sees you in Adam, He sees you in your sins, separated apart from God.  If He sees you in Christ, He sees you dead with Christ and risen with Christ.  He doesn’t see me apart from Jesus Christ.  He looks at me and He sees me identified with Christ.  Now I don’t understand it, but when Jesus Christ went to that cross 2000 years ago, He took me with Him!  When Jesus Christ died on that cross, I died with Him.  When Jesus Christ was laid in that tomb, I laid there with Him.  When Jesus Christ came out of that tomb on the third day, I was with Him.  I arose with Him.  I have been unified; I have been identified with Jesus Christ.  Just as all of us sinned in Adam, so all of us in Jesus Christ are counted by God as dead.

Now that means that when God looks at me tonight He looks at me with Jesus and He sees me as dead to sin, as dead to the old life, and as alive unto God. You say, “Well, I don’t understand that”.  I don’t understand that either, but I believe it!  The first thing that you have to understand in order to live triumphantly is, first of all, that you are already dead.  Romans chapter 6 says “he that is dead is freed from sin.”  That’s what it means to be justified, to be freed from sin.  When Jesus Christ went to the cross He nailed me with Him there.  I died with Christ!

When I came to Jesus Christ as a 9 year old boy and trusted Him as my savior, that death became real in my experience.  The only trouble is nobody told me that I died with Christ.  I didn’t stay dead long enough to even get rigor mortis.  I rose up out of my tomb and I started going out trying to live for Jesus.  Do you know what’s been wrong with me all these years?  It’s been a dead man trying to live, when you can’t do it.  I can understand now why I couldn’t pray.  Because a dead man just finds it mighty hard to pray.  I can understand now why I wasn’t able to live up to the impossible demands of Christ.  Now I know why my resources where inadequate.  I was dead and I just didn’t know it.

I died with Christ.  That’s the first thing.  You must come to realize that it is an actual event in the past.  That when Jesus died on the cross, He took you with Him.  When you trusted Jesus Christ as your savior for the first time, He made that death real.  You died!  Now when God looks at you, He doesn’t look at you as alive unto sin living the same old life.  When God looks at you He looks at you in union with Christ and He sees you as dead unto sin, as dead to the old life and alive unto God.  But that’s not enough.

The Executed Life must be an Appropriated Present Experience

Not only is our crucifixion an actual past event, but it must be an appropriated present experience.  Now this is where we get down to how it works for me.  Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ”.  That happened in the past when Jesus died on the cross.  But Paul says I’m aware of it day by day.  In another Scripture he says, “I die daily”.  That happened in the past when Jesus died on the cross, I have to keep up to date; I have to make real; I must appropriate it by faith.

Now in the first ten verses of Romans chapter 6 Paul is talking about what I’ve just talked to you about.  That when we came to Jesus and trusted Him for salvation, we died.  The death that Jesus died on the cross became our death.  That’s why Paul says, “What do you mean living in sin?  How can he that is dead to sin live anymore therein?”.  Paul couldn’t understand these Roman Christians wondering if they could sin because he said, “You’re dead, how can you live in sin?”.  You died to sin.  That happened in the past.

But now when it comes to verse 11 he moves out of the past and he comes to the present.  He said that now you’ve got to make it real.  So in verse 11 he says “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God”.  Alright, are you following me?  First of all I come to the place where as a Christian I realize that I am dead.  I don’t feel dead.  I don’t look dead.  I don’t act dead.  But I’m dead as far as God is concerned.  And that’s all that really counts anyway, is how God looks at it.  As far as God is concerned, I am dead.  That means there is not anything that I can do to please God.  That means there is not anything I can do to serve God.  I am dead!  Alright, once I realize that, I have to agree with God.

Yes Lord, you’re right I am dead and I do, by an act of faith, take that position of death.  You made the motion Lord and I second it.

That’s what it means to reckon yourselves dead.  I must count myself to be dead.  You say, “I don’t understand how to do that.”  There are two ways you do that.  First of all, you must condemn your flesh.  That’s what Jesus did.

You say, “What do you mean by condemning your flesh?”.

What I mean is this:  I must come to the place where first of all I recognize that God expects nothing from me except absolute failure.  There is not one thing I can do to please God.  This flesh, myself, this nature, does not have in it the adequacy and the ability to do anything for God.  All I can do is fail God…miserably…miserably…miserably…all I can do is fail God.

I cannot pull myself up by my bootstraps and say, “I’m going to grit my teeth and I’m going to do my best and I’m going to tense my muscles and I’m going out today and I’ll die or I’ll live for Jesus”.  And I come back in absolute defeat because I never have come to the place where I’ve realized that there is nothing I can do in the first place.

I must come to that position where I condemn myself.  God’s already condemned the flesh.  Now I have to condemn the flesh.

Alright Lord, I condemn the flesh.  I take the position tonight that there is not anything that I can do to please you.  I can’t preach a sermon; I can’t witness to anybody; I can’t teach a Sunday School class; I can’t live for Jesus.

This old story of going out and trying to imitate Jesus and trying to live up to the Christ-like character, you cannot do it!  There is no possibility that you’re ever going to be able to reproduce in your life the character of Jesus Christ.  You cannot do it!

So I condemn the flesh.  I say,

“I give up Lord.  I thought all this time that I was pretty strong, that I was pretty good.  I thought all this time that maybe I could live up to the demands of Christ.  I thought all this time that maybe I could live like Jesus and I’ve tried to imitate Him and I’ve tried to reproduce Him in my life.  I realize now that that’s wrong and I can’t do it.  I realize now that when you saved me you didn’t try to repair the flesh; you wanted to crucify the flesh.”

So first of all, I condemn the flesh.  I condemn myself.  Then secondly, I by faith crucify my flesh.  Did you know that crucifixion is not a self-inflicted death?  Nobody could commit suicide by crucifixion.  Crucifixion is the one death where somebody else has to do it for you.  No man can crucify himself.  Now I want you to listen.  In Romans 8:13 it says, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live”.  The Holy Sprit is the undertaker.  The Holy Spirit accomplishes the work of crucifixion.  The Holy Spirit makes real my crucifixion of my flesh.

This is the way it works.  If I am going to live triumphantly, I must recognize that I have to take the position of death.  Am I willing tonight to die to self?  Am I really willing tonight to give up having my way and doing what I want to do?  Am I really willing tonight to come and like the song says to “perish every fond ambition?”  To have no plans for the future…have no goals.  My life is not my own; my family is not my own; my ministry is not my own.  I don’t have any business telling God what to do with my life.  I’m willing tonight to come to the place where,

“Yes Lord, I’ll die to self.  I’ll take that position of death.  I’m already dead.  But I’ve never acknowledged that.  I have never accepted that death.  I’ve wanted to live; I’ve wanted to have my way; I’ve wanted to be selfish; I’ve wanted to live in disobedience.  I’ve not been willing just to come to the place of total crucifixion and say, ‘Lord Jesus, I die to my will; I die to my pleasures; I die to my affections; I die to my ambitions.  I’m willing tonight to absolutely die to self; to be obliterated.  I’m willing tonight to die to myself and by faith to count myself dead.  I right now by faith take the position of death’.”

When I do that, the Holy Spirit comes in and He does the work of killing.  He brings all the killing power of the cross to bear in my life and He makes it real.  And I stand before God dead unto sin and alive unto the Lord.

It has to be an actual experience and it has to be a daily experience.  Every problem is a cross to die on and every hard situation is just another cross on which to die.  Every sermon is just another place to die.  Every criticism is just another cross to die on.  You talk about liberty, you talk about emancipation, you talk about freedom, this is it!  I mean, what difference does it make if a person criticizes you?  They can’t hurt a dead man!  What difference does it make if they praise you?  A dead man can’t get a big head!  All of our problems in our church are over self, me wanting my way.  All the problems in the home are over self, me wanting to have my way.  All the problems in life arise from self.

What liberty, what freedom it is to be free from self!  No longer looking out for number one.  You know it’s a full time job looking out for number one.  Always afraid that somebody is going to get ahead of you.  Always afraid that somebody is going to get the praise for what you’ve done.

You know that happened to me.  Sometimes I feel like my ‘self’ is Dracula and it comes out of that coffin every once in a while.  I remember in a meeting, somebody gave somebody else the credit for something I did.  You know what?  Old ‘self’ rose up within me and said “Now listen, you ought to set them straight on that!”  Nobody is going to get the credit for something that I did!  Self!  Isn’t it wonderful not to have to look after number one all the time?  It’s a 24-hour job always making certain that I get everything that’s coming to me and that I get my rights; that everybody treats me right; that somebody doesn’t speak to me and I get mad and puff up and get my feelings hurt.  That can’t happen to you if you’re dead!

This is what Paul is talking about.  Friend, this is the key to triumphant living.  It’s first of all taking your position of death.  You say, “Well, is that some magic?”  No.  It’s just that when you, by faith, are willing to accept the position of death and reckon yourself dead.  The Holy Spirit then makes it real in your life.

I asked a young man who used to be a drug addict, “How is that you are able to overcome this temptation?  How is it that you’re able to have victory in your daily life?”

He said, “Well, you know, I just take the position that I’m dead and a dead man can’t be tempted.  When this old temptation comes to me and begins to knock at my door, I just tell the Lord Jesus, ‘Lord Jesus will you go answer the door?’”

This is what Paul is saying!  Paul is saying “I am crucified with Christ”.

Somebody comes up to Paul and says, “Paul, we’re going to beat you up”.  He says, “I’m dead.  The Lord Jesus will handle that.”

Now listen, Paul’s in prison in the book of Philippians.  Those people that are jealous and envious of the apostle Paul, they said, “Here’s our chance now to pull some people away from Paul’s church and get them into our church.  We’ll really make his imprisonment worse on him because we’ll take his followers away from him.”

So while Paul is in prison some of these other small-time preachers are going around criticizing Paul, lying about Paul, trying to draw people away into their own churches.

Somebody comes to Paul and says, “Paul, listen, don’t you know what’s going on out yonder?  They’re taking your followers away.  They’re leaving your church and joining their church.  Don’t you know what’s happening?”

Paul sits back and he says, “Well, for me to live is Christ.  As long as Jesus is being preached, that’s all that I care about.  I just want the Lord magnified in my body.”

So that bunch at Corinth comes along and they begin criticizing Paul, lying about Paul, slighting Paul, and insulting Paul.  What does Paul do?  Does old ‘self’ rise up and Paul get fighting mad and try to defend himself?  You know what Paul says?  Paul says, “This is a small thing for me that you judge me.  There’s one that judges me, the Lord.  What you think about me is unimportant.”

I will say that Paul was free.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful tonight to be free from worrying about what people think about you?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful tonight to be free from what people say about you, whether it’s good or bad?  That’s what Paul is talking about.  You will never get past first base in this triumphant living until you are willing to die to self.  You never will.

I told a class this one night, now I’m going to explain it to you.  There’s Jimell and here’s the pastor.  I’m alive and Jimell’s alive.  That’s two selves that are alive; that’s two wills that are alive.  I want my way and he wants his way.  What do you have?  Disunity and disharmony.  There comes a day when Jimell realizes what I’m talking about.  He takes the position of death:  “Not I, but Christ.”  He dies to what he wants; he dies to his ambition; he dies to his feelings.  But I haven’t died yet.  I’m still number one.  I still want my way.  I’m still selfish.  I’m still very much alive.  Before it was Jimell and I that were crossed, but now it’s Jesus and I that are crossed.

But there comes a day when I also come to this concept and I take my position of death.  I say, “Lord Jesus, not I, but Christ”.  I die to what I want; I die to self.  I’m just dead.  The only thing that’s alive in me is Christ and the only thing that’s alive in Jimell is Christ.  Now I want to show you how we can have unity and harmony.  The Christ that’s in me will gladly submit to the Christ that’s in Jimell and the Christ that’s living in Jimell will want what the Christ that’s living in me wants.  When it’s not I but Christ living in me, and when it’s not Jimell but Christ that’s living in him, there’s unity and there’s harmony.  Just to get ‘self’ out of the way, to take our position of death.  That’s the first key.  That’s the first step – the executed life.

II. The Triumphant Life is the Exchanged Life

Secondly, the triumphant life is the exchanged life.  First of all it is the executed life; secondly it is the exchanged life.  Notice what Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”  (Galatians 2:20a).  CHRIST LIVETH IN ME.  Well I thought Christ lived in all of us.  He does!  Now listen, the measure to which the life of Jesus is released in you is determined by the measure to which you are dead to self.

When you come more and more to this place of being dead to self and reckoning yourself dead, not what I want……I die to every ambition, then the life which is in you, the life of Jesus, can be released in all of it’s power and all of it’s glory!  And that power of Christ is released in you only to the degree in which you are dead to self.  This is “the exchanged life.”  Let me highly recommend Victory in Christ by Charles G. Trumbull.  One night I was sitting in my den and I just happened to pick this book up.  I had never read it.  But this is what I read:

I knew something had happened [paraphrase]…

“…At last I realized that Jesus Christ was actually and literally within me; and even more than that, that He had constituted Himself my very life, taking me into union with Himself — my body, mind, and spirit — while I still had my own identity and free will and full moral responsibility…”

“…My body was His, my mind His, my will His, my spirit His; and not merely His, but literally part of Him; what He asked me to recognize was, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth In me.”

Now this is the part that hit me like a bolt of lightning.

“Jesus Christ had constituted Himself my life — not as a figure of speech, remember, but as a literal, actual fact, as literal as the fact that a certain tree has been made into this desk on which my hand rests.”

I’d always thought about Christ being my life as a figure of speech – as symbolical language.  But when he wrote this and I opened the Scriptures, I saw that what he said is true.  That Christ constitutes Himself my life.  He is my life, not a figure of speech – not symbolical language, but literal, actual, my life is the life of Christ.  He is living in me.  He is living His life in me!  That makes the Christian life possible!  For what I cannot do, He can do.  That makes the Christian life practical.  For what I am unable to love, He is able to love.  What I am unable to overcome, He is able to overcome.  That makes the Christian life personal.  Because He liveth in me – in me.  Not in the church as a whole simply, but in me.  Every day that I live, every circumstance that I encounter, every temptation with which the devil attacks me – it’s Christ Jesus living in me.  Literal, actual, physical – not symbolical, not a figure of speech.

The exchanged life, what a bargain!  The Lord Jesus Christ came to me one day – I didn’t know it then and I wish I would have known it, because these past years would have been tremendous – and said Ron you’ve got a messed up, sorry, sinful, wicked life.  I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll make a deal with you.  I’ll kill that life; I’ll take away that life and in its place I’ll give you My glorious life!  Man, you can’t beat that for a bargain!  And it’s free.  All I had to do give up was myself.  And I’m so glad to be rid of it!

So I agree with Dr. Stephen Offord when he said, “There is not a demand made on my life that is not at the same time a demand made upon the life of Christ in me.”  That’s right, every demand that is made upon my life every day – whether it’s temptation, or problems, or worry, or insults – is really not a demand made upon me.  How can it be?  Because I’m dead.  It’s a demand made upon the life of Christ which is in me.  And so I say, “Lord Jesus, you’re equal and you’re sufficient, it’s your problem not my problem.  It’s your worry, not my worry.  It’s your church.”

Do you know that I don’t worry about this church anymore.  It’s not my church.  It’s the Lord’s church.  I don’t worry about my sermons any more, whether good or bad – they’re not my sermons, they’re the Lord’s sermons.  I don’t worry about my ministry any more, whether I’m going anywhere or not.  I may just be here for the rest of my life. I don’t worry about whether or not I’m ever going to be number one up yonder, president of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It’s not my ministry.  It’s His.  I can’t think of any place I’d rather spend the rest of my life than right here.  But, you know, it’s Christ living in me.  It’s not my life.

A fellow said to me today, “Well, I don’t know if the Lord is going to use me.”

I said, “It’s none of your business whether the Lord uses you or not.”

It’s not your life.  It’s not your ministry.  It’s the Lord’s.  It’s none of your business what He does with your life – with your body.  It’s His business.  You step out of the way and die to self and you will quit worrying about it.  It’s the exchanged life.

Well, only the Holy Spirit can communicate spiritual truth.  It’s Christ living in me and it’s the most tremendous thought that has ever entered my mind.  Christ living in me!  Every demand that’s made upon me is a demand made upon Jesus.

The opposite of my nature is Christ’s nature.  My nature is not one of love.  My nature is one of hate.  Jesus is opposite, His nature is love.  My nature is selfishness, Jesus’ nature is giving.  The opposite of my nature is in Jesus and Jesus is in me.

III. The Triumphant Life is the Empowered Life

One last thing, the triumphant life is the executed life first of all.  Secondly, it is the exchanged life.  It is Christ living in us, not me doing the living.  Thirdly, it is the empowered life.  Now I want you to notice something.  I read this verse for years and years and never saw what I’m going to share with you now.  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20).  It doesn’t merely say that I live by faith.  He says that “I live by the faith of the Son of God.”  Whose faith is he living by?  Paul’s faith?  No sir.  I want to tell you for years I tried to live by my faith and I was a miserable failure.  I’m living tonight, not by my faith.  I’m living by the faith of the Son of God!

You say, “I don’t understand what that means.”

It means that I am counting on God’s faithfulness.  That’s what faith is.  Faith is counting on God’s faithfulness.  Faith is merely relying that God will do what He said He’ll do.  I am counting tonight on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.  This is what Paul is saying.  He said the life that I’m now living I’m living counting of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ – that He’ll do what He said He’ll do and He’ll be in me what He said He’ll be in me.  It’s merely taking Him at His word.

Now, God operates through faith.  We are saved through faith.  Everything that comes to us in the Christian life comes through faith.  Now all of this that I’ve been talking about tonight – your dying to self, being crucified with Christ, and Christ living and being released in you – all of this must be made real and effective by faith.

Let me illustrate what I mean.  Dr. FB Meyer was a saintly man, a Baptist preacher, in England a generation ago.  He had just come into this concept that I’ve been sharing with you tonight.  One day he was teaching a class of boys, and they were an unruly bunch.  FB Meyer realized that one of two things were going to happen.  Either he was going to have to get out of that room or he was going to blow his stack.  Now he didn’t put it exactly that way, but that’s what it amounted to.  He was at the end of his patience.  He was at the end of his rope and when he got to the end of it, he wanted to wrap it around the necks of those boys.  He just had had it.  And he recognized that he was about to loose his temper and blow up.  But he remembered what the Lord had been teaching him, just what I have been teaching you tonight.  He bowed his head and said, “Lord Jesus, I take your patience”.  FB Meyer says immediately there came to him a calm, and a tranquility, and a patience that he had never before experienced.  You say, “What happened?”  When FB Meyer faced it, the Holy Spirit did it – taking it by faith, counting on God’s faithfulness.

I want to give you my personal testimony that what I am preaching to you tonight is not theory and not high-sounding preaching.  Its actual fact and I want to give my testimony tonight that it works!  I have come to this place a dozen times when temptation comes, or a problem comes, or a worry comes and I have just tried it out.  I just said, “Lord Jesus, I take your patience.”  Now when I don’t do that, things go wrong.  I said, “Lord Jesus, I can’t face this temptation.  I know you’re equal to it and I trust in you to meet this temptation.”  The Holy Spirit, in a miraculous way, gives victory.  It’s the empowered life.  It’s not living by your faith.  You don’t have enough faith to do anything.  It’s counting on His faithfulness.

Paul says, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.”  When I take what He offers, He makes it real through the Holy Spirit.  There’s no reason why every Christian cannot experience daily the triumphant life.  If you’re not, then you’re living below what God intended for you to live.  Then you must come tonight to three things:

(1)  First of all, you are going to have to reckon with yourself.  Are you willing tonight to take the position of death?  Are you?  Are you willing to die to everything that you want?  Are you willing to die to every affection, every lust, and every desire?  Are you willing tonight to take that position and say, “Lord Jesus, I right now take my position of death.”

(2)  And then you must come to realize that it’s Christ who’s going to do the living in you, not you yourself, but its Christ.

(3)  And then you come to the place where you take it by faith, not by feeling.  I don’t care how lousy I feel.  I don’t care how melancholy I am.  I don’t care how depressed I am.  I don’t care how I feel, if I know in my heart that everything is right between me and God – I know I have victory, regardless of how I feel.  I know by faith that I have victory!  No matter how I feel, I just know that the Lord is adequate and sufficient and equal to anything that comes to me – wonderful release and blessed assurance.

© Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2005

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