By Pam Sheppard
Those who call me for Christian counseling have the same refrain. “I have not met my goals, I should have a better job, a larger home, everything I put my hands to fails, I have no abundance, no prosperity and I have not fulfilled my destiny.”
What is happening is that people who profess to be in Christ have not yet come out of the world in their thinking, as their yardstick for success is tied to worldly standards and assessments. I have observed that too much attention is being focused on comparing oneself with the lives of others, which in itself is a worldly practice.
Coming out of the world in our minds and hearts is contigent upon living a crucified life. that is that we become trained, habituated in fact, to walk in the spirit and not fulfill the lusts of our flesh. Logically speaking, if the flesh is “crucified” or “dead” then it has no lusts to fulfill.
Here is how the Holy Spirit works to crucify your flesh of soul.
I like there word “soul” to explain this because flesh usually refers to the body. It’s in the soul where the work begins, and then the body obediently follows. Every word or phrase that has “self” in front of it is of the flesh, and for this reason—self absorption must be broken or crucified. Self is usually proud. Even in the most soft spoken, congenial, “go along to get along” people, there is a seething fire of pride hidden from view. Even a desire to seem more dedicated to God than others is pride. It must be crucified.
The Lord’s definition of victory in Christ is simple. All failures lead to spiritual growth. All success is the culmination of the part given to each of us to fulfill the Lord’s purpose. The part may be small or it may be huge. It does not matter. What matters is that each of us does His purpose. The issue is this. We need to be satisfied with the part we have been given and actualize it according to our personal connection to God’s overall plan.
If you are a person who insists that YOUR plan and YOUR course of action is usually correct, and you tend to struggle to have your own way, the Holy Spirit may set up roadblocks, on purpose and designed to intentionally frustrate you and actually cause you to fall. You will find that in spite of all your efforts to succeed and prosper, you end up “off the mark.” . So you assume from all the wrong prosperity preaching that has permeated the religious world, that you are cursed, in need of deliverance. I hear this story frequently from people who seek my help to cast out a failure or poverty demon.In such cases, the Holy Spirit has set out to break their worldly desires and their lust for money and personal success.
There are several compatible scenarios both in the Bible and in everyday life today. Several biblical characters were brought into difficult circumstances and situations in order to renew their souls through the breaking or the crucifixion of their flesh. Many are listed in Hebrews 11, a chapter referred to as the “hallmark of faith,” including even Sampson.
When the hand of the Holy Spirit is upon us to break us, each of us will struggle with Him, based on our particular personality type. Some have temper tantrums while others throw pity parties. Others who are more intellectual will find that they are made to look foolish, even stupid. Intelligence may be broken down and crucifixion is experienced as sheer ignorance in comparison to the all knowing God.
Let us not forget people pleasers and the self-righteous. Simply put, the Holy Spirit will see to it that all of our attachments to the world and its pursuits will be broken. We will find that over time, our inner circle of relationships and friendships will grow significantly smaller. No one is calling us to invite us to the cook out. We spend lees and less time “socializing” ad talking about trivial matters, which will be good for us in the long run.
As a pastoral counselor and coach, the Holy Spirit often uses me with those I work with to challenge and confront every word that has self in front of it. Why? Because our souls must be renewed once we are in Christ. As such, whatever your personality type, the breaking is intended to cause you not to rely on feelings and emotions. Breaking or crucifixion will cause to be committed to the intents and purpose of God. Simply put, this is walking in the spirit and not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
I could go on and on with the plethora of examples within my own life. Yet I won’t bore you with the years of incidents that I would have to wrack my brain to even remember. Rather, I will simply speak to the results of “dying to self.”
The most outstanding outcome is that out of what seems like nowhere, a breeze will fall upon you and blow peace into you. The result is a lack of stress, even a good 8-9 hours of sleep without struggling with demons all night.
The Lord says to the church at Laodicea, you are so self consumed that you are weak, poor, blind and wretched. And He would spit the lukewarm out of His mouth. To correct this condition, He advises us to buy gold that has been tried in the fire. To be crucified with Christ is to be tried in the fire. The result is pure gold.
So successful growth in Christ is to not fear making mistakes, to throw all worldly desires and teachings upon the dung heap, and press toward the mark of your high calling, which s really God’s purpose for your life. I have learned to relax, trust God’s power ans authority over all matters, and watch Him either fight my battles for me, of give me His power to fight them myself. My ministry is a spiritual building made by the hands of many mistakes but no failures. For He turns failures into successes once His purpose has been achieved. Once I allow the Holy Spirit to transform me from glory to glory, success is bound to occur.