I was reading Oswald Chambers this morning and was fascinated by this observation… “Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him.” During the instruction time after the Last Supper, Jesus brings up the topic of his departure which prompted Peter to declare, “I will lay down my life for You” (John 13:37). Peter usually had an affinity for the dramatic and speaking up for the group (Mark 9:5, 10:28, 29, 14:47, John 18:10, Mark 11:21, Matthew 14:28, 15:15, 18:21, Luke 12:41), but I sense there is more here than just a willingness to die for Jesus.
We should be able to make that very same statement, because Jesus is still asking, “Will you lay down your life for Me?” (John 13:38). The point is that it is much easier to say we will die for Christ or for the sake of the gospel than it is to lay down our lives each and every day. I see a picture of surrender and submission to His will and authority. We must walk in the light in our everyday activities. He calls us not necessarily to die for Him but to live for Him.
For 33 years Jesus was on this earth and laid down His life to do the will of His Father. I see an interesting parallel in Scripture between John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16. The first mentions the passion, purpose and provision of the Father (He loved, gave and offers life). In the latter we have our Christian mandate, model and mission, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us, we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (we love, give to others, and lay down our lives). It is not easy because it is contrary to our human nature to do this.
We are selfish and self-preserving, but if we are friends of Jesus, we must deliberately and carefully lay down our lives for Him; love Him, learn of Him and live for Him. Salvation is easy for us, only because it cost God so much, but exhibiting salvation in our lives is quite difficult. It’s good that we don’t go through this life alone; we need His strength and have the Spirit to guide us. Involvement in a solid Christian community is also a wonderful benefit to living a meaningful life in the world.
I had always been suspect of allowing one’s heart to guide them. It always sounds like such good advice until we look into the Scripture (Jeremiah 17:9). So, don’t let your heart guide you! We trust in God alone, as revealed in the Bible, for our guidance.
The next axiom is for our conscience to be our guide, like the talking cricket in the story of Pinocchio. (BTW, the cricket was unnamed in the original story and was given the name Jiminy Cricket in the 1940 Disney film). But the point is, can your conscience really be your guide?
I found this while reading Oswald Chambers this morning… (Acts 24:16)
God’s commands to us are actually given to the life of His Son in us. Consequently, to our human nature in which God’s Son has been formed (see Galatians 4:19), His commands are difficult. But they become divinely easy once we obey.
Conscience is that ability within me that attaches itself to the highest standard I know, and then continually reminds me of what that standard demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what we regard as the highest standard. This explains why conscience is different in different people. If I am in the habit of continually holding God’s standard in front of me, my conscience will always direct me to God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The question is, “will I obey?” I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I can live without any offense toward anyone. I should be living in such perfect harmony with God’s Son that the spirit of my mind is being renewed through every circumstance of life, and that I may be able to quickly “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2; also see Ephesians 4:23).
God always instructs us down to the last detail. Is my ear sensitive enough to hear even the softest whisper of the Spirit, so that I know what I should do? “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . . .” (Ephesians 4:30). He does not speak with a voice like thunder— His voice is so gentle that it is easy for us to ignore. And the only thing that keeps our conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When you begin to debate, stop immediately. Don’t ask, “Why can’t I do this?” You are on the wrong track. There is no debating possible once your conscience speaks. Whatever it is— drop it, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.