Not by Myself I am What I am

January 18, 2007

The apostle Paul completely put off Saul, his old self, and became an apostle of Christ only by the grace of God, and he was sent among the Gentiles as a light for the Gentiles. He clearly testified about the things that had been fulfilled in himself, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

He testified, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).”

I have longed for Paul and follow him all my life to imitate him, just as he also imitates Christ. Paul was a man of sign, imitating Jesus Christ who is one mediator between God and men. It is written, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).”

He was appointed an apostle because God wanted to fulfill His will through him to make us worthy of being the bride of Christ. The Bible testifies, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles (1 Timothy 2:5-7).” God appointed him a teacher of the Gentiles.

He said, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him (2 Corinthians 11:2).”

The apostle Paul, who became our teacher–a teacher of Gentiles, surely put off his old self when he was called. It is written, “… to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood (Galatians 1:16).” If I am alive by myself, Christ can not be revealed in me.

We cannot confer with flesh and blood about the gospel of the kingdom. If we confer with flesh and blood about the gospel, it is a different gospel, a different Jesus, and a different spirit. Therefore, when God was pleased to reveal his Son in Paul so that he might preach his Son among the Gentiles, Paul did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, but he, led only by the Spirit, went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Paul returned again to Damascus, where is the starting point to preach the gospel among the Gentiles. He made a right beginning of the gospel of Christ. He had come to know, through the Holy Spirit, the message of the cross–the message that he could not follow Christ, without denying himself first.

We must deny ourselves, that is, flesh and blood before we see God through the Lord Jesus. It is written, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).'”

However, many people, including me, have often tried to attain their goal by the flesh; they say they try to establish the righteousness of God, but in fact they seek to establish their own righteousness, conferring with flesh and blood.

Not by ourselves we are what we are. Nevertheless, many people say they died with the Lord, without offerring whole burnt offerings on God’s altar; but they are stil alive, dressed in filthy clothes, and they are defiling the house of God. The Bible clearly explains us about it.

It is written, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’ Then I said, ‘Put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by. The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here. ‘Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. ‘In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree,’ declares the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 3:1-10).”

Joshua, who was the high priest of Israel the people of God, must have been diligent to make himself perfect. However, he was dressed in clothes of his own righteousness, not in clothes of the righteousness of Christ. Even though he made every effort to keep his clothes clean, they were found to be filthy before God. And also, because he was alive by himself, his sin still remained.

Therefore, denying myself is the beginning of the gospel. This is the message of the cross. Everyone who is alive by himself exalts himself ( defiles himself ) and after all boasts himself to be somebody, though he says that Christ lives in him and he boasts only in Christ. That is because he did not completely deny himself at first.

The Bible says, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food (Hebrews 5:12)!” It says, “you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.”

Only those who have ears to hear can be taught the elementary truths of God’s word. These ears are not of flesh. They are “ears to hear” the Word of life, as It is written, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life (1 John 1:1).”

We have to hear in these days these words by the mouth of the apostles, who spoke in the day the foundation was laid for the church. Only after that, we can make straight paths for our feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. It is written, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong, You who have been hearing in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, who spoke in the day the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD of hosts, that the temple might be built (Zechariah 8:9).”

The living stones of the house of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, will have to be united with the foundation and become one with the chief cornerstone. This is what the new living stones say: I am what I am, not by myself, but by the grace of God that was with me. Only these stones will be built together with the chief cornerstone to become a dwelling in which God lives.

This is the evidence of the true light, which the Lord newly shows me today, as he has done since he found me 50 years ago. I am writing this, though I am awkward with it, so that everyone can share it. I look like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke.

It is written, “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself: ‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained bull; Restore me, and I will return, for You are the LORD my God (Jeremiah 31:18).” That is what I look like.

However, the Lord spoke long ago, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust (Psalms 103:8-14).”

To everyone who forsakes himself and says that he is what he is, not by himself, but by the grace of God that was with him–everyone in whom Christ is formed, and who fear the Lord… Amen and Amen. Thank you, Lord.

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