“For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 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: 19-20 (King James Version)
When my son was a baby, he slept very soundly. My grandmother used to say he was “dead to the world.” And it was true. Once he fell deeply asleep, very little would disturb his slumber.
I recently finished reading a study in Galatians, and I’ve come across the phrase again. This time, though, it’s referring to a lifestyle rather than sleeping styles.
We, as Christians, are called to be dead to the enticements of the world. Although we are still a part of the physical world, our joys, our pleasures and our rewards come from a different source. Closing our ears to the siren call of worldly pleasures, we should seek the things of Christ. Our rest in God should not be disturbed by the influences of this earth.
So how do we find that level of “Christ living in me” to which Paul referred in verse 20?
• Weigh the significance of the call. Is it something that would glorify God or would it disappoint Him?
• Is the pleasure you might derive from the activity something you would be proud to share in conversation with Jesus or would you be ashamed that He knew about it? (Mama used to say “Never do anything you’d be ashamed to be caught dead doing.”)
• Does what we’re doing show others Jesus in us or does it cause them to doubt His power?
• Does it build up or tear down? Does the activity build up relationships or people or some other good thing or does it injure and destroy? You can be sure that something destructive to His children is not coming from Christ.
• Spend time in God’s presence, in prayer and in His Word. The more you know about Him, the easier it is to recognize His leading and the harder it is for the Deceiver to fool you.
• Ask. God has so many gifts to give us that we miss because we don’t ask. He patiently offers us peace and strength and guidance, and we are so busy trying to earn it ourselves that we never open the package. He offers, He doesn’t force us to accept.
I heartily recommend “Who Has Bewitched You?” by James R. Pennington. If you haven’t come across it yet, look for it. Pastor Pennington has poured a lifetime of learning into a very readable study of the book of Galatians. He offers insights to help determine whether the call you hear is from God or is the bewitching of the Enemy. I found it to be most valuable in learning how to become dead to the lure of the world without losing a place of ministry in that same world.
Father, we thank You for the teachings You have given us and for leaders like Pastor Pennington who remind us of the value to be found in the pages of Your Word. Keep us dead to the bewitching of the world, but always open to serve in Your name. Amen