July 24, 2022
Through Death and Resurrection
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Listen to this statement and let the truth of the words settle in today.
Whatever you fix your eyes on, grows within you. Whatever grows within you, you become.
This was given to Dr. Virkler in his journaling with God.
This is a practice many elites and high-performing athletes use to reach the levels of success they do. They study and meditate upon the mechanics of their sport. They visualize every detail of every action they need to take and see themselves in their mind’s eye doing it with excellence over and over. It might be their shot in basketball, a kick in football or soccer, their starting position and take off for running, a hit in baseball, their stroke for swimming-whatever their passion, they study, they observe those who have achieved excellence, they model, and then they practice first in their mind. They see themselves accomplishing that action with excellence. They believe they are doing it and then carry it out in the physical.
There are proven results to this method because when our brain sees us doing something it is already conditioned and trained then to carry it out. So, when that basketball player takes that shot, the mind has already seen it accomplished countless times and knows exactly what signals to send out. The runner knows exactly how to fluidly launch from the starting position or stretch out while crossing the finish line. The swimmer knows how to glide through the water with every part of their body in rhythm.
It’s really quite remarkable how it all works and what we can accomplish by visualizing ourselves doing it.
This works outside of sports, in any aspect of our lives. I did this often when beginning my professional speaking. I studied, observed, listened, and then modeled those who were already speaking with excellence. I paid attention to the tiniest of details in their craft and noticed how those seemingly minor details impacted their delivery. I watched how audiences responded to those details in action. One minor adjustment or addition can completely change the impact of a statement or an entire message. It’s fascinating to me. I would take all that I witnessed and experienced and began to visualize myself incorporating these techniques, to see my audiences responding with the same enthusiasm or sense of action. I saw myself speaking with excellence over and over again.
Now there are and always will be many, many more whose skills are far superior to mine and that is what makes all of this so exciting. Whenever we reach one level of excellence in our areas of interest and skill-there will always be another one we can begin to study, observe, and model. We never reach an end to developing excellence in a multitude of ways over our lifetime.
Whatever we fix our eyes on, grows within us. Whatever grows within us, we become.
The question then is what are you fixing your eyes upon?
Are you fixing your eyes on all that you struggle with in this life? Are you fixing your eyes upon all that you are not? Are you fixing your eyes upon your sins, wishing you could finally break free from their hold on your life? Are you fixing your eyes upon the hopelessness of this world?
That which you fix your eyes upon grows within you.
If you fixate on hate in this world, don’t be surprised when hate grows within you. If it’s hopelessness, don’t be surprised when you begin to feel hopeless. If it’s things that you are afraid of and you stew on those fears don’t be surprised when fear grows within you and begins to cripple you. If it’s your sin of impatience and you fix your eyes on all the ways you fail at being patient, and your impatience only seems to get the best of you more and more- it is likely because you have fixed your eyes on what you don’t want to be, but that is in fact what you are nurturing within you.
So it is with our faith and our walk with Christ.
We will never be “good” Christians in our own ability. We will all fail miserably and we don’t when we try to be good. When we strive to uphold the Christian Law. When we attempt to love those who are so difficult for us to love. When we want to be compassionate but we just have no tolerance or understanding as to why some people behave the way they do or get themselves in the messes they do. In our own ability, our flesh, as the Bible states, we will miss the mark time and time again of who God calls us to be.
But God knew we would miss the mark, didn’t He?
His Word says we will all fall short of the glory of God.
So He sent His Son down from glory, to take on flesh and become human, so we might study, observe and listen to Him-the Son of God. But even more than that, so He could show us the power we all share in His death and resurrection. This is what we are going to focus on today- the victory and power that are only found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ applied in our lives.
We are taught in His Word that as we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are crucified with Him on the cross-our old self, our old nature, our old way of living for self died and has no more power over us. We are also taught that we are made new as Christ makes our heart His home through the Holy Spirit, it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives out His life through us.
Now, this truth can be confusing to many since we know we are physically still alive, walking around in these earthly bodies, still feeling temptations to sin-still caught up in sin on a daily basis so how do we truly achieve victory in this life from the sin that so easily entangles us? How do we truly attain the resurrection power of Jesus in our everyday living?
The Apostle Paul has some firsthand understanding of this truth we’ll explore today. This teaching came from the course that I have been taking this year called Counseled by God. There is much I learned that has proven quite valuable in my walk with Christ, some I will share in other messages, but the truth we’ll explore today by far, is the absolute center that we build every other truth around. In order to achieve victory in life and for eternity, we must share in the death of Jesus; we must die to self, so we can also share in His resurrection power and live in Him!
This is a matter of what we fix our gaze upon growing within us, and that which is growing within us, we become.
The apostle expands on this truth in the epistle to the Philippians:
Philippians 3: 1-11 NIV
Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
- Start With a Proper Focus
Everything begins with having a proper focus. I love how Paul starts out saying rejoice in the Lord! He is not saying rejoice in yourself, or rejoice in your ability to overcome sin and become righteous. He says, rejoice in the Lord, why, because Paul knew, that in all things, no matter how grim it may appear for the moment, Jesus already had victory! He knew it! He visualized and saw Jesus as reigning victorious.
Do you do that over your situations?
Over this nation? Over the war? Do you see in your heart that Jesus is reigning supreme in that area and all areas?
How do you think that would change your prayers when you see Jesus as victorious over that need? How would it change your hope, peace, and joy?
2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB 18 But we all, with unveiled faces, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
That which we fix our gaze upon, grows within us and that which grows within us, we become.
When fix our gaze upon Jesus and see His glory and victorious power, we are transformed more and more into His image. His power and character grows within us.
It’s not us becoming so much better, it’s us responding to who Jesus already is manifested through us.
In our key Scripture Paul speaks to this truth as to who we fixate on and boast in:
Philippians 3:3 NIV 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—.
When he says we are the circumcision, he is teaching us it is not about putting on outer appearances of being a good Christian, it is about letting Jesus circumcise our heart-taking out the heart of stone and replacing it with His heart. Paul states we boast in Jesus and put no confidence in our own flesh, because we know our flesh will fail.
Jesus Himself modeled this as he walked in the flesh. When the time came for him to be arrested and carry out His death sentence on the cross, his fleshly, human nature wanted God to alter that plan. He wanted to be spared from that torture and the separation He knew would come from God as He took on sin. But in faith, He was able to look beyond the cross and see the resurrection that would come-not only for Him, but for all of us who believe in Him! In faith, He responded and carried out His purpose He was sent for.
Hebrews 12:2 2 looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If we fix our gaze on Jesus, then we have a proper focus and are positioned for victory because we know no matter what the situation is, Jesus has already overcome.
Jesus modeled this in the garden of Gethsemane and in fact, this is truly where the battle was won.
Matthew 26:42 NASB 42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cup cannot pass away unless I drink from it, Your will be done.”
Jesus was wrestling in the flesh and the spirit-as we all do. We all wrestle in what we want or don’t want to have happen- which will be opposite from what the Spirt desires. Jesus was there in the garden praying until He was consumed with the Spirit and the will of God, winning out over His fleshly desires.
Once He yielded to the Spirit and what the Spirit wanted, the battle was already won.
He had to carry out the actions, but that surrender of “if I must drink from it, then so be it…” is what truly defeated the enemy.
Can you see the victory we too will experience when we respond in the same manner-“if I must drink from it and this cup cannot pass, then Your will be done….”? We have a proper focus on God-all that He is, the Great I Am, and yield to His good and perfect will being accomplished. This positions us for victory. It’s our wrestling that keeps us from walking in victory.
Gethsemane is where we experience Victory!
The next truth we see revealed by the Apostle Paul in our key Scripture is addressing our response to who Jesus is vs. our responsibility to strive to be a righteous Christian.
- Response Over Responsibility
Philippians 3:9 NIV 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Paul is acknowledging the righteousness he had was not anything of his own doing, but only attaining it because Jesus Himself is righteous. It’s our faith in who Jesus is that imparts His righteousness to us. So living as one who is righteous is not in our ability to uphold the law, but in our response by faith to the law being fulfilled in every way through Christ who lives out of you and me.
Our response should be to die to self so we might come to know His resurrection power at work in and through us.
Jesus taught a parable about not only His death, but that of every believer and how death is a necessary step to gaining new life, to gaining victory.
John 12: 24-25 NIV 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
A seed can’t be anything more than a seed unless it is planted into the soil and allowed to die or germinate. It then becomes something entirely new fulfilling the purpose for which it was created.
I am watching this now in a large flowerpot that began as a lot of dirt and many small seeds tucked in under the surface of the soil. I have watched it sit appearing as only dirt for days, then finally some little sprouts poked through the surface promising something greater was beginning. Day by day those tiny little plants began to grow and stretch taller and taller. Just this week I am seeing the first of what will be many blooms on these now large and beautiful zinnia plants. It’s fascinating to watch the process, isn’t it?
So it is with us in our Christian walk. Our growth and transformation is awesome to behold in the eyes of our God, and in the eyes of your pastor as I watch you all stretching, unfolding, becoming the confident and victorious child of God you are created to be. To achieve this, you have to be willing to be die to self, be planted in good soil and let the life-giving power of Christ take hold in you.
The Apostle Paul teaches the church in Galatia about this same truth and what it means to live in response to who Jesus is in us, vs. our responsibility to uphold the law to attain righteousness. Galatians 2:20 NASB 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
We must remember that as a believer, we have died to self and now Christ lives out His life through each of us.
This is our response, to draw from His indwelling power flowing in us through the Holy Spirit. This is what leads to victory over everything we face in life.
- Draw From His Indwelling Power
Philippians 3: 10-11 NIV 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
This knowing in the Greek word is ginosko. It is experiential, personal and intimate. It is not knowing about who Jesus is, but to encounter Him personally. Paul said this is what he wanted-to know Jesus personally, to have a firsthand encounter of His resurrection power at work in him. This is what God desires for each of us, not to simply know about Jesus, but to know Him personally and feel His life-giving divine power at work in us. This is living the Christian life-not that we strive to do or be good- but to yield to the power of the Living God being manifested in us.
1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
For all who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, you have been given the manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
It is a promise and guarantee for all that will yet come. It is the fulfillment of God with us. It’s simply a matter of what you believe and are fixing your gaze upon. Remembering that which you gaze upon grows and that which grows, is what you become.
Are you drawing from the power of God within you and remembering your old self is dead? You are under no obligation to respond to situations as you once did apart from Christ. You are under no obligation to panic, to be consumed with fear, to rage with hate or bitterness, to give into every whim and pleasure, to feed your selfish desires…that person was crucified with Christ.
We can choose to respond in every moment and invite Jesus to show us what He is doing in that situation and how He wants to move in it. This is living life victorious as a Christian.
Galatians 5: 24-25 NIV 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Through the Spirit we can keep a right focus and remember Jesus Christ lives the Christian life through me. He has fulfilled the law so every response He has will be pure, right and true. We can look to the Bible and seeing Jesus fulfilling the laws as we read. So instead of seeing ourselves, we learn to see Jesus. We see we are clothed in His robe of righteousness. We remember Jesus obeys the laws through me.
Our goal then is not to be godly on our own (that is living under responsibility to the law), but to be clothed with Jesus, fixing our eyes on Him so we are responsive to His power at work through us.
This focus and surrender of our heart allows us to live victoriously in the Spirit because as we look to see what Jesus is doing, we call forth His power to be manifested through us-in the ways of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience, a gentle response, a hug, a smile, encouraging words that build up, wise counsel, courage, peace and hope.
In every situation, His power is then released through our weaknesses.
“We overcome sin, not by our own power, but by putting on Christ.” Dr. Mark Virkler.
God shared with Dr. Virkler that as we apply this truth what we are really doing is
“We are dying to self-initiated behavior and returning to the divine pattern of living out of Me.”
This is all for God’s glory! Ponder this truth between the ministry of the law given and the ministry of grace through Jesus Christ who fulfills the law.
2 Corinthians 3:9 NIV 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
Conclusion: The love of God is the end of all our actions. Let us not fix our eyes on our sin we desire to overcome. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, for then we will become like Him! Let us simply live in response to all Jesus is manifested through us.
Let’s pray: Lord help us to live our lives simply in response to who You already are, always have been and always will be. Let us draw from Your power that is flowing within us and call it forth in our every day situations so that we are no longer living out of self-initiated behavior, but we are choosing to live out of Your Spirit within us. Help us position ourselves for victory in every situation as we look to You and how You choose to respond in that situation, then let us follow Your lead and will. Thank You that we don’t have to figure all things out or react in our limited abilities. We have You Lord who is infinite in power and understanding and we simply let You flow through us and know because You have fulfilled the Law every action You call us to take will be righteous and true.
In Your name Jesus we pray. Amen.
Final Blessing: 2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.