In the previous post, “You Must Be…“, we were looking at the life of the new creation in Christ in relationship to the new heart we receive at the moment of regeneration. In this post, we’ll be exploring the Lifeblood of this new heart. What is the attribute of the new creation in Christ that is being figuratively pumped throughout the body as the very essence of the Life we have in Christ? What is the attribute of Christ that we have, as born again believers, that we didn’t have in our natural (fallen) state? This is what we’ll be looking at as the lifeblood of the one who has been born again to new life in Christ.
That Which Kills
We learn a little about who we now know as Satan (prior to his being cast out) from Isaiah 14v12-15 and Ezekiel 28v13-18. Although these portions of Scripture are speaking directly to wicked earthly kings, we can tell from what is being said that Satan is being spoken to as the immediate source of their wickedness and rebellion. We see that Satan was created as an anointed guardian cherub. He was described as “blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezekiel 28v15). He is also described as beautiful in Ezekiel 28v17. However, we also see, “You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north” (Isaiah 14v13). He also said, “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14v14). We see that Satan was cast out of heaven because of his prideful heart. We aren’t given the details in regard to this event, but I contend that all creatures were created by God, not to exist independently from Him, but in complete reliance upon Him- being sustained by His grace and power. Created beings were not created to exist in fellowship with God independent of the sustaining and empowering grace of God. For Satan to have been raised up in pride to desire worship that is due only to God and to sit on-what he imagined to be-a competing throne, we can reasonably deduce that, in God’s sovereign will, He ceased from graciously sustaining Satan in fellowship with Himself. God had been continually acting toward His creation to preserve them in peaceful harmony with Himself since they were created, but because He was pleased to do so, He withdrew His sustaining grace and allowed this anointed, beautiful cherub to rebel in pridefulness of heart against Him.
Satan, now fallen along with a third of the angelic host having become demons, is ruled by this primary satanic attribute of pride which killed him spiritually and sealed his eventual end of being cast into the lake of fire along with the demons (Revelation 20:7-10). This takes us to the garden of Eden in Genesis 3. Satan, through the serpent, makes an appeal to Eve (Genesis 3:1-5). Humanity, in the same way as the rest of creation, was created in such a way to be utterly dependent upon the sustaining grace of God to preserve and to keep them in right relationship, or in fellowship, with Himself. I assert that it was never the intention of God for man to exist in autonomous fellowship with Him. In fact, there is no fellowship with God that could be described as autonomous. All of creation was created to depend completely on the grace and the preserving power of God. Then Satan enters the serpent in the garden and approaches Eve. What was the basis of his appeal to her? The same appeal to pride which sealed his own eternity. He appealed to her to be like God. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). It was an appeal to her to come out from under the authority and the benevolent care of the Creator and to declare her independence from Him as he had already done.
In that moment of rebellion, God did not act toward Adam and Eve to keep and sustain them by His grace. In His infinite wisdom, He permitted them to do what all created beings do independent of the sustaining grace of God…they rebelled in pride. Rather than continuing to graciously sustain them in fellowship with Himself, He permitted that the temptation to be like God and to declare independence from Him would find a place to land within them. She began to view what God had prohibited as delightful to her eyes and the source of genuine wisdom and knowledge that would make her like God. So she took of its fruit and she ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate. It was at this very moment that the pride which had killed Satan also killed mankind through the severing of fellowship with God.
I want to be very clear, here. It is not my argument that God wasn’t paying attention or that He failed in some way to keep or to protect humanity from the temptation of Satan. We can’t have a theology which explains God as aloof or deficient in knowledge. What I am arguing is that the fall of humanity in Adam was always God’s intention. In other words, we are still progressing through “Plan A“. I do not teach that God is anything less than completely sovereign and in total control over all of His creation at all times without exception. God’s plan, that is still unfolding today, involves His creation rising up in pride to declare their independence from Him while aspiring to be like God themselves on competing thrones. His plan also involves all of the calamities that take place as a result of this declaration of independence. It is a commonly held view of God that He is sovereign over all that we consider good, but in those things that involve calamity resulting from prideful rebellion against Him, He is not. This is a view not supported in the Bible and it must be rejected. Our theology must be able to account for Scriptures that speak to God being the One who brings calamity and is sovereign over all things. Isaiah 45:7 says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord who does all these things.” He is in control of all aspects of His creation, including the leaders of nations-even those who reject Him in their prideful rebellion against Him. He is sovereign over them and uses them as pawns to accomplish His purposes in the world. He uses one nation to judge another and then He judges that nation for the pridefulness with which they fought (Isaiah 10:5-19). So, we must conclude that the fall of Satan and the demons before the foundation of the earth, the fall of humanity in Adam and all of the resulting calamity of the entire world system play a role in a larger plan in which God is doing something far greater.
That Which Gives Life
As we are considering these things, let’s ask ourselves the question, “What is the Lifeblood of man?“. We just examined what kills. We looked at Satan’s prideful rebellion in which he sought to be worshipped like God. We saw the prideful rebellion of mankind in which they rejected the Word of God and sought to be like God themselves. In both cases, they were striving for equality with God in prideful rebellion. We know what kills. It is the creature’s declaration of independence from the Creator. It is the creature living the life received from God (as the author of life) without regard for the infinite weightiness of God-who He is and what He has commanded of His creatures that we would exist in fellowship with Him to glorify Him. It is the incredible arrogance of the creature to think that God is actually holding me back from all I can be and to pursue a mission of self-glory which opposes the mission we have in fellowship with God. It is the creature declaring to the Creator, I desire more than you’ve given. In fact, not only do I desire more, but I deserve more than you’ve given. This pride is a rejection of the created order of the Almighty. If PRIDE is the poison that kills, what is the Lifeblood? humility. This is the point I’m making in this post: humility is the lifeblood of the new heart of the one who is in Christ. Regeneration is to be born again to new life in Christ, and the very essence of this Life that we now have in Him is humility. In figurative terms, humility is that which is now coursing through the veins of the new creation in Christ.
I recognize that a large part of clear communication is agreement upon definitions of terms that are being used. With this in mind, now that I’ve established my assertion that humility is the lifeblood of the new creation in Christ, we ought to also take a little time to establish a working definition of humility for us to agree upon. Since this humility is the essence of life in Christ and it is His life which gives life to man, we will be looking at humility as that which defines the life of Christ-the life from which we derive life.
As Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount (recorded in Matthew 5-7), He began with the statement, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“. This is at the heart of humility. To be poor in spirit is to be lowly and destitute of means except those obtained through charity. This person who is poor in spirit is not only without means, but he is without any way to obtain any means by which to live. He is completely and utterly reliant upon the charity of others. In the book of Acts chapter 3, we see the account of the lame beggar being healed. The lame beggar is the physical representation of being poor in spirit. He had been lame from the time of his birth and had to be carried daily to the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. This man is utterly dependent. He is a pauper. He is without means and without a way to obtain means. He is dependent on the charity and the kindnesses of others to get him to the temple gate in the first place and then he is dependent on the alms of those who are entering the temple. If not for the charity of others, this man would wither away and die in a matter of days. His very life was due entirely to the charity of others.
This is to be the basis of our understanding of the term humility as we are using it, here. Whereas the lame beggar provides a physical representation of the spiritual reality, we must take this understanding and expand it to include not only the physical realm, but the spiritual realm as well. We are not only speaking to the physical life that we all have, but we are speaking to Life…eternal Life. We are utterly dependent upon the grace of God to obtain all that is needed for eternal Life.
We might think at this point that humility, defined as we’ve defined it above, does not fit Christ. We might think that Jesus is God and therefore is not the spiritual pauper that we are. This is the point. This is the condescension of Christ to take on flesh. This is what Philippians 2:5-8 is referencing. Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, yet did not count equality with God as that which He stood upon. He emptied Himself. Even though God, He took on the lowly position of a servant. He did this to live the Life that we could not live, but that we could have in union with Him. Had Jesus come to earth and stood on His deity in a way that was independent of the other members of the Godhead, then that would have accomplished nothing. We need a Savior who is like us, and so He came in human flesh to be like us. As He lived on the earth, He did so in a way that was 100% dependent upon the Father and the Spirit to give Him the mission and empower Him to obey-perfect obedience not in His own power as God, but power He received.
What we must do now is examine the Life of Christ from the pages of Scripture. He is our redeemer. How is it that He redeems? What is it, specifically, that redeems us? If we can agree that it is rebellious pride which kills, then that which gives Life is humility-specifically, the humility of Christ. This is the Life of Christ that we so desperately need in order that we would be saved. Our greatest need is that we, those who are dead in trespasses and sin in Adam, do not have any humility. Fallen man is devoid of humility (defined as a recognition of total dependence and reliance upon God for Life and all that pertains to it). Not only does he show a zero balance in regard to humility, his prideful heart has racked up an insurmountable debt. Fallen man is filled with that pride which killed Satan and caused him to be cast out of heaven and that pride which killed all of mankind in the garden of Eden. Pride yields only death and condemnation. Restoration and redemption must come through humility, yet fallen man has no store of humility to pull from that would be pleasing to God. This is how Christ redeems. He lived out humility in absolute perfection. Created beings fell through pridefully striving to be like God, but Jesus (who is God) did not count equality with God something to be grasped, and through union with Him, we have His lifeblood in us.
The gospel of John is filled with examples of the humility of Christ which help us to gain a more full understanding of this lifeblood of the new creation. Rather than go through an exhaustive list of examples, let me encourage you to read the gospel of John for yourself and-as you do-notice how Jesus lives His life ordered entirely submitted to the authority of the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Here is an example of what defines the life of Christ: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5v19). Jesus is sent by the Father to do the works the Father gave Him to do and to say the words that the Father gave Him to say. As such, He could say things like, “He who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8v29).
The new creation in Christ is born again to new life in Christ in regeneration and given a new heart with a new disposition to humility before God. This humility is the lifeblood of the new creation in Christ and is the defining quality of those who have been born again. Jesus came to the earth to live out the humility that Adam forfeited in the garden and did so perfectly…all of the way to the cross where He atoned for the sins of the children of the Kingdom. Jesus, being full of grace and truth, fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law in submitting Himself entirely and living His life in human flesh by the power of the Spirit in complete dependence upon God and according to the mission of God. When we think of our redemption…when we think of that which is the essence of our Life in Christ…let us think on pride as the poison which kills and the humility of Christ as our very Life before God.
The meditations found in this post have been largely sparked and fanned by the book I’m reading at the moment. The book was written by Andrew Murray (1828-1917) and is titled, “humility“. I highly commend this book to you. Click the link to check it out on Amazon.