“Without such utterness for God, nothing can be achieved, for without it we make even God powerless against his enemy”. Watchman Nee, Love Not The World, p. 109.
It’s all about Leviticus 27:28-29.
Oswald Chambers calls it “abandonment to God”. It’s the hallmark of Moses and David, in spite of their failures. Peter and Paul both sold out completely. And Jesus is the paradigm example.
But Watchman Nee makes a point that I never realized before. He cites Leviticus 27. The thing dedicated to God is given over to destruction.
Here’s the principle: anything set apart for the Lord must be set apart for the sacrifice. That sacrifice meant total destruction. Nothing acceptable to God could avoid the passage through death.
Of course, this regulation foreshadows that great sacrificial death of Jesus. His passage redeemed all that is set apart for God. But Jesus’ sacrifice does not invalidate the claim of death on all that is holy. Anything can be set apart for God but when it is, it must die to this world. It must be destroyed in its natural state so that no taint of the world’s system follows it into God’s holy presence. Literally or symbolically, death is the only solution for purification.
This thought has incredible consequences for us. We have lessened the impact by teaching that it applies only to the salvation of souls. But this is clearly not the case. Paul’s baptism unto death, the discussion in Hebrews of the transition to new life, Jesus’ demand for purity and holiness and the constant theme of the transition from the old man to the new man all speak of the same movement from the natural state to destruction. New life does not come as a result of religious empowerment or spiritual enlightenment of the old. New life comes only from resurrection life and all language about resurrection implies prior death. So Watchman Nee can say, “Without such utterness for God, nothing can be achieved.” Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies.
Has my natural life really died? Have I taken what God gave me in His gift of my creation and deliberately placed all of it on the altar of death?
Has my body, its passions and desire, its appetites and addictions been placed on the altar of death? Have I really died to all that my body wants?
Has my mind, its thought and plans, its forecasts and fears, its attempts at control been sacrificed to death? Have I died to my need to set my own agenda?
Have I died to ownership? Have I died to security? Have I sacrificed my personal goals, my career ladder, my retirement plans, my need for recognition? Is my ego burned up in an act of destruction?
Have I destroyed my self-sufficiency? Have I put to death my reliance on money? Have I witnessed the charred remains of my grasp on possessions and my need for accumulation?
Have I killed my image-consciousness, my ego of pride, my pre-occupation with my own well-being? Have I died to anything that grips my natural emotional life? My fears? My anxieties? My anger? My obsessions? My hope?
Have I placed my family, my spouse, my children, my friends, my compatriots – each and every one – on the altar, offering their grip on my natural inclinations to love as a sacrifice unto God? Have I witnessed the funeral of my natural affections?
There may be other parts of this world that grip my soul, refusing to voluntarily lie down in preparation for the fire. Sex, power, fame, peace, freedom, independence, indulgence, time, self-fulfillment, protection. Whatever attaches me to the system of this world prevents God from using me as He intends. He can do nothing with me for His glory as long as I resist the passage of death into life. That’s the scary thought. I want God to use me. I long to be His faithful servant. But now I am confronted with something far more demanding that I originally understood. Yes, it was comfortable to discover a God who would forgive my guilt and wash away my shame. But that was simply the introduction. God is not recruiting citizens for His heavenly kingdom to be established and populated at the end of time. He is redeeming his creation out of the hands of the enemy and the only soldiers who can fight that battle with Him are those who have cast away all the snares and trappings of the enemy’s weapons. The old man must be put off!
Today I reassess my commitment to death. Only I can decide to die. That is all that I can do. The resurrection is not within my sphere of control. That is God’s work – and He promises to perform His work without fail – after I have made the trip to the altar of destruction. My job is to die. There is no other way.
Is today the day of your fiery funeral?