Sin, Self and the Love of God
|By: Nancy Missler; ©2000|
|We must learn to free ourselves of sin and self in order to become conduits of God’s Love. Nancy Missler explains how this can happen.|
Sin and Self
God’s ultimate plan is to set His people apart (or sanctified) from the flesh, the world and the devil, and fashion us into human conduits freely overflowing with His Love. As Christians, we must learn to escape the prison of sin and self and enter a love union with Christ so that His Life can flow through us to others. As 1 Timothy 1:5 says, “The end [goal, purpose, mission] of the commandment is Agape [God’s Love] out of a pure heart…”
Sanctification is simply the process by which Christ’s Love is formed in us and we learn to walk by the leading of the Spirit and not the flesh.
In order to accomplish this, however, there are two things that God must do: 1) By His blood, He must cleanse our souls and bodies (the flesh) of all sinful acts; and, 2) By His Spirit and His Word working together, He must purify our soulish and self-centered ways. Sin and self are the two things that stop God’s Life from being formed in us.
Let me define these two things, because they are different and we will be addressing them throughout this book. Sin is all of the unrighteous and unholy acts that we do—sexual immorality, impure thoughts, lustful pleasure, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, anger, envy, drunkenness, etc. “Sin” is anything that we do that is contrary to what the Word of God commands. As we said before, sin is what separates us from God. Whereas, self is all of our self-centered ways—our self-protective attitudes, our self-oriented motivations, our belief systems, our habits and our own natural strengths (our natural, human nature). “Self” is not necessarily sinful, but if left alone and not crucified, it will eventually lead us back to sin.
Therefore, in the sanctification process, God wants us to surrender, relinquish and give over to Him not only everything that is sin, but also everything that originates from “self.” Liberation from sin is only the first step! Self must also be highlighted, exposed and crucified. Self-centeredness is the essence or the foundation of all sin and thus, the direct opposite of God’s Love.
Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, our sin has already been dealt with, but our self-centered soulish ways are still very much present. Just because the problem of two natures has been answered by the cross does not mean the problem of two lives (God’s supernatural Life or our own natural self-life) has! God wants us not only cleansed from “sin,” but also from “self.” Part of the sanctification process is that God wants us to surrender to Him everything that is “natural” as well as everything that is “sinful.”
Now, “positionally,” as we said, we have already become sanctified because of what Christ has done for us on the cross and the holiness that He has already imputed and ascribed to us. But, “experientially” this is not the case at all. Until we are, moment by moment, purified body, soul and spirit, we will not be able to enter or enjoy the presence of God.
So, the whole purpose of sanctification is not only to reflect Him in all we do (in our souls and bodies), but also to have intimacy with Him in our spirit.
[Please, bear in mind that Jesus was the only One who was able to do this perfectly. We can never become perfectly sanctified as long as we are in our human bodies. There will always be more sin and self to be dealt with. But, as we daily allow God to show us what He wants us to surrender to Him, we will be able—in an ever-increasing way—to experience His presence.]
Thus, our responsibility is to offer ourselves—present our bodies as living sacrifices—so that God can show us the sin and the self still remaining in us. Although we begin this sanctification procedure when we first become believers, we only finish it when we are spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically consecrated to God. 
As 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” (emphasis added)
God Loves Us
The first point I want to really “hammer home” throughout this book is that God loves us. He loves us with an eternal and an unconditional Love. He loves us so much that He died for us. There is absolutely no greater Love than that. God made us and He wants the very best for each of us. But, only He knows what exactly that is and what it will take to implement that in our lives—what exactly will fulfill us and what exactly will make us complete. Therefore, we need to understand that everything He allows in our lives comes only as a result of His Love. All the circumstances of our life, every event, every single thing that occurs comes to us only by permission of a loving Father.
- “When thou passest through the waters [trouble], I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God… [You are] precious in My sight and …I have loved thee.” (Isaiah 43:2-4)
God’s Love, however, can come in different forms. In the Old Testament God’s Love is called chesed in the Hebrew and it means, not only God’s loving and compassionate Love, but also His strict and discipline Love. Both aspects are His Love. Just like we sometimes need to love our children with tough love, God often must do the same with us. It doesn’t mean that He loves us any less. In fact, it often means He loves us more.
Fenelon says, “The more God loves [us], the less He spares [us]!”
Hebrews 12:5-8 also validates this, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chaseneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
The imperfections in our lives are the reason for God’s refining process. Once these impurities are gone, then God’s Love can be experienced in a new and magnificent way and our joy will return. As 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 puts it, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Even though at first God’s ways might seem harsh to our human mind, it’s only because we cannot comprehend the glory that God wants to weave into our lives, once the hard shell of our soul has been shattered. Only then will we know the healing, the strengthening, the empowering, the rest, the peace and joy that comes from God’s presence.
God is continually and lovingly chiselling away at the marble slab of our soul, like the old sculptor who was asked by his apprentice, “How do you carve a horse?” The old man looked at the boy matter-of-factly and answered, “That’s easy. I just chip away anything that doesn’t look like a horse.” That pretty well describes what the Lord is doing in each of our lives—chipping away anything that doesn’t look like Jesus.
“[God] does not afflict willingly nor grieve [His] children,” Lamentations 3:33 tells us, but only as is needed, to accomplish His perfect will in us—our sanctification.
- Galatians 5:19; 1 John 5:17
- Romans 6:14
- God’s supernatural Life is His Agape Love, His Thoughts and His Power; our natural self-life is our love, our thoughts and our strength and power.
- Hebrews 10:10
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Colossians 1:21-23
- 1 Corinthians 13:1-8; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:35, 38-39
- The Seeking Heart, Francois Fenelon, page 73.
- Psalm 94:12-13; Revelation 3:19; 2 Chronicles 32:31