Saturday, July 4, 2020
Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends.
No Greater Love
I recently listened as my daughter played a song by a young Christian lady that states, “Sometimes I think it would be easier to die for You than to live for You.” There is profound truth in this, for dying for Christ necessitates that we die one time, but living for Him requires that we die daily. It is a great paradox in the Kingdom of God that all who would live must die, while all who seek to protect their life will lose it.
I would encourage you to pray and ask the Father for wisdom and understanding before reading this chapter, for its message is more difficult than any chapter written thus far. The flesh will despise what is written here, but it is my hope that many women will sense the seal of the Holy Spirit upon these words.
Every member of the Kingdom of God is called to die to self. They are called to lose their life that they may find it. They are called to have no will or agenda or initiative of their own. They are to find their purpose and reason for living in another.
We are told that “the head of man is Christ.” This implies that man is to have no head of his own. Man is to live to do the will of Yahshua. Man is to have no initiative of his own. Man has been purchased with the blood of Christ and he now belongs totally to another.
I Corinthians 6:20
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
I Corinthians 7:23
You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
This is abundantly clear, is it not? Our life is not our own. We have been purchased at an exceedingly high cost. Yet, even though the meaning is clear and unmistakable we find that there are few who walk in conformity to the truth of these words.
Yahshua set before us the pure example of one who walked in this selfless way. He never did anything of His own initiative. He always did the will of the Father. He declared that He never even spoke a word of His own initiative. He walked in complete and total Sabbath rest. His will was surrendered to the will of the Father. At His most extreme test He declared, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy will be done.”
This is the example set before all men. To be a disciple of Christ one must lay down his life and daily take up their cross. They must die to all personal ambition. They must die to all the plans and goals they have imagined for their life. They must live with one purpose, to know the will of Christ and do it.
Although this is abundantly clear from scriptures, the church as a group does not walk in this manner. The church has many goals and ambitions that arise from the soul of man. The church is filled with the initiatives of man. Even the seemingly good things that the church does are largely the product of making an offering to God that arises from the soul of man. All such offerings are detestable to Yahweh and they will be burned with fire until nothing remains.
Yahshua revealed that many would come to Him on the day of judgment with their good works proudly in hand looking for His blessing. These good works are identified as prophesying in His name, casting out demons in His name, and even performing miracles in His name. Yet Yahshua’s response will be, “Depart from Me, you lawless ones, for I never knew you.” Yahshua reveals in this same passage of scripture (Matthew 7:21-23) that the only thing that will receive the Father’s blessing is to do the will of the Father. We must receive command and then obey. We are not to make offerings that arise from our own souls as we determine what is good and evil.
Those who have not yet discerned the government of God cannot receive these words. Once one discerns government all begins to become clear. There is one legitimate will in the universe and that is Yahweh’s will. All else is to be in subjection to His will. He is the fountain of all authority and the source of all rule. He delegates His authority to others as He determines, and we must then be perfect in subjection to those authorities as if we were obeying Yahweh Himself.
Yahweh has established Yahshua as the head of man, therefore men must obey Yahshua as they would obey Yahweh. Yahshua is man’s head. Man is to have no head of his own. Man is to be in subjection to Christ in all things. Man is not to will things of his own initiative. He is not to determine his own course in life.
If a man would be a disciple of Christ then he cannot determine where he will work, or what his occupation will be. He must allow Christ, his head, to reveal His will and desire for these things. A man cannot decide whom he will marry, or where he will live. These decisions too must be surrendered to the will of Christ. If a man would be Christ’s disciple, he cannot decide how he will spend his money, how he will raise his children, where he will go to church, or a myriad of other things, for if a man lives he must live for the Lord, and if he dies he must die for the Lord.
This is the whole meaning of Sabbath rest. In Hebrews chapters 3 and 4, the apostle Paul states that a rest yet remains for the children of God. He reveals that there is a great danger of the saints failing to enter into this rest, even as the children of Israel who left Egypt failed to enter in. He then reveals how one enters the Sabbath rest of God.
For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
Man can have no works of his own. On the seventh day, Yahweh rested from His work of creation. He ceased initiating new works. Even so, man is to initiate nothing of his own. He is to find his highest purpose and calling in discerning the will of the Father and doing His good pleasure.
Does this make man God’s doormat? Does this total subjection to the will of Yahweh belittle or humiliate man in some sense? Is a man who lives this way somehow lessened and diminished in his being and character? No! This is the purpose for which man was created. Man was made to express the character of God and to be an extension of His divine will. Yahshua was not diminished by laying aside His own initiative and refusing to be self-directed. He became perfect in obedience, and because of this the Father has now highly exalted Him and given Him a name above all other names.
It is evident that the church at large is very shortsighted today. They seek to enjoy life to the fullest and to gain all the things of this world they can. The church seeks to fulfill every human ambition and to chase every personal initiative now, during this physical life. Yet this is not the purpose of this life. The purpose of this life is to conform us to the image of Christ who never sought His own will or way. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross.
There is a joy set before all those who would deny themselves now in this life and who would live to accomplish Yahweh’s purpose for their life. If we are focused on gaining the things of this world and fulfilling our personal objectives and goals in this life, then we may very well find some satisfaction for a time, but in eternity we will find that we have traded that which is priceless for the fading treasures of a fallen world. There will be much weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
There was a man who lived a generation ago who was expected to excel in the things of this world. He was bright, attractive, and athletic. He was a standout in college and many expected him to pursue the world’s course to fame and advancement. Yet something transpired in this man’s heart where he saw the things of this world as mere dung in comparison to the glory to come. He turned his back on the pursuit of the things of the world and went to become a missionary to remote tribal people.
Neither the world, nor the majority of the church, understood his decision. They asked why he would go this path. Jim Elliot responded, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” This life on earth is fleeting and momentary. The path of the righteous is fraught with difficulty and pain and suffering, yet the apostle Paul described these things in this manner.
II Corinthians 4:17-18
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
When we consider the life of Paul it seems incredible that he described these things as a momentary, light affliction. How much more should we surrender our will, goals, dreams, and aspirations to Yahweh and receive instead the knowledge of His desire for us?
Christ is the head of man, so man is to have no head of his own. He is to live to accomplish the desire of Christ. Similarly, man is the head of woman, and the married woman has her husband as her head. She is to have no head of her own, but she is to live to do the will of her husband. She is to surrender her aspirations, goals, and desires and seek to fulfill the desire of her husband.
If there are but a few men who will truly walk surrendered to Christ, then we should not be surprised that there are but the smallest remnant of women who will live surrendered lives before their husbands. It seems unreasonable that a woman should lay down her aspirations, dreams, desires, hopes, and plans for her life that she might live to help her husband attain to the fulness of his calling. How rare it is for a woman to call her husband lord, and even rarer for a woman to obey her husband as she would the Lord.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Even as a man must have a heavenly vision to surrender his own will for his life to Christ, so too must the godly woman have a heavenly vision in order for her to surrender her life to her husband. If the woman is seeking to find all her fulfillment in this life then she will never choose this course. Only those who look to a heavenly reward can with joy turn their back on this world and its alluring offerings of self-fulfillment and pleasure. Only by understanding that her reward is elsewhere can a woman choose to accept man as her head and to refuse to have a head of her own.
I have encountered so many examples of women who are not walking in these things, even as I have encountered many men who are not seeking the will of Christ for their lives. How often has a man declared to his wife that he senses Christ leading him in some direction and the wife opposes him because her will is not in agreement?
I know of men who felt called to be missionaries and their wives adamantly refused to go along. The wife wanted to stay close to home, close to family and friends. The wife may have had some plans of her own regarding career and education, and her husband’s will conflicted with these things. She may have simply wanted to have a ‘normal’ life where she could raise children in the comfort of surroundings that were familiar to her. The wife ultimately was unwilling to bend. She was unwilling to subject her will to that of her husband.
I could give example after example of such things, for this is the norm in the church today, but let us press on to other matters. There will often come times when a wife or daughter is required to submit and to give up their own will and desire for that of a husband or father. As large and difficult of an obstacle as this is, there is much more that is entailed in losing one’s own life and laying it down for another. There is much more to a wife being subject to her husband as to the Lord.
I listened to a minister speak on the issue of submission many years ago. He gave an example from a very practical experience in his own life. This minister had some land and he proceeded to build a fence on it. He had a young man whom he hired to assist him with the fence. Throughout the day the minister noted some profound things as he worked with this young man.
The minister began to build the fence and he would ask the young man for a board, or some nails and the young man would bring them over. Building a fence is a very repetitious chore and one would expect that this young man would catch on quickly and he would anticipate what his employer needed next, but he never acted as if he did. After a short while it should have been obvious that the minister was going to need a board next, or some more nails, or some other thing, but the young man never anticipated his wishes. He always had to be asked to bring another board. He always had to be asked to do everything.
Needless to say, the minister’s experience with this young man was not satisfying to him. The job went much slower than it could have had the young man made himself more useful.
In relating this story, the minister was actually speaking of the calling of those under authority to make those over them successful. Whether the authority is on the job, in the home, or in some other sphere of life, those under authority should have the goal of making those in authority as successful as possible.
If this had been the young man’s goal he would have tried to anticipate what he could do to make the fence building proceed with the greatest efficiency. He could have anticipated his employer’s needs and he could have been ready to hand him a board without needing to be asked. He could anticipate when nails were running low and fetch some more without being instructed to do so. He could have in many ways brought a greater success to the one who hired him.
Why did the young man not do so? It was most likely because the young man was self-focused. He was not working to make his employer successful, he was working to earn some money for himself. He was oblivious to anything but his own desires and goals. He simply wanted to get through the day and collect his money.
In the same way, many wives are self-absorbed. They are consumed with thoughts of what they desire to get out of life and what they can do to get there. At times their husbands will ask them to do something that will throw a wrench in their own plans, and then the stage is set for them to decide whether they will live for their own desires, or whether they will be subject to their husbands as to the Lord.
It is the rare wife who will subject her will to her husband’s, freely and without murmuring or complaining. There is a remnant who are seeking to be obedient, but if a wife merely obeys when asked to do so, she has done no better than the young man who helped this minister build his fence. She has not really applied herself to making her husband successful.
The wife who seeks to make her husband successful will make it her goal and aspiration in life to know where he is going and to seek to help him get there in the best fashion. She will apply herself to learning what his desires are for her and she will seek to fulfill those desires without the necessity of constant prompting.
Again, I feel it necessary to make a distinction between the godly and ungodly desires of a man. A wife or daughter should not make it her goal to help her husband or father attain ungodly desires in the best manner possible. It is not the wife’s or daughter’s calling to correct a wrong authority, but they need not speed them on their way to an ungodly goal, either.
A wife or daughter should have some discernment about the will of Yahweh, and in most cases they will find that their husband or father does have many godly desires that they can assist them in fulfilling. If a woman has a husband or father whose heart is intent on following Christ as a disciple, then there should be many opportunities to help them succeed.
Let me give you a couple of examples on how a wife can help her husband to be successful in accomplishing his desires. Since my wife and I first got married I have desired that she dress in a modest and feminine manner. I have always thought that women are very modest and attractive in long dresses, and I made my desire known to my wife. My wife had many other influences in the church, however, and for many years she did not walk in the principles spoken of here. She did things according to her desire and will. She had a tendency to make strong friendships with other women, and I would find her conforming in image to these women rather than to her husband’s desires.
My wife went through various phases. She had one friend who liked stirrup pants and a variety of tops, often with the padded shoulders, to coordinate with them. My wife went shopping with her and her whole wardrobe changed to this fashion. Later she had another friend that liked a different fashion that was known for its wild patterns and bright colors, as well as pants and shorts. Again my wife’s dress changed.
In all of this my desires were not fulfilled, and the effect was felt in our home. I have also desired that our daughter should dress modestly and in feminine apparel. However, my daughter found that she had her own preferences, I will call it the tomboy look, and she dressed in this way. My wife was not able to lead our daughter into conforming to my desire for her dress because my wife was not conforming herself. I was therefore hindered in bringing my family to be arrayed with modesty, and with what I viewed to be appropriate and godly dress.
Last year (our sixteenth year of marriage), the Father brought forth many foundational changes in our marriage, and my wife began to dress in a manner that I had long desired. She began to practice headcovering and she began wearing long dresses. I have never considered my wife to be so attractive as she is now. Her physical appearance is very pleasing to me.
It was no coincidence that our daughter began to wear a headcovering shortly after my wife, and not long after this she also began wearing dresses. My daughter is the very picture of a godly young woman, and this is very pleasing to me. She came to the conviction to wear dresses and a headcovering on her own, but the way was prepared by her mother's example of obedience in this area.
A woman has an incredible power in her home and among others in influencing them toward godliness. Her husband needs her support and active participation in bringing forth those things he feels are in keeping with godliness.
Another area that I will give as an example of how a wife can help make her husband more successful in life is the area of preparing food for one’s family. I have long been a junk food eater. My flesh likes all the wrong kinds of food and I have suffered from the effects of being overweight most of my life.
The effects of being overweight can make one feel tired and lacking in energy. This tiredness can make one more susceptible to melancholy and depressive thoughts. As a minister who often has dealt with great opposition, discouragement can be a constant battle. Being overweight and feeling tired can also make one less productive in work, and less likely to want to spend time in physical activity with the family.
In my own family there is also a history of heart problems which are largely due to an improper diet. I have known that eating the wrong kind of foods has been a problem for some time, and I have expressed my concern to my wife, communicating a desire for us to eat healthier foods.
I do some of the cooking around the house, and I have only myself to blame for being overweight. I could spend the time researching what would constitute a healthy diet and learning how to prepare foods that would promote good health, but I have many other duties that the Father has given to me. If I were to spend much time in this area, studying healthy eating, then I would have to put aside something else that is also very important. This is an ideal situation in which my wife could help me out tremendously.
Changing our eating habits has been a challenge for my wife for she has been raised on a traditional Southern diet that is high in fat and which accentuates meat dishes, with less emphasis placed on fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains. To begin to cook healthy would require learning many new things and overcoming old habits.
My wife is now beginning to look into this matter of healthier cooking, and I am very thankful for it. I desire to be healthier and to feel healthier. Now that I am seeing in her a desire to prepare healthy foods for our family to eat, my mind is freed of its burden in this area. I know that as my wife applies herself to this area that our whole family will benefit, and I will personally begin to experience very real improvements in regard to physical stamina, emotional well being, and bodily health.
A husband may express a desire similar to the one’s I have mentioned here, but their wife may not take any real steps on their own to satisfy their husband’s wishes or desires. They may be more like the young man who had to be told everything. But a godly woman who wants her husband to be successful will apply herself, and she will do all she can to anticipate and fulfill his desires.
There are a myriad of things a wife can do to help her husband to be more successful in life. To do so, however, she must put away her own self-focus and she must become attentive to his life, seeking to help him achieve the calling on his life. Again, she will only do this as she looks to a heavenly reward and as she dies to the desires of her own soul with its longing to find fulfillment while in these earthly bodies.
I am sure that some are thinking here that the woman who lives to help her husband fulfill his calling will be hindered or robbed of pursuing the call on her own life. Those who make this objection are not understanding that this is the call on a woman’s life. Even as a man is to live to fulfill the desire of his Head, woman was created to be a helper for man.
Another thing that is not understood is that the calling of every man and woman is to be conformed to the image of Christ. This conformity is not so much about outward activity as it is about an inward transformation. Yahshua was meek, and humble, and selfless. Success in life comes by being conformed to this same image.
Success is not being a great musician so that you can lead others in praise of Yahweh. It is not about writing books that others will read and notice. It is not about being the most learned, or eloquent, or well known, or having the most achievements to boast about. Success is conformity to Christ, and we have these words regarding Yahshua.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Yahshua, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
We will likewise be successful when we are able to let go of everything in our lives, when we claim no personal ownership or will of our own. When we can empty ourselves and humble ourselves as a servant to others, then we will meet with success. This is the will of the Father for us.
If a wife cannot take her husband to be her lord, then how can she take Christ to be her Lord? If she cannot humble herself before the husband that she sees, then how will she humble herself before Christ whom she does not see? There is no difference before God in submitting oneself to Yahweh’s direct authority, or to the authority that He has granted to Christ and to man.
There is a very consistent pattern exhibited in Yahweh’s government. Yahweh is the head of Christ, and Christ lives to do the will of the Yahweh. Christ is the head of man and man lives to do the will of Christ. Man is the head of woman and woman lives to do the will of man. Even as Christ lays down His life, so man lays down his, and woman lays down hers. Even as Christ did not choose His will when it conflicted with the Father’s, so man is not to choose his will over Christ’s, nor is woman to choose her will over man’s.
As a man, it is necessary that I constantly seek to know the will of Christ that I might fulfill His desire. Likewise, wives are to seek to know the will of their husbands so that they might fulfill their desire.
If woman is seeking to fulfill the desire of her husband, and her husband is seeking to fulfill the desire of Christ, and Christ is seeking to fulfill the desire of the Father, then all is in harmony and the will of the Father is being accomplished throughout the entire Kingdom of God.
This seeking should be an active seeking on all levels. Man need not wait until Christ hits him over the head with some command. Man should apply himself to search out the mind of Christ. Man must learn to discern the still, small voice of Christ. Even so, woman should actively seek to know the will of her husband. If you are married, do not wait for your husband to verbalize his desires. Seek them out. He may not always tell you what is really on his heart. Learn to read between the lines and to pick up on the subtle hints that he gives. Be mindful of the things he has spoken to you. Become attentive to him with a desire to make him successful.
If you have been as the young man who had to be told everything, then it will take effort to train yourself to do otherwise. Foremost, you must die to being focused on your own will, desires, and goals. Have you been thinking upon what you desire out of life? Have you been focused upon your own fulfillment? If you continue on this course then you will fail to make your husband successful.
The Kingdom of God is built upon the principle of servanthood. It may seem that I am proclaiming something that would give men the license to be domineering tyrants. This is not so. The man is called to lay down his life to do the will of Christ. Christ will lead the man to be a servant to others.
There are always instances where a man is not walking as he should in submission to Christ, and a woman feels she is in a perilous place and that her needs will not be considered if she lays down her life for her husband. Such a woman must consider that her own example of godliness and humility may affect her husband for good, but if she chooses the road of rebellion then she will certainly fail to influence him to walk in obedience and humility. Rebellion does not produce obedience. It merely leads to strife and conflict. It is only when a woman bears up when suffering unjustly that her behavior finds favor with God. It is only when she is walking submitted to her husband that the Father will act quickly to bring correction to the authority in disobedience.
I will conclude this chapter with these words. A woman who lays down her own goals and desires may have them given back to her at some time. There is a pattern revealed in scripture where the Father gives someone a vision, but the vision dies completely only to be reborn and fulfilled by the power of the Spirit. In this way the Father removes the flesh from our actions and pursuits.
You may have some great talent, or you may feel some great call on your life. So did Moses and Joseph when they were young, but their hopes and dreams died, and all possibility of their dreams being resurrected through any effort of their own was removed. Only when they died to seeking to accomplish their dreams in their own strength could the Father fulfill His purposes in them.
Death precedes life. Humility comes before honor. Yahweh will ask you to lay that which is dearest to you on the altar. Your Isaac must be sacrificed. Only when you let go of what has a hold on your heart will you be truly free.
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