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Deliverance From Self-Centeredness
We’re going to have to cover briefly the ground that we were covering in the previous sessions in order to get a good run of today’s teaching. I’ve been explaining to you that through the cross God made a total provision for every need of every believer in time and eternity; spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, material, financial, or whatever else. All our needs were provided for by the one all sufficient, complete sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. By one sacrifice he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. As far as God and his sacrifice are concerned, that’s complete forever.
But there’s a process of being sanctified in us. That’s an ongoing process by which we appropriate more and more of what was made available to us through the cross.
I also pointed out that through the cross God administered to Satan a total, eternal, irreversible defeat. He not merely defeated him, he disarmed him. He stripped him of his weapons.
Then we went on to see that Satan’s counterattack is to obscure for the church what was accomplished through the cross, including obscuring the fact that Satan and his kingdom were defeated. And so, in Galatians 3:1 we have this key scripture:
“Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed, as crucified?”
And as we follow the outworking of that we see that witchcraft, having obscured the work of the cross, then proceeded to divert God’s people from the truth back into legalism and carnality. It’s very important to remember that these two go together. Legalism is the expression of carnality. It sounds very religious, it can appear very holy but it is actually the expression of carnality. And both legalism and carnality always result in the church where the work of the cross has been obscured.
Then we pointed out the force that Satan used to obscure the work of the cross Paul describes as witchcraft. I don’t think we’re going to go into an analysis of witchcraft again this morning but I want to continue now with God’s provision for us to be protected from witchcraft. We began to look at that in our previous sessions, we’ll continue this morning from that point.
In your outline it is Page 4. Somewhere near the top of the page you’ll see the heading God’s Protection Against Witchcraft. And then I go on. Galatians reveals a fivefold deliverance. I believe this is the only protection against witchcraft, against Satan’s snares, deceptions and manipulations. Either we avail ourselves of this protection provided by God through the cross or we come under the deception and the manipulation of Satan. There’s no third alternative. Either we accept and apply what was accomplished for us through the cross or we in some measure come under the deception and the control of Satan.
You see, there isn’t anything else. There are two kingdoms. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. There’s not a third kingdom. There’s not a third area. Through the cross Paul tells us we have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness, translated into the kingdom of God’s Son. Well, we have to be in one or other kingdom. There isn’t any other place to be.
One of the great problems with a lot of religious teaching and thinking is somehow there’s a third category. “Well, I’m not in the kingdom of Satan, I’m not in the kingdom of God but I’m somewhere else.” There is nowhere else to be. Jesus explained it in a personal relation to himself when he said, “He that is not with me is against me.” There’s nothing in between. “He that doesn’t gather with me is scattering.” You’re either with him or against him. You’re either gathering positively or scattering. You’re in one or the other category.
What are you scattering? If you are scattering you’re scattering all the things that God has committed to you. Your time, your talent, your energy, your finance and many, many other things. You’re either using them positively for the kingdom of God or you’re wasting them. There’s no other option.
Going back to Galatians now I’ve pointed out the first great deliverance is stated in Galatians 1:4 where it says—you’ll need to keep a finger in Galatians for the present period. We’ll go to other places but we’ll keep turning back to Galatians. God has been dealing with me over the past two years about Galatians. I’ve just never been able to get away from it for any length of time. As many of you know, we spend a good deal of our time in Israel and I tell you, in Israel dealing with Jewish believers, Galatians is really the critical issue. The flesh, the law on one hand; grace and liberty on the other.
“Christ gave himself for our sins [gave himself on the cross, gave himself up, offered himself], that he might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”
So that’s the first deliverance. And all the other deliverances that we’ll deal with are really aspects of this first deliverance. We’ve already looked at this, but let’s just review it quickly. Why do we need to be delivered from this present evil age? First of all, because it’s an evil age. Why is it an evil age? Because Satan is the god of this present age and anything that Satan is god of is going to be evil.
Now, God, in his wisdom, has not decided to remove Satan from being god of this age. As long as this age continues, Satan will be its god. When this age comes to an end, Satan will no longer be a god. That’s why he strives with all his might to perpetuate the present age. But once this age is over he will no longer be a god.
God has not set Satan aside at this time. His remedy is to deliver us from this present evil age. I wonder whether many of you have ever given much consideration to that statement? I have to admit that for years I just read it and passed it by. But God’s purpose through the cross is to deliver us from this present evil age. Do you believe that you’ve been delivered? Do you live like somebody who’s been delivered from the present evil age?
Let’s just look at some of the statements there and we’ll move on quickly. The present age is coming to a close. That’s tremendously important. It’s not going to continue forever. Don’t live as if it were. Don’t think as if it were because you’re out of line with reality.
Second, as I’ve said, Satan is the god of this present age.
Also, through salvation and the through the baptism in the Holy Spirit we have tasted the powers of the age to come. God’s purpose was to give us such an appetite for the powers of the age to come that we would no longer be tempted by the kind of power that this age offers.
Then we saw that this age causes worries that make believers unfruitful. If ever there was a statement that applies to the contemporary church in the western world, that is it.
Then we saw that believers are not to be conformed to this present age. We’re not to think like them, we’re not to live like them. We are to be different.
And then we saw, with regard to Demas, that a faithful servant of Christ cannot love the present age. You cannot love God and the present age. They’re incompatible.
The results of that deliverance very quickly: Our citizenship is in heaven. This is determined by acceptance or rejection of the cross. Where Paul says in Philippians 3, “our citizenship is in heaven,” he speaks first about those who are professing believers but who are the enemies of the cross of Christ. They’re prepared to accept Christ but not his cross. And he says some terrible things about them. He says, “whose god is their belly, whose end is destruction, who glory in their shame”. The only deliverance from that is the acceptance of the cross in our lives.
Then the second result of that deliverance is we realize we have no continuing city here. This is not where we live. I was teaching, some of you were present, in the local church here. I pointed out that the day of God’s wrath and judgment according to Luke 21 is coming on all who dwell on the face of the earth. All. So if we dwell on the face of the earth, it’s coming on us. We need to ask ourselves what is our residential address? Where is our citizenship? Are we looking for a city to come?
Then very closely related to that is the eager expectation of Christ’s return. The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 9, verse 28:
“For those who eagerly wait for him, he will return with salvation.”
Now we continued with the remaining four deliverances and we looked at the next one which is about the middle of Page 4, deliverance from the law. We could just read that verse there. I know this is all review, but I believe it’s important to get us in line for what’s coming. Galatians 2:19. Paul says:
“For I, through the law, died to the law, that I might live to God.”
The law put me to death. That’s the kindest thing it ever did to me because I escaped from the law through death. The grace and mercy of God was I escaped through the death of Jesus Christ. But I am out of the realm in which the law applies.
Now we have dealt with this earlier so we aren’t going to deal with it in detail. The results of deliverance from the law, first of all, freedom from condemnation. Romans 8:1:
“There is therefore now no condemnation...”
The therefore follows immediately on chapter 7. And the whole theme of chapter 7 is the believer’s relationship to the law. Once we have realized that, then we can say there is therefore now no condemnation. As long as you are seeking to achieve righteousness by keeping a law, you will always be vulnerable to condemnation. You have to escape from the law to escape from condemnation.
The second result of this deliverance is freedom to be led by the Holy Spirit. Paul says in Romans 8:14:
“As many as are regularly led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
To become a mature son or daughter of God you have to be regularly led by the Holy Spirit. The tense there is a continuing present tense. As many as are being regularly led by the Holy Spirit, they are the sons of God.
I’ve preached many times to Pentecostal and Charismatic groups who know all about being born again and being baptized in the Spirit. I’ve said to them often, “How many of you have ever heard one message on how to be led by the Holy Spirit?” And usually less than ten percent will respond positively. So we keep talking about being born again which makes us infants and we never deal with the issue of growing to maturity which comes only through being led by the Holy Spirit.
See, deliverance from the law is essential to achieving maturity. Maturity comes only by being led by the Holy Spirit and when you’re under the law, you are not led by the Holy Spirit. Let’s look in Galatians 5:18. I realize for some of you this is new and perhaps a little controversial. Well, the Bible is a controversial book! If you have never been shocked by the Bible, you have never really heard what it said. Galatians 5:18:
“But if you are regularly led by the Spirit you are not under the law.”
It’s either or. Once again, there’s no third category. So if you want to achieve maturity, the only way is to be regularly led by the Holy Spirit. If you want to be regularly led by the Holy Spirit you are not under the law. If you are under the law, you are not being led by the Holy Spirit. It’s a very, very important application of this truth.
I added to your outline a number of scriptures because I know from experience that if you simply tell people “you’re not under the law” you leave them wondering “Am I free to do anything? Commit murder, steal or what?” So I dealt with that passage in Romans 8 which you have heard me quote whenever my voice is checked.
“What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the law, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.”
So the law is dealt with that the righteous requirement of the law might be worked out in us.
Now I told you that the righteous requirement of the law can be expressed in one short word which is love. I won’t go through those scriptures again except to quote the one I really enjoy which is 1Timothy 1:5 in the NASV:
“Now the goal of our instruction is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Those are the three conditions for maintaining love. Pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith.
Then it goes on:
“From which some having swerved to turn aside to fruitless discussions.”
The alternative is fruitlessness.
Now we’re going to break new ground. We’re going on to the third aspect of deliverance which is very closely connected with the second. We’ll go back in Galatians to chapter 2and verse 20. I feel prompted to say that some of you find this a little bit difficult. It’s an area which some of you have never been confronted with. That’s an amazing thing because if you go through the New Testament and consider all the passages which deal with the relationship between law and grace and law and the Spirit, they are many. Basically it’s the theme of Galatians. Much of Romans is devoted to it. It’s found its place in Hebrews and in various other places. It’s simply an amazing fact that this vital issue has been so neglected in the church. What’s the reason? Witchcraft. The eyes of the church have been blinded to miss out this essential, fundamental truth.
You see, unless you’re released from witchcraft your eyes won’t be able to see it. You’ve got to make a real determined effort to throw off something that has kind of put a veil in front of your eyes. We have a very dear, precious sister who is very close to us in our local church. I won’t give her name but God speaks to her frequently by visions. They’re very vivid and scriptural visions. She was sharing just with Ruth and me personally, not with the whole church, that she recently was praying at night and she had a vision of Jesus on his way to the cross. She said, “It was so real I could hear things, I could smell the smells, it was absolutely like I was there.” And she said, “I wanted to press through and help him but there was something like a sheet of plastic that was between Jesus and the cross and me. I couldn’t get through it.” She really hadn’t heard my teaching but you see, that’s exactly what witchcraft is. It’s a kind of plastic film that has been placed between the church and Jesus and the cross.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who lives; 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 for me.”
That’s one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. I have been crucified with Christ. Do you remember what Romans 6:6 says? “Our old man was crucified with him.” That’s a general statement. But each one of us has to make it personal. It’s our confession by which we appropriate the general truth. So our old man was crucified with him is the general truth. I have been crucified with Christ is my personal application of that truth in my life.
Then Paul, being very logical and very Jewish, says, “If I’m crucified, how do I go on living?” I think much of Paul’s teaching is based on anticipated objections of unbelieving Jews. I mean, it’s comical when you go through it because it’s so typically Jewish. That’s the way the Jews still think. It’s what I call Talmudic. You know what the Talmud is? Well if you don’t know, don’t worry. I mean, you’ve not missed much. This is the mentality of the Jewish people. It’s something that really was produced in them by God. It’s no accident that probably there are more Jewish lawyers than any other group. Their whole mind is trained that way. So Paul continually makes statements, imagines the objection and then answers it. Sometimes he doesn’t indicate the objection. “I’ve been crucified with Christ.” “Well, if you’ve been crucified, how do you live?” “It’s not I who live any longer but it’s Christ who lives in me.”
And notice the next phrase. “The life I now live in the flesh.” Not in the next world but here in this present life, in my present situations and circumstances. I live by the faith—the Greek says “of” the Son of God. Most modern translations say “in” the Son of God. Really I prefer to stick to “of”. Not merely does Christ live in me but his faith lives in me. When he comes in he comes with his faith. I’m not living by my own faith. I’m living by the faith of the Son of God.
Then we come back again to the cross. “Who loved me and gave himself on the cross for me.” A tremendous statement.
So what is the deliverance there? It’s deliverance from I, from the ego, from the self. Deliverance from, we can call it, self-centeredness. I personally think that dealing with people such as you and I are, you know, the cream of the crop like us, people who are really wanting to do God’s will. I mean, I’m serious in a way because I believe we do. I think perhaps this could be the greatest single hindrance to God’s purpose being worked out in the church. It’s self-centeredness.
I really love the American people, I love American Christians, I owe so much to them I’ll never be able to calculate my debt. But I’ll tell you they have a problem. They think the world begins and ends with the United States. Population-wise the United States is seven percent of the world. If you calculate the number of preachers of the gospel available, in this country it’s approximately 1 to every 287 persons. In the rest of the world it’s 1 to about 400,000. It’s totally out of proportion. And one of the things that grieves me is that so many gifted men of God are competing for the American market. I mean, you know, if one pastor resigns, there’s three that want his place the next day. If there’s a space on the television, there’s three television preachers that want that space. It’s really tragic because in the rest of the world there’s just nobody that wants that space at all. And there are a lot of spaces that are just not filled.
I tell you, it is rewarding to go to places where people haven’t heard and where they don’t have the gospel coming to them by every means daily. Ruth and I were in a really excellent Charismatic convention recently and we went into the book room. I mean it was as big as this pavilion we’re in and there was a book about every conceivable subject you could ever think about. And some you’d never think about! And they were beautifully bound and had beautiful covers and a tremendous amount of skill had been expounded in the artwork. Ruth and I walked out of there inwardly weeping. I mean, those Christians just were bemused by the choice that was offered to them.
And outside of this country, most people have no choice at all. To take the great nation of France, less than 25% of Frenchmen have ever seen a Bible in their lives. It is one of the most totally barren places on earth. Outside the Moslem world I think France and the French-speaking world is probably the most barren. Why not take a trip to France? I mean, the competition in this country is tremendously on a high level, too. You’ve got all sorts of tremendous preachers to compete with. Go somewhere where they don’t know there are such preachers and they’ll think you’re terrific! And you will be terrific, too, I’ll tell you that.
Do you know what I discovered about miracles? It isn’t the man who has all the power, it’s the right person at the right place at the right time. You get to some places, you can’t help having miracles. There’s no solution. I tell you, the best place for a miracle is the worst place. When everything is against you, then God has to come out on your side.
In Pakistan, Ruth and I and the people that were with us, we witnessed miracles such as I’ve never seen in America. I mean, the one that will always stay in my mind is a woman of about 60 who was born blind who received complete sight. Nothing dramatic. I said to Ruth, “I didn’t feel the anointing of God in these meetings once.” It was hot, it was dusty. The people were difficult to control. It was hard work but we were where God wanted us, where the need was.
I was drafted into the British Army in l940, the year after Dunkirk which you’ve probably heard about at least. I was serving with another corporal in the Sudan later who joined, volunteered, in l939. So he was one year longer than I was in the Army. And we were good friends. But he always used to say to me, “I joined when they were needing them, not when they were feeding them!” I think about so many Christians, did you join when they were needing them or when they were feeding them?
Let’s consider some of the manifestations of self-centeredness. I tell you a picture that God’s given me. I can never remember in history who was the man who said that the sun revolved around the earth and the earth revolved around the sun. I did quote it once and got it wrong, somebody kindly corrected me afterwards. But you know, Copernicus was one of the ones who said something I know, but which he said I don’t know. I know Galileo believed that the earth revolved around the sun. And they were going to put him to death for that, you know. Typically enough, the church was going to—he had to recant. Isn’t that typical! I’m not talking about any particular church but you know, anything new upsets the church. “We’ve never done it this way before, why should we do it now? My father did it that way, my grandfather did it that way.” The question is, what did they accomplish?
Anyhow, self-centeredness is like the period in human history when people really believed the sun revolved around the earth. “Jesus Christ is the sun, he revolves around me. He exists to meet my needs. When I’m in trouble, I pray, he hears my prayers, I get what I need.” Isn’t that wonderful? No. It’s totally out of proportion.
Jesus doesn’t exist for your benefit, you exist for his benefit, for his glory, for his service, for his purposes. You’ve got to go through a mental revolution and realize you’re revolving around him, not he around you.
Let’s look at some of the products of self-centeredness, the products of not accepting that “I have been crucified.” I’ve listed some there, it’s by no means complete. Pride. Personally, I think the greatest single problem in danger for Christians is pride. And particularly for those in the ministry. I’m not excluding myself.
This past year we had a sovereign visitation of God in our local church. We didn’t deserve it, we had no claims upon it, I can’t really understand why God did it. But it happened that we appointed a 21 day period for a Joel fast and it was arranged that we would meet in the church every morning from 5–7 a.m. to seek God. As a matter of fact, it was the very lady I told you about who had the vision of Jesus who proposed it. She wrote the elders and suggested it, the elders got together and basically we felt that we didn’t have the nerve to turn it down. I don’t know that we were very enthusiastic. And Ruth and I happened to be away when it started but it started with a typical Charismatic send-off. The first morning there was 15 people, the next morning there was 7, and the next morning there were 4. But then a brother in the church came under such a burden of intercession that he wept without ceasing for 24 hours. And something happened. The next morning there were about 50 people. By the end of the week there were 250 people meeting. The membership of that church is only about 500.
We had a program that had been outlined of what we were going to pray for each day. The Holy Spirit wasn’t the least bit interested by our program. He didn’t pay any attention to it whatsoever. We never got to it. The period went on from three weeks to about six weeks altogether.
Ruth and I got back after being gone about four days. Now I don’t really particularly enjoy getting up very early in the morning but I said to Ruth, “God is in this thing, I don’t want to miss it.” And it was really just as if Jesus said, “I’m going to be in that building between 5 and 7 a.m., if you want to meet me, you better be there.” I don’t want to turn down an invitation like that so we were there about five out of every seven days in the week at least.
Why I say this is because for perhaps the first two weeks, the main emphasis of the Holy Spirit was on repentance. No one was omitted. And although there were certain sins that people repented of like alcoholism and immorality and so on, basically the thing that we all repented of was arrogance. We often spent at least half the two hours on our faces on the floor. And for sometimes as much as one hour, nobody was praying out loud at all. It was totally different from the average prayer meeting.
I think I could say that we recognized we had been exceedingly arrogant in our attitude toward Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is like we treated Jesus like our butler and the Holy Spirit as a rubber stamp. But to allow them actually to have preeminence, to direct, to initiate; that was very rare. And I would say that we were above the level of the average Charismatic church. I’m not saying we were tremendous but I think we were considerably above the average.
And that gave me a totally new picture of what arrogance is. By nature man is arrogant. John calls it the pride of life. “I, I’m important. I want this, I want that. God, please.” Our lives center around our little selves. They’re not centered around the Lord.
If you go through the list you’ll see egotism and personal ambition. I would say those are the big problems of preachers. “Me and my ministry. My church. My movement.” I never want to be negative but I would have to say it generates ruthlessness. The church becomes a kind of rat race. If you don’t get on you’ll get trampled on. It would be a very searching question for us as ministers to ask ourselves what am I really motivated by? Is it a real desire to do the will of God and extend the kingdom of God and see Jesus glorified? Or is it personal ambition?
That’s probably in the area mainly of people in the ministry but then we come down to sectarianism. That’s the ego in people. “My group. My denomination. My church. We’re right.” You see, it’s very closely connected with legalism because if you believe you’re made righteous by keeping your rules then the only people who are really righteous are the ones who keep your rules. So any group that keeps a different set of rules, I mean, how can you fellowship with them? Legalism and carnality divides the church. It’s the great source of division. In 1Corinthians 3 Paul says to the Corinthians there, “I hear there are divisions among you...” A lot of modern commentaries say they were divided because they spoke in tongues. That’s not the truth, at least it’s not what Paul says. It says, “One says I’m of Paul, another I am of Apollos, another I am of Cephas, another ... Are you not all carnal?” What’s that the expression of? Carnality, the flesh, the ego.
Nationalism is a very potent force in the Christian church. We could look at Germany during the l930s. There were many born again Christians during that period but for most of them—not all of them by any means—they were Germans first and Christians second. Some of the great tragedies of history came about because of that.
I’m British by background and if you don’t know the British, you just don’t know how proud they are. I’ll tell you the difference between Americans and British, I make no charge for it. The Americans will tell you how good they are but the British expect you to know without being told! Which is our greater level of pride? It’s taken years for God to purge some of that British arrogance out of me. I’m not saying that he’s succeeded totally.
But I tell you, I was brought up to be arrogant. I was educated at Britain’s number one school, Eton. That puts you in a different category from anybody else, you can’t understand that in America. If you were at Eton, and especially a scholar, you were in a different category from anybody else in the nation. Then I went to Cambridge. I was the senior scholar of King’s College, Cambridge which is one of the leading colleges at Cambridge. I became a fellow at the age of 24. Believe me, everything that happened in my life up to the time I got saved was calculated to breed arrogance in me.
Well, God had a lot of different ways of dealing with it. I spent five and a half years in the British Army and never rose above the rank of corporal! It was all the worse for me because all my male ancestors that I’ve ever known had been officers in the British Army. My father was a colonel, my uncle was a brigadier, my grandfather was a general. You know what I discovered? I mean, I was used to mixing with those people. I learned something that’s been very important to me ever since. People look very different when you see them from underneath than they do when you see them on the same level. I learned a lot of things about the kind of people that I had accepted as model roles.
Well, God has his way of dealing with arrogance. And brothers and sisters, you better let him do it because the Bible says pride goes before what? I knew you’d say that, but it doesn’t say that. It goes before destruction. “A haughty spirit before a fall.” Jesus said, “Whosoever will exalt himself will be abased. And whosoever will humble himself will be exalted.” You’ve got a choice. You determine whether you’re going to up or down. If you want to go up, go down. I’ll quote my favorite little passage from—maybe just to relieve the tension a little I’ll put it down on the board.
He that is down need fear no fall.
He that is low, no pride.
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
That’s just stuck with me through the years. In other words, when you’re on the floor, you can go no lower. I advise people to get on the floor, literally. Before any major series of meetings Ruth and I will be on the floor on our faces before God. That’s a safeguard, it’s a protection. I don’t want to be abased.
This is a law that governs the universe. The two great examples of Jesus and Satan, who was Lucifer. Lucifer reached upwards and fell. Jesus stooped and was exalted. It will be the same for you and me. The way up is down. I’ve got a series of cassettes on that theme. “The Way Up is Down.”
Let’s go on. Racism. It’s just another expression of the uncrucified ego. I was a principle of a college training African teachers in Kenya and my aim was to reach as many people as possible with the truth. I kind of canvassed the students from all the tribes around and there were seven different tribes that contributed students to our college. Each one had its own language and so on. I really wanted to think myself into the thinking of these people. I discovered the best way to do it was when I was teaching English because I would give them compositions in which they’d have to let me know what they were thinking. And you know what I discovered? Every one of those tribes secretly believed they were better than all the rest. That’s just part of the old ego. Well, I’m British, you know. It’s a pity for you you’re not! Or I’m American. We are the richest nation, the most powerful nation...
Americans are not really naturally arrogant but you have no idea how they impact people when they go abroad. If you go into a restaurant in Germany or France and there’s a lot of noisy people in one corner, you don’t need to ask who they are. They’re Americans. They make twice as much noise as anybody else in the room. True? It’s a kind of insensitiveness. Americans expect everybody to love them. It’s a sad moment of disillusion when they discover it isn’t totally true.
I wouldn’t call that arrogance but I’d call it carnality. I’d call it the ego, being unsensitive to other people.
We could go on. My first wife was Danish. I know the Scandinavians well. I really am so grateful but I’ll tell you, you talk to the Swedes, there’s nobody else like the Swedes anywhere in the earth. And in some ways that’s true. I see the good points, I owe so much to the Swedes.
I tell you, it’s a path that leads downward. The assertion of the ego. It’s not calculated to make you popular. Your ego isn’t what people really want. You may be able to impress them for a little while and you may give them a certain amount, but in the long run you’ll dry up.
Let’s see if we can finish this part of the outline. Think of the racism there’s been in the church in America. I mean, the scandalous prejudices against blacks, and to some extent against Jews, against Hispanics and so on. That’s all the expression of the uncrucified ego. I know full well Americans are not the only people guilty of racism. But I think it’s been particularly flagrant in this country because of the influence of the church. Let me say that I’ve made many visits to South Africa. I’m always grieved when I hear the way South Africa is attacked by the media because if Ruth and I are asked what country we enjoy most we usually put South Africa at the top of the list. But that doesn’t satisfy the fact of the terrible problem of apartheid. It’s very important to know that the real responsibility for that lies at the door of the church. If the church had not taught and tolerated apartheid it could never have had the influence that it does.
You go to the history of anti-Semitism in Europe which is one of the darkest phases of human history. You can see what the Nazis did in a few years. But you have to know they only reaped a harvest that the church had been sowing for centuries. The real responsibility doesn’t lie at the door of Hitler, it lies at the door of countless Christians and theologians who systematically inculcated anti-Semitism for centuries. It’s a terrible responsibility upon the church.
South Africa is just one of many nations where this problem has come to the head. Actually, when David Livingstone first began to try to reach the blacks in their very primitive condition at that time, some South African settlers sent people out to kill him because they objected so strongly to his attempting to bring Christianity to the blacks. The pages of history are just filled with this kind of prejudice.
When you use the word prejudice, what you’re talking about is uncrucified ego.
Paul talks about strongholds that are built in the minds of people by Satan. In 2Corinthians 10 he said we’ve got the weapons to cast down those strongholds. I ask people what would be one word that would describe the strongholds in people’s minds. I always give my own answer which is prejudice. I think prejudice is the greatest single kind of stronghold that Satan builds in the minds of people to keep them from receiving the truth.
Do you know the definition of prejudice? “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.” And again, it’s the ego. It’s “I” asserting myself. “My opinions, my views, my color, my race, my denomination, my favorite preacher.” The only solution is the cross.