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The Cross Nullifies Witchcraft, Part 2
This is the last in a series of messages that I have been attempting to bring systematically through the course of this conference. Some of you younger people may not really be aware, but there used to be a poet laureate of England in the days of Queen Victoria who was Alfred Lord Tennyson. He wrote a poem which was called “The Brook,” and the chorus went like this: “Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever.” That really is my motto!
I’ve been seeking in these messages to present the truth about the cross which I believe is the absolute center of the total message of the gospel. When the cross is effaced or displaced, we never get the results that God intends us to have. I’ve tried to share with you that the cross is the only and the all sufficient basis for everything good that we can receive from God. There is no other basis. If we come to God on any other basis we’re likely to be disappointed. He will not accept any other basis but the cross.
Hebrews 10:14 says:
“By one sacrifice God has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Another vital aspect of the cross, and one which Satan doesn’t want us to know about, is that through the cross Jesus ministered a total, eternal, irrevocable defeat to Satan and his kingdom. I’m going to say that again. A total, eternal, irrevocable defeat to Satan and his kingdom.
In the light of all that, the most obvious strategy for Satan in view of his defeat is to try to cover it up. I believe his primary objective in the church is to obscure what was accomplished by the death of Jesus on the cross. And quoting from Galatians 3:1, which says:
“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified?”
I deduce from that verse that the Satanic power that seeks to obscure the cross is witchcraft. I tried to give you, I think, Monday morning if I remember rightly, just an overall presentation of what witchcraft is. I think probably witchcraft is the least understood or recognized of the major enemies of God and His people. It really mainly works undercover. I called it Satan’s fifth column in the church. I pointed out that witchcraft has got two aspects. It’s a work of the flesh, it’s an expression of man’s unregenerate, rebellious nature. It’s the way the old man tries to get what he wants without meeting God’s conditions. I said there are three key words: manipulate, intimidate and dominate. Wherever you encounter those three things, you can be pretty sure you’re up against Satan.
That’s just man’s natural behavior. We find it in the family, we find it in the church, we find it in society. One major channel of witchcraft today is the media. If you really pause to consider, they spend much of their time manipulating you. For instance, much of the advertising industry is trying to persuade you that you want things you don’t really need in order to make you buy them. What’s that? Manipulation, that’s right. And there’s a whole lot more manipulation. A great part of the people who operate the media, particularly television, are slanted towards the left wing. Much of what they present has a left wing slant to it. It’s not a question of whether we’re left wing or right wing, the fact of the matter is that’s manipulation. The media choose what we think about. That’s a fearful thought to contemplate. There’s lots of things happening in the Middle East that you never hear about. But anytime anything happened in Israel, the media exploded. What is that? Manipulation. I’m not saying that everything is untrue, but much of it is slanted by a bias in the hearts of the people who present it. And the force that’s operating through it is witchcraft.
Then witchcraft is also a very evil spiritual power. I said that witchcraft is the illegitimate power that supports illegitimate authority. It’s always allied with rebellion. 1Samuel 15:23 says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. So, in deliverance, in ministering to people who need deliverance, one of the commonest spirits that people need deliverance from is rebellion. I would suggest to you if you’re in this ministry, wherever you encounter rebellion, look for witchcraft because it’s usually there.
It’s an interesting fact that in the l960s in the United States there was a generation that went into rebellion. They were in rebellion against anything they could rebel against: parents, school, government, church, authority in any form. Thank God He swept in by His Holy Spirit and did a mighty work in that generation. I know many of the young people whom God reached down and lifted out of all that. But I mention that because as a matter of historical fact, almost every one of those young people that went into rebellion also went into the occult. Almost without exception. That’s not an accident, it’s cause and effect because where you find rebellion you can always begin to look for witchcraft.
Now, my theme last night and to be continued tonight is “What is our protection against witchcraft?” For me, this is a very important personal question. Because, in l979 God in a very clear way challenged Ruth and me to unite with Him in His war against witchcraft. I mention it I think previously but I’ll say it again, we heard a tremendously and anointed powerful prophecy in which God said all that He had been doing up to that time, l979, against witchcraft was merely preliminary skirmishes. But at that point He was declaring all out war on witchcraft. I got the impression, and Ruth with me, that we pretty well had to decide which side of the war we were going to be on. At that time I made my mind up I did not ever want willingly to be identified with witchcraft or under its influence, because I fear God.
God gave a reason why He was going to make war on witchcraft and I remember these words very clearly. He said, “Because witchcraft has bound millions of men whom God needs in His end time army.” So from l979 until this time which is now approximately 9 years, we have seen that prophecy unfolding. And when I said to God, “Whatever you want me to do, whatever part you have for me in this war, I make my self available,” He began to open up the truth about witchcraft out of the scripture in a way that I had never even contemplated. Ten years ago I couldn’t have brought 1/10th part of the teaching that I’m bringing now. I just didn’t see it, I didn’t know it. I’m sure there’s a great deal more that I still need to know. What I’m saying is, for me it’s a important, practical, personal question: How can I be protected against the deception and the power of witchcraft?” I don’t underestimate Satan. I believe he’s a defeated foe but we have got to be very sure that we’re walking in God’s purpose, in His provision and in His protection in order to be secure.
What blessed me is that when I began to study this and pray about it and seek God, God showed me that the same epistle of Galatians which laid bare the problem also provided the solution. The solution is the cross. But it’s the cross in a different aspect. It’s not the cross as the basis of God’s provision for us, nor is it the cross as the basis of Satan’s defeat; but it’s what God intends the cross to do in each one of us. Here is where I find that for a great part there has been virtually no application of this truth in the church of our generation. I believe that to understand what the cross is intended to do and let it do its work, makes us invulnerable. Let me say it this way: If we know how to get into the area beyond the cross, behind the cross, the other side of the cross; it’s an area where Satan cannot touch us.
So, yesterday I spoke about two ways in which the cross is intended to work in us. Galatians 1:3–4, let’s read that.
“Grace to you and peace, from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins [that is on the cross] that He might deliver us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father.”
So through the cross it is God’s purpose to deliver us from this present evil age. If the cross does its work in us, we are no longer part of the present age. We have tasted the powers of a coming age and we are living not conformed to this age, not enamored of this age; aware that it’s soon coming to an end and longing for a new and better age. I have to say according to my observation, I wouldn’t seek to give you proportions but a large number of contemporary Christians are totally unaware that it’s God’s purpose that we be delivered from this present evil age. I think a lot of Christians are still hoping to make something good out of this age. I don’t believe that can be done. It’s not God’s plan.
Then in Galatians 2:19 we saw the second deliverance.
“For I through the Law died to the Law, that I might live to God.”
Through the death of Jesus on the cross we have been delivered from the Law. I dealt with that rather fully last night so if you weren’t here or you can’t remember it, I have to refer you to the tape because if I get into that again it will take half an hour at least for me to get out.
I’m going to go on this evening, God helping me, to give you three remaining deliverances spoken of in Galatians which together make us completely secure. The next one is in Galatians 2:20.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who 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.”
So, I have been crucified. It’s no longer I who live. I define that as deliverance from self. I think it’s appropriate that it’s the central one out of five. I don’t believe really that you can ever find the fullness of God’s will for your life or enjoy the full provision of the cross until you allow the cross to put self to death in you. I have been crucified.
What is involved in self? Well, I would suggest that it’s the root behind a lot of very evil things that are common in the church. Pride, egotism, personal ambition, sectarianism—let me say this, if you ever find a group that says to you, “If you want to be right, you have to join us,” you can be sure of one thing. If you join them, you’re wrong. Let me give you that as a warning because that is sectarianism. It’s the uncrucified ego. Sectarianism, nationalism—as opposed to patriotism. I believe in patriotism but nationalism is not for Christians. If you want the outstanding recent example of the evil of nationalism, you’ll have to look at Nazi Germany and the results in World War II. And this is a very important issue. I would say the majority of German Christians were Germans first and Christians second. That doesn’t work. We as British have to ask ourselves, “Am I Christian first and British second or British first and Christian second?” If I’m British first then the ego in me has not been dealt with. I believe in patriotism, I believe we should be concerned about our nation, desire its best and live and conduct ourselves in such a way that the best may come. But when the choice is loyalty to Jesus Christ or loyalty to some particular national issue or cause, then Jesus has to come first. I’m inclined to think that in the next few decades, Christians all over the world are probably going to be confronted with some very hard choices. So let me suggest to you that you make up your mind right now. I’m going to be a loyal citizen of my nation, I’m going to do my best to promote the well-being of my nation but never am I going to allow my attitude to my nation to supersede my loyalty to Jesus Christ.
Then there’s racism which is another aspect of the uncrucified ego. How much racism there has been in the Christian church. Probably less in Britain than in the United States, but a whole lot in Britain. When I was pastoring in Bayswater in the early and middle l950s, we had a dear, quote, spiritual sister who prayed like an angel for the people in Africa but when a black brother came and sat next to her, it really disturbed her. There’s a lot of undercover racism left in some of us. It’s very contrary to the purposes of God for the church.
I’d like to read Philippians 2:3. I think this is the result of the crucifixion of the ego.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
I don’t think that’s possible until we’ve let our ego die on the cross. I think two of the things that mark the church very conspicuously—in fact, in some ways I think they’re roots of the recent problems that have come to certain sections of the church in the United States about which we’ve all been well informed—I think they are competitiveness and personal ambition. I have to say as a minister, I think there’s a tremendous amount of personal ambition left in the Christian ministry today—and competitiveness. The cause is the ego has not been dealt with on the cross.
I’d like to say also here is the real dividing line between the church and the world today. In 2Timothy 3, the first few verses, Paul gives a very vivid description of the degeneration of human character that will mark the period of the close of this age. And as I read this list which has got 18 moral blemishes, or ethical blemishes, I would like you to consider how many of them are conspicuous in our current society. Let me tell you as probably one of the oldest people here, most of them were not conspicuous in Britain before World War II. If anybody had told me as a boy of 15 in the year 1927 what Britain would look like in l987, I would not have been able to believe that such a change could take place in such a short period. So, let me read this description.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.”
One of my suggested translations for that is “times of stress will come.” And one of the outstanding new elements in life today is stress. It’s become a major medical and psychological problem. Basically, that’s in the last 50 years.
Now, here’s the explanation of stress.
“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God. . .”
Now you say that’s a terrible list, Brother Prince, but at least that’s not in the church. You’re quite mistaken because the next verse says:
“. . . having a form of godliness. . .”
I don’t believe Paul would have ever used the word “godliness” of a religion that had nothing to do with the Bible or Jesus Christ. He wouldn’t have used that word. So, these are people who make some profession of church membership but it says:
“. . . denying the power thereof.”
In what way do they deny its power? They deny its power to radically change human nature. So they’re religious but just go on living the same kind of life that they lived before they professed religion.
I want to point out to you that that list begins and ends with what people love. Really, that’s the key to everything else. So, the first item in the list is lovers of themselves, the next is lovers of money, and the last is lovers of pleasure. All the rest is in between that.
Now, consider those three characteristics for a moment. Love of self, love of money, love of pleasure. How conspicuous is that in contemporary Britain? I would say they’re probably the three most characteristic features of our contemporary culture. I want to point out further that the root of it all is the first one, love of self.
I want to tell you that the mere fact that you don’t swear and you don’t gamble and you’re not addicted to alcohol or tobacco or drugs doesn’t necessarily indicate at all that you’re a Christian. You may be just a little more sensible than the people who are so foolish as to indulge in those things. Understand? So, don’t base your claim to being a Christian on the fact that you don’t do these obvious sins. Because, you can still be very selfish and the real distinguishing line between the world and the true church is whether people are lovers of self or whether self has been crucified and they are living for something other than themselves.
I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard the typical prayer of the average church member. “God bless me and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four, no more. Amen.” That’s religious but extremely selfish, isn’t it? How many of us are self-centered in our prayer? How many of us ever pray beyond a little narrow circle of the things that interest me and concern me? But God has provided a way of release—it’s through the cross. We can make a decision and an affirmation, “I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” That requires two things. First of all, a decision. And second, the right compassion. It’s very, very important that you make your personal confession. You see, in Romans 6 Paul said, “Our old man was crucified with him.” That’s a general statement. But here in Galatians 2:20 he makes it his personal testimony. “I am crucified with Christ. It’s not I who live any longer, it’s Christ who lives in me.”
Now let me just offer you some suggestions about the results of the crucified ego in our lives. I want to suggest three quickly. First of all, freedom to serve. Mark 10, just a few verses. Mark 10:42 and following:
“Jesus said to His disciples, You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you.”
One of the modern translations just says, “not so with you.”
“But whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.”
So, what’s the path to authority and leadership in the church? Serving, that’s right. There is no other legitimate path. Anybody who comes to a position of authority in the church by any other path will not be able to exercise his authority rightly.
About 15 years ago, I suppose—I can’t remember it exactly—a young man came to me who was a committed Christian and a man with considerable gifts. He said to me, “Brother Prince, I want to serve you.” Well, that wasn’t altogether good news to me because I’m a very self sufficient person and I thought, “I’m really getting along all right without you.” I thought, “If you start serving me, I’m going to have you on the scene at a lot of times when I’d rather be on my own. And, you’re going to be observing me in situations when I might not wish to be observed.” So I said, “I’ll think it over.” But when I prayed, the Lord showed me this. He said, “If you don’t give that young man an opportunity to serve you, you shut the only door to legitimate promotion.” So I said okay. We built a wonderful relationship and God steadily promoted him in the kingdom. You know, promotion doesn’t come from man. Whom does it come from? From God, that’s right. But, it was a great lesson to me. Actually I tell you, in the long run it’s more difficult to be served than to serve. It’s much more searching to be served. But Jesus said if you want to be great, you’ve got to become a servant. If you want to be the chief, you’ve got to become a slave. All right? In other words, the higher up you want to go, the lower down you have to start. He said, “Whosoever exalts himself shall be abased, but whosoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” That’s a rule that governs the universe. Do you want promotion? I can guarantee it to you. Just humble yourself, take a low place. Find somewhere to serve. But you won’t be able to do that as long as the ego in you has not been dealt with. The uncrucified ego corrupts service.
The second result of the crucified ego is freedom from self effort and self promotion. What a glorious deliverance! I’ll read the words of Paul in 2Corinthians 4:5:
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants [slaves in Greek] for Jesus’ sake.”
That’s a remarkable statement at any time but when you consider who made it to whom, it’s much more remarkable. Consider this very self righteous Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, who had been brought up to believe that he and his nation were the only chosen ones. Who had been taught that you’ve got to live a certain kind of very strict life and observe a whole lot of regulations; otherwise you’re impure and unclean. Who thought about Gentiles as dogs. And then he met Jesus on the Damascus road and Jesus changed him. And here we find him some years later writing to the believers in a wicked seaport, Corinth. And you know what seaports are like. If you read the list of what these people were, they were prostitutes, pimps, homosexuals, drunkards, every kind of vile sin had been practiced amongst them. But they had been gloriously changed by the power of the gospel.
Now consider what it meant for Paul to write to those people and say, “We’re not preaching ourselves, but we’re preaching Jesus Christ the Lord; and ourselves your slaves for Jesus’ sake.” That’s the crucified ego, you see.
In l957 I went to East Africa to Kenya for five years to train African teachers for African schools. I don’t think that basically I’m a racially prejudiced person. After all, at that time I had eight adopted daughters of whom six were Jewish, one was Arab and one was English. But, when I came to that situation and I really wanted God to have His way, I had to decide for myself and say frankly, “Okay. I’m a graduate of Cambridge. I’m a scholar of Eton.” From the point of view of the academic life of Britain, I had reached the pinnacle. All my ancestors had been officers in the British army. I really had to ask myself, “Am I willing to say to these black students, ‘Not me, but Jesus Christ the Lord; and I’m your servant.’” And I can say to the glory of God, I did it joyfully. I was never happier than I was in East Africa. Ruth will bear me witness. Twenty years after I left I went back—and incidentally, I adopted our ninth daughter, a little African black baby girl, who was dying when we took her in. But I went back 20 years later to the same place and the same school. I had done something that will always win me the favor of Africans, I had started a secondary school for them there. It brings tears to my eyes to think of it. They treated me like royalty. They took me around from classroom to classroom and said, “This is the man that founded our school.” I couldn’t believe that 20 years later they would remember. They even said, “Where’s the little girl that you took in?” I said, “If you want to see her now, here she is, 20 years old!” I was just amazed. But in a way it was like God was saying, “You didn’t do it in vain.”
I have to say honestly, I have no problem saying to anybody in the world, “I’m your servant.” One of the things that blessed me—I’m getting very personal—is in Israel, Ruth and I have a close relationship with a number of Jewish believers. Two of them are very fine gifted Jewish young men. But each of them has come to me independently and said, “Derek, I want to serve you. If there’s anything I can do for you, I’ll do it.” Now, if you don’t know the Jewish people, you have no idea what that means. Because, I’m not Jewish. I just want to suggest to you if you want to be really happy, find a way to serve. But, as long as your ego has not been dealt with, you’ll keep tripping up over it. So that’s the secret. Not myself but Jesus the Lord; and me your slave for Jesus’ sake.
And then finally, the result of crucifying the ego is “I don’t need to prove myself right.” Oh, what a relief! What a blessing. People can disagree with me, argue with me. I say okay, let’s wait and see who’s right. I could be wrong. That’s amazing, isn’t it—a preacher could be wrong, but I could be wrong. I can’t tell you what a burden was lifted from me when I discovered I didn’t have to justify myself.
Well, we must go on. The next deliverance is from the flesh. Galatians 5:24. I think I’ve explained to you that the flesh doesn’t mean the physical body in this context. It does sometimes but in many places in the New Testament the flesh is a technical word for the old Adamic nature which we’ve inherited from Adam. And it is essentially the nature of a rebel.
If a young man or a young woman were going to have, for instance, a career in electronics, such a person would recognize that you have to read textbooks that contain technical language that’s used with a special sense. Well, there’s very little technical language in the New Testament but there is some. If you’re really going to understand it, you’ve got to learn the technical meaning of certain words and one of the most important is “the flesh.” Sometimes it means my physical body. But at other times it means the nature that I inherited with my physical body, which is the nature of a rebel. It’s also called the old man, the body, the body of sin, and the body of the flesh. There’s several different words. God’s remedy for the old man, now you know. What is it? Execution, that’s right. God doesn’t patch him up, doesn’t reform him, doesn’t sent him to Sunday School, doesn’t teach him the golden rule, doesn’t get him memorizing scripture. God says, “Execute him.” But the message of mercy is the execution took place 19 centuries ago, our old man was crucified in Jesus. That’s God’s part.
But always in such provision there’s what God does and how we appropriate it. So in Galatians 5:24, Paul talks about how we appropriate it. He says:
“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
It’s very important. What is the mark that you belong to Jesus Christ? What’s the evidence? That you have crucified the flesh. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.”
In 1Corinthians 15:23, Paul tells us that when Jesus comes back, He’s coming back for those who are His. This tells us that those who are His are those who have crucified the flesh with its affections and desires. So, who is Jesus coming back for? He’s coming back for those who have crucified the flesh. He’s not coming back for everybody who professes to be a Christian and leads a carnal, selfish, self-indulgent life. He’s coming back for those who have allowed the cross to do its work in their carnal nature.
Galatians 5:17 says:
“For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things you wish.”
So, our fleshly nature before God changes it is in total opposition to the Spirit of God. And Paul says in Romans 8:8:
“So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Okay? Those who are living according to their old carnal, unregenerate nature cannot please God. Whether they’re religious or unreligious is not important. So Paul goes on to say in Romans 8:12–13:
“Therefore brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh [if you indulge your old, carnal, unregenerate nature], you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body [and the body is another word for the flesh there], you will live.”
So it’s our responsibility to put to death the deeds of the flesh. Christ has made it possible, we have to apply it.
Let’s consider for a moment what is covered by the flesh. I’ll just suggest to you that it includes many unruly passions, emotions and desires. It’s not just immorality. Some people think that the flesh is just immorality. In fact, that’s not really the main expression of the flesh. I’ve just a little list of some common manifestations of the fleshly nature. Fear, resentment, anger, greed, covetousness, sexual lusts and fluctuating moods. A moody Christian—first of all, it’s a denial of the faith. Second, it’s evidence that the flesh has not been crucified. How many of you would like to live with a moody person? Not one of you. How many of you would like to be the kind of person other people would like to live with? So, you cannot afford to be moody. I think in a sense, moods are the most obvious manifestation of the fleshly nature. And you’re looking at somebody who was an extremely moody person, for reasons I won’t go into.
I think I can say by the grace of God, basically I am not a moody person today. I have allowed the cross to do its work and deal with my moods.
Now, I’ll give you some of the results of having the flesh crucified. The first one is tremendous. It’s so tremendous that it’s almost unbelievable. It’s freedom from sin to do God’s will. I’m going to read a passage in 1Peter 4. Let me say that again. Freedom from sin to do God’s will. I think a lot of Christians really don’t believe that we can be free from sin. Let me tell you that death is not really God’s solution to the problem of sin. Not your death. It’s Christ’s death that is the solution.
Anyhow, here are some words in 1Peter that I have pondered over for years. I believe God has shown me, at least in part, what they mean. Chapter 4, verses 1 and 2:
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind.”
In other words, expect to suffer in the flesh. Is that a right interpretation? Don’t believe the people who tell you that Christianity doesn’t involve suffering. It’s a deception. Here it says “arm yourself with the same mind.” Expect to suffer. But then he goes on with this amazing statement:
“For he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”
I’ve pondered over that for years. He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. What’s the result?
“That he should no longer live the rest of his days in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
That is something that appeals to me. That I shouldn’t have to go on living the rest of my life struggling with my fleshly nature, that I’m free to live for the will of God. So, I want to know how do I do it? It says, “He that has suffered in the flesh.” Paul says, “Put to death the deeds of the body.” He says in Colossians, “Mortify the deeds of the body.” Put them to death. What’s the instrument that puts them to death? The cross, that’s right. So we can if we know how, use the cross to put to death the unruly deeds of our fleshly nature: it’s moods, its lusts, its passions, its selfishness, its pride.
Now, how do we do it? I want to say it involves suffering. It is painful. The cross is a very painful instrument of execution. But, it’s much less painful than the alternative. Rather than talk in generalities, I’ll give you a specific example. This could never happen on Canvey Island—or could it? There’s this fine Christian young lady. She’s about 20 years old, she’s really committed to the Lord, she wants to serve Him, she has the blessing of being a member of a really good church with a godly pastor who cares for his people. How many of you would agree that’s a blessing? There comes into her life a young man who wants to marry her. And, because he wants to marry her, he’ll come to church with her, sing the hymns and say all the right things. She goes to her godly pastor and says, “This young man wants to marry me.” The pastor says, “To tell you the truth, I don’t believe he’s committed to Jesus at all. He’s only coming to church because he wants to get you. Once he’s got you, you have no idea what he’ll do next.” Bear in mind I’ve helped to raise nine daughters so I’m not actually just offering this out of theory. So, that young woman has got two options. Both of them are painful. The right option is apply the cross, drive the nails into your own hands and feet and say, “I’m dedicated to Jesus, I’ve died to my own will, my own emotions, my own passions. I’m going to do the will of God and if this is not the will of God, no matter if that man really appeals to me, I’m going to say no, no, no.” That’s painful. But the pain doesn’t last very long and after the pain comes wonderful joy.
The alternative is the wrong one. She ignores her pastor’s advice, marries the man and lives a life of hell for 15 years, at the end of which time he deserts her for another woman, leaving her to care for three children. That’s painful, very painful. And it goes on a long while.
But one way or another, she’s got to learn this lesson: A committed Christian should never marry an uncommitted person. Can you say amen to that? You don’t know what you’re saying to yourselves, some of you.
So you understand, to escape from sin and its power over you is painful. There’s the right kind of pain and the wrong kind of pain. The wrong kind is self will and all its ugly consequences which go on for years and years and years. And who knows what agonies that woman will have raising those three children? She may well see in them something of her own conduct reproduced. Is that possible? The right way is—well, you know what Jesus said. He said, “If anybody will come after me, let him do three things. Deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” You cannot follow Jesus until you’ve done the first two things. You can talk about it but you can’t do it.
What’s the first thing? Deny himself. Do you know what deny means? It means say no, it’s very simple. So you say no to yourself. All right? The Greek says “deny his soul.” Soul is defined as will, intellect and emotion. Denying your soul means your soul says, “I want” and you say no. Your soul says, “I think” and you say no. Your soul says, “I feel” and you say no. Because what you think, feel and want are not important. What’s important is God’s word and God’s will. That’s denying your soul.
Then you take up your cross. Somebody has defined the cross two ways. One is that your cross is where your will and God’s will cross. Every Christian who is going to follow Jesus comes to that place sooner or later. The other definition of the cross is it’s the place where you die. And God’s not going to impose the cross on you. You have to take it up. Understand? And God will appoint the time and the place where you die. It’ll be painful, you’ll feel disposed to cry out, “God, how could this happen to me? I’ve given my life to you, I really want to serve you.” And if you can hear the answer, God will say, “This is part of what’s involved. Taking up your cross and following me.” Okay? But the cross is the only way of escape from the fleshly nature. But you have to apply it.
You don’t have to make a long plan of what your life is going to be, you just have to tell God, “God, I’m willing. Show me, I’ll do it.” I promise you one thing, He’ll show you. I can absolutely guarantee that.
The next result of what I’m talking about is release from the curse of trusting in the flesh. And you remember we said and when we taught about curses long ago, it seems a long while ago, we taught that one of the causes of curses is Jeremiah 17:5:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm.”
When you rely on that, you come under a curse. When you put it to death, you’re safe from the curse.
And the third result, and this is tremendous, is freedom to worship God in the Spirit. Philippians 3:3, Paul says this:
“We are the circumcision who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
I want to tell you, you cannot truly worship God in the Spirit as long as you have any confidence in the flesh. Because, the flesh lusts against the Spirit, the Spirit against the flesh.
We have just got a few moments to close, we come to the fifth deliverance. I appreciate your patience. If I could stay tomorrow, we could all meet again, I’d put this off. But I think it’s appropriate that I try to finish. Excuse me and forgive me if I’ve been long-winded.
“But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [or by which] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
So the cross separates us, releases us from the world. I was preaching in a Baptist church in the States. I think it was about 3 years ago now, on Easter Sunday morning. I was trying to deliver this message and I hadn’t got it really fully formed. But I got to Galatians 6:14 and I quoted this, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.” And something happened to me, just a sovereign act of God. I suddenly realized that I could care less about the world. It didn’t matter to me what the world thought, what the world said, what the world demanded. I absolutely did not care. I had a sudden realization of what it is to be set free from the dominion of the world.
You know, I’ve defined the world to you, the world is the whole society that is not subject to the righteous government of God. Jesus said, “You aren’t in the world because I called you out of the world.” The church is not in the world. The church has been separated from the world. There’s one simple way that you can be separated from the world, shall I tell you what it is? Be totally committed to the government of Jesus in your life. Because, that’s what the world is not.
Now, I think I’m just going to read part of my outline so as to prevent me from going on too long. When we realize that the cross is between us and the world—and consider it this way, when you look at the world now, between you and the world is a corpse hanging on a cross. Okay? And when the world looks at you, what does it see? A corpse hanging on a cross. It’s this complete separation. Not physical, you could be amongst the same people all the day. It’s in the spiritual realm, you belong to a totally different realm.
Now, you are released, as I understand it, from the world’s opinions, values, judgments, pressures, enticements and deceptions. You have to bear in mind the present world order is controlled by Satan. 1 John 5:19:
“The whole world lies in the wicked one. . .”
And Revelation 12:9:
“The great dragon, the old serpent, the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.”
Once Christians begin to come under the influence of the world, they come under deception. You need to bear in mind the Spirit of God and the spirit of this world are opposites. Paul said in 1Corinthians 2:13:
“You have received not the spirit which is the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”
The spirit of this world will obscure all the things that are given. The Spirit of God will reveal them.
Now, let me try to close this section by briefly stating the results. The first result of being delivered from the world is commitment to Christ’s kingdom. You can really do what it says in Matthew 6:33:
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added unto you.”
I’ve never been totally faithful as I would wish, but I would have to say looking back I have proved that scripture in my own experience over many, many, many years. It’s true, it works.
Jesus said to Pontius Pilate in John 18:36:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight, but my kingdom is not from here.”
You have to bear in mind the kingdom of God is not from this world.
And then secondly, you are free from Satan’s manipulations and deceptions. Especially today through the media. That’s tremendously important because our minds are being continuously bombarded with presentations, most of which are false. In the truest sense, they’re spiritually untrue.
Finally, release from the dominion of this world means that you will have the power to refuse like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to bow before the world’s idols. Believe me, there is the most tremendous pressure, especially in young people today, to bow before the world’s idols. What are they? Here are some of them. Success, popularity, wealth, power, pleasure and comfort.
My observation today of young people is basically they no longer get their counsel from their elders. They’re under continuous peer pressure from the people with whom they associate in school or in other places. I think for those of us who are older, it’s hard to realize the tremendous force of peer pressure, but it’s mostly the pressure of this world. Somehow or other by God’s grace, you need to be set free.
Well, God bless you. I appreciate your faithfulness in listening. You know what God said to me, I told you, “I never called you to deliver religious lectures.” I think the time is a little late but I just believe we should give opportunity to people here tonight who want to say, “I want the work of the cross in my life. I don’t understand it all, there’s a lot of things that Brother Prince said I can’t remember. But there’s one thing I have grasped, that the cross is the only way out of the evil and the pressures of current society and life in this world. I want to tell the Lord I want the cross applied in my life. I want those deliverances from this present evil age, from the Law, from self, from the flesh and from the world. I want that place of security which is on the other side of the cross. I would like tonight to make a commitment to God to go His way.” I’m not asking whether you’re saved or not, whether you belong to a church or not. It’s a very vital, personal question. Will you commit yourself to do what Jesus said? Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him.