“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
For everyone that actually crosses over into the promised land of rest in Christ, there are a great many who stand for a while and look longingly across the river, wishing they had the strength to cross to the other side. But alas, they turn sadly back to the comparative safety of the sandy wastes of the old life.
Crucifixion of the flesh is too hard for them, you see; it involves giving up too much; all of self must go to make room for all of Christ. But Paul is quite clear about what he is saying; those who are Christ’s are those who are crucified in their flesh. Put another way, can it be said that if we turn away from the crucifixion of the self life, we belong to Christ?
The gospel message is clear; “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). The verb is in the imperative here.
In our flesh there is no good thing, according to Paul (Romans 7:18); why then, do we cling to it so steadfastly and at such great expense? For all of God’s goodwill toward us, He is unable to grant us our heart’s desires until those desires have been reduced to one. When we have dealt with our carnal ambitions, trodden down the serpent of the flesh, trampled the dragon of self-love, self-importance and self-esteem under our feet and can truly say that we have died to sin, then, and only then, can God raise us up to newness of life and fill us with His Blessed Holy Spirit.
We must empty ourselves if He is to fill us.