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In 2015, Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church, USA, wrote a motivational book that became an international best-seller entitled: Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.
He sold millions of copies and, thereby, confused millions of people. He presented a false gospel of positive thinking. Think bigger and your life will be better. This is a classic deception that makes people enemies of the cross.
Your best life is not your life. Your best life is the life of Jesus. Jesus Himself is our life. (Colossians 3:4). God does not make our lives better and better. God despises our life. What He requires of us is that we relinquish our life. He does not make our life better; He throws our life in the dustbin.
This is because the life we live is counterfeit. The best counterfeit is still counterfeit. It can never be a substitute for the original.
Jesus says: “(God) the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” (John 5:26).
This shows the original life is in God and in Christ. It is not in man. God is a spirit; He is not flesh and blood. Therefore, the true life cannot be the life of the flesh. It must be the spiritual life.
God lives forever; He cannot die. The life of the flesh dies. The life of man is no different from the life of animals. Indeed, it is animal life.
Solomon says: “Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals. For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.” (Ecclesiastes 3:18-20).
The new life that God has given us is not in us. If it were in us, then it could be lost. It would die when we die. No! The life God has given us is in Christ: “This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11).
Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 19:10).
That means whatever life we had before He came was counterfeit. If we already had the true life before Jesus came, it would not be necessary for Him to come to give us what we already have. No! He came to give us the life we did not have: the true life.
But we cannot have the true life and the counterfeit life simultaneously. We have to relinquish the counterfeit in favour of the original. So, Jesus warns us: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25).
Baptism of Death
Herein is the dilemma. Christianity is for many Christians a death sentence that cannot be endured. We try, we pretend, we endure but finally we give up. Without realising it, we are determined to save our lives.
But to save if from whom? We are not determined to save our lives from the devil. On the contrary, the devil is the giver of the life we live in the flesh. The devil is the giver of the life we want and aspire to, although we do not know that, and if we did, would never admit it.
No! We are determined to save our lives from Jesus Christ, the thief in the night.
This is because we love the world and the things in the world. However: “All that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16).
So, Jesus warns: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).
The thief after our lives is also Jesus Christ and not just the devil. Jesus Christ is in the business of saving men from themselves. He is in the business of saving a man from his own life.
This is because the life we live in this world is a life of vanity. It is a vain life. It is meaningless. Listen to the lamentation of Job: “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1).
What was the problem of Job? He was born of a woman but not born of the Spirit. He was born of a woman and not born of God. Job was born of a woman, but not born again. And so, his life was full of trouble. Job had great possessions. But he did not have the peace that passes all understanding.
It is incredible all the things that can kill a man who is born of a woman. Ordinary mosquitoes can kill him. Armed robbers can kill him. He can be killed in car accidents and in plane crashes. He can fall sick and die. And so, the spirit of fear forever torments the man that is born of woman. He is anxious about everything.
But what about those who are born of the Spirit? They are impregnable. You see, the man who is born of the Spirit is already dead. But Jesus brought him back to life. Therefore, the life he now lives is the resurrected life. This makes him dead to money, so he cannot be bribed. He is dead, so he can resist temptation.
It is impossible to kill a dead man. A true Christian cannot be killed in a car accident. Armed robbers cannot kill him. He is immune to sickness and disease. Therefore though he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, he fears no evil.
But does this apply to you, child of God? If you are already dead why do you still hunger and thirst for the world?
Jesus says to the Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14).
Is this true? The word of God is truth. But is it true in your life? Why is it then that you are still thirsty? Why is it that you are saved but you still want to be successful, you still want to be rich; you still hunger for the goods of this world?
James says we are: “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4).