BEING PRESSED TO TRUST IN THE GOD WHO RAISES THE DEAD
Paul also said they were “unable to find a way out” (v. 8b). He did not know what to do or what to say. Verse 10 says, “Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus.” In 1:8 and 9 Paul said, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were excessively burdened, beyond our power, so that we despaired even of living. Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” They had the sentence of death; they had the sensation that they were going to die. They were pressed to such an extent that they despaired of living, so they learned not to trust in themselves. They were pressed out of themselves. They were pressed to give up their trust in themselves. They were pressed to trust in God, the God of resurrection, the God who raises the dead.
We may say, “I do not trust in myself. I trust in the Lord.” To say this is easy. We do not know how much we cheat ourselves in saying this. It is not easy to lose our trust in ourselves. Every one among us is a self-trusting one. It is really hard for us to get rid of self-trust. Even little children have self-trust. They may love their mother very much, but they do not trust in their mother; they trust in themselves. The more a child grows, the more that child trusts in himself. A mother realizes that after a child becomes five years of age he no longer trusts in her. The more one grows, the more he trusts in himself. For every full-grown man there is the full-grown trust in the self. We may have no trust in others and no trust in the Lord. Our trust is only in ourselves. To learn the lesson not to trust in ourselves but in the Lord is not easy because of our cleverness, wisdom, natural strength, and natural motive. We need many years to be rid of our natural cleverness, natural wisdom, natural strength, and natural motive.
In cooking certain foods, fifteen minutes in the oven may be good enough, but sometimes we need three hours, and sometimes we need a whole day. I have been put into the “oven” for over forty-five years. Today I am still in the oven. Regardless of how nice and dear we may be, we are still “raw.” We need God’s cooking. We are pressed on every side; we are unable to find a way out; we are put to death. Paul said that he bore about in the body the putting to death of Jesus (4:10). This means that when he was on the earth working for the Lord, ministering something to the Lord’s children, he was always being put to death. All the time he bore in his mortal body the putting to death. Paul did not have an easy time. If we see this, we may say, “Then I will never be a Christian.” But this is not up to us. This is our destiny. It is not our choice; it is God’s choice. God’s choice is our destiny, and God has predestinated us to be Christians. Even if we try to run away, we cannot give up the Christian faith. Some say it is not easy to stand in the faith, but for Christians it is easier to stand than to fall. We all have been chosen and predestinated to be put into the oven. We cannot run away. It is not up to us; it is not our choice. This is the Lord’s choice, and His choice is our destiny.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)