I used to hate public speaking. Why? Because I was self-conscious and afraid of saying the wrong thing, of looking stupid in front of others. When I was even younger I was also very shy, easily blushing when anyone looked at me.
As a driving instructor I get to watch my pupils perform under the pressure of the driving test. Many pupils really struggle with their nerves because they become focused on the fear of failure rather than just driving. Often, when they begin to forget themselves then they begin to drive so much better!
Surrounded by dead people!
Around us in the world today we are surrounded by dead people. These people are not physically dead but they are spiritually dead. In other words, their spirit is dead – they have no life towards God, their telephone line to God is cut! Consequently, they are no longer God-conscious at all just self-conscious and aware only of the physical world.
Ephesians 2:3 “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
How did this happen? When the first man Adam sinned, he died spiritually and eventually physically. He became self-aware, afraid and naked. Desperately, he tried to cover his nakedness with fig leaves. The sons of Adam around us today are still trying the same trick as they struggle to cover up their nakedness with religion, good works, success, drugs, or improving their self-image.
Bold as a lion!
However, when we hear the Gospel of grace and are born again of the spirit, a dramatic change happens. Suddenly, we have a live wire to God. Immediately, we become aware of the presence of God and Christ living within us; by the spirit we are now conscious of the law written on our hearts and our righteousness before him. This righteousness consciousness makes us bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1:
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion”
Look at Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost: New birth and the baptism of the Holy Spirit transform him from a coward unable to speak up for his master in the face of questioning from a servant girl to a spirit filled powerful preacher convicting three thousand persons! (Acts 2:41)
Indeed, the filling of the Holy Spirit gives the Christian extraordinary boldness and courage: as in the natural the intoxication of alcohol removes peoples inhibitions and fear, likewise, the filling of the Holy Spirit removes self-consciousness and enables naturally fearful people able to speak boldly for Jesus.
Acts 2:3 “Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine”.
In a similar way people in love are annoyingly unselfconscious. The only one that is filling their thoughts and attentions is the object of their love. They are totally unable to see each others faults! Likewise, Christianity is not really a religion it’s a love affair!
Looking at yourself
Unfortunately though, the devil manages to trick many believers to start looking at themselves! The man of Romans chapter 7 under the Law is struggling with his sinful flesh (soul and body). Notice how many times he used the word ‘I’. He is self-conscious of his failure and inability to win against the flesh even though his new nature within him desires it!
Romans 7:21 “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man”
What he needs is not another method, self-help book or even a special scripture – what he needs is to be saved from himself!
Romans 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Romans 8 verse 1 begins with a joyful declaration:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
A man who is feeling condemned and guilty doesn’t feel forgiven or justified. He feels self-conscious of his failure and sin. Therefore, the Holy Spirit comes to give us experience of another realm, the uncontaminated fresh air of heaven. As we learn to walk by the spirit we can be freed from self-consciousness and sin-consciousness!
Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace”
So, miserable and carnal Christian, stop looking at yourself and your flesh! It is never going to be anything but a disappointment. The Holy Spirit is not accusing you he is trying to get your attention outside of yourself onto Jesus – that’s his mission!
Go away right now, get filled with the Holy Spirit. Like Paul and Silas in a filthy prison start praising God and watch the miracles happen!
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