Living the Anointed Life
'Ekklesia' is about people and what is happening in the heart. The only thing that will last is a changed heart. To live an overflowing life, we must live in Jesus' anointing. The real issue between God and man isn't about success, but anointing.
“YOUR LIFE FOR HIS”
Would you see the love of God,
And the word with power preached?
Do you know how late the hour’s getting to be?
Would you see the strong man bound,
And the captives go free?
There’s a price to pay to walk in Calvary.
Your life for His, what a small price to pay
To walk in the Truth, the Life, and the Way.
Your life for His, what a small price to pay
When to live is Christ and to die is gain.
What does it cost to name His name
And to walk the narrow way?
Don’t call Him “Lord” if you won’t do what He’ll say.
Disciples first, then fishers of men,
So the words of Jesus say.
“Disciples first” is still the call today.
Where’s the altar? Where’s the cross?
Where’s the road toll for the lost?
Can you show me a living sacrifice?
You can’t preach what you don’t live.
If you love Him, then you’ll give.
God is asking and, for His sake, come and die.
My life for Yours, what a small price to pay
To walk in the Truth, the Life, and the Way
My life for Yours, what a small price to pay
When to live is Christ and to die is gain.
I was wondering if someone could share some practical ways to cultivate that kind of heart that is in this song? I’m sure everyone wants to have the kind of heart that’s just overflowing. I’m sure at different points we’ve had degrees of that. I could probably think of a few, myself, but I was wondering if someone could share some practical ways to cultivate that passion and caring, and to crucify the apathy and self-centeredness?
To Live is Christ...
Well, this won’t be anything new to most of you. Sometimes new in understanding and new in experience are two different things. It may be something you’ve not experienced, but it’s probably not something most of you don’t already know. And you can probably think of the many times we’ve talked about these sorts of things. But the last line of that song caught my attention as we sang it three times consecutively: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul said it, and it has really been a mystery to most people. In fact, some of the translators have tried to find reasons why it wasn’t really what Paul meant to say. People have taken the original text of the old Aramaic scriptures and tried to re-translate this in some other way so that it makes more sense. It’s always been a big thing I’ve noticed.
“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” What in the world does that mean? That’s been somewhat of a debate for as long as I’ve known Christ. This is something we’ve talked about. But it relates to what Chris just said, so I’ll mention it. Something that was on my mind while we were singing was, “Yea! That’s right. Amen! That’s right. To live is Christ and to die is gain.” I used to think that “to live” meant that you tried to live the way Jesus lived. Then “to die” would obviously be gain, because then we go to heaven. So you try to live the way Jesus lived, and then after you die, you’ll go to heaven. To live is Christ and to die is gain. That’s normally, I think, the way that has been thought of, until you go back to the way it was originally written. And “Christ” isn’t a translation; it’s a transliteration... or not really even that. The word means “anointed one” or “anointed.” To live is anointed and to die is gain.
“Christ” is not Jesus’ last name—Jesus Christ. Rather, it is a primary description of who Jesus is. The same holds true when we refer to the Holy Spirit. “Holy” is not the Spirit’s first name. It is a description of who He is. He’s other, He’s awesome, He’s way out in a realm that is infinitely beautiful and pure and separate and other than anything that we’ve ever touched or known, apart from the part of His spirit that He’s allowed us to partake of. Jesus Christ isn’t “Jesus” with the last name “Christ.” It’s Jesus and this primo quality of who Jesus is, the Anointed One of God, the anointing.
An Anointing On YOU!
The apostle John said of our lives, “You have an anointing on you that is real and not counterfeit.” That is found in the first epistle of John, which was written to Christians in general. He wasn’t talking to his “best friend,” or to the three most spiritual people on the planet at that point in time. He was writing to general Christians and he said, “You have an anointing on you (plural) that’s real, that’s genuine; it’s not counterfeit and it makes a difference. It allows you to discern what false teaching is without anybody telling you.” And he goes on to say, in the next chapter, that that anointing allows you to be free from sin. It gives you the power to overcome sin. It gives you the power to love.
The disciples were called “anointed ones” first in Antioch (Acts 11). That was how they were viewed—little anointed ones, little lamps, little torches of burning oil of the Holy Spirit that emanated Light. That’s the nature of what it means to be a Christian and to be a follower of Jesus—not to have a changed lifestyle, where we’re different than we used to be because we have different morals than we used to have. Having a different set of standards than we used to have isn’t the essence of Christianity. Now we go to “church,” and we didn’t before. We used to cuss, and now we don’t. That is not the nature of it. The nature of it is a miracle from heaven! The old is passed away; behold all things are new. A new creation, something that is genetically different than it was before, translated, “transfigured” is the Greek word. Transfigured from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the beloved Son. This is a miracle that has taken place that involves reality. It involves substance. It isn’t just a change in philosophy and a different way of life that’s patterned after some writings of 2000 years ago. That’s not what Christianity is about. And “to live is Christ” isn’t to pattern your life after Jesus. That’s not the substance of what Paul was saying. To live is anointed. To live is the Anointed One of God filling our hearts. The mystery that was withheld for ages and generations—“Christos”—the Christ of God, the anointing of God within you. That’s the essence of what Christ-ianity is. It is anointing, not folkways and mores and lifestyle issues—it’s anointing.
The Oil of God
So when we are talking about this kind of passion, it really isn’t something where you can say, “All right. I’m not going to cuss anymore, or be angry and selfish and self-indulgent the way I used to. I’m not going to watch soap operas or hate people the way I used to. And in addition to that, I’ll be zealous.” That’s not what it’s about. The nature of the translation itself implies that the oil of God has been poured out and a baptism of water and the Spirit and of fire has been poured out into who you are. And if it’s real and not counterfeit, you don’t need anyone to teach you anymore, in a sense that you can understand what a false teacher is versus a deceptive false workman versus the Word of God coming from some source. You can know it in your spirit by the anointing of God, the seed of God in your heart and in your life (1 John 3).
You can put to death the misdeeds of the body by the Spirit of God. You can no longer continue to sin—because the Son of God was manifest that we might destroy the devil’s works and blow them out of our lives, and not be in bondage to sin and hatred anymore. That’s the nature of the Christ of God that was withheld from ages and generations and is now placed within you, if you have truly called on His name and humbled yourself before Him. So, if I were in a place where I wasn’t currently experiencing anointing in my life, I would be so broken-hearted, so disturbed and so frustrated and empty, I would literally do anything, anything at all on earth to the point of losing my life, if necessary, to taste it again. That’s how important it is, and that’s how life-giving it is to walk in the anointing. If I couldn’t walk in that, I would rather die.
To live is anointing. That’s what gave Paul the strength to go on in the face of being in prison when he said that. When you are under the anointing of God, you can be in prison and it doesn’t make any difference at all. If you are under the anointing of God, you can be roped to a stake with oil being poured on you, ready to be lit, and still have the fire of God in your heart. You can have a zeal and a joy that you could never have just by being determined to be a good Christian. If there is going to be anything that’s going to pull us through the last days and bring us to a place of victory as overcomers and not just survivors (if that), it is going to be a crying out to God for His anointing, and a crucifying of the flesh and the petty, stupid, childish things that get in the way of God’s anointing and quench His Spirit in our lives. It is possible to quench the Spirit’s fire, my Bible says.
We’re talking about the difference between the Spirit’s fire within you, and your determination. “I rise up to worship, I stand to acclaim the King of all glory, Christ Jesus His name. I ask You, King Jesus, fulfill this desire. Ignite me and make me a chariot of fire!” That kind of prayer ought to be continually on our lips. If we’re nothing more than intellectuals about all this, just moral people “determined” to uphold the truth, then it isn’t going to last through much of anything. The house is gonna collapse. The anointing of God, the zeal that’s birthed in heaven and bursting as a bone-fire that can’t be contained, as Jeremiah said—that’s what Christianity (anointing-ianity) is about. It isn’t about anything less than that. It is not about good deeds, getting saved and going to heaven. It is about showing forth His glory to a wicked and perverted generation. It is about shining like stars in the universe amongst the perverse world we are living in—shining with the fire of God in our heart and the zeal of God in our life.
“I’m in the pains of childbirth until Christ [the anointing] is formed in you,” Paul said in Galatians 4:19. He didn’t say, “I’m in the pains of childbirth until you are saved.” They were already saved. He addressed his letter to the churches, the Christians, the called-out ones in Galatia. That’s who the letter was to; he wasn’t talking about being saved. He said that it hurt him so bad that he could die, because they weren’t anointed with the life of God. There were people cutting in on them. “You were running such a good race, who cut in on you?” “You’re so easily bewitched! Oh, Galatians. Oh, foolish Galatians!” They were tossed to and fro by every wind. Well, why was that? Because they were not walking in the anointing that John talked about in 1 John 2. When that happens, people are pitched around by every wind, every smooth talker that comes their direction, every neat new book that is handed to them, every new radio program or new personality, some whoop-de-do praise thing or doctrinal issue, and all of a sudden they’re just blown all over the place. They betray loyalties in an instant. They turn their backs on precious opportunities for their own selfish interests. And all of that happens in a minute without the anointing. There’s not enough determination or knowledge or commitment or holiness in any of us to survive the onslaught of this confusing world, let alone a personal attack from the enemy, apart from the anointing.
Anointing vs. No Anointing
That is what Christ-ianity is—it’s all about anointing. We have to crave that with every fiber of our being. We have to crave reality in our conversations, not failure vs. success in a conversation we have with someone at work. Anointing versus no anointing—that’s the issue. I almost don’t care what a person does in response to the Word of God if I know there was anointing, because then it is between them and God. I take no further responsibility for it, in the sense that I feel no guilt. I don’t die a thousand deaths for having said the wrong thing or wishing that I might have said something different. I use to drive myself insane wanting to say the right thing and do the right thing, and feeling guilty because I put my foot in my mouth when I talked to this person or that person, and this failed and this didn’t work out just right. I don’t care about any of that anymore. I have released that totally to God....not because I’m lazy, but because I know that the real issue between God and man and my service to God has to do with anointing, not success.
If there is no anointing, I am a failure. In one sense, I don’t care what they do, what their response is in this situation or that. I don’t want to convince somebody with mere words, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2. He said, “I hate the idea that I might persuade you with human wisdom.” I have to know it is a demonstration of Spirit and of Power. I don’t want it to be mere human persuasion. That is despicable, that we might argue someone into believing some certain way and changing some certain set of patterns in their lives. “Oh, well, I guess I’ll do this instead of that. You’re right, I can see it. It does say that right there. I never saw it that way before.” NO! Get out of my sight! I don’t want anything to do with that unless it’s the anointing of God. Paul said to the Thessalonians, “I know it’s real in you because it came with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” There was reality there, there was anointing there, and that was the test of whether or not it was from God.
No Loose Ends
Not that there’s some pat answer for any group of people of any size, other than: make sure you pull all the weeds, all the loose ends, all the selfish things that quench the Spirit’s fire. Deal with all the loose issues. Demand that there are no loose ends in your life. There can be no personal habits that don’t exalt Jesus, no relationships that are broken and hindered, with walls between you and others. Peter said that relationship problems break our ability to pray. It’s the same issue. So, if there are loose ends in your life, if you’re selfish and dull, take care of it. If there are things in your life that you would never do with Jesus or say to Jesus, attitudes that you express that you would never express to Jesus, don’t you dare let those things come from your lips and don’t you dare let a day go by without making those things right. That is, if you really want to live in the anointing of God. There can be no loose ends. If God shows you something in your own life or in someone else’s life, make it your passion to follow through with it. Lay down your life to see it to conclusion, no matter what the cost in your own personal life as well as in other people’s lives. If you won’t do that, don’t think that you’ll experience His anointing. You might experience carnal adrenaline about religious issues, but that’s different from anointing. That’s a feisty thing—even hateful and divisive at times. It isn’t the peace of God, flowing from the power and the heartthrob of God. It’s just junk. It’s not anointing.
Know the Standard
Deal with the root issues in your life, every loose end in your life. Sow a lot of good seed. But I think more important than any other single thing is this: know what God’s standard is. Know that God wants anointing from you. What He wants to do is to baptize you in His Spirit and in fire. Cry out to God until that’s real in your life. Pull up the weeds. Don’t allow in your life the things that put out the Spirit’s fire. Clean up the relationships, make every issue right. You don’t want it very bad if you won’t do that. Sow the good seed of His Word and of self-sacrifice and love in relationships into your heart and into your life. But more than anything else, it’s a faith of crying out to God and demanding that from your life, and accepting nothing less than anointing in your life.
You’ve got to have that kind of heart! If you decide it’s okay to blend in, then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that you will break Jesus’ heart and you will not fulfill your destiny. You’ll be like the other ten million (ten billion!) people who have professed and have never really shown anything for it. They’ve just had some intellectual affirmation and nothing to show for it, “escaping as through the flames,” as Paul said, but no gold, silver and precious stones to show for it. I don’t think that’s what we’re about. I don’t think that we’re here to expect that lower standard for each other or for ourselves. I don’t know how practical that is, but that’s what I was thinking when we were singing that song and it’s at least a partial answer to your question.
Who Are YOU?
There are times when I wish there was some way that every single person in this room right now could be totally isolated and separated and thrown out, totally on your own in the world, with absolutely nothing whatsoever to hang onto except your own personal relationship with God. (That happened, historically, in Acts 8.) In some ways I really wish that for every person in this room. Now, if it is something that we do on our own, then God will judge it and not bless it. But there are times when I wish that God would find a way to arrange that. I find enjoyment in seeing God’s people grow in number and in authority with the unseen world, and in love of one another—God’s community of His elect, His church being built. But there are times when I wish that God would find a way to arrange for every person to be on his own, because something that is more important to me by far is to see an individual person set free and really, truly born of the Spirit and of the wind and baptized in fire. Now, ultimately, all the paths lead back to the same place, the Church, because it is God’s will to build His Church, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. I know that. But, again, I think that if we put ourselves in this situation, God will judge it. It’s not His will that we make those kinds of choices.
On the other hand, I just wonder if you know who you are. I look around and I see that some of you are baptized in fire and some of you are not. Some of you are filled with God’s Spirit and some of you are sincere, but very much of this earthly realm still, unfortunately. There’s nothing I want more for you than to be able to see the Light and the Fire of God in your eyes and in your heart, and to see the fruit of that. I don’t know how to go about that, I don’t know how to go about helping the Christ of God, the Anointing of God, to be formed in you and to explode unto eternal life and unto fruit and every good work. I don’t know how to bridge that gap. I don’t know how many words or what kind of experiences it would take to do that for you. But if it took you being all by yourself someplace, even without your spouse or your roommates, in order to find out how much you really need God and how much you really, desperately, need His anointing, rather than a borrowed aura of somebody else’s anointing, then it would be worth it. Whatever it took, it would be worth it.
I think, as always, God would prefer to teach us from His heart and from His hand rather than by failure and by separation, but God is very determined to have all of each of us. He isn’t going to settle for anybody blending in, having anything less than the Light of God coming from and through them—not just hanging around the after-glow of someone else’s anointing. It has to be between you and Him. Hunger for that. Don’t be another statistic on the wall—somebody else who said the words but wasn’t willing to pay the price to give “your life for His.” To live as Christ is the anointing and to die is gain. Don’t miss that. That’s for you and it’s your choice how far you’ll go, what price you’ll pay.