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The Disciple’s Goal

by Chip Brogden
I think most of us can grasp the increase of Christ. But what does it mean for Self to be decreased? Does it mean, as some suppose, that somehow I must now cease to have all emotion, feeling and personality? Does it mean I completely disappear to the extent that I no longer exist? What does it mean to take up the cross daily, deny myself, and follow Jesus?

“Not I, but Christ” (Galatians 2:20). This is the goal of the disciple of Jesus. But how is that goal obtained? Where does one learn this single-hearted, single-minded devotion? This is what the Holy Spirit intends to teach us through the principles of Increase and Decrease. With less of me, there is more of Him.

Decreasing Self is the same as putting away sin. When we put off the old man, and when we decide to walk in holiness before the Lord, does it mean that somehow we are transformed into spiritually enlightened beings who are no longer capable of sinning? Of course not. To reckon ourselves “dead to sin” does not mean that we are not able to sin. If only it were that easy! On the contrary, we know very well that no matter how much we reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, there is still the possibility of sinning. Being dead to sin does not mean being unable to sin; it simply means we are not bound to sin – sin as a driving force in our life has been broken. Now, if we choose, we can live a different life. We have the power, through this new life, to resist satan and overcome the old life of sin. But nothing prevents us from falling back into our old ways. We can just as easily sin now, if we so choose, even though we need not do so.

Similarly, being “dead to Self” does not mean that I am suddenly transformed into a person who is incapable of thinking, feeling, or acting. Nor does it imply that I am incapable of self-centeredness. Quite the contrary. Self never dies, which is why Self must be denied daily. If Self were to die then it would not have to be constantly denied. The fact that we are urged to take up the Cross daily, and daily die to Self, is proof enough that Self never dies.

In a religious family it sometimes happens that someone falls in love and desires to marry a person of a different religious background. In some cases this is viewed as a serious sin with grave consequences. The family will do everything possible to persuade the couple not to get married. Finally, the patriarch of the family may say, “If you marry this person against my wishes, you will be dead to me!” And if they proceed anyway, the family cuts off all relationship and communication with that family member. In some extreme cases they may even hold a funeral and weep and mourn over the “dead” loved one who abandoned the faith and forsook their family.

Of course, this person is not really dead at all. But they are considered “dead” to the family. In similar manner, when we consider ourselves “dead to sin” or “dead to Self” or “dead to the ways of this world” it should be understood that sin, Self, and the world continue to exist. Our declaration does not destroy anything; it only affirms that we have chosen to cut off all communication and all relationship with sin, Self and the ways of this world. What if we fail to reckon ourselves dead to sin, or fail to deny Self, or begin to long for the things of this world? Then sin and Self and the world are right there, and will seek to re-establish their former place the moment we no longer consider ourselves dead.

Is this all just a mental game? No. But it is a mindset, a philosophy, an attitude, a perspective, a viewpoint about our spiritual life that eventually becomes an attitude of the spirit, heart, mind, and soul. Taking up the cross daily means daily choosing to deny Self and live for God. Before, I might have been preoccupied with my needs, my wants, my desires, my wishes, and my will. I might have even become religious in order to persuade God to give me the things I wanted. I might have used prayer, or church attendance, or Bible reading to try and prove that I was worthy of God’s blessings, or to secure my future home in heaven.

But now, I choose to set aside all those self-centered things and embrace a higher life of Love. And this Love is not the kind of love where I am absorbed and obsessed with what I want all the time. Instead, this Love causes me to look away from myself altogether and ask questions that never occur to the Self-centered. What is God’s Will? What does God want? What does God desire? What does God need? And then, once that is discovered, to follow through with simple obedience to the revealed Will of God, motivated not by fear of punishment or hope of reward, but by the simple love of God. It is to meet His Need by putting His Kingdom first, even if it is sometimes contrary to what I would naturally choose for myself.

There is only one reason in the world why a person would deny their own impulses and risk everything for someone else: love. Anything less than love is mere religion and self-seeking. To deny Self is to love God more than Self. And if we love Him, we will obey Him.

This is the heart-attitude that is basically summed up in the Cross. The Cross represents “not my will, but God’s Will” and signifies the ultimate in being decreased: death. But as we know, the Cross did not, and does not, end in death, though it certainly kills. We pass through the death and decreasing of the Cross in order to experience the new life and increasing of Christ on resurrection ground.

12 Comments

  1. Richard McMahon

    Hi Brother Chip,

    The Lord uses me in Jail and Street ministry…14 years. The Lord is showing me I’m at a crossroads. Praying about change and next step. I downloaded your ebook…Babylon. Have not studied it yet, but from what I see in a quick scan, I may need to purge some religious spirits as I move on to the next step God has for me.

    I’m with you on your main theme of surrender and no longer I who live but Christ in me. A new identity.

    Blessings, Richard McMahon Florida

    Reply
    • Scott

      I don’t know where to start I was a believer then joined Mormon church resigned read all your articles on the Ekklesia. Joined a home church but was no better than Church. Finally became lost to point of atheism. Have said horrible things against the Lord and feel so empty inside. I’m so lost and feel it’s too late. Is my soul damned forever. Sorry if I’ve posted inappropriately but feel so very lost and alone. Thank you kindly.

      Reply
      • Chip Brogden

        This is not unusual. It is like a drug addict coming off drugs. You have a religious addiction you’re coming off of and finding that your relationship with God was/is all based on “church.” You’ve been following “church” instead of Jesus. Now there is a big void in your heart where “church” used to be. That void can only be filled by Christ; it cannot be filled by “church.” Seek the Lord with as much zeal as you have sought “fellowship with others” and you will find Him.

        Reply
        • Scott

          Thank you Brother Brogden for the quick reply. What about the fact I have turned on our Lord and said so many awful things after thinking atheism was the way? It’s a truly empty feeling in that way of living life not that it’s truly living. All of this has been a spiritual journey and wanting so deeply to find our Lord and give myself completely to him. Are my sins and my words against him too late to ever be forgiven? Brother I feel very lost. Thank you so much for your time.

          Reply
  2. Mlungisi

    Chip, I thank the Lord for connecting me with you and I thank the Holy Spirit for revealing His word in this miighty way. No amount of education can reveal these mysteries to mankind except the Great Teacher- the Holy Spirit.

    Thanks once more.

    Reply
  3. Kendall Albright

    Thanks, for the reminder to remember to choose to love God more than self and let Him, Our Prince of Peace, increase.

    Reply
  4. schuller Anne

    hi Chip
    I thank god who gave me the opportunity for reading your teatching ; wonderfull when I read you I am encouraged and the holly spirit inside me agree with you !
    I hope you will continue to share whith us what you receive .
    God bless you and all your family.
    Anne Schuller Lyon France

    Reply
  5. Valerie

    This is beautifully written truth taking what some writings make complicated and showing that the choice to abide really is simple- from a love perspective. God bless you and yours!

    Reply
  6. kenneth dawson

    i have the book and your articles are allways refreshing to read

    Reply
  7. Kendall Albright

    chip, If it is not I that live but Christ that lives in me, do i really need to tell people about it or is it something everybody will just know because they see Him.

    Reply
  8. Jacquelyn Riege

    I sure miss your teachings when I could listen to you every day; but, your writings are as good, and I read them with gusto. I am one that has been born again………gone through all the religious places and have ended up at home, listening to preaching on the net and reading your articles. I love the devotional I get every morning and so much enjoy all of what you say. I have been with the Lord for 33 years now and got to the point that religion really made me almost sick. I walk with Jesus every day and hope I can continue on for many years. Thank you again Jackie Riege

    Reply
  9. Brenda Brown

    Hello My Brother,
    I am so fortunate to have had at least some discipling in my spiritual journey..i hung on as long as I could until Christ “cut me loose” from the apron string I clung to, and told “me” to make disciples. Now, I didn’t want to hear that.
    I gave Him all the reasons why I couldn’t possibly do that. He ignored me. He said, “feed the multitudes, Brenda.”. ” With what?”, I complained. “With Me!”, came the clear reply. “Give them what you have, and I will cause the multiplication.”” You my not think you have much, but you have Me!!” “They have nothing, and you are holding on to what you have–and asking for more!”
    Then my only question was, “How?” He spoke this to me.
    ” Hear the cry of humanity?
    Hear the cry so shrill?
    Hear the cry of the hungry
    That only I can fill?

    Hear the cry of the millions?
    Hear their desparate pleas
    As they grope around in darkness
    Needing Someone to meet their needs?

    Chorus
    Feed the multitudes My children.
    Give them what is in your hand
    It may not seem like much to you,
    But it’s a lot to a starving man!
    Feed the multitudes my children!
    Give them What you have inside!
    Then stand back and watch what happens.
    What you gave will multiply.

    “I have given you the keys to unlock their prison cells,
    Bread from Heaven and Living Water
    To fill up their empty wells.
    I have placed gifts within you, so give them What you
    have to give—
    For in your hands you hold the Answer….
    Bread and Meat so they may live!

    “You have eaten from My table and drunk deeply from
    My Well.
    Won’t you share what you’ve been given to release
    them from their hell!
    Do not hide the LIFE within you!
    Please share What you’ve been fed,
    Or they’ll be lost forever!
    Those for whom I died and bled! Chorus

    “Oh, the fields are ripe unto harvest,
    But the workers are so few.
    Be willing, yielded vessels, so I may work through
    you.
    They’re like sheep without a Shepherd.
    Oh, how that makes Me grieve!
    Bring them in to My green pastures,
    So they may rest and feed”. Chorus

    We have so much inside us: Christ Himself!

    I was deceived in thinking I needed some “significant” spiritual gift, or be this great orater, or be a trained opera singer, or a have a theological or seminary degree…to be in ministry.

    I stepped out, “dieing” all the way. But you know, He did it! I “passed out” the Bread of Heaven, and He did the rest! And I got to watch Him work!

    Sister Brenda “Better than You” from the “First
    Self-Righteous Church” began to live as I died.

    Today my dearest disciples are ex-prostitutes, ex-drug dealers, ex- convicts. They didn’t want my church. They wanted my Jesus and His LIFE!!

    They teach me more, than I teach them! It is delightful to the freedom these un-religious walk in. So refreshing after my yrs. of being so “prissy” religious.

    I had grieved him, and I knew it..

    Reply

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