COMING TO THE END OF SELF, 11.02.20
What does it mean to come to the end of one’s self? What is involved? What is the purpose, and what does it achieve?
Study Topic will use one of the greatest classics on the topic to detail this subject. Andrew Murray probably did more comprehensive writing on surrender than any other classic Christian writer I know of; and coming to the end of one’s self is the ultimate in surrender.
For our Heavenly Father to employ us to the fullest extent, we must progress along the continuum of surrender, and/or death of self. It is only when we have come to the end of our self that we become truly useful to Him. After all, as long as we remain full of our selves, there is no room for Him: “He must increase, while I must decrease” (John 3:30). It is when we are broken vessels that we become ready to allow Him to empty us of self – to give up that self-life – and fill us with Himself, allowing Him to be the Potter, as He so desires: “Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand” (Jer.18:6). Broken vessels, once reassembled, healed, and made new, become most useful. That is what Yeshua meant when He said: “If anyone wants to follow after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt.16:24,25).
Let us study the model provided by Peter:
- He first tries to tell Jesus/Yeshua where it’s at, when Jesus/Yeshua is explaining to His disciples about how He is going to be crucified, etc. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Never, Master! This must never happen to You!” (Matt.16:22). “There was Peter in his self-will, trusting his own wisdom, and actually forbidding Christ to go and die . . . Peter trusted in himself and his own thoughts . . . .” (Murray, p.284).
- Then Yeshua chastises him: “Get behind Me, satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but the things of men” (Matt.16:23). Notice that Jesus/Yeshua identifies an evil spirit working through Peter, interfering with Peter’s understanding of what Jesus/Yeshua is telling them.
- After that, Jesus/Yeshua warns him when: “Peter said to Him, “Master, why can’t I follow You now? I’ll lay down my life for You!” Yeshua answers, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Amen, amen I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times!” (John 13:37,38).
“Peter was not in a fit state to follow Christ, because he had not been brought to an end of himself . . .” (Murray, p.282). Peter was pretty sure of himself, a bit arrogant and prideful . . .
When push came to shove, he did the unthinkable: “a servant girl saw him sitting at the fire. She looked straight at him and said, “This one was with Him too!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I don’t know Him!” A little later, another saw him and said, “You too are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” And about an hour later, another began to insist, saying, “Certainly this fellow was with Him, for he too is a Galilean!” But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” (Lk.22:56-60). Just like Jesus/Yeshua prophesied – three times in a row . . .
- Peter’s conviction and repentance: “And the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.’ And Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Lk.22:61,62). Just as Andrew Murray points out, “before Christ could fill Peter with the Holy Spirit and make a new man of him, he had to go out and weep bitterly; he had to be humbled” (Murray, p.282). He had to come to the end of himself, and let go of his need to be right, his need to have control, his need to do things his own way. Peter had to learn to put the self to death, to deny self, in order to not deny his Lord; “and that look of Jesus broke the heart of Peter, and all at once there opened up before him the terrible sin that he had committed, the terrible failure that had come, and the depth into which he had fallen . . . . that was the turning point and the change” (Murray, p.285). What a transforming process Peter must have gone through!
- After the resurrection when Yeshua was serving up barbecued fish, “Yeshua said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs!” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Take care of My sheep!” He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him for a third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You!” Yeshua said to him, “Feed My sheep!”(John 21:15-17).
When Yeshua asked him three times if Peter loved Him, Yeshua was looking for that true heart change; He was looking to see if Peter in fact had been brought to the end of himself and was now ready to deny himself and follow HIM, as his Lord and Master. Yes, “Peter was made sad by the thought that the Lord reminded him of having denied Him thrice . . . . Now Peter was prepared for deliverance from self” (Murray, p.285).
It took all that went on in order for Peter to be brought to the end of himself, to reach that place where Jesus/Yeshua could trust him to “feed My sheep.” It was due to this transforming experience that Peter became the bold evangelist, speaking, teaching, preaching with authority: “But Peter, standing with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: “Fellow Judeans and all who are staying in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and pay attention to my words . . . . this Yeshua, given over by God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge, nailed to the cross by the hand of lawless men, you killed” (Acts 2:14,23). He went on to preach one of the most profound sermons of all-time, ending with: “Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him—this Yeshua whom you had crucified—both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:36). “Peter’s whole nature was changed. The work that Christ began in Peter when He looked upon him, was perfected . . .” (Murray, p. 286).
It is that same work which Messiah wants accomplished in each of us. Only as we walk in daily surrender; only as we submit, surrender, and yield to Him; only as we come to the end of our self-life, self-will, and self-focus can we accomplish this, maximizing our usefulness to the work of the Kingdom, and truly living our lives for HIM. Until such time as we enter in, we are only fooling ourselves, giving lip-service to that intent. It is as Andrew Murray says: “Peter, before he denied Christ, had cast out devils, and had healed the sick; and yet the flesh had power, and the flesh had room in him. Oh, beloved, we want to realize that it is just because there is so much of that self-life in us that the power of God cannot work in us as mightily as God is willing that it should work” (Murray, p.286,287). It is in coming to the end of self that the door is fully open to all that God has for each of us.
© 2018, re-edited, 2019, 2020 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
The Deeper Christian Life, by Andrew Murray, 2,000, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
© revised 2020 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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