“Not I, But Christ”
By A. B. Simpson (1843 – 1919)
“I have been crucified with Christ” – that is the death of sin; “nevertheless I live” – that is the new life in the power of His resurrection; “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” – that is the deliverance from self, and the substitution of Christ Himself for even the new self. It is a substitution so complete that even the faith by which this life is maintained is no longer our self-sustained confidence, but the very “faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me,” that is, instead of me, and as my Substitute (Gal. 2:20).
If you would die to self you must fall in love with Jesus and let Him become to you the personal reality of Solomon’s sweet Song of joy. But it is not the love of Christ merely that we want; it is the living Christ Himself. Many people have touches of the love of Christ, but to them He is a Christ away up in heaven. The apostle speaks of something far mightier. It is Christ Himself who lives inside us and who is big enough to crowd out and keep out the little “I.” There is no other that can truly lift and keep the heart above the power of self but Jesus, the Mighty Lord, the stronger than the strong man armed.
Blessed Christ! He is able not only for sin, sorrow and sickness, but He is able for you and me – able so to be our very life, that moment by moment we shall be conscious that He in us fills us with Himself and conquers the self that ruled before. The more you try to fight a self-thought the more it clings to you. When you turn away from it and look to Him, He fills all the consciousness and disperses everything with His own presence. Let us abide in Him and we shall find there is nothing else to do.
It is almost the same thing, but another way of saying it, that the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us will deliver and keep us from the power of self. When the cloud of glory entered the tabernacle there was no room for Moses to remain; and when filled with the heavenly presence of the blessed Spirit we are lost in God and self hides away, and like Job we can say, “Now mine eye seeth Thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
These temples of our bodies were reared for Him. Let Him fill them so completely that the temple shall not be seen, but only the glorious sunlight, which not only shines into it, but through it, as though the walls are transparent and unseen.
It is not a new, but it is an appropriate thought, that all the things that God has used have first been sacrificed. It is a sacrificed Savior, One who emptied Himself, and made Himself of no reputation that God has so highly exalted, and given Him a name that is above every name, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Phil. 2:10). It was a sacrificed Isaac that God made the promised seed and the progenitor of Israel’s tribes. And it was on that very Mount Moriah where Isaac was sacrificed, that God afterwards reared His glorious temple. And so it is only when our Isaac is on the altar and our whole being lost in God that He can lay the deep foundations and rear the everlasting walls of the living temple of which He is the Supreme and eternal glory.
I look back today with unutterable gratitude to the lonely and sorrowful night, when, mistaken in many things, and imperfect in all, my heart’s first full consecration was made, not knowing but that it would be death in the most literal sense, before the morning light, yet with unreserved surrender I first could say:
“Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.”
– Henry F. Lyte
Never perhaps has my heart known quite such a thrill of joy as when the following Lord’s Day morning I gave out those lines and sang them with all my heart. If God has been pleased to make my life in any measure a little temple for His indwelling and for His glory, and if He ever shall be pleased to use me in fuller measure, it has been because of that hour, and it will be still in the measure in which that hour is made the keynote of a consecrated, crucified and Christ-devoted life. Oh, come and let Him teach you the superlative degree of joy, the joy that has learned to say not only, “my beloved is mine,” but better even, “I am my beloved’s” (Song 6:3).
Never, until we become fascinated with Christ’s affection, and won in complete captivity to His love, shall we cease to live unto ourselves. Then we will follow Him anywhere. We will toil and suffer with Him. We will be content without many things that before we thought we must have, because His smile is our sunshine, His presence is our joy, His love shed abroad in our hearts is our heaven, and we cannot speak or think of sacrifice or suffering, our heart is so satisfied with Him.