This principle of taking up your cross and denying yourself daily is exactly the opposite of the way our natural minds work. It is diametrically opposed to the way the natural man thinks. In this chapter, I will give you two other Scriptures that I find very challenging, very searching.
The first Scripture I’ll give, without going into its background or analyzing the content, is 1 Corinthians 1:25:
The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Now, that’s a paradox! There is a weakness that comes from God that is stronger than any strength we have. There is a foolishness that comes from God that is wiser than any wisdom we have. And there was one thing in which the weakness and the foolishness of God found their full expression. What was that? The Cross! In both the weakness and foolishness of the Cross, God triumphed over all the strength and all the wisdom of this world. I believe God is asking you and me to learn that kind of weakness and that kind of foolishness
Having the Spirit of Christ
It has never been an effort for me to be strong in my own personality. Furthermore, God has blessed and used the strength I have. But God has shown me that my strength and my personality will only take me so far. If I wish, I can stop there. I am not compelled to go any further. But I have seen many lives and ministries stopped at that point.
Now, let’s turn to another verse that touches on this, Romans 8:9:
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
This verse is strangely constructed. It consists of two distinct sentences. If I had been responsible for the division of the passage into verses, I would have made two separate verses out of these two sentences.
As it stands, the first half of the verse speaks about “the Spirit of God”; the second half speaks about “the Spirit of Christ.” I don’t wish for a moment to suggest that there is any kind of division between these two, but I do believe there is a difference in the way they represent the nature of God.
All through the Bible, “the Spirit of God” is identified with the Holy Spirit. It is the official title of the third person of the Godhead: God the Spirit, the One who is coequal with the Father and the Son and who speaks in the first person as God. For example, in Acts 13:2, the Holy Spirit spoke to the leaders of the church at Antioch and said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (emphasis added). Here we have God Himself, God the Spirit, using the pronoun I, speaking in the first person as God. The main emphasis is upon power and authority.
On the other hand, I believe “the Spirit of Christ” presents the divine nature specifically as it was manifested in the life of Jesus Christ. It cannot be separated from the nature and personality of Jesus. It is this kind of Spirit, Paul told us, that marks the true child of God: “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.“
I believe – in fact, I know from direct observation – that there are many people who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, who speak in tongues, who work miracles, but who demonstrate little or nothing of the Spirit of Christ. And the mark that makes us God’s is not speaking in tongues, nor is it working miracles, nor is it preaching tremendous sermons. It is having the Spirit of Christ.
If I were to ask myself what the Spirit of Christ is like, I would have to say it is a meek spirit; it is a humble spirit; it is a gentle spirit. It certainly is not arrogant, self-assertive, or self-pleasing. And that, I believe, is what marks the true child of God: the Spirit of Christ.
Jesus did not lay claim to His rights
We hear a good deal of teaching about claiming your inheritance, and getting what belongs to you. I’ve preached along that line many times myself, using such texts as 3 John 1:2: “ Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (New Kings James version). Thank God, I believe it!
But do you know that in God’s sight you don’t prosper by asserting your rights? The Spirit of Jesus did not lay claim to His rights. I believe prosperity, health, inward peace, and well-being of soul are the rights of the new creation, but many times they are illegally appropriated by the old man for his own selfish purposes.
Today, when I hear people say, “Brother, just claim it,” something in me winces. When I hear those words, inwardly I picture an arrogant ego asserting its rights. I would like to ask you, How many of you would really like to live with somebody who is always “just claiming it”? Although all my claims may be fully legal, I am inwardly weary of the legalistic assertion of my inheritance in Christ.
I am weary, too, of continually having to instruct Christians on how to be healthy and how to prosper. Certainly, they need it; but, brother and sister, even when you learn how to be healthy and how to prosper, you still are not out of grade school, spiritually. Your strength is not what you have or what you can demonstrate. Rather, your strength is the ability to bear the infirmities of the weak.
Grasping or Yielding?
Now, the Spirit of Christ is a Spirit that freely yielded. Indeed, I believe that He is the supreme example of yielding. It was just this aspect of His conduct that most clearly marked the difference between Him and Satan. In Philippians 2:6, the Scriptures say about Jesus, “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God” That is the King James Version. But the New American Standard Bible says, “He…did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
Do you see that our lives are in complete and specific contrast to this? Jesus was entitled to equality with God. It was His divine nature, by divine right. He did not grasp at it. Lucifer, who became Satan, was not entitled to equality with God, but he did grasp at it, and he fell. The decisive point of difference was between grasping and yielding. It causes me great consternation when I think how much of our assertion and claiming and demanding is the expression of the Spirit of Christ and how much comes from the other source instead.
I am convinced that the charismatic movement is going to have to face this issue. We are going to have to discern between true and false prophets, true and false ministries, those who are serving God in spirit and truth, and those who are not. Miracles are not the decisive point of difference. The mark that separates is the Spirit of Christ: “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9).
God’s ultimate plan
Do you know what I believe about the charismatic movement? I believe it’s just an interval between two waves. One wave has been going out; another wave is coming in. In between, there is a mess, isn’t there? A churning up, a lot of dirt and mire churned up, a kind of confusion, two forces going in opposite directions. That’s the charismatic movement! It is not God’s ultimate plan. Believe me, something else is coming that is going to be orderly, disciplined, Christ-honoring; and it’s going to promote humility, brotherly love, and each believer esteeming others better than himself.
As far as I’m concerned, the day of God’s individual man of faith and power is on the way out. I say that without being critical of any man who may ever have qualified for that title. We need to realize that God works in different ways at different times. He doesn’t go on forever doing the same thing. Some Christians are not prepared to accept that. They find a success formula that works, and they go on until they’ve worked it to death.
I am reminded of what Paul said to the men of Athens in Acts 17:30. Speaking about their many, many centuries of idolatry, he said, “The times of this ignorance God winked at.” To wink is to close your eyes for a brief moment. So, for a brief moment, God voluntarily overlooked that ignorance.
Many people argue, “Well, God let me get away with it for ten years, so I’m going to go on getting away with it.” No, you aren’t! God winked at it, but now He has opened both His eyes; He’s looking right at it, and He’s saying, “You’d better change.” And when God says, “You’d better change,” my advice is: Change! If you don’t, God has ways of making sure you understand the lesson.
This article is excerpted from The Grace of Yielding, Chapter 3, by Derek Prince, first published in 1977 © by Christian Growth Ministries Publishing, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA.
Derek Prince (1915–2003) was born in India of British parents. Educated as a scholar of Greek and Latin at Eton College and Cambridge University, England, he held a Fellowship in Ancient and Modern Philosophy at King’s College. He also studied Hebrew and Aramaic, at Cambridge University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While serving with the British army in World War II, he began to study the Bible and experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. Out of this encounter he formed two conclusions: first, that Jesus Christ is alive; second, that the Bible is a true, relevant, up-to-date book. These conclusions altered the whole course of his life, which he then devoted to studying and teaching the Bible.