Vol.IV No.VI Pg.3
July 1967

It Isn't Easy!!

Robert F. Turner

What must I do to be saved? It may be that the single thing most difficult to do is to overcome self. Only to the extent this is done will one see himself as a sinner, in need of salvation. Self must be set aside before there is room for Christ in anything like the full sense of the word; before repentance becomes meaningful.

In this article I am not interested in an academic discussion of which comes first, faith or repentance. The process of overcoming self is not a "step" -- done and over with -- but it becomes the challenge of our whole life as a follower of Christ. In the process of coming to believe that Jesus is the Christ, we begin to see ourself in the true light, and to see our insufficiencies, our sins. A little less of self, and we begin to despise our former ways -- we repent. We cease to follow the old paths, and we determine to walk that way no more.

Faith grows stronger; we cease to make excuses for our own way of salvation, and become more willing to accept whatever the Lord says. When He says, "repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ..." (Acts 2:38) it is stubborn self that argues with the Lord. Those who "give themselves" wholly to the Lord need only to be shown that He really does command baptism "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Pet. 3:21) and self bows submissively before His will. Through faith we act as He directs. (Heb.11:7)

It is interesting -- though usually exasperating -- to watch the struggle between self and faith that takes place as an individual is in the process of coming to Christ. They may acknowledge sin "like everyone else"; or assure you they are "as good" as some hypocrite in the church. They will argue until it thunders rather than admit that someone else knows a little more about the Bible than do they. "What will my friends say?" I believe it is wrong to change religions!" or "My dear old mother was never baptized". These are ways many seek to justify self. They would not apply a single one of these tests to a matter upon which they were fully convinced, and which accorded with the desires of self.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved..." (Acts 16:31) "Repent and be baptized..." (Acts 2:38) "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins..." (Acts 22:16) These are the scriptural answers given to the question, "What must I do?" But inherent in all of them, and the very basis of the scheme of redemption from man's standpoint, is the overcoming of self. Jesus said, "IF ANY MAN WILL COME AFTER ME, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME." (Matt.16:24 See 25)

God made man a free moral agent, giving him the power of choice. Man has chosen sin, and because of it, is lost. (Rom. 5:12) So God did for man what he could not do for himself. God "so loved" man that He gave His Son to die for him. From God's standpoint the gift of His Son is the basis for our forgiveness -- our salvation. But this forgiveness is promised only to those who choose to forsake self, and return to their God and Father.