A sword will pierce your own soul too. (Luke 2:35)

Not long after the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord according to the Law of Moses. There they encountered a righteous man named Simeon, who had been waiting for “the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25), for the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he saw the Savior of the world. When Simeon saw the Christ child, he took Him in his arms and praised God in a song that spoke of this promised child. And then he said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thought of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34).

What Simeon said to Mary can also be said to all the saints of God throughout all ages. For all those who love and follow Jesus, a sword will pierce your soul, just as it did Mary’s. Jesus Himself made it clear that there will be great pain for those who chose to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Perhaps there is no greater pain than that which comes from denying self. By nature, self sits upon the throne of life and has no intention of stepping down on its own accord. Even after Jesus shows up, the saints of God must still battle against self-rule, because sin still remains in our lives, even though it no longer reigns over us.

Moment by moment, we are faced with the decision either to live for self or die to self. When we elect to die to self, we choose the sword of suffering, but that sword is wielded by the Holy Spirit. God uses that divine sword to bring us to the end of ourselves. As John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, and He must increase.” In order for the self to decrease, God must do His work deep in our hearts, moving us away from self-centeredness to Savior-centeredness. And this is a painful, lifelong process for the Christian that will not be completed until we get to the other side of the grave. But submitting to this sword of sanctification is the only place where true life will be found.

To be sure, we seek life in the self by pursuing our goals, our desires, and our plans, but there is no real life to be found there. Only when we seek first His kingdom and pursue His goals, His desires, and His plans will His sword slice away the sinful desires of self and fill us with the sweet Spirit of God.

Remember, the battle is fierce because the enemy is focused on tripping you up at every turn. The devil wants you to seek the path of least resistance and live for self, deferring the inevitable pain that will come in the end. But Jesus wants you to seek the path of pain by following Him wherever He leads, because only in Him will you find the life you truly desire.

Yes, a sword will pierce your heart, but the ultimate result is not a painful death, but rather life and growth in the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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