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The other day I found myself asking “what sin do I struggle with most?” This isn’t something people are likely to ask themselves often if at all, but it reminded me of a similar question I have been asking myself; “What have I been saved from?” It led me to explore the additional questions “what has God emptied me of?”
‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!Philippians 2:5-8
Each question is unlikely to come up in everyday conversation, but all are questions I wholeheartedly believe God wants us to be asking ourselves often. These aren’t questions to condemn, or make you feel guilty or ashamed, but are rather questions to steer you in the direction of emptying yourself.
In the book of Philippians, we see a theme of three key principles to answer these questions. We are going to break these principles down and look at why we should be asking ourselves these questions, as well as the importance of being emptied, filled, and rejoicing always.
What does it mean to be emptied?
To be “emptied of yourself” means to cast off your old self, or your sinful nature. When we make the decision to follow Christ we undergo a transformation. We go from “believing” to applying that belief. We are made new in Christ and must empty ourselves of how we once lived before we knew Christ, of who we were before we gained our new identity as a child of God. The answer to these questions we are asking can be found within this transformation and will continue to shift and change as you continue to be transformed by God.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!2 Corinthians 5:17
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.Romans 6:6
In order to be emptied, it can be helpful to know what we need to be emptied of. Christ died to save us each from our own specific sins. We all face our own struggles. Some of us battle with pride and esteem ourselves higher or better than others. Some of us fight with sloth or gluttony, some with idolatry, wrath or violent behavior, lust, and even envy or jealousy. The sins we face come in different forms, depths, and names, but we all fight sin.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.Colossians 3:5
I determined that sloth is my weakness. I am not intentionally lazy, but man do I lack motivation sometimes. Sometimes I just purely have a hard time correctly prioritizing tasks and then more important things can sometimes fall through the cracks or become delayed. Knowing this about myself makes it easier to give my laziness to God, empty myself of it, and strive to let that nature go.
We will always be faced with temptation for our weaknesses, but in allowing God to empty that out time and again I’m better able to resist, avoid, and become stronger against it. It’s not a one and done or quick fix, but each time we lift it up our yoke is lightened.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.Galatians 5:17
So what do you need to be emptied of?
What do you need Christ to save you from?
Look at where He is transforming your life as you give yourself over in faith. Lift your hands up and give it to God. Allow yourself to be emptied, so that you may be filled again, and rejoice always.
‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; ‘Philippians 1:21-23
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.Luke 9:23-24