Learning Despair

Surrendering with White Flag

The following is an excerpt from Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray.


Once more: these disciples were men who had been led to despair of themselves.  At the beginning of their three years’ class of instruction they had to give up all they possessed; but it was only at the end of that time that they began to give up themselves.  They had given up their nets, their homes, their friends–and that was right; but all the three years how strong self was!  How often Jesus spoke to them about humility!  But they could not understand Him.  Time after time there was contention amongst them as to who should be chief.  At the Supper table they were still talking about that–who will be first amongst us?  They had not given up self.  As was made manifest more than once, how little they lived in the Spirit of Jesus!

But Christ taught them and trained them.  He revealed to them, time after time, what the sin of pride is, and what the glory of humility is, and when He died upon the Cross, they died a terrible death too.  Think of Peter, the impetuous disciple, having denied his Lord.  Do not you think that in all the sorrows of those three days, from the crucifixion day to the resurrection day, the deepest and the bitterest was this–shame at the thought of how he had treated his Lord?  Then he learned to despair of himself.  At the Supper table how self-confident he had been!  “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.”  But Jesus took him down with Him into death and the grave, and then Peter felt that there was in him, indeed, no good thing.  He had learned to despair of himself.

Perhaps you may say: I think I have given up all for Jesus; my property, my home, my friends, my position, and I think I do love Him, but somehow it won’t come right.  I do not get the blessing I need.  But are you willing that God, with His searchlight, should discover to you how much there is in you of self-will and self-trust?  Take, for instance, your judgment of people; how you speak just what you like, and what you think right, and have not yet learned to study the humility and tenderness and gentleness of Jesus.  That is self.  You as a Christian are doing the work, and you look to God to help and bless.  But that cannot be.  God must first bring each one of us down into the place of death.

Do you know what the death of Jesus means?  It means this–that Jesus said to His Father, in effect: Here is My life, so precious to Me, My life which has been sinless.  I have yielded it to Thee in death.  He went into the grave saying, “Into Thy hands I commit”–I give away, I intrust–“My spirit.”  And you know what happened.  Because He gave up His life so entirely, and sank into the thick darkness of death and the grave, God raised Him up into a new life and a new glory and a new power.  God raised Him from the grave to glory.  It was the death that was the secret of the resurrection.  And, if you want to be filled with the Spirit and the risen life of glory you must first die to self.  The apostles were men who had been brought to an utter self-despair, men who had lost all, and who were ready to receive all from God in heaven.

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