There are a lot of things people are “in to” at Easter; chocolate eggs, marshmallow bunnies, new clothes, lots of candy. Good things all unless they replace God. Jesus did not die for us to have Easter eggs. Jesus died so that he could come in and empower us to put to death our sinful false self. Our false self is the villain that masterminds and perpetrates so many lost opportunities, dashed dreams, and torturous pain. It promises the moon and delivers a sewer. The false self builds like a Ponzi scheme. Easy gains are quickly piled up only to disappear faster than they appeared when the inevitable implosion occurs. Sound financial and investment principles are not long ignored without painful consequences. Neither are the truths found in the bible concerning human nature, what is right, and what is wrong.
Our religious false self presumes, because we are religious, that everything is fine in our relationship with God. We may think our lives need a little “fine-tuning” such as giving a little more time or money to the church, reading our Bible more, talking about Jesus out in public at least a little, etc. Sadly, our fleshly way of living religiously even when sacrificial in service and devoted in discipleship remains outside the loving union of our spirit with God. We remain in control, i.e. our own god, seeking to enlist God as an ally to support our efforts and self-guided choices.
We see a frightening example of this at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus depicts a scene before the throne on judgment day. A group of people appear there and say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Obviously these were serious, dedicated disciples. Their lives had been spent doing “God things.” But Jesus replies to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers”.
Their lives, their ministries, were not grounded in a loving union with Christ. They were religious false selves. THEY WERE SO BUSY BEING IN THE WORLD FOR GOD THAT THEY FAILED TO BE IN GOD FOR THE WORLD.
The religious false self will expend amazing amounts of energy and resources to be in the world for God. We could work at the Manna Center, Genesis House, Ability Tree, New Beginnings, a soup kitchen, or go on a mission trip. But, if we are not in God for the world it has no eternal difference even if it makes life a little easier for some in the here and now.
Oswald Chambers says it well: “Salvation is not merely deliverance from sin, nor the experience of personal holiness; the salvation of God is deliverance out of self entirely into union with Himself.” We live in God for the sake of others.