“Not I, but Christ” is the name of an old tract that I first read in the 1970s. I’ve no idea who wrote it, nor when it was written, though I suspect it was penned many decades before it first fell into my hands.
It is a heart-searching piece that the Lord has often brought to mind to convict me of sin.
Scripture teaches that in this world it is impossible to completely “bring your ‘self-life’ to the death” (as we are urged in the last line), for if we ever reach the point where “we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ” (1 John 1:8).
But if we do not long for and fight toward the complete eradication of sin, then we have no hope of Heaven. As Romans 8:13 puts it, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
I hope you will find, as I often have, something of a”piercing sweetness” (to quote Tozer) in these words. (All that follows is from the tract.)
Lord, bend that proud and stiffnecked “I,”
Help me to bow the neck and die,
Beholding Him on Calvary,
Who bowed His Head for me.
The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life. The Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of:
A secret spirit of pride—an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important, independent spirit?
Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?
The stirrings of anger or impatience, which, worst of all, you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproval of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?
Self-will; a stubborn, unteachable spirit; an arguing, talkative spirit; harsh, sarcastic expression; an unyielding, headstrong disposition; a driving, commanding spirit; a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed; a peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?
Carnal fear; a man-fearing spirit; a shrinking from reproach and duty; reasoning around your cross; a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of wealth or position; a fearfulness that someone will offend and drive some prominent person away; a compromising spirit?
A jealous disposition, a secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart; an unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another; a disposition to speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues of those more talented and appreciated than yourself?
A dishonest, deceitful disposition; the evading and covering of the truth; the covering up of your real faults; leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true; false humility; exaggeration; straining the truth?
Unbelief; a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition; lack of quietness and confidence in God; lack of faith and trust in God; a disposition to worry and complain in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensations of Divine Providence; an overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all right?
Formality and deadness; lack of concern for lost souls; dryness and indifference?
Selfishness; love of ease; love of money?
These are some of the traits which generally indicate carnality in the heart. By prayer, hold your heart open to the searchlight of God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24).
The Holy Spirit will enable you, by confession and faith, to bring your “self-life” to the death (see Romans 8:12-13). Do not patch over, but go to the bottom. It alone will pay.
Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord,
Oh, to be lost in Thee;
Oh, that it might be no more I,
But Christ that lives in me.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).