JACOB -- THE CONQUEST OF SELF
A. Any person's greatest problem is himself. It is not his circumstances or enemies - it is within.
1. The conquest of self is the most important conquest of life.
2. The conquest of self reaches its greatest realization in Gal 2:20.
B. Jacob of all the characters in the Bible fought, struggled and finally mastered the flesh.
II. You are Told to Express Yourself
A. We forget that man is born in sin - in sin did my mother conceive me. Man's nature is inherently wrong.
1. Evil is carried within us like an infectious disease.
2. That's why our world is a place of violence and unrest (James 4:1-2) is very clear as to where our problem comes from
But what about the feuds and struggles that exist among you - where do you suppose they come from? Can't you see that they arise from conflicting passions within yourselves? You crave for something and don't get it; you are jealous and envious of what others have got and you don't possess it yourselves. Consequently, in your exasperated frustration you struggle and fight with one another.
You don't get what you want because you don't ask God for it. And when you do ask he doesn't give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit - you want only to satisfy your own desires.
3. This is the result of the foolish notion of self expression.
B. There are others who say Suppress Self
I. If self is essentially sinful, then the thing to do is keep it under. It's the old sit on the lid philosophy.
2. But Jesus makes it clear that the lid will pop off and self will be revealed as to its real identity.
3. Matt 15:19-20 Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, adultery, murders, thefts and false witness.
4. So it is just as ineffectual to suppress self as it is to express self. If you suppress steam in a boiler you will have an explosion.
III. The Secret of Self Conquest is Twofold.
A. First we must realize there is an old self and new self.
1. The old self is what we were as a result of human birth.
2. The new self is what we are as a result of the New Birth.
3. The secret of conquering self is neither expressing or suppressing it. That leads us to the second thing:
4. It comes by supplanting the old self with the new.
5. Christ in you is the new life and the new means of conquering the appetite of the old self.
6. Rom 6 says if we be dead with Christ we believe we shall also live by means of him.
7. Yield yourselves to God as those that are alive from the dead.
8. We can express ourselves or we can express Christ. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not the old I but Christ giveth in me.
B. This is the secret of the conquest of self.
1. All of this is a rather lengthy introduction to Jacob - the man who learned to conquer self.
2. In Jacob we have a man who was both a schemer and a dreamer.
3. He wanted to serve God but he always brewed up some selfish scheme to help God out.
IV. Jacob, All Through His Life was Strong without God.
A. Legend has it that Jacob was a man of supernatural strength.
1. Even in his combat with the angel he was victorious until the angel touched his thigh and crippled him.
2. Jacob was a determined and strong willed man.
3. Up to this point that strength was always self centered.
4. He was not the master of himself but was mastered by his desires, ambitions and plans.
B. Now he has to face himself and this brings us to the turning point in his career.
1. What happed to Jacob as he wrestled with the Lord is a picture of His dealings with His children today.
2. For once Jacob was not the aggressor but the defender.
3. He did not wrestle with the heavenly visitor the Man wrestled with Him.
4. Jacob was not seeking something from Him - He was seeking something from Jacob.
5. Hour after hour, he fought and struggled as much as we admire his courage, it was misdirected, for he was in reality resisting God.
6. He was preventing the conquest of self and a new and even greater strength in his life.
7. W. H. Griffith Thomas has recorded a similarity between Jacob and many of us today in "The Devotional Commentary on Genesis.'1 He presents it in these words: "We do not realize that all these untoward circumstances, these perplexities, these sorrows, are part of the divine discipline and intended to bring us to the end of ourselves.
8. Thus we struggle, strive, fight, and resist, all to no purpose. God had been trying to get Jacob to trust Him all these years. He met him at Bethel with vision and promises, yet how poor was the response. He met him again during those years in Haran, using
disappointment and opposition to lead to trust, but with little or no effect. Now comes the crowning attempt to break down this man's self confidence and to lead him to lean, to trust and to wait on his Covenant God.
9. What, you ask is wrong with self confidence? Must one always be depreciating himself? There is a right and a wrong kind of self-confidence. The wrong kind was Jacob's kind before Peniel. It was his trust in his cunning, selfish, ambitious self. It was his trust and confidence in a self that was not conquered and mastered by God. The right kind of self confidence says with Paul, "I can through Christ."
C. After an all night struggle with God, Jacob finally gives up and pleads for God to bless him.
1. It was the dawning of a new day for Jacob, the conniving, the scheming are over for Jacob.
2. The job was so complete God gives him a new name the old Jacob is done - Israel is the new name.
3. He is now a Prince with God.
V. The Cost of This Experience was Great for Jacob
A. Had he learned this sooner he would have saved himself the handicap of being a cripple all his life.
1. But it was worth it all for it meant for Jacob a new self.
2. Instead of Jacob the cunning, conniving, deceiver we have Israel he now leaned upon the Lord and trusted him with the events of his life.
B. It Meant a New Fellowship
1. It was fellowship with God on the of a transformed character.
2. Israel now walked with God. He had a new insight and foresight. was a calm courage along with a renewal of spiritual power.
3. Now he was more than a conqueror He was a joint heir with Christ.
4. Jacob a strong man made weak in order that he would find his true strength and through it make conquest over the flesh.