I left the following comment over at Reid’s blog, and decided to expound upon it a bit.
The only people who have ever done things "greater than these" are all people who have been called legalists by today's "believers". People such as Peter, John, Paul, Francis of
Martin Luther, another example, revered for his doctrines of freedom and grace, hated for his discipline and narrow-mindedness.
The people who have done greater things than these all strived mightily to do so.
Know why they gave every effort? Because their effort counted as nothing to them. But today, we call that legalism. And you wonder why people haven't raised others from the dead?
Tell me, do you believe a miracle is possible at any moment? The apostles did. And it wasn’t because God blessed them with more faith than us. It was something else, but we don’t really want to know what that something else was, because we might actually have to do something. Heaven help us if our flesh should have to strain against the will of the world. Do you see it? Do you see the difference?
Paul counted his life as nothing, his flesh as worthless. That is why "effort" wasn’t legalism to him, because he was already beyond his own desires when he made the efforts. And what efforts he made. He strove day and night, and even to the point of death, he was striving.
Find that in a believer today, and he'll be called the world's biggest legalist. Again, you wonder why we see no one raised from the dead?
Do not be confused. If we follow Christ, there is every chance we will be crucified. How attractive does the love of God look now? See the past? See the people who have counted their lives as nothing for the sake of the Kingdom? Today's believers would have you think the Kingdom is for our sake. Those believers KNEW their lives were for the Kingdom's sake. That's the difference.
You may not like this post, it may offend you, but I assure you, no offense is ever intended here. I will add, though, that coming to know the difference between efforts made in the flesh and efforts made in the Spirit is eye opening.
Efforts made in the flesh are difficult, often being compared to pulling teeth, with little or no results towards effective spiritual life. Efforts made in the Spirit are not difficult, in that the decision to make the effort is not a struggle, but a natural response to Christ in us. The flesh may argue here, but those who have strived as Paul strived count their flesh as nothing, so if the flesh screams, they let it.
Is it possible that in our day, we really are more concerned with protecting our flesh than they (Paul, John, Peter, Martin, Francis) were? I can’t help but wonder this strongly when I hear about people being called legalists just because they strive. I can’t help but ask, how would any of us know what a legalist was anyway? Wouldn’t claiming that knowledge be sort of like claiming the right to judge our neighbor?
Why are we so worried about what our neighbor is doing anyway? That, to me, speaks every bit as loudly that the person making the judgment is still living in the flesh, and is very concerned with “appearances”. Again, I wonder, does a man who counts his flesh as nothing worry about how he looks to others? Does he even worry about whether he is a legalist?
I think not. I think to be worried about being a legalist is to be still bound under law, a new law, albeit, but a law nevertheless. It is the law that says you are measured by your neighbor, therefore, do not be seen as “this” or “that”.
I have mentioned “discipline” quite frequently over the last few months. Some shy away from it, while others say they need it. What is the truth?
I don’t think anyone who believes “needs” to be a disciplinarian. But if you want to grab all that the Kingdom has to offer, then I think making the flesh our slave is a necessity. I do not think the Kingdom is static, motionless. I do not think eternal rest means never having to do anything. I think it means being able to do all things because we are in Abba, and Abba is in us.
Is this a legalistic way of thinking? Maybe it is, but I don’t really care. My concern is not for your opinion about me. My flesh says, “Now wait a minute!”
But I say, what is the point? I am found to be loved already by Abba. I am learning that this is enough, and I am learning that my flesh counts for nothing, so why not USE it, bend it, to MAKE it do what I want it to? What can it hurt?