God wants us to stop putting our faith in ourselves, he wants us to actually come to the place where we literally have no confidence in the flesh, but have full reliance in Christ alone. The very fabric of our being must become apart through the death and resurrection of Christ, a relationship with God, which is going to strip us of everything we are.
We must come to the place of utter weakness and be stripped of all confidence in ourselves, and then we will find our true self in Jesus Christ. Not some depressing “down-on-self” condition, but a return to God’s original pattern for man: free of obsession with self, and focused upon God.
It is not normal to have high self-esteem or low self-esteem; both are a focus on self, but to leave self alone and to be absorbed with Jesus Christ, weak in ourselves, but fully reliant upon Christ in every way. This is why God allows all kinds of things into our lives, which he uses to strip us of our personal sense of worth.
God is making us conformable to the death of Christ, so that in living this experience, we might become conformed in his resurrection. This process is not enjoyable, because it is hard to learn that life cannot be controlled, it is far too spontaneous and rambunctious to be fully understood.
At some point in our lives, each one of us struggles with wounds from hurtful relationships of our environments. Healthy behaviors result from an identity that is healthy and fully based upon Christ’s performance on our behalf, as a result, we can begin learning to find rest; who we are has been settled in Christ.
It is Christ’s faith that righteousifies those who take their stand with God when it comes to what God has stated his son accomplished for them. It was Christ’s faith and as a result of his faith, his faithfulness that he sacrificed himself and purchased the gift of our salvation.
It is our faith in the accomplishment of Christ's faithful sacrifice that is the means whereby God acknowledges that we have accepted the gift his son purchased. Therefore, God is his infinite wisdom devised a plan whereby he could take the very faith belonging to his son along with its resultant faithfulness and credit that faith and faithfulness to the account of those who believe.
Yet, finding rest sounds rather foreign to us, an idea too unrealistic or too good to be true, because somewhere in our life we have been involved in the relationships of our environments that were based on conditions. Many people involved in religion’s domain are dealing with God on the basis of probation, rather than salvation.
Then God must make a decision in their minds, whether or not to save that individual. Their suitability for heaven depends upon their turning away from all of their sins. If they will simply dedicate themselves to no longer to sin, that is the idea.
Standards may have become so deeply ingrained, that we are not even aware of them, let alone conscious of how to get free from their tyranny, constantly trying to measure up to standards that are higher than we can reach. Paul was motivated in that sense to keep his flesh at bay, to keep those desires of the flesh; the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, to keep it at bay and not let that reign supreme when it came to his activities and his actions.
To bring his body in subjection, as Paul put it, but would he ever be able to do that sufficiently to merit righteousness before God? Absolutely not! That is not the issue, but Paul could do it in appreciation to whatever degree he was capable. Paul is talking about holding the flesh back, keeping it down.
This has nothing to do with performing better works with the flesh; it has nothing to do with enhancing the flesh. Rather, it has to do with suppressing the flesh, not to become more perfect saints or even to become better behaving saints. That was not Paul’s desire.
This is about beating the flesh back, not about making the flesh better. It is about holding the flesh down, bringing it into submission. Do you see the difference in the two? One has to do with elevation; the other has to do with submission, Paul is talking about making the flesh subject to him.
Paul was not trying to become something better through fleshly performance; he has already been made to be the righteousness of God through his union with Christ. Paul had all the motivation that he needed to bring his body into subjection to whatever degree possible for Paul, not allowing it to reign supreme when it came to his actions.