Dying to Self
Dying to self and living under the Lordship of Christ is foundational for Christian discipleship. We can explore these foundational truths by exploring the following;
The Lord of lords and the King of kings is calling us to be His disciples so that our lives will bring eternal rewards, glorify God, and serve a use in other human beings’ lives.
However, there is strong resistance in us. When God created us in His own image and likeness, He also created us with free will. We have the freedom to choose life or death, to obey God or Satan, and to walk under obedience to either our own desires or the desires of Jesus.
Have you ever thought of a physically dead person? What are some of the differences between a dead and living person?
Dead people do not respond as living people do because their bodies are dead and decaying. Our old “selves” are like these dead bodies; and after being born again with new wills, we are in a battle where Satan wants our “selves” to respond the way we used to when obeying our old wills.
What is “self?” Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary defines it as an attitude of seeking one’s own advantage or pleasure rather than that of others. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines it as one who is dominated by self-interest and inconsiderate of others, arrogantly asserting his or her own will
Dying to self means denying an attitude of self-seeking and egoism, surrendering our dreams, plans, goals, and wealth to God’s will. It is putting God as a hero in our lives by making ourselves a zero. We are to count ourselves dead to sin and all fleshly passion and live for Jesus. “Count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
The meaning of dying to self
In the simplest form, dying has to do with submitting daily to the will of God.
This is initiated by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and only possible when we make the choice to obey the Holy Spirit in this process. Dying to self in order to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a key point to living as a true disciple. Every decision made and every word spoken should be approached with a constant awareness that we are to live worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1-2).
Dying to self will keep us humble, and reaching out to others will drive our desire to live in community. When we look at the complete book of Acts, we can be in such awe and wonder at the faithfulness of the disciples that we may think it is impossible to live in such a way. In reality, in order to live under the Lordship of Christ, we must learn to die to ourselves daily, and we must live with a compassion that reaches out to people in our cities, communities, regions, and nations.
Dying to self is a daily action
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to carry our crosses on a daily basis so as to follow Him. The Lord Jesus told His disciples in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” In our generation where there are many self-centered ways of living such as self-sufficiency, self-effort, self-dependence, and self-defense, a lesson on dying to self seems awkward.
God has not called us to live “our lives” but His life. And in order to live His life, we must first die to ourselves. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-12, the Apostle Paul confirms the above scripture—that he is dying daily and taking up his cross as a disciple of Christ. He emphasizes the need for death in us so that “the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” Jesus cannot use a disciple who has not died to self.
Let’s pause and reflect on what it will cost us to teach our generation dying to self.
Jesus is our best example for dying to self
Our Lord Jesus said “no” to His own will and “yes” to His Father’s will (Luke 22:42). In Hebrews 12:2, He, the author and perfecter of our faith, endured the cross, thinking nothing of its shame because of His confidence in the joy beyond death. He fully surrendered His life to His Father by praying, “Not my will, Father, but your will be done.” Another scripture that is fulfilled in the life of Jesus is John 12:23-25: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He died to bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God. As the Lord and master of our lives, Jesus is not calling us to do anything that He cannot do or is not willing to do. It is not a physical death that is required of us but rather to die to self so that the life of Christ can consume and control our whole life. Dying to self brings us to glory and a place of honor by God. If we are to be true and worthy servants of Christ, we must willingly submit to the dealings of the Holy Spirit so that He can lead us to take our cross daily. There cannot be two Lords on the throne of our life—Jesus hasto take over all. Self must die and decrease so that Christ can increase (John 3:30).
The practice of dying to self
The practice of dying to self is a process.
It takes discipline every day from our side as disciples of Jesus. We are in a constant battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Every time we face a temptation, we have the choice to overcome it. It is by the constant battle that we are able to fill our lives with the life of Jesus Christ.
An examination of the following bible verses in the Bible helps us see the various things that are in our lives that need to come out so that we can live the abundant life Jesus has granted us (Colossians 3:5-11; 1 Peter 2:1-3; Galatians 5:19-21; Mark 7:20-23). A careful study of God’s word will tell us that there are hundreds of ways our old sinful nature shows up in times of temptation.
Apostle Paul tells us about the lives we need to live as disciples of Christ. He was aware of the spiritual battle in which we are fighting. We were crucified with Jesus (Galatians 2:20) but for us, the process of resurrection is not yet complete. We are dwelling in a world where death and life are battling but our ultimate end is the resurrection (Philippians 3:10-14). In baptism, we give a witness that we have buried our old selves so that we are raised from the dead with Jesus to walk in the newness of life (Romans 6: 5-14).
Dying to self is not a choice but mandatory for a disciple of Jesus
The people of Israel are an example for us in many ways. They came out of Egypt, but many of them were not able to enter the Promised Land because they were not willing to die to themselves and live according to the plan of God (1 Corinthians 10:1-11.)
We are in a wilderness journey right now; we came out of the darkness of Egypt into the marvelous light by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. How we live our life on earth will determine our permanent stay in the Promised Land. Our ultimate call is complete sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One-third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective strategy of training and coaching, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!
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