DYING TO SELF
God can not use a man who has not died to his self-life. Such a person can not go far in the things of God. Christianity is a "call" to live the life of Christ and not our own life. Except we die to the self-life, we will still be living carnally even when we wear a big evangelical or 'Pentecostal' gown and parade ourselves as Christians.
Today some words like self-defense, self-made, self-sufficiency, self-effort, self-dependence, self actualization, among others are gaining grounds and fast becoming a way of life. But God is demanding that those who call on Him depart from iniquity. He that is not born of God cannot die to self. Remember that death speaks of separation, since Adam and Eve died (were separated from God) the moment they ate the forbidden fruit at the garden of Eden (See Gen. 3). Also, remember that man in his natural form (i.e. before he is Born-Again) is dead to the things of God. That is why he can not please God. He is still dead in trespasses and a captive of sin-nature' (John 1:29); this sin-nature has a law and living style and manner that goes with it. That is what God begins to deal with after our spirit (inner-man) has been quickened to life by the last Adam who was made a life giving spirit (Jesus Christ). You can liken this to saving a drowning man from the river or sea, and after the rescue operation, you begin to press water out of his system (body) so that he can be fully delivered and activated. This should be our experience.
When man fell in the Garden of Eden, he fell with every part of him - spirit, soul, and body. His inner man (spirit) could no longer contact God and eventually another god (satan) and his demons made themselves available for him to contact. His soulish realm (will, mind, thought, imagination, emotions, desire, etc) automatically became a lawful captive in depravity (See Gen. 6:5). His body also lost the glory of God that covered it and hence became amenable to sickness, physical death (following the spiritual death) and was brought under the dominion of demons, animals and even the environment. In fact, man fell flat and could not express God who created him) Please pause and revisit [Gen. 1:26-31]. Since then, man (the fallen man) started expressing the fallen nature/himself and not God. He began to express death and not life for he rejected the tree of life (Jesus Christ)-
Beloved friend, the fact that you are born-again is not the end of the matter, but the beginning. Just as the drowning man is 'drunk' with water and needs a pressing or artificial respiration to enable the life within him manifest in the body, we need God to first deal to the root with all that is natural and of self-life before he can make us vessels of gold fit for use in His house and good for the throne (ruling and reigning with Him). For example, the love of money in the name of prosperity, personal ambition, opinions, natural affection, wild emotions, appetites of the body, strange desires, the love of life itself, and all that makes a converted man live unto himself, for his own comfort or advantage, for his own advancement, has to go to the cross. It is no theoretical death but real crucifixion with Christ.
Now, lets look at what the Lord Jesus said to His disciples (not to unbelievers) in Luke 9:23-24. "If any man will come after me, let him deny HIMSELF, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." Beloved God has not called us to live "our lives" but His life. So we must die to our SELF-LIFE before His life can flow through us. Note the expressions "cross" and "lose his life". The cross speaks of a way to lose our self-life. "No cross no crown or throne" We see this in the life of Joseph, David and our Lord Jesus Christ. Again in II Cor.4:8-12, Apostle Paul confirmed the above scripture that he was dying daily having taken his cross. Verses 10 and 11 emphasises death in us for Jesus sake "that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." But note that the "cross" does not refer to a metallic, wooden or painted "cross" signs or object dangling on scene people's neck adoring some church buildings but the ways and means, denials, afflictions, rejections, sufferings, etc.) that God brings our way and we willingly accept them so that the "self" and its lusts can be dealt with for God's life to be released in and through us. Refer to Matthew 25:1-3, and note that what made the wise virgins wise was that they bought oil in their vessels (i.e. willingly paying price for the Holy Spirit to permeate and deal with their soulish/self-life). The foolish virgins did not consider this necessary though they had oil in their lamps (our spirit - Prov.20:27). However, they were all virgins (typifies Christians).
Another scripture that shows us the mind of God in this area of dying to self is John 12:23-25. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it..." Let me ask you now - since Christ has died for us, why is He still demanding that we die so as to bring forth much fruit (not just gifts). It is not spiritual death, or physical death that is required of us but to die to the self/soulish life so that the life of Christ can captivate our soul, and body also. Remember the transfiguration of Christ, and the face of Moses shinning when he came down from the mountain. Dying to self brings us to glory and a place of honour by God (John 24:23, 26). If we are to be true and worthy servants/slave of Christ if we are to see the crucified resurrected and living Christ manifest in us, we're determined to overcome; we must willingly submit to the dealings of the Holy Spirit so that He can lead us to take our cross daily and die to the self-life- our prestige, ego, desires, plans, our wills and opinions, reputations, self confidence, natural affections, our own thoughts, our words, and our own lives. There can not be two Lords on the throne of our life. Jesus has to take over all. Therefore, the "way up is the way down." How? Jesus seeing the glory that was set before him "became obedient unto death even the death of the cross" (Philipian 2:5-1 1). So the way to life and God's glory and exaltation is to diedaily to the self-life. Self must die and decrease so that Christ can increase (Remember John the Baptist).
Presently, most people are begged 'bribed', lured or 'frightened' to follow Jesus with promises like no sickness, no poverty but millions of Naira and Dollars; no lack, no problem, no tiredness, no loss of their properties, no failure in examinations, etc. Beloved, it is a great pain that people get carried away and attracted by all these "goody goody" gospels of what they can get from Jesus Christ. In fact, "we present to them a crown without a cross and hand over to them a barren scepter." We introduce them to the logos and not the Rhema. We speak "peace peace" "sleep sleep" when the trumpet alarm is sounding. We give them materialism and organise seminars and teach them how to make money, all in the name of "prosperity." We are busy substituting big tithes, offering and pastoral birthday gifts with godliness and contentment which is gleat gain. We can go on to expose the abomination that is making the 'Church' desolate (Matt. 24:15).
Many have bluntly refused to die to self so they can not bring forth Christ and bear fruit. They are only satisfied with gifts - speaking in tongues and "Church" activities and positions. They forget that God is emphasizing fruit Now because the gifts are means to maturity and fruitfulness. Please pause and match I Cor.13 with Gal.5:22-26. Many have forgotten that any branch (Christian) that fails to bear fruit will be taken away (John 15:1-2). Because many are 'content' with spiritual barrenness and living to themselves they have come up with two classes of Christians -"Born Again Christians, and "Christians". Please how can you say you're like Christ (Christian) when you are "Lording" or leading yourself and living your life and still proclaim Jesus as your 'Lord and Saviour'. It sounds sweet but we forget that the Lordship of Christ comes after we are saved and through the diligent walk in the Spirit and death to self. T'he whole land is full of people who say that Jesus is the Saviour and Lord yet Fruit (Christ) is not springing forth out of them because they have refused to die to self. Hence, Righteousness (Christ) is yet to look down from heaven (Psalm 85:11) and say "this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased". This is why we have "desolation", "Babylon", "Ichabod" and the likes written on many who parade as Christian today. The abomination of desolation is standing in the Holy place Now (Matt. 24:15) and the so-called "Churches" have become a gathering of all kinds of birds and a place of confusion (Babylon). This is a trumpet sound to you as an individual and to the sincere people of God to flee to Mount Zion where deliverance, holiness and restoration is going on (Obadiah 17). The way to Mt.Zion is through death to self and submission to the Spirit of God who is restoring and recovering a people, a body of believers Now (Read Isaiah 2 and Micah 4:1-5 as you go on). Now, let us conclude with some of the practicalities of dying to self as identified by a Writer.
"What does it mean to go to the Cross to die to the self life? When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ, that is dying to self. When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinion ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient loving silence, that is dying to self. When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self. When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self. When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy or question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances, that is dying to self. When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, that is dying to self. Are you dead yet? In these last days, the Spirit would bring us to the cross "That I may know Him...being made conformable to His death."
Like the Philippian Church, we need to hold fast to the cross. And when others see a crucified people highly anointed of God, moving in deep revalation, imparting life and bearing much fruit of the Spirit ... then there will be a great cry go forth from the earth ... "Let us go to Zion." Let us hold fast the Head, exalting Jesus with all that is within us. Let us hold fast the Body, we need one another and we need the Ministries that God has set in the Body for our perfection. Let us hold fast the Word, it is rich and getting richer to us all the time. Let us hold fast the Cross, it is way to glory and our safe-guard against self-exalting spirits. Thus, we shall obtain the Kingdom, and thus shall we be a credit to the Gospel, and an example of that which God has created to be consecrated unto Himself." God bless you and please avail yourself of the grace which is sufficient and willingly begin to carry your Cross today, and start dying to your self-life. Are you ready?
Books to help you on this topic:
- Salvation of the Soul
by Watchman Nee