Apostle Paul in Romans 7:18 explained to us how detrimental human nature could be. He acknowledged the fact that as human, he possessed a ‘sinful nature’ that always wanted to have its way, and thus, debar or restrict him from doing what God wanted him to do. He wrote thus: “I truly delight in GOD’S COMMANDS, but it’s pretty obvious that not ALL OF ME joins in that delight. Part of me covertly rebel, and when I least expect it, they take charge.”
This delicate but truthful statement led Apostle Paul to condemn himSELF finally and cried out to God for help: “Oh, what a WRETCHED man I am! Who will deliver me from this life that is dominated by sin?” Fortunately, it turns out that Apostle Paul begins to DIE to his sinful nature through the intervention of JESUS CHRIST in his life. He testified thus, “Thank God through Jesus Christ. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions, where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something different.”
“The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of YOU—your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, [your years of service, your accomplishments, your degrees, your intellect], your anything—then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it [as God intended].” – Ian Thomas
Just like Paul, dying to ourselves is something that we Christians find hard to do. Every human possessed a nature that outrightly delights in doing whatever it wants. In this world, where there is pressure on all sides to replace the love of God for something lesser, to die to oneself is something that nearly every believer is averse to doing. Since we live in a world of instant gratification, dying to oneself is an unacceptable concept. Yet the understanding of SELF and the willingness to DIE is one of the crucial things that validate our Christianity.
Essentially, the Christian life is an ongoing process of dying to self and living for Christ – seeking His will and kingdom and righteousness, rather than our own. Matthew 6:25 detests, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on…”
The latter verse of that passage admonishes “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” But as fallen humans, we are hard-wired to seek our own will above anyone else’s… we want our way in life… and we all tend to see things from our point of view and define the world by how we see it.
Dying to self is not what you want but what you NEED. You need to DIE if you claim and proclaim the name of Christ. You need to die to SELF! Dying to self is a process of denying oneself of the euphoria of this world. Jesus in Mark 8:34 said to His disciples “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must DENY himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
What Jesus mean here by “deny himself” is that: Denying oneself is dying to self(sinful nature). And dying to self requires denying oneself, which ultimately resulted in following Jesus and doing His will. As a believer, we need to die to the extent that what occupies and preoccupies us is this short but powerful expression: “Not my will, but Thine be done” i.e. when we die to self we set aside “our wants and desires” and instead focus on loving God and valuing others as highly as we value ourselves (Mt 22:37-39).
A Christian needs to grow to a level where he could disregard his interests, die to the willful, selfish, sinful parts of himself… he must let go of his plans and what he wants to do. It was the disciples’ instinct to preserve their own lives that caused them to flee from Christ at His arrest, but self-preservation results in a spiritual loss (Lk 9:24-25).
The disciples learned that the Christian life is not about us – it’s all about CHRIST… it’s about putting God’s will over our will… it’s about putting Christ first above everything else, no matter what it costs us… it’s the realization that we are His servants, and as such, our goal is to live for Him and glorify Him in everything we do.
When we came to Christ, we chose to make Him our Lord, and invited Him to come to live in us – in doing so; we chose to give up our will for His. Since we chose to become His child and servant, then we must die to ourselves every day, every hour, every minute, every second — the greatest hope for each of us as believers is to die to self that we might live for Christ.
However, you will never be able to die to yourself unless you are convinced that serving the flesh (our sin nature) is unprofitable. You have to see that it has absolutely no worth as Galatians 5:16-17 put it, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.”
We need to come to detest its very presence. On the other hand, we must come to love the Spirit’s ways – we are to see the glorious work of the Spirit in contrast to the flesh. By understanding their contrasting ways, we will hate one and love the other (Mt 6:24). We refuse to serve our self preferences and become wholly loyal to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.