Thursday, February 21, 2013

Die to the Lie of "I Must Die to Self"

Colossians 3:5 says to "Consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed." Why consider it? Because it is already true. You don't have to kill it. Just like we are already dead to sin & dead to the law we are already dead to the lusts of the flesh. Galatians 5:24 says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus HAVE crucifiED the flesh with its passions and desires." It is already done, now we only need to consider it to be true.

This is death to self. What father wants his child to do this?
This is supposed to be a good thing.
We take "dying to self" as an expression of "denial of desires" but scripture doesn't use that expression or speak that way about how we are to live. I think using the concept of "dying to self" actually makes it harder to deny those desires because it associates it with something terrible & difficult (death). Think of other places in our lives we use death language like that, "my back is killing me," "I was scared to death," "I'm sick to death of this," "it's do or die," "old habits die hard," & so on.

The Christian life is sold as something where you "die daily." (Paul used "I die daily" as an expression regarding the persecution & peril that was constantly in his life. He said nothing of sin or desires in that context nor did he command anyone to "die"). A life where you make yourself "die daily" sounds like the most miserable life there is. That doesn't sound like abundant life at all. "Dying to self" sounds like the hardest thing in the world & most Christians will tell you that it is. Those poor souls. If they only realized that the death of our old self was pain free & barely ever in focus because our new self was given to us straight away when we first trusted Jesus.

Titus 2 says it is the grace of God, God's love for us, that trains us to reject worldly desires & to have self-control. Why does that work? Because His gracious love has changed us. His love helps us accept the fact that He has already changed us, to consider ourselves as already changed. Scripture never speaks of the exchange of the old man with the new as an ongoing process. In fact it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "The old HAS GONE. The new HAS COME."

Ephesians 6:12 says our struggle isn't against flesh. If you struggle to try to "kill" the flesh it is because you are not walking by the Spirit. If you think you must "die to self," you don't fully know who you are because your self is no longer your flesh. You couldn't possibly want to kill your true self, your perfected spirit that is one with God, so you must be referring to your "self" as your flesh. If you identify yourself by the flesh you are not walking by the Spirit because you have "set your mind on the flesh." You are saying, "I am flesh. I am in the flesh." Romans 8:9 says, "you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." Its not talking about your consciousness, obviously we see & think and move inside of our fleshly bodies. It is talking about your identity. Your identity is not in the flesh.

Satan is the one who seeks to kill. God is the one who seeks to give life. If the way you label your Christian walk is with "daily dying" instead of with "abundant living" you've got a huge problem. What needs to die is the lie. The lie that Jesus didn't do every thing He could possibly do to separate who you are from sin, the law, & the flesh. The one thing He couldn't do for you is make you believe. You have to believe it is finished for you. You have to consider it to be true to experience the wonderful reality of what it means to be a new creation in Christ.

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