The reason I have a problem with the "death to self" concept is because that is not how scripture speaks. It never talks about a process of "death to self," it doesn't refer to "self" as a bad thing, it doesn't equate "death" with "denial of fleshly desires." To call not choosing something I otherwise desire "self death" is going overboard regardless of how hard it is. I'm not saying this to mince words either. I genuinely think we make struggles much greater by attaching such horrid terminology to them.
Scripture says "walk by the spirit & you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh." It doesn't say "fight the flesh." In fact scripture says we aren't to "wrestle against flesh & blood." Fighting the flesh & trying to die to the flesh is walking with your mind set on the flesh rather than walking with your mind set on the spirit. The spirit will guide us to control & take care of the flesh. The mind is part of the flesh. We renew the mind & renew the flesh & use it to walk by the spirit. The flesh is separate from our identity because of Christ but it is not separate from our experience. If we abuse ourselves with a "death to self" mindset we'll end up worn out & bitter.
Scripture speaks for "self-control." It goes so far as to say that a fruit of the spirit is "self-control." Now tell me, if self is a bad thing, such a bad thing that it needs to DIE, such a bad thing that it needs to die DAILY (as if it has some evil resurrection power), why would the Spirit tell you to use SELF-control? Why would something so wicked that it has to be killed over & over like Jason be what you would want to control you?
The truth is your new creation in Christ Jesus is your ONLY self. It is your spirit created in the likeness of God that shares in His divine nature & is united as One with His Spirit. When you identify your "self" as your flesh (& if you think you should "die to self" you have to be, if not you are saying you want to kill God because your spirit is one with His) you are actually walking by (setting your mind on) the flesh & empowering it. You are "putting on the old man" (putting him on your mind).
Romans 8:6 says, "The mind set on the flesh is DEATH." Take that literally. If you are thinking "I need to die to self," "I must crucify myself," "Christians should die daily," & the like OBVIOUSLY your mind is thinking about DEATH thus your mind is set on the flesh. Romans 8:6 then says, "the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." So if your mind is thinking about life, like the abundant life Christ gave you, & peace (murder is not peaceful) your mind is set on the spirit.
Yes we kill (stop) the deeds of the flesh but Romans 8:11 says, "God will give life to your mortal flesh through His Spirit, who lives in you." "Death to self" is the opposite of what the Spirit directs you to do. The Spirit wants you to have self (spirit) control that means "LIFE FROM SELF!"
For all related posts see our page Life from Self