Summary: This work reveals, from scripture, the need to die to ourselves and live life for others.
DEATH TO SELF
“Die out to self” the old man with the bad breath and thick eyebrows shouted as
he pounded his fist through my back. It is the close of a hot, muggy camp
meeting night. There is a crowd of people shouting and crying kneeling in the
sawdust around the altar. After a message on Heaven and Hell, and a closing
illustration about a girl refusing God then dying at the end of the night, the
invitation is given, and the people come.
Die to self. It is a simple phrase. It is one heard many times by those growing up
in the Christianese abundant, church world. In the heat of the altar call it is used
to mean kill all your personal desires and let God have total control of your heart
and life, stop directing yourself. But, in reality death to self is so much more. It
is dieing to yourself spiritually (letting God have control of your life), but it is also
dieing to your wants, desires, hobbies, needs, career, goals, ambitions, and all
else that is the fleshy me. It is dieing completely to you, and living wholly for God
and His purpose of bringing others to Him and His Kingdom.
However, as Christians true “death to self” is not usually found. Most Christians
are concerned more with being taken advantage of, or cheated out of something,
or taking life easy, and the “what about me” attitude. Who do we think we are?
How good of Christians are we if we cannot even follow the first step to a walk
with Christ, giving all our lives fully to Christ? As we see through the Word, this
is what God requires, true, complete “death to self”.
Paul knew what it was to be completely dead to self.
Acts 20:24 "But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my
course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of
To fully grasp Paul’s heart here we need to look a few verses back in the
chapter. We see what’s happening here is that Paul is on his missionary
journeys, traveling church to church, town to town. He knows that God is calling
him to go to Jerusalem, however, in every church that he goes to prophets are
coming to him telling him (through the Holy Spirit) , “don’t go to Jerusalem, you
will be captured and bound in chains, and thrown in prison”, “bad things are
going to happen in Jerusalem.” He knows that this is true, but he also know that
is where God is sending Him.
It is as if a man and his wife are praying about moving. They both feel as if they
should move to Atlanta, so the husband applies for a job, and they call him for
and interview. The husband gets his plane ticket and everything in order to go.
But, the wife comes to him and says, “I have a bad feeling about this, I don’t
know what it is but something bad is going to happen.” The husband replies that
this is where God wants them so he must do what God is asking. He goes to
Atlanta, he gets through the interview, he gets the job, and he’s excited. On the
way back to the airport he stops at a gas station to fuel the rental car. While there
he gets mugged. He’s a little bruised up, his wallet and money is stolen. But, for
the most part he’s fine. This is kind of Paul’s deal. He’s following God’s will, but
something bad is still going to happen.
See, Paul is not concerned with himself or his life, because he gave everything to
Christ long ago. If it is Paul’s time to die then that is up to God. Paul says, “my
life is of no value to me”, Paul was focused. He lived for God and His purposes.
Even though he knew bad things were going to happen to him, he still had to
fulfill God’s will for his life. It is not about him it is about Him. You cannot hurt
what is dead. Paul was dead.
Galatians 2:19-20 “For through the law I have died to the law that I might live to
God. I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in
me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me
and gave Himself for me.” (HCSB)
According to Jewish law (Paul was a Jew) to eat with Gentiles (non-Jew) was
culturally unacceptable. The people were watching Paul eat with these non-
Jews, and talk about how God wanted these people in His Kingdom. So, to the