Summary: The cost of following Christ, by dying daily to the Old Man.
You ever think about death? Specifically I mean your death? I’ve been following the news concerning the Russion Submarine that went down in the Berent Sea. What a horrible way to die, If I were to make a list of the top ten worse ways to die that would likely be in the top two or three. And it made me ponder my own mortality. In the Bible we read this remarkable statement that Paul wrote, it’s in 1 Corinthians 15:31 (NIV) I die every day. Now isn’t that a charming thought? Every day, every 24 hours, every 1440 minutes, every 86,400 seconds I die, drop dead and fall over in a pile.
Now to be frank most of us have problems with dying once in a lifetime let alone 7 times a week. It was Robin Williams who said, “Death is nature's way of saying, Your table's ready.”
And David Niven who said “I won’t go, I’ll kick and scream and make a terrible fuss” And oh how human was Woody Allens thought when he said “I'm not afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.” But Paul is saying, “not only do I die once, but I die seven times a week, thirty times a month, three hundred and sixty five days a year.
But what is Paul saying, what does he mean by “I die every day” Surely he doesn’t mean “die” in the strictest sense of the word which means “To stop living, to become dead” I mean really, let’s think about this, that would get a little old wouldn’t it having the system shut down every twenty four hours?
Some translators would contend that Paul is saying “Each day I stand at death’s door” which would reflect the mortal danger his ministry put him in. The all we have to do to put that into perspective is to read through the book of Acts. Paul was definitely in a high risk profession. Ranked right up there with being a match tester in a dynamite factory. Very few churches would be interested in Paul as a pastor. He was forever in trouble with the law, being run out of town and if he wasn’t being scourged he was getting stoned. A man like that in the pulpit, well he just wouldn’t do the image of the church any good at all.
So it was in a very real sense that Paul encountered death on a daily basis and if you talk to people who go through those types of experiences they will tell you that in order to cope they either ignore the possibility of their demise or they face death and come to grips with the reality of their own mortality. And so maybe in this statement I die every day Paul has simply found a way to deal with this constant specter of death that hovered over him.
However if we look at this one statement in the context of some other scriptures such as
Romans 6:6 Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. or Romans 6:2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? and in Galatians 2:19 . . . I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. So I would suspect that Paul was speaking of something greater then a literal death, and something infinitely more painful then mere physical death. You see I think that what Paul was experiencing was a daily crucifixion of self.
Paul realized what every one of us comes to grips with ant that is the dual nature of humanity. In various places in the Scriptures Paul refers to our natural self as the “Old Man” that is what many would call our carnal spirit. As well we read scriptures that refer to the believer as being a new creature, putting on the new man experiencing the new birth or becoming new.
Ephesians 4:23-24 Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true.
One astute person described it like two dogs fighting inside of him, one representing evil and wickedness and one representing goodness and purity. Someone asked him, “Well which one wins” and his response was “Whichever one I say sic him to”
What Paul was saying was the first thing that he had to do every morning of life was to grab the old man by the throat, wrestle him to the floor, stretch him out on a cross, try to hold him in place well he got the nails out of his mouth pick the hammer up from the floor and hammer the old nature down. Every day Paul started by dying, dying to self and to the old nature, or carnal spirit or whatever you want to call it.