Thursday: Die to Self Every Day
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Paradoxically, it is only by dying that we may truly live. When baptized, we (ideally) died to our old nature and rose again to a new life. It would have been wonderful if the old man of sin had permanently died when we were buried under baptismal waters. Sooner or later, however, all of us have discovered that our past habits and tendencies are still alive and do strive to regain control of our lives. After our baptism, our old nature has to be put to death again and again. That is why Jesus associated the Christian life with a cross.

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

What does Luke 9:23-24 mean?

Many think the cross they have to bear is a serious sickness, unfavorable circumstances in life, or a permanent disability. While any of these surely is heavy, the meaning of Jesus’ words goes further. To take up our cross means to deny ourselves daily. Not just once in a while but every day; not just a part of us but our entire being.

The Christian life is a cruciform life. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20, NKJV). In the ancient world, the victims of crucifixion did not die immediately. Usually, they agonized for many hours, sometimes several days, while hanging on the cross. Our old nature, although crucified, fights to survive and get down from the cross.

It is not easy to deny ourselves. Our old nature lingers on; our old man doesn’t want to die. Moreover, we cannot nail ourselves to the cross. No man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.

It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. . . . Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk safely. — Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 159, 160. There must be a daily surrendering to the Lord.

When was the last time you died to self? What does your answer say to you, especially in light of today’s texts?

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Thursday: Die to Self Every Day — 15 Comments

  1. Some Christians do not subscribe to self-denial or dying to self, perhaps because God’s people are to be the head, and not the tail, at the top, and not the bottom (Deuteronomy 28:13); and to deprive oneself of some upward mobility benefit or entitlement sets back the selfless to the position of the tail or the bottom. In short there is an attempt to claim the best of both worlds – this one and the next.

    Christ in unmistakable terms called His followers to self-denial (Luke 9:23), to walk the path he took while on Earth. This means preserving an awareness of our privileges and being mindful to give up some of our advantages so that others in real need might benefit from the Lord’s property which we hold in trust.

    Does our budget for entertainment, other pleasure indulgences, or common stuff, when set against help for the starving and otherwise deprived testify of bowels of mercy or a Christ-like character? (Matthew 5:7)

    Would it be a good idea, as EGW suggested (WM p. 273), to keep a self-denial box in the home, and use it?

    Self-denial also means a consciousness of how what we participate in affects the restoration work God would do in us, and whether our activities serve to advance or hinder God’s kingdom in any way.

    Can we invest much time in competitive activity, which cultivate desires to outdo others and engender rivalry; obsessively parade self-portraits (pictures) wherever there are eyes to see; engage in compulsive shopping or feast on cheap television comedy for stress relief and not expect some effect on character development? There is really no neutral activity. Everything we do takes us either in the direction of Heaven or the other place.

    It may be necessary to deny oneself of what seems ‘harmless’ if it simply consumes time, without any real value; for the enemy may find a way to use such to keep us focused on self, or at least keep us away from that which is profitable and fosters growth.

    As we grow and spiritual discernment increase we set aside some things which were formerly thrilling. The attractions of this world grow dim, strangely so.

    Growing in Christ demands constant effort, and hence the need to die to self daily.

    Like(37)
    • Hugh- you thought this out very well. Dying to self is hard to do in our own strength. God has given us the tools to do so if we would just utilize them. Dying to self perfects our character in Christ.

      Like(7)
      • Lavina, I think that dying to self is part of forming the character of Christ. The other part is living in Christ continually by choosing that His Holy Spirit will be our motivation in every experience and issue of our lives.

        Like(0)
  2. The writer of today's lesson is very insightful involving the christian walk. It is interesting to me that Jesus died earlier than expected. When He gave up His Spirit to His Father in Heaven He died and did not have to have His legs broken (as foretold in prophecy) because He was already dead.

    Wouldn't it be nice if we would give up our selfish spirit early and die to self and then accept what God is pleased to give us. Wouldn't we be so much happier. This can be done through the practice of "watching and praying." In this we can be on continual watch in every situation lest selfishness take charge of us and we can be ready to give up our ego at every point in our life and let God's Spirit take us through the experience motivating us like the driver of a vehicle--empowering us to go in the direction of repentance from our selfish habit patterns teaching and encouraging us in newness of life (new habit patterns).

    Like(14)
  3. yes truly,dying self and abide in Jesus is only ways for believer.than please pray to me to died self and to live in the redeemer.

    Like(10)
  4. Any being, that had live and died stay’s dead, in the natural way of life
    If the old man died (sins of the flesh) he will stay dead. Then it would mean that he never died. An upshoot is from a dead top , and so it is when the old man dies the upshoot is the new man in Christ growing from day to day unto the full stature in Christ Jesus
    "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame." Heb. 6:1-6. To make reservation for sin, is as it were to dig your own eternal grave.

    Like(1)
  5. It is no wonder that Paul said "not I but Christ that lives in me." It is as we allow Christ daily to live out his life within us that we can truly stay connected and grow. Hugh I endorse every word of your comment. That is the only way we can grow. Too many of us are too comfortable where we are. There are higher levels and newer heights to gain in Christ and these can only be achieved when we deny ourselves of any worldly pleasure that gets in the way of our relationship with God. One question to ask ourselves in the activities we engage in is, will God be honored, or is is just a mere satisfaction of self?

    Like(4)
  6. We often think in terms of the large things when considering self denial but I think that perhaps it is the small things in life that form the real tests. How do I react to someone who disagrees with me? Do I always have to have my own way? How do I handle imposed authority? Do I always seek to be the boss or do I seek to serve instead or can I be in control yet be a servant at the same time just as Christ was?

    Paul told the churches in Galatia:

    Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21 NKJV).

    Why will they be excluded? Because every single one of those activities are done to serve self without any thought to what it does to others. To me it is the relational attitude we have that matters most not how much we do or don’t do. Some may be able to do a lot while others not so much but like the widow with two small coins who Jesus commended, “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, ‘Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had’" (Lk 21:1-4 NKJV).

    Like(6)
  7. Today's lesson is the death knell for those who hold onto the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. We are to daily drinking from the fountain of God's word for nourishment. we are to daily seeking after God for his goodness that leads to repentance. We are to die daily so that God may live within us daily.

    Like(4)
  8. The message of Luke 9:23,24 is a reiteration of the warning Jesus gave on the Sermon on the Mount:"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" Matthew 6:24 NKJV
    Here in this passage in Luke Jesus equates self as being interchangeable with mammon.
    The sad examples of Judas Iscariot and of even Peter show how impossible it is to hold onto self and still be a follower of Jesus. Eventually self will lead us to betray the other, the King of Glory.

    Like(3)
  9. David wrote:"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart--These O God you will not despise. Psalms 51:17 NKJV The Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th ed. defines contrite as,"feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming."

    David wrote these words after Nathan the prophet pointed out his sin of murdering Uriah and then marrying Uriah's widow.(II Samuel ch. 11, 12:7)If David had followed the example of that other monarch, Herod, who also was rebuked by a prophet for an unlawful marriage, then he would have simply had Nathan locked up prison. And then later beheaded. (Luke 3:19,20 Matthew 14:10)

    Time and again we find examples of people who are found in the same circumstances in sacred history. One finds sorrow for sin and repentance, the other feels unrepentant for the sorrow they caused. Both Judas and Peter betrayed their Lord, yet Peter was forgiven and reinstated, and Judas hung himself. (John 18:15-18, Matthew 27:3-5, John 21:15-18) Truly we see the words of Jesus fulfilled "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men." Matthew 12:31

    And is it not as it should be? For earlier in the lesson we learned that, "unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" John 3:5 NKJV Unless the water and the Spirit become our new parents we will have no new life growing in us.
    Contriteness is evidence of a new life, and it is only by self-denial that we obtain it. In contrast to contriteness we see self-justification, or blame casting. Remember how Adam threw Eve under the bus when confronted for his sin to try to save himself? (Genesis 3:12) We cannot hold onto self and have a "broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart" at the exact same time. The two are mutually exclusive. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24 NKJV

    Like(4)
  10. What advice should I give to a sister who once baptized by non adventist pastor but now consistently attending our sabbath worship? Can she grow in Christ w/ her first baptism or is there any danger w/ a conviction that she can grow w/ Christ w/ her baptism in non adventist way?

    Like(0)
    • "... in non adventist way?"
      Does that mean not fully following the new light she is learning? If so, that "conviction" is delusion. The Bible is clear. "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) I must walk in the light and fully in the light, just as Jesus walked fully in the light, if I want the last half of the verse to be true for me personally. Otherwise, I am condemned by the light. As Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains." (John 9:41)

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    • Sadequl, our salvation is not based on who baptized us. Our growing in Christ is not based on what church we attend. It is all based on God's willingness to save us and our choice to allow Him to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.

      When we walk with Christ in His Way, we are walking in repentance from our old way. Baptized or not, Christ's Way is the Way of our salvation. Baptism is a symbol of what we have hopefully decided. If we have been baptized we have shown the world that we have decided to follow Jesus. After this we must show the world by our actions that we are walking in repentance of our old way and in the newness of our life in Christ.

      If all we did in our baptism was to join a denomination we might consider being baptized with the right reason--that is to die to the old self and selfishness and to be reborn of the Spirit of God's Love. The Way of Jesus brings repentance in our lives. New light will always be shining on our path and we don't have to be baptized every time we learn something new.

      Like(0)
    • I am reminded that early on in the reformation that Ana-baptists were considered heretical by the catholic church at that time. The argument was that once baptized as an infant that it was enough to guarantee acceptance into heaven. The reformers argued that baptism should be based upon a conscious decision of acceptance of God's Plan of Salvation and a determination to follow his teachings. Therefore the question becomes not of who baptized whom, but how deep and fervent is that decision to follow the meek and lowly Lamb of God. To have a deep and life changing baptism of another denomination is of way more value than to have a half-consecrated, peer pressured consented baptism of Adventism.

      Like(2)

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