Die to Self
Christ came and took my place; I must put myself in His place, and abide there. And there is but one place which is both His and mine,
--that place is the Cross.[i]
o we really believe that the Lord can renew our hearts, transform our minds, and grant us abiding peace and joy? Or, as one after another of our own ideas of success and happiness are lost, do we lose hope?
Life circumstances and the irreversible passage of time intrude upon our goals for the future, and we are saved from bitterness only when we learn to place our hope fully in God’s plans and purposes rather than our own. This is a major portion of the process of dying to self, and in return for this death, we are rewarded with “the surpassing value of knowing Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
When plans of our own making wither and die, we can be encouraged to remember that death is not the end for those who have believed in Jesus. In the same way that Christ’s resurrection transforms the terrible finality of physical death into a blessed doorway to God’s eternal presence, He brings new life from the very sorrows that, apart from Him, would signal the end of our hopes and dreams. The material things we grasp will be lost to us. We can’t keep anything for ourselves, not even our own physical bodies, which are destined to die. But when we release all to Him, His power is unleashed so that the mystery of resurrection—life from what has been crucified—brings new life and new hope.
We are tiresomely determined to protect the labor of our own choosing out of fear of the labor of God’s choosing. We aren’t so much afraid of how much effort God’s plan might require as we are of giving up our right to decide the timing and location of our own service. When we choose to identify with Christ’s death on the Cross, we release all other choices into His hands.
Crucifying the flesh is not the same as getting the flesh under control, and dying to sin is not the same as finding a temporary way around it. Our prayer is not, “God help me to stop overeating,” but rather, “Lord, help me to be rid of everything that hinders oneness with You.”
Pray: Lord, one by one I’ve watched my hopes for self-improvement die. I’m sick and tired at heart, my circumstances have spiraled out of my control, and You are my only hope. But You are the God who brought all Creation into being from nothing at all, and so I know you can make something of me. Help me to know You better and to want You more. Help me to be like You in your death so that I may be like You in resurrection life. I release to You how I look on the outside. Please remake me on the inside so that day by day I resemble You more closely. Take me and form me according to Your will. Amen.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.