I no longer live. Those are very powerful words. They are transforming words. They are transforming because they affects how we live the Christian life. Tuesday we talked about our union with Christ and partaking in his crucifixion. In God’s eyes, we died and now we live in heaven according to Ephesians 2:6, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Our new position demands a new way of living. We can no longer live.
In Luke 9:23 Jesus said this to the crowd, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (NIV) Even before Jesus went to the cross, he taught us how to be his true followers. We must die daily to ourselves. We must remember that we were crucified with Christ and sit in the heavenly realms.
What exactly does dying to ourselves mean? Let’s look at Paul and his transformation. According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary, “the self-righteous, self-centered Paul died.” What evidence do we have of Paul dying to self? “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrews of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Phil 3:4b-9 NIV)
Paul put to death, or considered as garbage, everything he previously thought made himself worthy. According to his world, he was important because he was an Israelite. He was a Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews! He kept the law flawlessly. He found his identity and worth in his heritage and religious status. Paul thought of himself as righteous because of his obedience to the law. He was a self-righteous Pharisee with a superiority complex.
After Christ, Paul chose not to think of himself in those terms any longer. He did not count his worth according to his culture. He put to death who he was before Christ. In fact, Paul referred to himself in the New Testament as a bond servant or slave of Christ. That is quite a transformation.
Just like Paul, we need to put to death what we have previously put our confidence in. What makes you feel valuable or important? What confidence are you putting in the flesh? Whatever it is, count it as garbage.
We need to focus on our new identity in Christ. We can start where Paul did and think of ourselves as bond servants of Christ. Bond servants don’t have their own agendas, goals, dreams and hopes. Their one objective is to serve their master well and trust their master to take care of them.
How well are you putting to death your confidence in the flesh? How well are you giving up your agenda, your goals, your dreams and hopes? Is serving the Master your highest priority? How well are you trusting the Master to take care of you?
It isn’t always so easy to remember our new identity. Old thought patterns don’t change over night. We have to constantly remind ourselves who we are in Christ and put to death who we were before Christ. Rehearse to yourself, I am a bond servant of Christ. Jesus what do you want me do today?
One of the other parts to dying to ourselves is over-coming our sinful tendency to be self-centered. So we will look at that on Saturday. I hope you are encouraged and blessed. I picture all of you sitting across the table from me enjoying our time together. I pray it is the same for you.