Dying to self is hard!!
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”Philippians 3:7-8 NIV
EVERYTHING a loss! All that I desire! Love, attention, money, comfort, beauty, control, power, etc. – ALL!?!
Why? For the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus.
This…is…so…hard…to… do!!!!!! A CONSTANT battle! I mean, EVERYTHING? How is that even possible!?!
The Spirit is willing but the flesh is so, so weak.
The thought of it can be overwhelming. However, our loving God does not expect us to instantaneously know how to do this as soon as we become believers. It is a process, a journey. One in which HE is the Refiner, the Teacher.
Many years ago I was going to a biblical counselor to help me deal with an issue during a difficult time in my life. I remember driving away after one session and being overcome with an awareness of the multitude of sins in my heart! With tears running down my face, I cried out loud to God, “I can’t deal with all that! It’s too much!” Then in my soul came the “still small voice” which whispered, “You don’t have to. I am just asking you to work on this one for now.” Tears of gratitude and relief flowed and that is what I did, by God’s strength and grace.
Obedience is not easy; it is emotionally, mentally and even physically painful at times. Often it feels like you are dying, because you are; you are dying to self, to your will, to the illusion of your autonomy, to your dreams, but with the death of those things comes great freedom, peace and joy.
Now, not all the things we love and desire are bad in and of themselves but when they come between us and God; when they become greater than God in our life, they become an idol and sinful.
Desiring the love of a man is not sinful unless you are married to another. Loving our children is good and right as long as it is not more than God. Having money to provide for your family is not wrong, unless it becomes your god. God is to be first and foremost in our lives! Knowing Christ is to be our main goal in life. Anything that gets in the way of that is sin and shackles us.
So how can obedience to God’s ways bring freedom, peace and joy?
He is our Creator. If you created something, gathered all it’s materials, put those materials together, step by step, in the proper order for it to be the best it could be, wouldn’t you know what was best for the thing your created? Wouldn’t you give instructions for how best to use and maintain your creation? It is the same and more so for God, because He is the perfect Creator.
When we live according to the Lord’s instructions, by the way He showed us to live, we are no longer hemmed in and burdened by sin. We find the thing we most need and really want in life; rest, peace and joy.
Rest in His infinite knowledge, which is beyond our capacity.
Peace in His perfect righteousness, which we can never attain.
Joy in being in a right relationship with Him who loves us beyond measure.
Obedience is done not to gain God’s pleasure but should be done out of love for our risen Saviour. He who obeyed His Father, to the point of sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, in submission to the Father’s will. He who then died on a cross, being totally separated from Him, FOR US! So we wouldn’t have to be! When we come to understand how much our Lord loves us, we want to obey Him. We obey and submit our will because we are deeply loved, and because we are so loved we trust the One who loves us.
It is not easy. The Lord knew this. He knew how weak we were and so He sent us a Helper, a Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to help us, teach us and guide us on the journey. He also left us His Word, our instruction manual.
Dear hearts, I urge you to trust and obey the Lover of your soul. It is the only way to truly be free of all that we are slaves to (and slaves we are!). Don’t give up, but strive forward holding on to His Word and His promises. Look to Jesus who is “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2)!