Death to Self

There are many means of death. Most of us experience a slow process that takes seventy or so years, where we gradually lose our skills, facilities, abilities, and eventually life functions. Others are cutoff in mid-stride from numerous afflictions, accidents or even crime. What does your life consist of? Perhaps it is your pursuit of happiness; for much of the world survival is a full time pursuit. Yeshua said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)

Lest we head off in our own strength and human effort, we should consider Peter who was a close friend and disciple of Yeshua for His whole ministry and was a leader among the followers. “Peter asked, ‘Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Then Jesus answered, “‘Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!'” (John 13:37-38) Our best intentions are weak and unreliable, however sincere, but the Holy Spirit empowers and leads in ways and acts that are pleasing to God.

Let the Spirit lead you to the cross where you will experience the death of self on the cross, following Yeshua’s example. Not physical, but spiritual, nevertheless enough pain for the self to cry out as it is denied its wants, stripped of pride, insulted, feeling loss and sorrow. Isaiah described Yeshua, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:3) It was necessary that He would suffer and experience pain as He bore that which we deserved. As followers we are in a process of being conformed into His image. (Rom. 8:29) 

Dieterich Bonhoffer coined a phrase “cheap grace”, which is grace without discipleship, without the cross, without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. I saw an article addressing “Lordship salvation”, which is the idea that we can have Jesus as Savior, but not necessarily as Lord.  Advocates cite John 3:16 and Romans 10:9, which are valid scriptures addressing salvation by grace alone. However, Yeshua said that salvation and obedience go hand in hand: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). These debates miss the central aspect that brings reconcilliation – the Holy Spirit. We cannot obey and fully please the Lord in our own strength and human effort. “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” (John 6:63) 

Is it time you addressed the paradox of obeying and loving God? (John 14:15,21) Have you surrendered to the Holy Spirit and desired all He wants to release in and through you? “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you….The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:11,16-17)

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