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  • Writer's pictureJosh Reading

Dying to self

Updated: Jan 30

I was asked recently 'What does dying to self' really mean?

In answering the question I figured it might be helpful to others to simple post it here as well.

To die to self means to die to ‘selfish’ motivation and move away from the brokenness of our ‘natural’ self.

In our society, many people actually excuse attitudes, behaviours and perspectives that are not in God’s best plans. It is argued that ‘this is just who I am…’. As a believer, we are no longer bound by our past, or our brokenness but we are becoming more like Christ. Thus the past is gone. 2 Corinthians 2:16 – 17 says… So from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. Although we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!”

As we do so, we can focus on God and others. ““‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 22:37 - 40 This shifts us from a place where we are the centre of everything and God becomes our ‘centre’. Out of that identity and security we can love others. Jesus, of course is the exemplar of this. I would encourage you to read Paul’s encouragement to us in this vein of thought in Philippians 2:1 – 11 (great and challenging passage) In Matthew 16 Jesus says… “…“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matt 16:24 – 25 There are things that feed our ego, or our ambitions or even come out of who we are right now that Christ calls us to ‘deny’. Personally, there were ambitions and desires I had that I felt God call me to lay aside, not because they were bad in themselves but they were not what God had for me. The beauty of ‘dying to self’ means we come alive in Christ. So many of the things that we hold onto tightly are actually what keeps us from embracing true life. To give a couple basic steps of dying to self and coming alive in Christ. The journey starts in... 1. Repentance (when we turn away from our life to Christ) We come to God, now as a child, an heir of his kingdom rather than a ‘rebel’ against everything he has for us. 2. It continues in water baptism (a declaration of that change) Water Baptism is crucial because is shouts out loud in a sense that our ‘old life’ has died and we rise to new life in Christ’. 3. It happens us we increasingly know the presence, power and purposes of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 24:45 Jesus says… “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” In Acts 1:8, the gift of the Holy Spirit which brings power for God’s mission is re-emphasised. In Acts 2:1 – 4 we see the Disciples empowered with the Holy Spirit and they even speak in supernatural languages which are then understood in this moment by other nations. To receive the power of the Holy Spirit for his purposes we need only ask in faith. It is also common in scripture and in my experience that others may pray for this to happen in our lives (Acts 19 for instance) 4. It continues in the ‘renewing of the mind’ (Romans 12:1) Renewal of the mind happens as we challenge and correct thinking that is not God’s thinking as we study the Bible, as we discuss what God is doing in us, as we apply those truths and discover life in them. It happens within the context of community. All relationships can be difficult and that even includes Christian community but it is in the context of Christian community that our gifts find their place, where others in the community bring their gifts and help to grow us. It is also the place where we can be ‘on mission’ together, we can be vulnerable and we can even use our strengths, finding purpose and a place. Hope that helps a bit, feel free to shoot me more questions especially through the Divergent Church App 😊

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