The following conversation started based on this statement–The term “die to self” is not found in the Bible. Those who have received Christ have already died and have received a new heart that is free from sin.
Todd: you come to Christ denying yourself. And that means you take Christ on His terms, not yours. The proud sinner wants Christ and his pleasure, Christ and his covetousness, Christ and his immorality, but you don’t get Him on those terms. And then once you’ve come to Christ, Jesus is saying here it becomes a way of life to deny yourself. A happy way of life, admittedly, is it not? For I’m not happy when my self acts, I’m happy when the Spirit of God acts in me. Joy comes to me in obedience, in holiness.
Arthur Pink said, “Growth in grace is growth downward. It is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves, it is a deepening realization of our nothingness. It is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.”
That’s why in Colossians 3:5 it says we have to commit suicide. We have to mortify our members that are on the earth. We have to put off, Ephesians 4:22 says, the old man, corrupted by lust.
So, self‑denial then is the way in and it becomes the life pattern. We say no to self and we say yes to the Spirit of God. As long as we’re in this body, “the flesh” we will have to deny our natural reaction. Now we are in Christ, and yes we should hate sin…this is our position in Christ. That is how corrupt our flesh is..
Louie: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ….” He is the “All” in our nothingness for sure. We have already been co-crucified with Christ. Reckoning ourselves dead is the only way the Christian life is lived because it’s really Christ living it. I am not in competition with Him as if I am going to attempt to live it. As far as mortifying the members upon the earth, I don’t think those are who I am. In other words, dying to fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, etc. isn’t dying to self. I am a new self in Christ and that new self is a right self therefore I don’t deny it (the new self). I am at home with who I am in Christ. He doesn’t operate through me in spite of me. In fact He operates through me because of me. You see the invisible God makes Himself visible through common, ordinary folks who have come to see themselves as having died (already) not still dying to sin and the Law.
Todd: Rom:7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin.
15 For I don’t know what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do.
16 But if what I don’t desire, that I do, I consent to the law that it is good.
17 So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.
18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good.
19 For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice.
20 But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present.
22 For I delight in God’s law after the inward man,
23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, the sin’s law.
So Paul did recognize that how corrupt the flesh is…that why have to die daily not for Salvation, but deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him…We wait with anticipation for our Glorify body. I am not argue your point, but we still have the flesh.
Louie: We do have flesh but flesh is not me (self). Romans eight tells us “you are not in the flesh if the Spirit is in you.” “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). This is why we are told to walk in the spirit and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh. In fact the real you (spirit joined to the Holy Spirit) doesn’t want to sin. On the other hand, the flesh is apt to do anything!
Todd: If I ask you another question; who lives your Christian life? Who? It’s a basic question. Come on, you’re doing this every day. Who’s doing it? You say, well, it’s me. That’s too simple an answer. If you’re living the Christian life, is it you or is it the Holy Spirit? Look, you don’t want to take credit for the good stuff, and you don’t want to blame the Holy Spirit for the bad stuff, so who is it? See, you have the same dilemma. Let me help you. The apostle Paul said this: “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I.” So, he didn’t understand it either; that’s the reality of it.
Louie: Well, that’s where I have to disagree with you. The Apostle Paul understood totally! The Romans 7 chapter is Paul walking us through what it looks like when someone is attempting to live the Christian life by obeying the Law. Of course obedience to the Ten Commandments was never why they were given in the first place. In fact they were given to show us our inability not our ability. The Apostle Paul’s great revelation in that chapter is he (we) have been truly delivered from trying. In Romans 6 we read we are dead to sin. In Romans 7 dead to Law. Romans 8 teaches us we are free in the Spirit! Galatians 2:20 is a one verse summary of Romans 6-8 wherein we discover the Christian life is in fact only lived by Christ but it’s in, through and as us. You see we are in a union with Christ. So when someone does “good stuff” it’s obviously Christ. On the other hand, if they do “bad stuff” it’s the enemy. Of course that begs the question of accountability. You might say, “Well, you’re blaming the devil for your sins and don’t want to own up to them.” What I’m saying is we are not the source of “righteous” deeds or “sinful” deeds. We are in fact always joined to another whether it be Mr. Sin or Mr. Righteousness. The good news is when we “sin” as a believer we are actually acting contrary to our nature. We have been born from above and are partakers of His Divine nature. We only sin when we are deceived or have forgotten we have been cleansed and transformed into a new creature in Christ.
Todd: Now, this is like trying to unscrew the inscrutable. You really cannot resolve these divine tensions. If we talk about the doctrine of the security of the believer, that we’re held safe by Christ, you can’t talk about that without flipping it over and talking about the perseverance of the saints. We will enter into glory if we continue in the faith. Every major doctrine regarding salvation in the Scripture, and many beyond salvation, have within them an apparent paradox that cannot be resolved on the human side. This is one of the evidences that God wrote the Bible and not men, or they would have eliminated all of those unsolvable paradoxes.
Louie: I was just saying this to Tracey as you were writing. When we are a spirit living in a earthly, temporal body, life is definitely lived in paradox but I wouldn’t say Paul didn’t understand it. I think He knew full well that He and Christ were joined therefore he “worked out his own salvation and yet it is God who works in you to do it.” Good stuff!
Louie: I love how this discussion of “dying to self” circled right around and found its way into Romans 6-8 which I believe is the center of the Apostle Paul’s revelation and what he taught everywhere.