When we hear messages about the sufferings and death of Christ, we often learn that Christ dying for us on the cross of Calvary is the basis for being saved. But how often do we hear that we are to die with Christ? As descendants of Adam, we all ‘died’ in him, since death was all he had to pass down to us. Therefore, in our human nature, nothing of God exists naturally. If we truly seek to be holy like God, we have no real chance to do so—unless we first die to our self, or our “old man.” “…seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him…” (Colossians 3: 9-10).
Yet how many of us fool ourself into thinking that we are alive in God, before we have died to our own fallen human nature we inherited from Adam? Being truly devoted to God so we can live to Him can only occur after we die totally to self. Therefore, if we want life in our spirit, we must first die to our old nature.
Yet, how many Christians wonder why they are not successful in living a life of complete victory over sin, even though they may read the Bible, pray, and attend church? Many repent of some sins, without realizing their real need to turn from their own self-will and old nature first. They have not yet learned what it means to die to themselves and to the world. The love and holiness of God has no place to live in their hearts before they die to self.
Jesus told His disciples that “whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). He wanted them to understand their life as being sinful and under a sentence of death. They were to give up themselves, including their own will, goodness and power. Once Jesus had died on the Cross Himself, they were able to see what dying to the world truly means.
If we want to live a life of love and joy in Christ, we need to apply the truth—that death to self, sin and the world is necessary first. After we die to self and sin, the power of a new life becomes ours as the Spirit of God comes in and works through us daily and continually. Then we’re able to appreciate the truth that we have been ‘crucified’ with Christ. Our “old man” was executed on the Cross, along with our fleshly human desires, choices and lusts. “…our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6). We died to sin by Christ’s death on our behalf. Now we are to live to God, in His life.
Once our soul sets out to love God, it will come to hate the “old man” we once were—corrupt through and through. But what could make us willing to bear the Cross of Christ and the death penalty to our old self? Nothing but hating our old life. When we finally hate our old sinful nature so much that we want it dead, then we’re ready to give it up to die the death it justly deserves! Just think—we have the chance to die to our old, cursed self! Oh, how thankful and willing we should be after we hear the call to bear our Cross. This means that we yield our “old man” every day to be crucified (put to death) with Christ.
Once we realize that the power of eternal life can be working in us, we should not only be willing, but also glad to die in order to bring us into the power of life in Christ raised from the dead! But it’s not possible to share the life of Christ until we have surrendered ourself daily to our own death to sin and the world. Our need is to strongly desire to be dead to all sin. Then we are able to live in unbroken fellowship with Christ crucified. The Holy Spirit provides us with strong faith, so we can continue to believe we’ve been joined to Christ in His crucifixion. Once we have it, we can fellowship with Him every day in the Cross.
The Holy Spirit’s great work is to divinely inspire Christ in our heart and life as the Crucified Lord who lives in us. We don’t know just how we receive this new life from God. But we are now able to simply throw ourself on Him, following Christ’s example. Then we can say, as He did, “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.” We can simply and totally depend on Him to raise us up into new life. He will fulfill in us His wonderful promise from His Word concerning how very great His power is in all who believe in Him. This is the same power He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead!
If we will commit to die to our self and the world, we will totally receive Jesus Christ, who was both crucified and glorified, into our heart. Then He will keep us, through His Holy Spirit, who will continually work in us. Let’s therefore pray wholeheartedly that God will teach us what it means to die with Christ—to ourself and the world—so that we can be able to live a glorious new life—in Christ!