This study is part of a more extensive series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I wanted to make you aware of this entire resource before getting started.
- Believers Guide To The Holy Spirit And His Gifts
- Living A Naturally Supernatural Life
- How To Be Empowered By The Spirit
- What Are Spiritual Gifts?
- Should We Use Spiritual Gifts Today?
- The Motivation For Using Spiritual Gifts
- The Word Of Wisdom
- The Word Of Knowledge
- The Gift Of Faith
- Gifts Of Healings
- Working Of Miracles
- Discerning Of Spirits
- Speaking In Tongues
- Tongues In The Church
- Interpretation Of Tongues
- Activating The Gifts
Becoming Empowered By Dying To Self
I have a sticky note on my computer screen reminding myself to write about dying to self.
Although this is probably one of the essential principles of living a Spirit-empowered life, I placed the principle of dying to self on the end for a reason.
It honestly does not matter if we understand everything there is about spiritual gifts and their operation if we only allow it to be head knowledge and do nothing about it.
That is where the issue of dying to self and living for Christ comes in. You see, as much as I disagree with those that come from the cessationist point of view concerning spiritual gifts, they are right about one thing. We must die daily to the flesh.
For the Spirit to have control of your life, you must begin dying to self and living for God. There cannot be a continual struggle for leadership. Jesus said that unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone.
John 12: 24
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
This is the reason, although there are people out there that operate in spiritual gifts, we see them doing so in ways that do not bring glory to God. They have not died to self and end up using the gifts that were given to them by the grace of God to bring glory to themselves. They have not had many examples of dying to self on Christian TV!
The result of this is that there is not a real harvest produced using these gifts. Yes, people may get healed, and others prophesied to, but in the end, neither comes any closer to a dedicated and committed relationship with Jesus.
The gifts of the Spirit and living out a Spirit-empowered life is to have only one goal. Its purpose is to point to Jesus and Jesus alone. To do that, dying to self has to become a daily occurrence.
Every time, there was a spiritual gift in operation in the life of the early church it was used to confirm and point the way to Jesus. It was at no time used to bring glory or honor to men and entirely at no time was used for financial gain.
If I am to walk in a Spirit-empowered life, then I must decide to die to self. The ownership of my life must be forfeited. My life must stop being my own and be turned over to His ownership.
That is easier said than done. In this “dying to self” verse the Apostle Paul put it this way.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
How Do You Die To Yourself?
Jesus said that we have to take up our cross and follow Him. That is the meaning of dying to self in scripture.
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Now Jesus did not mean that we were to all hang ourselves on a literal cross, but we were to follow His example of denying ourselves.
That is why I am so adamant about certain teachings that promote self-centered attitudes and indulging ourselves. They do not line up with following the example of Jesus. Jesus said to watch Him as He heads to His cross and follow His example.
Now for some of us, it may be giving up the luxuries of the world to go and share the gospel in a foreign country.
For others, it may be giving up having a secure income so that one parent can stay home to raise the kids.
For others, it may be giving up a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s moral law.
Whatever it is, the Christian journey will bring you to the point of laying down your life. It will bring you to the point where you say, “Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord.” You will be asked to die to yourself.
That is what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus. You are following His example of being a servant even if it means suffering.
If you do not crucify your flesh (your human desire to control and dictate the direction of your life), then invariably you will stop being a servant and start being a master, and when you are a master, you end being Spirit-led or empowered.
How Do We Allow Christ To Live In Us?
Dying to self is only half of the equation. The other half is allowing Christ to live in us.
My whole approach to Spirit-empowered living is proactive rather than reactive. That means that I am not just abstaining from what I am not supposed to do, but I am participating in what I am supposed to do.
I have found that the way to have Christ live in me is to relax. I am not talking about meditation or some relaxation technique, but I am talking about not striving to make it happen.
When I am striving to make something happen, it is me that is living in me and not Jesus.
When I give up trying to make something happen, then that is when He is free to make the miraculous happen.
I mentioned at the beginning of the book that I was part of the Foursquare denomination. I was a part of that family for 30 years. They are good people, and I didn’t leave the family for any negative reasons; God just called me to pastor a church that was part of the Association of Vineyard Churches.
When the Foursquare church was started, it was started by a woman evangelist named Aimee Semple McPherson. She is still one of my heroes of the faith today.
However, one of the things that happened is that because God gifted and used her in such a mighty way, people started to act like her and became “Sister Aimee” clones. They were trying to make something happen.
It was, in essence, hype, although it was probably well-meant hype. Emulation is the highest form of flattery.
To allow Christ to live in you, you have to stop trying to be anything else than what God has made you be. That is why when I am with exuberant and demonstrative people, my feathers do not get ruffled.
It is ok, as long as they are transparent and being who God created them to be. The moment they do it because they are performing, then it turns into the hype.
The same is true for quiet and introspective people. I get along great with them. I don’t try to change them. They are being who the creator of this diverse universe created them to be.
However, if they are being “spiritual looking” in church, but they shout and scream at a football game or go wild in Wal-Mart, then it is just another form of hype.
When Christ lives in you, it will be unique, creative, and unique. Why? It is because His love relationship with you will be unique between you and Him.
When you are not trying to be religious or sanctimonious and are just living your life empowered by His Spirit, allowing Him to use you just as you are without pretense, then indeed miracles happen.
People’s lives will be touched.
Jesus will be glorified in you.
Notice how Paul starts out his letter to the Roman church.
Romans 1: 1
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God
Notice that Paul didn’t lose his identity, but instead, he became tied to Jesus.
Who am I?
I am Duke, a servant of Jesus, called to be a pastor, dedicated to the spread of the good news of God.
Who are you?.
Please feel free to use this teaching as a Bible study on dying to self in your home group, Sunday school class or wherever there may be a need.
What are some of the Bible verses on dying to self that have meant the most to you and transformed your life? Please feel free to share them in the comment section below.