Sunday, March 22, 2009

Death To Life

“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” 2 Cor. 4:11-12

Both the natural and the spiritual worlds operate on the death to life principle.

First, let’s look at the natural world: a seed must die and go into the earth to produce life; cells die while new ones come alive; and even a forest fire produces much death that will eventually result in much new growth within that same forest. Death produces new life!

Now let’s move to the spiritual world: we must die to self in order for the life of Jesus to be manifested through us. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (Jn. 12:24).

This principle starts at salvation and continues throughout our spiritual journey. In order to be saved, we must die to self, repent of our sin, and receive the life of Christ. Only then does God begin to live inside of us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said whoever wishes to save his life will loose it, but whoever looses his life for Christ’s sake will find it.

In the same way we were saved, we progress in our spiritual life by dying to self and yielding to Christ. Each and every day we are called to die to any and every thing that goes against God’s will. The above passage says we must constantly be given over to death for the life of Jesus to be revealed in our mortal body.

Being constantly delivered over to death is not a cake walk, for sure. Who likes dying to self? Who enjoys giving up what they want? Who would choose on their own to put others before self?

In addition to going against our flesh, this death to life principle is also counter-cultural. We live in a day that bombards us with messages of “take care of yourself” … “love yourself” … “you deserve a break” … “do whatever makes you feel good.”

As difficult as it is on our own (i.e. the flesh) to die to self, it is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who works within us to give us a desire to live for God; it is the Spirit who convicts us when we live for self; it is the Spirit who moves us to repent of sin; it is the Spirit who prompts us to yield to God; and it is the Spirit who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Without the power of the Holy Spirit we could never die to self and experience the life of Christ.

Despite how difficult it can be to die to self, and despite how much this goes against our culture, let’s consider the benefits. When we die to self we get the life of Jesus. What a great trade: my life for His! I trade my sin and get His forgiveness. I trade my confusion and receive His peace. I exchange my weakness for His power. Who wouldn’t want this?

Notice one more point in this passage: when we die to self, life comes to others (“death is at work in us, but life is at work in you”). This is a powerful principle of leadership – what God works in us through death will benefit others. You can probably think of areas in which God worked in your life, though it was very hard at the time, which resulted in accelerated ministry to others. When you experience the death to life principle, you have a platform by which to speak to others. You can relate to their struggles. When you are being called to die to something, you can be assured that if you fully cooperate with God in that death, He will use it to advance your ministry.

So, is God calling you to die to something in your life? Is He asking you to surrender something to Him? Is it time to sacrifice for the kingdom? Sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love even more. Do you love Jesus even more than ….? Let’s die that we might live!