Is "You Must Die to Self" Biblical?



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  • Is "You Must Die to Self" Biblical?

    There are many cliques and traditions taught that are borne from the wisdom of men versus the revelation of God. "You Must Die to Self" is such a one that sets off red flags, although context is important. Anyone who is a Christian very long knows that a person can't die to self any more than they can save themselves or regenerate their own souls. This teaching, at least at face value, promotes that self can overcome the old nature, which is a teaching of works-righteous. A Christian instead must live for Christ while abiding in the Word of Truth, and the suppression of the old nature will happen as a result of a right relationship in stride with the Holy Spirit. Study this carefully:

    "Being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Romans 10:3–4
    The memes that state "we must die to self" is a command of self action. The Bible teaches that the Christian is ‘dead to self’ (cf. Matthew 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-24, 14:27, 17:33; John 12:25). The most basic definition of sin centers on humanity’s selfishness and self-centeredness borne of pride. Therefore, being ‘dead to self’ signifies a release from the inherent tendency in man towards self-will. It is a companion metaphor to ‘dead to sin’ and it has the same basic meaning. Romans 6:11 says that the one who is ‘dead to self [sin]’ is now ‘alive to God in Christ Jesus’. This life we now live in Christ, by its very nature, puts the new self into submission under Christ, where the old self died in Christ and raised to life as a new creature (Romans 6:4). We cannot by confession or an act of will put the old nature to death, where this was done under the cross through the blood once, it is not a repeat process (Hebrews 6:4-8). If it was remotely true that the flesh could be suppressed by our own merit, then we could potentially reach a point of sinless perfection.

    Early Christian monasticism comprised of the cenobitics, hermits, monks, and other ascetics were geared on this premise to attain righteousness by mortal suppression. Flagellants are well known practitioners of an extreme form of mortification of their own flesh by whipping it, an allegorical misinterpretation of 2 Corinthians 11:24, 25; Deuteronomy 25:3; Acts 16:22. These are cases when men interpret Scripture without maturity under the Holy Spirit or lacking proper counsel, thus given to all manner of error.

    "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" Galatians 5:24. While sin is a choice that we can make, it is only by the power of God living in us, having been transformed that empowers us to resist. It is our choice to act under the guidance and power of the Spirit, though we may not be freed from the stirrings and oppositions of the corrupt nature which remains in us, the Lord gives us power not to allow sin to have dominion in us. Believers are engaged in a conflict in which they desire that grace may realize a sure victory. And those who desire to give themselves up to be led by the Holy Spirit, are not under the law as a covenant of works, nor exposed to its curse. Sin does not now reign in our mortal bodies, so that they obey it, Romans 6:12.

    There are many tangent teachings, promoting a works righteousness attainment, suggesting by the act of our will we can fulfill any dimension of the Christian life and purpose. Instead, it is by submission to Christ in the fullness of the Spirit that we fulfill the fullness of the Christian walk, not by subversion of the old nature through willpower and confessions opposed to it. Every spiritual attribute of the Christian experience is through Christ alone plus nothing. Not that we are passive (Ephesians 4:22-24; Luke 9:23), which would be foolish to surmise, but we should never entertain the idea that we by means of our self-will have any ability to subdue the flesh by means of ambitious effort alone.

    This is a fairly difficult subject, where it is easy to stray between what we have heard others say versus what the Scriptures actually teach. "For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death" Romans 8:2.

  • #2
    I'm there, this is where God has been showing me "being filled up", verses empty. We can't be righteous (right standing) without that connection with Jesus! ��������


    • #3
      The subtle deceit is there!

      We can hear this and think "yes, it's right" but might forget that when we received Jesus Christ and took ownership of our Lord's death and resurrection we are now made new, we don't have to "die to self" if we believe we are already dead in Christ, when we obey His Word every second of our lives by the power of the Spirit of God, and we do indeed are dead to self when we confess our sins to one another and bear one another's burdens in love...

      May the Word dwell richly in us, so that subtle deceit never enters our minds.


      • #4
        The attached meme quote might be well heard from many of church lecterns on Sunday morning.

        However, the quote is not biblical in content, rather a teaching peom by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, a 13th-century Persian Sufi mystic and Islamic scholar.

        The fine line between error and truth can be dangerously subtle. Very important reason why James wrote in chapter 3, "Not many of you should become teachers..." Where, "Some want to be teachers of the Law, but they do not understand what they are saying or that which they so confidently assert" (1 Timothy 1:7) and finally James 1:16, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers."
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