“Jesus Christ did not come into this world to make bad people good; He came into this world to make dead people live.”
– Lee Strobel
Lee Strobel Quote Commentary
There is a reason why Christians use the cross as the primary symbol for their faith. The cross is not just a nice concise design that indicates faith in Jesus, familiarity with Christianity, or membership in a culture with a tradition of Christianity. The cross goes much deeper than that. It goes much deeper than the instrument of torture, humiliation, pain, and death that was used to put Christ to death, and many others before him and after him. The cross is not just a testament to Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The cross is all this but it goes much deeper. It is a daily reminder of one of Christ’s key teachings. If we want to truly abide in him and achieve holiness, we have to die to self.
Dying to self is not a popular modern concept
Now, the concept of dying to self, sacrifice, self-discipline, and self-control, just like delayed gratification seem like concepts that belong in another time and another age. It’s natural to think this way, in this day and age where we are constantly being told to enjoy dessert first. We are being told to please ourselves first and worry about the costs and consequences later. It is all about living in the now and not having to worry about consequences. No wonder dying to self is not a very popular concept. However, that is Jesus’ command and his command leads to personal freedom.
Dying to self leads to freedom in Jesus
As Paul notes, we have to become crucified with Jesus for us to claim his holiness. While Christ’s death on the cross and our claim of that makes us righteous in the eyes of God (we are justified by faith), to live holy lives we have to die daily. We have to continuously put to death the old self we have and live our new lives in Jesus. This means walking with Jesus daily and denying our old selves every step of the way. This is the only way to freedom. As Jesus said, no person can serve two masters at the same time. So either we love one master and hate the other or vice versa. Jesus asks us to make a choice daily to turn our backs on the things we used to love-our unforgiving natures, our grudges, our anger, our selfishness, our lusts, our fears, and our pride. He wants us to give up on the fleeting assurances and feelings of ‘being in control’ some of those things provided. Instead, he asks us to trust him fully and let his peace overflow in our hearts.