“And for the next ten minutes, I described to him, as best I knew how, the paradox of following Jesus and finding life by giving it away. That when I died to my sin and selfishness by the power of the gospel, I became alive in a much more real way. And because I had experienced the death of my old self, my new self was really alive, like hyper-alive. I was now willing to die for the gospel, but also was willing, and indeed was literally, living for the gospel. And that every day of living for Christ was allowing me to become ‘deader and deader’ to the way I used to be before I was saved from my sins.” Dying to Live, by Clayton King
Dying to live. It’s a strange paradox that I am learning to embrace, just like Clayton King. When we follow Jesus, we have to put ourselves aside, so that Jesus can lead our lives, instead of leading our own lives. We have to gradually learn to put aside the things we want, so that Jesus can achieve the things that he wants for us, instead. We die to sin and selfishness, die to our small dreams and small goals, and we let God take over. He pushes away our selfish wants, and replaces them with his supernatural goals and plans.
I find that the more I let him take control over my life, the more free and powerful I feel. Contrary to how it may seem, when I trust in God to lead me in all the various areas of my life, I don’t feel like I am going crazy because of the smaller amount of control and power I have. I actually feel I have more control over my life than ever before. That’s mainly because before I gave my life to Jesus and let him lead me, my life was always chaotic; I never had enough strength to keep me grounded, and so I constantly drifted in this sea of confusion.
When I let him lead me, he armed me with his strength and his love and his hope. I felt more secure, in that I knew I could handle all the difficult things in this life as long as I trusted him (that certainly doesn’t mean it will be easy, though). I felt protected, and that even when I didn’t know where God was leading me, I could trust him to get me whereever he wanted me to be.
I’d like to be very careful and delicate with my words, though. Trusting him doesn’t mean it frees your life from chaos, insecurity, fear, panic, etc. I constantly feel those things, even with him. He is always leading me some place, and I am not sure of where we are going, or sure of what we will do when we get there. But the difference is that without him, I am just surrounded by chaos, drenched in fear, without any real hope. With him, I still am surrounded by chaos, it’s just now I have hope that I can survive it, because I depend on his strength. Knowing that I always have that sense of peace in the back of my mind, despite what happens to me, always has a way of keeping me sane when I start to lose it.
Anyway, back to the point. God is perfect, glorious, holy, mighty, awesome. We are imperfect, flawed, sinful. Our human nature will always cause us to be greedy, selfish, wanting things that only benefit us. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes and lives within us. It begins to do a good work in us, making us more and more like Christ in our hearts. Without the Holy Spirit guiding us, everything we do would cause us to sin, and ultimately lead to death and destruction. We would end up living very unfulfilling lives, missing out on the good blessings God has in store for us.
But when the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are at war against our sinful self, and we have to fight that battle every day, never giving up. We always have 2 options: Do what God wants us to do, or do what our sinful self wants to do. Do we spend the morning reading the bible and spending time with God, or do we be lazy and lay around watching TV? A friend calls with a problem. Do we tell them what they want to here, or refer to the bible and tell them how you think God would want them to respond, through the bible? It’s Sunday. Do we skip church again or force ourselves to get out of bed and spend the morning worshipping Jesus? Our sinful self or our Godly self?
We have choices all around us, and we have to make these decisions all the time. We must continually choose to listen to our Godly self, and die more to our sinful self. It is not something that happens over night; it takes a life time, committing to putting ourselves aside for God on the daily basis.
The more we die to our sinful old self, the way we were before we met Christ, the more we start living for Him. We get to really live, and not just exist. We get to feel super alive and passionate for God. It’s like you used to walk through the days with your eyes closed, sleeping all your life. Now you are awake and you get to live! We die to our old selves to live for Christ. We are dying to live!