Death to Self

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, November 6, 2017

Psalms 116:15  Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

I can’t recall how many times I have used this verse at the funeral of a precious saint who lived their life to the honor of Jesus Christ. But today, as I read the 116th Psalm, I was overwhelmed with the need to see this verse in a new light. The context of the entire Psalm is deliverance from death and the grave so that we can live now to the glory of the Lord. Maybe the death spoken of here as being precious to the Lord is the death to self we all must die every day.

Many years ago the Pogo cartoon character made a statement that revealed the real cause of human problems. He said, “We have found the enemy and he is us!”

We have spent far too much time and energy fighting the wrong enemy. We are quick to blame the devil or someone else for all of life’s problems. We continue to beat our heads against an imaginary wall fighting an enemy that does not exist, while the real enemy is within. We are self-satisfied, self-centered, self-sufficient, and selfish. Adam blamed Eve for his sin but his problem was with self. Eve accused the serpent for causing her sin but her enemy was self. Sin originated with self and sin continues today because people refuse to let go of self. The self we so desperately cling to will be lost until we learn to let go of it. We should not be amazed that Jesus once said that in order to find ourselves, we must first lose ourselves (Matt. 10:39). Yet, most people are desperately clinging to self.

Riley Walker tells the following story to illustrate – This week a little bird reminded me of self-centered people who are destroying themselves while fighting an imagined enemy. You may consider this strange, but the bird is attacking its own reflection that it sees mirrored in our basement window. The bird repeatedly attacks the basement window. I have seen this phenomenon before and have wondered why some birds do such a thing. I recently found out why. A bird who attacks itself in a mirrored reflection is usually a male bird who has certain territory that he claims as his own. If another male bird enters his territory, he attacks it. Occasionally a male bird claims a piece of territory that has a house in it with glass windows. When the light is right he sees a reflection of himself and thinks it is an enemy intruding on his territory. He will consistently attack his reflection until the reflection is somehow eliminated, or until he gets disoriented, or until he kills himself. They beat their heads against their own reflection, thinking they are fighting an enemy, while all the time the real enemy is inside. Every human problem is caused by each individual attempting to make self the center of life. You can see how problems would arise with everyone wanting his or her own private self as the center. You have probably heard some say, “I never had any problems until I met him,” or “I do not have any problems when I am by myself.” What they say is true because a person who is around only himself has no rivals.

Paul said that we must die to self and live for Christ (Rom. 6:11). He said of himself: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). When we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we become one with Christ and one with everyone else who is in Christ. We are no longer threatened by our own reflection because self is no longer our goal; Christ is. Self is the real enemy and until you give self up to Christ you will never find life or peace or happiness.

The 3rd chapter of Colossians is an essential read for those who are struggling with self, as I do. In case you don’t have your Bible handy, here it is. Study it. Meditate on it. Obey it. For precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of one of His saints. Let it be your goal to die today and live for Christ.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Pastor John