The Secret to Dying to Self

by Ted Kyle

Ever since coming to Christ, and letting Him cut the straps that bound my heavy burden of sin to me, I have sought the secret of dying to self.

Why? Two simple but compelling reasons come quickly to mind: first, because my Lord desires it-nay, commands it, and secondly because I desire it also. Fervently, unashamedly, this has been my desire for a lengthening string of years.

Many solutions have been proposed to mebut I will not list them, lest I chance to name a favorite of yours, and stir you to antagonism. I will only say that of all the directions I have considered, I found only one that is spelled out in the Bible. That road proposed is neither easy nor sudden nor painless-and frankly, no human mentor suggested it. But I found it in the Bible-and you can, too.

What is this Bible-approved method? Come with me to First Peter 4:1,2: "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."

We are to "arm ourselves"-hoplzo\, to equip-with the same "mind"-or the same "purpose," as the New American Standard Version puts it, or "same attitude," according to the NIV. Quite clearly, we are told to be ready and willing to suffer-because "he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin."

I well remember, the first time I truly grappled with those words, that I sought advice from a classic commentator (R. C. H. Lenski). But this learned man let me down, for he argued that the verse had to be speaking of death. Death? Why, the very next verse demolishes that argument. It says "that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." If the seeker is living, he can't be dead. Clearly, this savant's theology clouded his vision of the text.

If we would see the Lord, then we must seek holiness (Heb. 12:14). Then, too, we are commanded to be holy (1 Pet. 1:15). And if we are born again from above, our hearts must yearn to be pleasing to God in all things. So holiness should be our great goal-and that is what ceasing from sin is all about. 

So why are these verses treated with such deafening silence? Why are they not taught from every pulpit in the land? Is church not about making disciples? A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. More, Paul tells us we are to be imitators (mime\ta, Eph. 5:1) of Jesus-to do as He did, to become as much like Him as is humanly possible.

Of course our flesh shrinks back; that's the way of flesh. But we are to "arm ourselves"-put on our spiritual armor and follow Christ into the fray.

Wake up, soft Christian! Your brothers and sisters in many parts of the world know well the meaning of suffering for Christ's sake-and the church is alive and thriving under persecution. Are we better than they?

Or should that question be reversed?

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