John 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Dying to sin is a concept frequently heard in the church but practiced sparingly. My brothers and sisters who practice their faith in the midst of persecution and suffering would probably hold a different view than mine.
In regions that demand a sacrifice to live for Jesus, it makes little sense to claim to be a follower of Christ and then live like the world.
In places like America that have been lulled to sleep by the freedom to practice their faith without reprisal, it’s very easy to take the parts of Christianity that make people feel good about their future and leave out the requirements of holiness that require much more sacrifice.
Dying to self is more than laying claim to the blessings of God, it’s laying claim to the sufferings of Christ as well.
Suffering for Christ
I believe one of the biggest deficiencies in American christian culture is the lack of understanding for what it means to die to self.
Romans 6:1-3 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”
Being baptized into Christ’s death is a concept I’d like to examine for a moment.
There are certain aspects of Jesus’ death that should be first clarified:
- Jesus suffered immense ridicule and scorn. The things people said about Him and the way they treated Him must have been incredibly difficult for Him to receive. Luke 23:35-36 “And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” Jesus had to die to himself long before He was hung on the cross. Being baptized unto Jesus’ death is to walk like Jesus walked, with the lowly, being treated like a vagabond throughout His ministry.
- Being baptized into Christ’s death is to submit to the Father’s will. Jesus came with the full authority of the Father but instead submitted to the Father’s plan and purpose on earth. John 14:12-14 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
- Being baptized into Christ’s death is to be filled with the Spirit while submitting to the Spirit’s guidance and purpose. John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”
To suffer for Christ is bear the burden of glorifying Him first in your life, making His will your priority, and living as a testament to His faithfulness.
How can we bring Him glory?
- The way we use the resources God has given us.
- The way we treat others.
- The ways we live our faith out loud, before the world.
The world doesn’t understand charity or love, this attribute is a God given investment into His people, meant to be shared with others.
Dying to Sin
Romans 6:12-14 “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
If we examine our lives, can we honestly say we have died to sin?
As I mentioned earlier, American and western culture has lost sight of what true Christianity looks like. The percentage of people who refer to themselves as christians versus the number of people who live like christians is incredibly disproportionate. In a 2020 survey, 70% of americans identify themselves as ‘christian’ while only 22% go to church every week. Since it takes very little sacrifice to be called a “christian” in american culture, christian culture can easily be infiltrated with doctrine that conflicts with God’s Word.
Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
When sin infiltrates the church—it ruins relationships—it ruins testimony—and it hurts others.
A church that doesn’t effectively deal with sin, leaves itself vulnerable to division.
A church that thrives is a people who walk in the strength of God’s freedom, freedom that begins with obedience and a commitment to living out God’s Word.
Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,”
Each member is responsible to the greater whole. We aren’t individuals who are living out our faith independent of one another, we collectively strengthen one another through our determination to abide in Christ.
vs. 18 “and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
The righteous live obediently by faith, knowing the reward for faithfulness is far more valuable than living under the bondage of sin.
There is an expectation of God’s people that is not expected for those of the world. Righteousness is known by God’s people because they live by the Spirit. The Spirit leads people in obedience to Christ and the moral law is the standard by which it is measured.
Romans 6:19 “I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”
If your a follower of Christ, your not unlike many others who pray for God to lead them into a deeper walk with Him. Dying to sin is to die to the pattern of breaking God’s laws. Growing in Christ is learning to obey.
I write this to encourage you. It’s so easy to feel frustrated with never matching up like you think you should yet everyone who is serious about their faith has to take this journey. It’s not easy but it is worth the effort.
There is joy at the end of the journey and the victories begin to build the further along you grow. You can do it, take that first step towards reconciling your life to Christ and then let Him lead you wherever He takes you in life.