Dying to Yourself

by: Melissa Bradley

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." {Matthew 16:24-25} 

This verse is scary. Deny myself? Lose my life? What does that even mean? 

These words are an accurate, descriptive explanation of what the life of each believer should look like, but these words also run counter to everything our culture tells us.  And when culture tells us to chase after the things of the world like money, a bigger and better house, cars, jobs, etc., how do we accept the call of Christ to deny self?

On the surface, this verse might sound pretty dramatic. So much so that as a Christian culture we decide to unknowingly take it figuratively and not literally because, "I have too much at stake here.  What might I lose if I choose to follow Christ the way He says we're supposed to?"

But the reality of this verse is that it actually declares freedom!  In our lives we try to hold onto so many things.  We end up frantically juggling all of them and trying to keep them under our control - our job, security, health, marriage, family, relationships, fear, politics, wants, pursuits, etc. But denying self means letting go of our false idea of control

For years I battled this call on my life, ‘to deny self and Follow Christ completely’.  I could only get so close in my relationship with Christ before fear settled in and made me run for the hills.  “What might He ask me to do?  I don’t want to move to another place.  But what if He makes me?  I’m not comfortable doing this or that…” 

Although I forget from time to time, the truth is that Christ created my innermost being. It is only by dying to myself and aligning my life with His will that I can truly experience freedom and fulfillment. We are all human, and our sinful nature chases after our destruction. However, God leads us towards His provision, plan and purpose.

He is Lord over the things we fear losing whether we acknowledge it or not.  So the reality is, we are letting go of these things we really had no control over in the first place, and choosing to walk in alignment with His spirit.  Why is that so scary?

Dying to self means laying aside our fears, dreams and ‘what if’s’, and we can excitedly lay them at His feet recognizing He’s in control over them anyway – and He’s a good God! So I am free to be at peace!

As I pour into Him, He breathes life into me and awakens my passions.  Or He opens my eyes to show me why He gifted me in different areas, and as I follow Him He will use them for His glory!

When we learn to “die to self” we are no longer living under the control of all of the things our sinful flesh chases after.  Sin, by God’s power, ultimately loses it's control over us. The things that left us empty, broken and frankly, miserable.  As we align our plans with His, and entrust Him with our “right now” desires, He changes the desires of our hearts.  As we learn to walk with Him, He will guide us through the pain of dying to self. Because as you know, the act of “dying to self” is about as hard as it sounds.  

About the Author:  Melissa Bradley is wife to CKM Speaker Trey Bradley. She serves their family by staying home with their 3 kids, and teaches periodically for the local church. She has a heart for the Gospel and a calling to activate the body of Christ by teaching followers to live missionally exactly where God has them.