Man coming to the end of himself

Humility and Death to Self

One of the biggest hurdles to a vibrant, life in Christ is a thriving self-life. In order to walk in humility, we must daily die to ourselves so that Jesus's resurrection life can be made manifest through ours.

Mike: We want to continue our discussion on humility by talking specifically about humility and death to self in our discussion today. I know for those who may not be familiar with the subject of humility, or have never even thought about this idea of death to self, it can sound like a morbid thing. But it really is an integral part of our faith, and it’s not morbid at all. I’m hoping that we can help people clearly see the way that it’s meant to be understood. I want to begin by asking you a question about the idea of humility and how its purpose is to bring us to a destination. How is that so?

Jeff: Well, it reminds of a scripture in Philippians 2 that we often quote at Pure Life. Verse 5 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” If I just read that, it's like, “Yeah, I want that.” But that leads somewhere. That mindset was leading Jesus somewhere. Ultimately, we see where it led Him when we read verse 8, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and He became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” So, if we really want the mindset of Jesus, we must have a mindset of submission to the Lords will. That mindset is ultimately going to lead us to death to self and an understanding of what it means to carry our own cross.

Mike: We talk about the new life that we have in Christ, but sometimes we forget that the only way to have new life is first to die – to die to self.

Jeff: Exactly. And that is why we must be led down the same pathway Jesus was led down. There is no other way to have the life of Christ. And it really is the only way for our fallen nature to be done away with so that the life of Christ can be lived out in our lives.

Mike: Expand a little bit on why it’s so important for us to embrace death to self.

Jeff: It’s important because those who are not willing to die to self never come into the fellowship of His sufferings. And for that reason, they never really experience true deliverance from self. Unless that voluntary surrender and death to self comes, they will never find the freedom they are looking for.

Mike: With that being so critical for our entering into fellowship with Christ, the obvious question is how do I die to myself? What is practically involved in that?

Jeff: Well, one thing I’ve learned in my own life is that we have to look at the facts squarely. I cannot produce death to self on my own accord. But I can cooperate with God and God shows me in His Word how to cooperate. He gives me many opportunities where I can choose to deny myself and do what He says in His Word. When I do that, I am cooperating with the Holy Spirit and yielding myself to the Lord. Then He is going to do the work in me. We have so many opportunities throughout the day where we can humble ourselves and do what the Word of God tells us. And as we do that, God will honor it and He will use it to reveal Jesus to our hearts. I have learned that to be true in my own life.

Mike: I think one of the things that we see the men struggling with in our Residential Program is that many of them have tried to die to self and they have tried to humble themselves. But they have tried to do it in their own strength, and they have missed the point that they are utterly helpless to do it themselves. On the other hand, some take that reality and make the mistake of thinking they just should not do anything since they cannot do it. But I am so glad that you brought it out that while we are helpless, God still expects us to respond to what He wants to do in us.

Jeff: Oh, absolutely. His desire is to give us everything He has purchased for us through His blood, and we cannot have that unless we experience true death to self.

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Mike: I was thinking of another thought as we were just talking about professing believers failing to walk in true humility. Often the world doesn’t see anything in professing Christians that distinguishes them from the rest of mankind. And the reason for this is because they are not seeing a reflection of the humility of Christ in believers.

Jeff: Yeah. And it is very sad. I know in my own life, especially when I have gone home to visit family members that do not know the Lord, I want them to see Jesus in my life. And I have come to understand over the years that I will not be able to present that by talking about Jesus. Instead, they are going to have to see something genuine in my life. It’s sad when family members get around us and they don't see much of the life of Christ displayed through us. Really it's just a result of not allowing more of this death process to take place in our lives.
It’s been a growing passion of mine to allow the Lord to be reflected more to others through the testimony of my life. I want this because I understand how much people need the Lord and they don't just need to hear about Him. God wants to reflect His image through our lives and I want that, but it's not going to happen unless I truly embrace my cross and really learn what it means to die to self so that His life can be reflected through mine.

Mike: Yes. The world needs Christians who live out the life of Jesus more than they talk about it. I want to reiterate as well that this growth of humility in us is not something that we can produce in self effort, but God allows things in our life every day to give us the opportunity to choose to die to self. This can happen through a variety of different circumstances. It may be that someone crosses our will, or it may be a situation where we have the opportunity to try and control circumstances to work in our favor but instead we choose to deny ourselves. In any situation we must choose to walk as Jesus walked and allow God to develop His humility in us.
If someone sees that they have been lacking humility and now they want to follow the Lord to learn to develop humility in their lives, where should they start?

Jeff: Well, some of this lack of humility comes from a Christian not being in the Word of God. Scripture tells us that the Word is a lamp unto our feet. So, I would tell them to go over Scriptures that point you in the right direction. One that comes to mind is Romans 6:3 where it asks, “Have you forgotten that when we became Christians, we were baptized to become one with Jesus Christ?” It goes on to tell us that we’ve died with Him. So, we should consider ourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. We must give ourselves completely to God since we’ve been given a new life.
Now, if I am reading that, that is God telling me, or reminding me, what has happened to me when I came to Christ. And it’s good for us to remind ourselves that our lives are not our own. So I would encourage anybody that is wanting to walk in humility to get in the Word of God. Go over Scriptures like Romans 6:3 and believe God to do in your life exactly what the Word says. Agree with the Lord and say, “I want that, and I am going to do the things that you show me in your Word to produce those things in my life so that your life can be reflected through mine.”

Mike: Amen. And of course, the thing that we try to communicate often is that God wants to do a work in us as believers and as His children. But just as importantly He wants to do a work through us for other people. This humility is not just something God wants to produce so that we can go around proclaiming that we are humble people. He wants to humble us so that we become vessels that He can pour His life through to reach other people.

Jeff: And that’s what it’s all about. There is a lost and dying world out there and people need to see Jesus. They will not see Him unless there are believers that are willing to truly die to self and embrace this truth so that the life of Christ can manifest itself to those dear souls.

Jeff Colón is a minister of the Assemblies of God. He held various positions during his 22 years with Pure Life Ministries. Jeff holds an MDiv and BA in Biblical Counseling from Master’s International School of Divinity. He recently branched out on his own, launching Lighthouse Biblical Counseling Center in Dry Ridge, Kentucky.

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