Die to Self and Live for God; Live for Self and Die to God
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Romans 8:5-18 and Mark 8:29-38
5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must (or you are about to) die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
This is the choice we make each day that we live. I can live for myself and die a little in my relationship with God. Or, I can live for God and die a little to the selfishness that will consume me if I allow it to do so.
The first step in dying to self is to open the door of your heart and allow God to come in. Allow His Spirit to take up residence in your life. This is where God wants to be in relationship to you. He wants to be on the throne of your life, in your heart, at the center of all you think, do and say. God loves you and this is the wonderful plan He has for you.
We who have received Christ into our lives have died with Him and have been raised with Him to newness of life. We have new purpose. We no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who purchased us from the enemy. We are under obligation to God and no longer to our old man, the flesh, the self life. We are now children of God who cry out to God and call Him “Abba”, or “Daddy”. Our relationship with God has changed from one of enemy to one of closest associate. We are now heirs of the King of Heaven.
We may suffer here in this life, but Paul says those sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. We are besieged by the enemy and that enemy wants to pull us away from our confidence in God. We believe that we are forgiven and have become part of God's family. The enemy tells us we are still under condemnation. He speaks to us and condemns us and tells us we are unworthy of the blessings God would bestow on us.
The enemy is effective sometimes because there is that sense that we are not worthy to be forgiven and free to love God. This sense dwells in the self life or flesh as Paul calls it. The Bible tells us that the salvation in which we stand, this relationship we have with God, is a free gift. We no longer need to earn it or deserve it. It is free, and all we have to do is accept it or believe it to be true.
Now that we accept this as a free gift we are able to begin loving God. Before we discovered and accepted this free gift, we were only out to save ourselves. We obeyed, as much as we could on our own, in order to win God's love and grace. Now we are set free to love and obey Him because we love Him, not to get something from Him. We know He first loved us while we were His enemies. Now that we have accepted the gift of salvation we are free to serve Him for the right reason.
Before we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we were lost and cut off from the God who loves us by our sin and rebellion. Having accepted Him as Lord and Savior, we now choose each day to either walk in the Spirit or walk in the Flesh: to serve the self or to serve God.
In verse 6 Paul said: 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
We are either moving away from our trust in God by thinking in the old way, the way of the flesh, the world and the devil, Or we are moving toward God by thinking in the new way, the way of listening to the truth that the Spirit speaks to us. We are moving toward death, or moving deeper into the peace of God that is beyond understanding or as Scripture says the peace that passes understanding.
We either set our minds, or make up our minds, to walk with God, or we set our minds on the flesh. We now struggle within ourselves to move closer to God and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Before, we just lived for what was good for us.
Listen to a conversation that Jesus had with his followers as recorded by Mark:
29 And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "Thou art the Christ." 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." 34 And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it. 36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 "For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." NASB
If we would walk with Jesus, we must deny ourselves. We must take up our cross and follow Him. In order to save ourselves, we must give ourselves away. That is, we must surrender to the Lordship of God. He is Lord. That is non-negotiable. If we expect to get out of life what we need, we must give up trying to live as if we are the captains of our own lives and begin living with God at the helm.
Notice that Jesus called Peter Satan because he was encouraging Jesus to reject the will of God. He was encouraging Jesus to seek what he, Peter wanted, and what seemed, to him, was best for Jesus. He was walking in the flesh and not being led by the Spirit. Just a few minutes before Peter had listened to the Spirit and called Jesus the Christ. Later, after the Holy Spirit flooded his life, Peter became strong in listening to the Spirit. He even went against his upbringing and went and visited in the home of a Gentile. Something Jews would never do. It took the Holy Spirit 3 times showing Peter the vision before Peter fully accepted it. But he did. He submitted to the Spirit. HE listened to God. He did what God was leading him to do. He was walking in the Spirit.
This is what Paul is calling us to do in our passage this morning. When we refuse to listen to God we cut ourselves off from the only source of life there is. God is that source. The Creator made us to have fellowship with Him. We must accept His Lordship and allow Him to lead us.
He uses the Word of God to teach us and lead us. He uses those who teach and preach the Word to mold us into the obedient children that God insists that we become.
Paul says the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God and cannot please God and is not even able to do so. The flesh is who we are without God in our lives, without Jesus on the throne where He belongs as Lord of lords and King of kings. We were not made for ourselves. We were created to live a life in fellowship with our Creator. Serving Him as obedient servants. Loving Him with all our hearts, with everything with in us. This can only happen when we accept the truth that He is our source of hope, strength, guidance and whatever else we need. Without Him we are nothing, or worse than nothing, we are enemies of God. With Him we are the heirs of God.
This is offered as a free gift to anyone who will accept it.
Have you been living life trying to prove to yourself that you are good enough to be loved? Have you been trying to be what you are supposed to be on your own? Stop struggling and surrender to the one who loves you most. Offer yourself to Him. He will accept you. Trust Him to forgive you. Pour out your heart to Him and confess that you know you cannot make it on your own.
Or maybe you are a Christian, you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, but you have not really committed yourself to this idea of putting off the old man and putting on the new man. This idea of walking in the Spirit instead of trying to be what you know God wants you to be on your own. God will accept your offer today if you will but confess that you have failed Him. Forgiveness and love will be poured out on you. It is laid up and put to your account, you simply need to begin living as if it is true.
Come today and bow before the Lord in humility and confess your need to trust Him in whatever way He has spoken to you today. Trust Him to be the Spirit living in you, leading you to love Him more, and love others as well.
Die To Self and Live For God, Live For Self and Die To God. God loves us and will lead us just as much as we allow Him to. We are either living as if we are enough, or living as if we are not enough. We are only enough when God is truly Lord of our lives and leads us each day. It starts now. Will you accept His offer?