A Beautiful Death… Consecration

Death is only painful to him who resists it. The imagination exaggerates its terrors. The spirit argues endlessly to show the propriety of the life of self. Self-love fights against death, like a sick man in the last struggle. But we must die inwardly as well as outwardly. The sentence of death has gone forth against the spirit as well as against the body. Our great care should be that the spirit of self dies first. For then our bodily death will be but a falling asleep. Happy are they who sleep this sleep of peace!” 

– Francois Fenelon

Oh beloved, it is true. We must lead unbelievers to Christ and then lead believers to the Cross. First, we help people find freedom from the bondage to sin, but then we must show them the path of freedom away from almost as great an enemy. 

We must show them the path to freedom FROM SELF.

The task at hand involves consecration; allowing ourselves to be completely set apart for G_d’s use. But the biggest obstacle to this is that old stinky self that wants to keep living inside of us after conversion. But the truth is that part of us must die in order for G_d to live fully in us and through us.

Oh, that old man will scream for attention, but that old dead self neither requires (nor deserves) digging up, attention, analysis, validation, recognition, sustenance, encouragement, financing, or friends. The Bible says that old man has got to go. Period.

Remember, the Gospel is an infinite proposition. It does not work in amounts (neither small nor large). We will either live in Christ, or we will not. There are no degrees of victory in a Christian’s life. We are either winning, or being defeated. Balance is a myth. Obsession with Christ and a view of total death-to-self are the normal state of a healthy believer. We must live with a mindset that there are no boundaries to what we will allow G_d to do in and through our lives. ONLY then, will the “outlandish” claims of Scripture (like “fullness of joy” and “peace that passes all understanding”) begin to actually make sense and show up in our lives.

How come hardly anybody talks like this!?!? i’m not sure beloved. But i have a working hypothesis. So few people (even believing Christians) ever give G_d the chance to work this way in their lives, that it SEEMS like consecration doesn’t work in the church. But, i think the truth is most of us fake totally setting ourselves apart to Him. We live a false existence under the banner of that which is true. Paraphrasing Eric Ludy, “We see Christians who speak grand and beautiful words, but live horrible lives.” Are we willing to look deeply and see whether this is true in our own existence?

Simple test: Got peace? If no, then our lives are not consecrated to Him. Too simple? Sorry, won’t even belabor the point. We know it’s true; Both those of us Christians who have found true Peace in Him, AND those who have not.

None of this is about us trying to do something. It is ALL about letting go of ourselves and letting G_d take full control of our lives. Self-effort here is guaranteed to fail – it is called “law” and “false religion.”

So, what does it mean to “Die to Self?” *

Dying to self means denying our:

  • Self Will(He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39)
  • Self Confidence (For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. Romans 7:18)
  • Self Esteem– (For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3)
  • Self-Worth– apart from Christ (For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9,10)
  • Self Sufficiency– (“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5)
  • Self-Righteousness– (As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; Romans 3:10)
  • Self-Pity– (And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:3)
  • Self-Deception– (If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8)
  • Self-Indulgence– (Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. Romans 6:11,12)
  • Self-Reliance(who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:8,9)
  • Self-Preservation (Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own Understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7)

Living, now, His Life means:

  • Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him ( I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2)
  • Presenting our members as instruments (even weapons) of righteousness (And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Romans 6:13)
  • Living in a whole new Life (Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4)
  • Allowing Christ to live in us (I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20)
  • Considering ourselves as, in fact, married to Christ (Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. Romans 7:4)

This can happen in our lives. But do we want it? Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5. “Do you want to be made well?”

Do we?

To abandon all, to strip one’s self of all, in order to seek and follow Jesus Christ naked to Bethlehem where He was born, naked to the hall where He was scourged, and naked to Calvary where He died on the cross, is so great a mystery that neither the thing nor the knowledge of it, is given to any but through faith in the Son of God.
~John Wesley

* Many thanks to America’s Keswick Colony of Mercy. The Colony’s Victorious Christian Life curriculum serves as a basis for much of what is written in this post (though i take responsibility for any error). i lived at America’s Keswick for five months, and am eternally grateful for the teaching of this ministry. For more information go to http://www.americaskeswick.org