Die to Self
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20 KJV
Paul was a new man. The old man was dead. The life he used to live was a thing of the past. When he encountered the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (see Acts Chapter 9) his life was no longer the same. This devout Pharisee was instantaneously transformed by the presence and power of Jesus. His past life as a devout follower of Judaism was now radically changed!
Here is the resume' of this man:
“Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Philippians 3:5-6 KJV
His whole life had been spent learning the Torah. He was, likely, the valedictorian of his religious studies class. He was multi-lingual and rising fast and strong among the religious ranks. Then, a man named Stephen, an early church elder, stood to preach a sermon that, by some estimations, brought conviction to the heart of this zealous Pharisee (see Acts 7: Whole Chapter). Saul, later known as Paul, is mentioned in verse 58 as the one who guarded the outer coats of those who stoned Stephen. Personally, I believe it was the conviction of the Holy Spirit, as Stephen preached, that tugged at him. He couldn't get away from the drawing of the Holy Spirit. His zeal against the church of Jesus became more fierce than ever. Perhaps his conviction made him fight all the more. Often, people under the conviction of the Holy Spirit resist His call. When this is the case, their hearts are left in turmoil. Such, I believe, was Sauls case. He viciously pursued those who were preaching Jesus as the Christ (see Acts 8:1-3). Then, although he tried, he couldn't run far enough away to escape the call of God in his life. He, dramatically, encountered Jesus on his trip to Damascus. From that point forward his life was never the same. He forsook all of his previous pursuits and passionately preached Jesus to the known world of his time.
"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”
Philippians 3:5-10 KJV
Paul (changed from Saul - see Acts 13:9) was destined to be an emissary for the gospel of Jesus Christ. His life and work would be used by God to transform the world as we know it. His dying to self and his complete surrender to Jesus was paramount to his life being used in such a mighty way. This former strict observer of Jewish law was now a professor of liberty in Christ (see Galatians 5:1). I like to compare Moses of the Old Testament to Paul of the New Testament. One proclaimed the law of God and the other proclaimed the liberty of Jesus Christ! One led the children of Israel out of bondage of slavery in Egypt. The other led the children of God (Jew and Gentile) out of the bondage of slavery to sin through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Application: We, too, must die to self and submit ourselves to the cross of Christ so that we may live to the glory of God and experience the resurrection power of God. Only when we lay our lives down in service to the Master do we truly live a life that matters!
Curtis R. Norris
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Rev. Curtis Norris