Good News, vol. 17, no.2, Feb 1926
DYING TO SELF.
Jesus said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8: 34).
There are very few professing Christians who really understand what it means to deny self, or to die to self, and yet it is of the utmost importance that we do die to the self-life, and live only unto God in Christ Jesus. There is no greater enemy than this self. It is the cause of all our troubles, and unless gotten rid of will bring us to death and destruction for time and eternity.
In Romans 5: 6 we are told that to be carnally-minded, which means to allow self to reign in our lives, is death; but to be spiritually-minded is life and peace.
"For to be carnally-minded is death; but to be spiritually-minded is life and peace."
The seventh verse tells us that the carnal mind, or self-life, is enmity against God, that it does not obey God's law, neither, indeed, can do so. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be." As long as we are in the flesh we are unable to please God.
"So, then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
This reveals the dreadful consequence of allowing self to control our lives. It was the cause of all of Job's troubles. Outwardly, he seemed to be very pious and sincere in his religious devotions, but it was all self that did it, and good self is just as dangerous to rule in us as bad self. God's plan under the Gospel is to get rid of self altogether, and that is our only hope of fullness of blessing here and of eternal life in the world to come.
How can we deny self? The real meaning of the word "deny" in this connection is to "ignore," and the thought in connection with ignoring self is: If a man had a foreman in his workshop, and he discharged him and hired another man in his place to do his work, he would both deny and ignore the man, by not giving him anything to do; and to deny or ignore self in the Christian life means that we are not to allow self, or seek to do, or accomplish anything, according to our own way, plan or strength, but are to give the whole work over, and accept the plan and ways of Jesus Christ as recorded in His Word.
There are just three principles of truth which tell us how to deny or ignore self; the first is found in Isaiah 55: 7:—
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the un¬righteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him! and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon!"
This tells us to give up the thoughts, ways and plans of the old self-life, and to return unto God, and to re¬ceive forgiveness and deliverance from all our past evil ways.
The next step in getting rid of self is found in Romans 12: 1, 2, where we are taught to present our bodies a living sacrifice; to accept God's ways and plans in their entirety in all things.
"I beeseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
The third principle is to meet every issue of life as God's Word directs. God has a plan for every detail of life, and when we meet, things according to that plan we will find no room for the self-life, nor will there be any work for self to do; for God has planned that Jesus Christ shall work for us instead of self. A little consideration of God's ways will quickly reveal that there is no room for the self-life.
God's Word says: "The just shall live by faith" (Heb. 10: 38). This is directly opposite to the way self would like to live. Self likes to see and feel things before he believes. God's plan is to accept His naked Word as sufficient evidence that our prayers are heard and answered, that God is present with us, etc.
When we have decided to walk by faith in what God says, instead of being influenced by what we can see or feel, there is no work for self to do in our lives.
In reference to meeting the unpleasant things which are said and done to us, self likes to hold a grudge, likes to avenge himself, and also to take "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," to resist evil. God's plan is: That we are not to avenge ourselves at all, but are to commit ourselves to Him that judges righteously, just as Jesus did.
"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but, rather, give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for, in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but over¬come evil with good" (Romans 12: 17-21).
"For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously" (1 Peter 2: 21-23).
In the matter of worry, self delights in worrying over troubles and difficulties continually, and anyone who is controlled by the self-life will always find themselves burdened and worried about something. God's plan is to cast all our care upon Him, and "let Him do the worrying." "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5: 7).
"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ" (Phil. 4: 6, 7).
In Divine Healing, self's plan is to trust in every¬thing and everybody but God; to try to heal himself, or have some other self-life to try to heal them. Self is the absolute controller of all man-made methods of healing. God is not allowed to have any part in them; even in Christian Science self's mind tries to conquer disease without medicine; but God's plan for healing leaves no room for self at all; God alone is to do the work, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. We find His plan in James 5: 14, 15, and you will notice there is not one thing for self to do.
"Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven Him."
Financially, self has a plan, which is to get all money he can and to give as little as he can; to lay up his treasure on earth, either keeping it himself or have some other man who is controlled by self to keep it for him. God's plan is directly opposite—it is to lay all our treasure up in heaven; to give all our surplus cash to the poor, who are considered God's receiving tellers. He is to be our banker.
"He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto, the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay again" (Prov. 19: 17).