Sweet Like Honey

our family's journal of God at work

Death to Self vs Death for Self

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In this passage in Mark, Jesus told the disciples that He would have to die and then rise again. Satan opposed Him through Peter:

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 said this plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let Him deny himself and take up His cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” Mark 8:31-38.

God’s way is that first we must suffer, die to our flesh, take up our cross and follow Christ, even if people reject us like they rejected Jesus. He promises us life and blessings for eternity if fully surrender to Him and follow where He leads us. This life is so short and eternity is long and glorious, but it is out there in the great unknown somewhere and we get distracted with trying to satisfy ourselves in this life.

Man and Satan’s way is to fill this life up with pleasures and successes because, we think, this is the only time we have to be happy, successful and fulfilled. When the enemy tempts us he usually uses a strategy similar to Peter’s rebuke to the Lord–Satan is greatly opposed to us when we are even thinking about obeying the Lord and dying to self and we’ll be able to think up all sorts of reasons why we don’t have to die. One of the most hideous is that we are saved from the law and so now we can do whatever we want–but we are set free from sin so we do not have to sin anymore. In cases where something isn’t sin, Paul said, ‘All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.’ We should always ask the Lord what He wants us to do and then obey what He tells us.

I have learned that anticipating death (physical and dying to self-will for the sake of obedience to the Lord) is worse than dying itself. When we stop listening to the lies of the enemy and our own complaints, the Lord gives us the grace to obey and blesses us with greater intimacy with Himself–He does the dying for us when we surrender to Him and He fills us with His life. It really is a wonderful thing! After death comes life, here in this life and in the one to come.

There is another call to surrender and to die which is so subtle and devious and looks good on the surface but which is a counterfeit call from Satan, in opposition to God. It is the call to die or sacrifice for the sake of self. There are many examples of this in history and in our world today: athletes who sacrifice their families to be the best and win the gold; business men who work long hours to gain more money and a higher position and never see their families and care little for other people; musicians and actors who work hard for recognition; women who abort their babies so they can go on with their lives; pastors, missionaries and the average church member who give up their home responsibilities to their wives, husbands and young children to “reach the world”; working hard and exhausting ourselves to win others to Christ in the power of our own flesh with our own ideas instead of abiding in Christ and allowing Him to work through us. . . .In other words, Satan offers us a decoy that looks and feels like sacrifice but is not the same kind of sacrifice Jesus is calling us to. He doesn’t mind if we die as long as we are not dying to ourselves and letting the Lord be glorified in us.

Another specific example of this twisted call to sacrifice and death is in the story of ‘Twilight’. There are many abominable elements to it and we ought to hate it because the Lord does, but the one that stands out the most to me is the willingness of the girl in the story to die to get what she wants. At first glance it looks positive, and I know that it is a powerful story that draws you in, but it is really the exact opposite of what the Lord calls us to. The message of Twilight is much the same as the message in the Koran and other world religions that promote physical death for a ‘good cause’ to gain sensual fulfillment. It is Satan’s message of self-indulgence in disguise and it has effectively infiltrated our churches in a way the Koran never could.

We need to say with the Lord, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Why would we choose for entertainment that which is intentionally opposed to our Savior?

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” Ephesians 5:1-21.


Author: Cassie

Follower of Jesus, wife and mom to the most wonderful family I could ever ask for.

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