The Christian life is full of death. First, Jesus had to die in order to provide a sacrifice to atone for our sins and reconcile us to God. Second, we must die to the world in order to live with Christ. Paul told the Romans that they must die to sin, and be buried with Christ in baptism, so that Christ would live in them, Romans 6:2-4, Galatians 2:20.
Jesus made plain the seriousness of the disciple’s commitment when He said, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”, Matthew 10:38-39. Dietrich Bonhoffer said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” By taking the cross we signify the ultimate price we are willing to pay in order to be His disciple. Although we may not pay with our lives for following Jesus, we must prove our willingness to do so by the daily sacrifices that the Christian life demands.
Paul told the Galatians that he crucified his evil passions and desires and followed the Spirit’s directives, Galatians 5:24-25. Through the Spirit inspired word, we can know what actions to cease and what work we should be doing. By crucifying our passions and desires, we endeavor to eliminate the desires that would lead us from God.
If we are not fully committed and allow any evil desires to live, Satan can use them to lure us away from God, James 1:14-16. Often evil desires that are allowed to survive will breed other evil desires and resurrect some that we have attempted to destroy. When we commit to Jesus, we must do so with out whole heart, mind, and strength.
Some desires may fight back and take some time to subdue. However, we must pray to God for strength and not allow ourselves to get into situations that will stir up our lusts. If drunkenness appeals to a person, he must stay away from places where it will be easy and acceptable for him to indulge. If sexual immorality is a weakness, he must avoid situations and people that will provide opportunity for sin.
The transformation must be drastic. Jesus said that our salvation is so important that if we had to tear out our eye or our hand and throw it far from us to keep from sinning, it would be worth the cost, Matthew 5:29-30. Of course, it should not require such drastic measures to keep us from sinning, but we may have to cast old friends, old hangouts, old forms of entertainment, etc. far from us to save our soul from death.
When I become dead to the world, I will not be influenced by the world. When a person is baptized, we sometimes sing:
“Dead to the world to voices that call me,
dead to the old life of folly and sin,
Satan may call the world may entreat me,
there is no voice that answers within…
dead to the joys that once did enthrall me—
Yet ‘tis not I, Christ liveth in me,”
(Sanderson and Chisholm, “A New Creature,” Hymns for Worship (Revised) , p.487)
We will fight to ignore the entreaties of the world, however, when we die we will go to a place where evil will no longer call to us, Revelation 21:7. If we make it to that home, we have nothing to boast about but should say with Paul, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world,” Galatians 6:14.