“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Revelation 1:10-18)
John said of himself being in that Presence of the LORD Jesus Christ, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.” No, John did not die. But, he was moved to realize that He was in the Presence of the greatest, wisest, most powerful being in the Universe and beyond (if there is a beyond). And so, he humbled himself, made himself low, even lowly, and gave preference to the One Mighty God. John died to self. Beloved, in and of ourselves, even as children of God; blood-washed believers, when we are in the Presence, we submit everything to the King of kings.
What the Church needs today is a vision of Christ Jesus as He is now . . . as John saw Him here on Patmos! Nothing else will give new life to the Church! Nothing less can save the Church’s mission from failure! If preaching could do it, it would have been done by now!
The devil has no reason to fear the church that does not have that vision of Christ as its “Head”! Christ Jesus did not “appear”, or “come” to John. Christ was there! John’s eyes were opened! Beloved, Christ is here! Church, ask Him to open your eyes!
This notion of “dying to self” is found all through the New Testament. It articulates the fundamental nature of the Christian life, wherein we “take up our cross and follow” Christ. Dying to self is the measurement or evidence of being born again; the old self dies and the new self is quickened (comes alive) by the Holy Spirit. Christians are not only born again at salvation, but by nature continue dying to self throughout the progression of sanctification. Beloved, dying to self is equally a one-time occurrence and a constant process.
Jesus pressed repeatedly upon His disciples the need to take up their cross, bear their cross (an implement of death) and follow Him. He made it unmistakable that if they were willing to follow Him, they must deny themselves, spiritually, symbolically, and physically, even giving up their lives if necessary. This was the LORD’s obligation for being a follower of Christ. Jesus even took it further by saying that those who are unwilling to surrender their lives to Him cannot be His disciples.
Paul explained to the Church at Galatia the process of dying to self as one in which he has been “crucified with Christ,” and now he no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. This does not mean that when we “die to self” we become inactive or indifferent; neither do we think to be dead, but most noticeably, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death intentionally. Once we pursued selfish pleasures, but we now pursue, with greater zeal, that which pleases God.
Dying to self is never depicted in God’s Word as an elective (take it or leave it) within the Christian life. It is the authenticity of being born again; no one truly comes to Christ without being willing to crucify his old life with Christ and start to live purposely in submission to Him. In Revelation 3:15–16, Jesus depicts lukewarm followers who try to live in part in the old life and somewhat in the new life as those whom He will spew out of His mouth. That lukewarm state described the church of Laodicea then, but sadly, many churches today as well. Being “lukewarm” is a symptom of unwillingness to die to self and live for Christ. Crucifying self is not optional for believers; it is a characteristic that leads to eternal life with Jesus Christ in His Kingdom!
“The man who has died to self . . . has no ambitions –and has nothing to be jealous about. He has no reputation –and so, has nothing to fight about. He has no possessions –and therefore, nothing to worry about. He has no rights –so therefore, he cannot suffer any wrongs. He is already dead –so, no one can kill him.” (Unknown)
Brethren, have you yet died to self? The evidence is seen in what you pursue and why. Church, our unity, being one with Him starts there. Pray On!