When we talk about being crucified with Christ and dying to self, what do we mean? It means we die to our desires, our ego, and our will. Sometimes this even means dying to our own vision. But you may say, “I’m sure my vision is God-given. It is His will.” Yet there is an inherent danger. It is possible for the calling, promises, and vision God has given us to become our main ambition, making them opponents of the Lord, for He is not willing to share our hearts with anything - not even with good things.
Remove idols from your life
Isaac was the fulfilment of the promise God gave Abraham. Yet the Lord was not willing to share Abraham’s heart, not even with Isaac. So the Lord asked Abraham to lay Isaac on the altar and offer him as a sacrifice, knowing this would be the ultimate test of Abraham’s love. Author A. W. Tozer expounds on this brilliantly in his classic book The Pursuit of God.
“God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there would be no retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand upon the boy. To the wondering patriarch He now says in effect, “It’s all right, Abraham. I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love. Now you may have the boy, sound and well. Take him and go back to your tent. Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me.”
What does it mean to surrender our will to God?
The word surrender is a radical word! Many of us are willing to surrender until it begins to hurt, but ‘true surrender’ is painful. Some people are willing to surrender as long as it is logical, but ‘true surrender’ is not subject to our rationale. Others can surrender what is bad and harmful, but God is not satisfied.
To God, surrender is not complete until it is all encompassing, exhaustive, total. It is not simply saying, “Your will be done,” but it includes, “Not my will.” This death to self is not some form of divine sadism. God always has life in mind.
Let God do a good work in you
Just as a gardener prunes off the old branches so new ones can grow, God desires to remove that which hinders life and growth. This place of death is also the place of birth, and it is how God’s purposes are born in the earth!
Who reigns in your life?
What if God asked you to give up the thing you enjoy the most? What if He asked you to lay down your gift or talent, the thing that defines you - the thing in which you find self-worth? Could you lay your promise on the altar as Abraham did Isaac? Have you checked to see who is sitting on the throne of your heart? Is it you? Is it your vision? Is it your dream? Or is it the Lord Jesus?
Dead to self, but alive in Christ
My friend, God has a wonderful plan for your life, and He wants to use you in extraordinary ways for His glory. But resurrection only follows death - death to self, death to your will, death to your desires, and death to your dreams.
It is in these painful moments of surrender that God’s Kingdom is established in us, when we pray with Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” This beautiful brokenness allows us to become an extension of God’s dominion, and our lives become ‘cracks in the wall’ through which His Kingdom can come and His will can be done in earth and on earth!
Daniel Kolenda is the president of Christ for All Nations Ministries international. For more info: 0861 232 672 or www.sa.cfan.org.za