Death to Self is Not an Option

B.J. Funk

B.J. Funk

By B.J. Funk –

The six year old child’s statement made us smile: “I haven’t been coming to this church long, and I haven’t been baptized or crucified.”

How could she know? For indeed there is a crucifixion for those claiming to be Christian. Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Those words sound so deep that we might miss their truth, which is named “Dying to self.”

Death to self is not an option for the serious Christian. How I love and appreciate the tremendous depth of Oswald Chambers: “If I am going to decide for the Spirit, I will crucify the flesh; God cannot do it. I must do it myself. To ‘crucify’ means to put to death, not counteract, not sit on, not whitewash, but kill,” he writes. “If I do not put to death the things in me which are not of God, they will put to death the things that are of God.”

I believe the concept of dying to self should be a regular part of our preaching and teaching. What would this look like? You might be convicted of an attitude problem, pride, a temper that causes you to hurt others, a lying tongue problem, sarcasm, an addiction, or maybe your problem might be stealing. Most of us are unable to recognize these sins in ourselves, but we have no problem recognizing them in others.

It is only as we allow the tender, yet convicting spotlight of the Holy Spirit to shine into our lives that we will be able to recognize those things in us that must die in order for Christ to have His way.

Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India, spending 55 years there without furlough. She was the founder of a society devoted to saving neglected and ill-treated children. In a letter from a prospective missionary, one young woman asked Amy what it was like to be a missionary. Amy wrote back, “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.”

This is not the most encouraging and inviting advice from a missionary to a “would be” missionary, but certainly the most truthful. I think it is one of the most brilliant and piercing statements we can ever hear.

You and I are missionaries right here at home. We have the chance to die as we give up and lay down those inner conflicts that hurt our Christian walk and witness.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we felt so secure in our need to die inwardly that we were comfortable approaching fellow Christians at the grocery store and asking them this question, “Brother, what have you died to today?”

I can visualize him running to the next aisle, breaking in line just to get away from you. But, why shouldn’t our conversation with other believers seek to take them to a deeper, more challenging level of thought in their Christian life? Why shouldn’t it be natural for them to ask us the same question?

For the serious Christian, dying to self is a must. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”

Charles Wesley said he would give up all of his other hymns to have written this one by Issac Watts in 1707. The first verse of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” describes perfectly the concept of dying to self.

“When I survey the wondrous cross / On which the Prince of glory died / My richest gain I count but loss / And pour contempt on all my pride.”

I love the imagery of this first verse. Can you see it? First, I purposefully die to my most important gain, my biggest accomplishment, my highest honor. Then, taking a bucket filled with contempt, I pour its contents all over my pride, smothering it so that it’s not recognizable even to Satan himself!

Will you join me in making death to self a serious part of your daily life? And, since I am sure no one will approach you in the grocery store, maybe I can start here.

Brother and sister, what have you died to today?


  1. You are right on target BJ. Wonderful article . It is a daily struggle, but well worth it when I consciously make the decision to die to self. Thank you for the challenge that we can all be a part of.

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