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Dying to Self

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”   – Galatians 2:20-21

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  – Galatians 5:16-24

This process of learning to respect our husbands and honor their leadership is a VERY painful process – especially at first. It is the  process of dying to self and and being made more holy by God’s power.

There are no short cuts!!  

It is actually not about our husbands at all – but rather, it is all about our relationship with Christ. It is about our willingness to reverence and submit to Jesus. That is the entire crux of the matter!

This is not just some self-help “10 steps to controlling your husband and getting everything you want in your marriage by changing your words and tone of voice.”  My motives MATTER here!  If I am trying to obey God just to get the feelings I want or the response from my husband I want,  I have missed the entire point!

I have to have pure motives – desiring to obey God’s Word out of reverence for and love for Christ alone.

What I am advocating is to completely expose your deepest soul to God and allow Him to search the darkest recesses with the blazing light of His Word.  And then to allow God’s Spirit TOTAL access and grant Him complete Lordship and the ability to decide what stays and what goes.  And anything He finds offensive – well, it simply has to go. No question. God is Lord now, NOT ME!  This means facing your deepest fears, challenging your definition of God, your understanding of His sovereignty, your true beliefs that govern your decisions and priorities, seeing the mountains of sin that you may not have even known were there, and being willing to part with all of that humbly before our mighty God.  It means wrestling with God over those most painful issues and deciding whether you actually can trust Him or not.

Is He REALLY BIG enough?

This is DEEP, LIFE-CHANGING, PARADIGM SHIFTING stuff.

  • This is where you tear out everything from your heart but Christ and are willing to give up all that is dear to you – laying it on the altar to God.  You die to your dreams, your desires, your wants, your goals and your plans.  You embrace His will, His desires, His dreams, His goals, His plans and His life for you – even if that means not getting what you really wanted, and even if that means going through the “worst case scenario” in your mind.

You will have to personally wrestle with these questions and decide  – can you really trust God? Is He who He says He is? Is His Word true or not? Will you build your life on the Rock of  Christ,  His Word and His promises, or on the sinking sand of trusting SELF?

Let us be willing to die to ourselves!  Let us joyfully give up our rights, our goals of happy feelings, and all that we hold dear and cling only to Christ, out of thankfulness and profound gratitude for ALL He has done for us (paying our “billions of dollars worth of sin debt to God”), holding everything else very loosely in our hands!

The thing is, you can’t respect your husband and empower his leadership on your own.  You can’t just be quiet and smile and hold the raging ocean of  sinful thoughts, emotions and negativity inside while you pretend to be “nice” on the outside.  

This journey requires a total heart change – regeneration that is only possible through God’s Spirit. Eventually, we don’t even THINK the sinful thoughts. It is a total heart change. We nail the old sinful self to the cross and it is crucified and buried with Christ. Then we put on the new man in Christ. He gives us a new heart and transforms our thinking.

Lord, help us to lay down our desires and let us desire only what YOU desire in our lives and in this world. Let us desire NOTHING in heaven or earth besides You!

If we do NOT have His Spirit – it is IMPOSSIBLE to be the godly wives Jesus calls us to be. God’s Spirit alone is our power source!

Some wives think that I am saying THEY alone are fully responsible for all the problems in the marriage and that I am expecting them to take 100% of the blame.  This is NOT at all what I am saying.  Husbands are all sinners, and so are wives. Husbands have their own accountability and responsibility before God and will stand before Him one day – just as we will.  I am asking women to focus on their own responsibilities, their own sins and their side of the relationship.  We can’t control our husbands.  We have to trust God to deal with them.  And really, we can’t even change ourselves – but we can allow God the freedom and permission to change us and we can respond as He opens our spiritual eyes.  So that is where we have to put our focus.  That is where our power is!

When we are cherishing sin in our hearts – we grieve and alienate the Spirit of God.   We cannot have God’s power flowing full strength in us when we are embracing sin and getting cozy with it.  We have to choose between having sin or having Jesus.  We cannot have both!

QUOTES FROM E.M. Bounds – “The Necessity of Prayer”

  • If you desire to pray to God, you must first have a consuming desire to obey Him.
  • If you want free access to God in prayer, then every obstacle of sin or disobedience must be removed.
  • Those who have never wept concerning their sins, have never really prayed over their sins.
  • Until (the step of unquestioning obedience) is taken, prayer for blessing and continued sustenance will be of no use.
  • Nowhere does God approve sin or excuse disobedience.
  • The absence of an obedient life makes prayer an empty performance – something wrongly named.
  • A repentance that does not produce a change in character and conduct, is a mere sham that should deceive no one. Old things must pass away, all things must become new!
  • Praying that does not result in right thinking and right living, is a farce.
  • The change from badness to goodness is not brought about “by works of righteousness that we have done.” It is brought about according to God’s mercy, which saves us “by the washing of regeneration.” This marvelous change is brought to pass through earnest, persistent, faithful prayer. Any alleged form of Christianity that does not create this change in the hearts of people is a delusion and a snare.

32 thoughts on “Dying to Self

  1. This is one of my favorite posts and I almost always link this up to my blog. 🙂

    Let’s all crucify this sinful flesh daily. That is the only true path to peace.

    God bless you,April! Thinking and praying of you doubly these days. 🙂

  2. I want to thank you for all you do! I don’t even know how I stumbled onto your website but I believe with all my heart that God led me here! Praise be to God!!!!! I have been praying that God will open my eyes to the sin in my heart and through your website He has certainly done that. I was thrown to my knees in a flood of tears asking God for forgiveness. I thought I was so righteous! What you have written about your attitude before your conviction is an exact picture of me. I now trust His almighty power to make the changes that need to be made. May God richly bless you!

    1. Susan,

      Wow! What an incredible answer to my prayers. PRAISE GOD!!!! I am thrilled He brought you here. I am ecstatic that He has shown you your sin and that you have repented. I can’t wait to see all that He has in store for your life to bring you closer to Himself and to bring glory to His Name through you!!!!!!

      Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Anne,

      How I pray we might all exalt Christ in our marriages. Can you imagine the glory God can bring to Himself if we all live in total submission and obedience to Him on a daily basis in our marriages and if we live by the power of God’s Spirit?

      God would change the whole world through us.

      And that is my fervent prayer! That He would use us for His purposes to spread the gospel to every person on the planet and that our marriages might draw many to Christ and might showcase the power of the gospel in the way we treat our husbands. We will look so very different from the world if we live in obedience to God. That fragrance of Christ is what will draw the lost and dying to Himself through us.

      Thank you for the encouragement! 🙂

  3. In just the past few weeks, this dying to self has been harder than normal. I don’t know if it is hormones… or all the snow and being housebound or what but I find myself wanting to scream “What about me”. When I am fully aware (an had no problem a few weeks ago) wrapping myself around “What do you want God” and “your will, not mine”. What does one do when they are going through a desert? My brain is saying “Stop… don’t do this… you know better!” But my heart is saying “Whine… complain… stomp… throw a tantrum”.

    Ug.

    1. Sara,

      This is where you have to boss your heart around and take each thought captive and decide if it is of God or not and shoot it down if it is not. And you have got to make plenty of time for God and prayer and be willing to repent of any selfishness or pride. When your feelings are telling you to sin – it’s time to get out the hammer and nails and nail that sinful nature back to the cross and lay your life before Jesus. Look at your motives. This is a moment by moment thing of dying to self and submitting to Christ. You MUST have God’s Spirit’s power! If you are cherishing sin in your heart, you can’t have that. If you don’t have enough time with God, you won’t have it either. Be sure to nurture and nourish your soul! 🙂

    2. Sara, I’m with you here. My college roommate lost one of her children in a tragic car accident this week. Although distance separates us and we haven’t seen each other in many years, it was a very emotional week for me, identifying as a mother with that loss, and the grief of an old friend burying her child in this bitter cold 🙁 During this time, I’ve also been reading and reading regarding biblical womanhood, practicing headcovering and skirt wearing (which are both foreign ideas to me), etc. Trying hard to get that right, without making an idol of my appearrance. Add that to a houseful of kids every day because we are the neighborhood homeschool family and others have been off school so they gather here. . . .in addition to our daughter’s birthday party. . . .AAAHHHHHH. . .I felt like I was going to bust! And where was hubby? Frustrated with work or the computer. . .you know, really important stuff. . . anyway, A couple days ago I said to him in a rather loud voice, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??? I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD PLUG IN & BE ATTENTIVE TO ALL THAT IS HAPPENING HERE!!!” (It was very tantrummy. .. if that’s a word.. )

      Earlier that day, at 1pm, my old friend had buried her child and I had dedicated 30 minutes to stop and pray for her during that time. I even wore headcovering! As I prayed, I kept hearing the Lord say to me, “I’ve got this, you go take care of YOUR issues. . . .” I argued with Him that I wanted to support her during prayer during this time since I couldn’t be with her in the physical. But He did not allow me to continue. It was like my prayer line was blocked. Like a busy signal. . . . .Later, as I was attacking my husband, it hit me. I had not died to myself. Not only was I full of grief and wanting HIM to comfort me, I was also full of resentment from other unmet expectations from the rest of the week. I had expected HIM to be MY SAVIOR! And he was not adequate to meet that need. Period. And I had to lay it down. All of it. At the feet of the ONE who IS adequate.

      We are like the simple man who keeps doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. As we grow in wisdom I think this will happen less and less. But, it is a painful process filled with lots of human stumbling blocks.

      Much love to you, sister, I’ll pray victory over your deceitful heart while I pray for mine!

      1. fallenshort,
        I am so sorry to hear about your friend’s child! GOODNESS! How heart breaking!

        I love that God spoke to you and told you to focus on your issues. And I am so excited that you realized what was going on! THAT IS HUGE!!!!!

        Thank you for sharing!
        Much love,
        April

  4. Hi April, I am interested but very fearful that I will never be able to measure up to these standards. Do you believe that all of my prayers will go unanswered until I get totally obedient in every area of my life? Thanks.

    1. Linda,

      I can assure you that NONE of us can live up to these standards on our own. BUT – God is able to empower us to live like this.

      If you know you are living in disobedience, YEP – you need to repent and be willing to change anything you know is sin and rebellion against God and ask Him to empower you to be the woman He calls you to be.

      I’m right here if you want to talk more about this.

      Your faith cannot be in yourself – it has to be 100% in Christ alone!

      Much love
      April

      1. Linda,

        If you fall into sin or temptation – quickly repent and get back up and take your issues to God. There is a process of learning to depend on Him and listen to Him and allow Him to fill you up. There is a growing and maturing process. When you keep your eyes on Christ and walk in His power, you can walk in victory. When you take your eyes off of Him or allow yourself to cherish sin, you will fall.

        But – God has grace for us. We can confess our sin and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9.

        We can pray for and encourage each other as we learn and seek Him with all our hearts! 🙂

          1. Thank you. I understand obvious sin and disobedience. It is the “not sure” areas that leave me confused. I didn’t cut my hair for most of my Christian life because I was taught it was a sin to cut my hair. (the last 20 years of my 57 and 41 of those 57 I have been married to the same man) I hated my hair long, it aged me 20 years, I became very withdrawn and didn’t want to go anywhere in public. I cut my hair three years ago. My husband LOVES it and he VERY MUCH hates it long. He is a very Christian Godly man also. I get so sad when I think I have to have my hair long to be right with God. I do not know how to fix it. I tried for 20 years. I looked pitiful. I am so confused. I still feel the same with God but because of the teaching I have doubts and wonder if I am being disobedient to God.? I pray for God’s mercy and patience with me. I prayed for a long time before I cut it. I was still never sure that it really mattered or not. This is what I was referring to in my first comment.

          2. Linda,

            The Bible talks about long hair being a woman’s glory – but it doesn’t say a woman cannot cut her hair. And it doesn’t say it is sin for a woman to cut her hair. It makes me sad that you felt so trapped and stuck by a “rule” that I don’t believe is actually scriptural.

            Hair length is not something that determines anyone’s salvation or brings anyone closer to God from anything I understand in God’s Word.

            I grew my hair out long because my husband loves it and because God’s Word talks about long hair being a woman’s glory. But it is possible to take things like that and turn them into legalistic rules that trap and ensnare people.

            I pray you will find freedom from this idea and realize that it is the blood of Christ that makes you right with God!

            Yes, we are to obey God’s commands. But – I don’t know of a command that requires women to have uncut hair. Only the Nazarites who took specific vows to God (and were men) had that particular requirement.

            Much love! Please be free in Christ, my precious sister!

  5. Ah, yes. As a newlywed (93 days to be exact ;-)) I am finding this “dying to self” really, really difficult! I am finding out that, Jesus, and ONLY Jesus, can fulfill my deepest needs. My husband does play a role in this, but if I expect my husband to fulfill these needs, that would make me SELFish. I can only hope our marriage is a reflection of my intimacy and obedience to Christ alone.

    1. Gabriela,

      Yes – SELF does NOT want to die! It is a battle! But praise God that you see the issue now!

      You can do much more than hope, my precious sister – you can pray in faith, believing that God is able to do what He says He will do in your life and marriage. 🙂

      When we desire what God desires and seek to obey Him in everything – we can trust that He will answer our prayers in His time for His glory. 🙂

  6. This is exactly what I needed today. I think I’ve read it before but it really hit me today. I’m praying God would work a miracle in my life to transform me.
    Thank you for taking the time to minister to all of us!

  7. Just a late chime in on the hair length thing, the only scripture I know that references women’s hair being cut, refers to the discussion about hair and head coverings where Paul refers to a woman having her hair shorn or shaved, which I believe was a symbol of lesbianism in those days. There is a huge difference between having your hair cut to say shoulder length, than having it shaved right off so you look like a male POW. As soon as you say it is sin to cut a woman’s hair, you also have to be able to say what specific length it must be and as April has said, there are no specific commands that say shoulder length, waist length, ankle length. God doesn’t ask us to obey non specific commands because its impossible. 🙂 Blessings to y’all

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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