I am a believer in Jesus Christ. A Christian. Not because I have done something special deserving of salvation; in fact, it is quite the opposite. I am saved for the reason that I believe that nothing I can possibly do, no task I can ever accomplish can make me worthy of salvation. Nothing can rescue my soul aside from the perfect sacrifice of Christ, a replacement for the wrath which I deserve. In that moment of repentance and faith in His divine interposition, something extraordinary happened. I died for the first time, and was born for the second. A part of me that was enslaved to self and sin died at that point, and something truly beautiful was birthed in its stead. I am now a slave of Christ after having been reborn. To get to this point, I had to experience death, in a spiritual sense. In fact, it could be called a spiritual suicide to self. Having died, I found life. The words of Jesus in Luke 9:23-24 are my basis for this word-picture:
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
Anyone who is a true believer must experience this death. If one has not realized that salvation takes a life change, I would strongly urge him to question it. I, as a young child, was mistaken about my faith, not realizing that being a Christian means I have to kill myself(figuratively) and let Christ mold me into an image of Himself. I deceived myself and thought I could continue to live sinfully as long as I read my bible and attended church. I now see the truth, but I believe and know that many others share this misconception, especially those in the “Bible Belt”. Dear reader, please examine yourself. Have you fallen prey to this line of false thinking?
If one has examined himself and found true repentance, then this post serves as a challenge. Lately, I have found my love for Christ growing, as I see how undeserving and unworthy I am of His grace. The fact that He would still love me in spite of all I have done and continue to do causes me to love Him with a greater fervency. Coming right along with this growth, I am seeing sinful habits and patterns that have slipped into my speech and actions. Also, I am seeing how easy it is to forget my death to sin with friends who are fellow believers. Not necessarily because my friends and I are saying and doing things which are even widely considered wrong, but because of what we are not saying and doing. James 4:17 says,
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Many times, I will myself with my friends talking about things and doing things which are not only worthless, but stupid, for hours upon end. I am dead to sin and alive to Jesus Christ! Why would I allow these habits of sinfulness and times of worthlessness into my life? Paul said in Philippians 1,
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.
To live is Christ! I am reborn; alive to Christ. If I claim Him, I must be an image of Him when I am with believers and unbelievers alike. So such foolishness must be eliminated, and replaced with a kind of fruitful labor, namely love. In every task I undertake, every interaction I have with others, and every thought that enters my mind, I must remember that I am spiritually dead to my selfish desires. If the reader is a believer, remember this fact in everything you do. If the reader has not died to self by repentance, he is lost unto himself, destined for hell. Please, examine yourself. Have you truly died to sin?