How Dead is Dead?

How dead is dead? I have never known death to have shades or tones, it's either yes or no. On or off, black or white. Alive or dead, it's as simple as that.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. - Gal. 2:20

In this verse we find that just as Christ died on the cross, as was the will of His Father in heaven, Paul requires a crucifixion of himself, which is also the will of the Father in heaven. If it was necessary for Paul, it's necessary for you and me. Dead to self was a popular phrase in our church back in the 90's, and its premise is that an individual is completely destitute of any self-motivated action. Based on the examples found in scripture, Christians clearly need to be dead to self. But are we? There are 3 ways we as Christians need to be dead to self:

  1. Dead enough - to not be Offended

  2. Dead enough - to not be Afraid

  3. Dead enough - to not be Busybodies

1. Dead enough - to not be Offended

If people have to walk on eggshells around you, you've still got way too much kick left in you. If you find fault with every little thing that the preacher says, or get bothered at the sight of a brother, I got news for you: YOU'RE NOT DEAD ENOUGH.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. - Philippians 2:3

There is something missing from this verse: a qualifier. I hear people all the time (and I've said it myself) say, "if they weren't the way they were, I wouldn't be the way I am." Christ said:
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. - John 13:35

Once again, where's the "within reason" clause? It's not there. Christ left it out on purpose, because by virtue of putting two humans in the same vicinity, he knew full well that there are going to be disagreements. And guess what - Christ wants us to let it go. Be dead enough to not be offended.

2. Dead enough - to not be Afraid

This one has really helped me as a singer who suffers from stage fright. If you're dead to self, you can't be embarassed. What does that mean? It means preach and sing your heart out with no inhibitions and don't care what anyone thinks. If they have a problem with you doing the best you can for God, they can lecture him over it. I'm dead, why do I care?
7And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.

8And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. - Deuternomy 31:7,8

Moses himself knew what this meant, because he had the same issue - God called on him to lead Israel from Egypt, and he knew he was incapable. Fear of failure is a very human concern, and God knows that about us. That's why we find God telling his servants over and over in the Bible to "Fear not". I've never been at a wake where the person in the casket tried to cover himself because he's ashamed of being dead.
Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table. - 1 Kings 18:19

Here we find Elijah calling 450 heretics to a meeting. Hold on - Elijah vs. 450 madmen. Yep - and he called the meeting at Mount Carmel because God told him to. Why would anyone stand against insurmountable odds, unless they knew they were going to win?

Elijah had no fear of the outcome atop Mt. Carmel, because he had killed that urge inside himself to worry if God could. He trusted his well-being and the outcome to God. His life wasn't dear to him at that time.

The next chapter, fear over Jezebel's threats caused the life to rush back into him, which gave him attitude problems. But like Elijah vs. 450 prophets of Baal, we need to be too dead to be afraid.

3. Dead enough - to not be a Busybody

There is a huge difference between being interested in the well-being of the brethren and being investigative reporters on the lives of the brethren. I know of a place in scripture where no gossip took place:
Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. - Ezekiel 37:4

There wasn't a single gossip in Ezekiel's boneyard. They were perfectly fine to dwell together just as dead as could be. The only way the dead in the valley of dry bones could have offended anyone else is if the passerby thought they were an eyesore. That means whoever killed them intentionally failed to bury them.

When you let God teach you deadness to self, be sure he won't put you somewhere out of sight and out of mind. When someone's dead to self and living for God, they'll annoy the daylights out of hypocrites.

Hypocrites will scorn your praise. They'll wince at your shouting, and they'll think less of you for public tears of joy. If you're dead, and they're offended, they're mad at someone who they wish would have buried you. So I say let them be offended. Hopefully it convicts them and they get saved.

Be dead enough to be unable to offend others. If they're going to be offended, let it be your deadness that offends them, and hopefully they'll learn death to self themselves. No wonder there was a revival among a bunch of dead folks!

How dead are You?

Our failure as God's people to be dead to self can always be traced back to one simple problem. Pride. It's what ruined Lucifer, and if you're not careful, it'll ruin you. Take a hard line against your own pride, and by killing your pride, you'll begin understanding the issue of death to self.

Fighting back against smart remarks people make, the potential embarrassment you might feel, and the ability to harm others - rid your life of them. They don't matter. What matters is being dead to self, so that Christ will look on your emptiness as being a vessel he can inhabit and use for his glory. Oh that we would die to self for His use in these wicked days.

Come visit me at The Servant's Journal for fresh content on the POWER OF GOD every Monday and Thursday morning.

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