Dying to Self – The Absurdity of Pride

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Mat 16:24-26)

In my toddler years as a believer I pondered the importance of the doctrine of dying to self. Why would Jesus demand such a radical position of people in order to follow him? Self isn’t all that bad. We make mistakes, but surely God doesn’t demand for us to throw away our inherent goodness in word, thought and deed in order to be called a true disciple of Christ. After all, God loves us just as we are, right? I puzzled over it for years without coming to any fruitful conclusions. I classified these verses as hyperbole. After I embraced the doctrines of Grace or Calvinism I came to fully understand man’s desperate natural condition. Man is radically corrupt in all his character and nature. Not one part of his being seeks to glorify God in any manner whatsoever.

I now realize why Jesus demanded self abandonment.

Self is no good. The flesh profits nothing. We are like a bruised apple. Peel the skin away and you find the spoiled flesh reaches to the very core. We can do nothing of ourselves or for God’s kingdom. We can’t improve the flesh no matter how many self-help seminars we attend, or Joel Osteen books we read. It is a rotten, stinking, decaying corpse that is corrupt all the way through to our very souls.

We must be renewed in mind and Spirit, our eyes made open to the glories of God’s kingdom. We must be given a new heart in order to conform to the image of Christ. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We must love God with all our strength, mind and heart and we must love others as ourselves. We cannot be followers of Christ without these things. We must deny our natural inclinations toward selfishness in order to fulfill Christ’s demands. We must die to self. Not only that, we must take up our cross, which represents the sufferings and tribulations all believers experience as pilgrims traveling through a hostile world. I understand that. I know in my mind all this is true. Yet, I’m holding on to self, refusing to surrender this formless lump of clay to the potter’s hand. My sanctification is thwarted by my own efforts.

The worst part of it all is, it doesn’t make an ounce of sense for me to do so. I have too much pride. And that is utterly absurd when I consider what a weak and useless person I am after the flesh. Let me describe myself to those who may not know me, personally. I am by nature very lazy and unmotivated. Very little moves me to action unless I find it beneficial or self-gratifying. I’m not a very good employee. I do what I need to do and little else. My work at home fails inspection and my wife’s standards. I don’t do house repair and maintenance very well, nor do I try very hard. I avoid housework as much as possible, despite the fact my wife works and goes to school. I am irresponsible and immature. I can be grumpy and cynical at times. I don’t take the spiritual or fatherly authority at my house, tending to avoid conflict and strife at all costs. I have done an extremely poor job of raising up Christian children. I am forgetful and absent minded. I have selective hearing and selective understanding. My mind is muddled and full of fog. I’m not very bright, as I’m constantly reminded of daily. I don’t have much charm or charisma about me whatsoever. I’m not witty or funny. I’m somewhat of a loner and hermit. And I don’t have any giftings or talents that I can discern. I have no ambitions or aspirations for greatness. I am sluggish and slow of speech. I continually suffer from fits of despondency and discouragement. I am up and down like a yo-yo. All it takes is a single word of criticism and I crash like a beta version of Windows.

I have no quality of character that any person on this earth would envy. Yet, God has delivered me from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. God saved me, the chief of sinners, a despised, weak and worthless vessel, even by the world’s standards, by His good pleasure and for His eternal purposes. I can’t understand it. I can’t fathom why God would choose to save a wretched soul like me, but He has. Yet, for reasons that completely escape me I sometimes serve God in my own strength and abilities. Why would I not want to die to my flesh since it is so worthless? The world rejects such as me, why do I think that God would approve of my works of the flesh?  Maybe I fear the loss of identity. I like me too much. Instead of having my identity fully realized in Christ I want to share some of His glory by retaining the qualities within me that make me unique, that make me me. This pride hinders my sanctification. Honestly, it hinders all of us in our walk with God.

I must die completely to myself once and for all, but God’s grace must deliver me. Instead of self-righteously saying to my heavenly Father, ‘I will change and crucify my flesh for you O’ God’, I simply must be broken of heart and shattered in pride. I have discovered salvation is not born of my strivings or desires. What makes me think that sanctification and holiness spring from those same poisoned wells? I must decrease that He may increase!

Lord, I cry out to you, ‘God of peace, sanctify me completely. Keep my soul, spirit and body blameless before you. (1Th 5:23) Sanctify me in truth, for your word is truth. (Jn 17:17) Make me holy as you are Holy, O God. Purify my conscience of dead works that I may serve you, the Living God. (Heb 9:14) Grant unto me the giftings you have called me to operate in, that your name may be exalted and glorified. Any excellence the world sees in me will astonish them, and they cannot deny that it is the Lord who works in me. Smash my strongholds of pride, smite my self-righteousness into powder. Swing your mighty sword and divide me asunder. Slay self once and for all, Almighty God and Savior of my soul. Amen’.

25 thoughts on “Dying to Self – The Absurdity of Pride

  1. “And I don’t have any giftings or talents that I can discern.”
    I beg your pardon! If that’s the case, then what the heck are you doing with this blog? You have a gifting to write. Does God want useless people? No! You write to the world of your convictions. People read it whether you think it or not. When they do, you are planting a seed. You may not be on TV or you may not have fancy suits and a guy on an organ pounding notes after every point you make or every word you speak, but you have this blog. It’s one more corner of the universe that God uses to reach people.

    “All it takes is a single word of criticism and I crash like a beta version of Windows.”
    It may seem like it, but I highly doubt it. If this were true, we would wheel you out on a cart and sell you in a surplus auction. There has been a recent event in my life that left me feeling like I was lost, hopeless, worthless, and dead in a ditch like a Windows Me installation. However, I saw that wasn’t taking my life anywhere, but back to DOS. So, I reformatted with a “fruitful” OS and now life seems more rock (Matt. 7:24-25) solid.

    Is it just me or did that parallel actually make sense?

  2. Your words of encouragement do the soul good, but I have difficulty receiving praise just as much as criticism. My mind won’t accept it. My thinking runs something like this, ‘My opinion is the only valid opinion’. This is pride at work.
    I am constantly comparing my abilities to others. In this age of interconnectedness with the whole rest of the world, that can only lead to disappointment. In comparing my writings to all other bloggers and such, I discover how woefully inadequate they truly are. But why do I compare myself? I think because in the dark recesses of my heart I truly desire to be the best at everything I do. What’s wrong with that? It involves self-exaltation by comparing yourself to another. The bible warns us against these things. Again, this is pride rearing its great big ugly head. Pride is the most dreadful spawn of fallen human nature. It can drive a man to insanity or utter despair. I tend toward despair (the insanity aspect is debatable.) God has broken me of much pride but I still have pockets of resistance fortifying themselves in various strongholds of my heart. Pride is self-centeredness. Whether I think too highly of myself or too lowly of myself, the fact is I constantly am thinking of myself. That is why I wrote the prayer at the end. it is my heartfelt desire to die to self and serve God with a pure heart.
    BTW, yes, your parallel made perfect sense. Sometimes I feel like I should shut down and head to surplus, but God won’t let me take the easy way out. God’s OS dual boots with my old OS and the two don’t get along well. But everyday God’s OS takes over duties once assigned to the old OS and my system runs better and better as time marches on.

  3. All you have said about pride is true, but there is one thing to touch on.

    “I think because in the dark recesses of my heart I truly desire to be the best at everything I do. What’s wrong with that?”
    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. You are just looking at it in the wrong perspective. Think of it this way. Be the best at everything you do… in God’s eyes. You are comparing yourself to worldly standards, but your Father is in Heaven. You are IN this world NOT of it. Practice the wise words you write in this blog. Give GOD the glory in your writings and it won’t matter what anyone else thinks or even what YOU think. Who cares what the world thinks the “best blogger” should be like? I wasn’t even aware that such a competition existed. Remember your Father in Heaven Who is above ALL of that.

    The trouble with dual-booting is that it is too easy to watch the bootloader boot the default OS. Often times, you will boot the wrong OS and have to start over again.

  4. Good point. The ‘best’ I must aim for is God’s best. I must ‘press on toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’. Scripture teaches for us to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect. I just heard Paul Washer preaching that we must strive for holiness. Perfection and complete holiness are unattainable goals in this life in these bodies but we must strive for God’s best and allow God’s grace to strengthen us in our weaknesses.

  5. Thanks for your interesting blog, and your challenging thoughts.

    I would like the offer a challenge that God presented to me when he challenged me about my pride … After dealing with so many layers of my pride he revealed to me another level of pride that went even deeper, and that was the pride that looked a little similar to humilty, the problem with that was it stopped me from accepting who I really was in Christ. And you my friend have awesome gifts, and are an awesome Creation in Christ … you don’t have to reject complements to be humble, but you are being humble in accepting God has made you a certain way, and you had nothing to do with it. HOW AWESOME is that!! you are a new Creation after all

    God bless you my friend!!

  6. Thank you for the kind words. Pride takes many heinous forms, self-loathing being one of them. Self hatred becomes such an obsession, a person can do no earthly good – simply because he is too focused on himself. I’m preaching to myself now 🙂
    Self-denial is not the same thing as self-hatred. Loathing the sin in us and humbly prostrating ourselves before God asking for mercy because of our helpless condition is far different from constantly berating myself.

    God Bless

    BTW I plan on posting a little something concerning pride here pretty soon. Watch for it.

  7. I too think we need to die to our pride. Our selfish ambition. To be the best at everything is to want to exhalt oneself above God. To be a god. The human being is contstantly seeking ways it can exhalt itself. You hear about looking out for number one. Taking some time out for some ‘me’ time. It’s all a lie from the devil. Paul doesn’t consider his woes and himself. In all his writings he considers others and the Lord. It is difficult for me to accept critisism as well as compliments. I too battle. God has too challenged me. I am rebellious. Deep down I want to tell God how to do his job. What’s up with that. I want God to deal with me my way. Why do I think I know better than God. How can the pot tell the potter how to create shape the pot. We are nothing…That’s the way its supposed to be. Satan was too prideful. He wanted to be exhalted above God. What makes us so different.?

    • you know in my quest to be a professional actor pride comes up alot ..its like i know how i want the direction of my career to go but at the same time i know i cant do it alone .id like to let god in no i take that back i would love to let him so bad .i know my current situation i need him more then anything i seriously do .its just hard ..how are you coping ?

  8. We aren’t different, for Satan is our spiritual father – at least until
    God delivers us from the devil’s dark kingdom and adopts us into His family by His sovereign grace. Dying to self is a process called sanctification. We die a little to self and are made more alive in Christ each and every day.
    God Bless.

  9. Through confession, when we bravely look in a see the depravity of our rotten heart, we confess to God and He takes it where it is crucified and we are give life through the work of the cross, the life of Jesus Christ. We yield our will up then we are no longer our own. Our only job then is to be prepared to listen to God to do whatever He tells us to do, whenever He tells us to do it . Worship, praise, prayer, total dedication of the life now to God. Whenever the spirit detects pride/sin, and we receive the check, confess it and let Him remove it. Bring the body under subjection by speaking to it under the authority of Christ, mortifying(killing) the deeds of the sinful flesh. You’re right, you’re not worth anything outside of the sacrifice of your life for God to use as He deems fit. We are altogether unlovely, all of us. It’s a wondrous thing to be indwelt by the Spirit of the Creator of the Universe while we are loathful apart from Him. He does the work. The only thing we can really do is be willing to let Him have our will, confess any sin as we examine our own hearts, worship & bring our bodies into subjection. I suggest the book “the Bondage Breaker”. Sit down first and count the cost though. It will cost you everything, but those of us who are His, have already had everything this world has to offer spoiled for them anyway. I never got any satisfaction from the material world, it always left me yearning for something more. Once there, let your light shine so all may see and glorify God. That’s what I’m learning to do. I’m new to total surrender so I’m a little off balance right now, but God will strengthen and establish me. I feel disoriented but what has happened to me was the goal but it’s not what I expected. I’m astonished actually. Since this happened to me 2 weeks ago, I have already been used to lead one person to the Lord & pray for one person with a brain aneurism who is miraculously up talking, eating ice, begging to go home & they think she shouldn’t be behaving this way. They are going to do surgery this morning. I’m thinking they may find that aneurism gone. I’m new to this but miracles are already beginning to manifest as I stay in listening willful obedience before Him. I was saved in 1989 and consider the last 19 years as wilderness wonderings. Praise God I’ve finally crossed Jordan. When you finally die to yourself, there will be no question. If you’re not already there it sounds like you almost are. I didn’t do it myself. I did yield my will but God had to lead me to it as I was too confused and disoriented to do it without being led there. My experience was radical and I’m not sure everyone’s is, but I can’t imagine how it can’t be radical for anyone who finally dies to self. The power of God is flowing through me now & I’m just following sort of dazed. I’m aware of it but I’m rather detached from what’s going on around me and everything seems surreal. I found myself grieving and confessing to God that I’m a little afraid because this is a new world for me, but even if I’m a babe born too soon and in trouble, I’m in His hands.

  10. Very well written. The world has ignored The Father and is worshipping at the Alter of Self. I daily must remember to put on the new self, and allow the old self to die. This teaching is so important to us as humans, especially as new generations embrace “it’s all about me”. We are children of The Most High God – pride & ego must be left behind if we are to enter the Kingdom

  11. Beacon light,

    I am curious to know where you are in your walk now with Christ. I find myself in similiar places, i.e. self-examination, battles with pride the realization of how wicked my heart and mind really are. For so long I thought I was on the right track, a good husband and good father, but if it is all Me and my self-rightousness is it real? I find myself on this journey of self death and my fear is that my exposed faults will lead to depression, doubt, and lack of faith (because I thought “I” was doing all the right stuff) My pride and dysfunctional defense systems seem to make me want to give up. My fight has left, my sense of greatness has been challenged, my confidence has deminished and Im scared as to if I can bounce back. It is as if all my filth is coming to the surface and I can no longer control it. I’m also afraid of screwing up my relationships with my wife and children. I guess I’m askin how is your walk now because it looks like your original post was in April of ’07

    I’m looking for hope, a testimony, some advice etc

  12. Without really knowing your story, from the little glimpse you are giving me here I must say I think you are on the path to true salvation. Your exposed faults are the means God is using to draw you to himself. You are approaching the place I came to three years ago when I truly began to understand how great a sinner I am – the chief of all sinners. I am the greatest sinner I know because I’m keenly aware of the inner workings and motivations of my heart. You may be feeling the same way. The good news is that only the spirit of God can bring such conviction to naturally prideful and self-righteous man. Cast your pride, accomplishments and all perceived goodness to the wind my friend and cling to Christ because only his righteousness can put you in right-standing with God and only his shed blood can wash away your sins forever and remove them as far as the east is from the west. Read and meditate on Psalm 51 and be reconciled to God with the same brokenness and humility as David did.

    God bless.

  13. Just stumbled across this blog.
    After reading your blog post, I came to the realization that I have never really repented of “pride”. It’s mind boggling after walking with The Lord 20 plus years, that I never thought I was guilty of pride. Now however, it makes perfect sense why I’ve struggled all these years with an up and down, (mostly down) walk with my Lord. I thank you for your candor and honesty, Brother. And I would also like to thank the good Brother’s and Sister’s who have commented on this blog. May God bless you all. Spot on!

    I’m so sick of my flesh and it’s filth, deceit, and rottenness. Please slay the flesh in me, dear Lord!

    I’ve just last night finished reading “Absolute Surrender” by Andrew Murray. What a blessing to read that we can indeed be free from sin’s grasp and the flesh’s corruption, once and for all! Glory to The Lamb of God!

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