Natural Death

Natural Death

Killing self…

May 8th, 2019

I don’t know a follower of Jesus that doesn’t struggle with self at some point in their lives. Most deal with it on a fairly regular basis.

I’ve debated with myself, about this inability to cast off the desire to embellish self. I see two positions sparing for the lead role in being the source of self-worship. One comes from a failure of discipleship, the other would be a core deficiency that exists in humanity from the outset.  It’s really of no consequence either way where the source of this is derived from, the only thing that is critical is that we keep self at bay.

Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth.

Colossians 3:5-8 (CSB)

Paul in his letter to the Colossians exhorted them to put to death sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed. All six of these have their roots back in the desire to elevate self.

I heard a good sermon yesterday while I was driving which wasn’t based on this topic specifically but touched on our prioritization of self will. The statement that grabbed my attention was that desire is a difficult thing to overcome, but regardless of how much we feel like we can’t go on without fulfilling a desire, any desire can easily be displaced, when supplanted by an even greater desire.

I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it holds true. Here is an example:


You are on the road driving to a far-off destination and your stomach lets you know that it is time to pull over and get a bite to eat. You observe the signs along the highway looking for a good exit to get off to get some food, but it’s one of those sections of road that have little of anything. Every mile your gut reminds you with greater urgency it is time to pull off.
At last, you see a sign for a familiar restaurant chain indicating that they are located right off the next exit. Immediately your mind resolves you will pull off the highway and get something to eat at this establishment.
You get there, park the car, go in and sit down at a table. The waitress comes by to greet you and offer you something to drink and you ask for some coffee. She promptly brings the coffee and sits it in front of you. You’re ready to order your meal since you are fairly familiar with the menu and you relate your desire to the waitress who writes it down and lets you know she’ll bring it right out as soon as it is ready.
The smell of good food flows through the establishment and each minute your stomach reminds you just how important it is that you squelch this hunger.
Suddenly there is a loud noise coming out of the kitchen area and the doors fly open, as the entire staff from the kitchen runs through the doors, out into the lobby followed by a cloud of sooty smoke.
GET OUT! The manager yells to everyone, immediately you put down your coffee and exit the building thankful that you escaped the rapidly growing flames.

What happened here? Even though you had an intense desire to eat, your fear of the fire now engulfing the restaurant was even greater.  If not, you might have remained and waited for your food. However, when you realized the situation, you took the expedient measure of leaving the building with the rest of the staff and patrons.

One compelling desire was supplanted by an even greater desire.

Self-Worship

One of the most pervasive sins that plague most of us is self-worship.

Self-worship takes place any time we place our own desires ahead of God’s.

In our example this would be that our devotion to God is the food we desire but self is the fire. We respond to the fire in lieu of the hunger. When if we are properly aligning our priorities, self would be the food we want to consume, and the fire would be the directives of the Holy Spirit.

We remain in the flesh and so we will have fleshly desires. Some are benign and necessary such as eating from time to time. Others are not so much such as the six that Paul encouraged the Colossians to “Put to death”.

These, Paul is saying, don’t just prioritize, eliminate them from our lives completely.

But even though these six may be difficult to eliminate from our lives if we are involved in them the more insidious self-based sin is even the ones that we can attribute necessity to. I need to eat. I need to make a living. I need to attend my child’s ball game.

These needs are naturals for inserting themselves a head of God in our lives. Now, this isn’t intended to suggest that we don’t require nourishment or provide an income for ourselves and our families. They only become sin when they assert themselves before God. When they become the fire in our lives, we have a sin problem to deal with. As long as they remain on the menu and our service to God is the fire, we are good.

Self asserts itself from our want or desire as well. In our three ‘need’ examples I included needing to attend our children’s ball game.  This isn’t really a need it is a desire. Again, not a bad desire. But when it is allowed to be inserted ahead of God, then that desire becomes sin.

Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son.

1 John 2:22 (CSB)

Antichrist can be a person, place, or thing that supplants Father or the Son from their place of being that fire in us. God should always take precedent in our lives. When we allow our own needs and desires to assume the position of highest priority, regardless of the requirement or the desire it becomes sin to us. This is true it is one of the six that Paul warned the Colossians about or one of the more benign.

There are many antichrist’s which have been and will be. These shouldn’t be confused with ‘the antichrist’ who will come forth during the end times. However, because self-worship is so prevalent, I consider it to be the single most common antichrist we face.

Anything that stands between us and God, or us and Jesus is antichrist and consequently a sin.

Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth.

Colossians 3:5-8 (CSB)

These six should take priority for elimination from our lives. But I want to encourage all of us to bring a “Natural Death” these and all other self-worship in our lives. Keep the Farther and the Son at the front of our priorities and bring self needs and desires under subjection to the Will of our Lord. Because of this pervasive nature of self it will never become easy to keep self from inserting itself ahead of the Lord, but we need to pray about this and do our best to lead with Jesus at the forefront.

In the Grace of Jesus!
kip…

Free Notifications!

Sign up now and get email
notification of new devotionals, 
ponderings, & Passages for Today posts!

Cancel any time.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *