Life & Death (Renovation of the Heart Chapter 4)

How does change take place? Some people think it we can do it through superficial action. Others believe we can do it through Will power and good intentions. The Bible says a death must occur. And this death is the one death we fear more than any other death in the whole world. Yet, this death is absolutely necessary for us to follow God.
It is the death to self.
It is not optional. It is central to following Christ. The death to self is required for transformation to occur. In fact, Willard gives this principle a primary focus for those who want change:
“Christian spiritual formation rests on this indispensable foundation of death to self and cannot proceed except insofar as that foundation is being firmly laid and sustained.”
The death to self is the willing sacrifice of self as god. It means that we no longer try to take control of ourselves and refuse to be the center. I no longer seek, as my primary objective, to secure myself, promote myself, or indulge myself.
It sounds painful because it costs us our self-centeredness which, if we are honest, we hold as one of the most important things in the world. We guard it fiercely. We indulge it as much as is socially acceptable. And it does not want to die.
But Willard leads us to understand that what we give up is nothing compared to what we gain. He says,
“Imagine you discovered gold or oil in a certain property and no one else knew about it. Can you see yourself being sad and feeling deprived for having to gather all your resources and ‘sacrifice’ them in order to buy that property? Hardly. Now you know what it is like to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.”

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