Dying is something none of us wants to do, but every time we do it, we are pleased with the results. We want more of it. We want a deeper death next time. But next time comes and it’s still a battle. I’m not talking about a literal death of course. That only happens once. But even the death we deal to our sinful, or carnal nature, is perhaps good practice for the literal event.
The reason we have to practice dying is because there are so many layers of rebellion, sin and carnality in us. Also, it is because many of the things we die to, come back to life again in portions and fractions later on and we need to kill it again. Every time we do it, we find it is a most natural and gratifying experience. God is faithful to bring spiritual life in degrees equal to or greater than the carnal death we experience.
And yet somehow with each thrust of the divine sword, we think something terrible will happen. That somehow, though God has been faithful so many times before, He is going to forget about us and leave us hanging this time. Kind of like the mentality of the Israelites out in the desert.
But it does get easier with practice, even if it seems like it is only by small degrees. For even our fear of letting go and mortifying the flesh is something that needs to die. And as we hew away at that foundational obstacle we inevitably surrender easier every time.
Paul said in 1st Corinthians 15:31 that he died daily. Obviously he had discovered the benefits of surrender and it had become a daily habit for him. So in that regard it had obviously become sufficiently easy for him to enable him to do it every day. But on the other hand, even though he was able to do it every day, because of his level of overall surrender, it still testifies to the fact that even he had things that needed a lifetime of deaths and that he was reaching greater and greater spiritual growth without peaking.
If a spiritual giant like Paul needed to die every day, we can rest assured that as long as we’re breathing we need to die. We have only a limited view of the strength of our carnality, because we have a bias. We see things from the inside. We’ve been familiar with carnal thoughts from infancy, so it’s hard to discern their danger. But the strength of our flesh is certainly great. What else do we know of that takes a beating and killing for a century straight sometimes, without complete destruction? Fortunately, the strength of the Holy Spirit is greater.
He draws us and courts us. He chastens us and makes us miserable in our carnal ways until we see that surrender is less painful than what we are living in. If this doesn’t happen, we harden our hearts like Pharaoh and go deeper into our sins. Thank God for his faithfulness!
On our part, we also can be faithful. Not to live a life free of mistakes and even sins, but to be completely open with God about our struggles and to practice dying every time our carnality rears its ugly head.