You see, one day, during the early years of my walk with the Lord, I was given a Kathryn Kuhlman cassette tape, “The Secret to the Power of the Spirit.” This message changed the course of my life! And it continues to affect me a half-century later.
We rarely hear messages like this, but in the past few weeks, God has been searing this word into my heart, and I can’t wait another moment to share it with you.
In elementary school, we learned about the basic necessities of life that we need as human beings simply to survive—light, air, water, food, and shelter.
But we also have emotional needs, including love, recognition, security, self-expression, a healthy self-esteem, fresh new experiences, comfort, and more. These are healthy desires placed within us by our Creator.
One of the great life lessons we struggle to learn is that only the Lord can truly meet every need.
Why is it so hard to understand this?
Unless the Grain of Wheat Dies
When I was given the tape “The Secret to the Power of the Spirit,” I went home to my bedroom, and the power of God came all over me the instant Kathryn Kuhlman began speaking. I quickly discovered that her theme was an unusual one: “Dying to Self.”
I listened intently, but it was difficult to understand what she was saying. I kept playing that tape over and over until finally the Holy Spirit began to help me understand.
She talked about total dependence upon the Lord, not independence from Him. She shared that one day in Los Angeles she yielded to Him completely—body, soul, and spirit—and it transformed her life.
Her message, anointed by the Holy Spirit, changed the course of my life that day. And it continues to affect me a half-century later.
There is a passage of Scripture that is especially filled with meaning about dying to self:
Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:20-21 NKJV)
We notice that Philip came and told Andrew about this request. In turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus:
But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (John 12:23-26)
Jesus Himself taught that after the grain of wheat falls from the sower’s hand, it lies alone. But if it dies, life explodes through it, and it brings forth a great harvest.
Anyone who serves the Lord will discover that the greatest hindrance to the Christian life is self. Self is the greatest hindrance to the power of God, to His presence in our lives, and to experiencing the glory of God.
Let the dying process begin!
Journey Back to the Cross
How important is the message of dying to self?
The apostle Paul wrote, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31), and he spent much time teaching the church how to die to self. One of the most revealing passages is found in his letter to the church in Rome:
If we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. (Romans 6:5-8)
Over and over, Scripture ties dying to self with accepting Jesus as our Savior.
That is because our inward man—our spirit man—and our outward man are going in opposite directions. That’s why we must sacrifice our outward man.
Self-sacrifice gives us victory over satan.
Self-saving gives satan victory over us.
That’s why Jesus talked about dying to self so much.
Saving self, keeping self, and protecting self allow the devil to have victory. We simply cannot serve the Lord effectively and preserve self at the same time.
First and foremost, dying to self means yielding ourselves to the Lord in everything. Everything!
Jesus spoke of His coming death on the cross and how His followers would also be required to give themselves completely—“unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies.”
The only people who have genuine authority over satan are those who choose to die to self by going to the cross.
What must we do to experience the process of death to self?
We must die to our own ambitions and desires. Nothing less will do. We don’t literally get a hammer and allow our hands and feet to be nailed to a cross. But spiritually, it means we must offer the “old man” to be sacrificed.
That’s what Paul was speaking about when he wrote, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6).
He also explained this concept to the Galatian church:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Here’s the point: Only by living a life of total dependence upon the Lord and by nailing our flesh to the cross can we live so sin cannot touch or control us. Following Jesus to the cross means living in victory, having all our needs met. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful life?
Upon the authority of God’s Word, I’m telling you that it is indeed possible, for Jesus wouldn’t have taught us to do something that we could never do.
And if you yield yourself completely to Him, your life will never be the same. Others will notice. Hearts around you will be touched for eternity as they see the changes in you.
The Great Challenge
Here’s the problem. The enemy wants nothing more than to get us to live crossless lives. He wants to see us live lives that are not dependent on the Lord.
“You don’t have to die,” he’ll tell you, just as he taunted Jesus (Matthew 5). “I’ll give you all these kingdoms and you don’t have to go through Calvary. All you have to do is bow down to me. Then you can be the king without going through the sacrifice on the cross.”
More than 2,000 years later, satan still offers “great deals” as long as we avoid the cross. “I’ll give it all to you—kingdoms, power, pleasure, riches, and so much more,” he boldly promises, as long as we don’t follow Jesus to the cross.
When we decide to crucify self, the battle really begins. The devil and his demons will do everything in their power to keep us from doing what we said we’d do. Satan knows the destruction we’ll bring to his kingdom the moment we say, “Lord, I yield myself completely to You.”
The second we yield ourselves to God, allowing our sins to be nailed to the cross, we terrorize satan. He realizes that we are aligning ourselves with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as well as with the angelic hosts, and that he is defeated.
It strikes fear in his forces when a Christian chooses to follow this verse: “God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27). For us, this means dying daily to self and allowing the old man in us to be sacrificed on the altar.
There is no victory in life, no genuine authority over the devil, unless we choose the way of the cross. It’s the only place where satan cannot touch us.
The Amazing Trade
When you make the decision to “take up your cross,” God will lead you slowly, gently, and surely into that life of surrender. That’s what the cross is all about. Jesus taught His disciples:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)
As Jesus said, in effect, “Lose your life and gain Mine.” What a miraculous exchange that is!
When we choose God’s will, we’re choosing a life of love, recognition, security, self-expression, self-esteem, fresh new experiences, comfort, and more because these are our rights as new creations, surrendered to His will.
So, it’s time to make a decision. Are you going to be a self-pleaser or a Jesus-pleaser?
Are you going to take up your cross daily and follow the Lord?
Decide today to die to self so you can live and walk in the Spirit!
Take the Challenge
Dying to self gives birth to everything God has for you, including your finances. I mention this because I’ve recently been asked, both privately and publicly, about my thoughts on giving and prosperity.
I believe now more than ever that giving is scriptural. The principle of giving is just as biblical as everything else the Bible teaches us. Jesus Himself placed a high importance on giving, and what’s important to me is what the Lord says.
Remember, Jesus promised special blessings upon those who give generously toward the Gospel:
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6 NKJV).
Dying to self should be evident in our giving. As believers, we give sacrificially, even as we do it cheerfully and unselfishly.
Giving shows our love for the Lord. Every time we give, we are demonstrating how much we love Him! We are not buying His love—of course not! But our giving moves Him in such a way that He blesses us in all areas of our life. We should remember that our giving should equal our faith and our love for the Lord who gave Himself on the cross for us.
Giving, as with dying to self, is woven throughout God’s Word. And when we show our love to Him in any area of life—spiritual, emotional, physical, or financial—He responds with such an abundance that it overflows into every area of life.
We are told, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). He gives us an abundant life—a life with no lack!
In fact, God desires to pour out bountiful blessings upon believers who give toward reaching the hurting and lost:
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV).
Every time we give to bless the work of God, those blessings come back to us multiplied. He blesses us so much more than we can ever bless Him.
Prayerfully consider planting a significant offering today toward the spread of the Gospel. And as you send your gift, know that you are helping me spread the life-saving, miracle-working message of salvation to the nations.
More than ever, we must preach Jesus crucified and resurrected, first and foremost, using every means possible to reach the lost and hurting. We must point people to the cross, for the cross is life. The cross is what brings change!
When you plant your seed into the fertile soil of this worldwide ministry, you are sowing the Gospel into millions of lives who are in desperate need of salvation. They need deliverance. They need to be freed from the bondage of sin and evil.
Will you prayerfully consider what God is directing you to send as a much-needed offering today?
As you give today toward sharing the message of the cross, God will bless you so that you can continue to be a blessing to others. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
For the glorious and eternal cause of our precious Lord, Jesus Christ,