In this continuing series on Dying to Self, please be sure and read my first part to see what the bible says about self. This concept of dying to self is so difficult for us to understand. It’s really deep and goes contrary to our understanding in this temporal realm. But it is a SUPER EASY concept for others to use to manipulate and control our lives! Because of that, we desperately need to take time to examine this for reasons I’ll mention later.
Is there a correlation between living sacrificially and being joyless?
I tend to see a correlation between joy and everything in the Christian life. But it isn’t always the link people think there is.
Let me start by saying that when we are living to gratify our flesh, deep in our spirits we are quenching joy. As new creatures, we are created to live in joyful surrender to the Father. It is actually at the core of our nature. Living as if we were still part of the old creation, however, stifles this new nature. We are living with a huge civil war being waged internally. There is no way that joy can survive, let alone thrive, in this environment.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 1 Pet 2:11
I would like to interject something here. What I am discussing is the person living in rebellion to God. So often we get confused here but scripture gives us a wonderful picture of the different types of believer and how to deal with each one.
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thes 5:14
You’ve got your unruly person – the person living in deliberate unconfessed (and unrepented of) sin. That person is to be admonished, chastised, reproved. Kind of a harsh response but this person responds to nothing less. In fact, they seldom hear it as harsh because their hearts are hardened and actually reject joy in order to keep themselves holding God at arm’s length.
Then you’ve got your fainthearted person – the person who is generally very tender. They hear every reproof as if it were for them and are often cowed with guilt and shame that is more often than not, from the enemy (and used by those who seek to manipulate and control)! They struggle with fear and definitely don’t live in joy or victory. This person is to be encouraged; literally be given courage. They need their faith to be cheered on and reminded of who God is and what Jesus has done for them.
Lastly is the weak person – they are just struggling in general. They fail because their faith is weak and their joy is covered over with failure. They simply need help; for someone to come alongside of them showing them how to live this Christian life. They need to see the possibilities and be strengthened with confidence in who God is and who Jesus has re-created us to be!
Which person are you? What is capturing your joy?
Did you notice that each of the types mentioned above are missing joy in their lives? But each one struggles with a different thing. It is imperative that we don’t get things backwards here.
If I’m living in unrepentant sin, I’ll have no joy.
But it doesn’t follow that if I am joyless that I am in unrepentant sin.
If I’m easily cowed, living in guilt and shame, I’ll have no joy.
But it doesn’t follow that if I am joyless that I am feeling guilt and shame.
If I am weak and don’t know how to follow Jesus, I’ll have no joy.
But it doesn’t follow that if I am joyless that I am clueless on being a Christian.
There are many reasons why our joy is missing in our lives. It is important to begin to identify WHY we are living without joy in our lives – to determine which type of person we are in light of 1 Thes 5:14. Then we can begin to learn how to bring that part of our lives under the Lordship of Jesus to restore His promised freedom, victory and joy!
Evaluate and rectify.
Are we running from God? Is His Spirit continually bringing conviction but we are stopping our ears? We need to absolutely die to self, to sacrifice to His holiness and righteousness, confess our sin and repent. This will open the floodgates of JOY!
Are we being manipulated and controlled to believe things or do things that are hurtful and damaging to ourselves and our relationship with God? Are we surrendering to the voice of man or the devil and blocking out the tender lovingkindness of our Heavenly Father? We need to absolutely die to self, to sacrifice to His love and compassion and not give away God’s authority to anyone else. This will open the floodgates of JOY!
Are we wallowing in failure and lack of self-control? Does the thought of day after day following God stir feelings of anxiety and despair? We need to absolutely die to self, to sacrifice to the truth that it is His strength and Spirit which give us the ability to follow every command. This will open the floodgates of JOY!
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:11
Are you joyless? Then yes, we need to sacrifice and die to self. BUT it might not look the way you think it will look! Seek the Lord’s face and He will give you wisdom to know if you need reproof, courage or help!