“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
We have often heard it said that the three enemies of the Christian are the world, the flesh, and the devil. While all three have a way of pulling us off course, perhaps the most bothersome to many Christians is the flesh – the old nature – the “self.”
Later in the letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul wrote, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). Paul also wrote, “I die daily” (I Corinthians 15:31b). Every day we must die to self and live for Christ.
The great reformer Martin Luther once said, “I am more afraid of my own heart than I am the Pope and all his Cardinals, for I have within me that great pope, self.” Can you identify with that?
Theodore Monod (1836-1921) wrote a poem that expresses beautifully this war with the flesh and his desire to deny self:
O the bitter shame and sorrow, That a time could ever be,
When I let the Saviour’s pity plead in vain, and proudly answered, “All of self, and none of Thee!”
Yet He found me; I beheld Him bleeding on the accursed tree,
Heard Him pray, “Forgive them, Father!” and my wistful heart said faintly, “Some of self, and some of Thee!”
Day by day His tender mercy, healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient, brought me lower, while I whispered, “Less of self, and more of Thee!”
Higher than the highest heavens, deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered; grant me now my supplication, “None of self, and all of Thee!”
Jesus spoke these words, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).