The Absolute Necessity of Dying To Self

Return To Index


Ro 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to  more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 (NKJV)          

 Ro 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
Having refuted the argument that itís okay to sin because in sinning we cause Godís grace to abound, (O what a wonderful thing to live as we please just to show the world how beautiful and all encompassing Godís grace is!)                
This was the near fatal mistake of the Corinthians in regard to the sexual sin in their midst.

 1Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife.  2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (RSV)

One can almost here the Corinthians bragging amongst themselves and to their neighbors. ďOh what a wonderful church we have, we are so tolerant of sin.Ē Those who commit abominations in the eyes of the Lord and even in the eyes of the world are accepted here!Ē Our church just oozes grace! Yea, oozing like a leaky deadly landfill!

 1Co 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (NKJV)

Such were some of you, but you arenít these things anymore! You were once headed in the direction of death, but now you are headed in the direction of life! And anytime you slip back into these sins, you undergo a sort of reverse repentance, you turn back from your turning back and are headed back down the road to death. Like Lotís wife, you are playing with the fire of Sodom and Gomorrah!
Now, Paul  goes after another argument. Why not continue in sin because we are no longer under law but under grace? Does not the Bible tell us that if we are led by the Spirit we are not under the Law?

 Ga 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (NKJV)

Yes! But what spirit are you being led by? Are you being led by the Holy Spirit of God or the unholy spirit of the world, your flesh, and the devil. Itís easy to test the spirits....just hold their promptings and your actions up against the Word of God.

Anything contrary to the Word of God is of sin and shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? And Paul again answers with an emphatic no! And beginning in verse 16 he gives us very good reasons for not following that path.

Given the state of the church today, Paul has a very important message for us here. One that each of us would do well to grasp and receive. For many in the church today continue to live in the wrong kind of slavery, and the reason they continue to live in the wrong kind of slavery is related to this doctrine of cheap grace.


There is no fear of God in their bones and so they continue in their sin forgetting that the wages of sin is death. Remember this about this letter to the Romans. Paul is not addressing sinners who have never been set free from sin. He is speaking to Christians who by baptism died to sin and were set free to live to God.
Have you been baptized? Then this is for you, As a baptized believer in the Lord Jesus Christ should you sin because you are no longer under the law but under grace?.........Certainly not!

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

This is elementary! Havenít you figured this out yet?  Donít you know that when you give in to temptation and sin you become itís slave. Think of what it means to present yourself to something or someone. You are saying, ďHere I am, at your service!Ē

You are voluntarily and consciously aware of the fact that you are surrendering to something. If you are surrendering to sin, then you ought to wise up and realize where that road leads. It leads to death! Get off of it now!

Donít think for a moment that because the path of grace is free of law that it is permissible  to have stretches of sin in it. Indulging in voluntary sin is leaving the road of grace, it is pointing you in the direction of hell rather than heaven. The prodigal son walked in two directions didnít he? Backsliding is not an option for the Christian, and unless repentance comes, it is a death sentence! ďHere is my son who once was dead but now is alive!Ē

Humbly receive the gift of repentance from God and turn back to the road of life, the road of yielding to the righteousness of God! Let go and let Jesus take over the reigns once and for all!  
He will lead you according to Godís Word.

Sometimes are lives of full of so many turnings of repentance and regret and then back to the same old sin, that we must look like a dog circling as he looks for a place to go to the bathroom! How many times will you say Iím sorry Lord I will never do that again, and then turn around and do it again. Whatís genuine about that?

One of the speakers at the menís retreat yesterday talked about ďsin management.Ē We Christians are good at sin management. Our recurring sin problems pop up and we seek to manage them in the flesh by pruning them in our own strength, but they keep coming back, and they keep coming back because we are going for the branches instead of the root.

The root needs to die, and it dies when we stop living unto our flesh and living in the reality of our baptism. When we hang our sins of pride, idolatry, unbelief, and self sufficiency on the cross with Jesus.  

Donít get me wrong, itís good that you keep turning back to God. Woe to those who throw up their hands and give up without ever turning back! The fact is, sorrow over sin should be a daily exercise for all Christians, but to think that you can willfully continue in sin for a time or a season without genuine sorrow or repentance over your sin is like playing a game of ďchickenĒ with God.

Lotís wife played the game and lost, by the grace of God, she had been delivered from Sodom. She was living under grace, on her way out, but she turned back with an improper longing and she paid the consequences, God knew her longing, He knew her wicked heart.

Beware of such longings, because they come from a heart that does not truly fear God. God knows your heart. He knew the longings of Lotís wife and He knew the longings of the Israelites who kept wanting to return to Egypt. They wanted to keep the old man alive. They all perished short of the Promised land.

Why would any Christian even think about voluntarily returning to sin and thereby court with death? Why would someone leave the safety of their baptismal grace and choose a path of disobedience that leads to death?
Having been in the ďdisobedienceĒ camp I believe I can talk to this issue. Why did I leave the cover of Godís grace and lead a life of slavery to sin? I left because I lacked understanding and a lack of understanding comes from an improper fear of the Lord.

The Bible says the ďfear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding.Ē If I wouldíve truly feared the Lord, I wouldnít have been so nonchalant about something He hates....namely sin. I never stopped to consider Godís hatred of my sin!

Well, God be thanked, He brought me to a point where I finally was able to at least get a whiff of the stench of sin. My low point was waking up in jail one Monday morning, charged with drunk driving, and hit and run involving property damage. I didnít even have the decency to call my wife and tell her where I was. Pretty low huh?

How low are you going to have to go, before the fear of the Lord overtakes you? When are you going to realize that your submission to sin is a stench in the nostrils of God? When are you going to realize that the wages of your sin is death?

When are you going to realize that God loves you so much that He doesnít want you to die, thatís why He sent His only Son into the world to pay the price of your sins?

When are you going to realize that if you humbly receive Jesus as your Savior and full time Lord, God will give you the right to be His child, and if a child, a son, no longer a slave to sin, but an heir of God through Christ. No longer inheriting death, but inheriting eternal life. When are you going to realize that God no longer wants you returning to sin and playing with death?

Don Matzat writes in his book, ďChrist EsteemĒ: There are many hurting, unhappy, discouraged people in our world today. They struggle with their little problems and failures, chasing after every flimsy hope that is held out to them whereby they might overcome and find relief from their personal fears, broken hearts, worry, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy.

They buy self-help books, undergo counseling, and seek to discover some gimmick, some way of thinking or acting that will provide relief.

If you are one of these hurting people, the question is, are you hurting enough to give up on yourself? Are you unhappy enough and miserable enough to turn away from yourself with all your problems and failures and seek relief in a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ?

Are you ready to stop kicking? Are you willing to see all your little (or large) problems and unresolved conflicts, discouragements and disappointments, bad habits, negative attitudes, faults, and failures as being means whereby God is at work bringing you to the end of yourself?


Are you willing to be nailed to the cross of Christ and buried in the waters of your baptism? Get off yourself! You are the problem. Reject yourself! Forget about yourself. You are beyond help. I am beyond help! (God knows that we are all beyond help thatís why He has given us Jesus!)

C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, ď Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.Ē

Paul continues:

 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

This deliverance is not something that can be faked. It comes from the heart, (just ask Lotís wife.) To obey the form of doctrine to which you were delivered is to simply believe and trust in the gospel of Christ which I just shared with you. It means dying to yourself! Jesus was delivered to the cross and thatís where you and I need to go!

 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.


Know this. We are slaves no matter how we look at it. There is no middle ground. Jesus said you are either for Him or against Him. Do you understand the force of that statement? You may think you can glide through life in neutral, but if you are in neutral, you are not for Jesus.

There is a story of the day when the devil came to collect those who belonged to him and the Lord came for those who belonged to Him. Those on one side of the fence went with the devil and those on the other side went with Jesus.

One man was sitting on the fence. The devil and Jesus left, but a little while later the devil came back and said, ďO there you are.Ē Iíve been looking for you, you belong to me.Ē The man replied, ďHow can you say that, I donít belong to anyone, Iím sitting on the fence.Ē The devil replied, ďYea, but I own the fence.Ē

 De 30:19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; (NKJV)

And life is chosen, life is given, when the old man is put back on the tree!

Jesus said in  


Re 3:15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  16 "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (NKJV)

Friend, you need to be hot for Jesus, and you get hot by dying to self, if youíre not, you are despising the grace of God and presenting yourself as a slave to unrighteousness destined for the unholy porcelain bucket. There is no middle ground!

Paul then says a curious thing.

19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to  more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

Itís like he is apologizing for using the term ďslave.Ē  Yet there is no greater term to get the point across.  He was speaking to the weakness of our flesh. Think about it, who can be weaker in the flesh than a slave. A slave has no strength of his own, he is at the mercy of his master.

So understand this about your flesh. You are weak, you are powerless. That fact can work to your good or to your bad.. It all depends on whoíve you surrendered your flesh to...who your taskmaster is.

Satan, the taskmaster of sin, delights in your sinful behavior. He is ecstatic over your lawless deeds, and he loves the momentum they build for further lawless deeds.  I still remember my last days in his clutches. I was a snowball of sin heading straight to hell. It seemed like I couldnít sin enough! I was so much under his power!

But by the grace of God and a praying and believing wife, the snowball express got derailed in a prison cell in Manitowoc county, and shortly afterward I finally stopped resisting the grace of God and yielded my life to Jesus. I came back to my baptismal grace and hung the old man back on the tree where he belongs. Now Jesus is my taskmaster, and you know what He says?

 Mt 11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (NKJV)

His yoke is easy! Do you know why His yoke is easy? Because His yoke has zero guilt. You never have to feel guilty about anything if your  members are yielded to Him and His righteousness.

 Ps 34:22 Jehovah redeemeth the soul of his servants; and none of them that trust in him shall bear guilt.  (DBY)

The only time we need to worry about our guilt is when we stop trusting in Him, and we stop trusting in Him when we yield to sin and self. One of the key things to remember about yielding to Jesus is the fact that our flesh must remain weak! We canít live unto righteousness without His help.  We need His empowerment, we must take the position of a helpless slave with Him or we wonít be able to do it!

Who is your taskmaster? Few would answer Satan, yet if you donít answer, ďChrist,Ē You belong to the devil and he is gleefully driving you right to hell. Remember, you are a slave of whomever you choose to obey. Choose Christ, submit to Him, allow Him to rule your weak flesh and He will produce fruits of righteousness.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

This is a dangerous thought, but an absolute truth. It reminds me of the Israelites wandering around in the desert, yearning to go back to Egypt. We can get like that sometimes. Remembering the good old days, the days when we were free from the restraints of righteousness. We could do just as we pleased.

How quickly we forget the tyranny of tormenting guilt, that the taskmaster Satan,  likes to throw our way. A guilt that drives us deeper and deeper into despair and hopelessness.

 As a baptized infant,  we donít remember the good old days, but the world is sure busy reminding us of all the pleasures that await us! No laws, no absolutes, and therefore no guilt. Eat, drink, and be merry! Hey it wasnít or isnít so bad was it?  

There is a story of a man who found a frozen snake on the road. Having compassion on the snake he decided to pick it up and hold it under his shirt hoping to revive it. Sure enough the snake revived and promptly bit the man. The man couldnít believe it! Why did you bite me? I tried to help you? And the snake replied, ďYou knew I was a snake when you picked me up.Ē

Your old man is a snake. He was crucified with Christ....leave him there, donít pick him up and play with him or he will rise up and bite you!

Think about it Paul says,

21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (NKJV)

Examine the fruit of your living unto self. Oh that we would examine that fruit as carefully as we squeeze the oranges and the peaches in the grocery store. Oh that we would stop and fearfully consider the end of such living.
Donít you want the best fruit? Donít you pick the best bananas, crispest apples, juiciest peaches at the supermarket? Then die to yourself in this life. Remember what was accomplished at your baptism and die to self anew, and continue dying daily. Put that old man back on the cross where he belongs!

Thatís the only way to build a beautiful fruit basket of holiness, pleasing to God that  leads to everlasting life! Refusing Godís gracious free invitation to receive  eternal life is accomplished when we refuse to let go of self. And the wage of that refusal, the wage of hanging onto our self is death.

Take some time right now. Contemplate the fruit in your basket. Let God show you how ugly it is, and then right now, today purpose in your heart to die to self, stop pitying it as if it were a frozen snake and live in Christ.