To live is Christ, and to die is gain.
I’ve read this scripture time and time again. I’ve done semi in-depth studies on it, and have heard many a sermon, yet I always walk away thinking what in the world does this mean?
To die is gain.
This is the part that jumps out at me.
Not because I just got my first D in a class, or because my room is an absolute disaster and I just cannot, for the life of me, bring myself to clean it. Not because I’m depressed or suicidal. While this scripture can mean death to be, quite literally, the act of physically dying, the way that it applies to me today is strictly in a spiritual sense.
So, to die is gain.
When we absolutely reach the end of who we are – the end of our flesh, and giving into the desires of the flesh – we die to it. To die to the flesh is absolutely one of the most critical things that we can do during our walk with The Lord. Paul says that he was crucified with Christ. He died to his flesh. And thus, was alive in the spirit. He was resurrected a new man. When he did this, and when we do this, it completely rids us of ourselves. It rids us of our old ways of acting, and makes us alive in the Spirit. And to be alive in the Spirit is everything. So to die – to your flesh – is most definitely gain.
The issue, however, is whenever believers die – but not to the flesh (and not in the physical either – though that can certainly be devastating).
The issue is whenever believers die to the Spirit. They fuel their flesh by gorging themselves on food prepared specifically by the world with the absolute intent of creating spiritually clogged arteries and high blood pressure, ending in possible eventual death. Consuming this food can be fatal. We often live in the world and of the world. We are partakers of Christ and the world; we spew blessing and cursing. We try to drink from the Wellspring of Life and eat the forbidden fruit at the same time, and none of those things mix. It is impossible. And far too often the forbidden fruit wins out. We feed ourselves lies offered by Satan himself, and are shocked when the fruit we produce is dead.
Tonight I had a very much needed heart-to-heart with one of my closest friends from my church. I shared with her my thoughts and some of my current struggles, and as we ended she prayed with me. Some of her words absolutely shook me. She said “I pray that she is dead in Christ (to the world through Christ), and she would know that because she is dead in Christ, the world can no longer affect her; because she is dead to it.”
See, that shook me for several reasons.
1. If you think about it completely in the natural, physical state of death – whenever a person has died, they are not influenced by anything in the earth at all. Ever. Only their flesh can be affected (by worms and such), but their spirit is no longer apart of the flesh. They no longer coexist. So interpret the same thing spiritually. Once we are dead to our flesh, the world should have no affect on us. We are dead to the world and our spirit is separate from our flesh.
2. I was driving home earlier in the day and I had been thinking long and hard about something I was dealing with. I felt like I had been fighting it for a long time, but realized that really I was only fighting whenever I was in church, or listening to worship music in my car, or having a nice long conversation about Jesus. I wasn’t fighting whenever I was in the situation and my flesh was warring against my spirit. The Lord spoke to me and told me to think about it in terms of an actual war. If you fight only while you are in a safe area, like boot camp or in a shelter, but when you’re standing in the middle of the battleground without an ounce of fight in you, how can you expect to live? If you don’t put up a fight against your enemy whenever it matters- whenever the time has risen – it will more than like result in your death. So how can we not fight the flesh and expect to live? How can we not fight whenever it matters the most and expect our spirit to not be smothered out?
You can die to the flesh or you can die to the Spirit.
You can choose to fight the good fight continually, especially in the tough moments when your flesh is fighting the hardest, or you can succumb to it and let it devour you.
You can die to flesh and experience massive gain, or you can die to the spirit.
For a long time I did the latter. For a long time I fed my flesh. But now I’m choosing to starve it. Now I’m choosing to fight when it is the hardest. Now I am choosing to die to my flesh to experience the gain.
Which do you choose?