BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com
An image in my Face Book feed stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking. Have I been practicing a dangerous doctrine, carried over from the other side of the cross? The image that stopped me was a grave stone with the word “self” eyched on it. All day long, the image pecked at my brain. The concept of “death to self” is repeated throughout the Christian Bible. You can even say it is commanded by Jesus. Death to self sounds all righteous, doesn’t it? But does it reflect what the Tanakh (The Hebrew Bible) says?
~I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed~
From Deuteronomy 30
Wow! There is no caveat attached to the verse above that stipulates this command does not apply to ourselves. In fact, it is very much written to ourselves! Choose life, it says. Life, and not death! Not one to just take a thought and run with it, I did a little research to see this doctrine summed up from a Christian viewpoint. I found an explanation that summed it up nicely, in my opinion, and could be used for more than one study on dangerous doctrines!
Question: What does it mean to “die to self”?
Answer: The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament. It expresses the true essence of the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ. Dying to self is part of being born again; the old self dies and the new self comes to life (From John 3). Not only are Christians born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification. As such, dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process.
How then, my friend, do we honor The Father’s Torah if we practice a lifelong process of chosing death to self every day? Knowing how powerful words are in The Father’s realm, how long can we speak death over ourselves before death actually walks with us, instead of life? The very concept of “death to self” negates all of the ways in which we were fearfully and wonderfully created! The Father embedded dreams, passions and drive into our hearts and minds. He did so with purpose! Our unique personality, even if a bit quirky, is talor-made by HaShem to assist us in doing the things He has called us to do in His Name! Why are we told to pronounce a death sentence over all of those things to be followers of Jesus? Like so many things in the Christian Bible, “death to self” is not a Godly concept!
On this side of the cross, I am coming to understand that I was given a Divine Spark of life when HaShem knitted me together in my mother’s womb. This spark, this light, was given to me to share and to shine unto the nations. My years in this bag of rotting flesh are limited. I have a specific number of days, granted by The Father, to use the talents and abilities He’s given me to bring glory to His Name, and to bring help to those who are hurting. How much good can I do in His Name if I am spending my days trying to minimize who I am in Him? Seems to me our goal should be just the opposite! We should be thinking about how we can maximize our attributes to get a lifetime of work done in His Name!
Now, if you’re anything like me, the word “pride” has been flittering through your thoughts as you’re reading this post. HaShem hates pride, doesn’t He? Scriptures are clear on that! But I’m not talking about an unhealthy pride here. I’m not talking about ignoring the needs of others so we can fulfill our own desires. Clearly, we are called to meet the needs of others whenever it’s within our capabilities to do so. What I am talking about here is a healthy self-image. I’m talking about knowing who we are in HaShem, and acting accordingly. The sons and daughters of kings can certainly be merciful, gracious and giving! But they also remember their position in the kingdom and are not afraid to demand the respect that position entitles them to! How much more, then, should we be aware that we are sons and daughters of THE King, and that we hold positions of influence in HIS Kingdom?
I can’t find anywhere in the Tanakh where it tells us to reach out our hand to others if said others have a history of biting said hand. I can’t find anywhere where I’m told to forgive others, including my enemies, if there has been no repentance on their part. Jesus said to turn and let our enemy slap us again, and to pray for them. This is definitely not an “Old Testament” concept! Yes, we see mercy granted in the Tanakh and grace, even to enemies, but we also see in the Psalms (among other places) where our forefathers prayed for the destruction of their enemies! This “die to self” instruction from the Christian Bible has us delivering ourselves into the hand of our own enemies, instead of handing those enemies to our God, who is perfect and just, and will deliver us from those enemies! (Should He deem it fitting for us)
Along this same theme in the Christian Bible, there is a doctrine that says we show no greater love than to lay down our life for a friend. Really? This form of death to self sounds really noble, doesn’t it? So humble, so WWJD in nature. But where does Tanakh say that the life we’ve been granted should be laid down for anyone? Did HaShem create us to lay down and die, or to stand up and live? Oh, He couldn’t have been any clearer…choose life!
And so, as I am learning to look at Scripture through this new lens, I am also taking a new look at myself through the lens of those Scriptures. I would encourage you to do so, as well. If you have been bullied by the Christian Bible into self-denial, even of the good that HaShem has created within you, you may be very surprised at how differently you’ll come to see yourself on this side of the cross! I know I am!
For the first time in my ten-year journey of faith, I am seeing who I really am in HaShem! It still feels uncomfortable to “stand up” and talk about my own value and worth in the eyes of The Father, but I am beginning to understand how important it is to know, as I set out to shine His Light in this dark world! Some traits I was created with, and some were developed in my past as HaShem allowed certain circumstances into my life that He knew would help build me into who I am today. I give Him all praise, honor and glory for all He has given me to enable me to fulfill the journey He has set before me!
Because of Him, I am not a dormant wall-flower, waiting for someone to persecute me so I can call myself blessed. By His design, I am strong! Circumstance may bend me, but will never break me. I am loyal and loving, and have every right to expect those closest to me to be the same toward me. I have enough to cover my need, and enough to share. That includes everything from food to my unique talents and abilities. I know that my talents and abilities are from HaShem and are to be used for HaShem. That’s why I write things like this, instead of yet another “happily ever after” romance novel. I have a great sense of humor which is a tool I use in my own life, and also use to share the gift of laughter with others. I do not tolerate any abuse toward me, and I will not hesitate to walk away from those who would continue to treat me in any abusive way; physically, verbally or emotionally. I am flawed as a human being, but the flaws are what prompt me to keep seeking and keep learning. Above all and before all, I am a daughter of the One who created all. This is my true birthright. I plan to spend the rest of my days learning exactly what that entails. I purpose in my heart to walk out my days in that birthright, and to celebrate who I am in The Father! Have you considered yet who you are in Him? Are you walking in the fullness of life HaShem has given you, or walking in a dangerous doctrine? Our life belongs to HaShem, let’s live it instead of pronouncing ouselves dead everyday!
“See” you next week! Until then, you remain in my prayers.