A paradox is a seemingly self-contradictory statement that at face value seems like it cannot be true. Though the Bible has numerous paradoxes that stump the brain, one mind-blowing truth of Scripture is this: To truly live, you must first die. How can you live if you die? The truth is difficult to explain but a fact nonetheless.
When the Apostle Paul is explaining what it means to know Christ in a personal way, he makes this life-altering statement:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20, NIV).
If you want to truly live life to the fullest, you must first die to yourself so that you can live to Christ. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Step 1: Die to Self
Paul says: “I have been crucified with Christ….” Crucifixion is used for one thing in the New Testament day, execution. The person who is crucified does not survive. In fact, the Romans had turned the cruelty of execution into an art form. They knew how to accomplish the death penalty in gruesome and painful ways. For Paul to conclude that he has been crucified with Christ meant that Paul was voluntarily dying to himself. The Paul that lived before Christ (actually named Saul at the time) was no longer around. That man was dead and gone. He had been crucified with Christ.
If you are going to live for Christ, you must die to self. That means that what you want no longer matters. Your desires are immaterial. You turn your focus to completing God’s call in your life. You no longer exist.
Step 2: Let Christ Live in You
When you die to yourself, you are freed up to live for Christ. You can’t have two people calling the shots in your life. Either you call the shots or you let Jesus call the shots. You cannot do both. When you refuse to die to yourself, then you are the one making the decisions in your life. And, just to be blunt, you mess things up. Wouldn’t you rather someone who knows what He is doing and can see everything past, present, and future decide what you should do and how you should do it? Once you die to yourself, Christ can live in you and through you to accomplish what He wants to accomplish.
Step 3: Walk by Faith
Once you have died to yourself and started living for Christ, then you must continue in faith. Faith lets you obey even when you can’t see the results. Jesus is going to call you to do things differently than you would choose to do yourself. Faith says: “Yes, sir,” and does it. The product of faith is obedience, not words.
Do you want to live? Then, die to yourself so you can live for Christ. That’s true living.