Freedom From the Self-life
By Andrew Murray
How can I be free from the self-life? What is it to be dead with Christ? How can I practically enter into this death with Christ?
The great characteristic of Christ is His death. From eternity He came with the commandment of the Father that He should lay down His life on earth. He gave Himself up to it, and He set His face toward Jerusalem. He chose death, and He lived and walked upon earth to prepare Himself to die. His death is the power of redemption. Death gave Him His victory over sin; death gave Him His resurrection, His new life, His exaltation and His everlasting glory.
The great mark of Christ is His death. Even in Heaven, upon the throne, He stands as the Lamb that was slain. Through eternity they ever sing, “Thou art worthy…for Thou wast slain” (Rev. 5:9). Your Christ, your all-sufficient Saviour, is a Man of whom the chief mark and the greatest glory is this: He died.
If the Bride is to live with her husband as His wife, then she must enter into His state, and into His spirit, and into His disposition and ever be as He is. If we are to experience the full power of what Christ can do for us, we must learn to die with Christ. I ought not, perhaps, to use that expression, “We must learn to die with Christ”; I ought rather to say, “We must learn that we are dead with Christ.”
That is a glorious thought in the sixth chapter of Romans. To every believer in the Church at Rome--not to the select ones or the advanced one, but to every believer in the Church at Rome, however feeble, Paul wrote: “You are dead with Christ.” On the strength of that he says, “Reckon yourselves dead unto sin.”
What Does that Mean--You are Dead to Sin?
We cannot see it more clearly than by referring to Adam. Christ was the second Adam. What happened in the first Adam? I died in the first Adam; I died to God; I died in sin. When I was born I had in me the life of Adam, which had all the characteristics of the life of Adam after he had fallen. Adam died to God, and Adam died in sin. I inherit the life of Adam, and so I am dead in sin as he was, and dead unto God.
But at the moment I believe in Jesus, I become united to Christ, the second Adam. As really as I am united by my birth to the first Adam, I am made partaker of the life of Christ. What life? That life which died unto sin on Calvary, and which rose again. Therefore God by His apostle tells us: “Reckon yourselves indeed dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ Jesus.” You are to reckon it as true, because God says it--for your new nature is indeed, in virtue of your vital union to Christ, actually and utterly dead to sin. If we want to have the real Christ that God has given us and who died for us, in the power of His death and resurrection, we must take our stand here.
But many Christians do not understand what the 6th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans teaches us. They do not know that they are dead to sin. Therefore Paul instructs them: “Know ye not that as many of you as are baptized into Christ Jesus, are baptized into His death?” How can we who are dead to sin in Christ live any longer therein? We have indeed the death and the life of Christ working within us.
But alas! Most Christians do not know this, and therefore do not experience or practice it. They need to be taught that their first need is to be brought to the recognition and to the knowledge of what has taken place in Christ on Calvary, and what has taken place in their becoming united to Christ. The man must begin to say even before he understands it, “In Christ I am dead to sin.” It is a command: “Reckon ye yourselves indeed to be dead unto sin.” Get hold of your union to Christ. Believe in the new nature within you. That spiritual life which you have from Christ, a life that has died and has been raised again. A man’s acts are always in accordance with his idea of his state. A king acts like a king. If a man is conscious of being a king, he behaves like a king.
So I cannot live the life of a true believer unless I am filled with a consciousness of this every day: “I thank God that I am dead in Christ. Christ died unto sin, and I am united with Christ, and Christ lives in me and I am dead to sin.” What is the life Christ lives in me? Think first, what is the life Adam lives in me? Adam lives in me the death life, a life that has fallen under the power of sin and death, death to God. That is the life Adam lives in me by nature as an unconverted man.
Now Christ, the second Adam, has come to me with a new life, and I now live in His life, the death-life of Christ. As long as I do not know it, I cannot act according to it, though it be in me. Praise God, when a man begins to see what it is, and begins in obedience to say, “I will do what God’s Word says; I am dead, I reckon myself dead,” he enters upon a new life! On the strength of God’s everlasting Word, and your union to Christ, and the great fact of Calvary, reckon, know yourself as dead indeed unto sin. A man must see this truth--this is the first step.
The second step is--he must accept it in faith. What then? When he accepts it in faith, then there comes in him a struggle, and a painful experience, for that faith is still very feeble. He begins to ask, “But why, if I am dead to sin, do I commit so much sin?” The answer God’s Word gives is simply this: You do not allow the power of that death to be applied by the Holy Spirit.
Be Filled With the Spirit
What we need to understand is that the Holy Spirit came from Heaven, from the glorified Jesus, to bring His death and His life into us. The two are inseparably connected: Christ died, He died unto sin--and He lives, He lives unto God. So in us the life to God in Christ is inseparably connected with the death to sin. That is what the Holy Ghost will teach us and work in us.
If I have accepted Christ in faith by the Holy Ghost and yield myself to Him, Christ every day keeps possession and reveals the full power of my fellowship in His death and life in my heart. To some this comes undoubtedly in one moment of supreme power and blessing. All at once they see and accept it and enter in and there is death to sin as a Divine experience. It is not that the tendency to evil is rooted out. No; but the power of Christ’s death keeps from sin and destroys the power of sin. The power of Christ’s death keeps from sin and destroys the power of sin. The power of Christ’s death can be manifest in the Holy Spirit’s unceasingly mortifying the deeds of the body.
Someone asks if there is still growth needed. Undoubtedly. By the Holy Spirit a man can now begin to live and grow, deeper and deeper into the fellowship of Christ’s death. New things are discovered by him in spheres of which he never thought. A man may at times be filled with the Holy Ghost and yet there may be great imperfections in him. Why? For this reason: because his heart, perhaps, had not been fully prepared by a complete discovery of sin. There may be pride, or self-consciousness, or forwardness, or other qualities of this nature which he has never noticed. The Holy Spirit does not always cast these out at once.
There are different ways of entering into the blessed life. One man enters into the blessed life with the idea of power for service, another with the idea of rest from worry and weariness, another with the idea of deliverance from sin. In all these aspects there is something limited, and therefore every believer is to give himself up after he knows the power of Christ’s death and say continually: “Lord Jesus, let the power of Thy death work through, let it penetrate my whole being.” As the man gives himself unreservedly up, he will begin to bear the marks of a crucified man. The apostle says: “I have been crucified,” and he lives like a crucified man.
Marks of a Crucified Man
The first mark of a crucified man is deep, absolute humility. Christ humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. When the death to sin begins to work mightily, that is one of its chief and most blessed proofs. It breaks a man down, down, and the great longing of his heart is, “Oh, that I could get deeper down before my God, and be nothing at all, that the life of Christ might be exalted. I deserve nothing but the cursed cross; I give myself over to it.” Humility is one of the great marks of a crucified man.
Another mark is helplessness. When a man hangs on the cross, he is utterly helpless, he can do nothing. As long as we Christians are strong and can work or struggle, we do not get into the blessed life of Christ. But when a man says, “I am a crucified man; I am utterly helpless; every breath of life and strength must come from my Jesus”--then we learn what it is to sink into our own impotence and say, “I am nothing.”
Still another mark of crucifixion is restfulness. Christ was crucified and went down into the grave, and we are crucified and buried with Him. There is no place of rest like the grave. A man can do nothing there. “My flesh shall rest in hope,” said David and said the Messiah. When a man goes down into the grave of Jesus it means this, that he just cries out, “I have nothing but God; I trust God; I am waiting upon God; my flesh rests in Him; I have given up everything that I may rest, waiting upon what God is to do to me.”
Remember that the crucifixion and the death and the burial are inseparably one. Remember the grave is the place where the mighty resurrection power of God will be manifested. Remember those precious words in John, chapter 11: “Said I not unto thee”--when did Christ say that? It was at the grave of Lazarus--“that if thou believest, thou shalt see the glory of God?” Where shall I see the glory of God most brightly? Beside the grave. Go down into death believing, and the glory of God will come upon you and fill your heart.
If we are to live in the rest, and the peace and the blessedness of our great Redeemer, if we are to live a life of joy and of fruitfulness, of strength and of victory, we must go down into the grave with Christ, and the language of our life must be: “I am a crucified man. God be praised, though I have nothing but sin in myself, I have an everlasting Jesus, with His death and His life, to be the life of my soul.”
If I can not understand all about this crucifixion with Christ, and the death to sin, and the life to God, and the glory that comes into the heart--never mind. I can trust my Lord’s promise. I can cast myself helplessly into His arms, I can maintain my position on the cross. Given up to Jesus to die with Him, I can trust Him to carry me through.
Shall we not each one take the blessed opportunity of doing what Ruth did when she, in obedience to the advice of her mother-in-law, just cast herself at the feet of the great Boaz, the Redeemer, to be His? Shall we not come into personal contact with Jesus, and shall not each one of us just speak before the world these simple words: “Lord, here is this life; there is much in it still of self and sinfulness and self-will, but I come to You. I long to enter fully into Your death. I long to know fully that I have been crucified with You; I long to live Your life every day.”
Then say: “Lord Jesus, I have seen Your glory, what You did for the penitent one at Your side on the cross; I am trusting You, that You will do it for me. Lord, I cast myself into Your arms.” From The Indwelling Christ.