What It Means to Abide in Christ—One more Key Point: Dying to Self

Last week I explained to you what I thought it meant to abide in Christ.

It means:

  • Living with Jesus
  • Living in His Word
  • Living out in obedience

But I need to add one more. Last week was Passion Week. While contemplating upon the sobering truths of Christ’s last days on earth, the Lord showed me I was missing a key point. Abiding in Christ also means…

Dying to self

We may not like this fact, but truth is truth. So the question becomes: What does “dying to self” mean? And how do we do it? Jesus shows us.

He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Phil 2:7-8)

“Dying to self” means giving up:

  • our lives
  • our way of doing things
  • our desires
  • our will

…over to the One who paid the price.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with actually doing this. Gratefully, God has shown me a key truth so that I can.

The phrase “die to self,” which we Christians often use, implies that it’s something we do. However, it’s something that has already been done by Christ.

A better and more accurate way to look at it would be that the Lord Jesus has already put our sinful nature to death when we accepted Him as our Savior. At the moment of our salvation, our old sinful nature is crucified with Christ and we are given a new god-like nature.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)*

…Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Cor 5:17)**

On the cross, Christ disarmed the power of sin over us (Col 2:15). We don’t have to sin! We can choose not to if we are living in Christ and in His power.

Abiding in Christ means not giving into the control of our sinful self which is dead, but giving that control to Christ who is alive.

Before Christ became the God-man, He lived in perfect unity with the Father and Holy Spirit. When He became a man, He also abided in complete harmony with Them for He was always obedient. (Jn 8:29)

However, when He willingly took our sins upon Himself, Jesus relinquished the most precious thing He had—fellowship with the Godhead. The Father had to turn away; He is holy and pure and cannot associate with the ugliness of sin (Is 59:2; Hab 1:13).

Christ temporarily died to His greatest joy of having perfect communion with His Father, so that we could have communion with the Father. So that we could live in harmony with the triune God—both now and forevermore (Heb 12:2).

Therefore, my friends,

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.


Consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Rom 6:5, 11)**

For a deeper explanation of dying to self, see chapter 2 of my book From the Vertical to the Horizontal: Empowered to Relate to People God’s Way.


*Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

**Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.