Been Studying

Freedom from a Self-centered Life / Dying to Self is an old book of mine described as ‘Selections from the writings of William Law (1686-1761) and edited by Andrew Murray (1828-1917). I return to this title again and again as the topic of dying to self comes up in my Christian walk. The most famous idea notes we are to follow “the way of patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God.” I studied this once years ago as evidenced by all the underlining and highlighting in my book. This time I wanted to not just review what I marked, but truly study it and try to find a way to express the truths therein in today’s language. We might be talking brain strain here?

Basically this is a teaching about not just seeking salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ, but asking Him to help you become more like Him in your day to day walk. We cannot possibly accomplish that in our own strength. Simply cannot be done, for this is a work of renouncing your Adam tendencies and embracing Jesus, “the new Adam” and His indwelling Spirit. Letting the Spirit use His ways to remodel and build your life to be like Jesus.

Amazon’s summary says:

William Law tackles a very difficult subject for many Christians: dying to self. First published in the 1800s, “Dying to Self” is one of Murray’s (and Law’s) lesser known works. Though written many years ago, Murray’s comments on Law’s insightful text have been “pure gold” to the hearts of numerous readers.

The conversational style of the book between two people (Eusebius and Theophilus) seeking further enlightenment on the topic was written by Law, with explanations provided by Murray. Law’s wisdom, combined with Murray’s commentary, makes for an excellent treatment of the subject which will be especially helpful to Christians who don’t fully understand what “dying to self” really means. The good news, as Murray so expertly points out, is that this “dying to self” can and will be wrought by the Spirit of God when we surrender to Him.

Dying to Self is akin to “deny yourself and take up your cross daily.”

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Matthew 9:23-24 NIV

This was not a suggestion from Jesus, but a MUST. Oh Lord, I fall so short on this. Come help us to seek You in all of Your glory and shed Your light upon our individual lives.

What have you experienced in your Christian life of ‘dying to self?’ I am not talking about giving up chocolate for Lent. More to the point of ‘taking up your cross DAILY and following Jesus’. Murray says this can only be wrought by the Spirit. Wrought as in worked, shaped. One thought is wrought iron. The dictionary implied a more delicate work or shaping, though in shaping metal hammers would be used. I might be the one in need of a hammer. The photo below reminds me of my need to cling to Him.

Quoting from this book I will not try to differentiate between Law and Murray. The things in quotations are taken from the book, but not always noted as to which one wrote it.

We are instructed over and over in this work to “sink down into our own helplessness and humbly and patiently resign ourselves to God to work in us.” Law makes the point that we are helpless to create these changes in ourselves. God must do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must yield. And we must yield to the work again and again and again.

Patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God.

William Law

This resignation is not the attitude of defeat or despair. It is more like an accepting, unresisting attitude. Letting God have His way within us.

Law compares the New Testament seekers who approached Jesus to how we go about trying to change. He said, “You seek these first-rate virtues in the ways they are not to be found. They are not in a multiplicity of human rules, methods, and contrivances, but in that simplicity of faith in which those who applied to Christ immediately obtained that which they asked of Him.” We humans do not have the answer within our selves or our religious establishments. Jesus has the key and dispenses the changes through our giving way to the Holy Spirit.

Are you prepared to go forward, following Jesus, (that is what disciples do, they follow), asking the Holy Spirit to make changes within you so you are more like Jesus? Then will you obey what you are told? Generally, the Lord leads me little by little, a change here, another there. Like Paul wrote,

“Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.”

Philippians 3:12 RSV

With patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God we will become what He had in mind when He blew breath into our lungs. Yield to His leading again and again.

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