by Andrew Murray

Humility and Death to Self

In human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on the cross (Philippians 2:8).

Humility will take you down a path leading to death. Death to self is humility’s destination. When Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death, He blazed a new trail for us to walk in. There was only one way for Jesus to prove His utter surrender to His Father. There was only one way for Him to rise beyond His humanness and return to His Father—the cross. The cross is our only way, too.

Humility must lead us to die to self. We have no other way to become real. It is the only way we can die to our fallen nature and  be alive to God. Only through our own cross can we have Christ formed in us. Humility will be the air He breathes inside us. Humility will be His joy.

Jesus gave His disciples Resurrection Life. The glorified and enthroned Lamb actually came down from heaven to live inside them through His Spirit. Jesus won the power to accomplish these things by His death. The Life He gives is a life born out of death. Jesus’ Life was surrendered to death and won back from death. The One who came to live inside of them was the One who could say: “I am the Living One who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:18). His Life and Person and Presence bear the marks of being born out of death.

In His disciples, that Life bears the death-marks, too. When the Spirit of the Crucified One lives and works in the heart, the power of His Life can be known. The most important mark of Jesus’ death is humility. Only humility leads to the cross, and only the cross can perfect humility. Humility and death to self are two ways of describing the same thing. Humility is the bud; in death to self, the fruit is ripened to perfection.

Humility will cause you to die to self. Humility means giving up self and coming to a place of complete nothingness before God. Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death. On the cross He gave the most convincing proof possible that He had abandoned His will to the God’s will. In dying, He let go of Himself, with all of His natural reluctance to “drink the cup.” He gave up the life He had taken on when He became a man. He died to self and to all temptations to sin. For the first time, a Man entered into the perfect Life of God. If it had not been for His infinite humility, considering Himself merely a servant to do God’s will and to suffer for it, He would never have embraced the cross.

How can you and I die to ourselves? What does that phrase even mean, practically? Look to Jesus for the answer. Death to self is not your work; it is God’s work. In Christ you are dead to sin. The Life inside you, if you belong to Him, has gone through death and resurrection. You can be certain you are in truth dead to sin. But if you want the power of this “union with Christ in His death” to explode in your character and conduct, you must allow the Holy Spirit to work it into you. You need Him to teach you. If you really want to enter into full fellowship with Jesus in His death and experience total deliverance from self, then humble yourself. Voluntary humility is your one responsibility.

Fall on your face before God in your utter helplessness. Face the facts squarely: you are unable to put your old life to death, and you are unable to make yourself live again. Sink down into your own nothingness. Take the attitude of meek, patient, and trusting surrender to God. Embrace what humbles you. Look on every frustration as a tool to humble you. Take full advantage of every opportunity to humble yourself before others so you can stay humble before God. God can reveal Christ in you only through the mighty strengthening of His Spirit. Christ will be truly formed in you in His form as a servant. He will fill your heart. God will honor each deliberate choice you make to humble yourself, accepting it as a sacrifice, and using it to clear the way for His Son to reveal Himself in you. The path of humility leads to the death of self-life and the full and perfect experience of the wonderful truth that you are dead in Christ.

This death to self will, in turn, lead to complete humility. Some have wanted to be humble, but were afraid to be too humble. Don’t make that mistake! Don’t place stipulations and limitations on your humility. Don’t add fine print to the covenant you make with God! Don’t try to figure it all out—abandon your heart first, then you’ll know how to live it out. Humble yourself to the point of death. It is in death to self that humility reaches completion. Know for certain that at the root of all genuine experience of growth in grace and consecration and transformation, there must be a death to self—something real, that demonstrates itself to God and men in our character and habits.

It is sadly possible for us to talk on and on about the crucified life and the Spirit-walk, when those who love us best would still have to admit that they see much self-life in us. Physical life is pronounced dead when the heart stops beating and the brain waves stop functioning. Self-life is pronounced dead when there is a humility present that doesn’t cling to reputation, that empties itself and takes the form of a servant. It is possible to speak much and speak sincerely of fellowship with a despised and rejected Jesus, and of bearing His cross, while the meek, lowly, kind, and gentle humility of the Lamb of God is not seen—or even truly sought. The title “Lamb of God” means humility and death. Let us receive the Lamb in both forms. You can’t separate them in Jesus; they should be joined in us, too.

If dying to self depended on us, how hopeless we would be! Flesh can’t overcome flesh, even with grace’s help. Self can never cast out self, even in someone who is born again. Praise God! The work has been finished forever. The death of Jesus, who offered Himself once for all, is our death to self. And the ascension of Jesus, who once and for all sat down at the right hand of God, has made it possible for Him to pour His Spirit into our hearts.

“His divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive His own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, He has given us all of His rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in His divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

As the disciple follows in the steps of Jesus in the pursuit and practice of humility, his or her hunger for something more is awakened. A desire and hope spring to life. Faith begins to grow stronger. It learns to look up and claim and receive true fullness in the Spirit of Jesus. That fullness has the power to put sin and self to death daily. For true disciples, humility is the fragrance and nature of their lives together.

“Have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with Him?...So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus...Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given a new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God” (Romans 6:3,11,13). The whole thought process of a disciple is to be saturated by the Spirit that led Jesus to the cross. Disciples present themselves to God as those who have died in Christ and in Him risen from the dead, bearing in their hearts the nail prints of His cross. Both death to self and resurrection power are visible in their genuine, practical, moment-by-moment humility before God and men.

Believer, claim in faith the death and the life of Jesus as yours. Enter into His rest. Jesus committed His Spirit into the Father’s hands. So must you, as you humble yourself and descend each day into total, helpless dependence on God. He will raise you up and honor you. Each morning, sink into the tomb of Jesus by making a concrete choice before Him that your life will not be your own this day. As you live the rest of the day, keep reaffirming that choice, and the Life of Jesus will be seen in you. Let a willing, loving, peaceful, and happy humility be the evidence that you have indeed claimed your birthright—baptism into the death of Christ. “By that one offering He has perfected forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). The hearts that enter into His humility will find in Him the power to consider self as dead and—as those who have received and learned of Him—to live in yieldedness and servanthood, supporting one another in love. Death to self is seen in a humility like Jesus had.

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