Question: Which of the following statements is not taught in the Bible?
A) You have to die to self and live for God.
B) You have to die daily in order to live for Jesus.
Answer: Neither of them are found in the Bible.
How do people come to the idea that we need to keep dying for Christ? I think it’s because people want to think there must be something they should be doing, something that is on their shoulders when it comes to living the Christian life. Then they read verses like these and fit them into their preconceived notions:
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11.)
I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:31.)
The problem is that those verses have nothing to do with a daily spiritual struggle.
It’s impossible for a Christian to die to sin
William R. Newell, in Romans: Verse-by-Verse, gives the answer to misinterpretation of Romans 6:11.
Now here is the very opposite of the false teaching about the Christian life. For these legalists set you to crucify yourself! You must “die out” to this, and to that. But God says our old man, all that we were, has already been dealt with – and that by crucifixion with Christ. And the very words “with him” [in verse 5] show that it was done back at the cross; and that our task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to bring about this crucifixion ourselves. (Newell, p. 213, emphasis in original.*)
So when Paul told the Christians in Rome to count themselves dead to sin he was not telling them to put their sins in the dead column. He was telling them that Jesus already put them there. Their sins are accounted for in the column that says they have already been dealt with in Jesus’ death.
That’s why Christians get to count themselves dead to sin in the past tense; you have already died with Jesus and risen with him in his resurrection. Don’t try to do over again what Jesus has already accomplished.
No one died daily, not even Paul
The verse where Paul told his friends in Corinth that he faced death every day has sometimes been translated as “I die daily.” That has unfortunately led people to read a spiritual component into his “dying” that isn’t there when you read the verse in context.
And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? (1 Corinthians 15:30-32.)
Paul is writing of physical dangers, not spiritual. As Newell explains:
Many quote Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:31 “I die daily” to prove the … idea of our “daily dying to sin.” But we need only remember that the great message of 1 Corinthians 15 has to do with the body to refute this. …
To make the words “I die daily” mean an inward spiritual struggle with sin is to refute Paul’s plain testimony: “I have been crucified with Christ”; “Our old man was crucified with Him”; “He that hath died is righteously released from sin” … . (Newell, pp. 208-209, fn., emphasis in original.)
There is no dying daily left for you to do. The Bible says that Jesus has done all the dying for you when it comes to sin:
Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
… Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (Hebrews 7:24-27, emphasis added.)
Sin’s position now in regard to you is a dead one. There is no dying to sin or dying to self or any other dying that you are supposed to do. In fact, you can’t do it even if you tried. It’s impossible because Jesus has done it for you.
What is left for you to do now? As the Spirit of Christ lives in you, you are now living in and for him.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4.)
Satan wanted to steal this life away from everyone, but Jesus said he is here to give you more life than you could ever have imagined.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10.)
So stop trying to die.
[My thanks to Jeremy White at Valley Church for pointing out this passage from Newell’s commentary.]