What Does It Mean To Die to Yourself?

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he (Jesus) said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Mark 8:34-37

Over ten years ago, I asked my husband to pray over me that I would die to myself. What a process that has been but what a glorious journey. At the time I saw too much of “me” in everything I did, and I wanted to see Christ in all I did. I have come a long way, but there is still much dying to self to do.

If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, could it be that you are trying to hold onto your old life while you put on your new life in Christ? That will never work. I can tell you from personal experience.

Let me give you a visual: I once heard a couple interviewed on Oprah. It was a second marriage for the husband and wife, and the wife raved about what a wonderful husband he was and that she never knew a man like this existed. Oprah asked the husband what he did to make his wife so happy and he said, “I died to myself.” Oprah did not understand what he meant, and questioned something to the effect of: You died? How could you die, you’re still here? The husband tried to explain, but Oprah didn’t get it. But I immediately knew what he was talking about. This was a Christian couple, who understood Mark 8:34-37. This is such an important concept that it is repeated in Matthew 16:24-26 (which Beth Moore spoke on at the Colorado Springs Living Proof) and Luke 9:23-25.

I would love to hear your comments on what it means to you to die to yourself and live in Christ.

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  1. Thank you so much, this has been a blessing to me!!!! Feel free to e-mail me at chris@hurleys.net

    I’d love to hear from you



  2. To die to yourself is to go to the cross. We each have to be crucified with Christ and resurrected in order to live for Him. If we continue to live “for ourselves, according to our own wishes & desires”, then Christ cannot live in us. It means to truly repent of every sin we’ve ever committed (you need to spend time with Him and have Him reveal each sin to you and literally repent for each one) and let God renew our hearts, remove all evil/wickedness and fill us with His Holy Fire (the Holy Spirit). Dying to yourself means giving Christ full reign of ourselves. We no longer live for what we want, but we live for Christ. In order to die to self, we need to become holy. Our hearts must be thoroughly searched and cleansed for the Holy Spirit to abide in us. We need daily cleansing through significant Bible study and prayer (not just 5 minutes a day, but at least 1/2 hr – 45 min.). It involves discovering who we are in Christ and claiming the authority that is ours through that relationship with Him. We need to then pinpoint everything within us that causes our “selves” to resurface, ask forgiveness for that sin, decide what specific things we will do to combat it and then claim victory over that sin through scripture that promises that victory. Dying to self is a daily, ongoing endeavor that must be diligently sought with the power of the Spirit within us. Then we can really know our Savior in the most intimate way possible, with joy beyond measure!
    My prayers of encouragement to all who decide to humble themselves for Christ. It is a major part of true Christianity and fighting the good fight! May the Lord Jesus be with you and strengthen you as you earnestly seek Him.

  3. Lynne Collins says:

    To die to yourself… That is a hard statement. I don’t know if that is fully done by us. I think it means turn to christ for what HEwants us to think about every day, all day. Then wait for him to tell us his desire for each situation. It’s constant communication with him and searching his words In his Book for answers. Never giving up

    • Janet Thompson says:

      You’re right Lynne, we’ll never fully achieve this on earth. It’s a process of dying to the old self before Christ and living for Christ. I’ll be writing a new blog post about this for Monday’s blog. Hope you’ve signed up to receive them each week. If not you can sign up on this website. Thank you for sharing your heart. Janet

  4. Hi all,

    I have been working on this for a long time. I have found that the “Self” is the “Natural Man”, the ego. It is that part of ourselves that is constantly thinking and thinking about comparisons to other people, thinking that we know what others are thinking about us. This is the selfish self. It is concerned about our outward appearances, material things, mammon. The problem with “Self” is not only that it exists for outward appearances only, but it uses Sin to protect its Self. Jealousy, coveting, fear, worry, etc. These are the guard dogs that surround Self. Self is protected by fear generated character defects. For example Self will use fear to make certain that we are worrying about our finances. Why? Because weak finances makes Self look bad, (because Self thinks that it knows what others are thinking about us). Self will make us jealous about anothers possessions. Self will create survival fears that can create criminals, crooked politicians, tax cheats, etc. Dying unto Self is to remove these defective thoughts concerning what we think the world is thinking and care about what God is thinking about us. You can see from the examples how Self generates Sin and Sin, if you follow the process will lead to psychological decay and eventually death. Self is a lie. It doesn’t exist. It is the Apple from the Garden. Knowledge of Self–living a lie. Original Sin. The opposite of Self is Selflessness. Self is bondage to the devil, selflessness is freedom from that bondage. These are my thoughts on the subject thus far.

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Glenn. Dying to self is surely a lifelong process. Pride is at the center of sin and self is at the center of pride. We must always be decreasing while Christ increases in us. That is my constant prayer.

  5. Perry Watson says:

    To die to one self. The meaning I get from this is attend you our own “white” funeral. White meaning to live by the Holy Spirit. The more our light shines the more we stay away fleshly bondage.

  6. Matlhodi says:

    I’m going through a process of dying to self and brokenness.I literally imagined a grave where for now I buried My will,Pride,Self and Expectations.I believe the a Holy Spirit will reveal more to be buried as I take this journey.Without the Holy Spirit,it not practical to die daily.I took a look at the characters of a dead person:
    They don’t hear anything(Especially insults and offense)
    They do not live life expecting anything from human being.
    He revealed to me that it’s through my death that the manure from the grave will bring forth the juiciest Fruit of the spirit(Love,Patience,Self Control……)
    Jesus had to die in order for us to have eternal victory and why would we think we are excluded.I also take time off to fast and tell my flesh I’m now in charge.Its not an easy journey,however it’s Through Christ we can!!!!!Thanks for the encouragement above.

    • Janet Thompson says:

      You’re so right that dying to self is a daily process with rich rewards. Blessings as you travel the Christian journey and suffering and enjoy the fruit of the spirit in your earthly life. Yes you can do all things with Christ who will give you the strength.

  7. Zandile Mqwathi says:

    On the 12 September, I celebrated my 32nd birthday and since in the past God always made sure I was treated like the royalty that I am. I was surprised when this year, I found myself agreeing to perform a Forum Theatre piece at a colleagues fathers tomb stone unveiling. For some reason, I felt led to spend my birthday in a different town, with strangers who didn’t even know that it was my birthday (just imagine waking up and no one sings for you only when you tell them they start singing and that’s it no presents or a cake to cut) In essence there is no centre stage to perform but when we went to the graveyard site -I asked the holy spirit what was this day about even though it was my birthday. It felt like there was a hidden message just for me. There I heard it that I needed to die to myself, what? I was taken aback and shocked, here I was thinking that God had forgotten about my birthday and I was randomly invited to perform but there was so much more. I am starting to believe that God deals with each and every one of us in unique ways and yes those he loves he corrects. I was living a life of worry, fear, materialism, millions if only’s and constantly missing the mark that God is able to complete the great work that he has began in and through me. For me dying to self means letting God be God and trusting him especially when it doesn’t make sense. I am on a journey of becoming – knowing and trusting that nothing just happens, I didn’t randomly land where I am since every step of a righteous woman are ordered by the Lord. for us to have the abundant life that Jesus promised, we need to daily die to self. Thank you so much ladies for your words of edification and encouragement. Keep your fire for God burning!

    • Janet Thompson says:

      What a beautiful story and thank you for sharing. Dying to ourselves is a life process, but when we finally realize everything is not about us but about glorifying God, our real light shines and our life is flooded with peace. Happy belated birthday to you dear sister in Christ.

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