In A Gospel Primer for Christians, Milton Vincent reminds us of this hard truth:
I should expect every day to encounter circumstantial evidence of God’s commitment to my dying; and I must seize upon every God-given opportunity to be conformed more fully to Christ’s death, no matter the pain involved.
When my flesh yearns for some prohibited thing, I must die. When called to do something I don’t want to do, I must die. When I wish to be selfish and serve no one, I must die. When shattered by hardships that I despise, I must die. When enticed by allurements of the world, I must die. When wishing to keep besetting sins secret, I must die. When wants that are borderline needs are left unmet, I must die. When dreams that are good seem shoved aside, I must die.
“Not My will, but Yours be done,” Christ trustingly prayed on the eve of His crucifixion; and preaching His story to myself each day puts me in a frame of mind to trust God and embrace the cross of my own dying also. [page 41]
Death to self is a true death–there is loss and pain and fear, and it is not easy or comfortable. But in God’s economy, death is the necessary precursor to resurrection, and so we embrace this daily dying as the means of God’s sanctifying, transforming work in us.