As a Christian, you are expected to be living for Christ instead of yourself. So, what does it take to set aside one’s own desires and live for Him?
Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
Are you struggling with living for Christ instead of yourself? Do you still struggle with the desires of the flesh? Are you happily surrendering your will to Christ every day?
It is an important question. Today’s passage gives us insight into our submission; both the need for it and the (perhaps) surprising catalyst for it.
The Controlling Love of Christ
Some people are going to read that heading and hesitate for a moment.
After all, the word “controlling” has taken on a definite, negative connotation as it applies to relationships today.
But living for Christ instead of yourself isn’t a forced controlling over your will. The New Covenant is offered freely to all and not compulsory.
Since we take an attitude of submission towards Christ as His disciples, being controlled by His love is what we hope for.
If our desire is to follow Him, we will want to be guided or compelled by Christ’s love for us. The resulting fruits of the spirit are intended to bless us and are desirable.
In the life of a Christian, love isn’t a nice feeling; it is a call to action. Christ’s love empowers us to do good things (Ephesians 2:10).
The Past Tense of the Old Life
When we choose to follow Christ, there is a line of demarcation. We align with both His death and His new life in that moment (Romans 6:1-11).
As today’s passage puts it, believers have all “died” – past tense – to our old lives. This is possible because Christ died for our sins. In so doing, He gives us the power to die to sin and live in righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).
We still wear this flesh while we are here on earth. Sin is always waiting for an opportunity to take control of us (Genesis 4:7). But for the sincere believer who is walking in faith with Christ every day, it does not have the same power. It is a defeated enemy.
If you find that living for Christ instead of yourself is a struggle, perhaps you have not yet embraced this truth. Because to fully embrace that sin is already defeated is to free us to live for Christ.
The Power of the New Life
Christ’s death is the catalyst, allowing His followers to live the “new life” – one in which you as a disciple will choose living for Christ instead of yourself.
In other words, submission is considered the natural state of those who are living a new life in Jesus Christ.
Yes, there is a process of sanctification in our time on earth with Christ. But God is a potter, not a belt sander to our souls. Sanctification is the process of teaching us what we need to set aside to live for Christ in surrender and obedience.
This work in our hearts is not the reduction of sinfulness; it is the production of holiness. Christ has already settled the matter of our sin debt. Our new lives are about building a life that honors God.
When we identify with Christ’s death and new life, we accept that we are allowing Christ to live through us. Our life in the flesh is no longer lived by self-indulgence, but faith in Christ (Galatians 2:20).
And while all this is true, you may be reading this still wrestling with living for Christ instead of yourself. What needs to be done to change this?
Empowered to Live for Christ
It all comes back around to abiding with Christ, for apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). By following the disciplines of daily prayer, study, and fellowship, we can keep focused on sharing our new life with God and with others.
This is not a magic formula. The act itself is not sufficient. We are to do it in surrender to Christ. We have to daily choose to give up our own way, identify with Christ, and follow Him.
As we do this, we will learn more what it means to follow Christ in obedience, which Christ tells us is the sign that we love Him (John 14:21).
Living for Christ instead of yourself will be extremely difficult when you don’t submit to communing with and obeying Him regularly.
However, when you do commit to surrendering to Jesus Christ daily through these actions, you will find that you are strengthened to walk in holiness.
While you are still capable of committing sins, the more you abide with Christ, the less power sin will have over you. The less desirable sin will be to you.
Christ has already empowered us to do this through the work of His death and resurrection. He simply requires us to submit to His empowerment.
More verses about living for Christ instead of yourself:
Acts 17:28; Romans 14:7-9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 John 2:3-6