A Deeper Death to Self

By G. D. Watson

There is not only a death to sin, but in a great many things there is a deeper death to self – a crucifixion in detail and in the minutia of life after the soul has been sanctified. This deeper crucifixion to self is the unfolding and application of all the principals of self-renunciation that the soul agreed to in its full consecration.

Job was a perfect man and dead to all sin (Job 1:8), but in his great sufferings he died to his own religious life, to his domestic affections, to his theology, and to all his views of God’s providence. He died to a great many things, which in themselves were not sin, but they hindered his largest union with God. Peter, after being sanctified and filled with the Spirit, needed a special vision from heaven to kill in him his traditional Jewish theology and religious prejudices (Acts 10:10-16). The very largest degrees of self-renunciation, crucifixion and abandonment to God take place after the work of heart purity. There are a multitude of things that are not sinful; nevertheless, our attachment to them prevents our greatest fullness of the Holy Spirit, and our fullest cooperation with God.

God’s infinite wisdom will lead us through deep interior crucifixion in our fine parts: our lofty reason, our brightest hopes, our cherished affections, our religious views, our creeds, our pious zeal, our religious prejudices, our spiritual impetuosity, our religious experiences, our spiritual comforts, our dearest friendships, our narrow culture, our successes. This crucifixion goes on until we are detached from all people, all saints, all thoughts, all hopes, all plans, all tender heart yearnings, all preferences, all troubles, all sorrows, all disappointments, all praise or blame, all successes or failures, all comforts or annoyances, all climates and nationalities, all desire but for God Himself. There are innumerable degrees of interior crucifixion on these various lines.

In contrast to heart cleansing, this finer crucifixion of self is gradual. The interior spirit is mortified over and over on the same points until it reaches a state of divine indifference to it. A great host of believers have obtained heart purity, and yet, for a long time, have gone through all sorts of dying daily to self before they found that calm, fixed union with the Holy Spirit, which is the deep longing of the child of God.

Again, in contrast to heart cleansing, which is by faith, this deeper death to self is by suffering. This is abundantly taught in the Holy Scriptures, and confirmed by the furnace experience of thousands. Joseph was a sanctified man before being cast into prison, but in there the iron entered into his soul, and by suffering he reached a high degree of death to self. There are literally scores of Scriptures, like Psalm 71:19-21, teaching that the upper ranges of the sanctified life are achieved through suffering. Perhaps the most remarkable passages of Scripture in the Word of God on this subject are in Romans, chapter 5. The first verse teaches justification by faith, the second verse teaches full salvation by faith, and verses 3-5 teach a deeper death to self, and a fuller spiritual life through tribulation.

When the soul undergoes this deeper death to self, it enters into a great wideness of spiritual comprehension and love; a state of almost uninterrupted prayer, an unutterable tenderness and broadness of sympathy, a boundless charity for all people, a deep, quiet thoughtfulness, an extreme simplicity of life and manners, and deep visions of God and the coming ages. In this state of utter death to self, suffering, sorrows, pains, and mortifications of all kinds, are looked at with a calm, sweet indifference. Such a soul looks back over its heart breaking trials, its scalding tears, its mysterious tribulations, with gentle submission and without regret, for it now sees God in every step of the way. Into such a soul the Holy Spirit pours the ocean currents of His own life. Its great work from then on is to watch the monitions and movements of the Spirit within it, and yield prompt, loving, unquestioning cooperation with Him. Such a soul has at last, in deed and in truth, reached the place where there is none of self and all of Christ.

Taken from the book Soul Food, by G. D. Watson, revised and slightly condensed.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – The apostle Paul; Galatians 2:20

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