Can I learn to Die to Myself? Introspection, learning to look outward by BB

This process of learning to become godly women is a VERY painful process – especially at first. There are no short cuts!! (PeacefulWife)

“It is all about our relationship with Christ. It is about our willingness to reverence and submit to Jesus and to desire Him FAR ABOVE all other things of this world.” -PW

I have to have pure motives – desiring to obey God’s Word out of reverence for and love for Christ alone. -PeacefulWife (PW)

My motives do matter. I am selfish and focused inward. I want my husbands full attention, romance, sex, attention, not be forgotten, be important. I want him to tell me he is happy with me, in love with me, want to be around me, desire me. This is sin. For years I have missed the point of God’s sacrifice for me. I am learning, God used others to open my eyes to my toxic thinking. I need to focus on God, despite what I feel.

BUT what is the basis of this? WHY am I needy and insecure? I cannot put my finger on what the fear is, or the source of my anger. I have enormous fears, and it hurts me as well as others. I have paralyzed myself. I can, with help, pinpoint some fears of mine: controlling how my husband loves me because I fear he doesn’t really love me deeply. Manipulating him into showing love as I want it. I fear I am not that important to him, and after God I want to be his #1 priority above all others, and completely give up all other female friendships. I fear he sees other people as more important when he agrees with their decision or idea or notices what they have done or their looks. I get tense and attempt control to quell the fear. I know I have behaved shamefully and crossed boundaries I should never have crossed. I need to let him lead and stop living in fear, but each time I feel very vulnerable. I am giving him power to either prove his love for me or destroy me. Outside my marriage I also fear being forgotten, not being noticed, being seen as ugly or stupid, not being picked for the team, not fitting in. All about me, leaving me in control and rejecting God’s plan for my life, pushing God away. I love God, but where is my trust in Him? Time for a change! I am so ashamed of who I have become and the sin I carried into my marriage and life.

“I am advocating you to completely expose your deepest soul to God and allow Him to search the darkest recesses with the blazing light of His Word. And then to allow God’s Spirit TOTAL access and grant Him complete Lordship and the ability to decide what stays and what goes. And anything He finds offensive – well, it simply has to go. No question. God is Lord now, NOT ME! This means facing your deepest fears, challenging your definition of God, your understanding of His sovereignty, your true beliefs that govern your decisions and priorities, seeing the mountains of sin that you may not have even known were there, and being willing to part with all of that humbly before our mighty God. It means wrestling with God over those most painful issues and deciding whether you actually can trust Him or not.” PW

“Is He REALLY BIG enough?

This is DEEP, LIFE-CHANGING, PARADIGM SHIFTING stuff.

“This is where you tear out everything from your heart but Christ and are willing to give up all that is dear to you – laying it on the altar to God. You die to your dreams, your desires, your wants, your goals and your plans. You embrace His will, His desires, His dreams, His goals, His plans and His life for you – even if that means not getting what you really wanted, and even if that means going through the “worst case scenario” in your mind.” PW

You will have to personally wrestle with these questions and decide –

  • Can I really trust God – the God of the Bible as He has revealed Himself, not as I want Him to be? — I will say Yes, I trust God, BUT at this time I keep taking back what I give over to Him, I am envious of those who do trust God and have it deep to their cores that God is who He says He is. My husband remains in peace and calm, he knows who he is in Christ, he gives it all over to God and leaves it there.
  • Is He who He says He is? — Yes, at this time I am studying the Bible to fully understand it and God.
  • Is His Word true or not? — YES it is! Going back to the trust issue, I have to give it all over and not take it back, stop controlling.
  • Will I build my life on the Rock of Christ, His Word and His promises, or on the sinking sand of trusting SELF? — I will build my life on the Rock of God, I am practicing handing it all over to God and leaving it with Him. I will succeed! God is my all!

“Let us be willing to die to ourselves! Let us joyfully give up our rights, our goals of happiness and all that we hold dear and cling only to Christ, out of thankfulness and profound gratitude for ALL He has done for us (paying our incalculable sin debt to God”)!” -PW Praise God for showing me this web site and put me on the path of learning to be a Godly Wife and Woman.

“The thing is, you can’t be a godly woman on your own. You can’t just be quiet and smile and hold the raging ocean of sinful thoughts, emotions and negativity inside while you pretend to be “nice” on the outside. This journey requires a total heart change – regeneration that is only possible through God’s Spirit. Eventually, we don’t even THINK the sinful thoughts – because He has so transformed us. It is a total heart change. By God’s power working in us and through Jesus’ work for us on the cross, we nail the old sinful self to the cross and recognize that it is crucified and buried with Christ. Then we put on the new man in Christ and receive all that Jesus has done for us. He gives us a new heart and transforms our thinking. Ultimately, Jesus did ALL of the work for us on the cross to make us right with God. And ultimately, it is His power that gives us the ability to walk in obedience to Him moment by moment. It is ALL about Him working for us and living in us.” -PW

Ah yes, the raging ocean of feelings that sway and ebb and come on full force, jealousy, doubt, fear, insecurity, anger, hate, greed….. I am so tired, no, exhausted by this roller coaster of emotions. Feelings that grab me and cripple me to the core. I think and think and think and come up with nothing substantial. This is a ploy of Satan, because he has me running in circles and keeps me from focusing on God as my solution to all. I have made myself 100% responsible for my entire marriage, all faults are mine, I have erred and pushed him away. I stare at myself: my external self and my internal self. God loves me and expects me to love myself: after all God creates wonderfulness. I, however, critically examine myself and see faults to my weight, body formation and size, notice every scar and wrinkle, focus on the pain in my back and legs, hear an ugly voice, focus on my diminishing hearing, grays in my hair, facial hair, etc. Already exhausted I turn to my inner being: not as smart as others, not fully understanding some humor, not being charming and funny, not as talented, can’t sing, other nurses are more compassionate and naturally better than I, my eyesight is not perfect, etc….I will be victorious, I will overcome!

“Lord, help us to lay down our desires and let us desire only what YOU desire in our lives and in this world. Let us desire NOTHING in heaven or earth besides You! If we do NOT have His Spirit – it is IMPOSSIBLE to be the women Jesus calls us to be. God’s Spirit alone is our power source!” -PW
“Men have their own accountability and responsibility before God and will stand before Him one day – just as we will.  We can’t control other people. We have to trust God to deal with them. And really, we can’t even change ourselves – but we can allow God the freedom and permission to change us and we can respond as He opens our spiritual eyes. So that is where we have to put our focus. That is where our power is! When we are cherishing sin in our hearts – we grieve and alienate the Spirit of God. We cannot have God’s power flowing full strength in us when we are embracing sin and getting cozy with it.” -PW

QUOTES FROM E.M. Bounds – “The Necessity of Prayer”

  • If you desire to pray to God, you must first have a consuming desire to obey Him.
  • If you want free access to God in prayer, then every obstacle of sin or disobedience must be removed.
  • Those who have never wept concerning their sins, have never really prayed over their sins.
  • Until (the step of unquestioning obedience) is taken, prayer for blessing and continued sustenance will be of no use.
  • Praying that does not result in right thinking and right living, is a farce.
  • We must quit praying or our bad conduct.

– I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:20-21
– So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:16-24

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FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN ABUSED:

Please check out this post about how “dying to self” can be dangerously misunderstood.

Last Thursday, I ran a post about “Dying to Self.” Today, I want to talk about how it is possible for someone to misunderstand the concept of “taking up your cross and following” Jesus to think that this means, “I must take abuse. My needs don’t matter. I have to let my husband beat me or abuse my children. I have to be a doormat.”

That is NOT what this concept is about. It is not about giving up our personhood or being a punching bag. It is also NOT about hurting ourselves or beating ourselves up. It is about seeking God’s will above our own. It is about knowing who we are in Jesus and knowing and receiving ALL He has done for us on the cross and through His resurrection. It is about living in a place of great spiritual strength in Christ, not a place of spiritual weakness.

There are different kinds of suffering in this life.

  • The suffering that happens because we are in a fallen world.
  • The suffering that happens due to our own sin.
  • The suffering we experience due to others’ sin against us.
  • The suffering that comes because we voluntarily do what is right.
  • The suffering that comes because God is disciplining us.

God calls us to lay aside our old sinful nature and live for Him. My old sinful self is no longer to be on the throne of my heart. Jesus is now my Master. So when I talk about “dying to self” I am talking primarily about suffering I experience because I decide to live for Christ as LORD no matter what the cost. It is about self-sacrifice in a way that brings honor and glory to God. It is not suffering for the sake of suffering. It is not suffering because I just have to sit and take abuse if I have the ability to leave. It is suffering for the sake of doing God’s will. If this doesn’t make sense, let me know and let’s talk about this some more. 🙂

There may be times when a believer is persecuted and may suffer for the Gospel by being imprisoned, by losing his/her job, or by being physically punished. That kind of suffering may be inevitable. But suffering at the hands of an abusive spouse or self-abuse is something that we can rightly seek to avoid. Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified because that was God’s will to bring about salvation. Other times when people tried to kill Him, He slipped away.

NOTE:

There can be confusion about this idea of dying to self, or the concepts that are like it in Scripture. One reason I think this happens is that from God’s perspective, we are already dead and crucified in Christ. We are already dead to this world and alive to God through Jesus. To Him, that happened 2000 years ago on the cross. It is a done deal sealed by the finished work of Jesus on the cross. He did EVERYTHING necessary to make us right with God. We have already been justified. To be justified means that Jesus completely paid our sin debt in full. It is an accounting term.

But then, there are also all of these commands about us participating in this process on a daily basis as we follow Jesus. So we are involved in “picking up our cross,” “putting to death the misdeeds of the body,” and making ourselves “living sacrifices” for God moment by moment. It is a continual mindset of surrender of self and yielding to the Lordship of Christ. Yes, this is the process of sanctification which continues for our lifetimes until we reach heaven. 🙂 It is that process of learning to live out and experience all that Jesus has done for us in our daily lives.

We absolutely must guard against a works-based salvation. We are all prone to want to go to that in our pride – to think that we can somehow earn what Jesus did for us on the cross ourselves. But we cannot!

The ONLY way we can have power and victory over sin is through the power of God’s Spirit working in us. We don’t have power in our own sinful flesh to do this.

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Facing Our Deepest Fears

After watching my video about What Causes a Woman to be Controlling, A Fellow Wife shared with me:

I cannot speak for other wives but

For me, fear is THE driving factor to control and I realize that.

-I have tried to be controlling with how my husband loves me because I fear that he really doesn’t love me that deeply. If I can manipulate him into showing me he loves me the way I wish he does, it validates what I want.

-I fear in my deepest heart of hearts that I am not an important priority to my husband. I want to be his number relationship priority, coming only after God. This has caused me so many emotional wounds over the years. I have tried to manipulate and push him into putting me first because it is so important to me. I FEAR that he will make choices that show other people or things are more important than me.

Fear makes me attempt to control. I think when we are attempting to control, we are emotionally tensing up and bracing ourselves because maybe we subconsciously know we are crossing boundaries we have no business crossing.

When we step back and release our husbands, we feel very, very emotionally vulnerable – at least I do. I am giving him the power to prove his love in a powerful way or hurt me deeply.

But IF we pair that with expecting nothing but decide to be grateful for any good and loving gesture, we feel relaxed – again, at least I do. Taking my expectations way down isn’t holding him to a high standard that we feel he must meet. I am not constantly watching him to see how he does on my ‘checklist’.

That is where I messed up – I let go last fall but I still had high expectations. I let go of him to make those choices but I still EXPECTED him to do what I wanted. I didn’t really control anymore – I just waited for him to measure up.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

A Fellow Wife explains this very well, I believe. Yesterday, we began talking about that fear often fuels our desire/need/compulsion to try to control our husbands and other people so that we will “feel safe.”

Here is one very critical piece of information for us to understand:

We don’t actually have control over much in this life. We CAN’T control other people. It is not our right or responsibility to control others. God gave each person a free will and it is not our place to try to rip that away from people. Healthy relationships involve healthy boundaries spiritually, emotionally and physically. I also can’t control circumstances much. I can only really control myself – and, quite honestly – I can only control myself if I allow God’s Spirit to do the controlling.

This is where the prayer of serenity is so helpful:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (my husband, other people and many circumstances);

courage to change the things I can (me);

and wisdom to know the difference.

I have two choices about control in my life:

1. I can allow my sinful nature to be in control of my life. The results are always predictable. If I have ANY of the below characteristics going on in my life (Galatians 5:19-21), the sinful nature is in firm control. And let me mention, fear is always part of living in the sinful nature.

2. I can allow the Spirit of God to be in control in my life. When God’s Spirit is in control of my life, I will have all of the following fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in increasing measure as God conforms me to be more and more like Christ. And when I live in the power of God, His perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18). The more I know God, His character and His truth, the more I understand His sovereignty, the more I walk by faith in the Spirit of God, I realize I have nothing to fear:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24

 

HOW DO WE FACE OUR FEARS?

Well, sometimes fear is necessary to a degree. If a wife is seriously not physically  safe, then, she does need to consider her safety and the safety of her children and may need to take wise and appropriate steps and reach out for qualified help (this applies to husbands, as well, if they are not safe).

Most of us, though, are not in immediate or actual danger. Most of us are married to good guys, not perfect men, but men who do love us deeply. We must examine our fears, all of them, in great detail. I personally had to write out every single fear and all of the beliefs I held and the “tapes” I played over and over in my mind and then study Scripture, God’s truth and His character. I had to ask Him to show me my errors, my sins, to expose my warped thinking and every ungodly thing in my heart and to transform me into the image of Christ.

I think it would be fantastic to write out your fears on the left side of a piece of paper, (or a lot of pieces of paper – if you have a lot of fears, like I did), and then on the right side, write down the truth of God’s Word about that issue. Then, very purposefully, consciously reject the old sinful ways of thinking and embrace God’s truth and wisdom.

Cry out to God, examine all of your motives and priorities and probe as deeply as possible into what you have built your faith and life upon. Don’t do this in a hasty, shallow way, or you will not dig up all of the sin and you will stay stuck.  To do this well requires a completely thorough soul searching where we allow the light of God’s Word to shine into the darkest corners of our souls, holding nothing back from Him. What am I holding back from God? In what areas of my life do I not trust Him fully?

This takes time. It is a process. Actually, we will always continue this daily probing search into our motives, looking for any sin and repenting of it for the rest of our lives on earth as believers in Christ.

Sometimes God reveals layers of sin or fears or unbelief or warped views of ourselves and Him over time. That is ok. We can lay ourselves before. Him and seek to yield and surrender and submit to Him as fully as we can at this moment each day. Then we can trust that as we seek Him above everything and desire to want Him more than anything else and as we seek to live in His Word and presence and as we long to obey Him and please Him and live our lives to bring honor and glory to Him out of incredible gratitude for all He has done for us – He will work in us to transform us to be like Jesus.

Until we really carefully dissect each thought and our true motives under the light of God’s Word and with the power of His Spirit working in us, we can deceive ourselves and believe that our motives are good when they are actually completely sinful. It can be very shocking to discover just how sinful our motives can be. We are ALL wretched sinners. There is NO ONE who does good, not even one. (Romans 3:12)

According to God, our greatest attempts at right living and holiness look “like bloody, dirty, filthy menstrual rags in My sight” (Isaiah 64:6).

So, we learn to monitor the voice in our head and all of the messages we are saying to ourselves and we learn to pull them apart and look for sin. We learn to compare all of our thoughts to God’s Word as we stay in his Word and stay in fellowship with Him. We shoot down the lies, the ungodly ideas, the sin and everything that sets itself up against Christ and His truth. We learn to use our negative emotions to monitor our hearts and thoughts for sin, too.

  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10:5

– if I find myself feeling disappointed, that is often a sign to me to check my motives. Am I trying to find my contentment, fulfillment, joy and peace in something other than Christ?

– if I am feeling angry, why? There are some reasons to have righteous anger – if I see innocent people being mistreated, if I see God being blasphemed, if I see people sinning against other people and against God, if I see people in need with none one to step in and stand up for them… If I am angry about things that make God angry, I can ask God what He desires me to do to try to make things right, honor Him and show His love and truth. If I am angry because my husband won’t do what I want him to do, then I need to examine this closely. What do I want him to do? Are my expectations biblical or unrealistic? Are my expectations fueled by sin? Greed, idolatry, materialism, selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, envy, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, a desire for control, a lack of healthy boundaries?  Am I crossing over from my responsibilities into my husband’s life and trying to control him or make decisions for him that God gave to him to make, that are not mine to make?

– if I am feeling lonely… Why? Am I spending enough time with God? Am I trying to make my husband fulfill needs in my life that only Jesus can really meet? Am I willing to ask for what I need and desire but respond graciously even if my husband won’t or can’t do what I desire him to do? Am I hormonal? Do things seem worse than they really are right now? How can I share my emotions without attacking or blaming my husband?  What are my motives?  Am I seeking to honor, love and obey God and bless, love and honor my husband no matter how my husband responds? Am I willing to respond in the power of God and His unconditional love and with genuine respect even if I don’t get what I want?  Or  am I trying to manipulate my husband or give him “love”  (worldly, carnal love) when my real motive is to get what I want from him?

There are also many poisonous lies (and even heresies) we have absorbed from our culture that we don’t even realize we need to question. Sadly, many of these have infiltrated the church today:

  • humanism – People are God. People are basically good. There is no God. We know best.

This is worship of people and of self. This is blasphemy. God’s truth is that God alone is God. God has great wisdom, we do not. People are wretched sinners in desperate need of the blood, mercy, forgiveness and grace of Jesus Christ who died to give us the opportunity to be made right with God. We cannot be “good enough” to please God on our own.

  • feminism – (some of the messages of various stages of feminism have been incredibly harmful to us as believers in Christ) – Women are morally/spiritually superior to men. Men are bad. Women are good. If women are in charge, everything in the world will be “right.” Men are always evil and oppressive if they are in charge. Men are idiots. Women are smarter than men. Being masculine is “wrong.” Men should think, act and feel like women. Patriarchy is evil. God is female, or, whoever you want “her” to be. The Bible is not true. (For more on how feminism has impacted all of us, please read here.)

God’s Word declares that all people are sinful and that no one is “good” or righteous in God’s sight (Romans 3). That means men and women are all sinful. Women are not “better than” men. And men are not “better than” women. God designed the authority structure of the family, church and government to provide for, care for, protect and bring order to His people. People are sinners. Sometimes people in positions of authority use their free will to rebel against God and to abuse others. But that does not mean that God’s structure of authority is bad. God’s Word tells us that God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the husband and the husband is the head of the wife in marriage. I Corinthians 11:3. God put the husband in the position of spiritual leadership and authority in marriage, not because he is more “valuable” and women are “second class citizens” but because God designed marriage to be a living picture of Christ and the church where the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the church and because this is God’s wisdom. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, I Peter 3:1-7). Where someone is given authority (husband, parent, pastor, Bible teacher, church leader, deacon, elder, manager at work, government officials), he/she has much greater responsibility and accountability before God. (God’s design for Spiritual Authority)

  • universalism – every religious belief leads to God. No one particular religion is better than another. They all lead to heaven eventually. Everyone will go to heaven.

Jesus clearly states, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

There are many more ungodly influences and teachings we have been exposed to in the world and in the church. It is time to question every idea and premise and to throw away the ones that are evil and ungodly and to dig down to the foundation of Christ and build our lives on the Rock of Jesus and His Word alone!

Tomorrow, we will examine Finding Victory Over Our Fears in Christ!

SHARE:

If you have done the hard work of facing your fears – we would love to hear how you did it. I believe the more wives’ stories other wives can hear, the better. 🙂

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