Is there any joy in losing something? Most would have to say no. However, Jesus clearly states that His followers must lose their life in order to find life. What does this look like?
Consider the caterpillar. What has to happen before it becomes a butterfly? All the parts of its flesh that are not conducive to the attributes of a butterfly are stripped away.
Consider the tadpole. What has to happen before it becomes a bullfrog? All the parts of its flesh that are not conducive to the attributes of a bullfrog are stripped away.
Consider the sinner. What has to happen before it becomes like Christ? All the parts of its flesh that are not conducive to the attributes of Christ are stripped away.
When the flesh dies the caterpillar is able to fly.
When the flesh dies the bullfrog is able to jump.
When the flesh dies the sinner is able to live.
True joy and life are found in dying to our flesh and it is our responsibility to embrace the process of sanctification in our lives. John Owen in his book Overcoming Sin and Temptation states it this way:
“It is our duty to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1); to be “growing in grace” every day (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18); to be “renewing our inward man day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). Now, this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin. Sin sets its strength against every act of holiness and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who does not kill sin in his way takes no steps toward his journey’s end. He who finds no opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.” (Owen, 55)
Oh Lord, help us to kill the sin of our flesh today so that joy may live. May we not embrace dying to the flesh so that we might truly live as Christ. Help us to jump for joy and mount up with wings as eagles today.