The "Must" of Decreasing Self


Being tied and bound by the self is like being a caged bird that beats its breast against the bars of its cage in vain aspirations for liberty.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. —Romans 7:22-25

Some of us can never forget the hymn composed by the late Pastor Theodore Monod of Paris in his first radiant vision of a life hidden in Christ with God:

All of Self and none of Thee!

Some of Self and some of Thee!

Less of Self and more of Thee!

None of Self and all of Thee!

“Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:11

We must receive more of the grace of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 7, the apostle Paul complains of being tied and bound by the self-life. He is like a caged bird, which beats its breast against the bars of its cage in vain aspirations for liberty. Then suddenly, in Romans 8, he changes his note and cries, “There is now no more of this self-condemnation, for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk and live after the Spirit, because the law of the Spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, has made them free from the law of sin and death.”

Let us stand together on the deck of an ocean-bound steamer and watch the flight of the seagull. There is, of course, the downward pull of gravitation; but for every pull downward, there is a stroke of the live bird’s wing on the elastic air and this more than compensates for the downward pull. That stroke, we know, is due to the spirit of life which throbs in the bird’s breast.

So, by the Holy Spirit, who indwells our spirit, there is given to each one of us the very life of our glorious Savior. The regularity, immediacy, and quality of the Christ-life are more than sufficient to counteract the downward pull of sin. At the first slight suggestion of sin, the Holy Spirit resists the self-life, so that we may not do the things that we otherwise would; nor shall we fall into those sins of will and thought and act, which were once natural to us. “If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us walk.” (See Galatians 5:16-26.) The Spirit will lust against the flesh and obtain absolute victory, which will fill our hearts with joy. Indeed, temptation may even promote a stronger character by making a more living reality.


  • Would I say I am seeing more and more of Christ in me over the years? In what ways?
  • What areas does “self” still prevail? 


Father in heaven, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to dwell in me to help transform me into the likeness of Your dear Son. I, as Paul did, struggle against self to do Your will and live as I should. Please forgive me for my stubborn, stiff-necked ways and place me in circumstances that help me break out of the cage of my own flesh. I want freedom in You, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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