When I was a young minister in Pennsylvania, I read many books about the lives of godly men who had led very simple lifestyles. That sounded like the answer to my desire to be used of God. At that time I knew a minister who spoke with great authority and he was a real hero to me. He led a life of total simplicity, living in a little room and owning only one suit of clothes.
That's what I thought denying one’s self meant — a Spartan lifestyle. I thought, "Lord, that's what I want. I could be a powerhouse for you if I would only empty out my closets and give away all but a change or two of clothes. I could sell my car and get a cheap one. I could buy an old, unattractive house. I could give up steak and eat hamburger. I could set a great example by having no desire for any material thing on earth." Actually, I was saying, "If I could just suffer enough — if I could just get hold of my flesh and be an ascetic — I could serve the Lord with true power."
Soon afterward my hero began teaching false doctrine and many lives were destroyed because of it. That's when the Lord told me, "That's not what victory is all about, David. The victory isn't yours — it's Mine."
Beloved, it is at this very point that Jesus comes to us and says, "Take My hand and follow Me — into My death, My burial, My resurrection. Look at the cross. Embrace it and cling to My victory. That is where your crucifixion to the flesh has taken place.”
Yes, dying in Christ is an act of faith. We have to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul says he wants to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, he is talking about Christ's resurrection and sufferings — not his own or anyone else's.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10)