By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Scripture References: Genesis 45:1-15, 1 Corinthians 15:35-50
When I say, "To live, we must die," it cannot be in the physical world, for we know that in the physical world, we live until we die.
Thus, "To live, we must die," is an expression to describe what must take place spiritually for us to enter our everlasting life with the Lord.
But then, we may ask, "How must we die, that we may live forever?"
The answer is that we must die to our pride and to our other sins.
So, this morning we are going to look at two examples of this dying to self.
The first example is from Genesis 45:1-15, when Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, the very brothers who sold him into slavery in Egypt.
1. Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, "Have everyone go out from me." So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers.
2. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it.
Joseph had known who his brothers were for a long time, and he had been playing a game with them, to bring fear to their hearts, because of what they had done to him.
But now, Joseph can no longer do that, for his previous actions are troubling him, and he is really glad to see them.
Joseph was dying to self, to his office of prime minister of Egypt, and to his thoughts of revenge.
Joseph was just their brother.
3. Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
4. Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come closer to me." And they came closer. And he said, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.
5. "And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Sometimes we question how much we are to forgive others.
But here, we see that there should be no limit, no matter what was done against us.
Joseph was looking at the bigger picture, and not just at the sinful act done against him.
Joseph saw the hand of God in the whole matter.
Joseph saw how God turned their evil into good, because of the way he lived before the Lord.
So he explains further to his brothers what is still to take place.
6. "For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.
7. "And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.
8. "Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
9. "Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, 'Thus says your son Joseph, "God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.
10. "And you shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have.
11. "There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, lest you and your household and all that you have be impoverished." ’
12. "And behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you.
13. "Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here."
14. Then he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept; and Benjamin wept on his neck.
15. And he kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.
Joseph was acting as a type of Noah, who was there to save his family from the disaster to come.
He was not forcing them to come and be saved, but he was encouraging them.
But the ultimate decision was theirs to make.
They, likewise, had to die to self; for they would now have to tell their father what they had done, and stand before him confessing that they knowingly brought all the past grief upon him, who mourned for his son.
We can also see in the life of Joseph an example of God's saving grace given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus is also telling us He has paid the price of our sins, and is willing to forgive us, and to bring us to a land of everlasting life; but we, on our own, must die to self, confessing our sins to our Father in heaven, and then willingly come to Him.
In other words, we too must die, if we are to live.
Let's now take a look at our second example for this morning,
1 Corinthians 15:35-50, where Paul is trying to explain this concept of dying to self to the Corinthians.
35. But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?"
36. You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies;
37. and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
Paul is trying to explain to them, and to us, that a spiritual being is no longer the same as the physical being it was before rebirth, or when we are planted in the Lord.
And as we go on, picture our life before we came to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, as a seed, and our life with Him as the growing plant that produces additional seed of its own.
38. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.
39. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.
40. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.
41. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
Remember that this was written before microscopes or telescopes, or any of the technical advancements we have today; yet, what Paul is saying we know to be true.
Thus, it should be the reminder to us of what he is saying of the spiritual realm.
42. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body;
43. it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
44. it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
We cannot see the spiritual body now, but one day hopefully we will all see it, and rejoice.
Now Paul gives us another example of how we got to where we are today: that we will look to what we shall be, if we take advantage of what is being offered to us.
45. So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
“The last Adam” refers to Jesus.
46. However, the spiritual is not first [speaking of God's created beings], but the natural; then the spiritual.
47. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.
48. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.
Here is where the choice must be made, for we are earthy until we choose to be heavenly.
49. And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
We must remember that Paul is speaking to believers, for until we are born again, we do not bear the image of the heavenly.
50. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
We must die to that part of us that is perishable, and we must be spiritually born into that which is imperishable.
And what is imperishable will not die or decay, for it is no longer physical, but spiritual.
Thus, to live, we must die.
Seek Christ, that we may live.
And encourage others to do the same; that we may live together in everlasting love and peace forever and ever.
A sermon originally delivered at the Federated Church of Athens, 19 February 1995
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