Most Christian circles are familiar with the phrase ‘to die to self’ or '...die to sin...' (1 Pet 2:24); however, a lot of us do this in our own self-effort. This approach is like a branch trying to prune itself and bear fruit while detached from the vine.
Change driven by self-will 'appears' to work for a while. The fruit of this approach is often self-righteousness, and independence, as it is ‘self’ and not God who gets the glory. Self-rejection is often the root of this approach.
We often try to earn Christ’s acceptance by overcoming issues on our own. However, we are told that it is '...by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast' (Eph 2: 8-9).
It is comforting to know, but not easy to accept, that forgiveness, salvation, and acceptance are complete in Christ. However when we do accept this, we automatically die to self, as we cannot be inChrist, and maintain a rejected spirit, with its distortions of identity and self-worth, and performance based acceptability.
When we connect to the vine, we are no longer in charge. Jesus decides what, when and how to prune the branch of our lives. Instead of willing change in our own strength, the peace and rest we experience by the Holy Spirit, causes us to want to co-operate with the One who first loved us (1 Jn 4:19).
Responding to Christ’s message changes everything. No longer do we attempt to change to be accepted. Instead, we become our true selves, and in Christ, we are empowered to live and be transformed into His likeness (2 Cor 3:18).