Bible Stories On Dying To Self?


The Bible is full of stories on dying to self. Here I list a few of them. I will continue to add more over time.

Dying To Self In The Scriptures 

Adam and Eve: Diet

Genesis 2:15-17 (NKJV) 15 “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

In this story we learn of a major area of dying to self: diet. Frequently in bringing about spiritual growth, God calls His people to deny themselves in the area of diet. We see this in the story of the children of Israel being given Manna in the wilderness, the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, the lifestyle of John the Baptist, etc. The call to deny self in this area continues in our day.

Adam and Eve: Submission In A Relationship Of Equals

Genesis 3:16 (NKJV) 16 "To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

Here we find Eve having to accept painful childbirth and a role of submission to her husband even though they were created equal. Needless to say submission to one's husband is a major area of dying to self and is controversial. I believe the concept is clearly supported in the Scriptures as well as in the Spirit of Prophecy. However, this submission is not about the wife losing her individuality in a relationship with a tyrannical husband. Rather it is one of love and kindness, akin to the love that Christ showed to the church. Here is another Bible verse and quotations to support this area of dying to self.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NKJV) 22 "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."

"Eve had been perfectly happy by her husband’s side in her Eden home; but, like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it. A similar result will be reached by all who are unwilling to take up cheerfully their life duties in accordance with God’s plan. In their efforts to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they might be a blessing. In their desire for a higher sphere, many have sacrificed true womanly dignity and nobility of character, and have left undone the very work that Heaven appointed them." {PP 59.1}

"We women must remember that God has placed us subject to the husband. He is the head, and our judgment and views and reasonings must agree with his if possible. If not, the preference in God’s Word is given to the husband where it is not a matter of conscience. We must yield to the head." {Lt5-1861.}

Note, however, headship only applies to a godly man that is surrendered to God:

"If the husband is tyrannical, exacting, critical of the actions of his wife, he cannot hold her respect and affection, and the marriage relation will become odious to her. She will not love her husband, because he does not try to make himself loveable. The Lord Jesus has not been correctly represented in His relation to the church by many husbands in their relation to their wives, for they do not keep the way of the Lord. They declare that their wives must be subject to them in everything. {Ms17-1891, par. 11} But it was not the design of God that the husband should have control, as head of the house, when he himself does not submit to Christ. He must be under the rule of Christ, that he may represent the relation of Christ to the church. If he is a coarse, rough, boisterous, egotistical, harsh, and overbearing man, let him never utter the word that the husband is the head of the wife and that she must submit to him in everything, for he is not the Lord, he is not the husband in the true significance of the term. If the wife should have the same mold of character as herhusband, woe be to the children; the whole family would be a blot upon the earth. Instead of being a houseband, to bind the family together, into the unity that is symbolized by the unity of Christ and the church, he will break every tie of affection, and the members of the family will be scattered, filled with bitterness and hatred one toward another." {Ms17-1891, par. 12}

In listing this area of dying to self, I am merely sharing what the Bible teaches and what is affirmed in the Spirit of Prophecy. To get a balanced understanding, however, one must carefully consider the teaching of all three paragraphs: (1) the headship that began in the garden of Eden and the tendency to want something different, (2) the husband's special role and (3) this headship only applying to a husband who is fully submitted to God. God did not ask any wife to lose her individuality in that of her husband. She is an equal Child of God in every sense of the word, the submission being a choice, similar to the submission seen among the equal members of the Godhead. More Bible verses and quotations could be referenced in this regard.

Adam and Eve: Work Is A Necessary Part Of God's Plan

Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV) 17 "Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

Here we find labor as part of men's dying to self experience. The woman is called to especially care for any children resulting from the marriage; the husband is especially called to be the provider of the family. 

"To the dwellers in Eden was committed the care of the garden, “to dress it and to keep it.” Their occupation was not wearisome, but pleasant and invigorating. God appointed labor as a blessing to man, to occupy his mind, to strengthen his body, and to develop his faculties. In mental and physical activity Adam found one of the highest pleasures of his holy existence. And when, as a result of his disobedience, he was driven from his beautiful home, and forced to struggle with a stubborn soil to gain his daily bread, that very labor, although widely different from his pleasant occupation in the garden, was a safeguard against temptation and a source of happiness. Those who regard work as a curse, attended though it be with weariness and pain, are cherishing an error. The rich often look down with contempt upon the working classes, but this is wholly at variance with God’s purpose in creating man. What are the possessions of even the most wealthy in comparison with the heritage given to the lordly Adam? Yet Adam was not to be idle. Our Creator, who understands what is for man’s happiness, appointed Adam his work. The true joy of life is found only by the working men and women. The angels are diligent workers; they are the ministers of God to the children of men. The Creator has prepared no place for the stagnating practice of indolence." {PP 50.1}

Story of Cain and Able: Obedience Concerning Spiritual Things

Genesis 4:4-7 (NKJV) 4 “Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’”

Here we see the call to deny self in bringing God's required sacrifice instead of that which "self" might have chosen. Abel died to self in this regard and God respected his offering. Cain didn't think it mattered and his offering was rejected by God. Cain was so angry over this rejection that he eventually murdered his brother. We find the same call in our relationship with God, particularly in the call to keep His Sabbath—the day commemorating His work as the creator—holy.

Enoch: Pleasing God In Every Area Of Life

Genesis 5:21-24 (NKJV) 21 “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. 22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

Enoch appears to have conformed his entire life to a close relationship with God. In everything he sought to please God. In everything he sought to protect and enhance his relationship with God. He truly had a daily walk with God. If we had the same desire to walk closely with God, it would bring a great dying to self in our day, and would bring a revival of true godliness in our lives.

Noah: Misunderstanding And Ridicule In Preaching And Building Ark For Coming Flood.

Genesis 6:13-18 (NKJV) 13 “And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.’”

I sometimes try to imagine what it must have been like when Noah announced to his wife that their lives were going to be profoundly changed by God's warning of the impending flood and his call for them to prepare the ark of safety. Noah began working on the ark and warning people, even though they had never seen rain, let alone a flood. In spite of the mocking and ridicule that was undoubtedly heaped upon him, he remained faithful, daily dying to self in many ways. Standing for truth is not easy, but we are called to die to self in this regard too, We also have a message of warning of the world. Are we willing to give that message?

Abraham: Separating From Family To Go To A Country God Would Later Reveal

We find dying to self in many of the stories of Abraham. The first comes when God calls him to leave Ur of Chaldea. It continues in many ways, reaching the apex of these experiences when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac.

More stories will be added over time.