READ: Psalm 94, Amos 6, Luke 22, 2 Corinthians 13
SIFTED LIKE WHEAT
The expression “Live Dead” is just another way of saying “die to self” or the “crucified life.” To live dead is nothing new; it is just applying the principle of self-denial in a frontier missions context. The problem with taking up the challenge to live dead is that all who do so fail, and fail miserably. There is something potentially pompous in the attempt to live the crucified life. Those who attempt to live dead must be vigilant that they do not fall into the common error of thinking that they are better than other believers. As soon as the crucified life becomes a competition, it is corrupted, and nothing stinks to high heaven as much as self-righteousness.
Those who think they are the greatest fall the hardest. The disciples of Jesus had some basis for their assumptions of grandeur. Jesus had chosen them, they had been used in ministry (signs and wonders), they were more intimate with Jesus than anyone else on earth, and they had forsaken all to follow Him. Those that are intimate with Jesus and attempt to follow Him to the cross are the most susceptible to spiritual pride. The longer we attempt to live dead, the more prone we are to hypocrisy.
Those who make the biggest claims fail most publicly. Peter declared his willingness to go to prison and die with Jesus on the same night that he swore up and down that he did not know Him (Luke 22:33-34). Those that announce they are living the crucified life tend to disown Jesus by their words, attitudes, and actions on a daily basis. Consecration claims seem to open us to the devil’s attacks. Jesus saw the discrepancy between Peter’s boasts and his capacity and realized the devil would press into that inconsistency in an effort to destroy Peter.
If it is dangerous to claim to live dead, it is more dangerous to not attempt the crucified life for fear of failing. Failing (a public exposure of our lack of righteousness) is intrinsic to living dead. Self-denial must include the public shame of being exposed for who we really are–stupid sinners, unable to make ourselves good. Those unwilling to put themselves on display live in a different form of pride but it is still pompous. The one who attempts to live dead does so knowing he will miserably fail, even publicly, and that the humiliation of being inept and weak is part of the process of being crucified. It takes a unique form of courage to publicly attempt something that you know you will fail at, that you know will be humiliating. To live dead means being committed to being repeatedly exposed as a fraud, to be sifted by the devil, and to allow that shame to be used to steadily remove all vanity. The good news is that Jesus has prayed for us, and if we are willing to be humiliated, He is willing to restore us and to make our journey helpful to our brothers and sisters. If we can live dead by failing, so can they.