Are You Dead Yet?
"Are we there yet”? "Are we there yet”? "ARE WE THERE YET”? Yep, it’s the inevitable phrase that drains the driver’s sanity every time a passenger mentions it on a road trip, radically so when echoed for the 9th or 10th time. The expression is so anticipated on every long-distance journey that a movie has even been made about it.
The fact of the matter: Passengers would rather skip the journey altogether and arrive at the destination without ever interacting with a boat, car, or plane. Yeah, wouldn't that be nice.
This scenario is very similar to how we usually view our walk with God. We want a destination with no trek, no lines, no waiting, no bumps, and no turbulence. Basically, we just want to get there…NOW!
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
What am I about to share relates to a different kind of road trip, a unique journey of sorts; and the accompanying phrase is sort of like the aforementioned one, but distinct and infinitely more critical.
This phrase will sometimes send shivers down your spine. It will make you flinch as it echoes in your ears, but its significance marks the difference between your divine destination (fulfilled purpose) and no destination (unfulfilled purpose) at all. It is these four words: "ARE YOU DEAD YET?”
The journey we are on is not always easy. It can be challenging and painful, but that simple phrase is the underlying factor that will determine whether or not we get propelled into our God-given destiny.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DIE?
The death in question here is not a natural death. God wants you to enjoy the ride, to learn from Him and draw closer to Him through the voyage. This is a death of the flesh — a death of your earthly aspirations, dreams, desires, and will. Death means that it cannot live, it does not breathe, it does not speak, it does not move.
Think about your life and how those earthly things motivate you. If any of that is compelling you right now, then I simply ask again, "Are you dead yet?” Probably not; because, as a man of God once told me, “A dead man cannot possibly have an opinion.” When you are dead, you accept where God has placed you…no matter what.
You killing your flesh reflects the wisest decision you will ever make in your life, because you are saying in the most genuine way possible, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” In fact, you are not saying it with your mouth; you are living it with your life, because the flesh cannot die on its own. It takes multiple Nevertheless moments.
Actions are much louder than any voice that has ever spoken. With that being said, what is it that is more valuable to you than the plan and purpose of God unfolding in your life?
"God always gives the best to them who leave the decision up to Him"
DIE TODAY…AND AGAIN TOMORROW
The toughest part in facing this whole process is realizing and accepting that the flesh has more lives than any other living creature. You can't kill it just once, twice, three times, or even nine times, but every waking moment.
It’s a daily decision to kill what desperately is gasping for air when given the opportunity. If you start to give it life it becomes stronger. You must consistently deny the flesh, giving attention to that area(s) you struggle most with on a regular basis.
THE FLESH WORKS OVERTIME
Let me share some simple indicators that your flesh is alive and "not so" well. What happens in your mind or thought processes when someone else gets a new car or a better job? Or, how about when God uses both you and someone else and they get recognition and you don’t? Here’s a good one: What is your reaction when someone falsely accuses you? Hey, if jealously, pride, and revenge are ringing some bells, then you’ve got some dying out to do.
These scenarios present just a few works of the flesh, and any of them can and will rise up in all of us at some point. And, the flesh will look to gain the most ground when we least expect it.
The problem is not that you have flesh — that was established when God breathed into the dirt and man became a living soul. The Creator put us in flesh and fully expects flesh to fight and live within us. Romans 8:7 says, “The flesh is enmity against God.” Indeed, He warns us about it! But, He expects us to kill it and destroy it every time that vile thing lifts its head.
The question is: “What will you do with it when it comes?” Don’t be discouraged; this is how God reveals to you that you cannot make it without Him. He wants to help you, but your first step is acknowledging that your incorrigible flesh exists and requires a fight to subdue it.
WINNERS IN THE FIGHT
There are a few people in scripture that would have never reached their destination of deliverance, kingship, influence, wisdom, or other Godly pursuit had they not determined to fight and kill their stubborn, fleshly desires that warred against them every day.
Let’s look at a few who killed their flesh…
Paul Died Daily And Won
Paul stated in his 1st letter to the Corinthians, “I die daily.” He understood the importance of self-sacrifice and the denial of one's will. Even his name change from Saul to Paul alludes to his willingness to lay down his will for the Kingdom. It paints a beautiful picture, one that I hope to attain in my own walk with God.
Paul would have never been used in the miraculous without embracing the concept of dying daily. Notice the differences in significance when God just changes one’s name:
Saul =A primitive root; to inquire; by implication to request; by extension to demand:--ask (counsel, on), beg, borrow, lay to charge, consult, demand
These definitions reflect a character that is extremely fleshly, and self-centered.
Now watch the transition...
Paul = a primary verb ("pause"); to stop (transitively or intransitively), i.e. restrain, quit, desist, come to an end:--cease, leave, refrain.
The character in this definition is totally the antithesis of the one defined by his previous name.
Look at Acts 13:9-11.
9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.
10 And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
DEATH BRINGS LIFE
The most incredible aspect of this revelation is not the name change itself, but rather the point in God’s time when the name change occurred. The scripture relates the name transition from Saul to Paul in Acts 13. The mind-boggling part is that it was mentioned in the context of Paul's first miracle! He is not used in the miraculous before this verse, but many times after this he is portrayed as possibly the “most powerful” Apostle.
After Acts 13 Paul is NEVER referred to again as Saul. Why is this significant? Jesus is trying to show us that Paul could not be used in the miraculous until he came to the end of himself. The most powerful, influential man perhaps in the entire Bible (outside of Jesus) had to die out to his flesh in order to be used in such a great capacity.
If Saul was a human being, full of flesh and extremely self-centered, but yet was still able to break out of it all by killing his flesh, then we also have the same opportunity to be transformed into a “Paul.” God is no respecter of persons. All of Asia heard the Word because one man was willing to lay his fleshly desires down! (Acts 19:10)
“I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (I Cor. 15:31).
Jacob Wrestled And Won
Jacob never would have become a great nation if he had not first emptied himself at the Jabbok River. Jabbok in the Hebrew literally means, "emptying"
Let’s read about it (Genesis 32:22-28 NLT)
22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them.
23 After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions.
24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.
25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”
28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel,[a] because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
Jacob completely emptied himself of fleshly motives before he had an angelic visitation. In this angelic visitation he is transformed from Jacob into Israel. This is just another form of transformation and blessing that came after a man emptied himself out before God.
Daniel Prayed And Won
Let’s look at some of Daniel’s story (Daniel 10:12-13)
12 Then said he (a manifestation of God) unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
Daniel wouldn't have been able to wage war against the Prince of Persia and prophetically guide the king into battle if he had not first "chastened himself.” Chasten is defined there as “to depress or to bring himself low.” This was another way of saying that Daniel killed his flesh,
whereupon God in response intervened because of Daniel’s words. The words he prayed had weight and the Lord acted on those prayers.
Elisha Followed And Won
Let’s see how Elisha did it (2 Kings 2:2-15 NLT)
2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Bethel.” But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!” So they went down together to Bethel.
3 The group of prophets from Bethel came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?” “Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.”
4 Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Jericho.” But Elisha replied again, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together to Jericho.
5 Then the group of prophets from Jericho came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?” “Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.”
6 Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to the Jordan River.” But again Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together.
7 Fifty men from the group of prophets also went and watched from a distance as Elijah and Elisha stopped beside the Jordan River.
8 Then Elijah folded his cloak together and struck the water with it. The river divided, and the two of them went across on dry ground!
9 When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away. And Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.”
10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah replied. “If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.”
11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his clothes in distress.
13 Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen when he was taken up. Then Elisha returned to the bank of the Jordan River.
14 He struck the water with Elijah’s cloak and cried out, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Then the river divided, and Elisha went across.
15 When the group of prophets from Jericho saw from a distance what happened, they exclaimed, “Elijah’s spirit rests upon Elisha!” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.
GO DOWN AND CROSS THE RIVER
Elisha would have never gotten the double portion if he hadn’t first crossed over the Jordan River. (In the Hebrew it means to "descend, literally to go downwards").
The scripture clearly states that all the other prophets watched from afar off. Elisha followed Elijah and was willing to take the journey no matter what it cost him. He was willing to “descend” by crossing over the Jordan River. In other words, he was willing to kill his flesh so that the Spirit of God could truly rest on him.
Elisha could not receive the mantle until he had FIRST crossed over the threshold of being brought low. He had to first descend! If he was willing to descend to “death” then God could