Thoughts after Easter: What does dying to self really mean?

Dominic Tan // April 13, 2020, 3:05 pm


During a prayer meeting after service, I spoke with a friend about how we were going through a similar season with similar struggles in our journey of faith.

We were sharing about how we seemed to be a better person or in a better place than before, but had somehow lost a part of ourselves along the way, resulting in us wanting to go back to those “better times”.

Moving forward seems to be taking forever, especially when the present can be hard to bear.

After the prayer meeting, the Verse of The Day in the YouVersion Bible App caught my eye and I sensed God speaking through the verse from Mark 16:6 into our situation.

“”Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

I could relate to the women in Mark 16:6 who went looking for Jesus at the tomb and were shocked and confused not to find him there.

All I found were empty tombs that did nothing for me, or at least, nothing lasting.

Many times during this season, I looked for aspects of myself and things I used to do which I depended on for affirmation, security and hope.

I looked for the confidence I used to have in my early twenties, but it is no longer there. I looked for joy in the material things and activities I took pleasure in, but they no longer give me that same feeling.

I looked for hope in the knowledge I have acquired through my studies in psychology and counselling, but realised they do not provide enough for me to look forward to my life ahead.

All I found were empty tombs that did nothing for me, or at least, nothing lasting.

Die, disciple, die

In prayer, I would tell God: “God, I feel like many things in me have died and I cannot seem to get them back again. My confidence, my steadfastness, my joy and my hope.”

I would ask, “Won’t you give these good things back to me? I can understand if I die to the more negative aspects of myself, but what about the good stuff?”

Even the “good stuff” or what I perceived as good, must also die.

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” was what the angel told the women as they stood alarmed at the empty tomb.

As I read that, it dawned upon me that even the “good stuff” or what I perceived as good, must also die. They must also die so that they can be renewed and resurrected by God to take the place of the former “good stuff” I used to enjoy.

Jesus in the flesh was definitely good. Jesus resurrected – even better because of His triumph over sin and death.

God did not lead us to where are, just to leave us where we are.

I was reminded yesterday, on Easter Sunday, that while what I used to be or have was good, I can look forward to new beginnings that will be better.

The process of “death” before the “resurrection” can be undoubtedly disorienting and frustrating. We will struggle to forget former things and surrender to God’s new things (Isaiah 43:18-19).

But if He says that He is making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, I choose to believe that He is there with me in the wildernesses and wastelands of my life.

What the Resurrection means to the 21st century believer

Jesus’s purpose was not to come into the world, to merely stay in the world in His fleshly body, and die.

While it must have been such a privilege to have journeyed with Jesus in the flesh, His purpose was to die for the world and be resurrected so that His Spirit could be in each and every person who believes in Him.

As we continue to die to our selves, we look forward to accomplishing our primary purpose as followers of Christ.

Christlikeness – being raised to be more and more like Jesus.


  1. What does dying to self mean according to the Bible?
  2. What are some areas in your life you haven’t put to death yet?
  3. Pray and ask God for a work of regeneration in these aspects of your life.