I understand throughout the Bible it specifically says to put to death your old ways, your old sinful nature, and die to the flesh, but specifically what does it mean? What does it take to make this happen in your heart? I know it sounds simple, but how do you do it in practice?
NIV - 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
The key elements to me are habit; ever-increasing knowledge of God's word; and reliance on God and His power. It means, first, engaging in regular and committed study of the Bible, in order to know the ways in which our fleshly nature (which even Christians will never be free of in this life) can tempt us to take actions that are contrary to God's commandments and guidance. It then means consciously dedicating each day and its activities to God, and asking for His help in recognizing and resisting attempts by our flesh (as well as the world and the devil) to draw us away from Him. It also means being consciously alert and aware (at least at first, and with God's help) of the potential for temptation and sin in every situation that we encounter, and (again, through seeking and employing the help of God) deliberately resisting and rejecting those possibilities. As the Bible says, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7). These actions, practiced consistently over time, will then become a matter of habit and nature, so that our rejection of the flesh will grow ever more automatic, and something that we no longer have to consciously choose.
I think the best answer to your question is spelled out by Paul in the 7 1/2 chapters of Romans leading up to this passage. The entire first half of Romans is dedicated to what it means that we are now 'in Christ'. He tells us that we 'have died' with Christ: "We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin." (Romans 6:6 NLT). We have died to the power of sin. Past tense. "Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives." (Romans 6:1 - 6:4 NLT) He's telling the believers in Rome, and us, that, in Christ, we have already died to the authority of sin. We now live, and fight, from a position of victory, defending ground that is already ours, because Jesus has secured it, rather than fighting from a position of defeat, to gain ground. That's why, when Paul talks about putting on the armour of God in Ephesians, he tells us afterward to 'stand', which is more defensive than attacking. I don't think that any practical ways will work until we understand our position in Christ. Once we understand that, and we realize that it is Christ himself who is our strength, that is when our 'practice' works because it is Christ at work in us. If we understand our position and the resources we have in Christ, then the responsibilities, which are impossible for us to carry out, become 'do-able' because it is Christ in us who does them. The Christian life is characterized by two sides of the same coin: we in Christ, and Christ in us. The first puts us in a position of victory, the second works that victory out through us. I know you asked for 'practical ways' of dying to the flesh. You are already dead to the flesh, the sinful nature (you have a new nature), and the authority of sin. The flesh will still be with us till we die, but it has no authority over those of us who are 'in Christ'. Sin is still wanting to act as if it's your master, but it lost the authority when we died 'in Christ'.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.