Paul describes the pattern of life in the gospel in Romans 12:1, ‘by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship’. Paul means that we should cease to live for ourselves, and should surrender ourselves and all that we have to God. By this he implies that we are no longer in our own power, but have passed entirely into the power of God. This, however, cannot be, unless we renounce ourselves, and thus deny ourselves.’
Since we do not belong to ourselves, we should cease to live for ourselves, but should rather deny ourselves. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Since we belong to God, we should live and die for God alone, and order all parts of our lives by his will alone. Thus, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him.
Essential to such self-denial is the renunciation on our part of any sense that our reason or ideologies are capable of governing our lives, or that our will is capable of following sound guidance. This is what Paul means when he tells us to ‘be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (Rom. 12:2). This injunction is in direct contradiction to the teaching of worldly wisdom, which makes our control the highest authority for the ordering of our lives.
Over against the demonic wisdom of this world as the book of James notes, Christian are called to reason to submit themselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that Christ in whom we believe may also be the one who governs our lives from the inside out so that the man himself may no longer live but hear Christ living and reigning within him.
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.