First of all, it is absolutely vital to see that when Christ died for us on the cross, WE DIED! Romans 6:6 reveals this truth: “Knowing this, that our OLD SELF WAS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM” (NASB). God not only sent His Son to die for our SINS; that is, for what WE HAD DONE, but He also sent Him to the cross to die for SIN; which is WHAT WE WERE. We were all born sinners (and that’s why we commit acts of sin) and thus our “old self” is all that we were as members of a fallen race of sinners. This means that on the cross God not only judged OUR SINS, but He condemned our SINFUL NATURE. We see this in Romans 8:3: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, HE CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH.” This truth is not something we FEEL, but something we BELIEVE. If God says He condemned the sinful nature that was in us by making His Son “an offering for sin,” we simply take Him at His Word and rejoice in it. Can you say, on the authority of God’s Word, that your “old self was crucified with Him?” If you can, then you realize that in God’s sight, your “old self has already died.” It was a judicial act and God, as the Judge of all mankind, declares that the believer’s old self DIED WITH CHRIST.

Once we see this truth we can then apply it in a practical way. The rest of Romans 6:6 goes on to say, “that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin” (DARBY). What God did JUDICIALLY, He wants us to experience PRACTICALLY. Even though the “sinful nature” was condemned by God in Christ’s death; it is still in us. Yet it can be “annulled” or “put out of commission” when we, by faith, apply the truth we looked at earlier. When we are tempted to sin, we can use God’s word to deliver us from sinning by saying, “No, I will NOT yield to that temptation, for my old self died with Christ. My old self would have gladly succumbed to that temptation, but it has died and now I choose not to sin.” By doing this, we are obeying Romans 6:11 which says, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

So, the answer to your question is this; we “die to self” when we experience, in a practical way, the truth of our having been crucified with Christ. It will take diligence on our part, for Satan will continue to tempt us to sin and we must continue to “consider ourselves dead to sin,” as we saw in Romans 6:11.

Before we close, let’s also look at what Jesus told His disciples in Mark 8:34-35: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must DENY HIMSELF, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wished to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” When we speak of “dying to self,” it includes “denying ourselves.” What does this mean? When Jesus spoke these words He was on His way to the cross and as He made His way to Calvary He denied Himself by being willing to suffer persecution from wicked men, by being willing to live a life without personal comforts or earthly ambitions, and ultimately He paid the ultimate sacrifice by laying down His actual life. If we are going to follow Him, we must be willing to “deny ourselves” these same things. This is also part of “dying to self.” This may even involve (in regards to your second question) being taken advantage of at times, for the world often takes advantage of loving and self-denying Christians who seek to show the love of Christ to them. Yet our Savior exhorts us in Matthew 5:39, 40, 44, “Do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also….love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We can’t do this in our own strength, but armed with the scriptures we saw above, along with the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can indeed “deny self, take up our cross, and follow Him.”  (224.9)  (DO)