Luke 9:23 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Following Jesus Christ means dying to our old selfish natures, and to what we want out of this life. And, it means dying to sin daily, by his grace, and in his strength and power at work within us. As well, it means that we then follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives, that we go where he leads us, and that we do what he tells us we must do. This is the gospel in a nutshell.
For, this is what Jesus did for us that we might be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God. He gave up his throne in heaven to come to earth and to take on human flesh. He humbled himself and became a man, in order to become a servant to humankind, to show us the way to the cross, so that we might be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God.
In doing so, he suffered much in the way of rejection, persecution, slander, and false accusations. He was even regarded as crazy by his family members, who wanted to put him away. And, he was told he was of the devil by his opponents and his persecutors, who were teachers of the scriptures and leaders within the temple of God. They also hounded him continuously, always looking for ways to trip him up with his words.
Then, because they hated him and they were jealous of him, threatened by his (temporary) popularity among the people, and because he told them the truth about their sins, and they refused to believe that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, they put him to death on a cross, as though he was a common criminal, although he had done no wrong, but only good.
Jesus, because he was God, could have stopped them, though. He could have escaped this death on the cross. But, he willingly suffered wrong, and he willingly went to that cross for you and for me so that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23).
But, just as he was hated, persecuted, falsely accused, and put to death on a cross, we who follow him with our lives will also be hated, persecuted, and falsely accused of wrong doing. Many of us, too, will be put to death because of our faith in Jesus Christ and for our testimonies for him and for his gospel. For, not only must we put sin and selfishness to death daily, but we must be willing to suffer injustice, too, for the sake of Christ and his gospel.
Luke 9:24-25 ESV
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
For, if we choose to hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we are going to lose them for eternity. We are not going to have eternal life with God, even if we profess with our lips that Jesus is Lord of our lives.
For, if we make sin our practice and not righteousness, and if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, we are going to die in our sins and be eternally condemned, not be eternally saved. This is what the scriptures teach us (Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Yet, if we willingly die to self and sin for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel, and we follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives, then our lives will be saved for eternity, and heaven will be our eternal destiny.
Yet, our lives are not saved just so that we can go to heaven when we die, but they are saved that we might be delivered out of our bondage to sin while we still live on this earth, and in order that we might live holy lives, pleasing to God, by his grace, and in his power, now and every day.
For, we can spend our whole lives gaining all kinds of accolades in this world of our ours for our earthly and worldly accomplishments. And, perhaps, even in death, we may be honored for all that we did in this life in the way of worldly achievements, too.
We, as well, may be well liked, thought highly of, praised regularly, and be honored consistently for what we do, or for how we act, or for what we say while we live on this earth. We may have lots of friends, and even people flocking to be our friends, too.
But, if it is all for this world, and for our praise, then it means nothing. Our rewards are earthly and temporary, and when we die, they are gone.
So, while we live on this earth, we are to live for the glory of God and for his praise, but not according to what we think or we decide, but according to God’s will and purposes for our lives. For, just like God’s people of old, many people think that God is pleased by their sacrifices, supposedly for him, while they maintain control over their own lives, and while they continue in sinful practices, refusing to obey their Lord.
So, this is not about us doing “good works” we think God will be pleased with, but in our own flesh, according to our own choosing. This is total surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and it is complete submission to him and to his will for our lives. It is daily saying “No” to sin and self, and it is daily saying “Yes” to the Lord to follow him in his ways, doing what he says, the way he says to do it (Tit. 2:11-14).
Luke 9:26 ESV
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
It is human nature, though, to want to be loved and accepted by other humans. It is human nature to want to avoid pain and suffering, too. So, while we still live in flesh bodies, our flesh is at war with the Spirit, as our flesh wants the comforts of this world over suffering for the sake of Christ.
So, we will be tempted to do what will get us well liked by other humans, and we will be tempted to avoid doing anything which will get us hated.
Thus, if we give in to our flesh, and we do what will get us liked, and we refuse to do what might get us hated, even though it is the right thing to do, and even though it is what God commands us to do, then it shows that we are ashamed of Christ and his words in order that we might be liked by humans and not have to suffer for the sake of Christ and his gospel.
So, we have to understand here that if we choose the flesh over the Spirit, as a matter of course in our lives, and we sow to please the flesh and not the Spirit, even if it is the flesh of other humans that we are trying to please, we are going to reap what we sow.
For, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).
Thus, it all goes back to the gospel in a nutshell. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. For, he redeemed us back for God that we might be God’s possession. So, our lives are no longer our own, to be lived how we want to live them. For, we were bought with a price, the blood of Jesus Christ, so that we should now honor God with our lives in all that we do, rather than live to please our flesh. All glory to God!
To Be Like Him
An Original Work / March 16, 2014
Based off Scripture
Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.
Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.
Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!
When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.
Friday, April 12, 2019