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.”
Jesus said this. He said that if we want to come after him, we must first of all deny ourselves. And, to deny is to refuse or to forbid ourselves, i.e. our flesh. It is to say “No!” to our flesh; to disallow it to have full reign in our lives. In other words, it is to let go of what we want for our lives, and it is to submit to what God wants for our lives.
Now, this is not promoting self-mutilation or self-deprivation. This is not about denying ourselves the essentials of life or doing harm to ourselves. It is also not a false humility which degrades oneself in order to gain the sympathy of others. We are to take care of ourselves. But we are not to overly focus on ourselves to the point to where we become our own gods or to where we take pride in ourselves rather than to give glory to God.
Basically, denying ourselves is dying to our flesh. And, our flesh, according to scripture, is that part of us which craves what is sinful. So, it is saying no to sin. It is refusing to allow sin to reign supreme in our lives. It is to refuse to let our sinful flesh to rule and to have dominion and control over our lives. We no longer live to the flesh, but we now live to God and to his righteousness, and he is now our Lord (owner-master).
But, we need to call “sin” what God calls “sin” and not give it other names so as to excuse away what we know is sin. For example, viewing pornography is not entertainment. It is adultery. It is sexual immorality. Watching TV shows or movies or reading books or listening to music with sensuality in them, with vulgarity, and/or with mockery of God, etc. is not entertainment. It is sexual immorality, adultery, idolatry, and debauchery, etc.
Take Up Cross Daily
Jesus literally took up his cross in order to see us be able to be freed from our slavery to sin and to walk in his righteousness. And, his death was all about him taking our place so that he could put our sin to death so that we could now die with him to sin and walk daily according to the Spirit and no longer according to our flesh (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
And, we, as his followers, are to do this daily. So, this self-denial is not a one-time thing. This whole thing of denying the flesh and saying “No” to sin is to happen daily in our lives. And, it isn’t just denying what is obviously sinful, but it is denying our own wills in order to submit to God’s will for our lives.
So, it may be to deny ourselves more sleep if the Lord wants us up praying or reading the Bible or worshiping him or writing a devotional. It may be to deny ourselves things we have in surplus in order to give to the needy. It may be to deny ourselves something we want to do in order to do something with someone else that they want to do, providing it is not something sinful.
It is a daily dying to what we want in order to hear from the Lord and to do what he wants, to give where he says to give, and to minister to others, and to show love to others (in a proper way). And, it goes with the Scripture that says that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15; cf. 1 Co. 6:20; Tit. 2:11-14).
To follow Jesus is to obey him. It is to do what he says to do. Mostly these commands we are to obey are going to come from the New Testament (Matthew to Revelation) in the Bible (Genesis to Revelation). But, they could come from the Old Testament (Genesis to Malachi), too, providing they are in agreement with the New Covenant Relationship God has with us today.
But, some commands in scripture may be in a broad category, and our Lord may break that down for us in more personal ways via the witness of his Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts. For, the Lord speaks to us, not just through his written word, but also through the Holy Spirit, who then speaks to us in many different ways through other people, or through circumstances, or through dreams and visions, or through nature, etc.
But, how the Holy Spirit speaks to us must also be in line with God’s divine nature and will for our lives, and it must be in agreement with the New Covenant teaching in the New Testament or with Scripture, as a whole. And, I believe that any dreams or visions, supposedly from God, must be in coordination with the word of God and in agreement with God, for they should be used as parables to teach biblical truth to our world today.
For, a lot of people are claiming visions or dreams or “words” from God that are not in agreement with the Word of God and that are contrary to his divine will and purpose for our lives. So, in obeying the Lord, we must make certain it is the Lord we are obeying and not man, and not something else.
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?”
This saving of our own lives has to do with us holding on to our old sinful lifestyles and not letting go, and not letting God have supreme rule over our hearts and lives. And, many people are doing that today while thinking that they believe in Jesus and that they are going to heaven when they die.
For, many are being taught that faith in Jesus Christ is a mere acknowledgement of who he was and is, and of what he did for us in dying on a cross for our sins. Of course, what they are teaching them is that Jesus died merely to forgive us our sins and to deliver us from hell so we can go to heaven when we die. But, they are not telling them that faith in Jesus Christ is death to sin and self and it is living for Christ and for his righteousness.
But, Jesus said that if we save our own lives, i.e. that if we don’t die to sin and self, and if we don’t deny self and follow our Lord in obedience, that we are going to lose our lives for eternity, not have eternal life with God.
But, if we deny self, take up our cross daily and die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, we will have eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Rom. 2:6-8).
But, if we hold on to these earthly lives, and we decide how we are going to live and what we are going to do, it doesn’t matter what we profess with our lips. For, if we give lip service only to God, while our hearts are far from him, because we are still holding on to our old flesh, then it profits us nothing. We won’t have eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of the fires of hell.
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.”
To be ashamed of God and his words is to be embarrassed by them. And, to be embarrassed by them isn’t just us being afraid to witness for Jesus Christ. But, we are ashamed of Jesus and his words when we refuse to do what he says, and when we choose to go our own way, instead.
There is another Scripture, though, which talks about us being ashamed to acknowledge Jesus before men, but instead we deny him (Matt. 10:32-33). But, this denial of Christ before others isn’t just with words. It is with our actions, our attitudes, our values, and our lifestyles, etc. We can even acknowledge Jesus verbally while denying him behind closed doors while we sin against him in secret (not secret from him, though).
And, he says that if we deny him before other people, that he will deny us before our heavenly Father. And, this goes right along with this passage in Luke 9:26, for it says that if we are ashamed of Jesus he will be ashamed of us when he comes back to take his own to be with him forever.
So, don’t take Jesus and his salvation and his grace for granted. Don’t take it lightly. For, Jesus means serious business about what he did for us when he died on that cross. For, he bought us back for God so we would now be God’s possession and so that we would glorify God now with our lives. And he put our sin to death on that cross so that we would die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
Bottom line? If we live to sin we will die in our sins, but if we live by the Spirit of God, we will have eternal life with God (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8).
High Above the Seraphim
Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16
High above the seraphim
Sounds an everlasting hymn;
Voices echo thro’ the hall
And shake the temple wall.
Living creatures bless the King,
Four and twenty elders sing,
“Worthy, He who overcame;”
“The Word of God” His name.
Praise the Seed of Abraham!
All dominion to the Lamb!
Sing of Him, in glory slain,
“Lord God Almighty reigns!”
Shout the God-breathed prophecy;
“He who was will ever be!”
“Kings of earth have passed away!”
The Son is Lord this day!
Night to night I come to Him,
Kneel before His diadem;
While a thousand thousand sing,
I fall before the King.
Soon will He be changing me,
Clothed in immortality,
Swallowed up in victory,
And evermore to be.
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