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.’”
If we want to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, to approach or to move toward him, we must deny (refuse, repudiate) ourselves. We must reject ourselves as having any authority over our own lives. And we must cast off the flesh, denying it and its power over our lives.
Now, this faith to believe in Jesus comes from God and is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives, so this is not something we do of our own willpower or in our own flesh. This comes from the Spirit of God, but it involves surrender of our lives to God.
Coming to Jesus, by his grace, through God-given faith in him, also involves death to sin. When we believe in Jesus, our old self is crucified with him in death to sin, so the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we will no longer be enslaved (addicted) to sin (Rom 6:6).
But this death to sin doesn’t happen just once. This is daily. Daily we die to sin and to self and we follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his commands. We say “No!” to our flesh, and we say “Yes!” to the Spirit. We deny self and we yield to the Spirit’s control over our lives.
Luke 9:24 ESV
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
If we want to preserve our old lives; if we want to maintain control over our own lives; if we want to hold on to the flesh, and not yield to the Holy Spirit’s control, then we will lose our lives for eternity. We will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God.
For, where there is no death to sin and self, there is no life in the Spirit. We cannot live in Christ and him in us unless we first die to our old lives of living to sin and to self. The old self must first be put to death before we can be resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him.
So, we can’t just pray a prayer after someone else to “receive Christ,” and then we are “good to go” until we die and go to heaven one day. That is not biblical. And faith in Jesus is not a one-time event which secures us heaven.
All throughout the New Testament we are taught that we must continually die to sin and self and follow our Lord in obedience. For, if we walk according to the flesh (in sin) we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8).
Luke 9:25 ESV
“For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
That’s right! If we hold on to control over our own lives so that we can do whatever it is we want to do, so that we can enjoy the pleasures of this world, without regard for God and for the teachings in His Word, we profit nothing! We may feel like we do profit, but it is a lie!
Yet, many people are buying into that lie. They are believing that they can have faith in Jesus Christ and be guaranteed heaven when they die but that it costs them nothing, for Jesus did it all. Well, he paid for it all, for sure, and he provides it all for us, but we don’t receive it if we don’t submit to him.
For, God’s grace to us is not free license to continue living in sin without guilt and without punishment of sin. God’s grace delivers us out of our slavery to sin, and his grace empowers us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14).
So, receiving his grace into our lives involves surrender of our lives to him, following him in obedience to his commands, and leaving our sinful lifestyles behind us that we may now walk in his holiness (Rom 12:1-2; Eph 4:17-24).
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.”
And this is critical that we get this! If we are ashamed of Jesus and his words, it means we have misplaced our confidence in him, for we have believed “the big lie,” instead. We may claim him as our Savior, and his grace and his salvation as belonging to us, but if we deny him by our lifestyles, then it shows we are ashamed of him and of his words.
And this is exactly where many professers of Christianity are today. They want to believe in Jesus so that they can receive his blessings of forgiveness of sin and the hope of heaven when they die. But it is a lot like wanting his resurrection without him first dying on that cross for our sins. For they don’t want to have to die with him first to sin.
But if we want to hold on to our sin, and if we want to ignore our Lord’s commands, and if we want to convince ourselves that faith in Jesus Christ makes no demands on us at all, and that we don’t have to honor him as Lord (owner-master) of our lives, then we need to understand that he will not acknowledge us before the Father when he comes again.
Many will hear on that day, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, for I never knew you!”
For, can you imagine marrying someone, and your spouse then ignoring you from that day forward? Can you imagine him/her immediately going his/her own way, living as though he/she is still single, having nothing to do with you, but then wanting all the benefits of marriage?
Well, that is what it is like when people buy into the cheap grace gospel. They say they “believe” in Jesus because they want the benefits of forgiveness and the hope of eternal life with God, but they want nothing to do with honoring Jesus as their husband and master.
So, just know that faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t work like that, for it is a marriage to Jesus Christ which will be consummated when he returns for us, his bride. So, we take pleasure in our Lord, and in surrender to him, and in doing what he commands, and in walking in his ways, for we love him.
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!