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.’”
What does it take for us to deny ourselves? It means we say, “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts. It means we say “No!” to what we want if God wants something different for us. And it means we get up out of bed every day and we go to work whether we feel like it or not, and the like.
It means we humble ourselves before God, we turn away from our sinful lifestyles, and we choose to walk in obedience to him and to his commands (New Covenant). We choose what God wants over what our flesh wants. And we choose to walk by faith and not by our feelings.
And to take up our cross daily is to die with Christ daily to sin, for Jesus’ death on that cross meant death to sin, and when we believed in him as our Lord and Savior we died with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness. But this is daily, not just once for us.
For, the Scriptures teach that we must WALK (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit and no longer according to our flesh. We must, by the Spirit, be putting the misdeeds of the flesh to death to have eternal life with God.
All throughout the New Testament Christians are taught to put off the deeds of the flesh and to put on the deeds of righteousness.
And to follow Jesus is to be obeying him as a matter of life course. It doesn’t mean we are perfect or that we will never sin, but it means we are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. It means our minds are set on the things of the Spirit and not on the things of the flesh.
It means, too, that we are not just hearers of the Word but we are doers of the Word. We put the Word of God into practice in our daily lives, by faith, by God’s grace, and in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us, and not of our own flesh.
[Jn 6:35-58; Jn 10:27-30; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Gal 5:16-24; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Heb 10:26-31; Tit 2:11-14]
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?”
If we choose not to deny ourselves, to not take up our cross daily (die daily to sin), and to not follow Jesus in obedience, we have decided to save (hold on to) our old lives (of living for sin and self). If we do this, we will lose our lives for eternity. We will not inherit eternal life with God.
But if we deny self, and if we die with Christ to sin daily, and if we follow Jesus in obedience, by God’s grace, in his strength, for the sake of the name of Jesus, we will live with Christ eternally. We will be saved from our slavery to sin, and we will inherit eternal life with God.
Thus, if we decide to hold on to our old lives of sin and to continue to live however we want, we have chosen the world over God. We have chosen what is of our flesh over what is of the Spirit. And we have chosen to remain in bondage to sin rather than to walk in freedom from slavery to sin which Jesus provided for us through his sacrificial death on a cross.
So, we may gain the whole world, and we may feel we are free to live in sin and to entertain ourselves incessantly and to chart our own life’s course, and we may have many people who like us and who want to be our friends, but we will forfeit our own souls because we did not surrender our lives to Christ. We will gain nothing. We will only lose!
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 Christ and of his words involves us shying away from sharing the gospel of our salvation and from sharing the word of God with others out of fear that people will reject us.
When given the opportunity to share Christ, for the Lord opens that door, but we clam up, because we are more concerned with people liking us rather than with their eternal destiny, then that is being ashamed of Christ and of his words.
But this goes much deeper than that. This isn’t merely about being afraid or embarrassed to share the word of God with others. This goes to what this whole passage is speaking of which is a refusal to apply the word of God to our lives. It is a refusal to honor Christ as Lord and to deny self and to die with Christ daily to sin, and it is a refusal to follow him in obedience.
And this is what the majority of professers of faith in Jesus Christ appear to be doing, at least here in America. For they have bought into a cheap grace gospel which is telling them that they don’t have to deny self, they don’t have to die with Christ to sin, they don’t have to repent or obey the Lord, and they don’t have to submit to his Lordship over their lives.
They are believing the lie in place of the truth, for they are listening to charlatans who are telling them what their itching ears want to hear. They are believing that they can believe in Jesus but that they can now continue living in sin without guilt because of God’s grace. But that is a wrong belief of what God’s grace is all about, and it will end in death, not life.
For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs (trains) us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (Tit 2:11-14; Eph 4:17-32).
Seek the Lord
An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”