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.’”
The modern teaching of today in much of the institutional church, at least here in America, is that we do nothing – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ as Lord. For, they call that “Lordship salvation” or “works-based salvation” and they use Ephesians 2:8-9 to “prove” their case.
But Ephesians 2:8-10 does not prove their case, and neither do many other Scriptures in the New Testament which teach that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
[1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Eph 2:10; Phil 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17]
For, there is a vast difference between the works God prepared in advance that we should walk in them and our own works, of our own doing, which we decide to do. We are not saved by our own works. But our salvation is not absent of works. But they are the works God designed for us to do.
Therefore, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to sin and we are raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus, thus, delivered us from our slavery to sin so that we could be slaves of his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
And now we are to do the works that he prepared in advance that we should walk in them. We are to forsake our former lives of living for sin and self and we are to follow the Lord Jesus in obedience to his will for our lives. We are to deny our flesh daily and by the Spirit we are to be putting the deeds of the flesh to death. And we are to walk (in conduct) according to the Spirit.
For, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. If we obey sin, it will end in death. But if we obey obedience, it leads to righteousness, which leads to sanctification, which ends in eternal life.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; Rev. 2-3; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6]
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 try to hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity. We will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God. But if we lose our lives for the sake of Jesus, i.e., if we are dying with him to sin and living to him and to his righteousness, then we will inherit eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
We must take this to heart, for words said in a prayer repeated after someone else will not save us. An acknowledgment of who Jesus is and of what he did for us in dying to save us from our sins will also not save us. No verbal confessions of him as Lord or any professions of faith, by themselves, will save us from our sins and ensure us eternal life with God.
We cannot pull Scriptures out of their context and teach them as doctrine without the context in which they are written and absent of the context of all other teaching in the New Testament on salvation and on eternal life with God. For, context gives us the proper understanding of the text.
What we need to understand here is that our salvation from sin is not a one-time event in our lives which ensures us heaven as our eternal destiny. The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who WALK not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:1-17).
If we walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the passions of our flesh, habitually, willfully and deliberately, choosing to disobey our Lord, and habitually refusing to walk in obedience to him in his righteousness, we are not promised eternal life with God, but we are promised death.
So, please understand that God is going to judge us by our works (see section above). And many who verbally professed him as Lord on this earth are going to hear him say, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you.”
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.”
We must take this seriously. Our eternal destiny depends on it! If we do not surrender our lives to Jesus Christ on this earth, and if our lives are not being lived for him but for our flesh, we are not promised heaven as our eternal destiny. That’s the reality of it all.
Jesus truly is not okay with you continuing to live in your sin. He does not approve of you ignoring his commands or refusing to bow the knee to him while you profess his name and claim heaven as your home. He wants from you more than words. He wants your surrender and your obedience.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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