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.’”
This is the message of the gospel of our salvation in a nutshell. If we want to have Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, and be forgiven our sins, and to have the hope of heaven when we die, or when Jesus returns for his bride, we must first of all deny self. We must refuse and reject our selfish and sinful natures. We must humble ourselves and no longer live for ourselves but for Jesus who gave himself up for us on that cross (2 Co 5:15).
And we must take up our cross daily. This means we are not only crucified with Christ in death to sin and to our old selves (to the self-life) when we initially believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, but we continue to die with him to sin and to live to him and to his righteousness daily, consistently, and persistently, as a matter of our life course, as a matter of our daily practice (1 Pet 2:24; Rom 8:12-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
And we must follow Jesus wherever he leads us in doing and saying whatever it is he leads us to do and to say. In other words, we must walk in obedience to his commands, and we must be led by the Spirit or we are not children of God (Rom 8:14; 1 Jn 2:3-6). For, not everyone who says to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of the Father who is in heaven (Matt 7:21-23).
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 save our own lives, it means we hold on to them and we do not forfeit the old sin nature in order to follow Jesus in obedience. We have not and we do not crucify the flesh daily with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24). But we continue living in sin, doing what our flesh wants, living to please ourselves and not to please God with our lives. And if this is what we do, it will not end in life eternal, but it will end in death.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 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; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27]
But if we lose our lives for the sake of Christ, it means we have died and we are dying daily with Christ to sin and to self. We are saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and we are living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. Sin is no longer our practice, but righteousness is our practice, by God’s grace and in his power and strength, and we walk in obedience to our Lord. This ends in life.
[Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Jn 15:1-11; Jas 1:22-25]
Many people today are making false confessions of Christ as their Lord and Savior based on a lie which is a half-truth gospel created in the minds and hearts of humans who are opposed to Christ and to his gospel message. And they are being told that they don’t have to repent of their sins or obey the Lord or submit to Jesus as Master of their lives. Thus, they are gaining the world, but they are losing and forfeiting their own lives for eternity.
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.”
Being ashamed of Jesus and of his words isn’t just avoiding witnessing about him to others out of fear of what others may do to us or say about us. For, if we are ashamed of Jesus, it means we are refusing to honor him as Lord (owner-master) of our lives, we are refusing to be crucified with him in death to sin, and we are refusing to walk in obedience to his commands. We want him only for what he can do for us, so we don’t really want him.
This reminds me of an experience I have had multiple times over. Now, I have never been popular or well-liked by many people, but when I have walked and am walking closely with the Lord in obedience to his word, doing what he says to do, and saying what he says to say, I get a lot of rejection from church people and from pastors, even though I am following the rules and I am living in submission to authority.
They will encourage me to “be in church,” meaning they will want me to attend their church services because they believe I need to be “in church,” but for the most part, they don’t want me. They want my body there, but they don’t want me, who I am, and who God made and called me to be.
For they want conformity to their humanistic philosophies and worldly ways of doing things and to their half-truth gospel. And it is obvious they don’t want me because they don’t want me to be me but someone else. So, if I am going to be me and not who they want me to be, then they encourage me to go somewhere else where I will be “a better fit,” so they say.
So, it is the same with how many people are treating Jesus. They want him there with them for what they think they can get out of him, but it isn’t him they want. They don’t want who he really is, but they want a false Jesus who complies with their wishes and who conforms to their worldly standards and who agrees with their false (cheap grace) gospel. And in reality, many of them have also given the real Jesus the message to “go someplace else where you will be a better fit,” for they deny him with their lives.
And if this is how you are treating Jesus Christ, and if you are unwilling to die to your sins and to follow him in obedience, for it isn’t him you want, but it is a false image of him you embrace, then you are ashamed of the real Jesus and who he is and what he is about. And when he returns for his bride he will be ashamed of you and he will say, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.” So, please take this to heart.
Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song)
Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Chris Eaton
I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy father you have come
And chosen me now to carry your son
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
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