Matthew 16:24 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
The command from Christ to all of those who want to be His disciples is (1) deny yourself (2) take up your cross (3) and follow me.
What Jesus is saying isn’t give up some kind of habit or desire, but He is calling us to “disown” our “SELF.” Reject, self rule. Die to our selfish authority. Refuse to have anything to with “self rule”.
In other words, put self to death for He can not be first when following Christ. Christ must become the head of our lives. Following Him by letting Him lead the way for He alone knows the way in which we should take.
Following Christ means following Christ. He is in front leading the way and we are behind, following Him. Daily surrendering our will to His will for our lives. Daily obedience to His will.
The apostle Paul calls it “crucifying the flesh”. Every time “self” wants to take the lead, bring it under subjection to Christ authority through the Word of God found in your bible.
We cannot be a disciple of Christ if we still have “SELF” as the leader. When we get saved, the old man must be daily crucified. He must be denied access to first priority in our lives. Every time he raises his ugly head in wanting to dominate our life, take “self” to the Word of God.
As we daily die to self through the authority of God’s Word, we will learn to say no to self and yes to God and the results will be Christ as the primary ruler in our life and not self.
To deny self means to allow Jesus to become your life. If our life is devoted to serving self, there is no room for Christ.
This denying of self is a constant battle. There is war going on every minute of the day between the flesh and the spirit. Both wants to rule.
The question becomes, who will we decide to give control to? Galatians 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
To be Christ disciple we must take up our cross.
In other word, we must accept persecution and suffering that comes along with following Christ.
Yes, persecution is real! It may not come in the form of physical abuse, but it does come in the form of rejection, outcast, mockery, mental and emotional abuse, abandonment, falsely accused, ridiculed and on and on.
Saved or unsaved, we all will suffer to some degree, but I would rather suffer with Christ than apart from Christ.
The Apostle Paul describes suffering for Christ in this manner in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.
2 Timothy 3:12-yea and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Not that I want to live a life of suffering, but it i spart of the journey in following Christ that I have accepted. Regardless of what I may have to go through, I am already victorious through Christ Jesus. In other words, whatever my lot, Thou hath taught me to say “it is well with my soul”.
Philippians 3:12-Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on [a]so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.
The good news is that our suffering work for a greater cause. It equips us for the work that God has assigned for us in His Kingdom. In other words, it equips us for ministry.
When Christ returns, the glory that will be revealed to us will prove to be greater than that which we had suffered. Romans 8:18-For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.
Our suffering proves that there is a battle raging for our souls. We determine who wins the battle of our souls.
Remember Job? The devil wanted to prove that Job would curse God if God took everything from him, including his health, but job did the opposite. Job said in 1:21-“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked will I return there. The The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
The point I am trying to make about Job is the fact that having a made up mind to follow Christ even in the midst of suffering came with a made up mind to allow Christ to lead and him to follow, regardless of what he had to suffer in the process.
This is the place where God is trying to get us to in our relationship with Christ. If we follow Him, we will suffer, but all will be well. God is Sovereign and in full control of every area of our lives. This is where our faith and trust in Him comes in to play.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
Satan had to get permission from God to attack Job, therefore, he has to get permission from God to attack us.
What I have learned in and through suffering is that when I came out of it, I was stronger than I was prior to entering into it.
Through pain and suffering, Ihave learned to love the unlovable, I have gained patience and wisdom in it, which enables me to give hope and comfort to others in their afflictions with the same comfort God had given me in mine.
When we have passed through our own fiery test and trials and have found God to be trueto what he says, we have firsthand experience of God’s sustaining grace, love, power, comfort and control over what we had gone through.
In following Christ and not self may appear to be on the losing side, but in reality you are on the WINNING side now and in eternity.
The world and all it's pleasure and all that is in this world will one day pass away according to the Word of God.
What will a man or woman have gained by exchanging his or her soul for the temporary pleasures of self? NOTHING!
The only eternal benefit would be separation from God in a place of eternal torment.
The call today from heaven to earth is:FOLLOW ME!! Not self, not others, not the pleasures of this world which are temporary, but FOLLOW CHRIST!
The question to ponder on today is this: Who have you chosen to follow? Self (flesh) or Christ?
We all have a choice. God’s way or our way. Remember, only one leads to everlasting life with God. Jesus Christ is it! There is no other way to the Father but through Christ.
Who are you following? Which way have you chosen to live your life? For self or for Chirst?