Luke 9:23-26 NIV
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’”
A Disciple of Christ
What is a disciple? A disciple is a student and a follower, and a follower is a devotee and an adherent (someone obedient) to someone or to something. And a disciple of Christ is one who is being trained in the ways of the Lord, who is a student of the Scriptures, and who is putting what he is learning into practice. And Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples.. teaching them to observe (to conform one’s actions to; to comply with; to obey) all that he had commanded them (Matthew 28:18-20).
So, if we want (desire) to be disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ, which by the way is not optional for the true believer in Jesus Christ, then Jesus let us know what all that entails, which also is not optional for the true believer in Jesus Christ. For you can’t be a believer and not be a disciple. They go hand-in-hand. If we are true believers in Jesus Christ then we are his followers, and we are being conformed to his likeness, in character and in actions, and we are obeying him by complying with his commands (his instructions).
So, what does it mean to deny ourselves? It means to refute, to negate, and to refuse (disallow, forbid, prevent). So, what does that look like? Well, humility is definitely involved in this. And so is dying with Christ to sin. It means to be crucified with Christ so that it is no longer I (self) who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
It means we die with Christ to our old lives of living in sin and for self. We give up ownership of our own lives to the Lord Jesus and now he becomes Lord (Owner-Master) of our lives. Now we allow Jesus Christ to live his life in us and through us. So this involves a daily and moment by moment denying of the flesh and a yielding of our lives over to Jesus Christ to do his will for our lives, to go where he sends us and to say and to do what he says.
Taking up Our Cross
When Jesus took up his cross, what was happening? He was suffering severely for our salvation. He was beaten, spat upon, had a crown of thorns placed on his head, he was nailed to a cross, and he hung there to die a painful death for you and for me so that we could be delivered out of our lives of slavery to sin, and so we could follow him in obedience, and so we can have the hope of eternal life with him if we follow him with our lives.
So, when we take up our cross, we die with Christ in death to sin and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our old self is crucified with him so that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we are no longer enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness. But we don’t just do this once. Daily we deny self and die to sin and live to God and to his righteousness.
But this isn’t just about dying to sin and living to our Lord and to his righteousness. This is also about suffering for the sake of righteousness and for the salvation of human lives. For when we share the truth of the gospel with others, especially here in America, and especially at a time when the majority are not teaching the true gospel, we are going to be hated and rejected and persecuted like Jesus was and for many of the same reasons.
And again, this involves obedience to our Lord’s commands, for the essence of the gospel is this, that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (see 1 Peter 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19-20). Our old self must be put to death with Christ so that we can now walk in newness of life in him. So we must no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the flesh, but we must walk according to the Spirit.
Saving and Losing
What this is essentially saying is that if we hold on to our old lives (of living in sin and for self) we will lose them for eternity. We will not inherit eternal life with God. But if for the sake of Christ we die with him to sin (lose our lives) we will save them for eternity. So, if we hold on to these worldly lives and if we do not die daily with Christ to self and to sin and then follow him in obedience, it will profit us nothing, and we will lose our lives for eternity.
Now being ashamed of Jesus Christ and his words goes right along with what all this is talking about. For this isn’t just about being embarrassed to share your faith with someone. It is about being ashamed to be associated with and to be a true follower (disciple) of Christ who denies self, dies daily to sin, and who walks daily in obedience to the Lord. It means you are holding on to your old life of sin rather than dying to sin and living to righteousness.
It means the gospel that you are following is not the gospel that Jesus Christ and his New Testament apostles taught, but it is a cheapened and altered and diluted gospel message created in the minds of humans who want to continue living in their sin but who want to have the hope of heaven when they die. They want Jesus only for what they think he will do for them but they are not willing to go the distance and to be a true disciple of his.
And so what he said here is what he said many times over, and that is that if we refuse to submit to him as Lord, to die with him to sin, and to follow him in obedience, and if we choose to remain in our sins and to go our own way, instead, we will not inherit eternal life with God. It won’t matter what faith we professed with our lips or thought we believed in our hearts. We must walk no longer according to the flesh or we will die in our sins.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-10; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Rejoice in the Lord
By Ron Hamilton
I could not see through the shadows ahead;
So I looked at the cross of my Savior instead.
I bowed to the will of the Master that day;
Then peace came and tears fled away.
O Rejoice in the LORD
He makes no mistake,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
For when I am tried and purified,
I shall come forth as gold.
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