“And He said to them all, ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me—for whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but, whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall sake it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world and lose himself or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He shall come in His own Glory and in His Father’s and of the holy angels’.”
You can’t go with Him and stay where you are.
Following Christ is a decision, not an emotion. It is a turning point—a “turning to God” by “turning away from sin.” That is the essence of true repentance. And, only those who take serious Jesus’ words in today’s Manna will truly know what it means to be a follower of the Risen Lord.
Again, the decision to follow Him is an act of volition (the will), not the result of coercion or compulsion. Neither is it based on a desire to live a better or more fulfilled life—for such desires are rooted in sinful selfishness (I Jn. 2:16).
No, Jesus didn’t come to make bad people better; He came to raise the dead to life (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Eph. 2:1-9).
Thus, much of what is being proclaimed as the Gospel today is “another gospel” (II Cor. 11:4) and caters to the applause of sinful men who “refuse sound doctrine, but heap to themselves teachers having itching ears and turn their ears away from the Truth as they turn to fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4).
The first step in following Christ is “denying self.” The Greek word “arneomai” is used here for “deny” and basically means “to contradict one’s self, disavow, reject, abnegate, refuse, etc.” Simply put, it’s realizing our fleshly tendency toward self-centeredness, not God-centeredness. By nature we prefer “walking according to the ways of the world, submitting to the prince of the power of the air (the devil), disobeying what God says, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind as any child of wrath would” (Eph. 2:1-3).
Thus, “denying self” involved “being daily crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20).
Second, this includes “taking up our cross daily.” The cross represents death. Death by crucifixion was a painfully slow process. And, the one hanging there could not crucify himself; someone else had to do that. And, that “Someone” is our case is the Holy Spirit, Who “works in us both to will and do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13) through the process of Sanctification.
And the third step is “following Christ.”
Going where He goes. Doing what He would do. Filling your mind with His Thoughts (Phil. 2:5; Rom. 12:1-2; II Cor. 10:3-5).
Or, as the popular bracelet a few years ago said, “W.W.J.D.” (“What would Jesus do?”).
Today the Master is calling (Is. 55:1-3, 6, 8-9; Rev. 21:17). And, He’s calling out to you. What will your answer be?
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated March 5, 2010