Jesus gives these instructions to prospective followers: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Denying yourself means giving up ownership of your life, coming under a new Master–not your flesh, but Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior.
Taking up the cross is the means by which we do this. Christ died for us, and by faith we see ourselves crucified with Him.
Following Christ is the last part. This one seems fairly self-explanatory.
However, I’ve been around people long enough to know that the most self-explanatory things are often the things we confuse the most.
Following Christ sounds good in theory, the practical application, however, doesn’t sound as fun. I’ve received resistance from many people over the idea that we have to follow Christ (which is an amazing thing to see in the church of Jesus Christ who is the Head of the Church. Head being the thing that leads the body that is following).
To follow Christ means to obey His commandments.
Again, heads explode. “We’re not under law; we’re under grace! We don’t have to do any commandments!”
The Great Commission tells believers to go into all the nations and teach them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.
John says, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
John says in Revelation, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
Paul says, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings.”
Listening to Christ is kind of the whole deal. People who profess faith and don’t listen to Christ are liars, and liars have no place in the New Heaven and New Earth.
I understand why people don’t want to listen to Christ. I get it. My flesh doesn’t want to listen to Him either.
But a person who truly has the Holy Spirit will want to obey the one whom the Spirit testifies of–Jesus Christ.
The flesh and the Spirit will battle every decision. But the believer in Christ will see growth and victory over sin. There will be increasing freedom from sin’s rule.
“Be followers of me as I am of Christ” says the Apostle Paul. Peter tells us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
There is no other point to new life in Christ than living the life of Christ: following Him.
Familiarize yourself with the life of Christ, and may we all have the desire that Paul expressed:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death