When the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of denying oneself, and taking up the cross and following Him, He was speaking of something He understood better than any of us. As God, He had seen how heavy the cross lays upon mankind. It is something we have been carrying since birth and a cross we shall carry until the end of this life.
We wake up every morning with it, and it makes our lives hard, for we cannot lay it down or throw it away. It is upon us, it wakes up with us, and follows us wherever we go. It keeps taking us to places we would rather not go and makes us do things we would rather not do, but… most of mankind cannot do otherwise, for it is all we have ever known.
Many have stated rightly so, that the number one enemy we have is none other than… ourselves. When Jesus Christ told us to deny ourselves, He knew that this was the battle before us, the greatest feat we may accomplish and the one which would give us victory. For a wise man, a man of virtue, a man of character, is a man who can deny himself.
Nonetheless, the body in which we are born is something we grow up with, something which has dominated our lives for as long as we can remember.
It has been deciding what we need and what we will do based upon those needs. We have followed its lead and tried hard to please and fulfill every need the body has. This becomes a habit and habits are hard to break, especially when it has to do with… number one… myself.
The desires of the flesh are many and even those which are not beneficial for the flesh are still fulfilled because… the flesh rules. From what we eat, to the pleasures it desires, we are powerless to deny any of its demands.
It is indeed a heavy cross we carry. This flesh we live in.
The statement of Jesus Christ in that Biblical verse, is composed of three keys to a Christian’s victory… or defeat, but they are so closely related to one another, that the first leads to the second and this one leads to the last one.
To deny oneself, it to take up the cross and the only worthwhile reason to take up this difficult cross, is to follow Him; for that cross is a heavy cross, therefore, a strong reason must exist for us to fight such a battle. Of course, we must understand also, that to do otherwise is not an option, for only death lies that way, eternal death.
To deny oneself is without doubt the most difficult task commanded to mankind, for mankind knows nothing else but to please this flesh into which we are born.
To deny ourselves the pleasure of… sleep, eating, comfortability. To work at something this body finds difficult. Things like… prayer… fasting… reading The Bible, congregating with others? Following the lifestyle of Jesus Christ?
Impossible! This flesh would not permit such a thing! That cross is too heavy to carry! and yet… there is NO other gospel.
Thoughts of Life II
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