“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23; NASB
Even if you have only been a believer for a short time, you have heard or read this verse at least once. It is one of the most important concepts of the Christian life. Jesus Christ gave Himself to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We know it was His flesh alone that died that day, and that He is now living with the Father in heaven for eternity. We also know that as believers we will one day pass from this life in the flesh to join Him for eternity. But what does it mean to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily?
Simply put, taking up your cross is dying to the flesh. Dying to the flesh means denying the desires you know are not good in God’s eyes. It is something we must be aware of and strive for everyday. It’s obvious however that many Christians spend little time working on this one, basic thing. If they did, our world would be significantly different. This is because it is through our flesh that the devil gets most of his traction in our lives. The flesh includes such things as anger, vengeance, bitterness, sexual immorality, hatred, etc. There are many passages in Scripture warning us against these things. They are repeated over and over by Jesus, Peter, Paul, and James in their letters. (Their agreement throughout those letters is because they were written by the Holy Spirit through these men) In fact, ungodly desires of the flesh are mentioned throughout the Scriptures.
As long as we live there will be friction between our sinful nature (flesh) and the Spirit in us. We will think things and want things that are selfish, hurtful, and against what we know is right. We will occasionally react to situations in ways that will bother us for days or weeks afterward because we know we acted inappropriately. If you ever think you’re alone in that struggle, read Romans 7:14-25. It should comfort you knowing it is a struggle that even the most devout Christians experience.
God knows we have this struggle. In today’s passage, Jesus gives us a directive we need to strive for everyday. Dying to the flesh is a constant battle for all of us who follow Christ, but one we are not alone in fighting. Jesus is with us in every situation to empower us to do the right thing even when it’s uncomfortable.
Have faith and trust that God is with you. Even when you might have done the wrong thing or acted in a way you know is less than honorable, He is there, ready to forgive. Every day presents new challenges and opportunities for you to take up your cross and honor the King. Embrace the challenge and follow Him.
Have a great week and God bless.