Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
What are you willing to give up? Jesus gave up His life for you. But Jesus also instructs us that we must “deny” ourselves. What does that mean? To deny means “to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone; to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests.” This is powerful. When you read the next couple of verses, you gain even more insight into what will happen if we continue to try to hold on to the things of this world and save our worldly natural lives.
I remember when the Holy Spirit led me to tell my son about a particular rap song and what the song meant spiritually. I explained to him that often times we participate in things in this world that are pagan, anti Christ, and idolatrous which is sin. I saw his body language shift. I started praying. I asked him, “Why did you shift and sigh son?” He explained that pretty soon I would find something wrong with everything. I prayed silently to myself some more. I told him that God’s chosen people had to be particularly careful about our desires to hold on to the things of this world. Our ancestors, the Hebrews, were in a perpetual struggle to obey God and to stop mixing pagan practices with God’s commandments.
Then I explained that whenever we are uncomfortable with receiving the things of the Spirit, we must do a self-evaluation on the spot to test our own spirit:
What is wrong with finding something wrong with everything if we are required to give up everything that is of this world any way?
What is wrong with denying ourselves temporary worldly pleasure in exchange for eternal life with Christ?
What is wrong with losing our lives and the things we desire down here to find eternal life with Christ?
I told him that we must also test the spirit of others. If there is something Godly in what a person is saying, catch on to it in your spirit. Don’t throw it out because your flesh doesn’t agree with it. I told him that as believers with the seed of God inside us, we should always seek to do God’s will and to reject anything that is evil. We are to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness. Praise God my son received the lesson. Whew! We began to have a deeper discussion about the Israelites and their continual rebellion.
We must begin to look at the world’s principles, ideas, values, concepts, and practices more closely. Why? Because we don’t want to gain anything of this world and end up losing our souls. What are you willing to give up?
Will you give up sexual immorality (i.e., masturbation, pornography, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc.)?
Will you give up the love of money and filthy lucre?
Will you give up worshiping pagan gods and practicing pagan traditions?
Are you even willing to research traditions that we’ve practiced our whole lives that may be sinful against God?
Are you willing to give up storing up treasures on earth knowing full well that we’re not going to stay here permanently?
Are you willing to give up smoking, drinking, or anything that defiles the temple of God, which is your body?
Are you willing to give up your idle time to develop a strategic study plan of God’s Word and spend time in prayer and study with God?
Jesus already told us that this spiritual walk with Him isn’t for the faint at heart. We would have a carry a cross to follow Him. Crosses are heavy. Crosses cause ridicule. You may be talked about and spat on. You may be crucified. You would have to give up your own interests and even connections with others with whom you’re unequally yoked. Is holding on to worldly things worth your forfeiting your soul? What are you willing to give up? Dr.J.