Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, He must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds."
What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? No one can tell us better than Christ Himself as He reveals to His disciples what it means. Prior to these verses we read that Jesus had begun to prepare His disciples for His imminent crucifixion. He revealed to them He must suffer many things from the elders, the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and resurrected the third day. Notice it was the religious people with a religious spirit that would cause His sufferings. It wasn’t His true followers.
Peter, who was one of His disciples, took Him aside, and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You! "
Jesus responds by turning to Peter saying,
"Get behind Me, satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interest, but man’s."
Then verses 24-27 follow.
The same problem Peter had is the same problem we have today. We try to define to each other what we believe a disciple of Christ is according to our plans and ideas; not God’s. Unless we are willing to sift our lives through the Word of God to honestly know if we are following Christ we will be satan’s mouthpiece in our own lives and in many others as well. We are often very sincere in our intentions and believe we are right in our own eyes. But that is our problem as it was Peter’s. Jesus knew who was speaking to him through Peter, a sincere disciple who loved Him greatly, and believed he was willing to die for Him.
Let’s allow Jesus to speak the same words He spoke to Peter following this incident to us. If we are trying to live for ourselves, and partially live for Christ we are not His disciples. We must lose our desires in order to live for His. You can’t serve your flesh and the Spirit. It won’t work. Paul tells us so in Romans 5:7-8:
"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
Jeuse tells us there is a death involved to be His disciple. It is a death to your flesh. No one can have it both ways. It is either one or the other. I am afraid this is a new revelation for most. It is a neglected truth, and yet you cannot call yourself a disciple of Christ unless you are willing to give up all your selfish desires for a Spirit led life. All our selfish ambitions and empty, deceitful desires must be surrendered in order to gain life eternally, with eternal rewards.
He asked the disciples,
"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses His soul?"
This life on earth is just a small speck on the timeline of eternity. All the prosperity and stuff are going up in smoke in the end, but our souls are eternal.
If we aren’t speaking God’s Word to one another, we become stumbling blocks to each other. That is what Jesus said to Peter. That is what He is telling us also.
I am weary from hearing everyone’s opinions, and thoughts rather than what God says. Where there are multitudes of words that don’t belong to Him there is sin, lies, and error, no matter how sincere we are with our good intentions. We all relate to what Peter expressed to Jesus, but it wasn’t the ways of God; it was man’s. His ways are much higher than ours. They are heavenly; ours are earthly and short sighted. God’s ways are eternal.
God’s plan was Him who knew no sin, to become sin that we might become the righteousness of God through Him. The obedience of Jesus enabled all mankind to be reconciled back to God after the sin of Adam and Eve. We were born into sin, but through Jesus we can become the righteousness of God. We do not have to be slaves to our sin anymore. In the cross of Christ lies the victory and a triumphant life on this earth and into eternity. God had a better plan than Peter could understand, because the natural man does not understand the spirit man. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 declares:
"Now we have received, not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised."
There is no way to be a disciple of Christ unless you are keeping your mind saturated in the Word of God and keeping yourself filled with His Spirit which comes from more time spent with Him and His Word than anyone or anything in life. To yield your desires for His means feeding the spirit man more than your flesh. We must be focused and intentional, staying consistent minute by minute.
Let’s turn again to Jesus speaking to His disciples in John 12:24 knowing He is soon to leave them:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this word will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."
Most professing believers I know love their life so much in this world they don’t want to leave it. That is an excellent indication you are not a true disciple of Christ. To serve Him rather than ourselves is required while on this earth.
I am very aware my reward is not on this earth. I am trying to live for eternal rewards, the greatest one seeing Him face to face and basking in His love forever! There is nothing that weakens my great desire for my true home where I know I belong. I belong to Him! My life has been bought with a great price, and yours has too. I want more than anything to be with Him where He is.
He tells me the Father will honor me. What honor in this world could possibly compare even slightly with being honored by our Father God? You either choose to cast all your efforts in the things of this world, or you choose the new world to come with Him. Everyone has to make that choice. There is no neutral ground or in between.
Again, satan’s greatest lie is getting you to believe what you believe is true, that you can have your own truth, or you can be your own God. It is the same lie he offered in the garden of eden. Because Adam and Eve believed the lie didn’t make it true, or prevent the consequences of their disobedience to this day. God and God alone is truth.
If I am wrong, I have nothing to lose, and I have gained a moral life. If you don’t believe, you have everything to lose in this life and the life to come. You will also be taking your family with you most likely. This is a devotional not to be taken lightly. It is the pure Word of God. I didn’t write it. My job is to reveal it. With the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit I pray I have done so.
I want to seal this message with Hebrews 4:12-13:
For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
Please prayerfully ponder this message, meditate on this verse to find God’s truth in your life. Remember the truth about ourselves will set us free from the chains we cannot see. Only He can reveal truth about what lies deep within us.
In His love.
Photos from a 13+ mile run from home yesterday morning. Perfect running weather. Very blessed to have miles of isolated dirt roads through gameland and lots of creeks. Even a swing to relax briefly while Braveheart takes a moment to drink and refresh himself in the cold water.