“23 And He (Jesus) said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” Luke 9:23-25
The definition of asceticism is the practicing of strict self denial as a measure of, in this case, a religious discipline. This (asceticism) seems to be the only answer the religious have for the problem of sin…and make no mistake, sin is the problem in the world.
When Jesus said “if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself”, He did not mean asceticism, but rather the denying of one’s self will and self efforts to overcome the sin that so easily besets us. Let me be clear, I did not say deny (ignore) sin. I did not say it is ok to sin. Jesus came to save us FROM sin, not IN sin. What I said was deny ourselves, our self efforts and self will, to overcome sin. We can’t overcome sin in our own efforts. If this was so, the Cross of Christ was in vain. God forbid, no. We deny ourselves and depend totally on Jesus Christ and His atoning work on Calvary’s Cross to give us dominion over sin…just like the Bible says (Romans 6:14). If we don’t deny ourselves, we in fact deny Jesus.
Calvary’s Cross was the means by which Jesus (and Jesus alone, Who is the Source) delivered sinful man from eternal death and dominion of sin. Our faith in His finished work is the means by which the promises of God are yes and amen to whosoever will believe. Daily we must pick up the means (faith) by which our victory is received – our cross. Daily we must fight the good fight of faith; faith in Jesus Christ and His redeeming work as the Source and the means by which our victory is maintained; not gained. Victory of death, hell and the grave was gained once, now we must maintain through a constant daily fight keep our faith solely and exclusively on Jesus, Who HE is and what HE has done for all who have accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour.
We must be determined to know nothing else but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified IS the means by which the Holy Spirit is commissioned to overthrow the dominion of our sin nature. This is the only way the Holy Spirit is given latitude to free us from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2)…through faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified; NOT asceticism, religious works or self efforts. Again, if that was so, the Cross of Christ was in vain. Picking up our cross is the ability (by denying our self efforts) to partake in the benefits of Grace (Jesus and His finished work) through faith.
There is no other way to follow Jesus Christ unless we deny our self efforts and pick up the benefits of His finished work. The lost cannot follow Jesus. Sadly, there are many Saints who cannot follow Jesus either because they deny Jesus and pick their own efforts to overcome. All the while, the Holy Spirit, Who IS greater but He is not commissioned to free us from the law of sin and death when our faith is in our various methods and means to overcome that which Jesus Christ has already done.
Jesus Christ can only be followed by the Believer looking solely and exclusively unto Him, the Author and the Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross. He is sitting at the Right Hand of the Throne of God searching the earth to and fro to show Himself strong in those whose heart is prepared to seek God. Follow Him.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.” Luke 9:24
-Donna Clark Warren