One day I was reading Luke 9:23, where it says, “If anyone would be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me;” and I was thinking about what that means, “Take up your cross daily”. I heard a number of preachers and teachers say that it means 1 We all have our burdens (problems, troubles, sacrifices) to bear, and each of us has to trust God to bear those burdens in a Christ-like way. 2 Or some say your cross is whatever job or career or ‘calling’ God has called you to, and to be a disciple, you must focus your attention on doing that calling well and properly for the glory of God.
And I’m sitting there thinking about it, and God up and says, almost in an audible voice (not quite but almost), “Take up your cross means to die to your self; to be crucified with Christ, just like it says in Galatians 2:20.” In fact I got a clear idea that He meant you could take Galatians 2:20, lock, stock and barrel, and insert it in Luke 9:23 in place of “take up your cross”, and it would mean exactly what Jesus wants us to know about being a disciple, and that is this: If you want to be Jesus’ disciple, you must be crucified with Christ. I must lay my own natural life down on the cross and be nailed to it, and die to myself and my sinful nature, so Jesus can live His own eternal life in me. Unless I die to myself DAILY, I can never fully live the life that God has purposed for me to live. I can never be the disciple that Jesus has called me to be.
So Jesus might just as well have said, “If you want to be My disciple, you must deny your self, and DIE to your self daily, and follow Me.” While I was still thinking about that, God said, “The proof of this message is in the next verse of the passage in Luke 9. Verse 24, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” My paraphrase is, “If you try to avoid dying to your self, then you will surely die (lose your real spiritual life), but if you die to your self for Jesus, then you will live.”
Since I heard that message, my life has been turned completely around. I have the feeling down in my heart that surrendering my self is the only way I can fulfill God’s will for my life; complete surrender to Jesus is the only way for me to truly live.