Discipleship

Luke 9:23  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
UK 9:23{We have here an important lesson, indeed, more than one lesson. First the Christian needs to understand well that the way which leads to glory and to heaven, the way in which Christ Himself walked, and in which He wishes us to follow Him, is a way in which we must deny ourselves, suffer and conquer. Secondly, that a Christian can have true faith, and be taught of GOD, as in Peter's case (Mark 8,) without having the flesh in him judged, so as to render him capable of walking in the way into which this truth brings him. It is important to remember this; sincerity may exist without knowing oneself. Peter's heart was not ready for the cross; how many hearts there are in this state! Sincere, no doubt, but they have not spiritual courage to accept the consequences of the truth they believe. See the difference in Paul, made strong by the presence of the Holy Ghost, and by faith. He says in the presence of death, " To know Him (Christ) and the power of His resurrection and the communion of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death "—Phil. 3:1010That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10). There was in him the power of the Holy Ghost, and " he bore always in his body the death of Jesus in order that the life of Jesus should manifest itself in his body." Happy man! always willing to suffer everything rather than not follow fully the Lord Jesus, and to confess His name whatever the consequence might be: and having walked faithfully, by grace to obtain at last the prize of His heavenly calling.
But the Lord does not conceal the consequence; He warns us that if we wish to be with Him, if we wish to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross. Let us receive the Lord's words —if we wish to go after Him, we must follow Him, and, if we follow Him, we shall find upon the road that which He found. Of course it is not a question of expiatory sufferings—of that which He suffered from God's hand for sin-but of His sufferings from man, the contradiction of sinners, the opposition of men, abuse, and even death. We know but little what it is to suffer for the name of Jesus; but remember, Christians, that which the Lord says first, " Let him deny himself;" you can always do this by grace. It is by doing this that we learn to suffer with Him, if God should call us to it. And what shall we give in exchange for our soul?....
Man's heart, alienated from God, tries to make the earth, where he was set at a distance from God, as pleasing to himself as possible; and in order to accomplish this, he uses God's gifts and creatures to be able to do without Him. It is said that there is no harm in these things; it is said that there will be music in heaven also, but in heaven it will not be employed in order to divert the mind without God. It is a question of the use we make of these things. For instance, there is no harm in strength, but in the manner of employing it: with it one does harm to one's neighbor. Is it not true that the world, which knows not God, uses all kinds of pleasures to enjoy itself without Him?....
For the Christian, too, amusements only lead him away to a distance from God, and destroy his communion with Him. All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. The world and its lust pass away, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. The prince of this world is Satan, who seduced Eve with these things, having first of all, destroyed her confidence in God; and it was with these things that he tried to seduce the Lord also, although, we know, in vain. But with little trouble he succeeds but too often to seduce the hearts of men and of Christians; and to cause the pleasures of the world to have more power upon the soul than Christ Himself, than the love of a dying Savior....
The Lord puts these two principles before the disciples: first, the soul is worth more than everything, it is not to be exchanged for anything; secondly, the Lord is about to come in glory, and whosoever shall be ashamed of Him in this corrupt world where He is rejected, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when He shall come in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
Beloved reader, are we following Christ? Or in other words, are we denying ourselves, and taking up our cross daily? Or are we pleasing ourselves, and going after the pleasures of the world? Oh, that the love of Christ may so constrain our hearts, (His blessed, unchanging, wonderful love towards us) that we may heartily and willingly, in the strength He gives to those who wait upon Him, give up ourselves wholly, to live for Him, who gave Himself up wholly to save us.