The Cross Part 4

4. Such is the cross, that it is a hard thing, and to nature impossible, to become a disciple. I cannot pass on from the cross, as connected with discipleship, without noticing that passage in Luke 14:2727And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27): " Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Read the passage (chap. 14); it is the account of the difficulties to nature of becoming a disciple. Chapter 15 tells how a man, through grace, is made so. Chapter 16:1-13 tells what a disciple is to be; and chapter 16:14 onward, the difficulties of being such. The outline in chapter 14 is this: -in verses 7-14, the Lord was telling the principles on which His Father made feasts. One admiring, said, "It would be good to be there!" (ver. 15); Jesus' answer says, " Men do not think so, for they find all sorts of foolish excuses; so that nothing but the fullness of my Father's grace and power can fill the table." All the respectable people decline; so first He sends out to bid the offscouring of the earth-anybody that wants a supper-to come; and those that come, come simply on the plea, They are going to the house of Him that wants to have His table filled; but even as this will not do, He sends out to compel them to come in. (Vers. 16-24.) Then follow the difficulties told to the multitude. In order to be a disciple, a man needs to find a love which can make all earthly loves, in comparison, hateful ( ver. 26); which can enable him to count what nature dreads an honor. (Ver. 27.) A man should consider this; for who in himself has resources to build a tower for God to dwell in in the midst of the devil's world (vers. 28-30); and that a tower, whence war is to be carried on against the devil! (Vers. 31, 32.) In order to do this, a man must indeed know Christ's resources, and be acting and living upon them, not upon his own.
Young disciples sometimes interpret this passage wrongly. Self does not mean my outward body only, or even chiefly. There are three places the enemy wishes to establish self in. He tries, first, to get us to take self in our own doing as a foundation to stand upon before God: this is to dishonor Christ's finished salvation; for grace says, Whosoever believeth in Jesus is pardoned and accepted by God for Christ's sake; and truly, a pretty sort of denial of self it is to claim for self and its works the place of JUSTIFICATION which God has given to Christ His Son. Secondly, he tries to make us take self in our energy as a power by which to hold and to profit by Christ: this is to dishonor the Holy Spirit, and put self in His place; and a strange denial of self it is to rob the Holy Ghost in order to do self honor. Thirdly, he tries to make us take self as the end of salvation; as though, if we were saved, all God's object was accomplished: this is to dishonor the Father; for He saves us not for any other reason than that Christ may be honored, and now He (Christ) may have an obedient people in the world. What is it then, say you, to deny self? Why he alone denies self who says everything about myself is bad and failed;-but to me, a poor leprous bankrupt, God has given Christ for justification and righteousness; and He has given me the Holy Ghost for guardian. Now then, He, the Holy Ghost, shall lead me on by faith in Christ Jesus, drawing out His resources, and so making me live to God. By His grace I will neither please my bad nor my good self, but only please God, and my neighbor for his good to edification. Such an one was Paul-a thorough self-denier.