Summary: We are to live as dead men; Dead to fleshly desires. Jesus said, “Follow Me”. To “follow” Him, you must “take up your cross”. We “must” become Less so that we can become oh so much more!
“Sin is basically a denial of God's right of possession.” - Edwin Louis Cole
“The first lesson in Christ's school is self-denial.” - Matthew Henry
“Self-denial is indispensable to a strong character…” - Theodore Parker
“If we do not die to ourselves, we cannot live to God, and he that does not live to God, is dead.” -George Macdonald
“I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.” - Pietro Aretino
We are to live as dead men; Dead to fleshly desires.
Jesus said, “Follow Me”.
To “follow” Him, you must “take up your cross”.
Christians today see the cross as a wonderful symbol of atonement, forgiveness, and love. However in Jesus’ day, the cross represented a cruel device of death.
Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means that you are willing to die to self in order to follow Jesus; i.e. “complete surrender”.
Each time after Jesus commanded for them to bear the cross, He said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25)
Jesus also said in Luke 9:23: "Take up your cross daily".
Matthew 16:21-28 (CEV) “21 From then on, Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “I must go to Jerusalem. There the nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make me suffer terribly. I will be killed, but three days later I will rise to life.”
22 Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. He said, “God would never let this happen to you, Lord!” 23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Satan, get away from me! You’re in my way because you think like everyone else and not like God.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 25 If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it. 26 What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul? 27 The Son of Man will soon come in the glory of his Father and with his angels to reward all people for what they have done. 28 I promise you that some of those standing here will not die before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom.”
Matthew 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny G533 himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”
The Greek word render in English here as “deny” is the same Greek word used for “deny” in Luke 22:61. This gives under a better understanding of what Jesus meant by “denying ourselves”.
Luke 22:61 “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny G533 me thrice.”