Summary: Being a disciple of Christ requires a conscious, committed effort. We will never be effective disciples with a casual, unconcerned approach. It is a lifestyle we are called to commit ourselves unto.
The Commitment to Discipleship
Luke 9: 23-26
Let me begin by asking, how many Christians do you know? That is a difficult question isn’t it? Now it seems that everyone you talk to concerning the Lord has had some type of experience. Well, yes I’m a Christian; I was baptized and joined the church. I attend church on a regular basis.
So, if there are so many Christians in the world why has it grown so dark? We are living in the darkest days America has ever known. Our children are being bombarded with the world’s influence. Drugs, alcohol, sexual perversion, and greed have found a prominent place in our modern society. The simple truth is: our nation has become so dark due to an absence of light.
Now we can sit back and complain all we want, but we are not the first society or culture to deal with the utter darkness of sin. There have been many times of devastating darkness throughout history, including the persecution of the early church and the Dark Ages. Despite those times of darkness, we have heard the gospel message. The Word of God prevailed in the lives of those who refused to succumb to the evil influence of this world. We are here today because someone made the choice to live for God.
There is much that could be said about the need in America, but the one thing she needs above all else is the Lord. This will never happen as long as the church of Christ sits idly by and watches the world sink deeper in sin and bound for hell! It is my prayer that the born again believers of this congregation will rise to the occasion. We need more than just transparent, run of the mill Christians; we need those who’ve been changed and are committed to the cause of Christ. I want to consider the principles Jesus revealed in the text as we think on: The Commitment to Discipleship.
I. The Purpose of Life (23) – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. There are many who are truly saved, but are accomplishing very little for the Lord. Their spiritual lives are no different today than they were at the moment of salvation. Consider:
A. The Choice Involved – If any man will come after me. Clearly this involves a personal choice. The word will means “to desire, to resolve, or to determine.” The first thing we must do is determine in our hearts that this is our desire. This is a deliberate choice, a determined resolve to follow Christ.
I don’t know what you want in life, but I want to live a life that pleases my Lord. This text has spoken to me. There are times when I can do fairly well, but there are others when my resolve isn’t what it ought to be. Have things gotten bad enough for us to determine in our hearts to make a difference and live for God? If they haven’t I really don’t know what it will take!
B. The Constraint Involved – Let him deny himself. That is to disown, forsake, reject, restrain, or simply do without. These are strong words. They carry the idea of subduing our fleshly desires and disregarding what the flesh would have us do. It isn’t easy to forsake ourselves, to restrain the flesh, and do without our desires.
Do you realize that you are your own greatest hindrance? We like to give Satan the credit many times, but often he doesn’t have to do a thing because we do it for him! Notice what the Apostle Paul said in Rom.7:18-21. Can you relate to what Paul has described? Sure, we all can. Paul fought the same battles we deal with every day. We wake up each morning facing a battle with the flesh. When we were saved we became a new creature in Christ, but the flesh wasn’t saved. It still carries those same sinful desires.
Much of the problem with our Christian influence is that we have a problem denying the flesh. I realize that it is much easier said than done, but that is what Jesus requires. Now, denying ourselves involves more than laying aside a few of our habits or desires. We are to bring ourselves, the whole of our being, into the subjection of the Lord. By saying “no” to myself, I am saying “yes” to the Lord. When we can do that, it allows Jesus the freedom to rule and reign in our lives.
C. The Cross Involved – Let him…take up his cross daily. We may do fairly well up to this point, but here is where most Christians draw the line. Take a moment to consider the thoughts that must’ve ran through the peoples’ minds as Jesus made this statement. They were no strangers to Roman crosses and the awful crucifixions. In that day, the roads would often be filled with crosses as men hung there dying. The cross was a cruel instrument of death.