Ask Donnell - What Does It Mean To Take Up My Cross Daily?

Ask Donnell - What Does It Mean To Take Up My Cross Daily?

We received the following question from Roshawn;

"Good evening Donnell;

I am reading Luke 9, and verse 23 has me stomped. (vs 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.) Cross? Hmmm???? even more perplexing is "carry it daily".. Can you help me understand the meaning of this verse? Thanks."

Roshawn, this is a great question. It's definitely food for thought. This is a very popular concept in Christianity so we probably need to know what it means. Sometimes, we assume we understand certain things in The Bible because we're familiar with them but that's not always true. Familiarity is definitely not the same as comprehension. Therefore, let's not make any assumptions and get to the bottom of this one.

Luke 9:23-27(NKJV) - Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

Let's first establish the context. Jesus shared this message with His disciples in Luke 9 soon after asking them to share their thoughts about His identity. By the unction of The Holy Spirit, Peter accurately identified Him as The Christ. After which Jesus predicted His upcoming Crucifixion and Resurrection. Then He dropped the bomb quoted above in Luke 9:23-27.

Please note that at this point Jesus had not yet died on The Cross. This is very important because at that time His disciples could not use His death on The Cross as a frame of reference. They had no idea He was actually going to carry a physical cross and die on it. It's true that in this passage Jesus told them He would die but He did not tell them how. So let's keep that in mind.

Our first step is to break down the exact directions Jesus gave to anyone who desires to come after Him;

1) Deny Yourself!
2) Take Up Your Cross Daily!
3) Follow Him!

Now let's break down the additional information Jesus provided to help us understand His directions;

1) Whoever desires to save his life with lose it.
2) Whoever loses his life for Christ's sake will save it.
3) What's the point of gaining the whole world and then ending up destroyed or lost?
4) If you are ashamed of Jesus and His words now, He will be ashamed of you upon His return to earth.

What does this all mean?

Ask Donnell - How Do I Take Up My Cross Daily?

Luke 14:25-33(NKJV) - Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

He wants it all! Jesus laid it out perfectly in Luke 14:25-33. He set the bar high for anyone who desires to be His disciple. That's why He also said in Matthew 7:13-15(NKJV); "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." This is not the type of Christianity that many have been taught. As a result, only few are prepared to give their all for Jesus and be a true disciple. Are you one of them? It will cost you everything.

1) Deny Yourself!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27(NKJV) - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Have you ever gone on a diet and decided to start working out? Maybe you denied yourself the pleasures of cake and ice cream or other desserts for a period of time so you could lose weight. Then you denied yourself the comfort of going home to sleep and went to the gym instead. Well, it's the same thing Jesus was asking. Denying yourself is the same as disciplining yourself. Instead of letting your body tell you what it wants to do you take control over your body. Now let's look at the spiritual side of it.

A decision to pursue Christ is really a decision to pursue The Will of Christ. In other words, you are putting your will aside and choosing His Will for your life. Therefore, you have to make a conscious decision to first forsake your own agenda before you even consider picking up His. Jesus does not want to make your life convenient He just wants obedience. With Jesus it's all or nothing. He will not share your heart with another. He's either number one in your life or He's not in your life. You're either with Jesus all the way or you're not with Him at all.

Jesus must be your priority and everyone or everything else comes secondary. This is why God comes down so hard on "Christians" who straddle the fence. From God's perspective if you're on the fence you're out. In Revelation 3:14-16, He told the Laodicean church that because they were lukewarm and neither hot nor cold He would spit them out of His mouth. He also said in Luke 16:13; "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

2) Take Up Your Cross Daily!

Romans 8:12-14(NKJV) - Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Apostle Paul took the time to expound on what Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 9:23-27. What is the purpose of a cross? Death! That's what a cross was used for by the Romans. It was a horrible, torturous public death but the cross served one purpose and it was death. Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans told them to put their flesh to death by walking in The Spirit. Hence, when Jesus says to take up your cross daily He means put your flesh to death daily. I know we use the word "flesh" like a cliche in church so to avoid making any assumptions let's break it down even more.

Ask Donnell - What Does It Mean To Take Up My Cross Daily?

Galatians 5:16-26(NKJV) - I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

How do you take up your cross daily? How do you put to death the deeds of your body? Go through the list. Everyday you have to make a conscious decision not to do anything on that extensive list. Your natural desires may want to engage in some or all of those activities at different points but you have to nail them to your cross. Why your cross? This is not about anyone else but you. Your daily decisions to kill your fleshly desires are between you and God.

For instance, every time you feel like being selfish kill it with some kindness. When you feel like spreading a lie or heresy, kill it with the truth. When you feel like being jealous, kill it with some gratefulness to God for what you have. When you feel like making something or someone an idol kill it by worshiping the true and living God. When you feel like getting drunk, drink water. 🙂

3) Follow Him!

1 Peter 2:21-25(NKJV) - For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Galatians 5:22-26(NKJV) - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

How do you follow Christ? You operate by the fruit of the Spirit just like He did. Everyday, you crucify your flesh on your cross and you bring to life the fruit of the Spirit. According to John 13:34-35 you love others as Christ loved you. You spend time in the presence of The Lord so that according to Psalm 16:11 you can experience the fullness of joy. You follow the directions of Ephesians 4:32 and are kind to others, tenderhearted, being quick to forgive just like God forgave you for Christ's sake.

You operate as you have been created in Christ Jesus by a life of good works according to Ephesians 2:10. You also overcome evil with good according to Romans 12:21. You show faithfulness to God with the little you have so that He can reward you with much more according to Luke 16:10-12. Be a gentle servant of The Lord according to 2 Timothy 2:24. Last but not least, add self-control to your list of attributes according to 2 Peter 1:5-7.

Galatians 2:20(KJV) - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

In sum, after telling His disciples to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him in Luke 9:23-27 why did Jesus say the following; "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" Taking up your cross will cost you your usual life as you know it on the earth. However, you will gain the life of God which is so much better.

You will have no choice but to be different. You're not going to fit in with the rest of the world. You just can't be like them anymore. You're led by The Spirit of God. You will no longer live for yourself but for Christ. You cannot be ashamed of Him or His Word or He will be ashamed of you at His return. Stand up for what's right and hate what's wrong. You represent God in the earth. If you're ready to pay the price of following Christ, go for it. It will be worth it all in the end.

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