Follow Me - Part 1
May 5, 2021
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
The 3 stages or steps to Christian discipleship are given in this text: (1) deny self, (2) die to self, and (3) follow Jesus. What does it mean to follow Jesus in today’s world?
Years ago John MacArthur wrote a book entitled The Gospel According to Jesus. His thesis in the book is that there is no salvation unless a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord of one’s life. This is more popularly known as ‘lordship salvation’. “To put it simply, the gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority. This, in a nutshell, is what is commonly referred to as lordship salvation.” Boy did he get flack over that book, primarily from those who believe trusting in Jesus as Savior is all that is required.
The question that continues to plague the church today is, “Is it possible to be a Christian and live in lifelong carnality, enjoying the pleasures of sin, and never seeking to glorify the Lord who bought him?” In other words, can a sinner spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Savior? Can someone pray a ‘sinner’s prayer’ and go about life as he/she chooses as if nothing had happened, and still call him/herself a Christian? The Calvinist branch of Christianity says ‘no’. The Armenian branch of Christianity says, ‘well, maybe’. What did Jesus say?
If a person truly desires to be saved he/she is required, by Jesus Himself, to deny him/herself, die to the desires and will of the flesh, and follow Jesus. Does this mean if a Christian sins after salvation, then that salvation is compromised? No. This is not a formula for sinless perfection. It is the formula of Jesus for one’s salvation and Christian discipleship. Sin, though abhorrent, is still a reality in a Christian’s life. (1 John 1:8-10) If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
The Christian should strive every day to live a life of victory over sin. (1 John 2:5-6) By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. The Apostle John does not say one ‘must’ but ‘ought’, which suggests a goal to be striven for but lies beyond one’s grasp. This does not give a person the license to sin since the goal of sinlessness cannot be reached, for Paul wrote, (Romans 6:1-2) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
“Lord Jesus, remind me daily, and by the power and influence of Your Holy Spirit, lead me to live a holy and righteous life that is pleasing in Your sight. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”