Other than the often-repeated commands to the believer to be courageous, don’t fear, don’t worry, and the like, I know of no other Scripture in the New Testament that is repeated more – in many variant ways – than the passages we are about to look at.
Whenever God’s Word repeats something more than once, we can be assured that the Lord has put great emphasis on the message being conveyed. The statements we will be looking at – that Jesus Christ used to prepare His disciples and His people throughout the church age – is repeated no less than six times and is found in all four gospels!
Not only that, but the theme of these statements is replete in the epistles and warrant our attention. That theme is the admonition not to have our hearts on this world and the empty promises and false attractions that can so easily pull the believer away from loving the Lord and carrying out our duties as servants of God.
With this thought in mind, it seems the Lord is drawing His people away from the lures of this world in these last days as we witness such things as COVID, riots, the New World Order’ Great Reset’ and their globalist plans, Marxist/Socialist/Communist advances, world upheaval, moral depravity, and so on. And, with dedicated Christians of the world diligently carrying out the Great Commission as commanded, God appears to be calling out those who would complete the bride of Christ as well as drawing those who know Him closer to Himself.
This article is more of a meditation on the Scriptures themselves with very little commentary. And I believe that we, as God’s children, will be edified in our understanding of what that message is in these last days as we prepare for our Lord’s coming to receive His bride unto Himself.
Losing One’s Life
While it is true that a Saint should always be willing to lay down his or her life in taking a stand for their Lord and His Word – and there is much honor in this – truly, there is so much more to this statement from Jesus than this.
Six times in the gospels, Jesus proclaims to His disciples:
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (Matthew 10:37-40). (Emphasis mine)
It’s all about the denial of self:
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26). (Emphasis mine)
It’s all about servanthood:
“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37). (Emphasis mine)
It’s all about shunning the world-system:
“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. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” (Luke 9:23-25). (Emphasis mine)
A warning to the Jews when they see the Abomination of Desolation:
“In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:31-33). (Emphasis mine) [For a study on Luke 17:34-37, please see my article “The Eagles be Gathered Together.“]
Lot’s wife missed Sodom – or the world – so much that she could not leave without looking back on what she had. She longed for the world she was accustomed to and couldn’t bear the consequences of leaving it behind.
May this never be the case for the Christian, as, thankfully, this world is not our home:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). (Emphasis mine)
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:9-11). (Emphasis mine)
“For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20) (Emphasis mine)
“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Peter 1:17) (Emphasis mine)
This world has nothing to offer the believer other than loving God, loving people, sharing the gospel, and making disciples.
Dying to Self
In teaching the disciples His soon-coming passion and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world:
“… Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:23-26). (Emphasis mine)
Dying to self begins with servanthood and dedication to Christ and His mission.
The Rich Man Unwilling to Give Up His Treasure on Earth
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:23-26).
The Cost of Following Christ and Letting Go of Treasure on Earth
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:27-30).
“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:23-27).
“Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first” (Mark 10:28-31).
“And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:24-27).
“Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18-28-30).
So important that all three synoptic gospels speak of this encounter and the cost of following Christ in this world!
The rich man was unwilling to let go of the world and the riches he had gained from the world system. True disciples of Christ should be willing to risk all and give up all in this world in service to their Lord.
Our reward will come, but, in the mean-time, we do well to believe that “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Let us rest in that truth and carry out His will on earth.
Living for Christ
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
The Greek word for “hate” is 3404 “miséō” and means– properly, to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e., to renounce one choice in favor of another. [Definition from Biblehub.com] (Emphasis mine)
“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
We must be willing to give up all – and that includes everything – for Christ.
Because Jesus gave His all in dying for all – and in His love, we “hold fast to” or “are seized by” – we should be willing to live for Him and not unto ourselves:
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) (Emphasis mine)
To the world, we are most reprehensible, but to God, His joy. If we are truly His servants, we do appear to the world “as having nothing,” yet, in God, we actually are “possessing all things” through Christ our Savior:
“As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:9-10). (Emphasis mine)
We are “crucified with Christ” and are therefore able to live for Christ with Christ indwelling us through the Holy Spirit of God:
“For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 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” (Galatians 2:19-20).
Christ is our example of humility and servanthood:
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
“A faithful saying” indeed:
“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:11-12a).
Killing the “old man”:
“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:5-7).
The flesh vs. the Spirit:
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:13-14).
More denying for the twice-born Saint:
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12).
“Put to death the body” of sin:
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them” (Colossians 3:2-7).
Don’t fall in love with this world and the world’s allure, as there is nothing to fall in love with.
“… [K]now ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4b).
In concluding this study of the Scriptures and contemplating the commands of Christ and the apostles, I can’t help thinking of the parallels of the subject matter to that of the war between the believer’s spirit and the flesh, as noted above.
Our flesh desires – no, demands in selfishness – comfort, ease, and luxury at the expense of all else with no exceptions. Our spirit desires – in addition to loving God and loving others – to please the Lord at our expense in sacrificial, selfless love and thankfulness to Him for all He has done for us.
After Christ, there is no person better to emulate than the Apostle Paul, yet he struggled mightily with this war in his own body. Losing One’s Life and Dying to Self, for the believer to have victory and success, is predicated on this war between the spirit and the flesh.
Paul’s exposé on this subject is one of the most profound in the Bible:
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:15-25a).
We thank God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord, indeed!!
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!