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. (Luke 9:23)
Jesus, speaking in the verse above used the word ‘cross’ to denote the ‘death’. Of course, through the death of the cross he paid for the sins of humanity. So, did he mean we are also to expect to be crucified like he was? No. Rather “taking up our cross daily” signifies “dying to the flesh daily”.
As believers we must be aware of the potency in our flesh to hinder or possibly stop the move of the spirit, the work of God in and through us. The flesh sometimes manifests as a veil denying men to see the glory of God upon us. As we allow the working of the spirit, putting the flesh to death, we create room and space for the holy spirit to work in and through us.
Oftentimes, the manifestation of the flesh is in our holding on to material things. We want to boast about our certificates, cars, houses, achievements and even sometimes our spiritual knowledge of scriptures. If there was any man in scriptures who had enough things to boast about, Paul was one.
In Philippians 3: 4 – 7, he itemized a lot of these things that he could boast about. Asides those, looking at his life, there were a lot of things to boast about. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews (this was a strong spiritual boast in those days), a scholar who learned from the best (more like attending Harvard in our time), in prayers, fervent, in spiritual understanding he wrote a large part of the new testament we all read today and the list goes on and on. But instead of holding on to all of these, he said:
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. (Philippians 3: 8)
Paul, instead of holding on to all he had achieved, he counted them as “dung”, “garbage” instead, why? To gain Christ. To give more room for Christ to be revealed to him. As such, our holding on to these things actually rob us of the possible revelations of Christ that have been given to us to walk in.
It is interesting how we allow the flesh to have its way in our affairs every day without even noticing it. Recently, the Lord began to show me this in my own life. I noticed many of them were things that even though good to have, they were taking too much space in my heart.
Sometime ago I said to myself, I want to achieve this and buy that before the end of the year. I want to get better at work so I need to take that course, or learn that new software, etc. Even though all of these things are good, the moment they begin to become my top premonition, that’s likely the flesh.
The Lord wants to be first in all our affairs. The moment this happens in our lives, we are likely to have died completely to the flesh. This is also explained in Luke 9: 57 – 62.
Lastly, when temptations come, they are meant to check the amount to which our flesh is in control of our lives. To think that Judas and Peter were both followers of Jesus, but the devil knew that if Judas was tempted by money, that his flesh was still alive in that area, and he could be led by the flesh into betraying his master, is a strong indication showing us the potency of the flesh.
“But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions)” James 1:14 AMP
Jesus overcame temptations by dying to the flesh. He didn’t just overcome by knowing scriptures, which is good but, he overcame because he didn’t allow lust for the material things of this world to be found in him.
“…And he has no claim on Me. [He has nothing in common with Me; there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, and he has no power over Me]” John 14:30
I will close with the words of Jesus, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ.
I call you blessed
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