“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.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
Many born-again believers today are not true disciples or ardent followers of Christ because of their unwillingness to take up their cross daily. It is absolutely impossible for you to obey, follow, and conform wholly to the Lord Jesus’ example daily without you taking up your cross daily.
Unless you take up your cross daily (reckoning yourself daily to be dead to sin, self and the world, but alive to God in Christ Jesus) all your efforts to walk in the Lord’s steps will only end in futility, failure and frustration.
While many believers today are not willing to take up their cross daily, thereby not following the Lord or conforming to the Lord’s example, it is however sad to see some believers who are willing to take up their cross daily picking up the wrong cross, thereby struggling to follow the Lord Jesus.
While a call to follow the Lord Jesus is essentially a call to take upon you the yoke of Christ, however, it is not every yoke that is the yoke of Christ. The yoke of Christ is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30)!
Sadly, many believers today are ignorantly bearing the wrong and heavy yoke or cross that the Lord has not called or given them to bear.
Taking up the wrong cross will ultimately exhaust, distract and discourage you from following the Lord Jesus. Therefore, it is very crucial for you to know, understand or discern the cross to take up daily as you seek to follow the Lord.
In this piece we shall examine what the cross is not, and in the next piece we shall examine what the cross is.
First, the cross is not sickness, infirmity, or deformity:
The Lord Jesus has not given or called you to take up any form of sickness, infirmity or deformity as your cross in order to follow Him. Why?
Because the Lord Jesus took all our infirmities and bore all our sicknesses in His body on the cross!
The Scripture states, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Matt. 8:17 NKJV).
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:5 NKJV).
Sicknesses, infirmities and deformities are the works of the devil that Jesus came into the world to destroy through His sacrificial death on the cross (1 John 3:8). Therefore, God will never put on you the sickness or infirmity that He sent His Son to come and destroy through His death on the cross.
On the contrary, the Lord has given His disciples the “power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” (Matt. 10:1 NKJV).
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 16:15-18:
15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
17 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18 “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (NKJV).
Second, the cross is not poverty, failure, oppression or affliction:
God takes no pleasure in your poverty, lack, failure, suffering, barrenness or stagnation in life. Rather, God takes delight in your prosperity, progress, success, fruitfulness and good health.
The Scripture amply attests to this truth.
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2 NKJV).
“Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, “Let the LORD be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (Psa. 35:27 NKJV).
The Lord Jesus came into the world to redeem us from the curse of the law (sickness, poverty, debt, failure, miscarriage, barrenness, etc). He was made a curse for us on the cross so that the blessing of Abraham might come upon us in Christ.
Paul clearly reveals this truth in Galatians 3:13-14:
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (NKJV).
Moreover, the Scripture also clearly reveals that the Lord Jesus became poor for our sakes so that through His poverty we might become rich.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9 NKJV).
The born-again believers are called to inherit God’s blessing – to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17, Eph. 1:3, 1 Pet. 3:9). Therefore, God will never put a cross or yoke of curse of the law upon the New Testament saints.
Third, the cross is not marital, relationship or family problems, crises or challenges:
God delights in your joy, happiness, pleasures and satisfaction (Psa. 16:11). It is God’s plan and promise to give you a happy and blessed home (Psa. 128:1-4). God wants you to live peaceably with all men.
The Scripture admonishes, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18 NKJV).
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14 NKJV).
Therefore, God will not place upon you any marital or relationship crisis as a cross to bear in order to follow the Lord Jesus.
If you are presently facing any challenge or crisis in your marriage or relationship, you need to take it up to God in prayer, seeking for divine wisdom, guidance and instruction to resolve the crisis. You may also need to seek for godly counsel from your pastor or a mature believer with a happy home.
Fourth, the cross is not a temperamental weakness or negative emotion:
As a new creation in Christ, you are now a partaker of the divine life and nature of God (2 Pet. 1:3, 1 John 3:9).
The Spirit of Christ now dwells in you, and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) is always present in your born-again spirit although you may not constantly manifest the fruit in your will, mind, emotions and actions because of your carnal or unrenewed mind (1 Cor. 6:17, Gal. 5:22-23, I John 4:17).
The Lord Jesus came to deliver you from every sinful habit, temperamental weakness or negative emotion. Therefore, God cannot put on you any temperamental weakness as a cross to bear in order to follow the Lord Jesus.
If you are still struggling with any sinful habit or negative emotion, don’t explain it away or embrace it as your cross, rather, seek to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus so that your mind may be renewed according to the truths of God’s Word and so that you may begin to experience and walk increasingly in the freedom that Christ has purchased for you and increasingly manifest the fruit of the Spirit (John 8:31-32, 2 Pet. 3:18).
The Scripture commands in Colossians 3:8-10:
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” (Col. 3:8-10 NKJV).
Lastly, the cross is not the consequence of your past wrong decisions and actions:
The Lord Jesus Christ bore in His body on the cross our sins and all the penalties or consequences of our sins (1 Pet. 2:24).
Therefore, God will not give or call any born-again believer to take up daily the penalty, consequence or fruit of his sins as his own cross in order to follow the Lord Jesus.
The Scripture clearly teaches that God is not imputing our sins to us now, for Christ bore all our sins in His own body on the cross.
Apostle Paul testifies to this truth in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19:
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (NKJV).
Beloved, even though God is not presently imputing your sins to you or punishing you for your sins, yet it is still very dangerous to toy or play with sins. Why?
Because sin will give the devil an inroad to your life!
Sin always opens the door to the devil to steal, kill, afflict, torment, oppress and destroy!
Therefore, if you sin, you will not only need to repent and receive by faith God’s mercy and forgiveness, you will also need to resist the devil and recover the grounds you have given the devil through your sins.
This is why the Scripture admonishes, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (Jam. 4:7 NKJV).
What then is the cross the Lord Jesus commands and expects you to take up daily in order to follow Him?
Find out in the next piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me today the things that I should not bear, embrace or endure daily as my cross. I reject and destroy today every yoke and work of the devil that I have embraced, endured and tolerated in my life and family in the past as my cross, in Jesus’ name. Amen.