“This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” (2 Timothy 2:11-12 NKJV).
Following the Lord Jesus on His own terms demands that you take up your cross daily.
The Lord Jesus expressly commands: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
Seeking to follow the Lord Jesus closely and conform wholly to His example without a resolution to take up your cross daily will only result in utter frustration and failure.
A call to be a Christian is essentially a call to conform wholly to Christ’s example, not just in living, but in dying also. In fact, you need to conform first to Christ in His death before you can conform to Him in His living.
Without sharing in Christ’s death, you cannot share in Christ’s resurrection. It is useless seeking to walk in newness of life without you first dying to your old self-life (Rom. 6:4 NKJV).
It is only the believers who have become one with Christ in the likeness of His death that can also become one with Christ in the likeness of His resurrection. It is only those who die with Christ that will live with Him.
It is only those who share in Christ’s sufferings that will also share in His glory (Rom. 8:17, 1 Pet. 4:13). It is only those who embrace death through the cross that can experience the power of resurrection (Phil. 3:10-11).
The Scripture states: “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” (2 Tim. 2:11-12 NKJV).
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Rom. 6:4-5 NKJV).
Therefore, like Apostle Paul, the greatest goal, passionate desire, and relentless pursuit of every follower of Christ should be: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philip. 3:10 NKJV).
Sadly, many believers today want to wield, experience, appropriate and enjoy the power of Christ’s resurrection without any desire to conform to Christ’s death. This is absolutely impossible!
How does a believer become identified with Christ in the likeness of His death?
Simply by taking his cross daily!
By reckoning himself daily to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus!
By choosing to deny, renounce, ignore, or forget himself daily, so that he may obey and follow the Lord Jesus!
By embracing with joy whatever suffering, persecution, or tribulation that comes his way in the course of obeying and following the Lord Jesus!
Why is it a must for a born-again believer to take up his cross daily?
First, a believer must take his cross daily because it is the major prerequisite for following the Lord Jesus daily.
It is absolutely impossible to be a disciple of Christ without bearing your cross daily. A true disciple of Christ is the believer who is bearing his cross daily and following the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus clearly declares: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters – [yes] and even his own life also- he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27 AMP).
You cannot obey the Lord’s voice, walk in the Lord’s steps, and conform to the Lord’s example daily unless you are willing to take up your cross daily.
Jesus said: “If any man wishes to walk in my steps, let him renounce self, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23 TCNT).
Many born-again believers today are not following the Lord Jesus closely and conforming increasingly to His example because they would not bear their cross daily.
Second, a believer must take up his cross daily to manifest Christ-life and nature increasingly.
The cross is God’s judgement on self, the old man. It is God’s instrument of terminating the self-life. It is through the cross that our old corrupt, sinful and selfish life was put to death.
The Scripture states: “We recognize the truth that our old self was crucified with Christ, in order that the body, the stronghold of Sin, might be rendered powerless, so that we should no longer be slaves to Sin.” (Rom. 6:6 TCNT).
It is absolutely impossible to manifest increasingly Christ-life and nature, the fruit of the Spirit, without bearing your cross daily (Gal. 2:20). By taking up your cross daily, like John the Baptist, you are simply saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NKJV).
It is as you reckon yourself to be dead daily to sin and self through the death of Christ on the cross that you will be alive daily to God in Christ Jesus, thereby bearing fruit to His glory (Rom. 6:11).
Third, a believer must take up his cross daily so that he may experience daily victory over the world and its lusts and allurements.
While it is true that you are now a new creation, a new self, in Christ through the new birth, however, the world around you has not changed.
The world is still evil, being under the sway or influence of the evil one (1 John 5:19). The world is still full of lusts – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
Having become born again, you don’t cease to live in the world; you only cease to be part of the world. Therefore, the world will always seek to entice and distract you from following the Lord. If you refuse to compromise with the world, then, the world will hate, ostracize, suffer or persecute you.
Jesus said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19 NKJV).
Your daily victory over the world and all its lusts and tribulations lies in you taking up your cross daily. It is through the cross you were crucified to the world and the world to you.
Christ gave you the victory over the world through the cross. Therefore, it is only through the cross that you can continue to manifest or demonstrate your victory over the world.
This is why Paul states: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14 NKJV).
Beloved, your daily victory over the enticements or tribulations of the world lies in reckoning yourself to be dead daily to the world, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The world cannot tempt, lure or entice a dead man to follow, pursue, or conform to its ungodly ways, values or fashions. That is why it is a must for you to bear your cross daily. If you don’t, you will conform to this world (Rom. 12:2).
What then is the cross you need to take up daily so that you may not conform to the world, but only conform increasingly to the Lord’s example?
Discover this in the next piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me today why I should take up my cross daily and follow the Lord Jesus. Dear Holy Spirit, teach, remind and strengthen me daily to take up my cross daily and follow the Lord Jesus, in Jesus’ name. Amen.