Dying to self and taking up my cross daily is something that I struggle to flesh out. It is an abstract statement, so what does it mean in actuality?
I know it calls for obedience, but obedience isn’t as clearcut and simple as we would like, because we have a sin nature to contend with.
If you’re a person of action (Git ‘er done!), you will tend to think of obedience in terms of ticking boxes: say your prayers, read your Bible, go to church, be kind, be truthful, etc. I tend to think in those terms.
I find the aspect of obedience that I overlook, but which is as much or possibly more crucial, is the aspect of yielding.
Activity garners a sense of accomplishment, therefore I’m prone to get a more instant gratification by knocking out a couple of loads of laundry and setting the house in order first thing in the morning than settling down to read my Bible and talk to God about what the day may bring. I know from experience, however, that addressing the physical realm tasks first will inevitably push the spiritual things further back in the queue not just behind the laundry and straightening up, but the many other little demands and tasks that will invariably present themselves, until next thing I know, something significant and somewhat urgent will pop up needing to be addressed, and I’m walking into it without my armor on, giving the world, my flesh, and the enemy the upper hand.
I’m convinced that successful Christian living is as much what we don’t do, as what we do. We have to separate ourselves from sin, but we don’t accomplish that by “being virtuous”. To get there, we have to think in accounting terms. We have to “reckon” ourselves free from the law of sin in our members. (Sin and screwing up are optional, but not mandatory in the same way a bird can land on your head, but you don’t have to let him build a nest there.) That is, we have to reconcile our thinking with what God’s word has told us about ourselves as a new creature in Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and is the power at our disposal that makes it possible to not sin! I know this, yet can’t seem to get it through my head and keep it in mind.
The lost man thinks freedom is the freedom to do as he pleases (sin) but when we get saved, we obtain in the Holy Spirit the actual freedom and power to not sin!
Disposition is a permanent trait, in the flesh. Until it encounters the cross of Jesus and the cleansing blood, we are stuck with that disposition, but after we encounter Christ, He begins to transform that disposition as He forms His mind in us. How fast that happens, to a degree anyway, depends on our cooperation.
Taking up that cross daily is choosing to remember that by the Holy Spirit I have the power to resist sin and do what is right despite the world, my own flesh, and the enemy. I will do well to never allow myself to forget those three enemies who never rest. Conversely, I must never lose sight of the fact the Holy Spirit is in me and righteousness can prevail if I will but yield to the Holy Spirit instead of my flesh. Obedience is a work of God, but we collaborate with Him when we decide to give the Spirit the right of way instead of giving it to our flesh. It happens often in an instant. If we are yielded, doing right should become more and more reflexive, but it requires vigilance, and that is where that daily cross comes into the picture. What happens at the cross? Our sins were nailed there. Today I will have new sins. I need to take them there. Even though all my sins have been paid for once and for all when Christ died and rose again, I need to remind myself daily, even hourly of that fact, so I wont walk in the defeat of false condemnation, and become vulnerable to the accuser. It’s easy when you feel you are failing, to quit trying!
In a world where “right” is relative, the scale of good and evil will always trend toward leniency, and away from God’s absolutes of right and wrong. That is how we now find ourselves in a paradigm where what believers (ought to) call good and right, the world calls wrong and evil, and what we (ought to) know is evil, the world considers virtuous. To them, abortion, transgender, homosexuality, pedophilia (and worse), and pride are wonderful, therefore we who stand against those things are evil. The law and wages of sin is death.
God is not the victim of our sin. We are! Lost people rail against Him in pride, incensed that He should condemn their lifestyle choices, but the fact remains, He is our Judge. He is impartial. It’s not really any “skin off His nose” so to speak, when we sin, as we harm ourselves, not Him. We have no power to harm Him. But sin is deadly for the sinner, and does cause harm to others around the sinner, and God holds in reserve a special wrath for those whose sin harms the helpless and young.
Pride is the sin that all other sin flows out of. It was Lucifer’s downfall and it was what he used to take down Adam and Eve. With pride, they become wise in their own eyes, and everyone does what is “right in their own eyes”.
Pride tries to supplant God, asserting self over God. Only the mind of Christ in the believer can displace the disposition of pride inherent in the flesh.
Reckon and resist!