The Forgotten First Step

First Step

23 And [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:23-27

In this lowly walk where Christians were called, Jesus is asking us for a complete surrender. We are commanded to deny ourselves. But why is it many professing Christians today live their lives with so much pride in their hearts? Have they forgotten the very first step in being God’s Follower?

I have been reading lately some works of John Calvin, and I came across one of his works pertaining about ‘Self-denial.’ I never thought before that the very first step has been the first thing that was not totally visible in my Christian Life. My pride of life has consumed me so well. I cannot accept that I have to deny myself first. I totally forgot the importance of self-denial.

I asked God for forgiveness, and I went into so much molding since that encounter I had with self denial. But as I look at the world once more, I see professing Christians dancing in the midst of self-centered life instead of self-denial. That moment taught me that the narrow gate is really traveled by few, and just like what Jesus said:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ -Matthew 7:21-23

But who does the will of the my Father who is in heaven. That phrase must convict us all the more. God the Father doesn’t want us to be dancing in a life of selfishness. This High Position where we are called should be taken in a lowly walk. Cultivate humility instead of pride. He wants us to worship Him and realize that the true happiness that we are looking for is in Him. A loving Father wants the best for us, and He knows so well that living in a selfish lifestyle is never the best thing we could ever have.

There was a lot of times I deactivated my social media accounts just because I cannot stand how my Christian friends advertise themselves instead of serving God through their social media profiles. Yes, we can practice freedom of expression, but too much emphasis on ourselves can give this lost world another message. The Church has become more like the world when we don’t practice self-denial even in our social media profiles.

Your posts in any of your social media accounts tell so much of what is in your heart. Posts are the modern expression of words that springs up from our hearts. They show how much you love the LORD. If your really love Him so dearly, you won’t care anymore if what people tell about you. You just need to share them the Good News in what ever way you know. You cannot stop on singing praises if God is the Owner of your heart.

Instead of being so upset about what my Christian friends are doing on their accounts, I spent a lot of time liking Christian pages just to take those selfish posts away from my newsfeed. Even though the situation hurts me, I still love those people because God loves them. We must hate the sin, but not the sinner. That’s why I never stopped posting verses. I have to help them see that they should not be living their lives that way.

This world has been into so much darkness. Every forms of sin is already destroying lives even the lives of saints. We have to remind ourselves about the first step: ALWAYS DENY OURSELVES. We are called to become salt and light.

13 You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so thatthey may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16

We are salt. It preserves the food and also makes the food tastes good. We are here not to tolerate sin but fight it with what God has given us. His Word, our Sword, should have been killing every sin inside of us and among the lives that are surrounding us. We must care less if others will hate us for what we have been doing. Wolves will always be there to attack the sheep. If salt has lost it’s taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? We should not lose our faith. We should keep sharing the best food, God’s Word. The chosen ones will find life in the Word we are sharing and that is what truly matters.

We are light, and not just a simple light but a city that is set on a hill and cannot be hidden. We should be glowing in this dark world. We should not be hiding our light just because we are afraid what overemphasis to God can do to our lives. If you save your life, you will lose it but if you lose your life, you will save it. Deny yourself and shift the emphasis to God. We are called to shine. Let those people who thirst for God see the light.

Following Christ will cost you everything, but His true follower will always find joy for leaving everything just for Him.

“Doth that man love his Lord who would be willing to see Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, while for himself he craves a chaplet of laurel? Shall Jesus ascend to His throne by the cross, and do we expect to be carried there on the shoulders of applauding crowds? BE NOT SO VAIN IN YOUR IMAGINATION. Count you the cost, and if you are not willing to bear Christ’s cross, go away to your farm and to your merchandise, and make the most of them; only let me whisper this in your ear, ‘What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul (Mark 8:36)?'”

—CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON; “Holding Fast the Faith” (A sermon preached February 5, 1888, at the outset of the Down-Grade Controversy)

Do not love this world! Loving it is just the same as loving your flesh. Our selfish desires and God’s desires contradict each other, that’s why the First Step (Self-Denial) is the most important step.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. -1 John 2:15-17

If you are really walking the narrow road, you’ll find yourself hating what this world loves and loving what God desires for you.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

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