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“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).
Today’s verse captures like none other, perhaps, the comprehensive nature of the life lived in Christ Jesus. It is a calling that speaks to the totality of our being and not just part. The life that is daily being crucified develops an ever-growing awareness of the emptiness of the things of this life, and embraces the lifelong process of dispossession—letting go and giving up—so that His possession of us might be our only consuming passion.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).
The word “hate” is so hard and biting, we are startled to hear it from the lips of our Lord, especially in association with members of our own family. It’s actually a translation from an Aramaic term that means “to love less.” It has to do with those things that compete for our loyalty and allegiance. Disciples understand that Jesus will be second to nothing or no one.
“So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living in accord with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:12-13).
Seeing how the flesh has done us no favors, we owe it nothing in return. We are, however, under obligation to the life of the Spirit being accomplished in us as followers of Christ. It should be of no shock that, because we are the people of God, there is an expectation of how we are to live (James 2:19,26). Certainly, we have all said, in response to someone’s abundant kindness, “I am indebted to you.” As such, would we not then live with a sense of indebtedness and obligation to the One who has done so much more?
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
It’s an almost incomprehensible thought: God’s eternal and holy Spirit dwells in our mortal bodies. The same life-giving Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now inhabits the lives of those who follow after Him, empowering them until that day when the perishable will be exchanged for the imperishable (1 Cor.15:42). The movement in this verse from the man, Jesus, who was crucified, to the resurrected Messianic Christ, who stands as a representative of his people, affirms that what’s true of Him is true of us.
“If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10).
Faith does not negate the reality that our mortal body is nonetheless subject to decay and death. Even so, death does not have the final word. Regarding the resurrection of the dead, what is sown a perishable body is raised an imperishable body (1 Cor. 15:42). What is suited for this present, temporal, realm is resurrected in a corporeal form fit for the eternal; the corruptible for the incorruptible.
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9).
That the Spirit of God dwells in you is the reality of your conversion experience. God’s Spirit was the active agent convicting you of your sin, the enlightening agent making you aware of your need for a Savior, the transforming agent accomplishing the salvation of God in your life, and the empowering agent that offers public testimony to the resurrected Christ through the spiritual fruit bearing of your life.
“and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8).
Two significant inferences emerge from verse 7 and 8. The first is that the mind set on the Spirit, in contrast to the mind set on the flesh, brings about a corresponding emphasis on how life is to be lived. And now, the inference being that those who are in the Spirit can please God. It’s a look back to verse 4 and how the Spirit of God empowers us to fulfill the Law in a way that the Law, itself, could not. The distinctions are clear between what is pleasing to God and what is not.
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).
The productivity of physical training is greatly enhanced by utilizing a broad spectrum of exercises, of varying difficulty and duration. Spiritual training, however, is a one-dimensional exercise, focused upon carrying a cross. Worship, bible study, and prayer are effective tools in helping to maintain that focus. Cross carrying isn’t a one-time thing but an all-the-time pursuit. While it can be inconvenient and cumbersome, one cannot enter into spiritual training without it.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The world has never lacked in its interest of all things spiritual, but it is an ethereal, baseless, subjective kind of spirituality. Few, on the other hand, are interested in a spirituality rooted in a cross and the burden of carrying that cross. The apostle Paul considers as spiritual only those who have been so apprehended by the cross that their lives have been radically transformed. Any form of spirituality apart from the cross is but an exaltation of self.
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
Someone has said that thinking is the hardest work there is, which is why so few are willing to do it. The mind set on the flesh is easy, intuitive; it comes natural. The mind set on the Spirit, however, requires deliberateness and intentionality; it is a disciplined exercise of the will and becomes the foundation to all decision-making: Does this enhance or detract from my commitment to the Lord? Will this move me forward in the faith journey, or hold me back and keep me hostage? It is the perspective of a life rooted in the cross and empowered by the Spirit.