What does it mean to be a disciple? Are the qualifications of discipleship different from those of simply coming to faith? I think the answer to that question is yes.
In Matthew 16:24 Jesus gave the unique call of discipleship: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me” (NLT).
First, Jesus tells us that if we want to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves. This is a foundational issue.
We hear a lot about the need for a positive self-image, self-worth, self-love, and self-esteem, even within the church.
But does God want us to feel good about ourselves when we are living in sin? Should we have a positive self-image if we are disobeying Him?
James 4:8–9 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy” (NLT).
This obsession with self is not something unique to our generation. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where Satan appealed to Eve’s selfish nature (see Genesis 3:1–6).
Everyone has a choice in life. We can either live for ourselves or deny ourselves, ignore the cross or take it up, lose our souls or keep them. We can share His reward and glory or lose them. Or we can invest in our lives and ultimately find them.
The great barrier to being a disciple of Jesus Christ is summed up in one word: self. If you want to be His disciple, you must deny yourself.
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