November 27, 2015Matthew 16:13-26
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We’ve seen in the first 11 verses of our scripture and over the last six blogs what the unsaved world thinks about Jesus, Peter’s great confession, the work to which we are called as confessors of Jesus Christ, growing in the knowledge of our Christian faith, and the believer falling back into Satan’s ways. Now, in Matthew 16:24 through 26 let’s examine the secret Jesus shared with His disciple about how to live our Christian life victoriously and consistently!
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let
him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever
desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake
will find it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and
loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Let’s take the last question first, because what the Lord is telling us to do is a life-changing thing!
How valuable is your soul to you? Perhaps the question should be asked this way: Where do you want to spend eternity? Now you might be saying, “It really doesn’t matter. You just die, and that’s it – that’s the end!” Look, no matter what you think, it does not change the truth, even if that truth stands against what you might think it to be! Jesus told us Himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He – being the truth – will always speak the truth! And, according to Him, there is a heaven (see Matthew 7:21; 18:3), and there is a hell (see Luke 12:5; 16:3)! And both are forever! And what you are focusing on in this life determines where you will forever be! So where do you want to spend eternity?
The answer is obvious (although some may joke about it!) I want to enjoy the bliss of heaven where it says in Revelation 21:4, “…God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there will be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (See also Isaiah 25:8, 9; John 14:2, 3; Revelation 7:16, 17; 22:3-6). Compare that to the description of hell in Revelation 21:8 (Today’s New International Version):
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually
immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they
will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second
death. (See also Matthew 13:50; Mark 9:43; II Thessalonians 1:9; Jude
1:7; Revelation 14:10, 11; 19:20).
How valuable is your soul? In Psalm 49:6 through 8 (God’s Word to the Nations) it is written: “They trust their riches and brag about their abundant wealth. No one can ever buy back another person or pay God a ransom for his life. The price to be paid for his soul is too costly.” It is so costly that only God could pay for it! And He did! Jesus Christ laid down His own perfect life for us, that we might have eternal life in Him!
So if all this is true – and it is! – then anything we are told to do to gain it is worth the cost! What are we told to do? “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24). The cross is an instrument of death! We are told to go out and die with Jesus Christ – even “die daily” (I Corinthians 15:31 – see Luke 9:23). We are to put to death our own desires, wants and wishes – our own future, and let Him call all the shots! What does that look like? Paul wrote in Romans 6:11 through 14:
Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive
to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your
mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your
members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves
to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments
of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you….
What will happen if we obey the Lord – if we take up our cross and follow Him? Romans 6:8 and 5:
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him….
if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we
also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection….
And after the resurrection, Jesus, who had been mistreated, beaten, whipped, and crucified, came out of the tomb perfect, whole and vibrant – never to die again! He was perfectly adapted to eternal spiritual living – and I want to be like Him!
If all this sounds confusing, let’s boil it down to just one thing we have to do! I mentioned this one thing in our last blog, and here it is again: Luke 22:42: “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (See April 29, 2013 blog – The Most Important Prayer A Christian Can Pray). If we do this in every situation we face, we will be dying to our own desires, wants and wishes, and living for the Lord!
This is the secret Jesus shared with His disciple – and shares with us – about how to live our Christian lives victoriously and consistently for God’s glory!