Deny Yourself And Take Up Your Cross!
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 (Romans 6:12-13).
After the first man Adam sinned, mankind turned selfish and self-centered. Before the fall, Adam lived for the glory of God, but after he sinned, he lived to please himself without considering God and His plans for him. His focus turned from God to himself.
Our challenge as believers today is to renew our minds and move the focus of life from ourselves back to God.
When we give our lives to Jesus, the new birth transforms our spiritual lives. The nature of sin within us is replaced by the nature of God. But there is a residue of sin that remains buried within our soul and must be rooted out and changed! Paul made the appeal to the believers in Rome to dedicate their bodies to God, and to renovate their minds so they wouldn’t be pressured by the world to conform to its ways. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect ( Romans 12:2 - NLT).
Our soul is composed of the mind, the emotions, and the will. Our spirit nature wants to interact with our soul for the glory of God. Our spiritual nature longs for love and joy and peace to rule us each day. But our body wants to interact with our soul to fulfill its cravings. Our unrenewed mind and our body craves attention and wants pride, selfishness, lust, anger, disappointment and so on to rule us. Our soul is in the middle of a battle, and what we think upon becomes the deciding factor between spirituality and carnality in our lives. If our minds are set on fleshly things, then our flesh will dominate us. If our mind is set on spiritual things, then our spirit rules us through our soul.
The battle of our life every day is to continually make the choice to walk in the spirit. To do this, we must guard our ears and the eyes from exposure to the lusts of the flesh. A decision for the flesh gives the residue of the old man in our soul permission to conquer the spirit! A decision to act on the Word gives the Holy Spirit through our human spirit control, and we walk in the peace of God.
Our will is the king of the soul. Our will determines what we think about and what emotions we allow to run free. Our will determines whether we yield to the Spirit of God in our spirit by yielding to the Word, or whether we yield to the lusts of the flesh by allowing thoughts from the past or from the outside world through our eye and ear gate to rule our life. Again, our will is the deciding factor in what we do with our lives. Will I be a spiritual person, or will I be a body ruled person. My will makes that decision.
And that’s the reason that Jesus addresses the will in every gospel. If any man desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24). Jesus emphasizes this truth. It’s mentioned in every gospel. To deny myself, I must be willing to lay every thought, every emotion, and every desire at His feet by comparing each of these to the Word of God. Does this thought, action, or emotion that I have violate the Word? If it does, then I must choose to say NO to it.
We must die daily. That is, we must choose daily to yield our will to the Father through the Word. And then carefully choose what we give attention to in our minds and emotions. To do this, our wills must be wholly re-committed to the Father through the Word every day!
Perhaps we should make David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 our own each day: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer!