What Does it Mean to Take Up Your Cross Daily?
What does Luke 9:23 mean?
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
What does it mean to take up your cross daily? I’m going to give you two interpretations and you can choose.
Interpretation #1: Jesus is preaching self-denial
“Following Christ is all about self-denial and going without. If you are not in the daily habit of denying your appetites and desires, you are not a real Christian. The more you deny your needs and wants, the holier you’ll be. So fast everyday and you’ll be just like Jesus.”
Heard this one?
It’s a common interpretation but it has a big flaw. Abstaining from food, Facebook, or fun won’t make you righteous and holy. Not even a little bit. (It might make you religious.)
This message of self-denial is nothing more than the ancient practice of asceticism dressed up in religious jargon. It is a message that promotes Pharisaical self-righteousness and DIY religiosity.
Another problem with this interpretation is it will leave you anxious and insecure.
“Have I denied myself enough?”
You can never know. So you’d better deny yourself some more, just to be safe.
“Don’t touch, don’t handle, don’t taste.”
Pretty soon you’ll be whipping yourself and asking your friends to crucify you for the Easter parade.
Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross so you could join him in suffering. That’s not good news. Jesus died so that we might be free from this sort of dead and useless religion.
Interpretation #2: Jesus is showing us the way to salvation
And who is the way? Jesus is. When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he’s saying the way to salvation is through him and his cross.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me… (Gal 2:20a)
The reason most Christians struggle to live the Christian life is they do not know they have died with Christ. Yet Paul says so again and again.
“You died with Christ” (Col 2:20).
“We died with Christ” (Rom 6:8).
“We died” (2 Cor 5:14).
When you were baptized or placed into Christ, you were baptized into his death (Rom 6:3). This may be the single most important thing that ever happened to you, yet many Christians are unaware of it. And since they don’t know that they died with Christ, they are constantly trying to die.
One more time for emphasis: The gospel declares, “You died.”
You have been crucified with Christ. The person you used to be – dead in sins and alienated from the life of God – no longer lives, but Christ lives in you.
“But if I died with Christ already, why does Jesus say we must take up our cross daily?”
Note that the word daily is only found once in the three accounts of Jesus’ words. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and…
…take up his cross and follow me. (Matt 16:24)
…take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
…take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
Why does Luke say daily while Matthew and Mark do not? “Luke is wrong,” says Adam Clarke. “Or at least our English translations of Luke are wrong, for the word ‘daily’ is not in some of the original manuscripts.”
Adam Clarke may be right. I wouldn’t know. I don’t have the original manuscripts. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume Mr. Clarke is wrong and our English Bibles are correct. What then?
Why does Luke say daily?
My view is that Luke isn’t contradicting Matthew and Mark; he’s saying the same thing with gusto. He’s saying we ought to appreciate the finished work of the cross every day.
When I get out of bed in the morning and put my feet on the floor, my left foot says, “Thank you, Jesus,” and my right foot says, “For the cross.”
It’s because you have died with Christ that you live in union with him. This is a great treasure and not something to take for granted.
“Paul, are you saying that if I stop valuing the cross I’ll lose my salvation?”
Not at all. I’m saying if you have been born of the spirit, learn to walk by the spirit.
We don’t die daily – once will do the trick – and we don’t get born again every day. But every day we get to choose whether we walk after the flesh or the spirit.
Say you hear a message that says you need to fast and pray to become spiritually mature. You decide to fast and pray. Bam! You are no longer walking by the spirit. You are no longer trusting in the grace of God. You are trusting in your own fasting and praying to make you mature.
Where does the Lord fit in this picture? He doesn’t, and that’s the problem. Dead religion is a faithless way to live.
“Walking after the flesh” doesn’t necessarily mean running around getting drunk and doing bad stuff. For the Christian, the flesh takes on the subtler guise of good works, duty, and self-improvement.
What does it mean to die to self?
The phrase “die to self” is not in the Bible. Jesus spoking of denying self which is different.
When we hear that we have to die to self we think, “I have to stop being who God made me to be. I have to pretend I’m somebody else – someone who doesn’t enjoy wine, one woman, and song.” That’s a dehumanizing doctrine of demons.
God made you unique. He gave you good dreams and desires that no one else has. When you suppress your God-given dreams and desires, the world is impoverished.
To deny yourself means “Trust Jesus instead of yourself.”
It means live each and every day out of the glorious relationship you have with the Lord. Don’t fall back to the inferior ways of the flesh that you walked in when you were an unbeliever, but stand firm in the freedom of Christ.
This is the point Luke was trying to make. The trusting life is an adventure and it’s good to daily remind yourself that “God is for me. How can I fail?”
Conscious of your loving Father’s acceptance and approval, you will soar on eagles’ wings. And when you apprehend, by faith, the inexhaustible riches of his grace, the whole world benefits.
Why would you want to waste one single day living any other way?
Why crawl when you can fly?
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Paul – I hope you will respond to this comment. I thought that all of the various “works oriented” things that Jesus says in the 3 synoptics are because Easter hasn’t happened yet. It’s still the Old Covenant. At that point in his ministry, I thought it was Jesus job to fulfill the Law and to proclaim how severe the Law is. I went through a red letter Bible and couldn’t find one time that Jesus clearly proclaims the Grace of God in the 3 synoptic gospels. It’s mentioned in John. Then fully expounded in Paul’s letters. But Jesus does almost all Old Covenant preaching, but also clarifying that the Law is even MORE difficult to obey that any of us thought (i.e., adultery, murder, pluck out your eye, etc.). However, if I read your post right, you’re finding a different explanation for Jesus words in this passage. If I’m wrong on what I’ve been thinking, I’ve got a whole lot of re-thinking to do.
It’s simplistic to say Jesus preached 100% law before the cross. Although he never uttered the word “grace” he demonstrated grace and undeserved favor every time he ate with and forgave sinners. (Read this post on 5 ways Jesus revealed grace.) In the three “take up your cross” passages, Jesus is talking about what it means to follow him. He’s not preaching law but showing us the way to salvation – and it’s through him.
Hi Ptr. Paul, Can i say that Jesus is my Cross or the Grace but not a daily burden to carry but unmerited favor to carry everyday coz Christ lives in me and with me.
Paul, I am thankful for unmerited favor. It makes the world stop and take notice that a sacrifice has already been made. This doesn’t mean we can’t live. Quite the contrary, it means that instead of manufacturing a life void of thankfulness and wonder, I can receive Life freely and beautifully made. Christ is risen.
Jesus was to humble to glorify himself , He was the grace of God he did not need to speak of it. His Father has Glorified him.
Paul thank you for this first off! I just had an experience in a group where I said I take up JESUS Cross daily! I felt led by Holy Spirit to make that bold statement and it did have a clash with the leader who said they take up “their own cross daily” with pride. I know Holy Spirit was showing me it is the LORDS CROSS we take up daily since He has died for us and we are crucified with Him. There was a real prideful religious spirit behind having “your own cross” to take up daily it was works. Jesus said Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. May the Lord remove the religious heavy load from us freeing us in Holy Spirit to do His work! May we find the rest unto our souls Jesus gives that is easy and light! Thank you again Paul! Love it when Holy Spirit teaches and confirms His truth!
I choose #2, Who is actually #1 – Jesus. 🙂
Amen to the post!
I was just listening to Arthur Meintjes preach about this this morning. He was doing a 5 part series called “Let Freedom Reign” and was teaching at Charis Bible College (I found it on youtube). His thoughts were pretty much inline with yours Paul and he took it one step further. He said that he thought denying oneself would be denying self life; in other words know that we don’t have the ability to save ourselves, and trust in Jesus, just like you said. I love it when God confirms stuff that I’m studying!
I read an interpretation that said “pick up your cross” means to do the thing you are supposed to be doing that no one else can do; that’s what Jesus did. He had to bear the literal cross; we have to bear the weight of our own destiny and responsibility.
I think of having a good attitude in order to reign in life, but not in order to inherit the unconditional love of the Father. I had a galaxy sized sense of my destiny and responsibility, but religious thinking will own that impossible to fulfill world. I have been reading Paul’s post checklisting the religious mindset – “Are you religious?” One of the hallmarks of the religious mindset is living from a sense of duty.
Here’s the idea: Grace is a gift only the non-religious can accept. They’re the only ones who can understand it, and put it to use. “Religious” folk see grace as soft and weak, so they keep trying to manage their junk with willpower and tenacity. Nothing defines religion quite as well as attempting impossible tasks with limited power, all while pretending that it’s working. The Cure, TrueFaced, 2011, 88.
What I read here makes good sense. I could never add to this because it’s clear and self explanatory. It;s sad even tragic that some non believers get cold feet when they here the gospel preached in a legalistic way because it places a heavy burden upon them of having to do their own spiritual DIY to become a perfect Christian. When really people need to know that Christ has already done everything for them. I have been through legalism myself and still suffer the aftermath because its so easy to get into a mind set when being constantly bombarded every Sunday with “you need to try harder to be walking in Christ” It;s the kind of preaching that can be hard to break free from.. I thank Jesus that where the spirit is there there is liberty.
I take it “one step further” in my own walk through this world with Him. I remind myself each morning, to be sure, but also throughout the day. I don’t say “every moment,” because I don’t see how I can “do my best” at what I’m “doing as to the Lord” if I “split” my awareness in that way. I trust that He IS with me in those moments, too, and that I am IMMERSED IN HIM at that time.
But, there ARE times in most days, when I feel the need/desire to REAFFIRM IN THE MOMENT that He is not only WITH me, but “unfairly biased” FOR ME in the given situation. Like today, when the radiator i my van blew out in the middle of nowhere. It seemed like a PRIME TIME to remind myself that “ALL IS WELL, HE IS *FOR* ME, EVEN NOW!” In that, I am picking up anew my Cross, MY KNOWING AND LIVING BY HIS *DEMONSTRATED* LOVE FOR *ME PERSONALLY*.
IF you get my “drift!” 😉
This is a fabulous, eye opening post, Paul!
I had gleaned that interpretation in my personal study, by the power of the Holy Spirit, before I heard anyone else explain it that way. Kudos Paul! You’ve done it again!
Another excellent post, Paul! You have brought clarity and simplicity to a Bible passage that have been misinterpreted for so long.
Baptism doesn’t bestow life in Christ. Only confirms it. Baptism is an outward sign of what has already taken place in the heart of the believer. We want to be baptized because we’ve been born again and want to publicly affirm that. The criminal crucified with Christ gain the promise of salvation yet was never baptized,.. ,.
In the post I don’t refer to the ritual of baptism but the actual baptism that the ritual represents. When you were born again you were baptized or placed into Christ (Rom 6:3). This is just about the single most important thing that happened to you and this is what we re-enact when we go into the water.
The two thieves crucified with Christ did not get baptized in the water because Jesus had not risen from the dead yet , if you study the book of Acts all new believers after the cross were baptized including the apostle Paul Acts 9: 17-18,Acts 19: 4-6, Acts 10: 44-48 etc so people i don’t know which book you are studying ? mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, not just believe you are saved no short cut please! people stay with His plan of salvation not man made lies lastly by His grace read Acts 2;38 Grace to you all truth seekers!
Notice in Mark 16:16 what causes damnation- a lack of belief not a lack of baptism. In Acts 10:44-48 you will see that the people were already saved or the Spirit could not have entered into them. In John 3 Jesus tells how a person obtains eternal-everlasting life. Not once does He mention water immersion as part of that process. Jesus never lied. So if water immersion were a vital process of becoming saved why would the Savior omit such a vital life giving fact?
I have talked to “church of christ” people and they always quote Acts 2:38. Ok. No problem. However, the problem I have with them doing that is the fact that they are putting their faith in water baptism and not in Christ. They also have a “works/faith” salvation. A person needs to put their faith in Christ and not in water baptism. A faith in water baptism can only lead a person to eternal damnation because of the fact that they did not trust Christ to save them.
Ropate, You have to read Romans 10: 9, “Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus was raised, then you will be saved”. Doesn’t say anything about being baptized with water. What about John 3: 16. It does not say “whoever believes in him “”and is baptized”” The scripture Mark 16:16, “is baptized” means “baptized by the Holy Spirit”. Baptism is never the salvation event but a picture of it. Baptism is not a requirement of salvation, but it is a requirement of obedience. Baptism is the first step of discipleship.
Thank you for that message. Its what I’ve been feeling in my heart for a few days. Love your expansion of scripture. Keep sharing.
Self- denial is only good when it is used to exalt Jesus and improve some area in our lives according to His will for us. If we are using it to become more holy and righteous, we are wasting our time, and God’s. Our cross to bear is that we take the Word of God and exalt it above our will daily in the circumstances or situations that we face daily. We need to trust God’s wisdom daily, and deny our own wisdom, daily. Fasting, etc, can be very beneficial when used to glorify God, not to glorify ourselves, or to show others how holy we are, as the Pharisees did. When you fast, you learn to subdue your carnal flesh, and then you are able to walk in your born-again spirit.
I interpret this passage differently. I think it’s saying that if we want to follow Christ, we need to put aside our own selfish desires and live for Him instead. You might say that’s the same as #1, but I think the difference is more than semantic. I don’t think Jesus is asking us to skip meals or avoid having fun, but He is saying we need to be Kingdom-minded.
Semantics are important. Can you give us an example of what it means to put aside selfish desires and how this would lead to salvation?
I wasn’t implying that we can do anything to earn our salvation, as that is accomplished solely through belief in the finished work of Christ. However, I do disagree with you that this verse is about the way to salvation.
Jesus is speaking to a group of people who, with the exceptions of Judas and John, will all be killed for His sake. Most of them already believe He is who He says He is, as Peter confirmed in v. 20, and I believe Jesus is encouraging them here to stand fast in their faith and keep their eyes on the eternal prize. The use of the cross in His statement lets them know that it won’t always be easy to follow Him. In fact, we know it was fraught with danger for eleven of them.
I think Jesus is saying to present-day believers that we need to be focused on Him and not on worldly things. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves while we’re here. But it does mean He needs to be at the center of our lives. God has a plan for each of us, and He created us and saved us so that we would be able to fulfill His purposes for our lives and His eternal Kingdom. And as was true for the Apostles, following Jesus won’t necessarily result in pain-free/no-problems lives for us.
I don’t think any of the above is controversial or anything you would disagree with, just as I don’t disagree with the message you’re conveying in #2. But I do think we interpret the meaning of this verse differently.
Not to pick nits or anything, but in the next few verses Jesus talks about saving lives and exchanging things for our souls. Why do you think this isn’t a reference to salvation? If Jesus is discussing martyrdom, as you say, what would be the consequences of not standing fast in the faith, particularly when tortured? Would he reject them, as he suggests in v.26? Because how is that encouraging? That’s downright threatening. That amounts to “die or be damned.”
I’ve actually been having a difficult time understanding the words of Jesus as they relate to grace and the atonement.
You touched on Jesus saying that he would reject them for not standing firm in v.26 but that it couldn’t be what he really meant because it’s not encouraging. Why would he say something that he didn’t mean. How should one interpret passages like these?
I think he most certainly did mean it, just that he didn’t mean it in the sense that one of the commenters above interpreted it. Verse 26 needs to be read in the context of verses 23-25. Jesus isn’t prescribing fitness tests for Christians. He’s talking about the way to salvation, as I explain in the post.
Also, if you look at the King James which is more true to the actual tenses, it usually says we are dead with Christ. That he did all the dying for us and it was after he said it is finished and breathed his last breath, that we were united to him. It kind of takes out the option of us somehow participating in the dying. He did that all alone for us.
To die to one,s self is to come to the full revelation of what you have received by Grace, not just forgiveness but life.This in turn leads to the revelation that what you had before was not life.this is the death you should be dying.This again in turn leads to a new life lived in absolute security in who you are what you have and total dependence on Jesus for this new life.A life lived boldly, fearless, without limits secure in your gift not earned not dependent on your performance .Each morning you should be taking up this cross it is as Jesus said not a heavy burden.But remains a burden this in the reality of the price paid .Our only sacrifice a seared conscience.Continually aware of his unconditional love.
I love your post of how you explained die to yourself . Our old nature of doing to be what we are in Christ . Great !
Great post. Hehe, love the banana graphic. Really made me laugh. If we already died in Christ, then what’s left to crucify? It’s a matter of believing, daily even. We died! His cross IS our cross.
i have to read this a couple more times,i have been dealing with my identity in Christ,and this plays into it…its deep yet simple,if we try to hard to find our identity,we will simply create a false identity,I have had some episodes with doing things and being accused of not measuring up,but hearing,that is not you,your identity is in Christ,but then asking that floating question,WHO IS IT..IF ITS NOT ME?……..I hope y’all understand, then it seems to go back to the basic romans 8:1.
“Say you hear a message that says you need to fast and pray to become spiritually mature, so you decide to fast and pray. Bam! You are no longer walking by the spirit. You are no longer trusting in the grace of God. Rather, you are trusting in your own fasting and praying performance to make you mature.”
I got hit and confused by the above statement. Currently on day 2 of praying & fasting mode. Do you mean to say, it’s bad or useless to fast?
For what reason are you fasting? I used to preach on fasting and I would lead my church in 5-day fasts. I now see that my reasons were all mixed up and faithless. Jesus said the guests of the bridegroom would fast when he was taken from them. That happened in the Garden of Gethsemene. Jesus was taken and tortured and killed. It was a tough time for the disciples. I imagine they didn’t eat. But Jesus also said he would come and make his home with us and he’s done that with his Holy Spirit. Do you see? Jesus is now with us, not taken from us. Do happy men fast?
The only fast commanded in the Bible was connected with the Day of Atonement and for us that Day is in our distant past.
Some say we fast to starve the flesh and defeat unbelief. I’m still thinking about that one. Certainly, have the freedom to fast and pray all you like, but I’d be interested to learn what you get out of it.
I’ll leave you with this thought I heard from Benjamin Dunn: “Instead of declaring a 40-day fast, lets declare a 40-day feast and invite all of the poor.”
Wow. I’m reading this like I pause at the end of every sentence. This made me really think 4,5,6th times. Our church is doing a mid-year three day fast, and we’re on a third day, and now questions arising in my head. Haha
Every start and middle of the year, our church is encouraged to do praying & fasting. I never really participated in it until now.
A few years back, my relationship with God was restored through the message of grace. It’s the most beautiful thing – seeing and knowing him through and in Jesus. I get what you mean in your recent reply and I am reminded to re-evaluate my reasons for fasting.
I pray there will be more churches here in our country that preach about grace. I find it tough and confusing at times when I hear our leaders preach about grace mixed with law. And when I have questions, sometimes I find myself dissatisfied and disconcerted because answers contradict the things I’ve discovered about grace. It’s a challenge to learn to walk in the Spirit when your church that teaches faith still walk in the flesh for most part of their Christian life.
Thank you, Paul. I hope you will get a chance to visit and share about grace here in the Philippines.
Loving this new freedom I’m finding here Paul!
You said, “But Jesus also said he would come and make his home with us and he’s done that with his Holy Spirit. Do you see? Jesus is now with us, not taken from us. Do happy men fast?”
How come I never read it like that in my bible…..doesn’t matter, I have now ‘seen’ it now, and this is a happy day!
This blog of yours is Liberation City!
Didn’t actually see how old or new this post is, but wanted to weigh in on fasting. My husband and I have done a few fasts on our own, as well as one churchwide. Our personal ones are always during or leading up to big events in our lives (our son recovering from surgery, leading a life-changing small group).
For me, fasting helps me focus on God and on prayer. When I’m hungry or wanting to eat whatever it is I’m fasting, instead I talk to God. I am more dependent on him than my stomach. We also have seen results. Not that God is a vending machine, but if fasting helps me pray and connect to God more and prayer changes things, then why wouldn’t I?
A company came in and studied our church’s growth pattern and found two or three jumps in growth, each following major events in the church, one of which was the corporate fast. The church didn’t promote it as a way to be holy, but as a way to grow closer to God.
When we fast, we aren’t legalistic about it, either. If we go to a celebration or birthday party during our fasting time, we’ll have a piece of cake to show courtesy to our hosts, but be sure to pray as we eat it. I know God is with me and in me all the time, but I don’t always acknowledge Him. I know I’m His beloved child and saved by Grace and there’s nothing I can do to make Him love me more or less, but I don’t always take advantage of my blessings. It’s similar to the fact that the Church thrives in places of persecution because He is all they have. I can’t rely on food to make me feel good; I must rely on Him.
Or, to put it in the lens of grace, just replace “do Good works” with “fast”: I don’t fast because I’m supposed to or to make myself better in the eyes of God, I fast because I want to, because He loves me, because I get to feel close to Him.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Shelby. If fasting helps you to receive God’s grace or draw closer to him, then I would say go for it! I think perhaps we all need, from time to time, a change in our routines. It’s healthy to stick our heads above the rut and draw aside from the rat race. One of the ways to make time is to free up the many hours a day we spend eating or preparing to eat or cleaning the kitchen.
Hi Madz, I agree with you, and i guess we came from the same church. 😉 It’s frustrating hearing our leaders preach about grace mixed with law. Sometimes I wanted to stand up and tell them “that’s not right!” haha I really hope and pray that the grace – preacher would arise here in the Philippines.
Hey there, I actually messaged our Senior Pastor about it just now.
I mean, if we want to start grace revolution in Philippine churches, we have to call our church attention to it. I hope our Pastor replies. 🙂
Guys, I trust you will be gracious with your pastor about this. Everyone of us is on a journey and we’re all at different places in the Lord. Your pastor may not see things the same way as you. What will you do then? For me, fasting, is not a big issue. Have the freedom to fast; have the freedom not to fast. But for some it is a big issue. I guess Paul’s words are appropriate: don’t let your freedom become a stumbling block to others (1 Cor 8:9). Love is what counts.
Hi Madz, oops I didn’t expect that. I agree with you Paul. For me, the best thing to do here is to pray for our Leaders, Pastors and country. And let’s do everything in love. 😉
Susan, I love that, “This blog of yours is Liberation City!” My sentiments exactly. Brilliant blog
I agree with #2. Good word. The way I have practically walked out “denying my flesh” is to say, I am dead to that sin (when my flesh is wanting to go that way) because when Jesus died to sin, I died to it. I’m reckoning it so. Or I’ll say, that’s not me (to sin). The real me is the born again me which is righteous and truly holy. I believe our flesh wants to live for God and the Spirit wants to live through us, thus we become witnesses of His life in us.
Man, you nailed that one shut!! I’ve been thinking about this for a while too – if you take up a cross – where do yo go with it, in a then-contemporary Roman-occupied territory? If you are seen carrying a cross in Judea 2000 years ago, where would people think you are going? That’s right – the place of crucifixion!! Jesus says – follow me to the place of … crucifixion!! To the place of death. When you do that – you get crucified, and die. Cross wasn’t meant to be carried through life, it’s not a wristwatch, it was meant to be picked up and be walked with on a short and straight path to the place of death.
What’s interesting – crucifixion is the only death that can NEVER be self-enacted – you can shoot, burn, drown, or hang yourself, but you can never, ever crucify yourself. If you think through the mechanics of it, it’s not humanly possible (even if you an acrobat shot full of anesthetics – who’s going do drive the last nail into the dominant hand?) So you have to rely on someone else for that type of death. You can BE crucified by someone, but you can never die to self through that death. There’s no room for self-effort here at all, God didn’t leave us that option, he never intended to.
Thank you again!
before Jesus saved me i was like a box of broken junk that i desperately wanted to throw away. i tried to do it by myself but i couldnt. when Jesus found me He just picked me up and dumped me out. at first i thought we were going to go through the dumped out trash to find things that could be fixed… but after a while He smiled at me and showed me that He had personally filled my box with wonderful new things. for me “dying to self” is digging through the box of new things instead of raking through the rubbish pile…
That’s lovely, Jennie.
I love hearing the alternative views on so many subjects that I have heard preached only legalistically all my life. I hear self-denial taught in terms of self-deprivation, as is mentioned in this article (in terms of its possibly being the wrong interpretation). Close kin to this teaching is the idea of making our bodies a living sacrifice, per Romans 12. I just heard in a sermon that God wants us to ‘wear ourselves out’ serving Him. I have to admit, I felt dismayed, as I always do when I hear sermons about a harsh, demanding God. I was dismayed because I have been wearing myself out in the work of the church for years, and the stress of it is one of the things contributing to health problems that have been grinding me to a halt of late. I believe in being busy in the work of the Lord, if we are doing so out of a joyful desire to be part of Him and the wonderful things He does. But I think there must be a distinction. The ideas of self-deprivation for God and sacrificing health and sanity sound to me like practices dangerously close to self-flagellation. That is scary to me.
Thank you for sharing your story, it reminds me of my own testimony. May your health be fully restored as you delight in Jesus and His beautiful grace! -3 John 1:2
What comforting words, LJP. Thank you for the blessing! May you be blessed yourself!
Interesting discussion here… My hubby and I have been on this ‘grace’ journey ourselves and while I for the most part love and agree with your GRACE message, Paul… I think we arrive at our conclusions differently. Have you ever considered that ALL scripture is For us but not all scripture is To us or About us? We are living in this grace dispensation today and have no need to reconcile all Jesus’ teachings with Paul’s. They were for Israel largely and upon their rejection of Him as King… He used Paul to be an apostle to the Gentile world and save the whole world by grace alone, through believing in His shed blood for our sins on the cross. We’re all forgiven now… but not all believe it or accept this free gift. It was the mystery God had planned all along…lavishing His grace on us, unprophecied in scripture. While we can get much spiritual application in all scripture, we should go to Paul’s teachings today for our doctrine. Just because it’s not red letters doesn’t mean Paul didn’t get the revelation of ‘the mystery’ from Jesus Himself! This clears so much up and makes scripture so much easier to interpret when you see the different ‘programs’ God has used in working with man and that today…. It’s GRACE alone. 2 Tim 2:15
I hear you Koby, and I have said much the same thing here and here. However, I am aware that some in the “grace camp” (we need a better label) dismiss the teachings of Jesus outright which is foolish and makes us look stupid to others. Context matters. Jesus preached law to those born under law but he also met many who weren’t under law. And often with the disciples he laid the foundations for the new covenant of grace. Nowhere is this more dramatic than in Luke 24:26-47.
I am curious as to the “many” that Jesus taught who were not under the law. Who were these folks? I can only come up with a few. (Samaritian woman at the well Jn.4 6-29 , Syrophenician woman Mk 7 24:30 , Centurion Lk. 7 1:10) These seem to be the exceptions and not the rule. (Mt. 15,24) Also, the new covenant was not void of law only the Holy Spirit power to obey this law perfectly because it is internal. Grace, as Paul explains it, is quite a different animal, not a product of promise or covenant but a completely new revelation that he received. This is quite different than Israel’s prophesied new covenant. (Jer. 31: 31-37 & Ez. 36 :26-27) I can’t see that we, The Body of Christ , are under any covenant just the riches of His grace. Any thoughts?
Jesus met at least one whole Samaritan village (John 4:40), possibly some Greeks (John 12:20-22), and spoke to the seven churches of Revelation.
There is only one new covenant forged in Christ’s blood. The grace of God is for everyone.
I spend 20 of my first 30 years as…
Please post testimonies on the page labelled Grace Stories. Thanks.
Many ‘religions’ teach and preach “dying to self”. Buddhism, Taoism etc etc. are all Satan’s counterfeits which teach ‘enlughtenment and salvation’ by self effort, or dying to self … basically salvation by works. Taking up the cross daily is easily explained by the Word … the Scripture interprets Scripture. Here is the meaning: He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it, Matthew 10:39. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. Mark 8:35. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Luke 9:24 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. John 12:25
All four Gospels say how to take up your cross daily … and the main scripture encapsuling these four is John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
If you are truly born again, you have already died. If you are born once you’ll die twice, but if you are born twice you’ll only die once.
Hmmm Josh, interesting. Scripture does interpret scripture but many believe that he that findeth his life shall lose it to mean, self denial of all that we truly are and desire and to live like hermits or nuns, for real, thats how I was taught, and many others. Thats why blogs like these are important, a great forum for discussion and learning truths from the word, (Christ). God bless Paul man. I have much respect for anyone that preaches or teaches radical grace.
Hi Josh, just a little back ground on “born again” you may want to research and confirm.
Jesus is recorded once saying,”you must be born again”. And he said these words to a Pharisee. Did you know that Pharisees are first born son’s? And all first born son’s are ultimately liable for the debts of their 2nd 3rd 4th…10th born brothers, which regardless of their order are all called 2nd born.
Have a look through scripture a note that justice was demanded of the first born while “second” born siblings received mercy. This accounts for the 1st born receiving a “double portion” when an inheritance was being allotted. . . they were going to need it.
Jesus has become the first born and we who will receive him are all now 2nd born, or as Jesus says to Nick “born again”,Born again to receive mercy and not the obligations of justice.
Jesus’ words, spoken to a Pharisees have been spoken without that context into our religious minds. As you say “those who are born again die once”, because Jesus took on himself our justice.
All sounds way too Gracious, maybe even Hyper-Gracious
But wouldn’t the “denying yourself” is usually related to resting on the sabbath. and on our new covenant sabbath is entering the rest that Jesus purchased for us.
so denying yourself would mean: resting in the righteousness of Jesus and denying yourself of the righteousness that comes from self-effort.
I do believe there is a place for fasting and prayer, the disciples and apostles all fasted and prayed as recorded in acts and not once were they told not to do so. This is after the Holy Ghost was given and according to Titus, works are profitable Afro all men. Not for salvation but to bear fruit. If I am to believe and follow, Christ. If I believe in the grace, action takes place, I begin to rend to that grace and do things that are profitable. Not the earn salvation but for edifying, witness,and basic obedience to my Savior Jesus Christ. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus saves us through grace, but I also believe I will live differently and respond as He speaks to my heart. Fasting is important at times and should not be dismissed. Be careful of confusing works and the motives. Works for salvation definitely get you no where, works for Jesus such as sharing the gospel, praying, etc because you love Him and just want your life to reflect that is profitable and biblically sound. Read all the scripture and study it fully before striking out on the words of one man.
Hi L Stevens
If you believe Jesus is not with you then you may get some benefit from fasting , As Jesus said while he is away we may mourn. But for me he is so close he is a part of me, I am constantly in his presence and the Holy Spirit is continually witnessing and reminding me of him.I feel no need to fast.I relentlessly pursue his promises.
Wow!!!! This is seriously wonderful; I may sound like a scratch record but truly, you deserve thanks and gratitude for the way you present truth.
The first interpretation reminds me of the traditional way of thinking; or was taught to think lol. How ever, I ended up thinking, I can’t do this Jesus so I don’t care cuz, I don’t think anyone can 100%. I am glad to think that way too. So yea, “Pharisaical self-righteousness and DIY religiosity,” haha, ( love the way you put that). And asking my friends “to crucify you for the Easter parade is hilarious lol. Love the humour.
Yes and Amen, Christ never died for us to live like that, “he died that we may have life and have it more abundantly.” Thank you for the 2nd interpretation, brilliant; and constantly affirming with scriptures that we have died with Christ. Every paragraph of the 2nd interpretation is filled with truth, love, promise, hope, desire, I could go on. It just melted my heart. I cannot thank you enough but this is by far, one of your best works on here. God bless you, you are soooooooooooooo blessed.
Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank you for Paul, I thank you he is well favoured and blessed as he goes about blessing others and I thank you that you will fulfil all the desires of his heart; thanks to Christ, in Jesus name, Amen
dont get to excited fifi you might float away to……….ps dont hold back fifi. haha
ok the more I read the more i get from it ,im getting lighter,I might just float away, which if you’ve seen me is not a easy task.I have to quote martin luther [i must hear about GRACE everday lest I forget.
Isaiah prophesied about the fast of the New Covenant in 58:6-7, which Jesus Himself fulfilled. It’s basically about breaking the yoke of the law for righteousness. In Matthew 6, Jesus told the Pharisees (hypocrites) that when they fast, to make sure they did it in secret and not to be noticed by men. Paul commented above that the only fast commanded was for the Day of Atonement. Since Christ IS our eternal atonement and His crucifixion meant obliterating and nailing the law of commandments to the cross in His flesh (Eph. 2:15, Col. 2:14), then our fast is to make sure we continue to have the mindset that sets the captives free from the law. We are being instructed to die to the law DAILY (same word for day)…which means we should no longer be judging one another, but rather showing Grace to all. We are all living in the Day now, because the night (darkness) has passed away (Rom. 13:12; 1 Th. 5:5). The “acceptable DAY” (Is. 58:5, 61:1-3)…which is the true meaning of the fast and which also means also means the day of favor…would be to make sure we are in agreement with our eternal atoning sacrifice – the Lamb of God who was slain for the forgiveness of sin.
Thank you again, Paul, for enlightening us with the Truth!
Thanks Gail, that’s a neat insight.
Jesus said “take up your cross” before there was a cross. Would these words not baffle his disciples? Was that a common idiom that already existed and had a readily understood meaning? I never got a sense that the disciples even had a clue that Jesus was going to be nailed to a cross…
There were many things Jesus said that did not make sense except in hindsight. On one occasion Jesus plainly told them he would be betrayed and crucified, “But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it” (Mar 9:32).
What beautiful insights. I love adding all these new facets. The one I have is that there is only one cross that has a blood worthy to save, and so the cross He is referring to is actually His cross. It is written, “the one who joins himself to the Lord is one Spirit with Him.” (Corinthians) Being co-heirs with Jesus, what is His is ours. He often gives an object lesson in an acted out type. So when Simon of Cyrene co-carried the cross, yoked together with Jesus, Jesus did all the painful part but Simon was to reap the benefits. Simon means ‘hearing’ from the Hebrew ‘shema. ‘ Related words are ‘shammah’ (to guard, keep protect, hedge about as in Adam asked to shammah the garden in Genesis) and ‘shem’ which means name. So taking up the cross means to guard and keep the finished work of Jesus as our only means of righteousness and to yoke our hearing to teachings that glorify and reveal Christ in the liveliness and power of His finished work…
Thanks for your comment. Please check out E2R’s Comment Policy and keep future comments short. I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but long comments stifle discussion.
I’m sorry for stifling the discussion. It ‘s my first time commenting in the blog. I have counted the words posted and there are 176, so I’m well under the 250 limit. I don’t remember having too many more sentences than this. I did read your commenting policy first but didn’t individually count every word when I first posted. I just eyeballed the number of rows compared to other longer posts and it seemed shorter than many. Sorry for being too wordy. Those of us newer to this are still learning how to put abstract thoughts into words but my heart was in trying (evidently poorly) to cast a pearl of great personal price to me. Personally I was longing for encouragement and to test the thoughts themselves upon the wisdom of the mature believers here so I could know if the thoughts were off the mark or not.
Love your blog. Have visited your site 2 times so far and am learning a lot. Grace is beautiful.
This comment doesn’t focus on the topic directly, so fell free to disregard.
No problem Lisa. The discussion threads here are rather focused, so a good way to test your thoughts is to post them on E2R’s Facebook page.
I consider my original post to be very on focus on taking up the cross daily. That there is only one cross that works – namely His – and that the cross referred to by Jesus is actually His own. He has made us co-heirs of His cross. He did the brutal part, our part is to take up the blessings and benefits so He can be rewarded with the joy of seeing us prospered. What point is there in me setting up camp with my own personal little cross etc. The shedding of my human blood can achieve diddly squat. I’m no self-savior. I was crucified WITH Christ.
I don’t do Facebook. Not everyone adores it.
you have a refreshing way of making old verses new again!
Good day all, I am in the process of studying “a” bible, I say “a” because there are many interpretations of the bible. In my search there is much about reading the most accurate bible and a few of the sites I came across indicate to study THE KING JAMES VERSION alone with other like the NIV or the NLV to get a cross section of each version. To contrast the three mentioned, one of the sites indicated another bible I won’t mention from a specific religious group indicate the term Jesus is a God, rather than Jesus is LORD. With that indication I want to be sure I am reading the most accurate interpretation, for in the bible it states no should take away or add to the word of God. Please let me know. Thank you, God Bless one and all.
Asking which is the most accurate translation is like asking which is the best car. All translations have their pros and cons and are useful at different times. I know many revere the KJV and I certainly like it. But it has some absolutely howlers in it. Conversely, many dislike the NIV and I am not unaware of it’s many faults. But it’s written English is easy to grasp.
My recommendation? Get e-sword and read in many translations when studying the scriptures. And for your bed time reading, use the translation you are most familiar with. The best Bible is the one you actually read, not the one everyone recommends but stays unread on your bookshelf.
I would only say stay away from the New World Translation……far away.
I love my KJV but I also like a few other versions too as well as really dislike some versions. Lord simply means master or boss while God of course means “the” God. They are all terms used by various authors for a name or title for God. The bible is full of many different names and titles for the big guy. It is safe to say that He answers to all of them. It is not adding or subtracting anything to not get a name or term perfect. Adding or subtracting is changing the message of scripture. If it really were about terms translating into any language but Hebrew and Greek would be a sin because some words have no exact equivalent.
bfourreal, what is the reason you would stay away form NWT? For instance I understand a certain bible states Jesus is a God not thee God, so I am wary of translations that are not accurate or sound, as it is taught not to add or take away from the gospel. Please tell me.
Sure. The New World Translation was done specifically to conform to the doctrine of the Jehovah Witnesses. There are too numerous erroneous errors to list here but if you do some research you can discover for yourself. And while I understand that there are many different versions today, the NWT is the only one I have ever said not to read. One example would be John 1:1. Since the JW’s do not believe that Jesus is not God they have translated the verse to read “a god” in order to conform to this belief. Hope this helps….
it does thank you
Telling everyone just what they want to hear is defamatory to what Jesus was teaching.You were a pastor once,why did you stop.Jesus said whoever believes in the Son will have eternal life not whoever believes in the cross.The devil believes but believing is useless without heeding the words of Jesus Christ and doing them James 2:19.1John 2:4,if he doesnt do what Christ tells to he is a liar.The cross is positional, relationship and doing is responsible.John 14:24-Anyone who doesnt obey me doesnt love me. If I employed someone but then he doesnt obey my instructions what then?
I agree, if God is your employer you should act like a good employee. I tried to live that life until it nearly destroyed me (James 2:10). That’s why Jesus had to fulfill the law in our place, because none of us are capable of doing it. God’s intention in the new covenant is for us to be sons and daughters who can receive from our Father freely (Rom 4:4). Trying to deserve and earn good employee status is contrary to the nature of a loving Father/son relationship (Gal 4:7). No one is saying, “run out and sin and do whatever you want” (Rom 6:14). But what is being said is all of your sin – past, present, and future was put on Jesus at the cross (2 Cor 5:21, Heb 10:14). Now you receive His righteousness by faith, not by behavior as it was (and never achieved) in the old covenant (Rom 4:5). Paul(Ellis) has some really good posts that give detailed explanations for some of the verses you quoted that I believe would be a blessing to you, as it was to me. The greatest blessing I’ve ever known is to discover the grace of our heavenly Father revealed to us in the life of His Son Jesus (John 1:17).
Also in response to Rene – I have a background different than these Radical Grace people. But, over this last year I’ve read their stuff and found what I believe is the Pearl of Great Price for which I would trade everything I have. I now believe this message is essentially accurate and correct. I feel I can no longer go on without this message that is espoused in escapetoreality.com and other similar sites, sermons, etc. I also have a blog now, too, that chronicles the last 8 months of my transformation.
Because of this message, at age 60 I have returned to the joy I experienced as a child, living a wonderful, carefree childhood life. And the blogs are filled with people just like me who have ended a many-decade life with depression/anxiety/exhaustion and swiftly have grown into something similar to ecstacy. I have carefully considered the 9 “fruits” of the Spirit listed in Galations. And all 9 of them have grown effortlessly and hugely in my life in the last year. I’m not even trying! Rene you have to believe me on this one. I didn’t come from this background, either. I feel like I’ve been born again…again. I’d be happy to correspond further. Why would I care? It’s all I care about anymore.
If someone who was skeptical were to spend 30 minutes reading the comments on the various radical Grace blogs, he/she will see clearly that those who have embraced this message express MUCH more peace, joy, etc. than those who mix works into their Gospel – more mainstream Christian views. It’s a clear difference in the comments. Not even close when you compare.
Have you ever in your life spoken to anyone who DARED to claim that he had actually found that Pearl of Great Price that Jesus spoke of in His parable? I have found this Pearl. Perhaps you’re interested in reading how this happened. Perhaps you can find it. But me saying that to you may offend you. Eh?
i agree BETTER,the freedom is great,now im still getting in trouble even with family members,but thats the way it rolls.
God is fortunately not your employer but your Father, The relationship is not based on your performance, your bad performance has not made him a bad Father , just the opposite is true his awesome performance through his Son in spite of you has forever made him an
unequaled Father.,enabling him to love you UNCONDITIONALLY.Unconditional relationships are open to abuse but I believe the that this relationship through Jesus has power over this abuse it is awkward you first have to accept what enables the abuse (unconditional love) Abuse is now putting conditions into the relationship by doing this you say that the love is not unconditional. What holds you in the relationship is God,s love not your performance.Your performance is a result of this relationship.
Hi Rene, if you grew up in a church that teaches mixture like I did, then I understand how crazy some of this must sound…but this is a great blog site to gain understanding! This is how I understand things now: Under the New Covenant, keeping His commandments means believing in the Name of the Son of God who gave Himself in exchange for us (which is His love manifested) and abiding in that love (Jn. 3:16, 13:34; 1 Jn. 3:23). His love is this: not that we love God, but that He loved us by sending His only Son to be the atoning sacrifice (propitiation-substitute) for our sins (1 Jn. 2:1-2, 4:10). The way I “do” His commandments is to abide in His love toward me. The way I love (continue to forgive/show grace to) others is completely dependent upon whether I have received His love (atonement of sin) for myself first. The reason the Father is able to love us unconditionally…not based upon anything good or bad we have done (Rom. 9:11-12,15; Tit. 3:4-7)…is because of His mercy shown through the exchange (reconciliation). We have been divinely exchanged with the Son of God who became flesh (as we are), so that we may become as He is in this world – righteous and holy in God’s sight (2 Cor. 5:18-21).
Therefore the Righteous Father is able to remember no more our sins and transgressions nor to impute them against us, because His Son was already punished for them (in our place) forever! (The Righteous One died for the unrighteous- all of us.) It’s about developing the mindset that knows the Father now sees me as His Son is and has made me joint-heirs with Him, so that I may no longer live in fear of punishment (Rom. 8:15-17; 1 Jn. 4:17-18). The wrong message/spirit mixes the law-wrath-judgment of God with Grace…hence we live with the idea that we must “do” something to earn His favor and to avoid punishment. I pray that the Lord will continue to reveal the Truth to you and to all of us that will set us free. [Sorry this is long!]
A very important role for teaching is saying what a verse doesn’t mean. Take up your cross doesn’t mean engage in ascetic practices to earn your way to heaven Col 2.23. This is ‘self-imposed religion’. What we need is a God-imposed response to ‘take up your cross’ and the Holy spirit will interpret its meaning. We should never stop resting in the finished work of Christ and we can only truly take up our cross and follow Christ if we are doing so. But when God does call us to some kind of self-denial we get repayment here on earth and in heaven Matt 19.29. We can say that because Jesus bore the cross I don’t have to bear the cross, but equally it is only because Jesus bore the cross that I can take up my own cross in a true and spiritual way. Forgive the paradox.
‘Carrying your own Cross’ is a very powerful piece of imagery that is at the core of our life as a true believer in Christ.
As Jesus was born a human and had faith in his Father for eternal life, he became obedient as a humble servant doing his Father’s will, even today. He carried his cross.
As we also are born human and have faith in Jesus for eternal life, we must also become obedient as humble servants doing Jesus’ will, which is also God’s will. We must carry our cross, as Jesus said.
Peter‘s response to the future of Jesus was an example of a non-believer who believed in his own human spirit (heart and mind), rather than the belief in Jesus’s words and God’s will.
We are to walk as humble servants for Jesus by being fully committed, without counting the cost of suffering, unashamed of him and his teachings, as we strive to do his will, without question, daily, hourly, even at every moment. Once we begin this ‘long’ walk of life with Jesus Christ, it is for eternal life, indeed!
All I have to do is be obedient like Jesus – sounds like quite a tall order. It also sounds like the Old Covenant. As long as I don’t mess up, me and God are ok. If all of the burden is on me to be a humble servant, fully committed, enduring suffering, striving to do His will – that kinda makes me God. I do everything Jesus did then I’m like Jesus. Did the cross accomplish anything? Is the message of the cross, if you get slaughtered and crucified like Jesus you’ll make it? I believe Jesus accomplished much more than just setting an example. He is our once and for all sacrifice (Heb 7:27). He removed our burden (Mt 11:28). He is our righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). He won our victory (Col 2:14,15). Amen!
The endless striving serves no purpose, but to get us to realize how dependent we are on the completed work of Jesus. When we quit striving we can receive HIS victory by HIS grace (Rom 5:17, 6:14).
LJP I have considered your comments and I want to response in kindness and clarity.
All I have said is supported by scripture – NT side and in line with carrying ones cross – under GRACE.
Christ, as our high priest, did take away our sins, and on the cross, as you have repeatedly said in most of cited scripture. Although, according to scripture, in order to realize our faith and trust in his work that it is real, to us and God, we must also demonstrate it by taking up our cross. Otherwise it means nothing. There is no OT/law concept involved here. No fasting, no special works instigated by our own efforts. These works ‘naturally’ flow from our new founded faith and trust in God and Jesus’ work as a consequence of embracing salvation. Does a believer do nothing to show their love in return to God and Jesus for their salvation? Do they wait for God to move inside of them without using their own spirit to converse with him? Salvation is not a one-time emotional event in life, it is a process that will end and be realized with our own resurrection. Until that time, we communicate with God to express this hope and faith today-show spiritual fruit.
The primary purpose of carrying our cross and walking in the spirit of life is to yield our own will to God through Christ, daily. Now, this takes some stimulus from us.
In Christ, and therefore God, always
henry, God’s will is that all would receive and experience the love that our Father has for us. Jesus came to reveal God as our loving Father – who loved us so much that He gave up a part of Himself to suffer on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to. it is God’s love for us – Jesus and His finished work – that is the core of our lives as true believers – who have been made sons of God in Christ
Hey Jenny, a quick reply…agree with your statements in general, although I do not see that they are on topic or they are all scripturally sound…it sounded like you want me to understand to a degree how to become a new Christian all over again…your response is not about carrying your own cross by denying yourself and more
Yes I do agree that as a Christian you know that Jesus Christ and his work on the cross is the center or core of our belief. Now we must walk (in a particualr way) as commanded by scripture….this is what my writings are all about, the ‘walk’ and in carrying our own cross to salvation (eternal life) – the topic of these blogs.
Not to get too heavy with you Jenny, you might want to check my responses with scripture yourself. It may surprise you. I could return another response with a list of scripture support if you want, although they will not mean anything if you do not evaluate them for yourself, for understanding.
In Christ always by the grace of God we are saved to eternal life.
actually, i was lovingly trying to say that God wants us to walk in the spirit of sonship, not as servants. the prodigal wanted to return home as a servant, but his father didn’t even let him get those words out… in fact, the father wanted his son to be the one who was served…
we live our lives by the Spirit of Christ. dying daily means living in the new way by His Spirit and not by the old way we did things before we were born again. there is no striving to live a certain way – we rest in the fact that it is Jesus who is living His life through us…
so then, just as you received Christ Jesus our Lord, so continue to live (or walk) in Him (col 2:6)
Henri, I hope you do not misinterpret my being direct as unkindness. If you could only hear my tone, I’m sure you would be most impressed by my charm. 🙂 It is possible to make a very Biblical case for man having to earn his salvation through works. The problem with going that route, however, is it requires a perfect man (Jas 2:10). In 6000 years of human history, we both know, there was only one perfect Man. Jesus came to fulfill the law in our place because we are unable to do so. What I see as common in mainstream Christianity is taking a mixture of law and grace. Since it doesn’t take long to realize we can’t perfectly keep the law, we need a little “grace fix” to get us going again. This mixture of law and grace is not at all Biblical (Gal 5:4, Rev 3:16). If we choose law, it should be the full strength law Jesus described in the sermon on the mount. That high standard of law is meant to convince us we need full strength grace. When works are added to grace, it is no longer grace (Rom 11:6). Our walk with Jesus should continue in grace as it began (Col 2:6). When our heart is full of the grace and love of our heavenly Father, we naturally start acting like Him. Therefore, there is no need to stress our good works, only His good works (2 Cor 3:18). Thanks for taking the time to honestly consider these verses, as you said.
LJP: I really do not know where you got the impression that I said anything about earning salvation through any works, or good works. I really resent your insinuation. YOu need to be more careful in jumping to conclusions.
As I said before, We are to walk as humble servants for Jesus by being fully committed, without counting the cost of suffering, unashamed of him and his teachings, as we strive to do his will, without question, daily, hourly, even at every moment. Once we begin this ‘long’ walk of life with Jesus Christ, it is for eternal life, indeed!
These are works that we do is because we are being led by the spirit of God and not from human will..
We do not just sit around and ponder on our initial faith and trust when we came to Christ in the first place. We must now grow in our beliefs by ensuring our faith and trust in Jesus becomes bolder, our resistance to sin becomes much more forceful. We now take ‘meat’ instead of spiritual milk.
As Paul said…I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me. Our citizenship is in heaven..(Philippians 3:14, 20) There is work to be done in the right way and not the wrong way.
Let none of us get a big surprise and receive the fate of false believer who walked, not in spirit, but in flesh and with human will. (Philippians 3:18-19)
In Christ always, brother LJP
I’ll leave it there, Henry. I’m very sorry I unintentionally spelled your name wrong earlier.
Merry Christmas 🙂
salvation is a God maintained thing…………..1peter 1:23 For you have been born again, not of CORRUPTIBLE seed, but of INCORRUPTIBLE seed, through the living and enduring word of God…………..so although hard to understand in the human mind,we have to believe what he says.
henry,you say carry or cross to salvation,so you dont believe we are carrying or cross from salvation, a place of victory?
Earl: We have salvation because Christ lives (resurrected) (Romans 5:10) and therefore we have victory. This salvation and victory is realized today only by our faith as the spirit of God is within us, and shall not be a reality until, we, ourselves are resurrected when Christ returns. So the term ‘to’ (or even ‘for’) salvation is correct, and not the term ‘from’ salvation or victory; as we carry our cross in the walk of spiritual life towards (to) this goal of salvation, eternal life and therefore victory.
Again this goal of being completely dead to sin, in glory, and reborn (beginning as a new planted seed, as a new growing creature) shall only be realized when we are in our glorified spiritual body and in the Kingdom- (Colossians 1:27; Romans 6:8). Until that time, on this earth, we are to walk in the spirit with full reliance on the spirit all the times (if it were possible).
As scripture says, if we live in the spirit (of God through Christ) let us also walk in this spirit (Galatians 5:25; Philippians 3:3). We have no choice as true believers. And also, as scripture also says, as a servant of the Lord we must walk worthy in the chore(s) we are called to do (Ephesians 4:1). This work is from the Spirit of God, not from the hands of human will. We do this work in peace, love, humility, patience (fruits of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22) (Ephesians 4:2-4).
So no real victory over sin until we die and get a new body? Romans 6 is very clearly past tense when it comes to our inner man having been crucified with Christ on the cross.
Jesus came to bring us abundant life as fully accepted children of God. God didn’t just swap out one burden(law) for another(cross carrying) and now pretends there is no burden.
“Cross carrying” isn’t some kind of points scoring system where God grades us according to personal performance. This would be a mockery of everything Jesus did for us.
I guess what I am asking, is do you believe,that the incorruptible seed is planted in us at our rebirth,and that that seed remains in us even if it does not grow,the way I understand what you are saying is your salvation is not safe, because you must maintain it somehow.
I guess a simple question would be,what is your take on eternal security?
I am more than convinced that we now no longer under condemnation and the immutable Spirit of God now dwells in me, and the cross we bare is the victory we have in Christ Jesus through His death and resurrection, its a shame that we dwell on our imperfections and not on what God is in us, the hope of glory.
we are no longer under the law, which is the power to sin, we are under grace and the burden is light as Christ promised.
Paul, I am new to your blog, but find it interesting and I intend to buy one of your books. I have been a Christian for a long time and I believe I understand the concept of God’s grace, but I am having some trouble understanding some things presented. My comments are more general in nature than specific to this blog.
For instance, I have a friend who loves the Lord and I know he does, but he also loves smoking weed and having sex with women who are not his wife. I know that is wrong, especially in light of scriptures like I Corinthians 5:9-11 which says, “I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.”
Isn’t the balance of a genuine Christian life, to put it loosely, the combination of God’s grace, which leads to life in the Spirit, which leads to overcoming the sins of the flesh? If i understand some of your writings that would be “mixing,” so I would love to hear more on the subject if you can direct me to another blog or hear from you directly.
BTW….I am only seeking truth in my life and I respect the same in your blogs.
Derrek you first need to read what you have just written .I have a friend who loves the Lord. Who claims to be a believer.I will leave it for you to work out you may find the truth that you are looking for, both quotes above are what you believe?
Maybe your friend has addictions that only radical grace can set him free of. I know Christians who are addicted to things too. That doesn’t mean they are not saved. It means the devil has a hold on them (as he does many Christians whose sins/addictions aren’t as obvious as your friends). He can still love God, and more importantly, be loved by God… madly loved. But he has a sickness, and Jesus’ grace (not condemnation) is the only cure. Could it be that he doesn’t want to keep doing these things, but doesn’t know how to overcome the addiction in his mind?
Definitely check out Joseph Prince, and testimonies of people listening to his ministry being freed from pornography, drug abuse, etc.
I do not know how to interpret the scriptures you referenced. But I do know that God still loves him, and he says nothing can separate us from that love. Not even blatant sin, and consuming addictions.
Derek, your friend is sadly mistaken. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” Can you imagine him saying (after the cross and resurrection), “Now you don’t have to keep my commands?” Of course not. Although we are not saved by works, we are created to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10).
Those who follow Christ will bear his fruit. Those who do not, will not. Beware of those who rely on grace as an excuse for sin. (Romans 6:1 ff).
Take up your cross daily refers to us denying our own abilities in our religious minds, to be holy enough for a holy God. I am holy enough to God only when I come to Him through the blood of the cross. I take up the cross daily in that regard as I still have the nature of sin and will until I walk by sight. Pastor Paul W.
Looooooooool, u are so funny Paul. Like the sense of humor. Such a great delivery of this subject. You be surprise how many still think this way. For me, excellent and necessary message. Fasting is good to strengthen ur faith in God/ Christ finish work. I love it when the Holy Spirit lead me in to a number of fast. It’s better that way and easier than to lead urself. Preachers use to feel that to be more holy and to cast out certain sickness, you must pray and fast. This is from the biblehub,com “And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. 21″But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Fasting is to help our faith, that at times can be wishy washy.It’s not to be holy or heal the sick. No one should enter a 40 day fast unless the Holy Ghost leads it. It’s not necessary, Christ done it for us. If anyone is confused with certain scripture, please ask the Holy Spirit to interpret; then believe, trust and expect him to answer you. Then rest, not considering our sins will block the answer for we must reckon ourselves dead indeed. Nice work Paul
Paul, I want to seriously thank you for something: The web page you put up with scripture references for everything you have written about. Without exaggeration this is a huge resource, and I am unaware of anything remotely like it. My pastor preached on Luke 9:23 tonight and left me feeling somewhat disqualified since it seemed like there was so much I needed to do. How could this possibly help me, except to tell me to try harder (!!). So what did I do? I came home and pulled up this page and read what you had to say about it, and now I’m ok.
You are the best. Know that what you do is impacting lives. Please don’t ever stop!
Thanks for the feedback. Compiling that Scripture Index was like building the pyramids of Egypt (almost), so I’m glad you’re getting something out of it.
I used to be part of the “grace camp,” but then I had to deal with Scripture.
I would not call this heresy, but it borders on it.
Yes, we WERE crucified with Christ. That is an absolute fact. Yes, we are sanctified. Yes, we are reconciled to God solely on the basis’ of Christ’s work. No, there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
At the same time, we, as Christians, are called to a real experience of what is already true. Although it is absolutely not necessary for salvation, we are called to undergo a crucifixion of our own, since we are already crucified. We are to be imitators of Paul, who is an imitator of Christ.
This article makes a COMPLETE mockery of saints such as Madam Guyon, Watchman Nee, and thousands upon thousands more.
When we deny ourselves and crucify our lusts and sinful passions, we are undergoing a crucifixion which then allows Christ to live his life through us. It is at this point when we become image-bearers of God, which is his eternal purpose..
How can a new creation – someone with the mind of Christ – have sinful passions? Temptations, sure, but they are not me. You don’t crucify a temptation any more than you crucify a sin. Paul says we reckon ourselves dead to such things and alive to Christ. If you are battling your sinful passions, then you’re dancing with a dead man. Better to leave the old guy in the ground.
Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I already agree with certain aspects of your statements; I’m going to chew a bit on the others.
When you say that change is effortless sometimes i wonder what change you mean. Paul im appalled what i’m made to do. Im told that god helps the helpless but i need to help as well as the solution. But jesus already solved this.
Hi Matthew, please don’t give up on the grace message just yet. You were quoting from Gal. 5:24. I used to read it the way you do, but now I see it in an entirely different light. First of all, it does not say “sinful passions.” “Passions” here is actually the Greek word Pathema, which means sufferings (the sufferings of sin). It is related to our English word, pathology (the Logos of suffering). It is the exact same word used in Romans 7:5, and which after intensely studying it, I now read it to say: “For while we were in the flesh, the sufferings of sin, which were BY THE LAW, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.” For me, this explains why we still see death reigning. “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
About “lusts/desires” in Gal. 5:24…Rom. 7:7 clearly tells us it is by the law that we KNOW lust, or KNOW sin. So crucifying the flesh/dying with Christ means we have died to the law (the KNOWLEDGE or acknowledgement of sin) and to the sufferings (Pathema) of sin (Rom. 3:20; 7:4,5). His crucifixion was about nailing the law (the enmity) to the cross through His flesh (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14), and we can take up our cross by agreeing with what He did and no longer judging or holding ourselves accountable through the law. Living by the “flesh” is when you are trying to live according to the law, and that mindset is death (Rom. 8:6). It causes a person to become judgmental, prideful and boastful, which is enmity toward God. It is in opposition to living by the Spirit who was sent to convict us of righteousness through Christ. Thanks and God bless.
In regards to your interpretation of taking up our cross, how could Jesus have meant it that way if he hadn’t even died yet?
Hi Matt, the way I have come to understand these things is that, He is the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world. For me, this means He was the substitute victim for the sins of the world before time began, and He never meant for us to pay for our sins. It’s the same thing in Matt. 8:16-17, when it says He cast out spirits with the Word and healed all who were sick…to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, quoting Is. 53:4: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” And it goes on to say that He was “like a lamb led to the slaughter”…and that the punishment for our Shalowm was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. But He had not yet been wounded and crucified. Healing the sick beforehand was a demonstration that their sins were forgiven, even though His blood had not been visibly shed. That tells me it is something that was already accomplished…from the foundation of the world. He was showing what this new/eternal covenant for the forgiveness of sin looks like.
I think He appeared to reveal (through His death on the cross) what has always been. But the devil managed to veil this Truth from us, so it had to be brought to light again. The new covenant based upon His blood for the forgiveness of sin is an eternal (without beginning and end, that which has always been and always will be) covenant, which gives us eternal redemption. The idea of something being eternal is hard for me to wrap my head around, but I’ve come to accept that maybe God sees “time” differently than we do. These are some other scriptures that speak to this as well: Matt. 13:35; 25:34; John 1:1-14; 17:24; Rom. 16:25-27; Eph. 1:4,7; Col. 1:15-17; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 4:3; 9:12,26; 13:20; 1 Pet. 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8.
I really do appreciate the thoughtful and thorough response. However, I just don’t buy it. If Jesus were getting at what you are saying, he could have been a lot clearer. He refers to it as “your” cross. Not “his” cross or “the” cross. Watchman Née writes that there are essentially two aspects to the Christian life: fact and experience. For example, it is a fact that we have died with Christ. Now we are to experience that dying by picking up our cross. I’m fairly new to Paul’s teachings, and I really like a lot of it. But when he writes that we are not called to a life of self-sacrifice, I cringe.
I can see you are struggling with this, and that’s a good thing! Paul is so much more qualified to help you, and that’s what his articles are there to do. A lot of us are searching for Truth, which is what led us to this site.
The cross of Christ IS my cross. Through Him, I already sacrificed everything. All of His good works became my good works, but without any doing on my part. 2 Cor. 5:14,21 and Gal. 2:19-21 explain this to me, also Rom. 6:6-7, Heb. 10:10,12,14-18 and many other scriptures. He died once and for all, therefore ALL died. I don’t feel I have to bear my own cross, because for me that would mean I don’t believe His sacrifice is enough to erase all my sins. HIS cross has to become my foundational state of mind.
I think we have to get to that state of mind, which religion robbed us of. What gives me the most peace and confidence- that there are things I must “do” (self-sacrifice)…or that all the doing has already been accomplished and my sin debt is paid in full, regardless of any past or future sins and whether I ever do another good thing or not? Like Paul wrote in this posting, how do we ever know if we’ve denied ourselves (or self-sacrificed) enough? How can I fail if I’m already victorious through Him, apart from myself? It goes back to what state of mind we are under.
I think the Lord is telling us there is one state of mind-everlasting peace with God (through the free gift of justification of our sins)-which will actually produce good fruit without any effort or striving on our part.
powerful teachings!!. i will carry the cross of Jesus christ and follow him!!
When I read the “hard sayings” of Jesus, I get the impression more and more that these verses exist to cause us to check ourselves, or motives and our actions and evaluate them spiritually. It is possible for a true believer to apostatize from Christ, but that is not something that happens as a result of not living for Christ daily, but as a result of wicked rebellion and a choice to cease to trust in Jesus. No, taking up your cross and denying self is a way for us to continually do a self check, and for us to be sanctified. If we tried to do any of these things by simply choosing to do them, we would fail miserably. The burden is on Jesus to give us the power to do these things, but our part is in our choice to regard these things of God seriously and regularly. If I go a week, and do not take up my cross, do I forfeit my salvation? No, of course not, salvation is by grace and Faith, not by any effort of mine whatsoever. I do choose it, but Jesus does the work in me. Anyone trying to perform this segment of verse in the flesh would be miserable indeed.