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Denying Self and Bearing the Cross

(Mark 8:27-38)

Lesson 8 -- first quarter 2005
January 23, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Whom do you say Jesus is?

Is your life lost for Jesus and the Gospel?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

How we identify Jesus matters.

Part of identifying Jesus is recognizing Him for Whom He is -- God, Saviour, Lord, Christ, Jehovah. But that alone is insufficient. Another essential part remains -- personally accepting Who He is.

We cannot follow Jesus without giving up self.

Following Jesus requires that I quit following myself. But we must not confuse mere self-denial with following Jesus. Self-denial can easily become a substitute for following Jesus. We are called to deny self and follow Jesus. That involves living the Not I But Christ principle expressed in Galatians 2:20.

We gain by losing.

How ironic that we humans can strive so hard to attain personal purpose and fulfillment while avoiding the very path that would lead us to that goal. We don't want to waste our lives on purposeless emptiness, yet we tend to flinch from applying the only principle that will most assuredly make our lives worthwhile. Listen to it yet again: "Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35).

Life is a series of transactions for our soul.

Jesus asked a question which we must each take personally -- "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:37). Every day we make choices that directly answer the question. Alas, most of the time we don't view our choices as answering that question!

Questions and Responses

Why did Jesus not want them to tell others of Him?

The Father had a schedule for the Master's life. He also had a schedule for the life of each disciple of the Master. Eventually the time would come for Jesus to reveal Himself clearly, just as the time would come for the disciples to tell others about Jesus. But those points in the Father's schedule had not yet come. So after Peter identified Jesus as the Christ, the Lord "charged them that they should tell no man of him" (Mark 8:30).

Why would Jesus use such awful words to rebuke Peter?

Peter had unwittingly allowed himself to become a spokesman for the devil, insisting to Jesus that He consider a route that would not take Him to the cross. In addressing Himself to Satan, Jesus delivered a strong rebuke to Peter for contradicting Him and offering Him the option of some other alternative way.

How do we deny ourselves and take up our cross?

Choosing self-denial means making choices that refuse to indulge our own self. Christian self-denial takes our focus off our selves to place it on Jesus. We deny ourselves by daily putting Jesus first.

When your will crosses the Master's will and you opt to do His will, you have taken up your cross. When your value system and His cross each other and you choose His value system, you have taken up your cross.

Lose our lives?

Denying ourselves and taking up our cross can seem like such a waste of life, potential, and opportunity. Sometimes it seems more like a loss. And in such cases we may find ourselves yielding to the desire to prevent such a loss by opting to indulge our selves.

The only way to make the most of life and its potential and opportunity is to follow Jesus. He will give us an abundant life. But He will do so only if we deny ourselves and take up our cross. In other words, "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).

Is Jesus against our making any sort of material gain in this life?

Jesus is against pursuing and using material gain for self-focused purposes. He is against exchanging our souls for material gain. That happens when we compromise any Biblical principle in our acquisition and disposition of material wealth.

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