35 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.
Jesus has just preached that to come after Him, you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. What does it mean to take up your cross, or in this case, to lose your life for his sake and for the sake of the gospel? Most of us will never be called upon to physically die for Christ or for the sake of the gospel. Paul explains this concept to us Christians, about our death for Christ and being dead to sin in Romans, chapter 6. It is good to take the time to read that chapter.
A couple verses to note in particular in that chapter are;
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
-(note the symbolic nature of baptism by use of the word “like”), and-
Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Chapter 8 of Romans teaches us also that sin has no more power over the Christian. A Christian sins against God of his own free will and has no excuse, although even the excuse of an unsaved man won’t help him.
Paul himself says in another set of verses which I’ve mentioned earlier and which bear repeating;
1Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
So, in order to have eternal life, we lose our life in Christ and Christ makes us alive.
Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Christianity isn’t merely a Stoic-minded philosophy of good, moral living as many of our country’s Founding Fathers believed nor was or is Jesus a philosopher as former President Bush declared. Christianity is a dying to Self and living for Christ and Christ is God by whom the universe was created and by whom it is sustained as you can see by reading Colossians, chapter one.
In the BBC documentary about the 1900s entitled A Century of Self it was noted how the ideas of Sigmund Freud and his nephew, Ed Bernays, who invented modern advertising and public relations in 20th Century America, turned us inward, and, I would add, encouraged us to worship our flesh and ourselves. Before Bernays’ influence advertising was about what a product would do. After Bernays advertising was how using a product made you feel or what it said about who you were or your status.
Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
A century of Self had to do with the things we possess and, in reality, worship in place of God, and are taught are good. There are some idiots who actually think they can judge whether or not a person is saved by how neatly trimmed he keeps his lawn or how clean he keeps his car. I’ve heard that with my own ears.
Being a Christian requires that you die to self and live in Christ. Think about that the next time you look at yourself in the mirror or strut around like a peacock in your new glad-rags. Think about that the next time you get angry for not getting your “propers”. Think about that the next time you are tempted to look at pornography, read a romance novel, buy that bikini, or wear that muscle shirt to the grocery store. Think about that the next time you want to talk about someone else in your family or in the church family or obsess over money or gloat about how righteous you are.
Remember what Christ said about the things of this world that man holds up as good?
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Notice how the apostle John illuminates the things of the world we desire, the very things that Satan in the guise of a serpent tricked Eve over in Genesis 3.
1John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Inappropriate sexual obsessions, education, wealth, success, athleticism, worldly power, physical beauty, and all of the things that man holds in high esteem are just so much garbage with God. If you live for them, you will lose your life. If you life for Christ, you will live forever.
Instead of trying to make the gospel more acceptable by watering it down so you can enjoy your war, horror, action-adventure, romance, and western bang-bang-shoot-em-up movies, your porno, your violent athletic sporting events, your liquor, your cigarettes, your trips to the beach, your luxuries, and the unnecessary food that feeds your expanding waistline you better start thinking about what it really means to be a Christian. The Bible isn’t Emily Post’s Book of Etiquette and your faith is not here so you can just live a more respectable life in the eyes of the world.