Then said Jesus unto his disciples “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it (Matthew 16:24-25).
Crucifixion was a common Roman method of execution, and condemned criminals had to carry their crosses through the streets to the execution site. Jesus instructed His disciples then and now, if we follow Him, we will have to deny ourselves and take up our cross. To deny ourselves is to reject the things that would give us pleasures outside of the boundaries God has given us such as worldly pleasures that bring forth sin and death. Daily we have to focus on keeping our spirit from being contaminated with the things of the world. Careful in what we allow our ears to hear, watchful of the things that we place before our eyes even the people we associate ourselves with. Evil is always a presence and if we haven’t been connected with God in the Spirit, we will allow everything the world has to offer to come into our ears and our eyes as well as our wills. This is why the Apostle Paul instructed us through the Spirit of God not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may know what is good and acceptable, and perfect will of God. If our spirit hasn’t been engulfed in God’s Spirit, we will be conformed to the things of the world. This is the reason why so many people that are professing to be Christians are still living according to the world standards. As Christians, we are to resist being poured into the mold of the present things, value systems and conduct of this world. Jesus said, “We are in the world, but we aren’t of the world” meaning our spirits have been changed and the kingdom of God is living within our being. As Christians, we suppose to be representing God’s kingdom, not the kingdom of the world.
Some of the things professing Christians are watching and listening to are destroying them spiritually and because they have been conformed to the worlds’ way of thinking they don’t have an idea they are being destroyed spiritually. As Christians, we’re to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. The body includes our eyes, ears, nose, hands, and feet including our mind will and emotions which is our soul. Our eyes should be looking at things that if Jesus would appear we would be ashamed. Our ears should be in tune with what the Spirit is saying to us and not listening to things that are damnable. Nothing shouldn’t be going in our nose, but nose drops, our hands shouldn’t be touching and taking nothing that doesn’t belong to us. Our feet shouldn’t be taking us anywhere the Spirit of the Lord wouldn’t want to be. As Christians, Jesus should be Lord over our minds, wills, and emotions and as a Shepherd He will be the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. Jesus didn’t die so that we could continue to live a sinful lifestyle.
A cross indicates death, and as Christians, we should be dying daily to our flesh. Whatever we feed, that is what will be dominating us. Throughout the Epistle, we’re instructed of what to put on and what to put off. As Christians we must be prepared for whenever the adversary strikes and who he strikes through, we will not be tempted to react in an ungodly manner including not losing our faith. Christianity isn’t a bed of roses, but when we allow the trials and tribulations bring us closer to God, it will make us smell like a rose to the Father.