The Lord spoke plainly about how true Christians must live their lives if they wish to be part of His kingdom. “Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:24-27). Yet, I must take the first place in line of those who struggle with this command on a daily basis. The spirit of this world, to include the weakness of our flesh, cause constant distraction from what is Godly. James wrote, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your proud intentions. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, whoever knows the right thing to do, yet fails to do it, is guilty of sin” (James 4:13-17).
Many claim to know Jesus, but only a few are in truth His followers. Therefore, the majority of those who claim to know Him will be told in the end very plainly by Jesus, “Depart from me I never knew you.” They will argue, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Didn’t we become members of the local church, sing songs to You on Sunday’s, sign up for different ministries to serve You, and let some people know that we were Christians? The reply from Jesus will be the same, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23). Therefore, how can we know that we are part of the few and not the many? “By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:3-6).
Therefore, where we place our focus as we live each day is what concerns the Lord. The truth is that we all sin from time to time and feel guilty and separated from God because of our sin. Yet, we must not be naive in thinking that we can use this as an excuse to go on sinning; we need to repent and seek to be a good and faithful servant! We are told to pick up our cross daily, and yet how many people think this simply means weekly attendance at a local church, reading the bible, and praying for what we want. Taking up your cross goes much deeper than these things. It means truly serving the kingdom of heaven every day, listening to and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, fellowshipping with our brethren, and praising and worshiping the Lord through song and prayer each day. We need to be on guard daily. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Therefore, how should we live? “Since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. When you lived among them, you also used to walk in these ways. But now you must put aside all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all and is in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive any complaint you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:1-16).
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