Why I Choose To Follow Christ

Why (at 24 years old) did I make such a decision and continue to follow Him today (no matter what the world does or how difficult it might be at times)?

(3 reasons): 1) what I knew about myself, 2) what I knew about the world, 3) what I knew about the future.

 

What I knew (and continue to know) about myself = It didn’t take me long to realize that I was (and would continue to be without Christ) a slave to my feelings/emotions with very little (if any) power or ability to free myself from them.

1.1.I hated being controlled by them because I saw how depraved, deceitful, and destructive they were.

1.2. I saw how they affected my ability to determine truth, make wise decisions, or have right relationships with others. I was a deaf, dumb, and blind crazy person that operated no differently (if not worse) than an animal.

1.3. I observed that this was true of others as well. Even the best pagan people were selfish animals being driven to do what they did by how they felt. And most of what they felt (or what drove them) was shameful and disgusting (e.g., 98% of men and 73% of women watch pornography – a habit that not only promotes the worst of crimes – the sexual abuse and exploitation of others [including rape and child molestation] but also destroys the most important relationship on the planet- marriage).

1.4. In short, what I realized about myself (and still know to be true to this day) is that self (myself as well as every other human) is out of control if left to themselves.

1.5. Contrary to popular belief, human beings are not naturally good. They are naturally selfish and self-serving (and that to a fault). And by “self-serving” I mean serving the desires of their flesh (no matter how shameful or destructive that may be to others).

1.6. I realized THAT. And (once more) that I possessed very little power to fight it. And that scared me b/c it meant I was capable of the worst of things.

1.7. BTW: it didn’t take being in the world or experiencing sin or the sinful world to REALIZE THAT. All it took was being honest about myself –what I knew was inside me and what I knew was inside others (e.g., psychological research now suggests that everyone either has some form of a mental disorder or will develop one later in life).

1.8. God’s Word confirms this to be true (of me as well as every other human being) (Deu 28:28; Ecc 9:3; Jer 17:9; Rom 7:18-19; Joh 8:34; Eph 2:3, 4:17-19; 1Pe 3:3, 4:3; 2Pe 2:12; Jud 1:10)

1.9. SO THAT is the FIRST REASON I chose (and continue) to follow Jesus. B/C of what I knew about myself.

1.10. This means that WHAT Jesus saved me (first and foremost from) was myself – from being controlled by my flesh- my feelings/emotions. As I gave (and continue to give full control of my life) to Him, He continues to give me power over my flesh so that I am no longer its SLAVE.

1.11. As a result, He saved me also from the shameful, foolish decisions I would make without Him and from the damage I would do to myself, others (and most importantly, God) if I were still in control.

1.12. Hence the reason it has NEVER been a problem to let Him be the BOSS and run my life.

1.13. I am afraid of myself. I don’t trust myself with my life. I know the narcissist I WAS —AND would be if I were running things. I also know how stupid I am. I can’t think straight.

1.14. Left to myself (or my feelings/emotions) I will deceive myself into thinking something is right when it is wrong, that something is safe when it is dangerous. I am (therefore-AGAIN) deathly afraid of myself (my thinking, my desires, my heart).

1.15. And so, I let GO of ME twenty-seven years ago and GAVE full authority (and all decisions) to Jesus because HE is the only One who truly knows what’s true, what’s best, and what path will keep me from destroying me (both now and for eternity).

1.16. I have put my hand to His plow and will never look back (especially seeing how great it has been since I did that. It is the best decision I ever made).

1.17. God’s Word also confirms this to be true for me as well as every other human being who follows Jesus – who gives Him full control of their lives (Joh 8:36; Col 2:3; Rom 8:1-4; God’s Word also teaches me how to properly view my emotions/feelings: not as my guide in this life [feelings don’t think and are often sinfully wrong – Jer 17:9] but as my “check your brain” light –or better yet, “what would OT JESUS do?” light).

 

What I knew (and continue to know) about the world = The world I grew up in seemed to have a better sense of reality and morality than the one we are living in now. But even back (then) I could see that putting my hopes in this world would be a losing decision. Not simply because it was filled with crazy narcissistic, perverted people, but b/c of what a world filled with those kinds of people creates.

2.1. It creates a world where lying, manipulation, greed, and selfishness are commonplace. A world where the idea of two people getting married and staying faithful to each other for the rest of their lives was already becoming unpopular.

2.2. Today, such thinking (or faithfulness to anything for the sake of faithfulness) is now viewed as weakness or (even) “sin” since the one thing now considered most important is that a person be “always happy.” Nothing can be pursued (or sacrificed) unless there is an immediate reward (or happiness).

2.3. And if lying, manipulation, greed, and (an utter selfish attitude) is what is required to achieve such happiness, then so be it (“the ends justify the means”).

2.4. Self-fulfillment or self-happiness are the chief goal of every human being (according to the world), and nothing should ever trump.

2.5. The irony in all this is THAT this SAME WORLD (where this is the chief goal) is ALSO a world filled w/very unhappy, unfulfilled people—PEOPLE who are disturbed, depressed, and stressed.

2.5. AND if you don’t see that, then you either haven’t been looking –or very honest about what you are looking at.

2.4. Allow me to provide some data that might help: 1) the divorce rate for new couples is almost 70% (IOW: the most sacred of all human relationships, is more likely to fail than succeed. Every 13 seconds there is one divorce in America), 2) more than 40% of those in marriages will have a physical sexual relationship w/a person who is not their spouse (so beyond just watching porn –which includes 98% of the men in the world and 73% of the women, one or both spouses will also have an adulterous affair), 3) therapists now counsel people to consider divorcing their spouses for reasons other than infidelity, the biggest reason: you believe your spouse is keeping you from achieving all of your happiness or self-fulfillment goals, 4) ethics/morality (right and wrong) are now considered a sociological construct –meaning what determines those things is what the majority of people (or culture) thinks at any given time. Hence the reason homosexuality that was at one time viewed as a mental illness is now considered acceptable (because this is now what the majority of people think), 5) Every day 132 Americans commit suicide (most of those doing it are from the middle to upper class) IOW: these are not poor people killing themselves because they are poor. It is people who live comfortable lives in this world but are so unhappy w/their lives in this world, they would rather die, 6) 37 million Americans are on anti-depressants and 40 million see psychotherapists (because this world is so great), 7) 37% of all managers in American companies tell at least one lie a week to bosses or their employees for the purpose of getting ahead or getting someone to do something they otherwise would not do if told the truth.

2.5. So that’s the world (and Evangelicalism. Believe or not, but the numbers among their group are not much different than those of the world). And as I said, I saw that early on and knew there had to be something better.

2.6. God’s Word confirms this to be true (2Ti 3:1-5; here’s what else the Bible says about the world – 1Jo 5:19 w/Joh 8:44 – Satan is the “father of lies”).

2.7. Following Jesus meant I could leave all the world (and its evil untrustworthiness behind) for a better community or world – a heavenly one, b/c through Him I would gain citizenship in His Body and heavenly outpost on earth –the church:

2.7.1. A place where things operate according to the objective truth. Not something that changes based on how people feel or what they want to be truth, BUT something I could build my life on, something that would withstand the trials and temptations to come.

2.7.2. A place where there will be justice/equity—which means wrongs are made right, the guilty are punished and the innocent protected (versus the world, where people are constantly taken advantage of, and people get away with it).

2.7.3. A place where I would have the best kind of family: people loyal not only to Christ and one another but also WHO can speak real truth and wisdom into my life (because its coming again from God’s Word and not their feelings or personal biases).

2.7.4. A place where there is faithfulness and fidelity (no matter the cost)

2.7.5. A place (lastly) where I could expect to find something better than happiness. A place possessing joy — a much deeper and persevering feeling than happiness –one that doesn’t leave when things get tough because it is not dependent on circumstances. It is instead rooted in the relationship we have with God and knowing that He loves us and is bringing only what is good for us into our lives.

2.8. Following Jesus gave me what the world never can (or could) – a righteous community of people I could trust my life w/.

2.9. Which is the second reason (then) I chose to follow (and continue to choose to) Jesus. In His BODY (the church) I found my forever home (a home safe from the wiles of the devil and the wickedness of the world).

2.10. As before God’s Word confirms what I just said (Eph 2:6; Phi 3:20; Rom 8:28, 14:17).

 

What I knew (and continue to know) about the future = I knew life had to be ABOUT MORE than just looking for fun and wasting time.

3.1. I knew we (as humans) had a purpose and that whatever the future held (both in this life and the one to come) it would be directly tied to (or determined) by what I did in the present.

3.2. The world (especially today) does not have a plan past this life (and in many cases doesn’t even recommend a plan for anything past the present).

3.3. It’s all about living in the now (and having as many experiences as possible).

3.4. Which really begs the question, WHY do anything more than just party all the time and make sure I am getting this biggest bang out of this body bag I am tied to? (A depressing picture of life if YOU ask me)

3.5. NO REAL purpose to live other than TO LIVE (again no different than the animals). NOTHING special, NOTHING bigger than just this pathetic existence.

3.6. God confirms this to be HOW humans in this world think (1Co 15:32b – no concern for the future, life IS the present and this present world ONLY—which MEANS the only purpose for living is “eat, drink and be merry”)

3.7. Following Jesus gave me REAL purpose AND a future worth working toward (one that extended beyond this life).

3.8. I learned that THIS LIFE was a test (for THAT next life).

3.9. Which meant that part of my PURPOSE was making sure that I was holy –or removing from my life those things that would corrupt my soul (and keep me from getting to heaven – or the next life).

3.10. That’s why people go to hell—b/c they have allowed their flesh and the world to corrupt their souls and cannot (as a result) reside in heaven.

3.11. My other purpose (I learned) was being His image-bearer (or an image-reflector of God) –which is what Jesus showed us HOW to do (and what it looks like). Hence the reason He came to earth and took on human flesh (Joh 1:18 – “No one has ever seen God, H who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known [literally, Jesus has shown us what it looks like to be image-bearers of God as humans]”).

3.12. And being image-bearers/reflectors is an incredibly awesome thing to live for (a wonderful privilege) b/c it is thru being IMAGE-bearers THAT God’s glory and kingdom are advanced on earth.

3.13. It IS how we become what else we were created for (to be conquerors). We conquer thru taking every area of OUR life and living it the way Jesus (or God) would (which is why that question WWJD? Is so important). My purpose is to be like HIM.

3.14. That awesome purpose is ALSO what gives me great hope for the future—since THIS (too) is HOW we enter heaven.

3.15. We do it by BEING faithful image-bearers—by being like JESUS, in the present world.

3.16. And God’s WORD confirms to those who live this way THAT THEY HAVE a great hope and a great future (Jer 29:11 – “I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a future and a hope; 1Jo 4:17 – “we have confidence on the day of judgment – because as He is, so we are also in the world”)

So (then) those are my reasons (and they are still my reasons).

AND following Christ all these years has only made my commitment and love for Him stronger –B/C I see all the more His FAITHFULNESS and GOODNESS and HOW what He says in His WORD is TRUE.

Following Christ – Part 4

Following Christ requires that you daily submit every single area of your life (your mind or heart, your decisions and desires, your worries and cares, your past, present and future) to His Lordship (His Word, will and way) and justice (His penalty for sin), so that it will count for His Kingdom (Mat 16:21-24; Luk 14:25-35; Luk 9:23 and 62). In short, you choose to only be concerned with gaining Christ and His approval and nothing or nobody else (2Co 5:9-17; 2Ti 2:4; Phi 1:21; Col 3:2; 1Co 4:1-4) . Anything less than that is not following Christ according to how He defines it will not only fail to be effective in dealing w/sin, but manifest itself in a lack of boldness, interest, passion or loyalty for Christ in comparison to other things (Mat 6:21; Exo 20:3; *passion is what happens when you invest everything [when you give your whole life/everything you are/your present and future/all your hopes over to the Lordship of Christ]*).

With that in mind, consider further, these truths as to what Following Christ is not:

It is not confusing.

If living in this world as a Christian is constantly confusing to you, then there is a good chance you are not (yet) (or are no longer) following Christ the way He calls you too (total surrender to His Lordship and justice).

It is not going to make temptation/trials go away.

We will continue to face other temptations/trials – including new ones (e.g. persecution associated w/being a Christian. Our faithfulness thru such trials/temptations are the test proving our worthiness/fitness for heaven.

It is not separate from loyalty to the church.

There is no such thing as a person who follows Christ yet remains disloyal to His church (their covenant brothers and sisters) – especially when things get tough (or trials come or they fall into sin).

It is not rehab or gradual.

Jesus demands that we be immediately be all in. Which means when it comes to our obedience and turning from sin, there is no stalling or dragging our feet.

It is not a hamster on a wheel.

We are NOT missing out on all the fun and exciting stuff this world has to offer by following Christ. What we are doing in being faithful to Him is adding up to something eternal.

It is not the path most of those who claim to be follow Christ will take or continue on.

In our lifetime we will encounter many people whose path to following Christ is not the one He defines –or b/c of what He demands, will eventually leave the path and no longer follow Him –though many of those people wb deluded into thinking they still are following Christ. This is especially true of those who are “wise in their own eyes” – Pro 26:12. This leads to their apostasy while at the same time convincing them they are still on the path.

It is not meant to accommodate our lifestyle or loyalties.

When we think of people going apostate, we tend to (I would assume) attribute their cause of death to the something inherently sinful that they refuse to stop practicing (e.g. sexual immorality), but many times, what people actually go apostate over, are things that are not (in and of themselves – or inherently) evil/sinful. They are instead good things (or things at least at one time we believed to be good) that God now wants those people to give up –or change in relation to– and they refuse.

What I am talking about are certain lifestyles or loyalties that Jesus has now revealed to no longer be acceptable. And that happens! As we grow in our understanding and maturity, there are things Jesus expects to change (or go away). Our lifestyles and loyalties change (or progressively grow in the direction of holiness or further faithfulness) as we continue to follow Jesus and listen to His Word. That is (at least) what happens for those who continue to follow Christ and ultimately make it heaven.

For others, these changes represent the roadblocks -or points of departure from following Christ.

Which means IF WE ARE GOING TO MAKE it to the end, THEN we need to be AWARE of that—AND GOOD w/that SINCE this (too) is what it means to follow CHRIST.

It was NEVER about accommodation. RATHER it is about assimilation –US becoming more like HIM.

Examples of lifestyles and loyalties that Jesus will demand change to continue following Him:

7.1. Habits, hobbies, people, practices and preferences in our Christian walk that we were unaware are actually sinful

(Luk 18:18-23; e.g. playing games that involve you doing sinful things [Among Us] – 1Th 5:22; association w/sorcery thru games, movies or tv shows; association w/people who claim Christ but hold to a false gospel – 2Jo 1:9-11; possessing evil suspicions and always grumbling and complaining or condemning members of the church [including the pastor] – 1Ti 6:4; Col 3:13-14; Jam 4:11-12, 5:9; Jud 1:14-16; being disrespectful/disobedient to your boss or the president/govt when you don’t have a biblical reason to do so – Eph 6:1-8; Rom 13:1-2; playing the victim card [your problems are always somebody else’s fault/no ownership] – Jam 1:13-15, 19-21; Jud 1:16 “malcontents”; LIVING IN FEAR versus trusting GOD [distancing yourself, not building deep relationships or being transparent w/your church family bc you fear being rejected or hurt – 2Co 6:11-13]; NOT being bold w/your bros/sis when you see they are on a dangerous path bc you care more about what they will think rather than what Jesus will think if you don’t – Jam 5:19-20 “multitude of sins” is our own that would have been true for being selfish, unloving cowards).

7.2. False views of reality or failures to recognize (and conform to) how God has presently made the world (in order to succeed in it and glorify Him

(Deu 32:39; Psa 33:11; Pro 16:4, 33, 19:21, 21:1; Isa 10:15, 14:27, 43:13; Isa 46:8-11; Lam 3:37; Rom 8:28 = The way things work in the world today are the way God purposed that they would exist and work. To therefore fight and be contrary to those things rather than conforming to them so as to get ahead/be successful and have influence thru them for Christ is rebellion; e.g. not getting a bachelor’s degree after high school if you have the aptitude/ability; getting visible tattoos; acting like/looking like a gang-banger, goth, redneck or social recluse/retard/reject [2Co 8:20]; not being inspired/pursuing the self-discipline espoused by the military [not their gun-play – but their self-discipline] or sports as motivation to personal self-discipline and spiritual achievement 1Co 9:23-27; 2Ti 4-5 “entangled in civilian pursuits” = Involvement in/fretting over the affairs of this world [e.g. fretting over who won the election and whether or not there was fraud – or where this nation might be heading; fretting over our company – whether or not we think they are smart or just – Luk 21:34]).

7.3. Any and all theological beliefs/religious practices that no longer square w/what He is requiring of us now

(Phi 3:1-9 = For Paul following Christ required a major change to his theology [justification by faith versus works of the law]. It also therefore meant jettisoning a huge part of his former lifestyle and loyalties [Hence the reason he was accused of antinomianism is Act 21:21]. Such changes to lifestyle and loyalties brought w/them no shortage of persecution. Paul would spend the rest of his earthly days fighting and suffering for them. Notice however Paul’s commitment to the changes Christ required – the former ways now considered “rubbish” [he could have easily kept clinging to them or been offended in having to give them up as many people are today when told the old ways will no longer do. Such attitudes come only from rebellious pride which is not congruent w/following Christ. Our life is now His life – which means it is His prerogative to change it anytime He pleases – 1Co 13:11]; e.g. our former view of baptism or the LT; our former belief in penal substitution or Calvinism; our view on waste – Jos 6-12).

It is not weighted the same for all things.

There are some sins that God views worst than others: two in particular. Which means if this is where you struggle, you are definitely NOT on in hot pursuit of Christ (you are not following Him). These two areas should (iow) be the things furthest from being identified w/you.

What are they? Sexual sin and disloyalty to God’s church/people. There are (to be sure) a multitude of verses to support what I just said—but for sake of remaining time, I have selected on NT book where we find both in close proximity: 1Th 4:1-6, 9-10).

It is not constantly being guilty of the same sins.

If I (as your pastor) am constantly having to deal with same sin problems or you have been characterized by others as possessing the same sinful characteristics then that is a good sign you are not following Christ. Why? BC when we follow Christ, being characterized by any sin goes away. We are instead characterized by righteousness (1Jo 3:7-10). The person who is constantly plagued by the same sin/sinful actions is a person that has not truly submitted their life to Christ’s Lordship (His Word/will and way) and/or justice. IOW: They are not doers of His Word (only hearers) —AND they are not bearing the necessary fruit of repentance (Jam 1:22-25; Luk 3:8-9 = Bearing fruit means that we possess the proof that our life has changed—we are no longer practicing those sins confessed).

Following Christ – Part 3

Following Christ requires that you daily submit every single area of your life (your mind or heart, your decisions and desires, your worries and cares, your past, present and future) to His Lordship (His Word, will and way) and justice (His penalty for sin), so that it will count for His Kingdom (Mat 16:21-24; Luk 14:25-35; Luk 9:32 and 62). In short, you choose to only be concerned with gaining Christ and His approval and nothing or nobody else (2Co 5:9-17; 2Ti 2:4; Phi 1:21; 1Co 4:1-4) . Anything less than that will not only fail to be effective in dealing w/sin, but manifest itself in a lack of boldness, interest, passion or loyalty to Christ in comparison to other things (Mat 6:21; Exo 20:3; *passion is what happens when you invest everything [when you give your whole life/everything you are/your present and future/all your hopes over to the Lordship of Christ]*).

With that in mind, consider further, these truths as to what Following Christ is not:

It is not confusing.

If living in this world as a Christian is constantly confusing to you, then there is a good chance you are not (yet) (or are no longer) following Christ the way He calls you to (total surrender to His Lordship and justice) (e.g. confusion in re: to men leading their wives, wives submitting to their husbands, parents raising their children, people submitting to their bosses or pastors!).

It is not going to make temptation/trials go away.

Following Christ will alleviate those temptations/trials associated w/running after sin and the world, but we will continue to face other temptations/trials – including new ones (e.g. persecution associated w/being a Christian – 2T 3:12; discipline for/bc of our sin – 1Pe 4:12-18 w/Lam 3:39). Our faithfulness thru such trials/temptations are the test proving our worthiness/fitness for heaven (1Pe 4:1-2; Act 5:41; Rev 3:4).

It is not separate from loyalty to the church.

There is no such thing as a person who follows Christ yet remains disloyal to His church (their covenant brothers and sisters) – especially when things get tough (or trials come or they fall into sin) (Pro 17:17 w/24:10; Col 3:13-14 – “above all”; 1Jo 3:10 = loyalty to the church is how we know we are the children of God/followers of Christ – Joh 13:34-35).

It is not rehab or gradual.

Jesus demands that we be immediately be “all in”. Which means when it comes to our obedience and turning from sin, there is no stalling, stewing and brewing or dragging our feet. If we do approach following Christ that way – as though it were some form of rehabilitation that takes time – or a process that is gradual where we work up to such commitment or faithfulness, then we have grossly misunderstood His demands and will be identified as false followers/Christians on J-DAY.

(Mat 4:20-22- “immediately”; Luk 9:57-62 = The problem with the last two persons encountered by Jesus is the same. Both viewed following Him – or giving their lives fully to Him, as something they could put off until others things were pursued/taken care of. Jesus however, makes it clear that such a view was unacceptable/unsaving. Following Christ [which once more requires full commitment] is immediate – not gradual or something we do little by little/more and more over time. It is not again, rehab. This includes our repentance; Psa 119:57- 60 = Part of what it means to have the Lord as our portion [i.e. to fully follow Christ] is we immediately: 1) “turn” from sin to His “testimonies”, 2) “keep” in obedience His “commandments”; Again – Luk 14:33; In re: to stewing and brewing: Gal 4:16 w/Luk 10:16).

It is not a hamster on a wheel.

Some people look at the Christian life as not much different than a hamster on a wheel: they are putting all this effort into making sure they are obedient to Christ and saying “no” to the sinful temptations and things of this world but their life (as a result) is going nowhere. Instead, they are missing out on all the fun and exciting stuff this world has to offer. This however is not the view of Jesus, John or Paul. They saw all such effort (i.e. they saw following Christ) as adding up to something eternally better.

(Mat 6:19-20; Joh 5:28-29; 1Jo 3:21-22; 2Jo 1:8; Phi 3:14; 1Co 9:23-27; 2Co 5:10; 2Ti 4:7-8)

It is not the path most of those who claim to follow Christ will take or continue on.

In our lifetime we will encounter many people whose path to following Christ is not the one He defines –or b/c of what He demands, will eventually leave the path (and no longer follow Him). We need to accept that as reality (b/c that is what Jesus tells us will happen). What we also need to accept, is that many (if not all of those people) will be convinced they are still going to heaven (following Christ) – though (once more) that is not the case. What they are doing is no longer in line/agreement w/the testimony of Scripture (or Jesus). Hence the reason when people leave this church, they refuse to meet w/me (or the church) to prove from God’s Word that what they are doing is acceptable or still following Christ (that never has that been the case). I (and everyone else) immediately become “persona non grata”. They don’t meet b/c they have decided they no longer want to follow Jesus according to His terms (they want the lifestyle or things He says that can’t have or be)—AND they (therefore) also know their decision to pursue such things won’t stand up to the scrutiny of God’s church and Word. Again, this is the sad reality we must understand. Following Christ is not something that will be true for everyone who claims –or continue to be true for all those who genuinely did (at one time). Many will leave the path.

(Luk 13:22-24; Mat 13:18-23, 25:14-15, 19-25, 26-30; Though there are many different sinful reasons people go apostate [stop following Christ], in my experience they all share one thing in common: they are “wise in their own eyes”; Pro 26:12).

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = NOW is the time to make things right in your walk w/Christ. If what has been said over the past weeks has revealed areas that need to be shored up then do it the way God’s Word prescribes – REPENT (confess it, change/turn from those former behaviors and conform to what Jesus requires as the new pattern of your life).

Following Christ – Part 2

As discussed (in Part 1), following Christ requires that you daily submit every single area of your life (your mind or heart, your decisions and desires, your worries and cares, your past, present and future) to His Lordship (His Word, will and way) and justice (His penalty for sin), so that it will count for His Kingdom. Anything less than that is not following Christ according to how He defines it in (Mat 16:21-24, Luk 14:25-35, Luk 9:32 and 62) and will not only fail to be effective in dealing w/sin, but manifest itself in a lack of boldness, interest, passion or loyalty for Christ in comparison to other things (Mat 6:21; Exo 20:3; *passion is what happens when you invest everything [when you give your whole life/everything you are/your present and future/all your hopes over to the Lordship of Christ].

With that in mind, consider further, these truths as to what Following Christ is not:

It is not confusing.

It is not going to make temptation/trials go away.

It is not separate from loyalty to the church.

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: REMEMBER what we learned (two weeks ago) regarding HOW WE FIX the problem of NOT FOLLOWING CHRIST (the way He defines it and demands it be done): WE do it by REPENTING (which means confessing where we have missed it, committing to change that and then conforming every area of our life to that new way).

Following Christ – Part 1

Following Christ requires that you daily submit every single area of your life (your mind or heart, your decisions and desires, your worries and cares, your past, present and future) to His Lordship (His Word, will and way) and the justice He requires for your sin, so that it will count for His Kingdom (Mat 16:24 -“deny himself” = The removal of ourselves as the authority/boss over our lives ;“take up his cross” = The execution of ourselves upon our personal cross [Notice, “his cross”] is also necessary to following Jesus. Crosses were devices used by the Romans to punish law-breakers and rebels. As such, this phrase refers to a person’s actions in removing the sin and rebellion in our lives – through the justice required per God’s Law; Mat 6:19-34 = Investment, Loyalty and Focus; Mat 13:44-46; Mat 25:14-34; For “non-refundable” see Luk 9:62; “daily” see Luk 9:23).

Following Christ is the only way to be saved and live without regret (Mat 16:25-27; Jos 23:14) .

Those who only submit a portion of their life to following Christ (His Lordship and justice), will be damned as though they gave nothing at all (Mat 16:25 – “Whoever would save his life…will lose it”; Luk 14:33; all in or not in at all).

Following Christ is a nonrefundable commitment (Luk 9:62).

Clear indicators that you are not following Christ but still a rebel/law-breaker:

5.1. You continue to practice, hide or justify your sin (A denial of Mat 16:24 – “take up his cross”; Mat 7:23; Mat 13:41 – “gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and law-breakers”)

5.2. You have selective obedience (Mat 7)

5.3. Jesus’ commands are burdensome to you (1Jo 5:3; Obedience, evangelism and shepherding are done primarily for the purpose of plausible deniability versus real desire and joy)

5.4. You demonstrate greater boldness, interest, passion and loyalty for something other than the things of God, people of God or for God Himself (i.e. you have given your life to something else/above God – you are guilty of idolatry or breaking of the first commandment [Exo 20:3] – All Jesus is requiring OF those who would follow Him is the fulfillment of this command: that they have no other gods before Him [god = where you go/what you look to for life to be good- Deu 30:20]; Jos 24:19-25; e.g. Rock-stars or Rock bands, Professional athletes or sports, Cars or Comics, Money or Career; Mat 16:21-23; Mat 6:24; 1Jo 2:19; Col 3:1-6; 2Co 10:5).

The are no valid excuses for not following Christ – only admissions of rebellious unbelief (Rom 1:20, 4:20; Heb 3:19).

Count the cost, otherwise you will only be under the delusion you are following Christ and fail to reach heaven (Luk 14:25-35; e.g. Mat 7:21-23).

Repentance (confession, change, conformity) and belief is how you fix a life that doesn’t follow Christ (Mar 1:15).