Matthew 16:21-28 MKJV: From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (22) Then Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, God be gracious to You, Lord! This shall never be to You. (23) But He turned and said to Peter, Go, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you do not savor the things that are of God, but those that are of men. (24) Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. (25) For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it. (26) For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (27) For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward each one according to his works. (28) Truly I say to you, There are some standing here who shall not taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.
Here, the Lord Jesus teaches us that we must be ready to give up our desires and ambitions of this life in order to find the life God has planned for us which incidentally will be far better in every sense than the life we desire and plan for ourselves with our natural minds.
The scripture shows us this truth in
Mark 10:28-30 MKJV: Then Peter began to say to Him, Lo, we have left all and have followed You. (29) And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my sake and the gospel’s sake, (30) but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions, and in the world to come, eternal life.
1Timothy 4:8 MKJV: For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the present life, and of that which is to come.
Here both the Lord Jesus and Paul show us that if we give up our own desires and plans and give time to knowing God and becoming godly, then in this lifetime God will give us back ‘a hundredfold’ of what we gave up and a profitable life: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, materially and financially in this lifetime and a glorious life with God in eternity.
This is a win-win proposition: it would be the height of folly not to make this deal with God!
Practically, what does it mean to ‘lose your life’?
It means to deny gratifying the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life (1 Jn. 2:15-16) by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:24): physical desires like sex, sleep, food in order to give time in prayer and the Word to get a spiritual education.
Does this mean God does not want us to enjoy life?
No, in fact He wants us to ‘enjoy all things richly‘ but in a way that will not be sinful and that will not rob us of the great destiny He has in store for us both in this life and in the life to come.
1Timothy 6:6-11 MKJV: But godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into the world, and it is clear that we can carry nothing out. (8) But having food and clothing, we will be content. (9) But they who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which plunge men into destruction and perdition. (10) For the love of money is a root of all evils, of which some having lusted after, they were seduced from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (11) But you, O man of God, flee these things and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness.
1Timothy 6:17 MKJV: Charge the rich in this world that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, He offering to us richly all things to enjoy,
For instance, Joseph ‘laid down his life’ by denying himself of having sex with Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:7-10), but later God promoted him to be the prime minister of Egypt and gave him a beautiful Egyptian girl to be his wife (Gen. 41:45).
So by ‘laying down his lower life’ Joseph gained the ‘higher life’ God had planned for him. Let us follow this example and deny self in order to inherit the life and life more abundantly as the Lord Jesus promised (Jn. 10:10)!