LAYING DOWN YOUR LIFE
Luke 14:26-27 AMP: If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters–[yes] and even his own life also–he cannot be My disciple. (27) Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple.
Luke 9:23-25 KJV: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (24) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (25) For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
In these scriptures quoted above, the Lord tells us that to be a disciple of Christ: one who is getting a spiritual education and so is being trained in the revelation knowledge and disciplines of the Christ life; one has to lay down his life in this world.
What does this mean practically?
It means you have to see the ultimate futility and lack of fulfillment a natural life without Christ will lead to even if one has some degree of emotional, material and financial fulfillment; the uncertainty of what happens after death, the disappointments and frustrations of this life leave an inner void in the human heart that only a fulfilled life in Christ can fill.
This realization that a life that is not fulfilling the purpose of God to grow into the perfection and fullness of Christ will only lead to heartache and sorrow both in this life and the life to come will cause one to lay down this life in order to experience higher life in Christ in this life.
Over and over again, human experience shows the frustrations, heartaches, regrets and such like of a life that tries (but woefully fails to do so) to gain the whole world and so loses his soul (the dominion of the divine nature and character in the will, mind and emotions).
So we lay down our lives by taking our cross daily: giving time as a daily habit (by abstaining from indulgence in sleeping, eating, fellowship with men and other pleasures of this life (that are not necessarily sinful but are not expedient (1 Cor. 6:12)) to prayer and study and practice of God’s Word to crucify the sin-nature in our souls and bodies.
As we practice this as a daily habit, we will grow into the perfection and fullness of Christ:
Ephesians 4:14-15 KJV: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
In our article next week, we will see that even though we are to lay down our lives in this world, God wants us to enjoy all things richly in this life.