God’s Plan for Christ and Christians

Posted: August 20, 2012 in Matthew

Matthew 16:21-27, “God’s Plan for Christ and Christians”

Do you ever have plans that go awry?  Plans often get changed when we don’t know what we’re doing! 

Of course God’s plans never change because God’s plans are perfect.  What God purposes to do always is accomplished, and what God plans perfectly reflects His glory.  Sometimes we lose sight of this, like Peter did.  Jesus started to teach something that didn’t quite compute in Peter’s brain, so instead of taking the time to ask about what he didn’t understand, he jumps to the conclusion that God’s plan must be wrong & Jesus doesn’t know what He’s talking about.  On the face of it, it’s rather ridiculous & humorous – but in reality, we do much of the same thing.  We encounter something we don’t understand in the Scripture, but instead of being patient and doing something according to the plan of God, we decide to rewrite things a bit & do it the way we see fit.

That can’t be the way we go about things.  God’s plan is perfect.  God had a plan for Jesus, both in His 1st and 2nd comings.  God has a plan for Christians when it comes to basic discipleship.  Our job isn’t to dictate to God what His plans ought to be; it’s to follow what He has in mind for us.  Specifically, it’s do what Jesus did: deny ourselves and give up our lives.  The cost is worth it all.

Matthew 16:21–27 (NKJV)
21 From that time Jesus began to show to 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 the third day.

  • From which “time?”  From the time that Jesus took the disciples to Caesarea Philippi, and Peter confessed by faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
  • With the confession that Jesus is the Son of God in mind, at this point Jesus tells the disciples what the Son of God must endure.  Jesus had earlier introduced the concepts about the Messiah suffering, but this marks a change in Jesus’ teaching as He starts to talk about the details that were going to come.  Although Jesus is being prophetic here in His own right, everything that He tells them is found within OT prophecy.  Several aspects:
    • The Messiah must go to Jerusalem.  Obviously Jesus would go to Jerusalem many times in His life, but Jerusalem was specifically connected with His suffering and death because He had to be presented as the King – which is prophesied by Zechariah when the Messiah was said to ride into Jerusalem in humility, riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech 9:9)
    • The Messiah would be rejected by the Jews.  This would have already been witnessed by the disciples.  The Sadducees, scribes, priests, and Pharisees had all at different times tested Jesus and turned away from Him.  Of course, there was more rejection and humiliation by them to come.  Isaiah wrote that the Messiah would be despised and rejected by men (Isa 53:3).  David wrote in the Psalms of the Messiah being a reproach of men, and despised by the people (Ps 22:6).
    • The Messiah would suffer.  Although there was definitely an expectation in the OT Scriptures that the Messiah would one day reign in victory at the last day, the OT prophecy also specifically spoke of the suffering of the Messiah King.  Again, Isaiah 53 speaks of how He would be smitten by God, wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and how the chastisement for our peace was put upon Him (Isa 53:4-5).
    • The Messiah would die.  More than suffering, the prophecies spoke clearly of the Messiah’s death.  Psalm 22 describes His crucifixion in detail (centuries before crucifixion was ever invented).  Zechariah wrote how the Jewish people would look upon the one whom they had pierced, and they would mourn His death (Zech 12:10).  Isaiah 53:8-9 clearly states the Messiah would be cut off from the land of the living, and speaks of the details of His grave.
    • The Messiah would be resurrected.  The OT prophecies were not limited to looking only at Jesus’ suffering & death – they also spoke of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  Peter made this plain on the day of Pentecost when he preached to the Jews in Jerusalem, telling them of the prophecy in Psalm 16:8-11 which said that God would not leave the soul of the Messiah in Hades & would not allow His body to see corruption.  And of course, Jesus had made it clear on two other occasions that the sign of Jonah would be the definitive sign of the Messiah (death, burial, resurrection).
  • The point?  Although what Jesus told the disciples surely was shocking & sobering, none of it should have been a surprise.  ALL of these things were foretold in prophecy!  God made it clear to the Jews what to expect from their Messiah; all they needed to do was to read the Scripture to understand what was going on.  God had always had a plan for the Messiah, and He had made it known within the pages of the Bible. Sometimes people get the idea that many of the things that happened to Jesus occurred according to chance.  They think, “Here’s this guy that’s just living his life, doing what he does, and look at all the things that happened to him!”  Absolutely mistaken!  Jesus’ life and teachings went exactly according to the plan of God.  There are abundant markers of prophecy that were fulfilled throughout His earthly ministry – well over 300 (which serve as evidence of His divine role).  God did not leave anything to “chance” when it came to Jesus…which means that God did not leave anything to chance when it came to our redemption.  The work of Jesus was done perfectly in every respect: from the plan, to the sufficiency.  The work of Jesus is simply perfect.
  • Notice that Jesus told this to the disciples, but not to the multitudes at this time.  There are some things about God that His followers were privileged to know, but the general public were not.  That makes sense if we think about the chronology of Jesus’ ministry.  Certainly after He was raised from the dead and the gospels were published, there was nothing that was hidden from those who cared to know.  Yet at the same time, there is still an element of truth here.  There are some things that a born-again disciple of Jesus will understand, that an unbeliever will not.

22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

  • If you’re a parent, imagine your child saying something, and you taking your child off to a side corner to rebuke him/her somewhat privately.  That’s to be expected from time to time.  But turn the tables & imagine that your child does that to you.  Multiply that to the infinite degree & we get an inkling of what happens here.  Peter (sinful human like the rest of us…just a man) takes GOD aside and rebukes Him.  Shocking…  Peter cannot claim that he didn’t understand what he was doing.  After all, he had recently confessed by faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God…meaning that he understood full well that Jesus was God in the flesh standing before him.  And yet Peter still takes it upon himself to rebuke the Lord.
  • What’s behind all of this?  Peter took too much authority to himself.   He may have been invested with authority by the Lord Jesus as an apostle – even receiving the keys of the kingdom of heaven with the gospel as an ambassador of Messiah the King.  But whatever authority Peter was given (be it in the current day or in the future), he did NOT have the authority to rebuke the Son of God!
  • Just look at what he says…such a contradiction!  “Far be it from You, Lord”  IOW, “I’m still confessing with my mouth that You’re the Lord, but surely you don’t have a clue what You’re talking about.”  Either Jesus is the LORD, or He’s not.  If He is the Lord God, then whatever He says goes, despite our individual misgivings about any particular subject.  GOD is God & we’re not.
    • Do you ever find yourself contradicting God?
  • What is Peter objecting to?  Apparently, the entire plan.  “This shall not happen to You.”  To Peter’s mind, the Son of God wasn’t subject to suffering and death.  Instead, the Messiah was supposed to rule victoriously as King, and never suffer nor be rejected.  There are two main problems with that:
    • The OT prophecy made it clear that the Messiah would suffer.  For Him not to do so would make God a liar & untrustworthy.
    • Without the death of Christ, there can be no resurrection of Christ, which goes against God’s plan.  See vs. 23…

23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

  • Back in vs. 17, Peter was specially blessed of God.  Here in vs. 23, Peter is labeled as “Satan” by Jesus.  HUGE turnaround!  Obviously Peter had not literally become Satan, but he was certainly doing the work of the devil.  Jesus doesn’t mince words in calling Peter out about it.
  • What exactly did Peter do?  He was “an offense” to Jesus.  The idea here isn’t so much that Peter offended Jesus’ sensibilities, but rather Peter was a stumbling block (per NASB) to the work of Christ.  Just as Satan had tried to shortcut the plan of God during Jesus’ temptation, so is Peter doing the same thing here.  Satan would have liked nothing more than Jesus to avoid going to the cross, and that’s exactly what Peter is asking of Jesus.  If Jesus had simply asserted His authority and assumed the throne, He would never have gone to the cross.  If Jesus never went to the cross, He would never have served as the sacrifice for our sin.  If Jesus never served as the sacrifice for sin, all of us would be without hope and without forgiveness.  More than that, without Jesus’ death, there is no resurrection.  There’s no assurance of the price of death being paid, no assurance of Jesus’ divinity, no promise of future life for any of us.  All of us would be eternally lost, doomed to death and hell – and the plan of God would have been for naught.  Peter’s rebuke wasn’t a simple disagreement with Jesus; it was a temptation to overthrow God’s eternal plan of salvation.  It’s no wonder Jesus recognized this as Satanic!
  • How was Peter a stumbling block?  He had the wrong priorities.  Instead of surrendering himself to the plan of God, seeking God’s glory and will, Peter had the “things of men” in mind.  To be sure, Peter thought he was seeking God’s glory.  After all, who wants our Lord Jesus to suffer?  Who would ever wish for Him to die?  Of course this would be a hard thought for Peter – it would be hard for any of us if we had been standing there at the time.  But this wasn’t an enemy of God telling him how the Messiah would suffer; this was Jesus Himself.  Jesus perfectly knows the plans of God, because He IS God.  If Jesus says He is going to suffer, it may be tough for Peter to witness, but he can at least console himself in the truth that this is the perfect will of God playing out.  Yet instead, Peter tells Jesus (in essence) that God’s will is bad, and Peter’s will is better.
    • How easy it is for us to get our priorities confused and to seek the things of men, rather than the things of God.  We do it in our nation when we put forth the agenda of a particular political party, rather than seeking the agenda of the Bible.  We do it in our churches when we try to force and manipulate growth through man-centered strategies, rather than humbly seeking the glory of God.  We do it in our individual families when we do whatever it takes to make ourselves comfortable, instead of considering the possibility that God might do more through us if we are uncomfortable for His sake.

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.

  • The contrast is evident.  Peter takes Jesus aside in an attempted rebuke, falsely thinking Jesus is supposed to be received by all as the victorious king.  Jesus, in turn, rebukes Peter and tells all of the disciples what all of them are to expect.  The Messiah was indeed going to suffer, die, and be raised – and ANYONE who followed Jesus as Lord could expect much of the same thing in his/her own life.
  • This is basic discipleship 101.  This is the very basics of what someone who follows Jesus ought to expect.  Of course the 1st question for many is: what exactly is a “disciple”?  We use the term all the time in referring to the 12, but technically, all of us who follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior are “disciples.”  What is meant by the word?  A disciple could be thought of as a student, but really the meaning is a bit deeper than that.  We might use the word “apprentice” in a similar context.  Today, a student is someone who spends a few hours with a teacher & then goes home.  An apprentice is someone who spends all day with a skilled expert to learn everything they possibly can learn about the trade.  In older days, apprentices would even live with their masters and serve them in all kinds of roles.  A student/pupil might learn some things from his/her teacher; an apprentice is someone who reproduces the workings of his/her master.  That’s more of the idea of a “disciple.”  A disciple of Jesus is someone who follows after Jesus and seeks for His will to be reproduced in our lives.
  • Step #1: desire it.  Is following Jesus as your Lord something you even desire?  Putting aside the debates between Calvinism & Arminianism (and other wings of the Church), God does not force anyone to be a disciple.  God does not twist anyone’s arm to follow after Christ.  At some point, this is something that we have exercise our own free will in, and respond to the call of Jesus.  If we hear His voice, then we need to decide to follow after Him.   Be careful not to overlook this part of the process.  There are some people who might pray a “sinner’s prayer,” just to get the Christian in front of them off their case.  There are others who feel manipulated into doing something – anything just to be done with the whole matter.  People can voice words with their mouth without ever meaning anything in their heart.  That’s not the way discipleship works.  Discipleship is something that must be desired.
    • Why would someone desire to be a disciple of Christ?  (1) When they understand the perfect holiness of God & the utter sinfulness of man…  (2) When they get a glimpse of the extreme love of Jesus that He extends to all the world.  The goodness of God leads us to repentance! (Rom 2:4)
  • Step #2: deny self.  Once we desire to follow after Jesus, that means by necessity that we need to stop following after ourselves & our own desires.  After all, when we are in our sin, we’re not going in the same direction as Jesus.  If we’re going to follow anyone, we’ve got to go where THEY are going.  If we’re caravanning to Dallas, I can’t decide of my own free will to travel east when you’re travelling west.  I’ve got to deny myself & follow your lead.  Likewise when we make a decision to follow after Christ.  We’ve got to deny ourselves if it’s going to be possible to follow after Jesus at all.  Otherwise, our own desires, lusts, wants, etc., just get in the way.
  • Step #3: kill self – or at least be prepared to die to yourself.  The most permanent solution to denying our desires is death – and that is exactly what is pictured by Jesus’ statement to “take up [your] cross.”  People tend to misunderstand this today.  They think that Jesus means we have to bear our burdens & inconveniences if we’re going to follow Christ.  “Oh, being a Christian is such a burden!  It’s so uncomfortable & inconvenient – but that’s OK.  Jesus told us we’d just have to bear our cross…” Give me a break!  Quit yer’ whining! J  That’s not what Jesus was saying at all.  Yes, we’re going to suffer – but that’s totally different than the context here.  The apostles would have had no doubt that Jesus was referring to death.  Death was the only reason someone would take up their cross.  It was customary for the condemned to carry their own cross-beam to the place of their execution.  The only reason someone would carry their cross is if they would be nailed upon it within the hour.  Jesus’ point?  This is the extent to which we deny ourselves.  We deny ourselves even unto death.  We don’t have our own plan for our life any longer; it’s completely surrendered to the Lord as we follow Him.
    • Paul wrote much the same thing when he described dealing with the temptations of sin once we commit our lives to Christ in faith. Romans 6:11, "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." []  Count yourself as dead to sin – that old person is dead, and buried (in baptism).  Rise in life to walk with Christ.
  • Step #4: follow Christ.  Just like we can’t leave out desiring to follow Jesus, we also can’t leave out actually following Him.  Walk in His footsteps – align your thinking with His…FOLLOW Him.  There are many people with a desire to follow Christ as a disciple, but there are far fewer numbers who actually do it.  Like the rich young ruler, they hear of the cost of discipleship, and they turn away sad.  Don’t be like them!  Follow after your Lord & Savior!  What God says to do, we do.  How God says to live, we live.  What God tells us to expect, we expect.  Jesus told the disciples that a servant is not above his master, and that if He suffered, then we can expect to suffer (Mt 10:22-24).  Jesus told us that since He served us, we ought to serve one another (footwashing, Jn 13:13-17).  The person who claims to be a disciple, but never acts like Christ, loves like Christ, or shows any sign that he even knows Christ at all can hardly be called a disciple.  Disciples of Jesus act like their Master.
    • The good news in following Jesus is that we don’t ever go somewhere that Jesus hasn’t already been.  We’re not ever asked to do something that Jesus hasn’t already experienced.  We’re walking in the footprints of our Master, and He guards over us the entire way.
  • Keep in mind this isn’t only for the “super-spiritual.”  This isn’t only for pastors & missionaries & Bible translators, etc.  This is for ANYONE who desires to follow after Christ.  We sometimes use the language of “surrendering to the call of ministry” when it comes to pastors, but in a very real sense, all of us surrender to the call of ministry (service) when we make the decision to follow Christ.  Accountants who desire to come after Christ still deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus.  Carpenters, plumbers, salesmen, teachers, farmers…anyone.  Whatever someone’s vocation, the plan of God regarding discipleship is the same: go follow Christ.

25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

  • There’s a paradox here.  The person who struggles to save his life & hold on to everything he might consider “success,” will actually lose everything.  But the person who willingly lets everything go for the sake of Jesus will find life as God meant it to be.
  • Don’t miss this: discipleship costs everything.  Anyone can be a disciple, but be forewarned it will cost you everything you are.  The original 12 disciples left everything at the call of Jesus to go follow Him.  They simply dropped what they were doing to go with Jesus.  It’s not really any different with us.  If we want what Jesus offers, then we give up everything to go with Him.  Obviously Jesus isn’t talking about suicide, but He is talking about sacrifice.  When we’re consumed with ourselves, seeking everything for our own comfort and glory, trying to gain all the world has to offer for us and our pleasure at the moment, then we’ll miss out on what it is God offers to us through Jesus.  Yet if we surrender those things – if we give up our right to seek after ourselves and commit to seeking after Jesus, then that is when we’re going to find the life that God promises.
  • The good news is that the cost is worth it!  See vs. 26…

26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

  • What is your soul worth?  It’s worth your life – it’s worth everything.  Actually, the word for “life” (vs. 25) & “soul” (vs. 26) are identical.  The grammatical case is different, but the root is the same.  It’s the context that’s different.  Vs. 25 looks at the person prior to death trying to save or give everything; vs. 26 looks at the result of his actions & choices…which can only refer to everlasting life (i.e. the soul).  To look at the comparison, we have the choice of gaining everything the world has to offer over the course of 70-80 years and then facing an eternity of doom and hopelessness – or we surrender everything now and enjoy life and hope and fellowship with God for eon after eon.  The choice ought to be clear!
    • Objection: “But I don’t like that choice!  I don’t want to have those choices dictated to me…it sounds so unfair!”  Two answers to that: (1) Tough.  There are certain things in life we never get to choose.  We can’t choose our parents – we can’t choose our birthplace, etc.  We can’t tell God what terms we’d like eternal life offered to us.  (2) How exactly is it unfair for the God who has every right to eradicate every human being in existence to give us the possibility of grace and complete forgiveness?!  Actually, it is unfair…to GOD.  This is an act of extreme grace that He offers to mankind.  It’s absurd that anyone would think it unfair to us.
    • What is your soul worth?  As a Christian, we can know exactly what our soul is worth: the price of the blood of the Son of God.  That’s how much Jesus paid for your redemption!
  • Yet people sell themselves so short!  What have some people exchanged for their soul?  Some people give themselves over to their careers.  They sacrifice their families and everything else just to climb up one more rung on the corporate ladder.  Others exchange their soul for lusts.  They live for the weekend where they can blow all their cash on parties and pleasures.  Others exchange their lives for the illusion of control in pious religions – or for prestige in the eyes of others – or for the almighty dollar, etc.  There’s no end to the list!  Whatever it is, they think they’ve got it made – that all their wants/needs/desires are met by their own hand & their own making.  And yet it’s all going to come crashing down one day.  No matter what we build in this life, we’re going to one day surrender it when we die.  Bill Gates is one of the richest men on the planet, but his wealth will do him no good the moment his heart stops beating.  Beware the cost!  We can gain this life and still lose eternity.

27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

  • Underscores the fact that a soul can be lost.  There is a judgment coming, and it’s something we need to be aware of.  Say a person does indeed gain the whole world in this life, yet dies apart from knowing Jesus.  He might be the richest, most powerful man in all the earth – admired and feared by all.  What happens when he dies?  He faces the judgment of God, just like everyone else.  Death is the grand leveler, and all people will go before the Lord in judgment.  It’s appointed to men to die once, then the judgment (Heb 9:27).  Jesus looks at the specific act of judgment here in His 2nd coming.
  • What will people be judged for?  Their actions – their “works.”  Our actions & choices matter to God!  This is affirmed throughout the Bible…perhaps most famously at the Great White Throne.  Revelation 20:12–13, "(12) And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (13) The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works." []  Every single thing a person does will be accounted for on that day of judgment.  Beyond that, every single word a person says will be accounted for on that day (Mt 12:36).  The testimony of a person’s life will testify against him, and no one will be able to claim they had not sinned against God.
    • People are judged by their works, but they cannot be saved by them.  Our works testify against us.  Once we’ve already broken the law, what can we do to make things right again?  Nothing…we’re already lawbreakers & deserving of death.  This is where the good news of Jesus Christ comes in.  We cannot be saved by our works, but Jesus offers to save us through HIS work.  Jesus died upon the cross to pay the fine for the law you broke; Jesus rose from the dead to prove that the price was paid.  People will be judged according to the works they have done, but people can be saved by the grace of Jesus Christ if we but believe upon Him by faith.  What glorious good news!  Run to the cross of Jesus & believe upon Him!
  • What will happen at the judgment?
    • Jesus will return.  Jesus did of course die, and rise again – but that’s not the end of Jesus.  Jesus will physically return to earth.  The OT repeatedly speaks of the coming physical reign of the Messiah.  Obviously that did not happen during Jesus’ first earthly ministry, thus it must happen with another coming.  Even if we argue that a 2nd coming of the Messiah is only hinted at in the OT, then it’s absolutely clear in the NT.  The very first thing the apostles heard as Jesus ascended into the heaven was the testimony of angels saying that Jesus would come again in a like manner (Acts 1:11).  Jesus repeatedly taught of His 2nd coming, and left no doubt in the mind of the disciples that although the Son of Man would come at an hour they did not expect, He would indeed come again.
    • Jesus will return in power.  He “will come in the glory of His Father with His angels.”  Jesus’ glory was only briefly seen upon the earth, at His transfiguration (which is covered in Ch 17), and after His resurrection.  But for the majority of Jesus 33+ years on the planet, people did not witness the glory that Jesus shares with God the Father – they witnessed His humility.  But one day, all the earth WILL see Jesus’ glory.  Upon Jesus’ return, every eye will see Him, and every person will be astounded at the manifest glory of God as Jesus commands the very angels of heaven.  The book of Revelation describes Jesus coming back with immense power and glory as He rides a white horse, and Jesus’ eyes are like a flame of fire, on His head will be many crowns.  A sword will proceed from His mouth (the word of God), and as He leads the heavenly armies, the enemies of Christ will be stopped in a moment as their numbers are slaughtered, and Antichrist & the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire.  That’s power.
    • Jesus will return in power and with authority.  Jesus is the one who “will reward each according to his works.”  Perhaps referring to the psalms. (Ps 62:12)  If this is a quote, it’s an indirect statement that the Son of Man is indeed God.  God is the one with the authority to judge the world, and Jesus as the Son of God has that authority (thus, He is God).  So many people think of Jesus as the meek, mild suffering servant, without realizing that while Jesus did indeed serve in that capacity during His earthly ministry, that doesn’t describe Jesus in His entirety.  Jesus has authority, and He will exercise that authority.  The same God who offers His grace now as the Savior will also look upon those who have rejected Him, and Jesus will judge them in His righteous wrath.  That’s the negative side.  The positive side is that He will reward those who have followed Him.  Don’t forget that this comes out of the context of Jesus describing the cost of following Him as a disciple.  Those who give up everything to follow Christ as Lord will certainly be rewarded.  Jesus will come back with power and authority, and He has the right to reward those whom He loves!
  • Are you ready for that day?

We know what God called Jesus to do: suffer, die, and rise (and then come again in power and glory).  We know what God calls Jesus’ disciples (all of us) to do: give up our lives for Jesus’ sake and follow Him.  We also know that the sacrifice is worth it: we will be rewarded and given everlasting life for our souls.  God had a plan for our salvation – God has a plan for our lives – God has a plan to reveal His glory.  The plan of God is utterly amazing!  Will you surrender yourself to it?

For a moment, Peter rebelled against the plan of God.  He didn’t fully understand it, and seemed to actually reject it.  Thankfully, he didn’t stay that way.  Sometimes we can act just like Peter.  We hear the plan of God, but because there’s something we don’t quite understand or like, we reject it and rebel against it.  That’s not what a disciple does.  A disciple follows in the footsteps and call of his/her master.  When Jesus tells us His plan, then we humbly surrender ourselves to Him.

Let’s get personal.  Christian, is this what you do?  Knowing that Jesus denied Himself in utter humility & gave everything for us when He went to the cross, is this what you do for Him?  Do you actively deny your own will so that you can seek after the will of God, and follow in Jesus’ steps?

  • Sometimes this means forgiving someone who has hurt you badly, because Jesus has forgiven you. 
  • Sometimes this means serving someone who has offended you, because Jesus has served you. 
  • Sometimes this means loving someone who seems unlovable, because Jesus did the same for you.
  • Sometimes this means bearing up under pressures and persecution for the truth of God, because Jesus did exactly the same thing.

There can be all sorts of examples, but in the end it means denying yourself, dying to yourself, and following Jesus alone.  May God give us the discernment to know the areas in which we assert ourselves, and the power to turn from those things for the glory of God.


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