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Deny Yourself And Take Up Your Cross | Matthew 16:24 Explained

When Jesus called us to deny ourselves and take up our cross he was talking about a one-time act of believing. This was not an ongoing religious behavior improvement command.

Perhaps at some point you’ve been told to deny yourself, but is that biblical?

In Matthew 16:24 Jesus said the following:

“If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.

I believe the context here is denying our OLD self, not our NEW self. 

Consider this. How many times did Jesus only Take up His cross?  He took his cross up at one time. How many times did Jesus deny himself? He denied himself one time. This was not an ongoing activity.

And consider where Jesus went when he took his cross up. He went to Calvary and died for our sins. The Scriptures tell us that just as Jesus died, we too died with him. The old us was buried with Christ. We were crucified with Him. And we are now a new creation.

So what Jesus is really saying is in order to be saved we have to deny our current self. We literally need to bury our old identity in Adam. So how do we do that? Well, Jesus said to take up our cross. This is symbolic of us putting our faith in Jesus and symbolically being crucified with him. This is exactly what we do after we get saved when we celebrate baptism. We have someone dunk us in water which is a picture of us having taken up our cross and being buried with Jesus. Then moments later we are lifted out of the water which is symbolic of us being risen with Christ to new life.

So when Jesus talks about us taking up our cross, he’s talking symbolically about following him to be buried with him and raised again. This is a one-time action that Christians do. It’s a call for faith. He is simply sharing the gospel.

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.

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