But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19:26 NIV
Are you still looking back?
This is what Jesus has to say from Luke 9:23…
Jesus said to everyone, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 9:23 CEB
Self denial – For many of us, this is hard to do. Probably because life seems better when we are in control.
The thing is, we don’t fully understand what it is that Christ did for us when He died on the cross. He did not just save us from hell, but He gave us life when He died. He restored us to the life that Adam and Eve had prior to their disobedience to God.
…I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
John 10:10 NET
I have always wondered what Jesus meant by “abundant life”. We know that through Adam, sin came into the world with death as it’s penalty (Romans 5:12). Death here pertains to spiritual death. We lost our identity as people created in the likeness of God since sin is not part of God’s nature. So if eating the forbidden fruit led to death, Jesus’ promise of an abundant life could mean life better than the life Adam and Eve lived prior to the fall – Selah!
But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
Genesis 2:16-17 NLT
Self denial is not something pleasant because old habits that are not pleasing to God but pleasing to our flesh will have to die and no one likes the sound of death because it separates us from the things and people we love.
Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:14-17 NLT
Also self denial requires us to trust God when we do not have the answer to these five friends – what, when, where, who and how. An example of someone who “moved” or “acted” without knowing what was at the end of the tunnel is Abraham. God said to Abraham, “go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 NIV). Abraham did not know where he was being sent to but he had to trust God. He also did not know how he was going to father nations but he had to trust God. We might not have the answers to our five friends but we are encouraged to follow Christ by living a new life – the Christ-like life.
When Jesus admonishes us to deny ourselves, he is also saying we should focus on Him – “stop focusing on your weaknesses, stop focusing on your past, stop focusing on your status quo…etc”. Denying the self is not easy when we depend on our own strength. I believe Jesus knew how difficult this will be for us so before ascending to be with His father, He promised us a helper – the Holy Spirit.
He (the Holy Spirit) also helps us to carry our cross daily and follow Jesus. Carrying our cross daily shows that our walk with Christ is a deliberate process – not based on how we feel. As we follow Jesus by being obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will attain the full measure of His likeness.
What is the identity of Christ then? It is captioned as the fruit of the Spirit…
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:22-24 NET
Remember Lot’s wife…
When she turned to look at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she was probably thinking about the seemingly good life she lived there.
Unfortunately, some of us “Christians” like Lot’s wife, are still holding on to “self” – still looking back and gratifying the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). As followers of Christ know that we have not left behind a “good” life – we were once dead, Jesus Christ saved us and has given us life in abundance.
Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.
Luke 17:32-33 NET
Stay Blessed and know that God deeply loves you…💞