If a corn or seed of wheat is to be used to bring growth and new life and reproduction, it must first die! The same is true in the Christian life!

Paul said that he had much to boast about before he was saved. But know he counts all these things as waste from an animal. Listen to Paul from Philippians 3:7-8,

"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"

What things was he counting loss? He tells us in verses 3-6,

"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."

Paul knew the importance of dying to self. He considered all of his human achievements about as equal in value to animal waste.

Someone else put it this way:

 Jesus stipulated that those who wish to follow him must be prepared to shift the center of gravity in their lives from a concern for self to reckless abandon to the will of God. The central thought in self-denial is a disowning of any claim that may be urged by the self, a sustained willingness to say 'No' to oneself in order to be able to say 'Yes' to God. This involves a radical denunciation of all self-idolatry and of every attempt to establish one's own life in accordance with the dictates of the self.

Is this ever contradictory to the present day philosophy of the world or what? Live for self. If it feels good, do it. And on and on it goes.

As believers, we know that to give up or deny self can only mean that we make more of the Lord in our lives so that we can become the salt and the light in a spiritually dark world. People don’t need to see more of Frank Cuozzo, they need to see Jesus in me!

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16,
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

One of the hardest yet most important truths that believers have to learn and do to be fruitful is this thought of dying to self. It goes against every grain of our flesh. But it can and must be done if we are to be disciples of Christ!

2. Another thing that we need to see in this passage from Mark chapter 8 is found also in verse 34 is that Jesus said we must "take up our cross"

Jesus said that we must take up our cross. Luke’s account uses the added word "take up your cross daily"! Jesus is not saying that we must be crucified on a cross but that we must put to death or crucify our ambitions and our desires and our goals so that Jesus Christ and what He desires for us is made alive!

If you really understand Grace and all that we have in Christ, you not only take up your cross --- you relish the opportunity to sacrifice all that you are for all that Christ is!

Look with me again at Mark 8:35-37:

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

Margaret and I have lived near two of the most glamorous places in the country in Florida we were in the next county up from Palm Beach. We had an island called Jupiter Island just east of where we lived. Some of the richest people in this world owned homes there and it was just a beautiful piece of what some would call paradise on earth. Million dollar homes and all that goes with it. Up here in the Northeast we live across from New York City the world center for finance and industry and one of the largest cities in the world. And as we look out over the beautiful New York skyline and at the millions of people who live and work there, we must wonder, what about the eternal destiny of all these souls?

What good will all of the earthly beauty and money do for eternity? The answer is absolutely nothing! It is all going to stay behind. Nothing of material value will be taken with you when you die. It all stays behind!

If we are not willing to take up our cross and to die daily to self and come alive to Christ, then the obvious choice we are making is that we wish to save some part of our self, some part of our life!

A question. What part of your life are you clinging to?

Is it your family?

In Luke 14:26 Jesus says,

"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."

Jesus is saying that compared to the love we must have for Him that all other loves will seem like hatred.

Is it your job?

Ecclesiastes 2:18-20 says that your work or toil will be worthless someday:

"Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity."

What about wisdom and education? Are you banking on that?

Isaiah 29:13-14 says,

"Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid."

No one wants to lose their life --- unless there is something far greater than even one's own life. And there is. Your work will ruin and wither and be given over to someone else; your wisdom will deteriorate and be brought to nothing outside of Christ.

3. Lastly Jesus says, "Follow Me."

 Jesus then says that after you deny yourself and take up your cross, then you may follow Him. When you follow Christ, you do so by being justified by grace through faith. Your sin debt has been paid for and in God’s sight it’s just as if you were never a sinner!

We "follow Him" by becoming identified with Him in every aspect of our lives. We love Him! We are united with Him! We bear His name, Christian!

We "lose our life for His sake and for the Gospel" (Mark 8:35) 

As a Disciple it means losing ourselves:

  1. In service to the Lord to spread the Gospel. Not being ashamed of Him. Romans 1:16 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
  2. In prayer to the Lord for help and strength to do the work God’s given us to do.
  3. In praise to the one who saved us by bearing fruit and bringing glory to Him. John 15:8 says, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."

What about you this morning?

First of all, have you trusted Christ as your personal savior? If you haven’t, He wants you to trust in what He has already done on the cross over 2,000 years ago. "It is finished" It’s been paid for. Come to Him for salvation today.

And then, if you’ve already been saved and you want to truly become a disciple of Christ, you must do these three things

-Deny self and die daily.

-Take up your cross.

-Follow Christ and live for Him.

Have you been Baptized?

Have you thought about being a part of a local assembly of believers that is concerned with becoming a disciple of Christ and you would like to join with us at this local Church? 

Whatever your need today, you come.

Maybe you have been ashamed of the Lord and failed to live for Him and speak about Him openly and you need to come today and confess and ask forgiveness then you come also as we sing.