It takes sacrifice, commitment, faithfulness and a willingness to do whatever it takes!

Paul told young Timothy that serving the Lord is similar to the call to serve as a soldier. Look what he tells him in II Timothy 2:3-4,

"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."

I just want to bring a couple of things to our attention today as we all desire to serve the Lord and do our best for Him.

#1) We must die to self. (verse 34, says "Whosoever will come after me, Let him deny himself."

Look at what Jesus said in John 12:23-26 says,

"And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour."

If a corn or seed of wheat is to be used to bring growth and new life, reproduction and multiplication, then 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 animal waste! 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 dung or 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 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.

What Jesus was asking is so contradictory to the present day philosophy of the world. Live for self. If it feels good, do it. It’s all about me and on and on it goes.

One of the hardest yet most important truths that believers have to learn is this thought of dying to self. It goes against everything that the world teaches. But it can and must be done if we are to be true followers of Christ!

Another thing that we need to see in this passage from Mark chapter 8 verse 34 is

#2) We must Take Up Our Cross:

Jesus said that we must take up our cross. Luke’s account in chapter nine verse 23 says,

"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."

Jesus is not saying that we must be crucified on a cross but that we must put to death or crucify our ambitions, our desires, and our goals so that Jesus Christ and what He desires for us is made alive! We must associate with His suffering and death on the Cross.

In taking up our cross, I think that the Holy Spirit through Mark is saying that we need to take up the cross or crucify the deeds of the flesh.

Galatians 2:20 says,

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Further down in Galatians 5:24 Paul says,

"And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."

Taking up our cross means to crucify the flesh and put to death the sins of the flesh. Paul says in Romans 6:6-8,

"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him."

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.

We must die to self, we must take up our cross, and lastly,

#3) 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. Losing ourselves 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."

B. Losing ourselves in prayer to the Lord for help and strength to do the work God’s given us to do.

  1. Losing ourselves 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 yourself 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.