Paul wrote something very poignant in Galatians 2:20, it says 20. 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.
There is so much wisdom contained in this verse and it applies to every person who believes in Jesus as their Savior and lives it every day. Yet many of us don’t really think about how we are supposed to go about this. What does “crucified with Christ” mean exactly? How can I learn to live daily with Christ living inside my heart? Do I really have the faith that it takes to live like this? The process of living a crucified life is not just accepting Him as your Savior but living His life, His way by the faith that He has given us to believe in Him for our salvation. It truly isn’t as simple as it sounds.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus told His disciples this very principle. It says If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Still a bit confusing, right? Following Christ is what we as Christians are supposed to do but what does “deny himself/herself” mean, especially in today’s world?
Being “crucified with Christ” and “denying” yourself are mostly the same thing. So what exactly does Jesus mean by this? When we are saved, genuinely saved, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and changes us from the inside. But…our old nature is still present and there will be a struggle from day one over which side will “rule the day” in a manner of speaking. Starting your day with prayer and reading of God’s Word is the best way to start your day, every day. But, then there are days for each of us which has many interruptions in them such as work, school, errands, etc.
You get the idea. Denying your self is referring to the person that you were before your salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which makes a permanent change in your spiritual and your daily life. Some people may find that denying their “old self” is a bit too hard to do but if you just read God’s Word and pray about His work on you, whether it is in the morning or evening, the habit of denial of self will become easier. But doing this has to become a habit and it strengthens your faith and whether you think so or not, it will make your Christian life better. I didn’t say it would make it easier because the devil will keep on bringing up your sins and he knows exactly how to do it.
He will be whispering in your ear (mind) about all of the things that you were doing and enjoying before you gave your heart to Jesus. This will likely happen almost every day, sometimes more than once a day. You will need to be grounded in God’s Word so you will have the faith and the Word to be able to send your temptations and the tempter packing.
I know that many of you don’t really want to take the time to read the Bible on a daily basis but it helps a lot when it comes to resisting temptations that will come. There is no guarantee of any sort which says that Satan will not tempt you unless you don’t belong to Jesus in the first place. Why would he bother if you don’t belong to God in the first place? Even if you have spent most of your life in the church but you have never asked Jesus to come into your heart and save you, Satan doesn’t need to try to make you fail at being a Christian because you aren’t one anyway.
Is it possible for someone to be in the church that long and never give their heart to Jesus? Unfortunately, it is possible. There are many who have grown up in the church from the time they could walk until adulthood but they have never felt the need or the conviction to seek Him as their Savior. Taking up your cross, as Jesus said, is part of being a Christian. Living your life with Him and denying your old self so you won’t be tempted or at least you won’t fall for the schemes of Satan to cause you to fall into temptation.
Living this way is not something that just happens when you accept Jesus as your Savior. You have to learn His wisdom from the Bible and practice it each time a temptation comes along. Most of us aren’t told this bit of information before we accept Jesus or afterward. We are expected to learn it but if you don’t know what you need to learn how can you go about it? Read John’s gospel and the book of Romans because they are the foundation of your Christian life. Both of these books have good information on how to walk with Him and learn from His Word.