Deny Yourself and Follow Me
Overseer Sung-Hyun Kim
People who come to church so that they can prosper on earth will soon be disappointed. This is because this is not the reason God gave the Gospel. A life of faith can bring hardships. However, this does not mean you can thoughtlessly reject it. The Lord will pay us back with eternal things for what we did on earth.
Similarly, the disciples did not completely understand what the Gospel was. Jesus asked them, “Who do people say I am?” The disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” This is true. Nobody saw Jesus as the Messiah. This is because the people believed the Messiah would save them from Rome’s oppression, but they did not find this intent in Jesus.
Jesus then asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ.” Peter knew Jesus was the Messiah. But there was something he did not know. He knew the Messiah was to receive glory, but he did not know He must undergo suffering and death. The Lord spoke about how the Son of Man must suffer, be killed and rise again after three days. He finally exposed the true character of the Gospel (which He did not reveal before).
Peter rebuked the Lord, “Lord, this shall never happen to you!” The Lord suddenly stopped walking. He scolded Peter. “Get behind Me, Satan! You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Peter was hoping Jesus would take back Jerusalem, ascend the throne and be glorified, but the path Jesus was heading to was the way of the cross. This was to fulfill God’s work – to redeem mankind.
The Lord called the crowds and His disciples and said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” He did not just say this to the disciples. The Lord said this to all those He invites to be saved.
To follow the Lord, we must first deny ourselves. We should completely cut off the character of sin we had in the past, along with the thoughts and habits coming from it. We should not think of ourselves as righteous or be conceited on the grounds that we are justified, or have a lot of ability, or that we lived long lives of faith. Since we already received the Lord’s love, we should no longer be buried in love for ourselves. We must not give the devil a chance to misuse the sinfulness sown in our flesh.
The Lord said you must take up your cross to follow Him. The cross was a tool designed to give sinners pain for a long time. The Lord never hung on a cross before, but He mentioned the cross (though no one mentioned it previously) to say how painful and tedious obeying the Lord is. He was not talking about the physical difficulties or concerns humans must undergo to survive, but it was the suffering and death you must endure as believers for the church to succeed.
The idea that obeying the Lord guarantees prosperity on earth is not God’s thoughts, but man’s thoughts. They are thoughts of the flesh. The flesh does not care for the spirit’s situation. The devil uses this. He not only distances people’s spirit from God, but he interferes with the church’s efforts to save those who are in darkness. Since we seek the Lord, let’s hate our lives on earth rather than love it. Let’s lower ourselves like the Lord did. Let’s look to the glory the Lord will give us when He comes again, and bear every hardship with hope while we serve the church on earth.
ON 3Minute Sermon
(Lord’s Day Service on August 22, 2021)