Just Following Jesus Is Not Enough

Many Say They Follow Christ But Are Really Floundering

Just Following Jesus Is Not Enough
Image Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2018 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).
Over two billion people will tell you they are “Christian”, but most do not really live it (though they might think they do). Let us explore the very words of Christ to find the remedy.

“Behold, we have left everything and followed You,” said Peter to Jesus (Mark 10:28). That seemed very true to Peter and the other apostles. They had left the comfort of their homes and their livlihood to follow Jesus. However, they were not following Jesus the way they needed to be following Jesus. Let us read on a little more. Here is Mark 10:29 to 34.

“Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.’
32 They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, 33 saying,  ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.’”

Jesus was heading to Jerusalem knowing full well that He would suffer and die there. The disciples did not react positively to this. They were physically following Jesus, but their inner man {1} was really floundering. If we name the Name of Christ this is something we should not do.

I. Do Not Be Floundering - Mark 10:32

“They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him.”

They were amazed that Jesus was forging ahead toward Jerusalem even though death would certainly meet Him there. He knew very well He was to offer Himself for our sins and knew very well He would be raised from the dead. He also knew He would die a most humiliating death, one that would say to the Jewish mind He was cursed of God (Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13). He would do this for our sake.

It is very clear He was very committed to His mission, to save us from our sins. Now, while many name the Name of Christ they are amazed by those that are really committed to Christ. More often to “save face” their amazement is masked by a show of disregard of a committed Christian’s outstanding behavior. They might disregard things like couples knowing each other’s passwords, have access to each other’s phone, when one refuses to be alone with a member of the opposite sex, steady church attendance, thorough Holy Bible knowledge, and so on.

Another form of amazement might occur in the mind, thinking, “Jesus was special and no one is really expected to be like Him.” Yes, He is special in that He is all God and all man for our sake, but Philippians 2:5-11 is very clear that while physically ministering on the earth He did so not as God but as a man being directed by the Holy Spirit and living the life we need to live to truly please the Father Who demands perfection.

The best way to be amazed by Jesus is to be amazed in such a way at the tremendous merciful love of God for us to personally provide the sacred and only rescue from self, sin, and damnation, that one lives completely committed to Him out of love and gratitude. There are two things that will help us to do so which will be mentioned in the next point: “Be really following".

Before we get to that point we need to address the other negative reaction expressed in Mark 10:32, “those who followed were fearful". Since I minister directly in the United States I have to wonder at times if some of those who call themselves Christians here would make it through severe persecution. I am afraid they would not.

Along with making a mental disconnection from Jesus some might show fearfulness by not rebuking, not warning, and so on as directed by the written Word and the Holy Spirit. They hide behind one phrase of Holy Scripture, “do not judge”, and neglect the many times Christ rebuked and even shamed {2} people. People prettify the Lord’s encounter with the woman at the well when He actually put the unmarried woman who committed fornication with five husbands of other women on the spot when He said to her, “go call your husband” (John 4:16). And, most people think of how sweet Jesus was to forgive the woman caught in adultery but forget He permitted her to first fear for her life and, after being reprieved from stoning, was told by Jesus (John 8:11), “Go, and sin no more.” Or, right in the Temple He tells a man He had healed (John 5:14), “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” That was Jesus, and after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost His real followers had no problem with rebuking, warning, shaming, and more.

Fearfulness is also shown by selective usage of Holy Scripture. Personal responsibility hardly exists thanks to the doctrine of cheap grace and ministers over-emphasizing the love of God at the expense of His holiness. Far too many “Christians” do not proclaim the Gospel of Christ despite the fact we have many ways to easily do so. The list can go on, but let us get to the positive, the remedy.

II. Be Really Following - Luke 9:23 

“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'"

Two elements must be in place before one really follows Christ, viz., “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily". Without those two foundations one is just taking a walk that leads to Hell.

Deny Self

To deny self basically does not mean to do acts of asceticism or observe the man-made religious season of Lent. Denying self is a constant surrender to God through Christ in every aspect of life, every moment of life, every thought, and every decision of life. I do mean “every”. However, do not take that to mean we must all the time ask God what shirt to put on each time we need to put a shirt on, but we do have to be open to hearing from Him at any given point -- even when choosing a shirt.

Does that sound odd? Why did not Jesus just go get something to eat instead of being tested by satan {3}? And, one reason why He did not turn a stone into bread is because He did not hear from the Father to do so. Sure, He also would not do it because satan said it, but the main reason is the Father did not tell Him to do so. Note His words:

“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” - John 5:30

“I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” - John 6:38

“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” - John 8:28

Here is another aspect of denying self. We often hear preachers and teachers say, “Be yourself.” Really? Whatever happened to the Biblical mandate to be like Jesus? Sometimes a Christian will say, “I speak my mind.” God forbid! Speak the mind of Christ. It is time self is knocked from the throne and let Jesus rule supremely!

Jesus constantly denied Himself. If we have surrendered our life to God through Christ, then Christ dwells within. We have the ability to deny our self. If we are truly saved, truly redeemed, Jesus is much more than an example to us: He is our very life! If He dwells within we have the ability to be Who He is morally.

Take Up Your Cross

The only way Christ is to be our life is for us to die to self and let Him live through us. This should bring mostly joy, not sadness. We should have a level of sadness for the lost or for the weaknesses within certain areas of the Body of Christ, but joy should prevail. Taking up our cross would include being happy, being blessed, and praising God when facing trouble.

As stated, Christ constantly denied Himself. He then took up His cross. Note in His prayer to the Father while in Gethsemane that He prays “not My will, but Yours” (Luke 22:42) and then soon goes the cross: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Remember the presence of Christ is constant and so should be our fellowship with Him. If we are doing anything that would be displeasing to Him we should stop it immediately and live for Him as directed by the written, living, and spoken Word. This includes our thoughts. The moment any thought enters our mind that would not be in the mind of Christ, we should cast that thought away and immediately focus our minds on what God would have us to focus upon.

Taking up our cross means for us to be a continuous living sacrifice unto God. It is written in Romans 12:1-2, “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Follow Only Christ

Do not follow your desires but only what God would desire. Do not follow family members whether they are immediate or distant members. Do not follow other Christians, or non-Christians, or religious groups. Know the Word, Christ within. Know His written and spoken Word (the Holy Spirit speaking to you).

Each Christian has three basic and main purposes, viz., to worship God, edify the Body of Christ (the universal Church), and spread the good news (Gospel) of His salvation through Christ. Edifying (building up) the Body of Christ includes personally spiritually growing in Christ Who said  (Matthew 11:29), “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” If we love Him we will follow Him by learning about, and learning from, obedience to His directives.

In following Christ we will always do what He would do even if it displeases people, and even if it means being persecuted in any way, great or small. In some cases, even in some churches, we might “stick out like a sore thumb” if we truly deny ourselves, take up our cross, and really follow Him. Far too many people make church assemblies to be social clubs or some type of religious political arena. Far to many only hear the Word of God but do not heed it. Note what Jesus says in Luke 13:24-28:

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' 26 then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' 27 But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.”

Many call themselves Christians. They go to a Church meeting (“You taught in our streets”). They receive Holy Communion (“We ate and drank in Your presence”). Sadly, many are not really following Jesus because they still live by their own will and make little effort, if any, to bridle their desires and do not follow the desires and commands of God. Sadly, they are not following Jesus. Sadly, they are taking a walk to Hell. Do not follow them. Follow only Jesus.

Notes:

For further help in denying self please see It Is Not About You Or Me, It Is All About God at http://holybibletreasures.expertscolumn.com/article/it-is-not-about-you-or-me-it-is-all-about-god .

{1} Used in the proper traditional sensible sense, denoting all people, male and female. I could not care less about being politically correct.

{2} Please read “Is It Wrong For A Christian To Shame Someone?” at http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/article/is-it-wrong-for-a-christian-to-shame-someone .

{3} Not capitalized on purpose. Experts Column gives me the freedom to express myself in that way.

This article was written in the form of a sermon (message) outline with comments. God willing by March 13, 2018 (hopefully much sooner), you should be able to hear the actual message (sermon) by selecting a link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M487 .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates and adding “(The Existing One)” to readily express the meaning of His Name without making repeated explanations in articles. * = For other versions the spelling of some words is updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates.

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.


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Wow. Thank you for such profound words. You are right, many call themselves Christians but live far from the requirements. There are many self-help, self-taught, self-this, self-that going around now, in the name of advancement and moving forward and prosperity. We need more of the Christ-help, Christ-taught variety. We say it, we teach it, we preach it, sadly we don't live it.

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