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One aspect of repentance that the world despises is dying to oneself. We are a selfish society, a sinful society. Engaging in sin is a self-serving pursuit and a self-destructive pursuit as well. Dying to sin, however, is the antithesis of self-service. It denotes suffering, and suffering is part of the faith. There’s no escaping this reality.

Servants Are like Their Master

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.” (Mark 8:34–35)

This exhortation to take up one’s cross is reserved for Christ’s disciples only. Those who come to faith have a new life, new priorities, and a new nature—and this new charge. This means disciples must learn from their Master Jesus and follow His example. Jesus came to serve and honor the heavenly Father. So must we. “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26).

We confess Christ as the King of kings, and although believers are called a royal priesthood, we labor as servants in His kingdom. We are lowly and despised by the world. This should not bother the Christian, for we follow in the footsteps of our great Lord Jesus. Jesus daily denied Himself to minister to others. Christians in their duty of service and life of sacrifice deny themselves to serve their God and King.

Living as new creatures in Christ, we deny ourselves in another way. We abandon self-serving pursuits, we flee from the pleasures of sin, and we follow Christ. We will have to leave careers behind if they do not honor Christ. We will have to break off relationships if they do not honor Christ. We will have to give up positions of rank and forsake former reputations if that is what it will take to honor our God with our whole life. We will endure hardships of many kinds to bear witness to Christ.

Peter reminds us that we are strangers in this world—refugees who wander—for our eternal home is not here. Our treasures are not in the world but in our glorious God whom we worship and adore. Jesus died on the cross, making payment for sins; therefore, we take up our cross, denying the pursuit of sin and dying to self.

Dying to Oneself

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21)

Daily we die to ourselves. We no longer live for sin but for our God who redeems us, loves us, and changes us.

To lose our life, we forsake that former life of iniquity and rebellion. We die to ourselves and surrender all for God’s glory. We are accounted as sheep ready for the slaughter. Christians recognize that their lives are not their own. Their bodies are not their own. Everything, including our very selves, belongs to the Lord who created us and re-creates us.

As followers of Christ, we are a royal priesthood, and our treasures are reserved for us in heaven.

Disciples of Christ do not merely share the goodness of the gospel—they live out the reality of its effectiveness in their lives. By the power of the Holy Spirit, regenerate men and women in their repentance continue to put to death desires that are contrary to God’s will. Understand that none of us are called to repent for another person. We cannot ever put to death another individual’s sins. Happy is the disciple who knows his or her sin and hates it for the offense it is against a holy God.

Christians battle sin. It is our constant enemy. Faithfulness calls us to be at peace with the Lord but always at war with our sin. Forsaking our former ways that caused the death of Jesus is another aspect of taking up the cross. You are dead to sin—fully dead—if you have saving faith and repentance. Give no time to sin. Die to it again and again.

Your Reward Is Great

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Heb. 11:24–26)

In conversion to Christ, we lose a life that opposed God and we gain a new life, a new purpose, and a new will to live for God. We engage in kingdom-building, supporting the propagation of the gospel message that saves sinners form the wrath of God and gives them a new heart to worship Him.

We live for Christ and for His joy. Our joy is what He enjoys, that which is holy, right, good, and a blessing to others. The meek do indeed inherit the earth. As followers of Christ, we are a royal priesthood, and our treasures are reserved for us in heaven. Yet, now we may live more fully than ever before as we repent of sin and obey His commandments with a special delight and joy.

Evil men may have placed a crown of thorns on our Savior but that same humbled Servant of God now is on His glorious throne in glory. Christ also crowns His people: “[He] redeems your life from the pit, [He] crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (Ps. 103:4).

Is Salvation Conditional?

The Church and the Offices of Christ