“I believe that God will crucify without pity those whom He desires to raise without measure! This is why we believers have to surrender to Him the full control of everything that we consider to be an asset in terms of human power and talent and accomplishment.” A.W. Tozer
“Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable; He did not come to improve the improvable; He did not come to reform the reformable. None of those things work. –Robert Farrer Capon
In Luke 9:23-25, Jesus made the matter unequivocal when He told His followers, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” This crucified life, this losing one’s life for the Lord’s sake and yielding control to Him, is not optional. Walking daily in the way of the cross is not just for the “super-spiritual,” for missionaries and a few pastors. It is the only way of life for any who want to follow Jesus. Any faith that does not include walking in the way of the cross daily is not following Jesus Christ. Those are the unambiguous words of Jesus.
A true faith in our God must arrive at the cross. At our cross, the instrument of our own death. The cross is the central icon of the faith because we are all called to it, to die upon it daily and yield control over our living completely. Only by our submission to the cross, can we realize the fullness of the life our God has for us. The Christian life is found when we empty ourselves of all our rights, prerogatives, controls. All of our living, not just the “church” parts. We cannot live a life divided into the sacred and secular, one part for Him to influence, and the other for us to manage.
Fortunately our God knows our weakness, that we cannot walk in the way of the cross in our own strength. He knows our rebellious human nature that will not allow Him to be Lord. So, He invites us to allow Him to crucify our old nature, to work this crucifixion in us so that we can walk in the newness of His life in us. This is hard for us because even in going to the cross we want to control the process. We want it done on our terms. If we are to yield control to our God, it must start with yielding to Him in our own crucifixion. Perhaps the most important prayer we can pray is this: “Slay me now, Lord, and please live your life in me by your Holy Spirit.”
Three years ago, I began to pray this prayer in earnest. What has resulted has been a period of profound spiritual reformation in me, the most intense and fruitful of my entire life. It has been painful at times. The death of self is always painful. Crucifixion is not a neat and tidy way to die to self. But it is effective. It is worth it. Our God is worthy of it.
Living a Christian life is really quite simple. It is simple because it is impossible for us. The only way in which we can live the Christian life is to have Christ living His life in us. There is one throne in our living, and if we are on it, Jesus is not. Our old nature will not yield that throne until it is dead. If Jesus is to live His life in us, we must die our self-direction, self-protection, self-fulfillment. So Jesus bids us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and be crucified. The way of Jesus is the way of the cross. There are no exceptions.
“In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.” A. W. Tozer