And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26, NASB) (See Matthew 16:24-27 and Mark 8:34-38)
And follow Me. Christ is our example and we follow Him to the death of self. He teaches us day by day how to die to the self by submission to the Holy Spirit. We trade in the life of self for the life of the Spirit by following Him and learning His word. The disciple follows the example of Christ. The disciple follows every step taken by the Rabbi. He is our example, our life. That is why the Apostle Paul could say:
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NASB)
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it. The disciple cannot keep a hold of his own life. The self-life (the old man) is contrary to the pureness of the new life in Jesus. The disciple freely lets go of his rights, his plans, his life for the life of the servant, the slave of Christ.
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:5-7, NASB)
Whoever losses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. The disciple recognizes that to trade his own life in for the life of follow Christ is the way of salvation, the way of fulfillment. It is an easy choice to make if you are His sheep and you hear His voice.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:8-11, NASB)
For what is a man profited? There is no profit in holding onto treasures of the earth which are temporary and will be destroyed in time (Matthew 6:19-24). The treasures of heaven are eternal and hold the greatest value. For the disciple it is an easy choice, the better investment is the Christ and His plan for the life of a disciple.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, NASB)
Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words. The disciple is not ashamed of the Gospel message and freely proclaims it. This is what is desired in discipleship: unashamed recognition of who the King is and who is the subject as it is represented in life, in speech, and in daily living while we follow our Rabbi and Master in kingdom living.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16, NKJV, emphasis added)
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him until that day. (2 Timothy 1:12, NKJV)
Make the decision today to trade in the life of the self for the life of the Spirit.