And he said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, KJV)
It is usually at this point in the telling of the Story that someone says, “If Jesus defeated the Devil, and destroyed Sin and Death – then why are we surrounded today with Sin, Death, and the Devil?”
Perhaps they have a point. I mean, everywhere we look there is blatant, unfiltered wickedness; there is death and destruction aplenty, and the Devil seemingly struts with carefree indifference to the claims of Christ and His Church.
I think there is something else going on here. You see, there is a fourth Monster. Jesus slew three Monsters on the Cross – Sin, Death, and the Devil. Yet, this fourth Monster carries within itself the combined residual powers of the previous three; and by those powers now unleashed through the fourth Monster, our world is defiled and under great tribulation.
“A fourth Monster?” you ask. “Please, tell us it’s name.”
Alright, I will tell you….but you’re not going to like it.
The fourth Monster is called SELF. It is the one remaining beast yet to be conquered by the Cross. We are summoned by Christ to bring this fleshly beast to the Cross, where He will slay it and thereby increase the peace of His kingdom.
We each must do this. I cannot bring your monstrous SELF to the Cross, nor can you bring mine. Jesus says to all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Each and every day I am faced with a choice: Christ, or SELF.
Oh, I know it’s crazy, but permit me this momentary lapse of sanity. Imagine a world in which every person everywhere denied themselves and followed Jesus. Would not Sin, Satan, and Death be defeated?
That may be asking too much, so let’s narrow our perimeters down just to those who profess Faith in Christ. What if Christians everywhere would deny themselves, take up the Cross and follow Jesus. Would that make a difference in our beleaguered world?
Indeed, it would. For the truth be told every problem facing mankind right now is the direct result of SELF running lose and unchecked. SELF is the brooding monster behind all that is wrong in our world. While we may wish to blame it all on Sin and the Devil — the blame rests with us alone.
Why are our educational systems so incompetent? Why are our economic systems so unequal? Why are our judicial systems so complex and unjust? Why are our social systems so fragmented and hostile? Why are our political systems so superficial and powerless? Why are our religious systems so condemning and irrelevant? Why are our homes ravaged with abuse and divorce, abandonment and despair? Why?
There is no mystery here. The answer to all these questions is the same — SELF! SELF! SELF!
And the solution is the Cross!
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live,” Paul wrote. “Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
My friend, take your monster Self to the Cross and Christ will conquer the beast! Do it not, and the beast will conquer you.
Jesus will not only conquer the beast of Self, but He will live in you and make Himself known through you by the power of His Spirit. And if this can happen in every person now living then God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. And that is the World we all want to live in.
One day….we will.