Friday, December 01, 2006

The Divine Call of Self-Control

Matt. 16:24-26
Col. 3: 1-14

I never really understood Jesus' teaching in the Matt. passage to be a reference to personal desires. Yet "deny himself" definitely carries those connotations.

Paul describes those things we must deny ourselves of. He says it so forcefully, "Put to death...whatever belongs to your earthly nature." He gives two lists (vv. 5 + 8-9) of things that we are to stay away from because we "have been raised with Christ." He then gives a list of what we should do (vv. 12-14). These lists involve actions just as much as thoughts. In fact, all of the lists contain things that spring from our hearts (which is where our sin is rooted and buried, but where Christ desires to dwell).

The two passages I listed above are both talking about the same thing--following Christ. I think it can be read as a dialogue (even though it probably not originally written this way). Paul points out that Christ has been "raised" and now sits with God. Christ tells us that we can "come after" Him, that is follow Him. Paul then adds that when we are born again (modern term) our life is hidden away with Christ.

I find it intriguing that we say "born again" and Paul often refers to accepting Christ as "dying" (see v. 3). Letting Christ into our lives is really only the first part of this death. It takes conscious effort on out part to help God in purifying us. I am not elevating man here, I am referring to what Jesus' calls "carrying our cross." It is a wonderful part of God's love that He never forces His healing touch on us. After we let Him into our lives, He begin the long job of cleaning our out our hearts. As He goes along, He will reveal to us things that are hidden within our hearts (things we might not even have known about or remembered). We then have to either destroy that things (through Christ's strength and help) and move on to a deeper point in our relationship with God, or we can hold on to that thing and stop in our growth.

The first of these two is our "denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Christ," and requires practicing self-control. The latter is willfully "forfeiting our souls for the world." The latter leads not to glory, but to shame--Christ cannot know those who deny Him.

A final note: we can only achieve a deeper walk by succeeding in our "denial." We can only succeed in our denial by keeping our eyes on Christ. In Paul's terms, "Set[ting] our hearts...[and] minds on things above, not on earthly things." Above--that is where our King is, and that is where we are hidden.

P.S.: That pic at the top is from our property. We got about six inches of snow yesterday! This is unusual for is really beautiful (though somewhat of a bother!). -Steve


Austin said...

That verse about taking up our cross has even more meaning when we realize that when Jesus said those words, his disciples had no idea that he was going to be crucified. The disciples didn't make the same connection that we make - not until later, anyway. Imagine how they reacted to being told to pick up their crosses! Jesus was talking about death, and the worst form of it. They didn't know he was talking about himself. It was a brilliant metaphor of death-to-the-self. The disciples would have found it very graphic - not so "spiritual", as we usually think of it today. They must have been even more amazed when they realized post-resurrection that he had been talking about himself! Jesus is a genius.


I responded to your comment on my creation blog.
My regular blog (for spiritual stuff) is

Great post! You and your sister have an excellent blog. I'll be reading.

Jonathan M said...

Yes, it's great to see a brother and sister working together in such harmony! :-)

Rubies&Sapphires said...

Hey guys,

It really wasn't my idea to have a sister--that was all God's doing!

Actually...she's a lot of fun, and she's good for me (or to me?). She keeps me pretty balanced...I have a tendency to live life on the edge of the high dive.

As you can see, I let her take care of the personal posts on the blog and I take care of the political/theological/controversial stuff. Of course, she may post something really dynamic sometime...we'll just have to see we're this all goes.

Thanks for stopping by! -Steve

Katie Marie said...

Hi Stephen and Terah!
I'm glad ya'll finally decided to start blogging. :-) Thanks for linking to me.

But, in the world did Jonathon M. find ya'll? It's a small world! I don't actually know him, but I know Veronika [the other girl on my blog] does, I think. ]

See you!

Rubies&Sapphires said...

Hey, Katie! Glad you finally stopped by! : )

Actually, I found Jonathan's blog (all of them!) and he helped me add some stuff to the Blue blog.

It's really amazing the great people you meet blogging! -Steve

Rubies&Sapphires said...

Hey there, KT MRE!!!

I was wondering if you knew we had started using our blog...Is it normal for one (in this case two) to start a blog in February and not post on it until November? ; ) We actually started using Rubies and Sapphires before you got your blog though! HaHa! I'm just teasing you of course, Katie. I was so excited when I found Pursuing the Mystery just like maybe a day after you started it! Tell me, though, who is Veronika? Someone from band, or church, or what? Just wondering how you know her 'cause I've never heard you mention her until suddenly you're blogging with her.

As for Jonathan M., Stephen did not find him! I found him, and I happened to show him to Stephen. Just had to clear that up. = ) I think I found him through the comments on your blog.

We all had fun looking at pics of your Iowa trip on other peoples blogs! You see, I had to check out all the links on your blog after you started it. :-) Pete sure is funny! He really made us laugh! My little brothers thought he was so funny that they were sad when I informed them that he was taking a break of undetermined length from blogging. I'm like, guys, you don't even know him! = )

But, anyways, how did you find our blog? The comments on Chloe's blog maybe? I tried commenting on yours, but just when I was publishing my comment, our internet went out on us.(Something similar happened on Ellen's blog. I was going to tell her how cute it was.) I was so frustrated that I did not try again! But I really do like your blog!

Your welcome for linking to you. Will you link to us, please?

I hope to see you soon too, Katie!

~Terah K.~

Katie Marie said...

Terah K,
:-) I'm not sure when I found that ya'll were using R&S finally for real. It was a while before I commented...I just finally remembered to comment last week. I think I may have found it when you first linked to me.

Ah, see. I was wondering if you had 'found' Johnathan from my blog.

Veronika is a friend from ROC[Regenerate Our Culutre]. :-)

That's hilarious about Pete and his blog. Working with him in Iowa was so great!

I'll link to you, next time I update the list! :-)


Rubies&Sapphires said...

Thanks, K!