Derek Prince - The Thing You Have To Do To Follow Jesus
This is an excerpt from: The Cross In My Life - Part 2
In Matthew 16 Jesus stated the rules for following Him. You notice I say rules but because of what I've been preaching about rules I'd better say the first steps you have to take. Matthew 16:24-25: Jesus said to His disciples He didn't talk to the crowd. 'If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life [but the Greek says soul] will lose it; and whoever loses his life [or soul] for my sake will find it.'
So, what are the essential first steps if you want to follow Jesus? Not if you want to be born again. You know, being born again has become a kind of label that just exonerates people from the responsibilities of Christianity. I'm born again so don't tell me that I need to change. I'm not convinced. Jesus says if anyone desires to come after me, what's the first thing he has to do? Deny himself. What does that mean? Do you know what deny is? It's say no. So if you want to follow Jesus the first thing you have to do is say no to yourself.
The second thing you have to do is take up your cross. God doesn't impose the cross on you. He didn't impose the cross on Jesus. Jesus took up His own cross. What is your cross? There are two definitions I'll offer you. One is your cross is the place where God's will and your will cross. The other is it's the place where you die. It's your decision, you don't have to do it. But you can't follow Jesus till you've done it. If you want to come after Him you have to deny yourself, say no to yourself and take up your cross, the place where you'll die. And God has a specific cross for each one of us.
I've met more than one man who thought his wife was his cross. If you can pick your wife up or put her down, maybe. But your cross is something you don't have to carry, it's your decision. But you can't advance any further without it. What does it mean to deny yourself? Well, in the Greek it's deny your soul. Generally speaking, Bible commentators say the three functions of the soul are the will, the intellect and the emotions. The will is what says I want, the intellect is what says I think, the emotions are what say I feel. So when you deny yourself you say it's not what I want, it's God's will; it's not what I think, it's what God says; it's not what I feel, it's what the Holy Spirit impresses upon me.
So there are three areas where you have to deny yourself. Not what I want, not what I think, not what I feel. When you've done that you can begin to follow Jesus. After that you can begin to say Philippians 4:13. Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The Prince version is: I can do all things through the One who empowers me within. You cannot receive His power within as long as you're operating your self life.