God showed just how committed He was to us by giving us His best, specifically His only
begotten Son. We can't give Him anything in return to earn our salvation. However, we are still
expected to commit ourselves and our lives to Him, even though our level of commitment will never
match His. It is simply part of the Christian experience. The following verses demonstrate just
what He expects from us:
Luke 9:62"And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
The key phrase here is "looking back". If we are looking back, then we are longing for our old life, and we are not wholly satisfied with Him.
Philippians 3:18-20a"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven . . ."
Most of Romans chapter 8 fits in with this discussion of being totally His, but look specifically at verses 5 and 8:
Romans 8:5"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit."
Romans 8:8"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
The second book of Peter gives us a godly perspective about those who have tasted how good it can be to walk with God, but have decided to pursue other things:
2 Peter 2:15a"Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray . . ."
2 Peter 2:21-22"For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."
YUCK! Who wants to be like that? Why would anyone choose that? These verses are often attributed to backsliders, a phrase which puts into our minds a picture of someone who has not been to church in years, has a bible that is simply collecting dust, and is cussing like a sailor and getting drunk every Friday night. But He is actually speaking to self-professing Christians, who even may attend a church on a regular basis, but do not really place Him at the center of their lives. God wants someone who thinks about Him at all times, who will not make a decision without considering "what does He want me to do?" This is what is meant when God describes David as a man after God's own heart. Sadly, many Christians in America today do not long after Him in this way.
The following two verses state very clearly that we are expected to choose Him above all else, with no room for compromise:
Luke 9:23-24"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. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it."
Matthew 10:38"And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me."
The phrase "taking up the cross" means to identify ourselves with Jesus, and to do what He did while He was on this earth. It includes total commitment, and part of this can be achieved by fasting.
Fasting is always a touchy subject to bring up. It's rarely talked about or taught about anymore in churches, yet the Bible does not indicate that it is only a cultural thing that modern American Christians don't need to concern themselves with. As a matter of fact, Jesus says in Matthew 6:16 "when you fast", not "if you fast". He fasted, and we are to be identified with Him, so we should consider fasting as one way we can demonstrate our commitment to God.
We have often heard that the Christian life goes hand-in-hand with suffering, and many think of persecution by non-Christians when they think of suffering. However, if you go three or seven days without food, are you not suffering? Is this not a type of suffering which Jesus went through? Just like any other suffering which God allows into our lives, it is designed to build our character, and to get our minds off of our fleshly desires, so that we can concentrate fully on Him. It's supposed to be uncomfortable!
Actually, that's not quite correct. He doesn't want us to be uncomfortable, He wants us, during our toughest times, to take our comfort in Him:
2 Corinthians 1: 4b-5a" . . . the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles . . ."
If you find that a particular study has been helpful, I'd love to hear from you. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.