Can We Follow Jesus?

“I am the Light of the World; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.” Jn. 8:12 NASB

“If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].” Lk. 9:23 AMP

If we follow Jesus then, we must be walking in the light, i.e. not in the ways of this world; and that’s a tall order:

…present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. Rm. 12:1, 2. AMP

The keyword in the above scripture, is ‘holy.’ If we are to follow Jesus, we must do our best to walk as He walked. Christ walked ‘sinless,’ and He was the only person to have ever done so. 

In the Hebrew, ‘holy’ means to be ‘set apart,’ dedicated to sacred purposes,’ morally pure,’ and ‘sinless.’ Other than Jesus, (and His Father), do you know anyone else who is like that? Neither do I. Yet, what does God ask of us?

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 1 Thess. 4:7 ESV

…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love… E[h. 1:4 NKJV

What’s the problem? Our sin nature. We focus on overcoming it, but we can’t do it on our own strength. 

Sometimes, we look at some of our sins as being just little trangressions that don’t count. And yet, God Himself cannot brook the presence of any sin; and He demands that in order to come into HIs presence, we must be sinless. Is that possible? Can we conform to the image of God and His Son? 

…both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one..” Rm. 3:9, 10. NASB

Yet, what is the defining demand that is laid upon us?

Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness – without it no one will see the Lord. Heb. 12:14 CSB

Okay. God never asks anything of us, that is not possible to achieve. To be holy is to be steeped in continual righteousness. How does that work out for us from our own efforts?

But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags… Is. 64:6 NKJV

So, we cannot do it on our own. We need Jesus:

He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship which Him by His gracious lovingkindness]. 2 Cor. 5;21 AMP

It is the only way that we can come to the Father:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jn. 14:6 NKJV

Again, we can’t do it by ourselves. Why? because salvation isn’t achieved by works, but by the grace of God through Christ. (Eph. 2:8, 9.; Gal. 2:16; Titus 3:5) 

Why do we need Jesus? Because our sin persists. Praise God for His intervention:

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed… Rm. 3:23 – 25. NKJV

However, we are not without responsibility:

For if we deliberately go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries. Heb. 10:26, 27. CSB

We must do our best not to willfully sin, we must adopt new attitudes – those which promote living a life that pleases God. Part of that includes having faith in Him and His Son:

And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Gn. 15:6 NKJV

When we do sin, (and that will be more often that we like), we must approach our Savior immediately with confession and sincere repentance. That way, we can remain in a justified, sanctified state, where God can use us for His higher purposes:

So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 2 Tim. 2:21 CSB

This way, we can remain in adherence to the will of God. 

In addition, we must be on the alert for the devil’s attacks. The more we seek God and His will, the greater Satan will come against us – trying to get us to believe that we aren’t good Christians, and that we are not really saved. 

The way to get around that is to examine everything that you do, and ask yourself, “Does what I am doing conform to God’s will?”

It is common to be discouraged because we tend to cling to our ‘favorite’ sins. Just because we have accepted Christ, does not mean that Satan is giving up on us. He wants as many of God’s children as he can get, to join him in the lake of fire.

We must find our strength to resist him by focusing on what God has done:

For He has rescued us and drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son… Col. 1:13 AMP

Yet our sinful nature still resides within us – creating an ongoing war between the spirit and the flesh: 

“If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” Gn. 4:7 AMP

In our pre-saved life, we developed a propensity, a predisposition to sin. We chose and still choose to sin. It’s not something that we can’t help; it is a willful act. We can also willfully choose not to, because God has given us an ‘out.’ We just have to be aware and look for it:

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word – He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy]. 1 Cor. 10:13 AMP

Realize that in spite of our salvation, our sin nature is not going away:

“…the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth onward.” Gn. 8:21 CSB 

But we can call upon the Holy Spirit, who now lives in us, to expose those rebellious urges so that we can do our best, (with Jesus), to overcome our insatiable flesh. The other thing we can do is to avoid the encounters where we are vulnerable. 

Satan is the great deceiver. He wants you to be ‘cocky,’ filled with a phantom confidence that you can coexist with your favorite sin, that you have it ‘handled.’ Never.

For whatever reason, this struggle against temptation is a battle God has seen fit that we all wage. Yet, as we’ve seen, it is a series of skirmishes that have the potential for victory. We can call upon the entire Godhead to deliver us before the damage is done. 

“Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no never].” Ps. 91:14 AMP

Because He Himself [in HIs humanity] has suffered in being tempted, He is able to help and provide immediate assistance to those who are being tempted and exposed to suffering. Heb. 2:18 AMP

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. Gal. 5:16 AMP

We are in battle with the world. To prevail, we need to arm ourselves with a continual immersion in the word of God and exercise prayer to be able to resist the prince of the power of the air and his realm. 

Before you engage in any questionable activity, ask yourself 4 questions (from The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges):

1. Is it helpful – physically, spiritually and mentally?

2. Does it bring me under its power?

3. Does it hurt others?

4. Does it glorify God?

You would surely be able to qualify if something is potentially sinful by engaging in this inquiry. 

Sin is not going to give up; and you will fall from time to time. Yet, we can work on putting on behaviors that are contrary to the nature of our favorite sins. Learn to say ‘no.’ Stay away from environments, habits and people who entice you. Cleanse your thoughts. 

You are what you think:

For as he thinks within himself, so is he. Pr. 23:7 NASB

…if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Phil. 4:8 CSB

And then, act those thoughts out. Go on the offensive. Make no exceptions. You can walk a holy walk of obedience to your God. Let others know that you are a Christian. It puts you on the spot for God, and that’s a good thing.

You were chosen for this. Yes, you can follow Jesus…

…God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth… 2 Thess. 2:13 NKJV

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. 2 Cor. 7:1 ESV

Goodnight and God bless