I mentioned before that I used to serve as a worker in a faith-based addiction recovery program. One of the verses we all had to memorize was Luke 9:23…
“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.’”
One word that all of us would forget as we were trying to memorize this verse was the word “daily.” The thought of having to surrender oneself to the will of another is hard enough. The thought that the Lord wants me to submit to Him daily is harder still. Unconditional surrender is hard. It’s unnatural. I have within in me a fallen human nature that does not want to yield to anyone. As a believer I also have the Holy Spirit in me Who is the earnest (down payment) of my inheritance in Christ crying, “Abba, Father” from within my heart (Romans 8:15). Both are at war, vying for dominance (Romans 7:23).
My only tactic is to yield. I can yield either to my fallen nature (which the Bible calls “the flesh” or “the old nature”), or I can yield to the Holy Spirit, my new nature. Yielding to my flesh is easy. It’s natural. It can even feel right. Yielding to the Spirit is difficult. It is unnatural because it is contrary to my fallen human nature. It can even feel wrong.
But I can make yielding to the Spirit second nature.
If you’re reading this, you are using a secondary skill. The concept of using symbols to convey ideas is revolutionary. Not every culture has been able to take their spoken language and put it into characters that can be read by another. All cultures began with just an oral tradition. Not all progressed to a written form of language. Spoken language is part of natural development. For all of us who read, the ability to read is something we had to learn. Someone had to teach us. But reading and writing is something we do so often that we don’t always see it as a secondary skill. It just seems natural. We don’t even have to think about it. How did this happen? Practice. Constantly disciplining ourselves with reading and writing until it became second nature. We also did it as a matter of survival. There are those in modern society who cannot read or write, either because they lacked the educational opportunity, or because they have a learning disability that keeps them from being able to read or write. But we all know that to survive in modern society, learning to read and write is in our best interest.
Spiritually speaking, it is in our best interest to learn to yield to our new nature rather than to our flesh. It can become second nature if we do it daily, as the Lord has commanded us. It is something necessary to our spiritual survival and it is expected of all believers. The verse says that Jesus said these words “to them all,” meaning all who declared themselves Christ’s disciples. Yielded living is not something for an elite class of believers. It is something for all of us. It is as basic as reading and writing.
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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash