Jesus said that “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
The Holy Spirit draws us by the grace of God to the mercy seat for salvation. Jesus’ cross is that “mercy seat”. To be “Born Again”, one must confess and repent of his or her sin and thus the need to be saved from sin’s penalty which is eternal separation for God the Father. Such is what the Lord meant when He said to “deny” ourselves.
We actually die to self that we might allow the Lord Jesus to be born in us.
Remember the words of the Apostle Paul. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:2) Having been saved at the Cross of Jesus, we may now “take up our cross daily and follow” Him.
“But, how do I take up my cross?” you might inquire. The answer is simple albeit difficult. We take up our crosses the same place Jesus took up His. NOT on Calvary! That’s where he was nailed to it. He took up His Cross in the Garden of Gethsemane when He told the Father, “Not my will but Your will be done.”
If you have surrendered your life at the FIRST CROSS of salvation, you are now ready to take up the SECOND CROSS of discipleship.
If you try to take up the second cross before the first cross you will be guilty of legalistic religion or the social gospel. Without the first cross, everything we do is of the flesh. It will be a “form of godliness that denies the power thereof”. (2 Tim. 3:5) The Apostle told us to stay away from people like that let alone actually becoming such people.
Where are we today? Have we ever put our faith and trust in the Cross of Jesus for our salvation? THEN, have we taken up the Second Cross of our discipleship by saying “not my will Father but Thine be done?”