Discipleship: Walking According to His Truth

Following Christ is simple.  I said simple, not easy.  It’s easy only as we surrender to His Spirit and Word. How are you doing when it comes to walking as Christ’s disciple? What do you need to change to be wholeheartedly His by making Him first, giving your all to Him and dying to your own selfishness and stuff?

Here are some simple thoughts on discipleship from Jesus Himself (Luke 14:25-35)…

  1. Christ must be the absolute #1 Priority (Lord) in your life (vv. 26-27)
  2. We must commit and submit wholeheartedly, not half-heartedly (vv. 28-32)
  3. We must die to or give up our selfish desires and possessions (v. 33)
  4. If we follow through on the above we can be devoted disciples; if we do not we can’t be.

I said simple, not easy?  These can’t be done in our own strength…only by His Spirit!

These 3 specific choices must be made if we are to be disciples of Christ. According to Jesus Himself, if we are not doing these then we are not His disciples, i.e., He is not our Lord. We need to take this much more seriously than we do. It is not just about attending church, giving some money and serving a little…all good things but discipleship is much more (Luke 14:25-35)!

Let’s look at each of these more deeply and be honest with ourselves about His Lordship and our discipleship in Him beginning with the first – Christ must be the absolute #1 Priority (Lord) in your life if you are to be His disciple (vv. 26-27).

The “hate” that Christ talks about in these verses is not a hatred of heart but a comparison of others when it comes to Him. Is there anything in your life that takes priority over Christ? Jesus didn’t talk of petty things (not in the sense of their potential impact on our lives but in their eternal value) like money, success, fame, sex, porn, drugs, etc. He spoke of those that were to be of significance to us because of relationships… spouse, mother, father, children, siblings, even our own life. We could even add friends…and dare I say, church?!?

Do any of these take priority over Christ in your life? If they do, He clearly says we can’t be His disciple – He is not our Lord.

Make Him first in all you do and He will take care of and bless those things that He desires for You and will order your life according to His Covenant and Kingdom. He will also remove those idols that don’t belong as only He can. Don’t let even those things His Word calls good take priority over Him! Take up your cross and follow after him above all else. This is for our sake, not His.  He knows this is the only way to have a fulfilled life. All the rest is fleeting.

Continuing with the focus on what it means to be Christ’s disciple if we are claiming Him as Lord (Luke 14:25-35) leads to His second point… our devotion to Him must be with all our heart. We can’t halfheartedly commit because our commitment is then based on our own selfish, fleshly terms, i.e., doing it our way (vv. 28-32).

Jesus uses two examples to teach us of the complete commitment required to be His disciple: 1) Finances and building a tower; 2) Fighting a battle.

In both cases He makes it very clear that anything but complete devotion to Him as Lord will be seen as unworthy. In the first case our work and our faith are declared both a failure and a mockery (does this ring a bell as to the world’s response to our “discipleship” today?). In the second story we are seen as unprepared for the battle, ultimately seeking a peace based on surrender (again anything familiar in how the world sees today’s Christians and Christianity?).

Hasn’t the world seen enough halfhearted devotion? We’ve become an afterthought and a laughingstock because we’re not sold out to Him! We can’t afford to let the world continue to see anything less than our all for Him.

After all, isn’t He just asking us to follow the example that He set in giving His all for us? Remember this is what is required in a relationship with Christ as Lord… but He never demands it. He wants us to do as He has done and give our all to Him!

I can’t do that on my own and it is His life, sacrificial death and resurrection that makes it possible as I commit wholeheartedly to Him as Lord and to walk as His disciple according to His standards. He has given me everything I need to do so. The question is will I fully surrender? He’s got great plans for those who do!

Oswald Chambers says, “If Jesus Christ cannot alter a man’s disposition, Christianity is a cunningly devised fable. Christianity means the manifestation of a strong family likeness to Jesus.”

When Christ is Lord of our lives it means that He is first priority in all things and we are wholeheartedly devoted to Him. He doesn’t speak this for His sake but for ours. He knows that anything that competes with Him will ultimately destroy our lives, relationships and efforts and lead to disaster. That’s why Paul states in Galatians 6:7-8 that sowing in the flesh always brings the fruit of destruction.

This brings us to the third point that Jesus makes in Luke 14:25-35…we must die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, parting with any and every possession that claims us (vv. 27, 33). What does it mean to take up our cross? It means we must die right out of our natural selfish desires and longing for stuff. We choose Christ’s Truth and walk in it rather than seeking to satisfy our own feelings and pleasures. His results are much better (Galatians 6:8).

Jesus said that if anyone wants to come after Him they must deny self, take up their cross (His calling on their life) and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Oswald Chambers gives great insight into what this looks like in his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest (Jan 24)…

Discipleship is not for the faint of heart as we are certainly called to walk against the culture and swim upstream. So much of our modern-day churches have tried to do discipleship while fitting in with, and attracting, the culture but we’ve certainly lost our “saltiness” (Luke 14:34-35).

Jesus said that if we have anything that takes priority over Him, if we do not count the cost and make a wholehearted commitment to Him, and if we do not die to self and the things or possessions of this world, then we are not His disciples, i.e., He is not our Lord (Luke 14:25-35). If that’s the case and you’ve been led to believe that you’re in a relationship with Him as Savior only but He’s not Lord, then you’ve been misled.

Look at our culture and tell me that our churches and the “disciples” that make them up have retained their saltiness? We have lost it because we’ve been told He can be Savior but we can be lord. If this it not specifically taught it has been implied in what is taught and what is left out in today’s teachings.

We’ve lost our saltiness and it’s evident that the culture has tossed us to the dunghill (manure pile). Let’s wake up and be the men, women, disciples and Church that He died to save and be Lord of! He’s waiting to see if we will lovingly and willingly submit to Him as that’s the only way this works.

As we dive deeper there are three things to consider as to what our discipleship response to Christ as Lord looks like. All of these are Scriptural and have been modeled by Christ and yet are difficult in our flesh…so we must do so by His Spirit.

Oswald Chambers outlines these three things that must be given up by Christians in their walk with The Lord:

1) Give up your right to your life as you take up your cross and go to the death of your flesh and selfish desires (Galatians 2:20) – just as Christ willingly sacrificed and gave up His life for us, He calls us to do the same for Him. This may mean a literal physical death in our service to Him but each day that we live we are called to be a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) which means my life is surrendered to His will…to be lived for His purposes and His Glory.

Remember that just as John the Baptist was to prepare the way for The Lord, we are called to do the same in our lives and through our lives so others can see and know Him. In John 3:30, John the Baptist emphatically stated that it was not about him but totally about Jesus when he stated, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

As we learned earlier, Christ will never force us to decrease our own life and desires nor will He force the increase of Who He Is in us…we must willingly lay down our life (decrease) and choose the increase of His Word and Spirit, His Life, in and through us.

2) Give up your right to yourself…give yourself as a “living sacrifice” to God for His will (Luke 9:23; Romans 12:1)

The second right that we must give up is our right to ourselves… give yourself as a “living sacrifice” to God for His will (Luke 9:23; Romans 12:1-2).

Again we must remember that God is only asking what Christ modeled for us in loving obedience to His Father and we are called to do the same. As long as we are pursuing the things of self, we will never be fulfilled as we were created for so much more which can only be found in the Creator and not the creation (Romans 1:18-33).

Paul David Tripp says it this way in his devotional, New Morning Mercies, “Today your heart will search for satisfaction. Will you look for it in the creation or in relationship to the Creator?” He goes on to state, “There is one thing you must always remember as you take in creation’s multisensory display. Creation does not have the ability to satisfy your heart…Today you will give your life to something. Will it be the Creator, whose grace alone can satisfy and transform your heart, or the creation, which was designed to do neither?”

3) This may be the toughest because it is revealed in our thought life and practical daily choices…we must give up our right to be right…OUCH (John 10:17-18)

When I share this in conferences, retreats or events, two things quickly rise to the surface in comments and questions. The first is an overwhelming response that as Christians we are right and must stand for what is “right.” This mindset has fostered much of the legalism (Pharisaism) in our churches today.   We are right but we can fully trust God to defend His Truth and righteousness as we walk in them in Love?

The second is in response to the first in simply pointing others to our Lord’s example. Had Jesus demanded his right to be right, we would have no Savior…and no Lord because we would have no way to be in a relationship with Him. He was absolutely in the right in proclaiming who He was and that all authority belonged to Him and yet He willingly gave that up to the worldly authorities out of love, first for His Father in obedience to Him (Luke 22:42) and then His Love for us. In so doing, He perfectly fulfilled the very commands that He instructed us to follow (more on this next week, Lord willing).

However, had he insisted upon the fact that He was right and in the right, He would have never been crucified and you (and I) would never have been saved. He will be proven right and so will we but our walk as His disciples calls us to lay this down for the sake of others knowing His Truth and Love.

Think about these and how they impact us daily in our choices for self or for Christ.

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – He calls us to give up our rights to our life, to ourselves, and to worldly stuff…it is not for His sake but for ours. Don’t fall for the things of this world, give up your self for Him!

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you what you need to do, by His grace, to be Christ’s disciple.
  2. What relationships take priority over Christ?  Make a list.
  3. Determine areas where you are half-heartedly devoted to Christ – make a list.
  4. What possessions mean more to you than Christ?  Make a list.
  5. Ask The Holy Spirit to begin to show you how to make Christ first in every part of your life and be wholeheartedly sold out to Him.

Love and Lordship Prayer Focus Heavenly Father, thank You for making it possible to be in an incredibly, loving and intimate relationship with You that encourages, strengthens and fulfills my life.  Forgive me when I live as though Christ was simply my Savior and not my Lord. In Jesus Name.  Amen.