For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Man’s insatiable desire for the things of this world – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life are the results of the Fall (cf. 1 Jn 2:16). Man has made independence from God and self-centeredness the goal of his life, but now believers must return to total selfless dependence on God. Salvation is the restoration of the image of God in humanity, damaged in the fall. The believer’s goal now is “to take up his cross” as a condemned criminal having to carry his own crossbar to the place of crucifixion (cf. Lk. 14:27). This was a cultural metaphor for a painful, shameful death, and in this context it refers to “death to our old sin nature” (cf.Eph. 4:22; Rom. 6:6). Yes, there is such a thing as a Christian’s cross or a Christian being crucified to his cross (cf. Gal. 2:20;5:24). Evidently we have three basic enemies to our souls; the world, the flesh, and the devil (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11; Rom. 7:18; 1 Pet. 5:8). The apostle Paul is an epitome of one who has been crucified to the world as the world has been to him (cf. Ga. 6:14), so that there leaves no room for him to glory in self and flesh, save the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we couldn’t miss the understanding that what the cross does to us when we embrace it is, it separates us from ourselves, from our enemies, it separates us from everything that damns us, and it shuts us in with God Himself and everything that blesses us. Now here’s the world, the position it can offer, the money it can offer, the pleasure it can offer; now if you’re not willing to embrace and take up your cross in your relation to the whole world, then you are no better than those pitiful pharisees who loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God (cf. Jn. 12:43). Alas, how many Christian workers today who are loving the approval of men, they are worldly as though they had never become Christians. There’s no cross in their lives, and they’re living for the approval of their superiors, the approval of the congregation, the approval of this or that. They love the approval of men rather than the approval that comes from God. And that’s the way we all feel, that’s what we all want – man’s approval. But thanks be to God there is a cross, says Paul. There’s a way out, if we would just consent to that cross, to do its liberating work in our lives. The moment we crucify self, the moment we crucify the flesh with all of its desires and affections to the cross, nothing really matters to us anymore but the approval of God. Friends, I submit to you if you will not allow the cross to separate yourself from your lustful desires and earthly things, then you make yourselves the enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ. There is no middle ground. Because the gospel is a radical call for once-and-for-all commitment of all and continuing discipleship to Jesus (cf. Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Luke 9:23; 14:27; 17:33; John 12:25). As Jesus laid down His life on the cross for others, so we must follow His example (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 2:20; 1 John 3:16). It is only through this process that the results of the Fall are removed.