Earlier we looked at what it means to follow Jesus. We saw that true faith consists of two things. First it consists of self-denial. It consists of us refusing to follow our natural inclinations. It consists of us declaring our hearts and ideas to be sinful. It consists in denial.
Second we saw that it consists of taking up our cross. If we truly follow Christ, we will suffer. The world hates Jesus and it is going to hate us. Jesus died because he followed God the Father. If we follow, Jesus we to will be persecuted. True faith consists in suffering for the gospel.
Lastly, true faith consists of following Jesus (Mark 8:34). To be a follower of Jesus, we must not just deny ourselves, we must not just suffer, we must follow. We must obey Jesus. We must do what he says. As Jesus says in John 14:15 ““If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Many parents fear that an early profession of faith could potentially scar a child. A child could claim Christ at 7 and make it to 27 having been divorced three times, imprisoned twice, and drunk beyond count. The parents worry that an early baptism will numb junior into thinking God is ok with his sin. This is the antidote. We call junior to follow Christ. We tell him that faith involves obedience. Where there is no following, there is no faith. Instead of celebrating his baptism, we point to his works. We show that his works invalidate his earlier actions. As David Platt, the President of the IMB said,
Following Jesus is not a one-time prayer: it is a lifelong journey.
Where there is no obedience there is no faith.
A true fan of any team wears the t-shirts, goes to games, watches games on T.V, knows the cheers, decorates with their team’s swag, and goes nuts when his team win. I do all these things and more for my beloved Chicago Cubs. People know I am a fan of the Cubbies because of my actions. Friends we will know if we are followers of Jesus by our actions.
This is where we must come down on our own lives. We should look back and cherish the moment God saved us. We should praise God for justifying, adopting, regenerating, and sanctifying us. But, we must not stop; we must keep following. I went to my first Cubs game at the age of nine. I loved it! However if that one game was the total measure of my fandom, you would look at me funny. You would question my devotion because none of my current actions, decorations, or behaviors indicate that I still care the cubbies. Are faith is the same way. It must continue. We must follow Jesus.
As we put off our own thoughts, we must fill our minds with the thoughts of God. As we stop doing what we want, we start doing what God commands. As Colossians 3:2-12 says,
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God… Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry… Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
As we replace sinful, earthly thinking with heavenly, holy thinking, we will begin to act different. We will begin to put off sin and put on righteousness. We will replace sexual immorality with purity, anger with compassion, and pride with humility. If we follow Jesus, we will continually become more like him.
At the end of the day, the measure of our faith is not how good and obedient we were the day we got baptized or walked an aisle. The measure of our faith is whether we daily follow Jesus.
So how are you doing? Are you following Jesus? Do you daily deny yourself and risk persecution so that you can obey God? True faith.