“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
So said Jesus. The cross He is talking about is the one He took up Himself; it symbolizes death; it stands for the violent and abrupt end of the natural human life. Under Roman rule, the man who took up his cross and started down the road was not coming back.
So it must be with all who would follow Christ; the cross must slay the sinner, completely and absolutely; there must be nothing of the old man left. The cross is not meant to make us nicer people; it is meant to bring death; death to the old man and death to the sin that contaminates and infects him. Nothing else will do. Man is under the sentence of death and he must surrender to that sentence, as did Jesus, if he is to have a share in the kingdom of heaven.
Many Christians place their future in the cross of Christ and neglect the fact that Jesus also said; “whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).
In the teaching of the parable of the sower, Jesus referred to the thorns that come up and choke the word; one of these was “the desire for other things”, as it is translated. A better translation is “the desire for remaining things”. The things that remain of the old man are the things that disable us; they must be put down ruthlessly. The old man must be slain!