Do we as Christians need to deny ourselves and carry the cross according to this?
Matthew 16 “24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his deeds. 28 Most certainly I tell you, there are some standing here who will in no way taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.“
Jesus was specifically talking to the 12 apostles from Israel. He was talking about the judgment of Israel in the lifetime of the Apostles. The nation of Israel and the system of the Old Covenant religion was destroyed in the 1st Century between AD66-135 during the 3 Jewish-Roman wars. Christ told them to leave behind the Old Covenant of Israel to be saved by faith in Christ, otherwise they would perish in judgment.
This was a call for salvation to unbelieving Jews.
What is the meaning of carrying the cross and denying self here?
Paul explains that being crucified with Christ is to NOT trust in the Law but to have faith in Jesus Christ:
Galatians 2 ” 19 For I, through the law, died to the law, that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me. 21 I don’t reject the grace of God. For if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”
Paul was a Jew who died to the law by not trusting in 613 commands for salvation anymore. He fully trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation without works.
The Law is the system of doing works to be saved (Romans 10:5).
Dying to the Law means you give up trying to save yourself by works but trust in Jesus alone.
It’s a one-time event – when we believed in Christ, we were crucified with Christ and died to the law (works). We were made alive because Christ lives in us – We are under GRACE and not law (Rom 6:14, Rom 7:4).
Paul was a great Pharisee who realized that the righteousness of the Law is garbage compared to the GRACE of God in which we are righteous by faith in Christ without works!
Philippians 3 “4 though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I yet more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless. 7 However, I consider those things that were gain to me as a loss for Christ. 8 Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith,“
In the 1st Century the Jews were under the Law – it was their religion for 1500 years.
But Jesus Christ, the Son of God came and revealed to them that salvation is not found in the Law but only by faith in Him. He came to redeem them from the curse of the Law.
Galatians 4 ” 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, 5 that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as children.”
Galatians 3 ” 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 Now that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not of faith, but, “The man who does them will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The Jews had to “die” to the system of works-based salvation. They had to stop trusting in the Law.
They had to trust in Jesus Christ – they had to leave behind the Law.
The Law was their old life and world. They had to “die” to the Law and be made alive in Christ.
They had to come to GRACE and leave behind the LAW.
We Gentiles were never under the law to begin with. For the Gentiles, as unbelievers we were dead in Adam in the sins apart from the law.
Before Christ came, the Gentiles were cut off from God without any covenant, having no hope (Ephesians 2:1-22) but thanks to the Cross of Jesus, He removed the law so that Gentiles can now come to God by faith in Christ apart from the works of the law.
Jesus was crucified to cancel the Law so that both Jews and Gentiles can be saved by grace through faith without keeping the law (Colossians 2:13-14, Romans 3-5).
When we believe in Jesus, we are made alive in Christ.
Ephesians 2 “4 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”
A believer is not dying everyday, and is not carrying the cross every day.
We are already ALIVE with Christ, seated in heavenly places.
The work is finished. Rejoice because Jesus carried the cross for us and saved us!
We are righteous not by keeping the law but we are righteous by grace through faith in Christ.