The Challenge to Obey
Obeying God is not easy. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus tells us: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Let’s try to break down Jesus’ command. The first part talks about following Jesus, which pertains to obeying God. The next part of the command is an invitation to take up one’s cross. Did you know that such an invitation is a death sentence? While the cross has become a symbol of forgiveness, hope, and victory over sin to us today, the cross represents the Roman Empire’s brutal execution of criminals during the time of Jesus. This is why when Jesus says, “take up one’s cross,” he asks us to engage in the arduous path of self-denial and death to our selfish and sinful selves.
The Enemy Makes It Unpleasant
Obeying God is difficult because the Enemy does not want it to be easy. Remember that the Enemy exists only to steal, kill, and destroy. Satan thus wants us to be separated from God; he wants to steal our hope in God, kill our desire to be with God, and destroy our relationship with God. This is why he sows every excuse to keep us from pursuing God in our minds. Satan intentionally makes it difficult for us to seek God because he knows that humans tend to make excuses in the face of difficulty. And so, we come up with many reasons why we should not and why we cannot, even if it is the right thing to do. The tendency to make excuses comes from our sinful nature. It is the work of the Enemy.
Finding satisfaction in God does not happen automatically. It is something that takes practice and takes much work. It entails refusing to make excuses.
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