Suppose the Lord shows you to do something that is an enormous test of your common sense, totally going against it. What will you do? Will you hold back? If you get into the habit of doing something physically, you will do it every time you are tested until you break the habit through sheer determination.
The same is true spiritually. Again and again we come right up to what Jesus wants, but do we follow through or do we turn back at the true point of testing? Do we move forward until we are determined to abandon ourselves to God in total surrender? A potential disciple said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me…” (Luke 9:61). This person did not choose to follow Jesus; he chose to follow his worldly ways. Effectively he said, “yes, I will obey you, Lord, if what you ask of me doesn’t go against my common sense”.
Oswald Chambers said, “Jesus Christ demands the same unrestrained, adventurous spirit in those who have placed their trust in Him that the natural man exhibits. If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark. In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap by faith into what He says. Once you obey, you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.”
He further says, “By the test of common sense, Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad, but when you test them by the trial of faith, your findings will fill your spirit with the awesome fact that they are the very words of God. Trust complete in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis–only one out of an entire crowd is daring enough to invest his faith in the character of God.”
What is God’s character? “God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19) This same message can be found throughout the Scriptures. “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” (1 Thess 5:24)
God is perfectly faithful, steadfast, and true. “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6) And He also promises, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
The One true God is wholly faithful. No matter what we do, He will be there with us. His faithfulness isn’t dependent upon our works. But He does require is a willing heart to follow Him wherever He leads. His discipling of us depends on our willingness to lay down our desires and replace them with His. “And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'” (Luke 9:23)
To “take up your cross” is something that has to take place in your thoughts. When thoughts that aren’t pleasing to God come to your mind during the day, you “put them to death” on an inner “cross”. Our thoughts lead our hearts. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov 4:23)
A judging thought toward your friend crops up, for example, or perhaps a grumbling thought of dissatisfaction for what you have to do today. As these thoughts come up in your mind, you choose to deny them. Your mind stands guard at the door of your heart, and you get to decide what comes through. When a sinful thought pops up in your mind the first time, it is only a temptation – a “suggestion” from Satan. But you can choose to deny that thought access to your heart!
In practice, that means that as soon as you become aware of the thought, you disagree with it. You don’t dwell on it. The thought meets a firm “no” in your mind. You don’t permit the thought to pass through your mind and come into your heart. Denying these sinful thoughts is how you take up your cross daily. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:25-26)