God’s Will First

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who want to lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Matthew 16:24-28

Remember, this is just after Jesus rebuked Peter for putting his will before God’s. And here Jesus comes right out and says that if you want to follow Him, you have to deny yourself. If you put your needs and wants first, you might perhaps live longer or more comfortably, but you will lose eternal life in Heaven.

I was looking for a short, all encompassing definition of sin to help explain it to a friend, and I came up with this description: “Something you want, but God knows is bad for you.” I know, not the best definition, but it answers the question “Why don’t we want to sin?” or “Why shouldn’t we sin.”. Because it’s bad for either our body or our soul! Is it really wrong for Peter to want Jesus to live? Surely that would be a good thing. But in hindsight, if Jesus hadn’t sacrificed Himself, endured Hell for us, would we be saved? Clearly, God’s plan was better than Peter’s! All sin is essentially going against God’s will. God wants what is best for us, but we don’t always. That’s an important part of the Gospel message. And if we aren’t accepting that, are we really accepting Christ?

We know that someday God is going to judge each and every one of us. As Jesus says here, “… he will repay everyone for what has been done.” Those who have worked to do God’s will (or at least TRIED to), those who have labored for Him will be rewarded. Those who didn’t … Well, they’ll get exactly what they asked for: separation from God. God is loving, but He is also just. And just as criminals on earth can’t walk free, neither can criminals against God. As I think Jesus says at some point, you are either with Him or against Him. There is no halfway. (**I looked it up. It’s Matthew 13:30: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”)

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