We are not enslaved by Satan, but rather by ourselves. It is our own selfish and carnal nature that stands between surrendering our lives fully to Christ. Satan cannot force us to sin or disobey. But we ourselves, as agents of freewill, have the ability to choose between obedience and disobedience; between life and death. Blaming the devil for our lack of commitment is an easy excuse for our own lack of devotion and self-discipline. Jesus instructed us to take up our cross daily (Matthew 16:24-26) because He knew we would battle our selfish desires each day, and so each day we would need to place our old cravings on the cross and kill them. We truly must crucify the old man. It isn’t just an analogy. Each day we must decide whether our selfish desires will live, or if instead we will crucify them so that we might live in Christ.
The cross was a final and absolute judgment. No one survived the cross. The living person who was crucified stayed there until all the life had been drained from them. That is why the cross is such a dramatic representation for the way in which we must live. There is no half-way commitment with the cross, no trying it to see if it works. When you put something living on the cross, it did not come back. Crucifixion is final. Death is assured. In this way, we are called to eliminate all things that are contrary to Christ. We must totally eradicate all selfishness from within so that Jesus may occupy every inch of our being. When Judson W. Van DeVenter wrote the words to the famous hymn, he got it right. He did not pen the words, “I surrender Some”, or even, “I Surrender Most”. Rather, he wrote, “I Surrender All”. Indeed, if one does not surrender everything then there has been no surrender at all.
At its root, sin is synonymous with selfishness. We sin when we disobey the commands of God. We sin when we place our desires above God’s plan. We sin when our pursuit of wealth, pleasure, and status eclipse our commitment to generosity, sacrifice, and humility. When we become the focus of our lives, it is this self-centeredness that is the very sin that stands between us and God. Ultimately we sin because we have allowed selfishness to remain alive in us. We have not crucified it. We have not taken up our cross this day to follow Jesus.
Every morning we must recommit our lives to Jesus. There is not a day that passes that we are excused from crucifying our selfish desires to the cross of Christ. He commanded us to take up our cross daily because He knows how strong the temptation will be to relax and how quickly we will then be consumed by the sin we allow to creep into our lives. Every day is a new opportunity to live for Jesus or to deny Him. God blesses us with the freewill to choose whom we will follow every day. So every day, we must crucify our selfish desires. We must completely remove them from our lives. Then we will be filled with the Spirit of God and free to build His Kingdom.