A disciple is someone who always and in every situation of life chooses to do God’s will, as opposed to their own will. (Luke 25:33)
Jesus said, “…..not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42. Will you choose such a life? That only you can answer, but this is why I did. This is why I chose to be a disciple.
The first step
When I was younger I went on a weekend trip with the boys group in my church. We played football and made campfires, and in the evenings we listened to Bible stories.
On the Saturday evening we sat around in a circle and listened to one of the leaders speak about living for Jesus. Afterwards they asked if any of us lads wanted to say something. Immediately, a friend a couple of years older than me jumped up, but instead of saying something he asked to be prayed for.
After him others also did the same, one after another asking to be prayed for and getting prayed for. It quickly became a prayer meeting.
I wasn’t so sure what it was all about, but I felt it was a special opportunity which I didn’t want to miss out on. I asked one of the leaders to pray with me: “Please help me to live for Jesus, I don’t understand it much now, but help me to do it when I do understand it.” I wouldn’t say I was a disciple, but I had laid the first brick in the foundation of a Christian life. As that first brick, that decided intention, has never been moved or altered, it will come to have an eternal significance.
But then I grew up…
As a teenager I realized that I wasn’t such a ‘good person’ as I had thought. I easily lost my temper, I was incredibly arrogant and I started to be a bully.
I believed my sins were forgiven but as a teenager I found myself doing things that were upsetting for those around me and I was plagued by impure thoughts that I was ashamed of. This made me angry. I didn’t want to sin but I felt like I couldn’t help it. I got a personal grudge against Satan for the fact I found myself doing and thinking things I regretted. Then, I decided that whatever happened I would never ever deliberately do something or allow my thoughts to drift in a direction, which I knew was wrong. That was almost my own way of getting back at Satan.
I remember very clearly that this decision gave me a tremendous and unexpected feeling of peace. I still found that I did things I regretted afterwards, but I didn’t feel condemned and cut off from God. Instead I felt a sorrow that drove me closer to God. (2 Corinthians 7:11) I think I had stumbled across one of the great mysteries of the gospel: “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” Romans 7:20. “I” wanted something different than the “sin that dwells in me.”
I prayed fervently that I could become free from the sin I found in myself. I particularly felt bound by impure thoughts, in part because the difference between temptation and sin in my thoughts wasn’t so clear to me. But by degrees, I came to faith that it was possible for me to come to victory over some of that indwelling sin I found in me.
A big decision
When I was about fifteen I went to a Christian youth conference in Somerset in England. I had experienced a little of what it is to have victory over sin in an area, but I longed for more. Listening at the conference I came to faith that it was possible by obedience to the Spirit to come to a life of complete victory over sin. Not all the sin that lives in me in one go, but step by step as temptations come and I get to see some of it. Victory over sin I was already aware of, and over the indwelling sin which I was not yet aware of but I knew Jesus would reveal to me as I followed in His footsteps. I came to faith that if I gave myself completely to God in every circumstance to do His will, I would come to a life of victory over every evil temptation. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23. This ‘daily cross’ is where all those lusts to sin are denied and can be ‘put to death’ before I commit sin. Paul explains it like this: “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24.
The verse I kept with me from what I heard that weekend was, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20.
“I have been crucified with Christ…” By faith, I am dying together with Jesus. Not physically dying, but dying to sin.
“… it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” If I choose God’s will in the time of temptation, instead of my own will, then isn’t this true? ‘I’ (my own will) no longer lives. Instead, Christ lives in me. My natural sinful tendencies are not given any room to grow or develop. I have chosen God’s will and am dying to sin. That was Paul’s testimony and now it would become my testimony as well.
Why I am a disciple
It didn’t feel like sinning was something I wanted to do, but had to give up if I wanted to be a disciple. No, a longing to be free from sin was the reason I became a disciple! I realized that my own ‘self-will’, my wants, lusts and desires were corrupted and that giving in to them it would be an eternal loss both for me and those around me. That is why every day, in every situation in life where I find some of my own selfish will, I choose to do God’s will instead.
There are many things that I rejoice over, like eternal life, knowing Jesus and fellowship with the saints. But for me, the reason I was willing to utterly and completely give up my own self-will in every aspect of life, was because I saw a glorious opportunity to become completely free from sin during my lifetime, and I seized it with both hands.