The human body and brain is instinctively wired for survival. God has even equipped us with powerful brain functions that tell our heart to pump blood and our lungs to breath air. You don’t even have to think about it.
And we can’t do anything to stop it either. Have you tried telling your heart to stop pumping blood? Even if you tried to consciously hold your breath until you died, you would faint so that your brain’s subconscious survival instinct would take over to resume breathing.
You can’t stop it. Our entire bodies are living machines that cannot stop trying to survive.
As sinful human beings, we are also wired for what we think is survival: trust our own religious efforts to attain the good life. In Buddhism, you must follow the 8-fold path to achieve enlightenment. For Jews, the 10 Commandments. In Islam, you have the 4 Pillars. Every religion offers some path that human beings must follow to ensure spiritual survival.
People will go to great lengths to obey them also. They will subject themselves to the rigors of religious life and duty because they either fear divine reprisal for disobedience or await divine reward for obedience, or both.
But Jesus says this:
“If anyone would come after me, let him ï»¿deny himself and ï»¿take up his cross ï»¿daily and follow me. For ï»¿whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
The self-righteous mind will see this as some requirement that s/he must achieve to receive Christian blessing.
But that’s dead wrong.
Saving your life is self-righteous Phariseeism. Losing your life is truly Christian.
The blessing of Christ is only achieved through dying to ourselves. What does this mean? Stop trying! Religious effort is self-focused; denying oneself and losing one’s life is Christ-focused.
When we are no longer trying to achieve life for ourselves, we rest in Christ and follow him. When we follow him, radical discipleship and obedience is possible because we are freed from self-effort.