Christians have all read the following from Jesus.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:25:
This is obviously an important message because it is repeated in Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, John 12:25 and Matthew 10:39. Many interpret this message as a message to serve others and forget self, and I agree we should do this but this is not what this verse is talking about. Many non-believers lose themselves by helping others, and they are not saved. As believers, If we help others motivated by the flesh, it is a dead work. We are called first to learn to walk by the Spirit, and the fruits of the Spirit will naturally love others and birth good works. I would like you to consider the following for this verse. Let’s read these verses with some more context.
24Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matt 16 NAS
34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8 NAS
23And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. Luke 9 NAS
24“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. John 12
37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. Matt 10 NAS
32“Remember Lot’s wife. 33“Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34“I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 35“There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. 36[“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.”] 37And answering they said to Him, “Where, Lord?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” Luke 17 NAS
Common instructions in these verses
1) If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself.
We deny ourselves when we turn from trusting in our fleshly abilities, our own righteousness and humble ourselves under Jesus, being born again of the Spirit, trusting exclusively in His righteousness for our salvation. This is a decision we make before we by faith see ourselves as being crucified with Jesus.
2) Take up our cross and follow Jesus.
The cross led to the crucifixion, to the death of the flesh. To follow Jesus, we are to see ourselves as already crucified with Him when we placed our faith in Him. We are to remind ourselves daily that our flesh, the old creation, has been crucified and is as good as dead in God’s eyes so we do not fall back into walking in the flesh. We are a new creation born of the Spirit.
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Gal 2:20 NAS
Our Father wants us to walk in faith by the Spirit, so we defeat the lust of the flesh.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Gal 5:16 NAS
To walk by the Spirit, we must see ourselves as God sees us in Christ. This is how we have victory now. God sees us as righteous, holy, sanctified and perfected in Christ right now. What God sees is as good as done. We just need to believe this by faith, and we can walk in it now.
3) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Those who keep walking in the flesh and are unwilling to humble themselves being born again of the Spirit under Jesus will lose their life in the end. “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “ Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:4-8 NAS
Therefore,” For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” is a call to take our eyes off self and fix them on Jesus, to forget self and see our flesh as crucified, dead, so that we can walk by the Spirit and find our true life in Jesus. We are to see our flesh as dead and this life for what it is, temporal. These verses are a call to believe the gospel and follow Jesus in the Spirit. The first thing Jesus did to perfect our Spirit was to go to the cross so the flesh would be put to death. The cross is what led to the crucifixion of Jesus flesh, and the Bible teaches that believers are supposed to by faith follow Jesus onto that cross. To see our flesh, the old creation, as crucified with Him, and to always regard our flesh as crucified with Christ going forward. To see ourselves risen with Christ, a new creation, walking in the perfected Spirit and not the sinful flesh that must die. A dead flesh can do nothing for you, especially not save you.
What God sees is a good as done – embrace the New Creation you are right now in the Spirit.
Stop looking at your sins, stop looking at your dead flesh and fix your eyes on Jesus the author, perfecter and finisher of our faith where life resides. We are to see our flesh, the old creation as God sees it, crucified with Christ, dead. Then we wholeheartedly embrace the new creation we are in Christ, forgiven, righteous, holy, sanctified and perfected. We see ourselves as God sees us. Taking our eyes off self, the dead flesh, and fixing our eyes on Jesus we lose ourselves, the old creation and find ourselves a new creation born of God in the Spirit.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-2 NAS
For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, “IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.” And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. Heb 12:18-23 NAS
We have victory and reign in this life through an abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness.
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Rom 5:17 NASFurther studies on this topic.How is the Flesh Crucified?I Am a New Creation IN CHRISTI Am Holy, I Am Sanctified, I Am PerfectedWalking by the Spirit is Gods Will for Your Life, GuaranteedHow to Defeat the Lusts of the Flesh, Know Who You Are ChristianHow to Defeat Satan on the Battlefield for Your MindHow to be Transformed Into His ImageHow to Walk by The SpiritMany more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20