A disciple is someone who always chooses to do God's will instead of their own will in every situation of life. (Luke 25:33.)
Jesus said, “Not my will but your will must be done.” Luke 22:42 (CEB). Will you choose such a life? Only you can answer that, but this is why I did. This is why I chose to be a disciple.
The first step
As a young boy, I went on a weekend trip with the boys’ group in my church. We played football and in the evenings we listened to Bible stories. On that 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 wanted to say something. A friend a bit 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 I didn’t want to miss out. 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 then, but I had laid the first brick in the foundation of a Christian life. And when you keep to what you decided, it will come to have an eternal value.
But then I grew up…
As a teenager, I realised I wasn't such a “good person” as I had thought. I easily lost my temper, was very arrogant, and I started to bully others.
I believed my sins were forgiven, but I found myself doing things that were not nice 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 angry at Satan because I found myself doing and thinking things I was really sorry for. Then I decided that whatever happened, I would never on purpose do something or allow my thoughts to go 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 great feeling of peace. I still found that I did things I felt sorry for 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 found one of the great mysteries of the gospel: “But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it.” Romans 7:20 (CEB). “I” wanted something different than the “sin that lives in me”.
I prayed earnestly that I could become free from the sin I found in myself. I especially felt troubled by impure thoughts, because the difference between being tempted and sinning in my thoughts wasn’t so clear to me. But little by little, I came to faith that it was possible for me to overcome the sin I found in myself.
A big decision
When I was about fifteen, I went to a Christian youth conference. At the time, I had some experience of overcoming sin in an area, but I longed for more. As I listened to the speakers at the conference, I got faith that by being obedient to the Holy Spirit, I could bit by bit overcome all sin in my life.
I realised that I didn't have to overcome all the sin in my life at once, but that I could make progress step by step as each temptation came and I got to see the sin in me. I also understood that there was sin in my human nature that I wasn't yet aware of, but that Jesus would show this sin to me at the right time.
I got faith that if I gave myself completely to do God’s will in every situation, I would come to a life of overcoming every sinful temptation, like Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NCV), “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in victory through Christ."
Jesus said, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (CEB). This means saying No to every desire to sin and “putting them to death” before I do the sin I am tempted to. As Paul explains in Galatians 5:24 (NCV), “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their own sinful selves. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do.”
The verse that stuck with me from that conference was Galatians 2:20 (NLT), which says, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."
“My old self has been crucified …” By faith, I am “dying” together with Jesus. Not physically dying, but dying to sin. (2 Corinthians 4:10,11.)
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” If I choose to do God's will instead of my own when I am tempted, then isn't this true? “I” (my own will) no longer lives. Instead, Christ lives in me. The sinful desires in my human nature are not given any room to grow or develop. I have chosen to do 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
For me, it wasn’t that I felt that I had to give up sinning if I wanted to be a disciple. No, the reason I became a disciple was because I wanted to be free from sin! I saw that my own ”self-will”, my wants, lusts and desires were corrupted by sin and that giving in to them would result in an eternal loss for me and those around me. That is why every day, in every situation in life where I see some of my own selfish will, I choose to do God’s will instead.
There are many things I am happy about as a disciple, such as eternal life, knowing Jesus, and fellowship with other believers. But the reason I was willing to give up my own will in every aspect of life was because I saw a glorious opportunity to become completely free from sin during my lifetime.