“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him saying, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.” —Luke 23:35-37, 39
The underlying cause of most sins is selfishness. It is called by several different names, such as pride, self-will, the flesh, and self-esteem. It is valuing, preferring, and giving priority to self above anything or anyone else, including God.
In the verses above, some of the Jewish people, religious rulers, soldiers, and even one of the criminals who was crucified with Jesus, mocked and ridiculed Him by telling Him to save Himself. If He was the Messiah who healed the blind, deaf, and lame, and even raised the dead, it should be a simple thing for Him to save Himself from dying on the cross. But they did not understand that this was the whole purpose, or cause, for which He was born and lived for (John 12:27).
Even His own disciples did not understand and actually opposed why He surrendered without a fight (Luke 22:49-53). They talked, from the beginning, about His having to be killed (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33; Luke 9:22, 44-45; 18:31-34). And they expected Him to deliver them from the Roman Empire and establish a new kingdom of Israel, but He rebuked them for going against His death, which was God’s will. Jesus went as far to say that no one could be one of His disciples if he was not willing to give up his entire selfish life and live for God.
Even though being a Christian can cause someone to be killed physically, it is necessary for everyone to become a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1), or to surrender his life completely to God through faith in who Christ is and what He did on the cross. This is what it meant to allow Christ to be the Lord of—in control of—his life, which is an essential part of becoming and remaining a Christian (Matt. 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-24). This is what the rich young ruler refused to do because his material possessions were more important to him than surrendering to and following Jesus (Luke 18:23). But that is exactly what the person did when he found a treasure in a field (Matt. 13:44), and a pearl of great price (Matt. 13:46). He went and sold all he had so he could buy the items that were much more valuable than all he had.
Everyone is trading his life for something. They are either trading or giving up their souls for the temporary things of this life that lead to eternal death, or they are giving up their lives in this world so they can have eternal life with God. (Matt. 16:26; Mark 8:36-37; Luke 9:25).
Paul said it this way: Most people change, or trade, the glory of God for an idol (Rom. 1:23). They go on to change or trade the truth of God for a lie and worship and serve the creature more than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Finally, some go as far to change or trade the godly relations between a man and a woman in marriage for homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-27).
In Acts 1:8, believers are described as witnesses (3144. martus) who have information or knowledge of something to give to others. This information is gained and given to others by the power of the Holy Spirit. First, it is gained by the power of the Spirit only through faith in the cross that enables believers to be dead to:
Then it is shared with others by the power and anointing of the Spirit resulting from the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 4:23-31; 8:14-17; 9:17-18; 10:44-48; 19:1-7).
- the sin nature (Rom. 6:2, 7, 11; I Pet. 2:24)
- the law (Rom. 7:4; 8:1-2; Gal. 2:19; 5:18)
- the world (Col. 2:20; Gal. 6:14)
- the flesh (Rom. 8:11-13; Gal. 5:16, 24)
- the devil (Col. 2:14-15; I John 3:8-9; 5:18)
So God requires every person who wants to live for Him to surrender everything he is and everything he has to be a Christian and fulfill God’s plan for his life. This is similar to Jesus overcoming selfishness by humbling Himself and being obedient to death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8).