The moment there is a turning from the cross (death to everything), our Lord says, "Get thee behind Me," for that is all He has. The cross makes me afraid of following Christ; but He says, If you do not take it up, you cannot be My disciple. The Lord judges man totally and utterly; we cannot go too deep. He brings us to this, "In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing." Then we see that before we take up the cross for ourselves, there is the cross for us. There my sins were put away, and the old nature judged. I have died, and my life is hid with Christ in God. I am alive to God, not to Adam. That separates me from the world. Christ is my righteousness and my life up there. He has given me His Spirit, and I look down from there, in grace being an object of His favour, at what is of His hand in the creation. When I have got out of it I can look at it. . . . Either you are letting your mind go after what the flesh likes, or you are applying the cross to it. If you admire a flower you see, all right; but if you care for it, all wrong. I can see the hand of God in its beauty; but if I am thinking of the thing, it is not the beauty, but my own will and inclination.
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Christ has been rejected, and I am dead to the world, sin, and the law, and alive to God. Our steps are feeble, but He shows us the way, and we delight in His love. Of course the Spirit reproves us if we are grieving Him. . . . How far have our hearts believed this voice of the blessed Son of God in such love, when He puts forth His own sheep, going before them, meeting the dangers and leading them in the path? How far are our hearts in truth and simplicity disposed to follow Him, to think His love not mistaken in the path He has marked out? It is real deliverance from the flesh, but we must trust His love. When my heart thoroughly trusts Christ, it is His cross, and His reproach, and it has the sweetness of Christ, and all is sweet (we may be cowards in it), and we judge everything that hinders His leading us in the path. J. N. Darby.