Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matt.16:24
Could individuality be the stubborn outer layer surrounding the inner spiritual life? If it is, then it gives greater meaning to what Jesus has asked us to do in Matt. 16:24 He says, that "IF" we wish to follow Him then we first have to decide to "deny self" and "take up" (bear) our own cross and follow Him. As I look back and examine my own life I see a lot of individuality reflecting back at me. I see the individuality in me shoving others aside, separating and isolating people and being a loner. Individuality could be described as the characteristic of an uncontrolled child and maybe that was what Paul was alluding to when he said;
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Cor. 13:11
Maybe it is possible to become an adult and yet remain an uncontrolled child in many respects, therefore becoming confused sometimes as to who or what we are. This appears to be so when individuality is confounded with spirituality. Now I don't want you to get me wrong, each of us has our own individuality and I believe it is a God given trait, but it has to be controlled and we cannot do that by ourselves. As Christians we understand that principle very well for Jesus said;
for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
To be victorious Christians our individuality MUST be yielded to Christ so that our spiritual life may be brought into harmony and fellowship with Him. Individuality can counterfeit spirituality, just as lust can counterfeit love. God designed our human nature for Himself, but individuality can corrupt that nature for its own purposes. The main characteristic of individuality is self and that is why Jesus said it has to be denied BEFORE we can truly follow Him. He knows that we can retard our spiritual growth by continually giving in to self, or in other words, asserting our individuality. When we feel the Spirit of Christ working within us we must watch ourselves closely because, as a test, it pushes us to the limits of our individuality. To the limits where a decision must be made. It could be a choice of to do something or not do something, such as watching sport or other un-Christian programs on TV, or a decision on appetite, what to feed the body temple, or it could be a decision on something else. However, the real choice is between saying "Yes Lord" to what you know He is asking you to do, or continuing to indulge individuality. We all know When the Spirit of Christ is working with us and we all know right from wrong and Satan will be there, but the promise is;
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]. 1 Cor. 10:13
Take the "escape route"! To yield our will to Christ is to break the un-yielded hard shell of individuality, which allows the Spirit of Christ to control thoughts and actions. This in turn will bring peace and harmony to the soul. Christ wants to bring us into union with Himself, but unless we are willing to give up the right to ourselves, He will not and He cannot because He will not force anyone against their will. When Jesus says "Let him deny himself", Matt 16:24, He is meaning give up your independent right to your individuality, come and follow Me, then our spiritual life, our real life, will be allowed the opportunity to grow. Then we will have the power over Satan to be able to "reconcile with our brother", "turn the other cheek" and "do good to them that persecute us and spitefully use us".
The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. Ps. 25:9
May The True God of heaven and His literal and only begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, continue to bless us all as we learn the lessons of the Christian life is my prayer for us all, in Jesus name!
The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace. PS. 29:11