The Ten Commandments
If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever would save his life shall lose it; and whoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.
Life 99. The “cross” means temptation.... By his “life” is meant the life of man’s proprium... which is also the “life of the flesh that profits nothing” in John 6:63.
Life 92. No one can shun evils as sins so as to be inwardly averse to them except by means of combats against them. Everybody knows from the Word and from doctrine drawn from it that the proprium [or natural inclination] of man is evil from his birth, and that this is the reason why from inborn covetousness he loves evils and is drawn into them. This is why he desires to have revenge, and to commit fraud, defamation, and adultery. And unless he takes thought that such things are sins, and on this account resists them, he does them whenever an opportunity offers, provided that his reputation and thereby his honors and gains do not suffer. Consider also that unless he has religion, the man does these things from delight.
Life 93. As this proprium of man constitutes the first root of his life, it is evident what kind of a tree a man would be unless this root were torn out and a new root planted in its place. He would be a rotten tree, of which it is said that it must be cut down and cast into the fire (Matt. 3:10; 7:19). And this root is not removed and a new one set in its place unless the man regards the evils that constitute the root as injurious to his soul, and on this account desires to rid himself of them. But as these evils belong to man’s proprium and are therefore delightful to him, he cannot do this except against his will, with a struggle and therefore with battling.
Life 94. Everyone does this battling who believes in the existence of hell and of heaven: that heaven is eternal happiness, and hell eternal unhappiness, and that those who do evils go to hell, and those who do goods to heaven. And one who thus fights, acts from within, and against the coveting itself which constitutes the root of the evil, for one who fights against anything does not will it, and to desire is to will. This shows that the root of evil is not removed except by means of combat.
Life 96. A man who fights against evils cannot but do so as of himself, for one who does not fight as of himself does not do so at all, but stands like an automaton that sees nothing and does nothing, and from evil he is continually thinking in favor of evil, and not against it. But be it well known that it is the Lord alone who fights in a man against his evils, and that it only appears to the man that he fights of himself, and also that the Lord wills that it should so appear to him, because without this appearance no combat takes place and therefore no reformation.
Life 97. This combat is not severe except in the case of those who have given free rein to their covetings and have indulged them of set purpose, and also in the case of those who have stubbornly cast off the holy things of the Word and of the church. With others it is not severe; let them even once in a week, or twice in a month, resist the evils they are inclined to, and they will perceive a change.
Life 101. A man ought to shun evils as sins and fight against them as of himself. It is in accordance with Divine order that man should act in freedom according to reason, because to act in freedom according to reason is to act from himself. And yet these two faculties, Freedom and Reason, are not proper to man, but are the Lord’s in him. And to the extent that he is a human being, they must not be taken away from him, because without them he cannot be reformed. For without them he cannot perform repentance, he cannot fight against evils, and afterwards bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. Now as it is from the Lord that man possesses freedom and reason, and as man acts from them, it follows that he does not act from himself, but as from himself....
Life 102. The Lord loves man and wills to dwell with him, yet He cannot love him and dwell with him unless He is received and loved in return. From this alone comes conjunction....
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- Mark 8: Jesus taught us that if we want to come after Him, we have to say no to ourselves, and do some hard work, and follow Him. There is a selfish aspect to our life that we must lose, for His sake and because His Word says so, if we hope to be saved. Does it help, in hard times, to picture taking up your cross to follow our Lord Jesus Christ?
- Life 92: “The proprium” means what is one’s own. Only the Lord truly has proprium, but He created us to feel, use, and enjoy life as our own. But if we assume that life is our own to use as we please without the Lord’s guidance, then the proprium is selfish and evil. Here it means the weak side of human nature.
- Life 94: See how important belief in eternal life is!
- Life 97: Does this seem a doable task? Can you picture making this a habit? This is a wonderful way to prepare for holy supper.
- Life 101–102: What a wonderful sign of how much the Lord loves us, that He created us to be free and rational people!