The call to follow Christ is a call to forsake all and surrender your life fully to Him. As Jesus said in Luke 14:33, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” This is a bold and challenging statement. Jesus makes it clear that following Him requires absolute submission and sacrifice.
There can be no half measures in our commitment. We cannot cling to our old lives, desires, and possessions if we want to truly know Christ. We must forsake all and embrace Him as our highest treasure and most satisfying joy. This is the Gospel invitation—leave behind your old life and find new life in Christ alone.
What does it look like to forsake all for the sake of following Jesus? Here are some key takeaways:
- Forsaking all starts with acknowledging Christ as Lord of your life. You surrender control and enthrone Him as King.
- It requires detaching yourself from idols like money, comfort, success, and human relationships. Christ must have preeminence.
- You must abandon self-reliance and trust completely in God’s provision and care. Fearless faith in His promises.
- following Jesus means pursuing holiness and dying to sinful desires that wage war against your soul. You must fight sin relentlessly.
- Embracing a life of sacrifice and suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Being willing to lose everything for Christ.
- Understanding that nothing in this world can satisfy. Only finding joy, contentment, and satisfaction in Christ alone.
- Recognizing the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ above all else. He is your greatest treasure.
Now let’s examine what it means to forsake all for Christ in greater detail.
Forsaking the World
To follow Jesus, you must release your grip on the things of this world. As 1 John 2:15 warns, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The world represents human society apart from God and under the sway of Satan. It operates by values that are opposed to God’s Kingdom.
The world promotes self-seeking pride, greed, lust, and rebellion against the Creator. If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you cannot also be a friend of the world. You must reject its allurements and not be shaped by its ungodly mold.
This means you should not pursue worldly gain, prestige, or pleasures. Do not store up earthly treasures. Do not live for what this world can offer you in terms of money, sex, power, and acclaim. All that is passing away. But those who do the will of God live forever (1 John 2:17).
Your life, time, and resources must be invested in the eternal Kingdom of God rather than the temporal kingdoms of this world. Follow the exhortation of the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
To forsake all for Christ means abandoning self-reliance. So often we want to hold on to control over our lives. We trust in our own wisdom, strength, and resources to get by. But Jesus calls us to a life of radical dependence on Him.
We must relinquish our grip and trust that God will provide what we need. This means giving up financial security. It may mean giving up success as defined by the world. It means embracing hardship, risk, and the unknown as you follow where Jesus leads.
Living by faith is not easy. But it liberates you from fear and anxiety when your security is in Christ alone. As Hebrews 13:5-6 declares, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.'”
Forsaking self-reliance also means humbly submitting to the authority of Christ mediated through His people. Follow the example of Jesus who willingly obeyed the Father and was subject to human parents and leaders. Be willing to serve others rather than demanding to be served your way. Yield your personal autonomy for the greater good of Christ’s Kingdom.
Forsaking Sinful Desires
Jesus gave His life to free us from the power of sin. But following Him requires that we now join in crucifying those sinful desires that still wage war within us. As Romans 6:11 exhorts, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Do not make excuses for sin or try to justify it. Understand that sin is more than just wrong actions – it is rooted in corrupted desires that manifest in evil deeds. We must repent not only of sinful behaviors but also the underlying sinful cravings.
Ask God to shine His holy light into the depth of your heart. What bitter roots produce sour fruit in your life? What idols and false saviors do you run to apart from Christ? Bring these areas out of the darkness and nail them to the cross. Forsake anger, greed, lust, pride, selfish-ambition, and other sins. You have been set free from sin’s tyranny. Now walk in that freedom.
Pursuing holiness requires weeding out anything that draws your affections away from Christ. Remove stumbling blocks like relationships or entertainment that tempt you towards sin. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:30, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” Do whatever it takes to eradicate sin. The eternal reward is worth it.
Forsaking Earthly Comfort
One of the greatest obstacles to wholehearted obedience is comfort. We all naturally long for security, prosperity, and an easy life. But Jesus says clearly in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” There will be no crown without carrying the cross.
Following Jesus means deliberately choosing discomfort, affliction, and loss for the sake of serving Him. Paul describes himself in 2 Corinthians 6:8 as “…poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing everything.” Are you willing to become poor that others may become rich in Christ? Will you empty yourself of earthly security that you may lay hold of eternal reward in heaven?
Jim Elliot, missionary who was martyred in Ecuador, once said: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” God may be calling you to release your grip on earthly comforts you cannot keep so that you may gain heavenly riches you cannot lose. Will you trust Him enough to do it? The abundant life is found in willful abandonment to Christ, not the hoarding of earthly treasures.
Jesus asks you to take up your cross daily. This means embracing affliction in service to the Gospel. It means crucifying the old self with its carnal cravings. It means being willing to suffer loss and endure hardship for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. Consider it all joy when you encounter trials of many kinds (James 1:2). The testing of your faith produces steadfastness that leads to completion and maturity as a disciple of Jesus.
Forsaking Human Relationships
One of the greatest tests Jesus will put you through is calling you away from human relationships that hinder your walk with Him. He once said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Here Jesus uses strong language to emphasize the supremacy that He must have over all other relationships and even your own self-love.
This does not mean you actually despise your family, but that devotion to Christ trumps all other allegiances. If you have to choose between obedience to Jesus and maintaining harmony in other relationships, you must obey Christ. He alone stands above all in authority and demands your highest allegiance.
This may mean some relationships end. It may mean setting firmer boundaries on relationships that prove spiritually unhealthy for you. Know that following Jesus has relational costs. But He promises the fellowship of the redeemed will far exceed temporary losses in this life. And you gain God Himself as your perfect Father, brother, and friend.
Do not let fear of man or desire for approval prevent you from living in obedience to Jesus. Forsake the idolatrous tendency to make others your functional savior. Put away anger or withdrawal when relationships do not go as you hoped. Lay down bitterness or resentment through active forgiveness. Die to self so that you may pour yourself out as a living sacrifice of worship to the One who alone is worthy of all affection and loyalty.
Forsaking Your Rights
As citizens, we enjoy many legal rights and freedoms. However, as disciples of Jesus we surrender personal rights for the sake of serving others and advancing the Gospel. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:19, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.”
Unlike the world that clamors to assert its rights and be served, Jesus calls you to joyfully renounce rights if necessary for the good of others. Do you insist on having things your way at church or being recognized for your service? Are you easily offended or angered by unfair treatment? Do you battle others over political matters rather than living at peace? Consider surrendering your rights for Christ’s sake.
This doesn’t mean you compromise ethical standards or enable abuse. But it does mean following Jesus’ example to absorb offenses rather than retaliate. It means being quick to apologize and forgive even when wronged. It means looking out for the interests of others above your own. As Philippians 2:5 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Walk in the footsteps of the one who laid aside all rights to redeem you.
When you surrender perceived rights and humbly serve, you represent Jesus. Your patient endurance and sacrifice can soften hard hearts to open up to the Gospel. Rights may feel important, but souls are eternal. Follow Christ’s example and forsake self-interest that you may gain more in God’s harvest.
Forsaking Lesser Loves
Jesus is clear – devotion to Him means forsaking all lesser loves that could distract your affection. During His earthly ministry, a man once promised to follow Jesus wherever He went. But first, the man wanted to return home and bury his deceased father. Jesus replied in Luke 9:59-60: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
On the surface this seems harsh. But Jesus knew this man’s heart. His greater loyalty was still to family rather than the Kingdom. Jesus was calling him to demonstrate total devotion by forsaking that old allegiance. There could be no excuse, delay, or divided loyalty.
This was the same heart test Jesus put to Peter after His resurrection. Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” When Peter affirmed his love, Jesus told Him to tend and feed His sheep (John 21:15-17). Jesus was calling Peter to not only forsake his former life of fishing, but also his former life of self-reliance and brash independence. Peter needed to love Jesus above all else, submit to Him, and care for His flock.
You may wonder what it looks like to forsake lesser loves. It means whatever competes with total surrender and loyalty to Christ must be removed or reordered. Are you putting romantic love before loving Jesus? Does desire for children eclipse serving God’s family? Do hobbies distract more than they refresh? Idols must be torn down so He alone rules your heart. Forsake good things for the greatest gift in Christ.
Ultimately, forsaking all means relinquishing ownership over your life. Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” To deny yourself means to disown yourself as lord over your life. You give up all claims to self-rule and resign as the authority over your decisions, plans, and priorities.
Instead, you enthrone Jesus as the rightful ruler over every aspect of your life. Like a servant waiting attentively for his master, you wait on Christ’s direction to know what to do. You align your will to God’s will as revealed in Scripture and surrender to His Lordship in each situation. You obey even when it’s difficult or costs you dearly.
To deny yourself means you no longer find identity in this world and its shallow validation systems. You are not defined by status, success, sexuality, achievements, or possessions. Your identity is now solely in Jesus Christ. You belong to Him. Self no longer is at the center – the Savior is.
Forsaking yourself means putting aside your rights to be served. Like Christ, you become a servant to do good to others (Mark 10:45). You no longer demand things be done your way or get offended when overlooked. You release expectations of others and voice. You die to selfish-ambition and humble yourself for the glory of God, trusting Him to exalt you at the proper time (1 Peter 5:6).
To deny yourself is to no longer insist on personal comfort or flee hard things. You take up your cross daily, willing to suffer for Christ’s sake. You embrace obedience even when it feels like death to your old self. Forsaking yourself means finding true life in surrender to Jesus.
The Cost and Joy of Forsaking All
Forsaking all for the sake of following Jesus will cost you everything. Jesus said in Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Nothing can be held back. Even your own life must be placed on the altar.
You may wonder if it’s worth it. But consider what Jesus gave up for you. He left the glory and privilege of heaven to take on human flesh. The Son of God allowed Himself to be scorned, beaten, mocked, and nailed to a cross naked (Philippians 2:5-8). And He did this to save your soul from eternal condemnation.
Jesus paid the price that you might become an heir to eternal life. He offers living water that quenches your thirst forever; treasure in heaven that will not fail; joy that is complete; the perfect Father and living hope. If He withheld nothing to redeem you, how can you justify clinging to lesser things instead of forsaking all for Him?
Following Jesus forsaking all does not leave you empty. Yes, you are laying down a selfish, sinful old life that leads to death. But what you gain is infinitely greater – new resurrection life in Christ that will never end. Jesus said in Mark 10:29-30, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time…with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
While the road of following Jesus is marked with suffering in this age, in the age to come you will receive the glorious inheritance reserved for those who forsake all for the sake of gaining Christ. The trials of this life are producing an eternal weight of glory that is beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17). Walk the road of discipleship with joy, trusting that God will work all things for your good. Forsake all and prove by your life that Jesus is your greatest treasure.
Forsaking all for Christ encompasses every area of life – desires, relationships, possessions, time, rights, plans, and self. Nothing can be held back if you want to truly gain Him. Anything less than total surrender and loyalty is not worthy to be called discipleship. Jesus is calling you to come, deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him.
This is hard. The cost is everything. But Jesus is infinitely worthy. He is life itself and the source of real joy that endures forever. Will you forsake all today and hold tightly to Christ alone as you highest treasure, greatest love, and most satisfying reward? Turn away from lesser things and run wholeheartedly after Jesus. You will never regret leaving everything behind to gain Christ.