Easter Meditation: John Calvin on Carrying Our Cross


“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

ESV 1 Corinthians 6:19-20


From Calvin’s ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’ 3.7.1, 3.8.1:

“The duty of believers is ‘to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to him,’ and in this consists the lawful worship of God (Rom. 12:1). From this is derived the basis of the exhortation that ‘they be not conformed to the fashion of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of their minds, so that they may prove what is the will of God’ (Rom. 12:2). …We are consecrated and dedicated to God in order that we may thereafter speak, meditate, and do, nothing except to His glory.


…’We are not our own’ (1 Cor. 6:19)…Let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal (Rom. 14:8; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19). …As self-interest is the pestilence that most effectively leads to our destruction, so the sole haven of salvation is to be wise in nothing and to will nothing through ourselves but to follow the leading of the Lord alone.


Let this therefore be the first step, that a man depart from himself in order that he may apply the whole force of his ability in the service of the Lord. I call ‘service’ not only what lies in obedience to God’s word but what turns the mind of man, empty of its own carnal sense, wholly to the bidding of God’s Spirit. …Christian philosophy bids reason to give way to, submit and subject itself to, the Holy Spirit so that man himself may no longer live but hear Christ living and reigning within him (Gal. 2:20).


…Let us not seek the things that are ours but those which are of the Lord’s will and will serve to advance his glory. This is also evidence of great progress [in the Christian life]: that, almost forgetful of ourselves, surely subordinating our self-concern, we try faithfully to devote our zeal to God and his commandments. For when Scripture bids us leave off self-concern, it not only erases from our minds the yearning to possess, the desire for power, and the favor of men, but it also uproots ambition and all craving for human glory and other more secret plagues.


….Let each of Christ’s disciples bear his own cross (Matt. 16:24). For whomever the Lord has adopted and deemed worthy of his fellowship ought to prepare themselves for a hard, toilsome, and unquiet life, crammed with very many and various kinds of troubles. It is the Heavenly Father’s will thus to exercise them so as to put his own children to a definite test. Beginning with Christ, his first-born, he follows this plan with all his children. …The apostle notes that it behooved him to ‘learn obedience through what he suffered’ (Heb. 5:8).


…Why should we exempt ourselves, therefore, from the condition to which Christ our Head had to submit, especially since he submitted to it for our sake to show us an example of patience in himself? Therefore, the apostle teaches that God has destined all his children to the end that they may be conformed to Christ (Rom. 8:29).


…In harsh and difficult conditions, regarded as adverse and evil, a great comfort comes to us: we share Christ’s sufferings in order that as he passed from a labyrinth of all evils into heavenly glory, we may in like manner be led through various tribulations to the same glory (Acts 14:22). ….The cross strikes at our perilous confidence in the flesh. It teaches us, thus humbled, to rest upon God alone…Thus humbled, we learn to call upon his power, which alone makes us stand fast under the weight of afflictions.”


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs