If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26)
What did Jesus mean by this strong statement? Are we not instructed to love our enemies let alone our families? Are we not also to love our neighbors as ourselves? Meaning that we are to also love ourselves. So what did Jesus mean? I have often understood this verse as Jesus simply relaying to us that we are to love God over and above our family and loved ones. But that’s a misinterpretation of God’s word because He specifically (and intentionally) uses the word ‘hate’. Look up the Greek, there is no way of escaping the word. It means to “pursue with hatred, detest”.
The key to understanding Jesus’ words is to grasp the distinction between soul and spirit; that which is made in the image of God and that which represents the flesh or the carnal mind. But Jesus also said that are we not only to hate our loved ones but we are also to hate our own life. A key word in this passage is that word ‘life.’ The word ‘life’ is the Greek word ‘psuche’ which translates directly to ‘soul’ (mind, will, emotion) – the seat of feelings, desires, and affections. There is a similar verse in Matt. 16:25: “for whoever shall save his life will lose it.” Again, the word ‘life’ there is the Greek ‘psuche’. Yet again in Rev. 12:11: “and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” The word ‘lives’ is the Greek ‘psuche’. And there are many more verses like it. So in Luke 14:26, Jesus is saying that we are to hate our own soul; our carnal mind, our carnal will and our carnal emotions. The soul is the seat of Adam; the flesh. It says of Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45 that “the first man Adam became a living soul (psuche).”
Many today fail to see this truth. Paul in his redeemed state relays his struggle with sin saying: “but now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Rom. 7:15) Again in Galatians 5:17 it reads: “for the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” The flesh is simply a mindset, “for those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5). There are two distinct minds and wills in operation in the believer: the carnal mind and mind of Christ and the will of man and the will of God. That’s why the word of God is presented as a sword that divides soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12).
What God desires to do in His apprehended sons in this hour is to bring their soul or the self-life to its end so that Christ may have absolute rule through a regenerated soul. Only then will the kingdom of God come on earth (soul realm) as it is in heaven (spiritual realm). The death that Paul refers to when he states: “I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31) is the continuous bringing to death of his soulish or Adamic nature. Therefore, this is the one we are to deny and the cross that we are to each carry is intended for the crucifixion of the soul (Matt. 16:24). And no wonder the following verse in Luke 14:27 reads: “whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Only then can Christ be manifest in a many-membered body. God is not interested in behavior adjustment, he desires first to clean the inside of the cup. For if the inside is clean then the outside will be clean also. Thus the God kind of life or divine life is not lived from outward conformity but inward nature. And that nature is none other than Christ’s.
If we get a hold of this truth then we can understand what Jesus is trying to relay to us in Luke 14:26. We are not only to hate our soul but we are to hate the soul in those we hold dear to us. Why? Because their soul is the seat of their carnal mind and the carnal mind is enmity against God (Rom. 8:7). Sadly, we hear many sermons today that are focused on soul development and many who fail to discern and make this distinction congregate around messages which come from a trusted pastor, father or mother, or wife or husband. For many in this position, they cling to and trust people that have taken elevated places in their lives without discerning what emanates from the soul of these people. As a result, they fail to press into the fullness of the kingdom because their ear is attuned to the voice of a loved one whose council is drawn from the soulish realm. Simply put, Jesus in Luke 14:26 is saying to us; hate the soul and everything which is of the soul, whoever it may come from, because it fails to magnify and nurture Christ in you.
Similarly, if we are instructed to hate the soul or the carnal mind in man, then we are equally called to love everything which is of Christ in man and to have our ear open to what the Spirit says, be it friend or foe. Such a man is indeed the Lord’s disciple.