What does it mean to follow Christ?

(William Nicholson, "Called to Be a Disciple" 1862)

"Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. 'Follow Me,' Jesus said to him. And Levi got up, left everything and followed Him!" Luke 5:27-28

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation!
No sinner is too vile,
no sins are too numerous,
no guilt is too black —
for its powerful efficacy!
This is proved by the conduct of Christ, in offering His mercy to such sinful characters; and by the death of Christ, which was for the chief of sinners. How rich His grace! How impartial His love!   

The context contains an account of the grace and favor of Christ, to a sinful and despised tax collector.

Matthew followed Christ, that is, he became His disciple. To follow Christ implies:

(1.) A knowledge of Christ and His truth.
The design of preaching is to give the knowledge of Christ. No man can really follow the Redeemer, without some understanding of Him. This is the result of the Spirit's enlightening operations.

(2.) It implies dissatisfaction with a life of sin, and a conviction of the superior excellence of a holy life. This also is the result of the Spirit's enlightening operations.

(3.) It implies decision for Christ. The resolve of the heart to love Him and follow Him, "Lord, I am yours!"

(4.) It implies renunciation of everything that stands in competition with Christ. Matthew surrendered a lucrative employment, a good business, etc., etc. He "got up, left everything, and followed Him!" Just so, the sinner must surrender . . .
  his darling sins,
  his impure pleasures,
  his self-interest,
  the world,
  the creature, however dear, if it is a competitor with Christ.
"Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it!" Mark 8:34-35

(5.) It implies dependence upon Christ's Sacrifice for acceptance with God — and for all needful blessings.

(6.) It implies prompt obedience to all Christ's commandments. "'Follow Me,' Jesus said to him. And Levi got up, left everything and followed Him!"