Deny Self - Part 1
May 1, 2021
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
As stated earlier, salvation is on God’s terms, not on ours. We cannot come to salvation on our own because we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1,5; Colossians 2:13). Last time I checked a dead person cannot do anything except . . . well, you know.
Likewise, Christian discipleship is on God’s terms, not on ours. A prospective disciple came to Jesus and said (Matthew 8:21-22), “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” Jesus said to Matthew (Matthew 9:9), “Follow Me”, and he got up and followed Him. Jesus healed a demon possessed man. As Jesus was getting into a boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with Jesus (Mark 5:19), And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” Christian discipleship is on the Lord’s terms, not ours.
The first principle in Christian discipleship is self-denial. Jesus said, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself (Matthew 16:24). The word ‘deny’ means to utterly disown, separate oneself from another. Jesus told Peter (Matthew 26:34), Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times. The very night Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75).
For a Christian to deny him/herself, he/she must say no to the old ‘self’, the flesh, the old, sinful desires. This is not to be confused with who a person truly is as a person. Denying self is to refuse to yield to the natural, sinful, disobedient person he/she was before salvation. Does that ‘person’ still exist? Yes. The Apostle Paul struggled with the old nature (Romans 7:14-24). He wrote (Ephesians 4:22-23) . . . in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind. What is the key to self-denial? Paul wrote (Galatians 2:20), I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27, . . . I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Self-denial is a spiritual discipline that must be mastered if the Christian is to grow in grace and mature in spiritual discipleship.
“Lord Jesus, I pray Your Holy Spirit will continue to lead me in the path of self-denial and self-discipline so that I may present myself to You a willing and prepared vessel fit for Your use in the church and in the Kingdom. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”