Deny Yourself!

Hello all,
Hope this reaches you doing well!
This week we will be talking about my least favorite topic--denying myself. I think some of you could relate.
This week's command is to 'Deny Yourself.' Christ said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). There a few parts to this command so we will look at them phrase by phrase.
1) "If any man will come after me..." Jesus does not force us to follow after Him and He will not make us take up a cross for His sake. It is our choice to follow the Lord for salvation.
2) "...let him deny himself..." The word 'deny' means to put away, recoil, refuse yourself. It implies that we are not giving-in to every desire; it is refusing to live according to the flesh.  "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:23-34).
     Why is denying ourselves a requirement to follow God? Well, if we are not denying ourselves, we are living for ourselves and not for God and we cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve the flesh and God. Denying yourself does not mean you never have dessert, but it means that we say 'NO' to those things that displease the Lord, but that the flesh loves. For example: holding onto bitterness, gossiping, gluttony, slothfulness, wrong music, using our bodies/looks for attention, greed for things/money, doing things for praise, lust, etc. We each have things that we struggle with and we often feel convicted and purpose to yield in a small way but reserve the right to have control in the rest of our lives. If we want to be true followers of Christ we must deny ourselves, if we are not willing, then we are not worthy to be a follower of Jesus.
I have seen in this in my own life when I feel prompted to witness to someone but my flesh is saying, "But they will think you are a religious fanatic!" or "What will they think of you??" or "What if they have all these questions that I don't know how to answer well?" It is at that point that I have to make a choice to deny myself, it is no use waiting until I 'feel' like being vulnerable. It is a choice to either obey God or my flesh. When I obey God I feel unsurpassed joy, when I obey myself, I feel guilt.
3) "...and take up his cross daily..." I thought it was interesting that Jesus said this before He was crucified; at the time, His disciples did not understand the implications that the cross would hold for Jesus. In Roman culture, they made the criminal carry his own cross on which he would be crucified.  Jesus carried the very instrument of His death. We too are called to carry our own 'instrument of death,' but it is a death to self.  Each person's cross will be different, but will require us to deny ourselves and to partake in the sufferings of Christ.  Notice it says that we are to 'daily' take up our cross. It is our nature to want to protect ourselves from humiliation, sacrifice, pain, and affliction, but it is those very things that conform us to the image of Christ. "For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (II Corinthians 4:11).
4) "...and follow me." If we want to follow Jesus and be His disciples we must be 'disciplined ones' who have learned to deny ourselves.  "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27).
-What areas are you still clinging to when God has called you to deny yourself?
-What is your 'cross' today and how can you respond to it in a way that will glorify God?
-Have you purposed to follow God whatever the cost?
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus Who...made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant...being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8).
Blessings,
Amanda
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide

2 comments:

  1. Hi Elanee!

    I just now answered your question on our blog about the wood. Sorry to have taken so long!

    God bless you!

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    Replies
    1. That's alright:) I understand! You all have had a super busy summer.

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