Denying Self

Luke 9:23–24 (ESV)
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

This is one of those verses that, while very well known, is likely never realized completely in the lives of many professing Christians. What does it mean to deny one’s self? It means that we must set aside completely our self-serving and self-gratifying natures in deference to God’s will. Every. Single. Day.

To deny self does not mean something to try out once in a while, or strive to get better at down the road. Jesus is clear here: “if you want to follow Me, this is what you must do right now.” It’s a lifestyle change, and one that should occur immediately when the Holy Spirit is allowed full access to our heart (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Has it for you? I know I still struggle with this.

To deny self requires self-control. Those who are battling addiction in one form or another deal with self-control moment-by-moment, day by day. The war rages on constantly and unfortunately this world has many triggers that can send someone into a tailspin of sin in a heartbeat. Whether the self-control battlefield is lust, alcohol, drugs, food, pleasure, self-righteousness, or any other worldly disease, until the Holy Spirit is allowed dominance over these sinful behaviors, denying self will never occur.

Even if you are not struggling with an addiction, there is still an internal war waging for control of your heart. Denying self means you surrender to Christ and let His will be carried out through you every day you walk this earth. The more God is allowed to control every area of your life, the less powerful the temptation will be when such tests come around. Remember – temptation itself is not a sin, it’s the response that often gives birth to the sin.

Those who have learned to walk with Christ daily certainly have moments of temptation just like the rest of us. But these individuals learned long ago that to truly walk with God requires a willing and obedient heart. My advice is to find those you believe are walking in such a manner and let them mentor you. I believe God puts many people in our paths for just such a purpose.

“The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-bye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.” ~ Tozer