Do you deny yourself?
„If any one will come after me, let him deny himself …“ (Lk 9,23).
The Lord Jesus went through sufferings to glory. This is also the way for every one of His disciples. Therefore Christ told His disciples what they had to do if they wanted to follow Him. The first thing that He mentions is self-denial.
He Himself examplified in His life what it means to live a life of self-denial. As it is written: “Christ did not please himself” (Rom 15:3). Instead of pleasing Himself and insisting upon His rights He longed to please His Father and show a fervent zeal for His interests. He was the Lord of the temple and therefore normally didn't need to pay the temple tax. But when those who received the didrachmas asked if He would pay it He sacrificed His right that He might not be an offence to them.
The apostle Paul lived a life of self-denial. He could sincerely say: “To all I have become all things, in order that at all events I might save some. And I do all things for the sake of the glad tidings, that I may be fellow-partaker with them” (1 Cor 9:22-23). To the elders of Ephesus he said: “But I make no account of my life as dear to myself, so that I finish my course” (Acts 20:24).
In his letters Paul exhorts believers to deny self and connects it with practical examples of our every day life. Here are three of them:
“But see lest anywise this your right to eat itself be a stumbling-block to the weak” (1 Cor 8:9).
“Let no one seek his own advantage, but that of the other” (1 Cor 10:24).
“But we ought, we that are strong, to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbour with a view to what is good, to edification. For the Christ also did not please himself …” (Rom 15:1-3).
Is it your desire to please your fellow-believer and to sacrifice your rights so that you may not be a stumbling-block or an offence to him? Our flesh hates self-denial, for the flesh always wants to put self upon the throne. But to deny self means practically to put self to death.
Baptism is really an acknowledgement that the old self-life is at an end. As it says in Romans 6:4: "buried with Him by baptism unto death." The following story is a nice illustration of this truth: A man had been baptized and after he came up out of the water a pipe was found in the water. They got it out and said to him: "Is this yours?" "No", he replied, "it belonged to the man you have just buried."
Self-denial is a complete surrender under the authority of Christ. Self has no more rights. It practically means: “Not my, but thy will be done.” There is no envy or jalousy in a heart that is empty of self.
In days where “all seek their own things, not the things of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21) God is looking for those who make a difference. Do you go with the flow or are you willing to deny yourself? When did you practice self-denial last time?
“He died for all, that they who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him” (2 Cor 5:15).