One of the hardest things you’ll ever do on your journey of faith is deny yourself. But you cannot accomplished what Jesus said, to “take up your cross” or “follow Me” unless you first deny yourself. But what does that really look like in every day life? Self-denial is in stark contrast to the world’s system of indulging the flesh and to the way the world thinks. The world has created an idol out of “self”, and they have made a god out of their own image, instead of worshipping the God who gave them His image. The world wants you to define yourself, yet Jesus said to deny yourself. What does that mean?
To “deny yourself” doesn’t mean to “deprive” yourself of things you want. Denying yourself is not an act of the will to resist temptation or refuse to go after the things you desire. That is self-control which is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Self-denial is a spiritual discipline that must be developed within your soul, not within your flesh. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Jesus said in Matthew 16:26.
What is Self-Denial in the Life of a Christian?
If you try to define yourself rather than deny yourself, you are walking away from what God has called you to be, who God has called you to be and you’ll lose sight of why you need a Savior.~Alicia Purdy
Denying yourself doesn’t mean depriving yourself. First, you have to identify who you are. The world wants you to self-identify, but you have a God-given identity and a unique calling! You might gain the world when you define and identify yourself according to the world’s standards, but you will lose your soul, as Jesus said. (Mark 8:36) That means if you try to define yourself rather than deny yourself, you are walking away from what God has called you to be, who God has called you to be and you’ll lose sight of why you need a Savior. Jesus noted in Matthew 16 that if you truly want to follow Him, you must deny yourself – first – before you do anything else.
In Galatians 5:24 Paul wrote, “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.” You must stop trying to define yourself. Deny who you once were, deny the labels of other people. Deny how you feel about yourself. Deny the names you’ve been called. Deny the definitions and diagnoses you’ve been given. Deny the labels you’ve given yourself because of your mistakes, regrets, your past, your feelings and experiences.
Thought for today: Embrace God’s Definitions, Deny Your Own
The journey of your life must be on the road of faith, which means even when you don’t feel it, you still believe it. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Even when you feel the old self definitions creeping back into your soul – addict, abuser, abortion, cheater, divorced, criminal, mean, idiot, ugly, stupid, retarded, worthless, useless, fat, lazy, selfish, bitter, alone, depressed, unworthy and more… you must lift your soul to the Lord in prayer and in worship and deny yourself. This is the very reason why Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) If you truly want to follow Jesus, you must first deny yourself.
You cannot follow Jesus in the fullness to which He has called you if you are still in control, and part of that control is that you are still labeling yourself and defining yourself. God cannot do a new thing in you or through you if you refuse to let go of the old things! Deny yourself. This might be a day by day, moment by moment process for you sometimes, but you must persist. Freedom is yours if you choose to accept it! The more you deny yourself, the better able you’ll be to “take up your cross” and “follow Me” as Jesus said. Forget gaining the “fortunes” of the world’s approval. Jesus said you’d lose your soul in the process, and He died to save your soul! So, start today – shake it off and move forward in WORSHIP and PRAISE. Then, when you hear those definitions and labels speak again, silence them again and again through worship and prayer and meditating on the Word to learn what God says about you. Deny yourself. Ask the Lord to show you who you really are!
Who Are You, Really? The Lord Wants to Show You!
- “Meribah: The Proving Ground”
- “Why Jesus Said to Take Up Your Cross”
- “What Will He Prove About You?”
- “Fix These Words of Mine in Your Heart”