Jesus says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Have you ever thought… “Why do I have to deny myself? I mean, I’m a pretty good guy.” I think this is a common way of thinking for a lot of people. But the reality is you are a sinner and have sinful desires that can very easily destroy your life. If we let those desires control us, we can never walk in obedience to God and experience fullness of life.
What does it look like to deny yourself and take up your cross? Simply put, it’s not doing what you want to do, and doing what you should do. So…
When your wife criticizes you and the flesh wants to get mad and point out her faults… deny yourself and love her instead.
When the alarm goes off and the flesh wants to hit the snooze button… deny yourself, get up and pray.
When someone hurts you and the flesh wants revenge… deny yourself and forgive.
When there’s enough money in the account and your flesh wants to buy that new _______…. deny yourself and give in the offering.
When no one is looking and the flesh wants that thing you keep coming back to… deny yourself and open your bible.
Remember, the act of denying must always be followed by an act of obedience. Otherwise our efforts will be short lived.
The power to deny yourself comes from believing that what you’re gaining is more valuable than what you’re giving up.
Denial without this truth is drudgery, but with it is a joyful exchange.
So what are we gaining? Jesus concludes this command with the words “and follow me.” By denying our flesh, we gain Jesus himself, our source of joy, peace, and abundant life.