Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Dear ones, do you know the difference between self denial and the call of Jesus Christ to deny self? Self denial is a common practice of mankind. There need not be any religious association to it. People who engage in efforts to lose weight practice self denial. Athletes who place themselves under intense hours of training to win the gold medal practice self denial. A man or woman with a vision for a business may practice the self denial of sleep or time with family in order to make that extra sale.
Now there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these practices in and of themselves. But they are not to be confused with the denial of self that Jesus calls His followers to practice every day. Denial of self is the setting aside of my will, or my agenda in order to pursue and do the will of God.
Jesus said, “And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’” (Mark 8:34-38)
The denial of self that Jesus speaks of is for His sake and the gospel’s. “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:
Self denial is the “gospel” of the world of the unregenerate. Denial of self for the glory of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Self denial revolves around me. Denial of self revolves around Jesus Christ. When the church confuses self denial with denial of self, we end up with a “me-centered” generation of people who turn the church into a spiritual shopping mart that is for me and my needs, and the serving of Jesus into a matter of convenience. This kind of mentality is just as selfish as the world. Never confuse Jenny Craig with Jesus Christ.