Posted by: Derek Guyer | December 7, 2008

Understanding Self-Denial


This is a follow-up to Rise of the Home Challenge #3:

Living in a me-first society, very little thought is given to giving up things that are important to us.  We spend time on our Wii’s, the internet, watching TV, texting friends, and so many other things, all to serve our own selfish and slothful desires. We know so little of self-denial it’s pitiful. I’m sure that sounds like an abrasive and maybe even over-the-top line of thought, especially for some of you who may have just popped onto the site. So, let me illustrate the point for you:

Imagine yourself as a New Testament believer who saw Jesus. You’ve watched the broken and hurting flock to Jesus, and for once in their miserable lives they find love, acceptance, and healing. You watched first hand as He carried His own cross to His own innocent death as guilty men were set free in His place. You’ve seen his nail scarred hands and feet and heard that sweet voice of loving forgiveness. You’ve known the Savior and you’ve watched him ascend into the Heavens after giving one last command:

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 18:19-20 NIV

How do you think Jesus might have responded if you’d gone home to take a nap and play Wii for a few minutes? No big deal, shoot a text to your friends and tell them about the new shirt you bought.

That seems a little out of place, doesn’t it? Fortunately, that’s not how the NT believers responded. They were moved to go as far as giving their lives by being sawn in two, crucified upside down or burned at the stake. They had so removed themselves from the pleasures and meaninglessness of this life that Paul, a man who in worldly terms had all that this world holds dear at his fingertips, considered it all rubbish for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He even went so far as to call Christians “aliens” on this earth.  All of those physical tangible things held no meaning when he looked at what he had in Jesus. Paul had found life, real life, in Jesus Christ.

What things in this life take only an hour of your time, but produce no fruit for the kingdom?  What things in your life only take ten minutes of your day but stop you from showing your spouse how much you love them?  What if in that ten minutes or in that hour you could have been used to the glory of God?  Wouldn’t it have been worth putting down that controller or turning off the Internet or putting your phone in your pocket?  What if you learned to deny yourself the pleasures of this life? What kind of glory would God get from getting rid of the foolish things that please you now to begin storing up treasures in heaven?

The ability to deny yourself comes from an understanding that without the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ you would die in your sin. To have the life that was promised, you would have to die to the old man of sin and be raised to walk in newness of life in Christ.

Die to yourself. Get rid of the old man and its wasted desires. That includes the physical things you’ve turned into idols, the bad attitudes that run your lifestyle, and the people you hold in a place above God. Deny yourself. Then pick up your cross and follow Him.

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Responses

  1. the most powerful i’ve heard in a long time was when you told me that i have loved myself more than i have loved God….even now, i can see how i let wordly things dominate my day as well as my mind…having recently read the twilight saga series, i am ashamed at how during the week it took me to read those books i literally did not pray once. not one time! i could barely function, or so i thought, until the books were read and i knew exactly what had happened to edward and bella. of course, by the end of the week, i’m in a spiritually not-so-good place because of my lack of prayer…my lack of focus. my selfishness.

    i appreciate your words.


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