“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” – Jesus (Luke 9:23)

How very little we live these convicting words of our Savior. We let ourSELVES define who we are. We live in a constant state of self.  The very act of giving something to someone, whether time, money, or otherwise are typically acts and extensions of our own selfishness.  I have to face on a daily basis that the very nature I was born with is self-centered, self-focused, selfish, self-absorbed and any other self related word besides “self-less” and I’m out for my own self preservation.

Then Christ comes into our lives and shakes us up a bit by saying… ‘hey, if you want to follow me and be my disciple for real, then you gotta deny the very thing you’re holding onto for dear life – yourself… but not just leave it at that, but you gotta take up this heavy splittery painful thing called a cross and follow close behind me. Sound good?’

It is good!  Soooo GOOD, because He said so. Yet we constantly choose a different route because we like to hold onto the easier nature. In the end is just leads to pain, destruction, heart-break, and death. But let’s keep holding onto ourselves… it’s what everything in this life besides Christ screams at us to do. Go do this for yourself, be successful for yourself, buy more things for yourself, spend more time with yourself, say this because it’s what YOU think, have your own opinions and hold on to those rights – ‘you deserve it, you’re a good person’. We think or say things like ‘I don’t deserve this’ ‘I shouldn’t have to do this’ ‘I can give myself a pat on the back for my accomplishments’…

I read something the other day that greatly disturbed me, it was actually after I’d heard news of a different kind and it validated the lack of living the “deny ourselves” life. It stated: ‘Life is what you make it. And I make mine good.’ Who believes this lie?  That life is what you make it.  Sure we can psycho-analyze the statement to death and justify it’s relevance. For example, life can be what you make it based on your perception of it and how you deal with it and your attitude…. yeaaaaah, ok…

I’m throwing in a little sarcasm because these realizations of “self-consumerism” that we continually live in are getting under my skin, and I’m in passionate dislike of everything self-related. I want to throw up at my own and what I continually see around me. I’ve had people believe me to be too self-debasing. I don’t believe any of us are debasing enough.

Now, there is a balance, mind you. I did used to be overly self-debasing to the point that I would have pity parties with myself and pay penance with weeping and constantly believing the lies of Satan that I wasn’t worth Christ dying for. Then Jesus opened my eyes… that in my over self-debasing, I was reducing His glory and being just as self-centered.  How ironic is that?

How was I being self-centered by reducing my value and degrading mySELF?  I was focusing on me and my shortcomings, rather than on the glorious Father and His redemption.  I was believing I was worth nothing, while Christ’s death disproved this lie because He treasured me enough TO die.  It was so simple and freeing…

I’ve gone off on a bunny trail so I should get back on topic, if I can… this SELF topic is such a difficult one to not go off on rants with… because self can be expressed in various facets, that’s what makes it so specific and so broad and so apparent that it is innately in us since the time sin entered our geneology.

It’s completely fair for God to only ask this of us… to deny ourselves, take up our cross DAILY, and follow Him. After all, He did that very thing and much much more for us. He alone deserves nothing less.

The definition of deny can mean different things, but one of them is: ‘to refuse to agree or accede to’.

Interesting definition, don’t you think? Break it down in the verse and it’ll look something like this: “Whoever want to be my disciple must [refuse to agree or accede {give concent, approval, or adhereance} to] themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

So in other words, we are to refuse to agree to ourselves… or refuse to give concent and approval to ourselves… this is to deny. Maybe “deny” is an easier term to understand, but I like the break down as well… because it shows that to be His disciple, I cannot agree with myself and agree with Christ at the same time. It is one or the other… I cannot serve two masters (ME and God) and call myself a Christ follower. I am either my own god, or God is God.

“The disposition of sin is not immorality and wrong-doing, but the disposition of self-realization – I am my own god. This disposition may work out in decorous morality or in indecorous immorality, but it has the one basis, my claim to my right to myself.”

This statement in My Utmost for His Highest, was probably one of the best articulated reminders I’ve ever read.

Is it possible to deny ourselves completely all the time while we are still in these carcass fleshly bodies? No, I don’t expect it is possible since we are still within a fallen world and sin is still within our nature.

Yet, it is possible to desire Christ and to daily refuse to agree to ourselves, to daily (hourly, minutely, secondly) deny ourselves… pick up our cross, and follow Him.  Let Christ and the Holy Spirit win in us each moment. If Christ will reign in our hearts, then when we give Him our moments and our days… we stop following our own selves, and let Him win and be king… then when He comes back to get us, He’ll be the One glorified.

I know this is very spastic… I wish I could articulate the passion and emotion on this topic and how appalling “self” is… it’s the very core of our sin, and the very rights we hold onto to ourselves are what continually contribute to our disgust.

Don’t focus on “self”… focus on Christ. Be Christ-focused and let Him reign in your life… and not you. Denial of self is a daily process, why else would He have said “pick up their cross daily”? I myself may never be proficient at self denial… but I try to follow the One (that is Jesus Christ) who is the only Way.

“A disease of self runs through my blood, it’s a cancer fatal to my soul. Every attempt on my behalf has failed, to bring this sickness under control.” – DC Talk’s song, In the Light