Deny Yourself

If you want to abide in Jesus Christ, if you want to follow Him,you have to reject yourself and take up your cross and follow Jesus.
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Read: Luke 9:23

“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to follow Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’"

FOLLOW – synonymous to the word ABIDE.

DENY­ – opposite of ABIDE. Reject. Stop Following.

Why do we have to deny ourselves and follow Jesus? Why do we have to abide in Him?

Because we live in a broken world caused by our sins. Our flesh is sinful. It’s in our very nature so are all destined to die (Romans 3:23 & 6:23), and it’s not the kind of death that we all know. When you physically die, you just cease to exist. You just lose your consciousness of yourself and of the world. Your life ends. Wala na. Finish na. That seems blunt. And many will think and usually say, “That is why I have to enjoy my life, we will all die anyway.”

But this kind of death mentioned in Romans 3 and 6 is an eternal separation from God, which is much worse than physical death itself. In this kind of death, you will not lose your consciousness but you will lose your well-being in hell where there will be whipping and gnashing of teeth, in the lake of fire. Take note, it is eternal. And it’s all because of our sins.

Going back to self-denial, we have to look back in the creation story when sin entered humanity through Adam and Eve. “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Genesis 3:4-5) The serpent said they will be like God, knowing good and evil. Upon Adam and Eve’s disobedience, they sought to be like God and know good and evil. They were already created in the image of God, they are already like God. But in desiring to know good and evil, they sought to be God, not like God. That is why in this present time, this sin and fleshly desire is inside us. Mankind chose to define good and evil on their own. The problem with this is that what seems to be good to me, might be evil to others. Imagine yourself robbing a bank because your mother is critically ill at a hospital. For you it seems good, because it will benefit your mother, you will save your mother. You may say you did it out of your love for your mother. But that act did not benefit the bank and the people keeping their money in that bank. This happens in every areas of our life. We may say we are never hurting anyone, but we may never know that we are already violating God’s commandments. That is what happens when we depend on ourselves in defining good and evil. When we speak on our own selves. When we decide on our own. When we act on our own. Our judgment is so corrupted by sin and so everything that we do on our own, we sin; we destroy, maybe not others, but we destroy ourselves.

This is the reason why we have to deny ourselves.

Deny yourself

Pastor Jonah: If there is anything that keeps us from coming to God, or affects our fellowship with God, we have to cut it away.

“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:17-25

Take up your cross daily

When Jesus took up His cross, He had nowhere to go. His only path was through a lot of mockers and towards Golgotha or Calvary where He was crucified. He had a choice to flee the night before His crucifixion, but He still took the cup. He did it out of His obedience to God the Father, and out of His love for us. Does it mean we also have to suffer the way Jesus did? It says daily… does it mean we have to suffer more than what Jesus did? “It seems too much!”

It seems counter-intuitive or contrary to us because we all want comfort, Jesus desires for us to be comforted. But if you will take a look to the current situation of our fellow Christians in other non-Christian countries. Many Christians are being persecuted; burned alive, their loved ones are being killed in front of them, and many other horrible things are done on them because they won’t renounce or give up their faith in Jesus Christ. But did those persecutions stop them? Nope. Some of them may have stopped, but a lot continued the good race through suffering. They built underground churches, they hoarded Bibles, and they stood their ground they fought the good fight of faith.

How about us? We have all freedom and time to just open our Bibles, read, meditate and pray any time anywhere. We can even do it in public places. Even if there is a pandemic, we have social media to continue our fellowship. But what are most of us doing?

The point is, we are all having the same difficulties just as those who are persecuted are having. Those who are persecuted are having fear and external resistance from the people who persecute them. We, on the other hand, are having resistance within us. We all tend to focus on more tangible and temporary things which we think we need to survive, and neglect our relationship with God which we actually need the most to survive. We also battle laziness and complacency. We battle hatred and anger with our short temper. We battle anxiety and depression. We battle vainglory, legalism, and self-righteousness. We have battles happening inside us whenever we are alone. We are the ones who need more denial of our selves than those who are persecuted.

Taking up your cross daily. If you will continue reading ahead of our main verse, (Luke 9:24-25 NKJV) “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” So it says there, whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. It seems more applicable to those who are being persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ. In verse 22 of the same chapter, before saying those words, Jesus first said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” (Luke 9:22 NKJV) So it sounds more like being persecuted just as Jesus Christ was persecuted.

So how about us who are experiencing from least to no persecutions at all? That’s where the second line enters: For what profit is it to a man if he gains the world, and is himself destroyed or lost. Even If we are not experiencing persecution, we still have to lose our life for the sake of Christ.

How? By denying ourselves. It simply means, we have to let go of our worldly and fleshly desires and agendas which causes us to sin. Jesus died not just for us to be saved, but also for us to have a new life; a life of holiness and righteousness, and not a life of sin. That is why we call Him our Savior and Lord.

How? By taking up your cross daily. As I have told you a while ago, Jesus had a choice to run away the night before His crucifixion. But He denied Himself and suffered death anyway. So taking up our cross daily does not at all times mean to suffer the way Jesus did, or even more. This can also mean that we bring ourselves into crucifixion with Jesus Christ on a daily basis. This means we deny ourselves, just as Jesus denied Himself for God’s glory, and uphold (take up) how Jesus Christ has died for us and was raised from the dead, live up to the new life that He has given us on a daily basis. Taking up our cross means we leave our life of selfishness and self-centeredness and start living a life of love for God and a life of love for others just as Jesus did.

So this means, every plans we make, we lay up to God.

Every precepts that we have, we align to Jesus Christ.

If we have to change some belief, we change.

If we have to refuse something not pleasing to God, we refuse.

It means making new life choices, Godly choices this time.

If we have the choice to be angry, we choose forgiveness.

If we have the reason to hate, we choose love.

If we have the chance to look righteous, we choose to be kind.

If we have the desire and means to destroy, we choose healing and restoration.

If we are tempted to depend on ourselves, we re-calibrate and depend on God.

We live a life of full submission to God and His Word.

Self-denial and full submission to God doesn’t mean we will lose our freedom. But it means, we will be freed from our life of sin and brokenness, and we will be given the chance to live the life God intended for us to have. A life of full partnership with the Author of Life Himself. (John 10:10 NKJV) “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”


“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I abide in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15.5 NKJV

We are the branches, and Jesus is the vine. As we live a life of full submission to Christ, may we learn to deny ourselves, cut out every ungodly things; take up our cross daily, be filled with the life and power of the Gospel; and follow Him through our obedience. On a daily basis. Make it our lifestyle.