Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Denying Oneself
Written by Ch'ng Yeang Boon   
Matthew 16:24 ; "Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."

The passage of Scripture just prior to this is a highlight in the life of Peter. He had just proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answers him with Matthew 16:1 ; “And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!”

Just two or three verses later Peter makes one of the greatest mistakes of his life. He rebukes the Lord. He places himself in the way of the Lord fulfilling His mission on earth. Jesus then has to rebuke Peter and get him straightened out.

Peter goes from one of the highest pinnacles of his life to the lowest position. How could this happen? If it happened to Peter, then surely you and I can expect to see the same thing take place in our lives.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

  1. THE CANDIDATE - If any man
    What the Lord is referring here is “Any man” and looking straight at Peter. He is saying, “Peter, if any man will come after me....” He is using Peter as an example for our sake.

    He is telling Peter how to be raised from the low spiritual place he has gotten himself into. He wants Peter to know that he has just committed a terrible sin, and now the way to avoid future recurrence is to do what He is about to tell Peter.

    We can be in the same place as Peter was. We may be in a very low state of Christian happiness. We may have denied Christ as severely as did Peter. Our victory may have gone out the window. It’s not often that you see Christians in a real place of victory. They normally are walking around in the spiritual dumps, blaming everyone, and everything. The solution lies within the formula that the Lord gave Peter.

    Jesus puts you and I in this same category. He knows that we will all fail. He knows that we are all human. (Psalm 78:37-39 )

    Jesus uses the singular “man”, not “men”, indicating that not many will proceed in this matter. There are not many people alive today who can say, “I am doing what Jesus told Peter to do.” There are not many who will pay the price. I also believe it is singular so we will apply it to ourselves. If plural, then we apply it to others, assuming someone else will and not us.

  2. THE CRITERIA – Deny self
    We may have some who would answer the first two points. Some may be so eager to live for God that they would dedicate themselves as a candidate and even make the commitment, but when they hear the criteria, many will turn back and walk no more with the Lord. What are the criteria then?

    The First Criteria- Deny Self

    • This is the hardest thing you will ever do. To deny self is to put self to death. Self no longer lives. Self is an enemy to your mission. Self is a stumbling block that must be eliminated.
    • Deny self doesn’t just mean to be disciplined. It means to be deceased.
      To deny self doesn’t mean that you will make self exist on less. It means that you make self non-existent. It’s not thinking less of yourself, but not thinking of self at all.
    • Self denial is not that you make self become less important or less visible. It means that self has been put to death.

      In Galatians 5:24-26 , "Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another."

      It says, “have crucified the flesh”. That’s past tense. It has already taken place. Has it happened with us? Have we crucified the flesh? Had Peter denied himself here he would not have denied Christ later. We will either deny self, OR WE WILL DENY CHRIST. Not many born again people will go this far. Not many will walk this line.

    The Second Criteria
    Take Us His Cross. This is not the Lord’s Cross. It is the individual’s cross. The cross is always a place of execution.

    • A cross always brought death to it occupants. There is no other purpose for a cross. It is not an instrument of beauty or decoration. It is never used as a training tool. It had but one purpose. It always brought death. Bearing a cross is not having a mean, hard boss. It is not having to drive an old, worn out car. It is not having to live with a certain ache or pain. It is not having friends turn against you. Taking up your cross is to exchange your life for the cause of Christ.
    • A cross did not make people stronger. A cross did not make a person more conscience of a certain cause. It always meant death. No human ever returned from a cross. There are no plans beyond execution. Self dies. Once a person was executed on a cross, they never promoted self again. The execution must be done daily. German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis because of his testimony, made this statement: "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." To follow Jesus no matter what the cost -- that’s the way of the cross. You may have died today, but you will resurrect self before sun up.
    • A cross is a place of identification. To identify with Christ, you must have a cross.
    • A cross is a place of victory

  3. THE COMMITMENT- Will follow me
    The commitment must come from man’s will. (“will follow me.”) He has to surrender his will. Romans 12:1-2

    It is like God somewhere in eternity past when God looked for the Sacrifice for Man and Jesus said, “I will.”

    • We will not accomplish this in the flesh. Our flesh must be totally surrendered to the will of the Spirit, and then allowing the Spirit to work within and through us.
    • We must have “Blind Faith” not weak faith. In Isaiah 42:16 ; I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way; I will guide them down paths they have never travelled will turn the darkness in front of them into light, and level out the rough ground. This is what I will do for them. I will not abandon them.'
    • We must not have any pre-existing conditions [just like medical insurance!]. “Lord, if you will heal my sick child, then I’ll commit.” That won’t work. “Lord, if you will put my marriage back together, I’ll commit.” That’s not what He is calling for. He asked us to follow him (“ follow me”).

We look at this as placing Christ in a giant mixing bowl with all of our other interests of life. Then through struggles of life we can elevate Him to a higher place of importance in our life. After years of struggles of works, and efforts, we hopefully have placed Jesus near the top of our priorities. That’s not the way it works.

Jesus is to replace everything in our life; our desires, our hobbies, our wishes, our fantasies, everything - we are to totally empty self and when nothing is left - then Christ can take over. There can be nothing else in the bowl. There can be no competition. Jesus will not compete with your selfish motives. When we make the commitment to accept the criteria Jesus begins to throw out all of those things that will hinder. Then we are spiritually in a right state of mind, and can add some things back in place as God allows, and He does give us many liberties, but He doesn’t want us clinging to our rights, but denying them, allowing Him to give them back to us where He is willing.

Will you pay the price? It may be financial…meeting God’s criteria of the tithe, or putting an end to wasteful spending of the other 90%. It may mean breaking a bad habit…will you pay the price? It may mean re-prioritizing your schedule so you can obey God better and be more faithful. It may mean giving something up, or taking something on. It may mean allowing yourself to be wronged, and taking the high road.


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