Saying No To Yourself

Bible Book: Luke  9 : 23
Subject: Self Denial; Patience
INTRODUCTION

I so wish to progress and mature in my faith as a faithful disciple involved in “making disciples” for King Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:15-16, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

Knowledge without obedience can lead to a “Life of Tragedy.”

Knowledge married to obedience can lead to a “Life of Triumph.”

In Bible study, under my Sunday School teacher, we have been studying the Book of Judges. Last week, the personality of the text was on Samson. Here’s a well-known Bible figure that allowed “trivial pursuit” to keep him from reaching his full potential in the Lord.

Samson:

  1. Great Start
  2. Great Stories
  3. Grievous Ending

1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

Samson was very committed to fulfilling his own personal selfish desires. Warren Wiersbe traces 6 steps that led to Samson’s downfall and death:

  1.  He despised his heritage. Judges 13:1-8

a.      Godly home

b.     Gracious honor

  1.  He defiled his parents. Judges 14:1-4
  2.  He defiled his body. Judges 14:5-20
  3. He disregarded God’s warning. Judges 15:1-8
  4. He deliberately played with sin. Judges 16:1-3
  5. His disobedience ends in death. Judges 16:28-30

I. THE DEVOTION TO THE PERSON SOUGHT.

“come after me” – a call to loyal obedience. True discipleship is submission to the lordship of Christ that becomes a pattern of life.

Oswald Chambers, Dec. 30th, “The life Christ plants in us develops its own virtues, not the virtues of Adam, but of Jesus Christ. Watch how God will wither up your confidence in natural virtues after sanctification, and in any power you have, until you learn to draw life from the reservoir of the resurrection life of Jesus. Thank God if you are going through a drying-up experience!

It is the saddest thing to see people in the service of God depending on that which the grace of God never gave them, depending on what they have by the accident of heredity.

No natural love, no natural patience, no natural purity can ever come up to His demands. But as we bring every bit of our bodily life into harmony with the new life which God has put in us, He will exhibit in us the virtues that were characteristic of the Lord Jesus.”

You will find Christ initially at the cross. “To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continued practice of

 small duties which are distasteful to us.” John Henry Newman

Coming after Christ commenced with our salvation and continues with my sanctification. The Person of Christ in me, since the day I “came after Him” (came after me), continues to confront me. Greatest challenge presently in my heart is that of social justice (poor, homeless, orphans, foster care).

 “Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours.”

Christ takes seriously the commitments of His children. Indeed, faith is not a flippant force that fluctuates based on feelings. Rather, it is a righteous resolve that is the result of a devoted disciple of Jesus. A promise made to God is an exclamation mark of a sold out life. It is at this crossroad of commitment that disciples are exposed as authentic or imposters. This lofty vow of loyalty to the Lord believes in the Cross and takes up a cross.

1.      Will we really follow Jesus wherever He goes?

2.      What if He asks us to go with Him into vocational ministry, will you follow Him there?

3.     What if He asks us to go with Him and die to our dreams, will we follow Him there?

4.     What if He asks us to go with Him to use our relationships, our finances, and our resources for His Kingdom purposes, will we follow Him there?

5.     Our “yes” to our new life in Him, means “no” to our old life.

Are you a convenient or inconvenient follower of Jesus? He will ask you to go places with Him that are not easy or fun. But the beauty of fulfilling your promise to Jesus is He is always with you, regardless of the circumstance. Your salvation is a promise from the God of life and a promise from you of death. You committed to Christ a funeral of your former life and fidelity to your new resurrected life.

II. THE DECISION OF THE PERSON SEEKING.

“let him deny himself” – say no to ourselves; to completely disown, to utterly separate oneself from someone. It is the word Jesus used to describe Peter’s denial of Him. Each time he was confronted about his relationship to Jesus, Peter more vehemently denied knowing Him. He denied his Master before the world.

This is exactly the kind of denial a believer is to make in regard to himself. He is to utterly disown himself, to refuse to acknowledge the self of the old man. Paraphrased, “let him refuse any association or companionship with himself.” Self-denial not only characterizes a person when he comes in saving faith to Christ but also as he lives as a faithful disciple of Christ.

Self of which Jesus is speaking is the natural, sinful, rebellious, unredeemed self that is at the center of every fallen person and that can reclaim temporary control over a Christian.

Ephesians 4:22, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts”

To deny self is to have the sincere, genuine conviction that one has nothing in his humanness to commend himself before God, nothing worthwhile to offer Him at all.

Even after salvation, a believer has no more goodness in himself (that is in his flesh) than he had before salvation.

Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”

Herein lies our hope:

Ephesians 4:24, “and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

To deny self is to subject oneself entirely to the Lordship and resources of Jesus Christ, in utter rejection of self-will and self-sufficiency.

John 15:4-5, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.’”

“Dethrone the King: Dying to Self”

When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely set at naught, and you don’t sting or hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ – that is dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded or your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even to defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence – that is dying to self.

When you lovingly, patiently bear any disorder and irregularity, any unpunctuality or any annoyance – when you come face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility – and endure it as Jesus endured it – that is dying to self.

When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God – that is dying to self.

When you never refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to go unknown – that is dying to self.

When you can see your brother or sister have his or her needs met and can honestly rejoice in spirit and can feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in more desperate circumstances – that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart – that is dying to self.”

To deny self is to confess with Paul, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” Romans 7:18

Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.”

Listen to Paul’s exhortation to the church at Colosse:

Colossians 3:4-5, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

The great challenge of “denying myself” is the resistance of self-centeredness or PRIDE.

“Like a drug, pride is addictive and impairs good judgment. If it could be packaged as a pill in a prescription bottle the label would read, ‘warning, taken too often in large doses may lead to a great fall, even death…’” Wisdom Hunters

“A prayerful posture dethrones pride and replaces it with humility. By faith, Jesus is able to storm the gates of hell, take captive the enemy, and release us from the prison of pride.” Boyd Bailey

“Legendary NBA basketball coach Pat Riley:

What prevents great teams from winning championships, in his view? ‘Sabotaged by ‘disease of me.’ Selfish stars focus on themselves. They resent others getting any glory. They’re frustrated, even when the team is winning, if things aren’t going their way. ‘The most difficult thing for individuals to do when they become part of a team (body) is to sacrifice,” Riley says. ‘It is much easier to be selfish.’

That pretty much describes the central challenge of the spiritual life. Following Christ requires sacrificing your own agendas. To do that, you have to get your eyes off yourself, and onto Him. As human beings, our natural tendency is to focus on ourselves, our wants, and our needs. Others, including the Lord, get the leftovers.” Erich Bridges

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”