Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Denying Self Is Not Easy

Luke 9:23

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

RayMcDI have a few too many pounds on this body of mine – still. Even after losing 50-60 pounds I have 20-30 more to go and they are hard pounds. It is hard – it seems – to deny myself the things I like – food wise. I like most foods. Denying self is not easy. I’d like to use the excuse that I’m a big fellow by nature – but I wasn’t while younger for sure (and I have the pictures to prove it). I must have an issue with eating too much and not exercising enough. Denying self is not easy for me – when it comes to food.

Denying self is not easy for some of us if not all of us when it comes to sin. We like pleasing ourselves it seems. We would like to say we are willing to deny self and follow Christ but we often fail to do so. We fail to follow through and end up indulging self rather than denying self. Every time we sin we have chosen our desires over God’s will in our lives.

Today’s passage finds Jesus telling His disciples they must deny self and follow Him. Luke 9:23 – Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Here is today’s passage in partial context.  Luke 9:18-27 – 18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” 20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”  21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” 23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Denying self is not easy – but it is what we are called to do in order to be disciples of Christ. If we are disciples of Christ we will not be ashamed of His words and we will strive to follow them for sure. Let us deny self and follow Jesus. Think not of our will but of His will – as He did in the Garden – Jesus set the example of denying self. Matthew 26:36–42 – 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

What good is it dear readers if we indulge self and enjoy whatever we want and lose our life eternally? If we deny self and follow after Christ we will gain eternal life. Salvation is not won through obedience but rather obedience is a sign of our salvation. A disciple will strive to deny self in order to follow Christ. I know I have room to improve. How about you? Are there areas in our walk where we self indulge rather than self deny? Let us name the areas and through prayer and the Holy Spirit’s presence – overcome them as we deny self and follow Jesus.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.


October 3, 2016 - Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , ,

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