What Does It Mean to Deny Self?
Last week, we saw that there is a difference between a Disciple and a Christian or follower of Christ. Jesus made a big bold statement in Luke.9.23
23) Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Do You Desire to Follow Jesus?
Then you must recognize that it is not just responding to an altar call or simple confession of sin. Now, these things are important, but we must recognize that the person we are following has a condition. The condition from Luke 9.23 if you desire to be His disciple is to
- Deny Self
- Take up your cross
- Follow him
It stands to reason that anyone following Christ today who has not denied self or taken up his cross is NOT following the Jesus of the Bible.
What is Self?
Self is the nature you and I receive from our human parents. It is our human nature inherited from birth. Different Bible versions call them by various names.
- The NIV version of the Bible renders flesh as the sinful nature
- Good News Bible describes the flesh as the human nature
- CEV renders it selfish motives
- God’s Word calls it the corrupt nature
So we see that the flesh is a nature, a way of doing things. For example, some people tell lies by nature, some are wicked naturally, some people cover up their mistakes by giving excuses. It is a nature. The truth is that the flesh means just being human. John. 3:6. See Galatians 5:19-21
19) Now the works of the flesh (sinful nature, human nature, selfish motive and corrupt nature) are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21) 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.
The Scriptures is saying here that those who live as normal human beings or by the inherited sinful nature will not go to Heaven. This is heavy stuff, but other scriptures back this up. (1 Corinthians 6:10, 1 Corinthians 15:50, Ephesians 5:5). If you practice the normal human nature you will not go to Heaven. Since we now have an understanding of the ‘self-nature or self-life’, let us look at the first bit which is deny.
What Does it Mean to Deny?
Looking again at various versions, to deny means
- To forget himself
- Give up rights to himself
- Put aside and ignore self
- Say no to himself and his interests
Self is not just a habit to be discarded (that will be like cutting of branches of a poisonous tree) rather it is the totality of the self-life (the whole tree). This totality can be one’s knowledge, understanding, the basis of one’s opinion about himself and others (actually the whole tree).