What Self-Denial Means

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." —Luke 9:23

What did Jesus mean when He said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself . . . "? The phrase "deny" used in Luke 9:23 could be translated, "repudiate," "disown," "forfeit," or "totally disregard."

As C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, "The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether."

Understand, the Bible is not teaching self-hate. It is not teaching that we should be miserable, self-loathing people. Rather, it is saying to see ourselves as we are. You already love yourself. So instead of loving yourself, deny yourself and love God more than you love your own life. If you will take your life and give it to Him, then He will give you His life in its place. If you lose your life, then you will find it.

So when we hear people say they are trying to find themselves, what they really need to do is lose themselves. We need to say, "Lord, here is my life." That is not a miserable thing to do; it is the greatest thing you could possibly do. What God will give you in the place of what you give Him is infinitely better. If I have learned nothing else about God in my years as a Christian, I have learned that God's plans are better than my plans. So don't be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God.

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