Want to be free? Then deny yourself and follow Christ.
I often find myself asking, “What happened to the principle of denying yourself to follow God?”
It’s a concept that seems so foreign in a culture that’s constantly telling us to do what makes us happy – that our fulfillment and happiness is paramount. You hear things like…
“You do you.”
“Live your truth.”
“Follow your heart.”
It may all sound positive and empowering, but the reality it this thinking is destructive and downright contrary to Scripture.
In Luke 9:23–25, Jesus says,
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”
Notice that Jesus doesn’t just tell us to deny ourselves for no reason – He ties it directly to our own good. God wants you to deny yourself because, ultimately, that’s the best thing for you. It’s the only way for you to be truly free.
If you follow the world’s advice and “just do you, follow your own truth,” it will not ultimately lead to satisfaction but to suffering. You’ll become a slave to sin, bound to your own selfish desires.
But when you deny yourself and put your life – and your wants – into God’s hands, you’ll be set free.
So, how do you deny yourself?
It requires thought and consideration of the things you turn to for pleasure or gratification. Simply put, if something brings dishonor to God or goes against His Word, just STOP. But it’s not just about seeking pleasure or enjoyment. It’s about your attitude as well.
You may have to deny yourself in the area of fear when the Lord is telling you to stand up for what is right, speak boldly, and proclaim His truth.
Or you may deal with anger. Some of us run a little hotter than others and have a shorter fuse. If that’s you, you need to make sure your anger is righteous indignation for the glory of God, and that what you do with that anger does not bring Him a bad name.
But taking up your cross, denying yourself, and following Him doesn’t mean a life of no pleasure or enjoyment. In fact, it means exactly the opposite.
You see, when you choose to follow Jesus, to turn over your life to Him, Scripture tells us that God will put a new heart in you. You will actually be free to follow your desires, because God will give you the right desires.
Psalm 37:4 says…
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
So don’t be afraid to deny yourself, be eager to do it. Because when you do, your life will be better than anything you can imagine, and your reward will be real, abundant life in Jesus.
Remember, He’s the prize, and you can do this through the power of God!
To learn more about Victor Marx be sure to visit his website here.